Saturday, 31 December 2011

Can you clean up London's air?

Hilarious quiz on the Jenny for Mayor website.  See if you can do better than Boris


Thursday, 29 December 2011

Kids jailed. Santa locked out

SECURITY PERSONNEL STOP LUSH EASTBOURNE'S SANTA DELIVERING PRESENTS TO CHILDREN- new information reveals that mother and sick baby are currently locked up.
Santa found his way blocked by perimeter fences, locked doors and security guards 1. yesterday when he and three helpers attempted to deliver presents to children in the immigration detention facility at Pease Pottage, Crawley. 2.Staff and customers at the high street cosmetics store Lush, in Eastbourne, gathered donations of luxury soaps, chocolate and toys to be taken as presents to families being held at the 'Cedars pre- departure accommodation centre'.

Children are imprisoned at the Pease Pottage facility simply because of where their parents come from. Doctors have widely documented the trauma suffered to minors as a result of even brief periods of imprisonment. 3.

Nick Clegg has described child detention as a 'scandal' and a 'state sponsored cruelty'. Yet instead of keeping his promise 4. to shut down child detention centres the coalition opened the facility at Pease Pottage, outside Crawley, in August.

Alice from SOAS detainee support, who was one of the three trying to deliver the gifts, said-
“This is a classic bit of government spin. They make a prison look prettier and claim it isn't a prison. Border police are still breaking into people's houses in the small hours of the morning and dragging children from their beds. Children are still being held against their will for up to a week, and they're still being forced onto planes and sent back to situations that their parents have fled from in desperation. This is a scandal which the government promised it would end. We can't get these children out of there this winter, so we at least want to be able to send their neighbours' love in.”

Despite assurances on the UK border agency website. 5. that appointments can be made to visit those detained, for three days staff at the 'Cedars'facility refused to allow the arrangement of any appointments to visit any detainees in the foreseeable future, or give any reason for doing so. They even refused to come to the gate and receive the gifts to take them in.

Information received today from Medical Justice ( suggests that staff may have been particularly reticent because they'd received a new detainee that morning. A woman who was injured when police broke into her home at 6am to take her and her baby to Pease Pottage. The 14 month old is suffering from a chest infection and diarrhoea. The authorities refusal totell the mother it's weight suggests that it is under 11kg which would mean that it has been given inappropriate anti malarial jabs. Despite this oth mother and child are due to be deported tonight.

Details are still emerging, but this unusual and damning situation can only deepen concern about the ongoing detention of families.

Lush Local Campaigns co-ordinator Liz Snook said-

“All we're trying to do here is give some children some presents. We're prepared to go through whatever is demanded of us, but instead we've been met with rudeness and flat refusal. These levels of 'security' reveal the lie that child detention is over in the UK. 7. When ill babies no more than a year old are being subjected to terrifying raids and bundled onto planes we need to start asking more questions. We want the families held under this frightening system to know that we've not forgotten them.”

For more information about the child detention in Crawley please see

1. While at Cedars Families are under the control of G4S security guards. A recent Chief Inspector of Prisons report found that G4S escorts showed “a shamefully unprofessional and derogatory attitude”, and used unnecessary force and racist language.

2. Cedars, Brighton Road, Pease Pottage, Crawley, RH11 9AD

3. Medical evidence has demonstrated that even short periods of detention can cause long term damage to children. The Royal College of Psychiatrists issued this statement in relation to the practice—



6. The Freedom of Information request was carried out by the campaign group ‘No-Deportations’ and discovered that of the 11 children who entered Cedars pre-departure accommodation in September 2011: 3 children spent 1 day in detention, 2 spent 2 days, 2 spent 4 days, 3 spent 7 days, and the remaining child, having spent 4 days in detention was still detained as at 30 September 2011.

7. The coalition government announced the 'end' of detention.

8. Of the 10 children being detained in ‘Cedars’ who left in September 2011, 7 were removed and 3 were granted temporary admission or release.

This means that even by the Home Office’s own admission 30% of the children detained should never have been arrested in the first place—despite the fact that every family admitted to Pease Pottage was meant to have been vetted and approved as 100% deserving of removal by the Home Office’s so-called ‘Independent Family Returns Panel’.

9. All six children kept imprisoned for more than 72 hours would need to have had their detention personally approved by Immigration Minister, Damian Green, a man who rashly promised that he would dress up as Father Christmas if a single child was kept in detention last Christmas (one child actually was, but Green did not don his Santa suit)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Poll: Public overwhelmingly backs wind and solar power

YouGov poll for Sunday Times finds over half of people want more wind turbines, while nearly three quarters support increased solar panel rollout

By BusinessGreen staff

The environmental movement might have taken a bit of a battering in recent months from opinion polls suggesting climate change and environmental issues are falling down the public's list of priorities, but according to a new survey a clear majority still support the rollout of renewable energy technologies.

Despite a high-profile media campaign criticising wind farms and attacking the cost of renewable energy technologies, 56 per cent of people want to see more wind energy capacity in the UK and 74 per cent think solar energy capacity should be increased.

The figures come from a YouGov poll of 1,696 people commissioned by The Sunday Times, which also reveals that just 19 per cent of respondents want wind power to be scaled back, and just 12 per cent think the rollout of solar panels should be blocked.

Just over a third of respondents said there should be more nuclear plants and just 10 per cent and 16 per cent respectively believed the UK should build new oil and coal power stations. In contrast, just under half of respondents said the use of these fossil fuel power sources should be scaled back.

Perhaps most interestingly, given the keen debate on the price of energy bills, 60 per cent of those polled thought the government was correct to subsidise wind farms, compared to just 26 per cent against such policies.

Dr Gordon Edge, director of policy at trade body RenewableUK, said the poll confirmed the industry's long standing belief that only a "small, but vociferous minority is opposed to wind energy".

"This poll demonstrates that even in difficult economic times, the public understands why the expansion of wind power is important - to secure jobs, enhance energy security and reduce our reliance on expensive fossil fuels," he said.

The new figures come as engineering giant Siemens yesterday confirmed that it plans to invest £210m in a new offshore wind turbine manufacturing plant in Hull, creating over 700 long-term jobs.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The unkindest cut of all!!!

The Government has found a new target for interfering with our lives: 
 VIAGRA IS TO BE RATIONED. The NHS have cut the normal ration from four to two tables per month. In other words a cut of  50% in the sex lives of many middle aged and older people.

Of course, it may not matter anyway. A recent study showed that men now think of food more than sex. Which is worse, a nation of obese older people or a more healthy group of randy oldies?

Saturday, 10 December 2011

In a Pickles

The man who says we need more cuts employs a temp @ £36k PER MONTH!

you could not make this up!

Friday, 9 December 2011

DPAC's Save Independent Living Fund campaign

The lack of help for those 'temporarily incapacitated' is a BIG issue now that local authorities are having to cut back so much on home social care.

 Even before the cuts, a friend who was totally immobilised for weeks by a broken leg got minimal time from a visiting carer and had to pay for that at about £12 per hour. Fortunately she had a teacher's salary but if she had been unemployed....? she has no family in the UK at all, lives alone, had to beg friends and acquaintances to do things like shopping, cleaning, taking rubbish out, even helping her to bath.

Veggie McD was chicken

Veggie McD was chicken - A second woman has described her horror at biting into a vegetarian meal in McDonald's and discovering she was eating chicken. Teacher Emma Goldsmith, from Eastbourne, ordered a vegetarian meal at the town's branch but was given a chicken meal in a vegetarian wrapper. She contacted The Argus after reading a woman had a similar experience in McDonald's at Brighton Marina.

Monday, 5 December 2011


"We are appalled at developments in the dispute at Langdon School in Newham, east London, which started over issues of workload and oppressive management.

The head has employed up to 46 scab supply teachers and brought them in to try to break a lawful, balloted strike by NUT members at the school. Worse still the local authority, and a Labour one at that, has put this strikebreaking force on temporary local authority contracts when they scab.

This shocking move is unprecedented in education disputes and the employment of a strike breaking force has shades of Rupert Murdoch's union busting tactics under Thatcher's government in the mid 1980s.

We totally condemn this move and see it as a threat to every trade unionist.

We call upon all our unions and organisations to ensure the widest possible condemnation of the head and Newham local authority and to work for the fullest possible solidarity with the Langdon School NUT to beat this attack on the basic trade union right to take legal industrial action."

Signing this statement on behalf of the Green Party Trade Union Group, Yours in solidarity Peter Murry (GPTU Secretary) and Noel Lynch, Chair of the London Green Party

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Jenny Jones: I unequivocally support strikes against ideologically-driven pension cuts

In advance of Wednesday’s public sector strikes, Jenny Jones said: “The Green Party unequivocally supports the strike on public sector pensions and our members will be involved in rallies and picket lines across London.

“We believe this strike could have easily been avoided if the government had been willing to negotiate with unions but their reckless attitude has given public sector workers no choice but to withdraw their labour.

