Thursday, 27 September 2012

'Best of Luck' Horace.

It is with deep sadness that I have just heard of the demise of Horace, one of the great characters of Finchley and North London. He spent over thirty years wishing people ‘The best of Luck’ at all hours of the day and night, while usually dragging a large suitcase around with him.
 He was usually in great humour except when kids tried to rile him by calling him Stanley.
He regularly bought records when I had a shop in East Finchley and always greeted me on the street with a shout of ‘Hello Geezer’ and ‘The Best of Luck’ as we departed.
Someone told me recently that he was also quite a good artist.
He will be missed.

Here is a report from the Richard Osley blog:

BEST of luck, best of luck and the best of luck again… Poor old Horace. Or poor old Stanley, it wasn’t ever quite clear what his real name actually was. I just know that calling him Stanley would always trouble Horace, sometimes triggering angry shouting, which was sad because he spent most of his life wishing people good things, wishing people ‘the best of luck’.
As news of his sudden death filters through north London – it is reported that Horace collapsed close to the Whittington Hospital on his way to an appointment on Monday - some people will know him as the guy who did just that. He wished them the ‘best of luck’. Always the best of luck. Everybody and anybody would get wished the best of luck. He must have been wishing the people of Finchley, Barnet, Muswell Hill and Camden Town the best of luck going on for 30 years. No wonder a north London legend grew around him.
He was one of the characters of the streets who help thread together what is really London’s collective patchwork of a story, people who, without ever planning to, become better known than our local politicians and breed warmer familiarity than some of our celebrity