“With the median pensions for a woman employed by the NHS standing at just £3,500 a year and just £2,600 for a female local government employee, the government is relying on misinformation on ‘golden plated pensions’ to push through unnecessary cuts to some of the country’s most important workers.

“The simple truth is the money is there and by cutting tax evasion and avoidance and introducing a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions these ideologically-driven cuts would be exposed as unnecessary.”

Jenny Jones will address rallies organised by the trade unions PCS and Unison on Wednesday.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Greens from all over the country will be voicing their opposition to the coalition cuts on November 30th

The Green Party strongly supports the union’s strike over changes to their Public Sector pension schemes which will see their members having to work longer and contribute more. The 24 hour walk out is set to be the UK’s biggest strike for over 30 years with over 2 million Public Sector employees taking part.

We call for a clamp down on tax evasion by the rich and a tax on financial transactions rather than the proposed public sector cuts and for the Government to urgently review the state pension which remains below poverty levels. We would like to see the rapid introduction of a citizen's pension, paid at a level that allows people to meet basic needs.

Green councillor Rob White reports: "Sadly, the coalition’s treatment of public sector workers has left them with little option but to take strike action. The Conservative led coalition seems to want ordinary people, who did the least to cause the economic crisis, to make the biggest sacrifices. The Green Party thinks this is unfair. Although we regret the inconvenience that striking can cause, sometimes targeted and considered action is necessary.

"This government is taking us backwards. We shouldn't be racing to the bottom, but protecting the pensions of ordinary people and making sure that everyone across all sectors gets a decent pension when they retire. Fair pensions are worth fighting for!"

Greens at Westminster and City Hall will not cross the picket lines to work on Wednesday November 30th.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Vet warns of serious risk to human health

The Green Party calls for action for the drastic reduction of antibiotic usage on farms and welcomes the important report from Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association and Sustain, which demonstrates the seriousness of the issue and proposes practical steps to tackle it.

Caroline Allen, vet and Green Party Spokesperson on animal issues, said, "I am pleased to see this issue getting the prominent coverage it deserves. With pharmaceutical companies able to advertise antibiotics direct to farmers and animals kept in intolerable conditions with high levels of stress and avoidable disease, it is no surprise that antibiotics have seemed to be an easy answer. Unfortunately the price we are paying for cheap meat is a rise in antibiotic resistance, which is a serious threat to human health."

The European Parliament recently voted to support an end to the prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock farming. This routine use of antibiotics in animal husbandry has been a longstanding issue for the Greens and we have now urged the European Commission to develop proposals that will bring an end to this practice.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South-East England, said, "Antibiotics are being used in this way to perpetuate unnaturally high densities of animals in factory-farming systems, a highly polluting and inhumane practice. I have visited successful organic farms where antibiotics are not used in this way. Given the damaging effects on animals and humans alike, it is now imperative that European farmers move towards a more sustainable and healthy model of farming that does not compromise the health of either animals or consumers."

Friday, 18 November 2011

"Apartheid in the transport system is getting worse rather than better in the runup to the Paralympics

"Ironically, it seems as if the apartheid in the transport system is getting worse rather than better in the run up to the Paralympics," said Jonathan Bartley, a Green party candidate for the London assembly who, as the father of a boy with spina bifida, tackled David Cameron on last year's election trail over the alleged segregation of disabled children in the education system." 

Friday, 11 November 2011

London Mayoral and Assembly campaign presents:

Sunday 20th November 2011

“As the campaign heats up, only Jenny Jones and the Green Party have offered the fresh ideas that our capital needs, so come along, have some fun, and help raise some money for a safer, fairer, cleaner, greener London. “ Alistair McGowan

Come and join us and celebrate a wonderful mix of comedy, socialist magic and a soupcon of serious politics.

Headline act is the BAFTA award winning comedian, actor and impressionist Alistair McGowan. Joining him are The Socialist Magician who we have it on good authority can make financial inequality disappear, Abie Philbin Bowman who according to The Sunday Times is the ”Best Stand up under 30” (take note Mr Whitehall) , musical comedian Carly Smallman who Time Out describes as “Very funny, fresh and endlessly creative”, the bitingly waspish Calen Harley and the fabulous George Marshall founder of climate change charity, the Climate Outreach Information. All taking place in a low carbon tent.

All of this wonderful stuff is to raise money for the Green Party’s 2012 London Mayoral and London Assembly election campaign. So if you care about fair pay for London, safer roads, improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, and an affordable home then join us and support Jenny Jones for London Mayor.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Green Party call for an immediate moratorium on fracking in light of breaking news from the U.S.

U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded that fracking does cause earthquakes.
On 5 November an earthquake measuring 5.6 rattled Oklahoma and was felt as far away as Illinois. Before fracking took place in the region Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year, but in 2010 this figure increased by a terrifying 2094% with 1,047 quakes hitting the area.
 Both the U.S Army and the U.S. Geological Survey, who have conducted over fifty years of research into the area, confirm on a federal level that that “fluid injection” introduces subterranean instability and is a contributory factor in inducing increased seismic activity.
The reports come at a particularly interesting time for the UK thanks to the recent confirmed  link between the Cuadrilla fracking plant and the Lancashire earthquakes.
The Green Party has long criticized this practice, arguing that not only is there a risk of water pollution but that an increased rise in seismic activity leaves local residents at risk and feeling anxious and vulnerable.
"It's time for an immediate halt and a complete re-think of the government's approach to these energy resources."

A climate sceptic has said that it is now time to end the debate over whether global warming is real

From to-day's Independent:

A climate sceptic has said that it is now time to end the debate over whether global warming is real after the most definitive study into temperature data gathered by weather stations over the past half-century.

Professor Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been an outspoken critic of the science underpinning global warming, said that there is little doubt in his mind the phenomenon of rising land temperatures is real. Over the past two years, he has chaired a group of scientists who have carried out an exhaustive analysis of more than 1.6 billion temperature recordings collected from more than 39,000 weather stations at land sites around the world.

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (Best) study was set up to test the findings of other studies and was part-funded by US billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

"When we began our study, we felt that sceptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn't know what we'd find. Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some sceptics of that," Professor Muller said.

The Best study has yet to be peer-reviewed but has been submitted to the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Scientists homed in on weaknesses they saw in studies by the Climatic Research Unit and Hadley Centre in the UK, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US.

Professor Muller and his colleagues, including this year's physics Nobel winner, Saul Perlmutter, had suspected the previous work had been tainted by the "urban heat island effect", where increasing urbanisation around weather stations was causing the temperature increases recorded over the past half-century.

But a fine statistical analysis showed the urban heat effect could not explain a global temperature increase of about 1C since 1950. Professor Muller said the warming was not the result of data bias caused by selective elimination of some weather stations from the analysis, or the practice of "homogenisation" to take into account changes in weather station positions or instrumentation.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Green Room in yesterday's Daily Telegraph

London's best charity shops: stylish spoils and sweet charity

Katie Wright unearths fashionable surprises and saves a packet in London's best charity shops.

“….the Green Room (which serves an environmental charity) secrets vintage and costume jewellery between piles of precariously balanced books. Shimmering, one-off vintage pieces can be picked up here for less than a fiver apiece”

Friday, 4 November 2011

£9 million cost of police replacing traffic wardens

It has emerged that the cost of transferring traffic warden functions to the Metropolitan Police's new structure for the Safer Transport Command will cost the Met £9 million. The proposed new structure involves replacing traffic wardens with traffic police community support officers and traffic warden managers with police sergeants. The cost of early departures and the additional retraining and redeployment of traffic wardens is £9 million.

The Met has one of the lowest proportions of civilian staff in its workforce compared to other forces. The replacement of traffic wardens will reduce further the use of civilian staff. Generally use of civilian staff is cheaper that use of police officers.
Jenny Jones said:
“I am worried that the Mayor's fixation with keeping up officer numbers means the Met are taking a backward step by putting officers into roles that can be done by staff. All the advice in delivering a better police force for less recommends making greater use of police staff. Spending £9 million to replace civilian staff with experienced police sergeants and community support officers does not make good financial sense at a time when budgets are being cut.
“Police sergeants are highly trained and should be used in roles that require these skills. The de-civilianisation of the Met is worrying, when jobs can be done successfully by staff for less. It delivers poor value for money for Londoners”.
Question to the MPS 2011-90 traffic wardens

What was the total cost of transfer from the previous traffic warden arrangement to the present system, including the traffic warden supervisors and also retraining costs?


For several years now the MPS and TfL have, in consultation with the Trade Union Side, been working towards a new service delivery model within the Safer Transport Command (STC). This model is based on the use of TPCSOs rather than Traffic Wardens. The business rationale supporting the transition is predicated on the additional powers and therefore operational flexibility provided by TPCSOs as compared to Traffic Wardens. These additional powers enable TPCSOs to deal with ASB, cycling offences, counter terrorism and the ability to detain certain persons. TPCSOs also provide additional tactical deployment options enabling the MPS to meet the changing demands of the service. This increased flexibility will also enable the MPS to more effectively deliver against the requirements of the Olympic Policing operation and this will be reflected in updates to the Olympic planning in this area.

To facilitate the transition to the new STC service delivery model, voluntary early departure offers were made to the Traffic Warden group in November 2010 (Phase 1) and again in April 2011 (Phase 2). The total costs of the 200 early departures is £8.95m (this figure includes both departures to date and planned departures for both Traffic Wardens and Traffic Warden Managers). In addition, we have successfully redeployed 25 Traffic Wardens into the TPCSO role and have a further 21 currently completing the TPCSO training course. On the basis of a 100% success rate (which we anticipate) the training costs for this group will be approximately £73,400.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

We cannot keep quiet on rotten borough of City of London

Green Party Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones today reaffirmed the Party’s commitment to the abolition of the City of London Corporation.

Jones said: “It is no surprise that the political consensus is to avoid discussing the City of London’s nefarious practices and influence.

“Half of Conservative Party funding comes from the Square Mile and the proportion of votes allocated to big business within the Corporation increased under the Labour government.

“However we cannot keep quiet about the continued existence of a rotten borough that provides a tax haven for big business, lacks democracy and dislikes protests on its streets.

“With the neighbouring borough of Tower Hamlets implementing some of the worst cuts in the country and basic public services being forced to close, the unaccountable accumulation of the Corporation’s massive property portfolio is entirely unacceptable.”

 The Green Party passed policy at its September conference calling for the Corporation’s abolition.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Secret Met Police plane fleet raises serious questions on civil liberties

Reacting to reports today that the Metropolitan Police Service has a fleet of secret spy planes, each costing £3 million and capable of eavesdropping on mobile phone calls from the sky, Green Party Metropolitan Police Authority member Jenny Jones said:
"This dramatic and shocking news raises important questions on civil liberties, democratic scrutiny and prospective job cuts.
“First, how are instances of eavesdropping authorised or justified? Second, how did such a colossal and contentious item of public spending entirely avoid scrutiny? And third, will such excessive and controversial expenditure now be cut to prevent the prospective redundancies of police officers and support staff across London?”

 The report can be found here:

Saturday, 29 October 2011

BBC accused of anti-welfare stance

Letter to The Guardian

•, Friday 28 October 2011 21.00 BST

We are outraged that the BBC is joining the propaganda war aimed at destroying the welfare state, Britain 's most civilised and civilising legacy (Last night's TV, G2, 28 October). In the 1940s, after years ofdepression and slaughter, working-class people who had sacrificed so much felt entitled to a life without the constant threat of war and poverty. Family allowance, income support, unemployment and housing benefits, disability benefits, a state pension, the NHS and free education have assumed that everyone contributed and deserved to be looked after "from the cradle to the grave".

Entitlement fostered not only dignity and respect, but decent wages and working conditions for those in work. Since 1979, Thatcher's love for the free market and her hatred for "the culture of entitlement" has determined social policy. We are now all expected to chase nonexistent jobs or work for our benefits, ie £1.63 an hour; sick and disabled people are found "fit for work" even despite terminal illnesses; older people have had their pensions postponed because living "too long" is a crisis; the vital work of mothers and other carers is disregarded and dismissed. The minimum wage is bypassed and we all stand to lose. Why should corporations pay a living wage if they can get claimants and prisoners to work without one?

We are expected to compete with Chinese workers, 600,000 of whom drop dead from overwork every year. Is that what we should aspire to? The Chinese, like the rest of us, are demanding better wages and working conditions – and the welfare state is part of that. Haven't they noticed people are getting together internationally to raise everyone's standards, not to lower them? The fight is on for the society Thatcher said did not exist.

Selma James Global Women's Strike

John McDonnell, MP

Mark Serwotka General secretary, PCS

Bob Crow General secretary, RMT

Nina López Legal Action for Women

Kim Sparrow Single Mothers' Self-Defence

Claire Glasman WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)

Marie Lynam Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

Prof Peter Beresford Chair, Shaping Our Lives

Noel Lynch Chair, London Green Party

Dave Skull Mad Pride

Johnny Void Benefit Claimants Fightback

Sam Weinstein Member of Utility Workers Union of America

Alan Wheatley Green Party Trade Union Group

Joanna Long Boycott Workfare

Anne-Marie O'Reilly London Coalition Against Poverty

Friday, 28 October 2011

Has the city learnt nothing from the banking crisis?

FTSE 100 confirms worse fears; the rich are getting richer while everyone else struggles with cuts.

"Outrageous, unfair and morally reprehensible" fumes Penny Kemp of The Green Party.

More than £1.3 billion has been taken away from council's annual spending on help for the over 65's, pensions are losing value, nurseries are closing and millions are living in fuel poverty and we see a 49% pay rise for Britain's top bosses: THEIR average salary hits £2.7m while the UK's average salary crawls in at £24,000. A tiny minority continue to be rewarded for failure.
Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking in Australia, said the report was "concerning". It is more than concerning Mr Cameron, it is wrong and makes a nonsense of any further cuts.

It is examples of corporate greed such as this that prompted Jenny Jones, Green Party mayoral candidate to campaign to turn London into the ‘Fair Pay City' As Jenny herself states;
"During Boris Johnson's Mayorship the number of people within the GLA group earning more than 10 times the Living Wage has risen by 56% (from 62 to 97). The Chief Executive of Crossrail, Rob Holden, earns £857,134: a figure approximately 55 times the Living Wage (1).
A 10:1 maximum pay ratio would seriously reduce the pay gap in our city. It is unacceptable to use the economic crisis to defend paying workers less than the amount needed to support a family at the same as paying out colossal salaries to chief executives."


From SchNEWS
There were muted celebrations from cleaners at Buckingham Palace last week as they won a pay rise from £6.45 to the princely sum of £7.50 per hour - still short of the London Living Wage of £8.30 they had been campaigning for.

Sadly Her Majesty's altruism has its limits. On the day the pay rise was announced, hospitality contractor 'Off To Work' was offering shifts for a 'wonderful team' to work at Windsor Castle for £6.81 per hour. Part of Off To Work's 'company vision' is that people 'should feel like kings for one small moment' - presumably it wasn't referring to its staff.

O'Higgins ahead in Irish presidental election.

Left-wing, gay Labour candidate, Michael D O'Higgins, seems to have come from behind and now seems to be leading O'Gallagher, the Dragon's Den candidate in the battle for the position of President of Ireland. The election was yesterday under PR and a final result is expected late tonight.  The Sinn Fein candidate, Martin MacGuinness is also doing well according to the tallymen, with 29% in Dublin. His second preferences will probably decide the matter. They should go massively to the Labour candidate.

O'Higgins is also a poet. Here is one of his poems:

"When Will My Time Come"

When will my time come for scenery

And will it be too late?

After all

Decades ago I was never able

To get excited

About filling the lungs with ozone

On Salthill Prom.

And when the strangers

To whom I gave a lift

Spoke to me of the extraordinary

Light in the Western sky;

I often missed its changes.

And, later, when words were required

To intervene at the opening of Art Exhibitions,

It was not the same.

What is this tyranny of head that stifles

The eyes, the senses,

All play on the strings of the heart.

And, if there is a healing,

It is in the depth of a silence,

Whose plumbed depths require

A journey through realms of pain

That must be faced alone.

The hero, setting out,

Will meet an ally at a crucial moment.

But the journey home

Is mostly alone.

When my time comes

I will have made my journey

And through all my senses will explode

The evidence of light

And air and water, fire and earth.

I live for that moment.

Eating animals becomes legal obligation

A decree has just been published in the "Journal Officiel" in France making compulsory rules for the composition of meals in all public and private school catering.
These rules force 6m children of school age to eat meat, fish, dairy and eggs. Similar decrees are in preparation for almost all French catering, from nursery schools up to old people's home, including colleges, hospitals and prisons.
So it is now impossible for school cafeteria users to maintain their vegetarian diet every day.
And it will be impossible to be vegan for even one meal.
Vegetarian children who manage to leave the meat on the edge of their plate would be forced to have unbalanced meals, as no alternative would be available.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Mayor urged to stop further privatisation of the London Fire Brigade

Responding to the FBU, UNISON, GMB joint report ‘Privatisation of London’s fire service training and control centre report published today [24th October], London Assembly Member Darren Johnson said:

“I don’t believe that Londoners agree with privatisation of the fire service, and the uncertainties that come with it. I don't want to see pivotal London Fire Brigade services privatised as we have seen far too many privatisations that have been costly and ineffective. That is why I welcome these proposals by the unions for the Fire Brigade to work with staff and unions in designing improved in-house provision for training and fire control."

On the privatisation of fire engines, Darren said:

“The financial fiasco of the privatisation of London Fire Brigade fire engines has raised fundamental questions about the financial viability and safety of handing key frontline emergency services assets such as Fire engines over to the private sector. I have urged the Mayor of London to bring it back under public ownership” (1)

Darren Johnson’s questions to the Mayor of London at the 12 October Mayor’s Question Time:
1) AssetCo and London Fire Brigade

Question No: 3045 / 2011

Question by Darren Johnson, Green Party Member of the London Assembly

Do the ongoing financial problems around AssetCo demonstrate the problems inherent in the public sector’s over-reliance on private sector contractors, and would you agree that essential frontline assets such as fire appliances should be brought back into public ownership?
Written response from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson

The key requirement is that the public sector can deliver services effectively and essential equipment is correctly maintained. Returning assets to public ownership is not always possible or desirable. In this case, LFEPA has worked closely with AssetCo in order to ensure that the core service provision of supply and maintenance of fleet and operational equipment is continued.

The heat is on

A new analysis of the temperature record leaves little room for the doubters. The world is warming

Monday, 24 October 2011

Men of Arlington documentary tonight

 I did a lot of campaigning on the issue when I was on the London Assembly. London Irish homelessness is often hidden. These men (it is mostly men) came over and sometimes did not get involved in society or the welfare system. Many of them contributed to relatives at home, and are now forgotten, many also succumbed to drink and the other problems associated with immigration. The Irish are the only group whose life expectancy drops when the come to England. I also helped save the Cricklewood Centre when the Church attempted to close it down.
.....................This is from the Irish Times newspaper:
For generations of Irish emigrants to London, the cavernous Arlington House in Camden provided a home away from home. The massive redbrick edifice, which was mentioned by George Orwell in Down and Out in Paris and London, is more than a century old and remains a place of refuge from the street for many Irish men.

Many of its long-term residents are Irish. Over the years many of them succumbed to alcoholism, substance abuse, depression and homelessness and other perils of forced emigration.

Though Arlington House is not a home in the conventional sense, they have found solace and comradeship there, as well as a roof over their heads.

The residents of Arlington House are the subjects of a moving documentary, which will be broadcast on BBC1 tonight. Men of Arlington focuses on three residents of the London hostel, two of whom still live there.

Peter Doyle (pictured) was born to a single mother and spent his first 15 years in Irish institutions. He left for England in search of a better life and found a bed in Arlington House. Half a century later it is still his home. Seamus Morgan O'Connell is a descendent of Daniel O'Connell. He was also educated at Ampleforth, the top Catholic public school in Britain, but lost everything after his business collapsed when he was 37. He has been there for 25 years.

The third, Joe McGarry, ended up on the street, but got his life back and went on to chair the housing association that looked after Arlington House.

In advance of the screening of the documentary tonight, comedian Ardal O'Hanlon has written an open letter to the Taoiseach asking him to provide a community resettlement scheme for homeless Irish men in London who want to live in Ireland. O'Hanlon is patron of the Aisling Return to Ireland project, which provides trips to Ireland - in many cases for people who have not been back for decades. In his letter O'Hanlon said there was no willingness on the part of any Government department to take responsibility for this "faceless, voiceless and voteless constituency".

Men of Arlington is on BBC1 at 10.35pm tonight.

Friday, 21 October 2011


It was officially confirmed this week, as if we needed any more evidence, that the two freak minor earthquakes that occurred near the site of Caudrilla's fracking exploration near Blackpool were the fault of...the fracking exploration (see SchNEWS 790, 788).
The government has now said that unless Caudrilla (not yet a star of Japanese monster movies) can prove that they make remedial measures to make sure the quakes don't happen again, the fracking will have to stop. Whether this happens or not is uncertain: the potential for profiting from shale gas has pound signs flashing in the eyes of oil'n'gas companies all over the world.

And it hasn't stopped them in the US: The town of Guy, Arkansas

- which happens to lie between a multitude of fracking wells - had more than 700 earthquakes in just six months earlier this year.

But hey, what's a bit of man-made, permanent seismic shifting when there's big bucks to be made? See
(From SchNEWS)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Prince William’s homeless charity Centrepoint faces strike action

The homeless charity Centrepoint was urged to enter into last-minute talks with Unite, after the majority of its members voted overwhelmingly to strike in a dispute over staff losing thousands of pounds a year in pay

Unite, the largest union in the country, has asked the conciliation service Acas to intervene as managers seem intent on imposing pay cuts which could see some of the more than 100 staff losing thousands of pounds, while top executives will have their pay ring-fenced from cuts.
Unite’s members voted by 70 per cent to 30 per cent for strike action at the charity, which looks after homeless young people, and its members will meet on Monday (3 October) to decide strike dates.
The charity’s patron is Prince William and Centrepoint hit the headlines when its chief executive Seyi Obakin left the pay negotiations to join the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their visit to America. Unite described Mr Obakin’s trip as ‘an unnecessary sycophantic jaunt’.
Unite regional officer Matt Smith said: ”There is a clear mandate supporting the view that our members are not prepared to accept that the lowest paid frontline staff should take savage pay cuts, while the senior management keep their pay at the same level.
”Unite calls on the senior management to get back round the table to resolve this potentially damaging dispute at one of Prince William’s favourite charities.
”We hope the board will intervene and bring this iconic charity back from the brink of disaster. We need to prevent this charity from carrying out the cruellest of ironies - cutting our members’ pay by so much it could potentially force them to join the very homeless that they do so much to help.
”We have a members’ meeting on Monday to decide on strike dates. Unite has contacted Acas in an attempt to resolve this, but the management is being completely unreasonable and putting the future of the charity at major risk.
”At the last meeting we had at Centrepoint the senior management was confident our members would not vote for strike action and they would bat off any negative publicity. This is a dangerous under estimation of our members’ feelings. The senior management's naive industrial relations attitude is a real concern for Unite.“
Unite said that more than 100 staff at Centrepoint have been singled out to face severe wage cuts, demotion and redundancy.
Unite research into Centrepoint’s 2010 public accounts has revealed that the organisation pays six of its senior executives over £60,000-a-year, with one being paid £110,000.

Climate change will put strain on military resources!!

Climate change poses "an immediate, growing and grave threat" to health and security around the world. Officers in the UK military warned that the price of goods such as fuel is likely to rise as conflict provoked by climate change increases - humanitarian disasters will put more and more strain on military resources.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Mayor says “no huge alarm” over rise in pedestrian casualties

The London mayor responded to questions about an extra 151 slight child pedestrian casualties last year, by saying that he felt that there was ‘no huge alarm’ as long as the number of killed and seriously injured was still declining. He said that he was looking at “the blip in statistics” which has seen child pedestrian casualties rise for two years running, after a nineteen year on year decline in the number injured. However, he had not discussed the issue with advisers since March, despite Jenny Jones writing to him in May asking for an urgent investigation into the reason why. The Mayor says that TfL have not identified the reasons for the increase.

The Mayor also said that he felt it might be to do with the growth of mobile electronic devices, which some people used whilst cycling, driving or crossing the road. Casualties have continued to decline in the rest of the UK. London is the only region in the country where they have risen since 2008. The Mayor has more than halved the budget for road safety in London.

Jenny Jones said:
"We can't accept more injuries to children in London when numbers are falling in the rest of the country. Something has gone wrong in London since 2008 and the Mayor needs a moratorium on the policies which could be responsible. That means putting a stop to all the changes to traffic lights which are part of his smoother traffic flow agenda and reversing the cuts to the road safety budget until such time as he publishes a proper investigation of the likely causes.

1. Figures for child pedestrian casualties obtained from TfL– ‘Casualties in Greater London’ fact sheet 2. The total number of pedestrian casualties has declined every year since 1989 since 2008 (

3. Information on budget cuts provided in response to question no 628/2010

Sparks De-Skilling

 And Pay Dispute Ballot Or No Ballot All Out To Defend Our Future
A sometimes angry and consistently passionate meeting of over 100 electricians, or sparks as they are known in the trade, took place at Conway hall central London last night to discuss future tactics in their struggle against attacks on their pay and terms and conditions.

 The sparks are facing an entirely calculated and cynical attack by a cabal of seven construction firms Balfour Beatty, Crown House, Spie WHS/Matthew Hall, Shepherd Engineering Services and NG Bailey. The seven have given workers a stark choice either sign new contracts by December 7th or face the sack, the new contracts downgrade the sparks from skilled to semi skilled workers and includes a hefty 35% pay cut, from £16.25 to £10.50 per hour. With inflation running at 5% and food and fuel prices through the roof, the sparks have been left with no choice by their employers, they have to fight back.

This is quite clearly an attempt by the group of seven employers to take advantage of the current economic environment of high unemployment and falling wages, to drive down wages in order to increase profits, Balfour Beatty the biggest of the firms and the instigator of this initiative made profits of £50 million last year.

These firms have seen the actions of the coalition government in attacking the pay and conditions of the public sector workforce and taken inspiration from that, if the Condems can get away with slashing the conditions of such a highly unionised workplace as the public sector then what's to stop the private sector doing the same to their less organised workforce.

The sparks are not taking this lying down though, they have not waited for the Unite leadership to direct tactics, the last month has seen protests outside building sites up and down the country with more planned over the coming weeks. This action seems to have upset some of the Unite leadership with Bernard McAuley - Unite National Officer, who was present at the meeting, coming under particular criticism for an email he sent describing the wild cat protest movement as “cancerous” and “divisive”.
The militancy of the rank and file, who are crying out for a national ballot on strike action, was palpable at the meeting, and seemed to be completely at odds with the measured tone of Mcauley and Gail Cartmail Unite Assisstant General Secretary. The Unite leadership still seems to be hamstrung by the high court decision in May 2010 that ruled its strike of BA cabin crews illegal, McAuley stressed the need for Unite to have a proper membership audit before balloting, obviously the fear of another court case stalks them. This is no use to the sparks of course the clock is ticking for them and it looks likely they will have to take action without the explicit backing of the union.

It is clear that this dispute is a tester for the rest of the construction industry, these seven firms are dipping their toes in the water to test the temperature of union resistance. A defeat of the sparks here, who are a relatively well unionised and organised section of the construction workforce, would open the doors to a more general wage reduction for all skilled construction workers.

The sparks are determined to continue the fight with or without an official ballot, more protests are planned in the coming weeks which will hopefully build into wild cat strikes and targeted closures of high profile construction sites up and down the country, building into the biggest mass walkout of construction workers in years on November 30th to coincide with the public sector strikes. To do this the sparks are going to need bodies at the protests and picket lines and money fighting fund is being set up to support striking workers details of which can be found

On their blog http://jibelectricia​

On twitter!/JIBElectrician

On facebook

Friday, 7 October 2011

'Movement for an Adoption Apology'

Guest post from Jean Robertson-Molloy:
A new Green Party Policy has just been agreed at the Sheffield Conference: that we should campaign for an official government apology for the past treatment of unmarried birth parents who were coerced into giving up their babies for adoption.

Some may think that the Green Party has more important matters to attend to than this. But this decision is important and worthwhile.

Firstly it is important for the well-being of the people who suffered in this way.
The idea that one should give up a child for adoption simply because one was not married sounds today almost laughable. But that was what many women were coerced into doing by the simple method of refusing them information and advice about the available benefits at that time. Many people, especially women, suffered years of mental and or physical ill-health subsequently, which perhaps nothing can now make up for.

But at least we can let them know that their pain and grief is recognised, and thus make the unspeakable speakable, an essential ingredient of healing.

But this is also a matter of social justice with wider implications. As Greens, we tend to be very aware of the injustices suffered by people in other countries, of the children who starve, of the homosexuals threatened with death, of the women raped routinely in war-fare, to mention only a few.

But one of the Green Party’s strengths, it seems to me, is that we are also aware and willing to get involved with local issues, individual injustices. And not to sweep under the carpet inconvenient facts. That half a million women suffered under this system is a very inconvenient fact for those who want to promote adoption today. But suffer they did, and I am proud of the Green Party’s willingness to endorse this campaign. Jean Robertson-Molloy 4-10-11

I seconded this motion for Conference. Only those involved know of the trauma involved. Here is Jean's moving speech to Conference:
Adoption Apology Speech Jean Robertson-Molloy, at Green Party Conference—Sheffield 10-9-11
I am a birth mother. I gave up a child for adoption in 1963 because I was not married . I’m not against all adoptions , but I am against the way things were done in the past.

It seems incredible now, but in the 60s, and before and after that, it was a total disaster for a woman to be pregnant without being married. Horrified parents would often threaten to throw her out, while the authorities preferred not to give information about the welfare benefits that she could be entitled to, but constantly advised that adoption was the best thing. This of course was pre-pill and pre legal abortion.

And there was a huge double standard prevailing; young men could happily sow their wild oats–but if a woman was found out for having ‘got herself pregnant’ there was hell to pay.

Therefore many women felt there was no option but to give up their children. And often suffered years of mental health problems, even suicidal depression, up till the present day. Some birth fathers, who were also forced to abandon their children, suffered these traumas too. But saddest of all, many of these birth mothers never managed to have any more children.

And is everything more civilised today? I don’t think so. Our present government is right now engaged in cutting down on all the services which exist to support single parents and vulnerable families, while at the same time blaming them whenever the family falls apart. Fast-tracking of children from such families into adoption is their current answer, instead of trying to deal with the real causes of family breakdowns (such as drugs, alcohol, domestic violence and poverty*.)

So, let’s demand another look at the realities of the adoption system. And at least recognise and acknowledge the pain and grief of those past situations when so many women lost their children needlessly. An apology for this is surely long overdue. Thank you.
* this phrase within the brackets was omitted when she ctually gave the speech.

Three birth mothers, including Jean, have set up a campaign group on this issue,  called MAA -- standing for 'Movement for an Adoption Apology'. They have not yet got a web-site. They need lots of people to write to their MPs in support of the demand for a Parliamentary apology.  Meantime, anyone who is interested is welcome to contact Jean about it.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Wangari Maathai, Nobel peace prize winner, dies at 71

Kenyan social activist and environmental crusader who founded the Green Belt Movement has died of cancer

The Kenyan environmental and political activist who won a Nobel Peace prize for her work with the Green Belt Movement

• John Vidal

•, Monday 26 September 2011 18.42 BST

For a young Kikuyu girl growing up in the early 1940s, the small village of Ihithe, in the lush central highlands of Kenya, was next to perfect. There were no books or gadgets in the houses, but there were leopards and elephants in the thick forests around, clean water, rich soils, and food and work for everyone. "It was heaven. We wanted for nothing," Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel peace prize winner, who has died of cancer aged 71, told me when I saw her last in Nairobi. "Now the forests have come down, the land has been turned to commercial farming, the tea plantations keep everyone poor, and the economic system does not allow people to appreciate the beauty of where they live."

Maathai was lucky. If she had been born even a year later, she and her family would have probably been caught up in the Mau Mau uprising that raged around Ihithe, and it is unlikely that she would have got any kind of education at all. "You would see me there now: I most likely would have stayed in Ihithe, married, had children, and continued to work the land. I would not tell stories, because they have been replaced by radio, books and TV," she said.

As it was, her family sent her away to a primary school run by Italian nuns, where she excelled. But her remarkable academic rise to become the first woman to run a university department in Kenya was due entirely to her closeness to nature. It was the land that showed her and taught her everything, she said.

After graduating in 1959, she won a scholarship to study in the US, as part of the "Kennedy airlift" in which 300 Kenyans – including Barack Obama's father – were chosen to study at American universities in 1960. After further study in Germany, she returned to a newly independent Kenya in 1966, and five years later become the first woman in east and central Africa to obtain a PhD from an African university. There followed a tumultuous personal and public 40 years in which she ran the University of Nairobi's veterinary department, was imprisoned several times, stood for president, became a minister and won the Nobel peace prize.

Her early work as a vet took her to some of Kenya's poorest areas, where she saw firsthand the degradation of the environment and the stress it put on the lives of women who produced most of the food. Kenya's forests were being cleared and replaced by commercial plantations. The result was more drought, loss of biodiversity and increased poverty. The experience, she said, made her determined to address the linked, root causes of poverty and environmental destruction.

It also coincided with her marriage to Mwangi Mathai, a young Kenyan politician who had also studied in the US. The union, she said later, was "a catastrophe", but it led to her championing the cause of women for the rest of her life: "I should have known that ambition and success were not to be expected in an African woman. An African woman should be a good African woman whose qualities should be coyness, shyness, submissiveness, incompetence and crippling dependency. A highly educated independent African woman is bound to be dominant, aggressive, uncontrollable, a bad influence."

Mwangi Mathai left her in 1977, suing for divorce and saying she was too strong-minded and that he was unable to control her. When she later, perhaps unwisely, referred in a magazine interview to the divorce judge as "either incompetent or corrupt", she was charged with contempt of court and sentenced to six months in prison. She only served a few days, but when her husband demanded she drop his surname, she defiantly chose to add an extra "a".

Realisation that communities were destroying their own resources led her to work directly with the poorest. It was the women, she reasoned, who experienced the worst impact of a degraded environment. In 1977, she set up the Green Belt movement, more in hope than expectation that it would grow.

"They lack wood fuel, water, food and fodder. They are poor, have no cash income and are confined to rural life," she told me. "They find themselves in a vicious cycle of debilitating poverty, lost self-confidence and a never-ending struggle to meet their most basic needs."

Initially, the Green Belt movement's tree-planting activities did not address issues of democracy and peace, but it soon became clear to her that responsible governance of the environment was impossible without democratic space. The tree became a symbol for the democratic struggle in Kenya and a way of challenging widespread abuses of power, corruption and environmental mismanagement. She and others planted trees in Uhuru park, Nairobi, to demand the release of prisoners of conscience and a peaceful transition to democracy.

But as she became more vocal in her criticism of Kenyan elites, she ran headfirst into the corruption and casual brutality that surrounded President Daniel arap Moi. There had been attempts before to dismiss her as mad or foolish, but she came to prominence in 1989 when she led a campaign to stop the construction of a multimillion-pound office development in Uhuru park, Nairobi's equivalent of Hyde park in London. The complex, backed by the media tycoon Robert Maxwell, was about to be built when Maathai and other pro-democracy individuals challenged Moi in the courts. The international campaign succeeded and the development was scuppered. Moi and the political establishment were furious.

In 1992, she found herself on a list of people targeted by the government for assassination. For protection, and as a defiant statement, she publicly barricaded herself in her home for three days before the police broke in to arrest her. She and others were charged with sedition and treason, and were only released after a campaign orchestrated by the Kennedys.

Maathai and the rest did not stop there. They took part in a hunger strike in Uhuru park, which they labelled Freedom Corner, to pressure the government to release political prisoners. After four days, she and three others were beaten up by the police. This time Moi called her "a mad woman" who was "a threat to the order and security of the country". For the next few years she lived in fear of her life, and was increasingly threatened and vilified by political leaders. In 1993, she was forced into hiding after Moi claimed she was responsible for leaflets inciting Kikuyus to attack Kalenjins.

As her political thinking developed, she became increasingly critical of worldwide governance. Her falling-out with politicians in Kenya reflected her deep disillusionment with the World Bank, the IMF, Britain and other former colonial powers. Increasingly she sided with the world's poorest people, becoming a hero of the worldwide ecological and African democracy movements.

"The elites have become predators, self-serving and only turning to people when they need them. We can never all be equal, but we can ensure we do not allow excessive poverty or wealth. Inequality breeds insecurity," she said.

By this time, the Green Belt was flourishing. What began as a few women planting trees became a network of 600 community groups that cared for 6,000 tree nurseries, which were often supervised by disabled and mentally ill people in the villages. By 2004, more than 30m trees had been planted, and the movement had branches in 30 countries. In Kenya, it has become an unofficial agricultural advice service, a community regeneration project and a job-creation plan all in one.

In the early 1990s, Maathai moved into mainstream Kenyan politics. She set up Mazingira, the Kenyan Green Party, winning 98% of the votes in her constituency, and then joined the coalition that finally overthrew Moi in 2002. She was a junior environment minister in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005. She later planned to run for president but claims she was tricked out of it.

In 2004, seemingly out of the blue, she was awarded the Nobel peace prize, to the consternation of many politicians and governments who still did not see the "peace" connection between human rights and the environment. It gave her an international profile and a strong platform to travel the world, pressing home the message that ecology and democracy were indivisible. In 2006, she led a Unep tree-planting scheme that has resulted in more than 7bn trees being planted across the planet.

In her last years, she took on the commercial palm plantations that have destroyed so much of Indonesia and Malaysia and badgered politicians to address climate change, which she said was hurting women the most.

"The tree is just a symbol for what happens to the environment. The act of planting one is a symbol of revitalising the community. Tree-planting is only the entry point into the wider debate about the environment. Everyone should plant a tree," she told me.

She is survived by two daughters, Wanjira and Muta, and a son, Waweru, as well as her granddaughter, Ruth.

• Wangari Maathai, environmental activist and politician, born 1 April 1940; died 25 September 2011

Monday, 26 September 2011

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Recycling on message – Energy saving no clue

LCRN News Service reports that half of the British public clearly understand messages about recycling their waste, but are left in the dark when it comes to lowering their energy use, according to a new Ipsos MORI survey.

When asked to choose up to three options from a list of things that people can do to help the environment, over half (52%) chose 'recycle bottles, cans, paper and other materials', by far the highest number of responses. By contrast, just 15% of respondents chose 'turn down home heating' and only 22% selected 'make fewer car journeys' and 'use public transport'. Men (18%) were also significantly more likely than women (13%) to select 'turn down home heating'.

Critically, central heating and hot water is the second highest factor in a household's impact on the environment, but was only ranked 11th on the public's list of options.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Whizzo Quizzo - THIS WEDNESDAY.

Who invented the hole in the donut?
How was Wigan United AC involved in the fall of communism.
What did a Monkee's mother invent?
Why did John Major fail to get a job as a bus conductor?
Viagra was originally development as a treatment for what?

These questions may (or may not) be in our fun quiz. Come along and find out the answers.

Event: Green Party Trade Union Group fundraising Quiz..
When: This Wednesday, August 31st.
Start 7.30pm.
Venue: Development House, Leonard Street, close to Old Street Tube.  Just take exit 4 from the tube, walk about 20 yards and turn left down Leonard Street. Development House is at the far end of the street opposite the Borris Bikes.

Admission: £5 or £3 concessions.

Why not bring a team of friend, workmates, relations etc?  Otherwise, you can just turn up and join one at the event.

Also, bring your own drink and food to share.

Further details: Quizmaster, Noel Lynch 07961 44 1722

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Arrest in Parliament Square - police video

This is from the Brian Haw site.  It's from the police's own video.  Watch it to the end, the policeman in charge did not know that the tape was still running.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Lack of parenting support funds fuels riots debate

Molly Garboden

Tuesday 16 August 2011 14:03

Despite the prime minister's calls for stronger parenting in England after last week's riots and looting, local authorities are spending on average just 6% of their early intervention grant on parenting support this year, according to responses to a Community Care freedom of information request.

Last week, David Cameron said: "The sight of those young people running down streets, smashing windows, taking property, looting, laughing as they go – the problem of that is a complete lack of proper parenting, a lack of proper upbringing. That is what we need to change."

In her final review of child protection in England, Professor Eileen Munro pointed to Department of Health research stating that for every £1 spent on "parenting interventions to prevent persistent conduct disorders in their children" local authorities would save £7.89.

The riots have shown the potential for such an investment and the need for greater commitment to parenting programmes, experts have said.

"It seems ironic that David Cameron is emphasising parenting support now because he's the one who put in the cuts that are forcing local authorities to decrease their parenting support services," said Nushra Mansuri, professional officer at the British Association of Social Workers.

"He's seeing the devastation now, though. If the government really is going to commit to effective parenting programmes, they need to implement ring-fencing.

Toby Perkins, shadow education minister, said: "All the evidence shows that we're actually seeing cuts in preventative programmes. That really doesn't match up with the government's rhetoric about the importance of supporting parents and the situation is very dangerous when we're seeing the catastrophic reality of when children and young people go off the rails in the riots that happened last week."

Members of the children's services sector have said 6% of a local authority's early intervention grant on parenting will not cover the support families need.

"Six per cent of the grant is not going to provide the type of universal provision that the government is calling for," said Pamela Park, chief executive of Parenting UK.

"Taking a holistic view, we believe councils must invest enough to allow for a universal offer of parenting support in early years, with enough on top of that for follow-up support for parents as new challenges arise as their children get older. I don't think this 6% is enough for all that."

Statistics show about a quarter of those charged in connection with the looting and riots in England were younger than 18

Friday, 12 August 2011

"Stealing the Common from the Goose" 17th century commons poem

The law locks up the man or woman

Who steals the goose from off the common

But leaves the greater villain loose

Who steals the common from off the goose.

The law demands that we atone

When we take things we do not own

But leaves the lords and ladies fine

Who take things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape

If they conspire the law to break;

This must be so but they endure

Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman

Who steals the goose from off the common

And geese will still a common lack

Till they go and steal it back.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Tweet Pie

The 'Tweet Pie' recipe book - subtitled the 'The World's Shortest Recipe Book' contains 140-character recipes submitted by users of that Twitter thing. It contains instructions on making snacks, starters, main courses and puddings, all crowd-sourced on the social networking site, with more than 200 submitted. As a book with less than 7,000 characters would be quite short to say the least, it is augmented with illustrations from Twitter users, and recipes from actual chefs. The proceeds from the sales of the book will be given to FoodCycle to help combat food poverty. It is estimated that 4 million British people suffer from food poverty, and suggest that malnutrition costs the NHS £13 billion per year.

You can buy a copy of the 'Tweet Pie' from FoodCycle's eBay page.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Lambeth and Southwark Greens select campaigning Dad as candidate for London elections

A Dad who confronted David Cameron during the last general election campaign over his plans for disabled children, has been selected as the Green candidate for Lambeth and Southwark in next years London Assembly elections.

Jonathan Bartley, who has lived in Lambeth and Southwark all his life, was also the national spokesperson for the 'Yes' campaign, in the recent referendum on changing the voting system for the House of Commons. People in Lambeth and Southwark backed the change.

A regular panellist on BBC1's The Big Questions, and Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show he writes for the Guardian newspaper and is a paper reviewer for BBC Radio London.

Jonathan Bartley said: "Next year's London elections are about the kind of London we want to live in at a time of economic hardship and cuts. We have a clear choice between a city which favours the wealthiest, or one which champions equality, inclusion, sustainability and accessibility for all.

"It is shameful that one of the richest cities in the world should also be one where the gap between the richest and poorest is one of the widest. It is important to fight cuts to housing benefit, the NHS and youth services, but it is also important to propose alternatives. The Greens who have been elected to the London Assembly over the last ten years, have done this successfully. I look forward to working with then, and others, to ensure we get more Greens elected in 2012 and make the alternative vision a reality."

Monday, 1 August 2011

The ultimate insult for Clarkson: His view's been ruined by a recycling tip

By Jonathan Brown

The Independent.  Monday, 1 August 2011

It is a development that will be savoured by environmentalists. Jeremy Clarkson, patron saint of petrol heads and serial denouncer of "eco-mentalists", can look forward to a recycling depot being built within a Lamborghini Murcielago's braking distance of his country home.

And for the growing band of critics of the so-called Chipping Norton set – the Cotswold hub to a certain David Cameron, Rebekah Brooks and Elisabeth Murdoch, as well as the Top Gear presenter and his family – there is a second, equally delicious twist. The man behind the campaign to move the existing plant from near the village of Dean, where the Camerons live, to a site next door to the Clarksons is Lord Chadlington, a close friend ofMr Cameron and president of theWest Oxfordshire Conservative Association.

Clarkson, who owns a sprawling Edwardian pile with an excellent view of the proposed site, feels powerless to stop the development. "It seems that my local council is thinking of moving the town's tip right next to my back garden," he said. "Normally, this is the sort of issue I would raise with my MP. Unfortunately my MP is David Cameron and, at present, the town's tip is right next to his back garden. I think therefore he won't be very sympathetic."

Dean Pit, where residents queue each weekend to recycle their household waste, is to close at the end of September. Were the new recycling plant not to be built near Chateau Clarkson, another proposed site was close to the home of the outgoing News International chief executive Ms Brooks. In a rare piece of good news for her, though, that site was rejected by West Oxfordshire District Council.

Lord Chadlington, who takes his noble title from the nearby Oxfordshire village where he lives, and is better known as Peter Selwyn Gummer, founder of the PR giant Shandwick, is said to have paid for a study by a group of independent experts looking at possible alternatives to the current site.

Mr Clarkson's fate was met with delight by local Greens, who picketed against the decision to award him an honorary degree at Oxford Brookes University in 2005 because of his outspoken views on climate change among other things. When the ceremony went ahead, the presenter received a custard pie in the face from a protester.

"It's got to go somewhere and I couldn't think of a better person than Jeremy Clarkson," cackled Councillor David Williams, group leader of the Oxfordshire Green Party. "He permeates a laddish culture where you put your foot down and burn as much fossil fuel as you can. He asked our members one day if they thought it was hot, referring to global warming. He said 'You can blame me for that.' That sort of joke doesn't go down well. The local environmentalists don't like Jeremy Clarkson and he doesn't like them."

Glyn Watkins of the group Chippy First said that some other locals did sympathise with Clarkson. "We don't see a great deal of him but he raises money for the lido which is used by Samantha Cameron and her kids," he said. "He also raises money for the hospice in Banbury. He does his bit.

"We hope he does complain to David Cameron but if he gets it moved it will be seen as a case of the old boys' act. He's damned whatever way he does it."

Clarkson on environmentalists

* "I've argued time and again that the old trade unionists and CND lesbians didn't go away. They just morphed into environmentalists. The red's become green but the goals remain the same. And there's no better way of achieving those goals than turning the lights out and winding the clock back to the Stone Age. Only when we're all eating leaves under a hammer and sickle will they be happy." (January 2008, Sunday Times)

* "These eco-people are the sort who were bullied at school. They have poor dress sense, limited social skills and they know they stand little chance of making much headway in the world, so they want it changed." (February 2008, Sunday Times)

Saturday, 23 July 2011


From SchNEWS
Mexico's drug war claimed another life in Ciudad Juarez, the border city that is officially the world's most violent city. In a city with an an average death toll of eight murders a day, this is shocking but not surprising. The victim was 19 year old Lucero Aguilar, an activist for MORENO, a left-wing youth movement. A former drug dealer himself, Lucero had quit the bloody business and dedicated himself to rescuing other youths in the poorest neighbourhoods from getting sucked in by the promises of money and power (and a short lifespan) offered by the cartels.
Lucero was ambushed in the local football field, where gunmen shot him in the back. He died shortly afterwards in hospital. It's highly unlikely that his killing will ever be investigated, or that his killers will be brought to justice. In Juarez, like most of Mexico, the narcos (gangsters) operate with complete impunity- if his killers weren't actually policemen, they will have collaborated with the police and city authorities.
Friends from his neighbourhood said, 'He was a man of his word, he cared for the kids, and he worked because he loved his neighbourhood'
It is believed that his killing was meant to be a warning to Juarez's peace activists and community organisers, who have been getting more visible and confident since the arrival of the Peace Caravan back in June (see SchNEWS 775). Lucero's death is another reminder of just how cheap life is in Juarez, and how vulnerable activists are in Mexico.
* More Moreno (for Spanish readers) at

Saturday, 16 July 2011


From SchNEWS

Michael Lyons served as a medical assistant submariner for six years before he was expelled from the navy for thinking and feeling. He was due to begin a two-week rifle course at HMS Excellent, a shore base in Portsmouth, last September but refused pre-deployment, asking instead to be put to a non-combat role.

In court he confirmed he had all his physical and mental faculties, and his objections to orders rose from personal convictions not madness. Well we've got a live one. 'My initial objections started with Afghanistan and I wanted to investigate the reasons why we were at war. At the time WikiLeaks came along and mentioned Iraq and Afghanistan. The reports said there had been some civilian casualties that nobody knew about and they were being covered up,' he said.
Lyons had already been told he couldn't treat Afghan civilians, which added to his uneasiness about going to war. Apparently medics cannot have such scruples but just be good at putting up and shutting up - and learning how to shoot people. To put more froth in the juice the appeal as an conscientious objector status 'probably' failed due to him being an atheist rather than an ordinary God fearing good little boy. Lyons was ordered to see a Chaplain despite his anti-religious convictions, after which the Chaplain stated it was a political, rather than a moral objection.

Without the defence that he was refusing on religious grounds, this conscientious person was found guilty of disobeying a lawful order at his court martial in Plymouth on Tuesday (5th).

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Charities fund horrific experiments

4 leading medical research charities are accused of using money donated by the public to fund horrific animal experiments.
A major new report by Animal Aid describes how charity-funded medical researchers have deliberately damaged monkeys' brains with toxic chemicals, and slowly and systematically destroyed dogs' hearts. Other researchers, according to Victims of Charity, have tormented mice in water mazes, injected them with cancerous tissue, or used animals who had been subjected to special breeding programmes that left them weakened, disease-prone and mentally deranged.

 The 4 charities are Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, Parkinson's UK and the Alzheimer's Society. Their collective joint annual income currently exceeds £800m.

 'What all 4 charities have in common,' says the Animal Aid report, 'is a determination to conceal the nature and extent of the animal suffering for which they are responsible.'

Animal Aid is calling on the public to withhold all financial support until they pledge to end their funding of animal experiments. This includes donations, legacies and charity shop purchases. The boycott campaign will be backed by a series of national newspaper advertisements, as well as by campaign postcards that the public is being asked to fill out and send to the Chief Executives of the 4 organisations. Reinforcing the boycott message are on-the-record statements by several anti-vivisectionists who themselves are afflicted by serious medical conditions. Their message, in relation to the animal experiments funded by the charities, is: 'Not in my name'.

While descriptions of animal suffering form a vital part of the new Animal Aid report, Victims of Charity also challenges the claim that the suffering is justified because the experiments produce significant health benefits for people.

Researched and written by hospital doctor and medical lecturer Adrian Stallwood, and by veterinary surgeon Andre Menache, the authors examine past and contemporary accounts of experimental procedures written by the experimenters themselves. They also assess scientific reviews in leading specialist journals. They conclude that animal-based research into cancer, dementia, heart disease and Parkinson's has been a 'wasteful and futile quest' - one that has failed to advance the cause of human medicine.

They call on the charities to end their funding of animal research in favour of non-animal methods that are directly relevant to people. These include the use of donated human tissue and organs, microdosing, computer modelling and imaging technologies.

Corporate influence on food production

Vandana Shiva - "Corporate influence on food production in India, and large, chemical monoculture farms, is causing a severe food insecurity crisis."

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Public services poem raises the roof at Glastonbury

In the latest stage of the union’s campaign against the Tory’s hard and fast public spending cuts, UNISON, the UK’s largest public services union, has commissioned a poem from the poet in residence at Glastonbury festival.

The hard-hitting poem called For the People, By Tony Walsh, aka Longfella, was  performed during the three-day festival taking place at Worthy Farm.
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:
“We are using every means possible to get the message out there about the huge dangers the Tories pose to our society, our economy, and to our public services. Tony’s rousing poem highlights the injustice of cuts, which hit the poorest hardest, at the same time as the bankers carry on pocketing billions in bonuses.”

Saturday, 18 June 2011

TelGraf 5th Anniversary bash at Parliament

With Jenny Jones AM, the Kurt twins (Green Party Candidates), Danny Bates (Jean Lambert's office) and Caroline Allen (Green GLA candidate)

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Police numbers.

Met officers taking over staff roles

The Metropolitan Police 2011-14 policing plan will reduce the proportion of staff in the workforce, with an 11% reduction of staff and 5% reduction of officer numbers. The Met has one of the lowest proportions of staff in the workforce in comparison with other forces.

Jenny Jones is concerned that this shift means officers are being moved into jobs previously done by staff for a lower cost, including uniformed staff such as PCSOs and others dealing directly with the public. At the London Assembly plenary meeting on the 8th June, Jenny will question the Chair of the MPA Kit Malthouse and the Met's Deputy Commissioner Tom Godwin on the value for money of this change.

Reportedly, Lambeth police are planning to fill five front counter vacancies with officers rather than specialist station reception staff or PCSOs. Further, the proposed reorganisation of the control room will see a loss of staff posts with officers taking over some of the work.

Changes to Safer Schools teams include 70 officers replacing 102 PCSOs and the Safer Transport command has seen 510 traffic warden and PCSO posts replaced by 413 officers.

The Mayor's buy-one-get-one-officer-free offer to boroughs has resulted in proposals for officers to take over park patrols from local authority staff in Redbridge and Wandsworth.

Jenny said:

“I am worried that the focus on keeping up officer numbers means the Met are taking a backward step by putting officers into roles that can be done by staff. All the advice in delivering a better police force for less recommends making greater use of police staff. Beyond financial savings, there are other advantages to using police staff in these roles, as they tend to stay in the same role longer, developing expertise and local knowledge.

“Police officers are highly trained with specialist skills and should be used in roles that require these skills. Putting officers on front counters, when this can be done successfully by specialist staff for less, delivers poor value for money for Londoners”.

Jenny Jones has put the following question to Kit Malthouse (MPA chair) and Tim Godwin (deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police) for the London Assembly plenary on the 8th June.

Question No: 81/2011

Make-up of MPS workforce


Are you concerned about the value for money implications of moving to a workforce with a higher proportion of police officer posts and lower proportion of civilian posts?

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The health benefits of merely living close to a green space are worth up to £300 per person per year

The UK's parks, lakes, forests and wildlife are worth billions of pounds to the economy, says a major report. The health benefits of merely living close to a green space are worth up to £300 per person per year, it concludes. The National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) says that for decades, the emphasis has been on producing more food and other goods - but this has harmed other parts of nature that generate hidden wealth.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

...they didn't have the green thing back then.

A friend sent me this story:

In the queue at the Supermarket, the cashier told the old woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment..
The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."
The cashier responded, "That's our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."
He was right, that generation didn't have the green thing in its day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles, lemonade bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.
But they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day.
In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every supermarket and office building. They walked to the grocery shop and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower gas guzzling machine every time they had to go half a mile up the road.
But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's nappy’s because they didn't have the throw-away kind.

They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 230 volts - wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that old lady is right, they didn't have the green thing back in her day.
Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house - not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the Scotland.
In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for them.

When they packaged a fragile item to send in the post, they used a screwed up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power.
They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right, they didn't have the green thing back then.
They drank from a tap when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water.
They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But they didn't have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service.
They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.
And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest fish and chip shop.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back then?

Monday, 23 May 2011

Bob Dylan

Tuesday 24th May is Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday.   Pause to download a Dylan song or two and think about Dylan’s contribution to the anti-war movement at a time when music was one of the few mediums available to young people to challenge the status quo.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Gary Neville,

Gary Neville, formerly of Man United, wins 18-month struggle with planning authorities for permission to build a 40m-high wind turbine alongside his proposed new zero-carbon house set in rolling countryside near Bolton. Much of the revenue from his testimonial match next week will go into a "Sustainability in Sport" fund, which he is launching to help grass-roots sporting projects to reduce their carbon footprint and to promote sustainable living. Next Tuesday's match at Old Trafford will also be the first to be entirely wind-powered – by virtue of the strategic partnership Neville is forming with the green energy supplier Ecotricity.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Met police to resume use of dum-dum bullets.

Met police to issue hollow point bullets to all 3000 firearms officers; NATO forces don't use hollow points, the Hague Treaty bans their use by military forces, not civilian forces; these were the bullets used to kill Jean Charles de Menezes

Monday, 9 May 2011

Stephen Agnew's victory speech

Stephen held our seat in the Northern Irealnd Assembly under incredibly difficult circumstances. After the final count, over two days, he had 90 votes to spare.

The NI Local Election counts started this morning. We are expecting to do well there also.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


UNIQUE BOTTLE OF ‘HUGO BLANCO WINE, autographed by the great man himself.
Bids directly to
Lets say a starting bid of £5, but it should make much more that that!
Deadline for bids: Midnight May 15th.
Pickup in London or postage extra..
Proceeds will be divided between Green Left and Lucha Indigena, the publication that Hugo edits.

Please cascade to anyone who might be interested.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

William Morris May Day poem 1892.


Are ye few? Are they many? What words have ye spoken

To bid your own brethren remember the Earth?

What deeds have ye done that the bonds should be broken,

And men dwell together in good-will and mirth?


They are few, we are many: and yet, O our Mother,

Many years were we wordless and nought was our deed,

But now the word flitteth from brother to brother:

We have furrowed the acres and scattered the seed.


Win on then unyielding, through fair and foul weather,

And pass not a day that your deed shall avail.

And in hope every spring-tide come gather together

That unto the Earth ye may tell all your tale.

Then this shall I promise, that I am abiding

The day of your triumph, the ending of gloom,

And no wealth that ye will then my hand shall be hiding

And the tears of the spring into roses shall bloom.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Nothing changes

Jack London's thoughts in 1902 on another royal propaganda event:

O thou that sea-walls sever

From lands unwalled by seas!

Wilt thou endure forever,

O Milton's England, these?

Thou that wast his Republic,

Wilt thou clasp their knees?

These royalties rust-eaten,

These worm-corroded lies

That keep thy head storm-beaten,

And sun-like strength of eyes

From the open air and heaven

Of intercepted skies!

Vivat Rex Eduardus! They crowned a king this day, and there has been great rejoicing and elaborate tomfoolery, and I am perplexed and saddened. I never saw anything to compare with the pageant, except Yankee circuses and Alhambra ballets; nor did I ever see anything so hopeless and so tragic.
To have enjoyed the Coronation procession, I should have come straight from America to the Hotel Cecil, and straight from the Hotel Cecil to a five-guinea seat among the washed. My mistake was in coming from the unwashed of the East End. There were not many who came from that quarter. The East End, as a whole, remained in the East End and got drunk. The Socialists, Democrats, and Republicans went off to the country for a breath of fresh air, quite unaffected by the fact that four hundred millions of people were taking to themselves a crowned and anointed ruler. Six thousand five hundred prelates, priests, statesmen, princes, and warriors beheld the crowning and anointing, and the rest of us the pageant as it passed.
I saw it at Trafalgar Square, "the most splendid site in Europe," and the very innermost heart of the empire. There were many thousands of us, all checked and held in order by a superb display of armed power. The line of march was double-walled with soldiers. The base of the Nelson Column was triple-fringed with bluejackets. Eastward, at the entrance to the square, stood the Royal Marine Artillery. In the triangle of Pall Mall and Cockspur Street, the statue of George III. was buttressed on either side by the Lancers and Hussars. To the west were the red-coats of the Royal Marines, and from the Union Club to the embouchure of Whitehall swept the glittering, massive curve of the 1st Life Guards--gigantic men mounted on gigantic chargers, steel-breastplated, steel-helmeted, steel-caparisoned, a great war-sword of steel ready to the hand of the powers that be. And further, throughout the crowd, were flung long lines of the Metropolitan Constabulary, while in the rear were the reserves--tall, well-fed men, with weapons to wield and muscles to wield them in ease of need.
And as it was thus at Trafalgar Square, so was it along the whole line of march--force, overpowering force; myriads of men, splendid men, the pick of the people, whose sole function in life is blindly to obey, and blindly to kill and destroy and stamp out life. And that they should be well fed, well clothed, and well armed, and have ships to hurl them to the ends of the earth, the East End of London, and the "East End" of all England, toils and rots and dies.
There is a Chinese proverb that if one man lives in laziness another will die of hunger; and Montesquieu has said, "The fact that many men are occupied in making clothes for one individual is the cause of there being many people without clothes." So one explains the other. We cannot understand the starved and runty toiler of the East End (living with his family in a one-room den, and letting out the floor space for lodgings to other starved and runty toilers) till we look at the strapping Life Guardsmen of the West End, and come to know that the one must feed and clothe and groom the other.
And while in Westminster Abbey the people were taking unto themselves a king, I, jammed between the Life Guards and Constabulary of Trafalgar Square, was dwelling upon the time when the people of Israel first took unto themselves a king. You all know how it runs. The elders came to the prophet Samuel, and said: "Make us a king to judge us like all the nations."
And the Lord said unto Samuel: Now therefore hearken unto their voice; howbeit thou shalt show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king, and he said:
This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you; he will take your sons, and appoint them unto him, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen, and they shall run before his chariots.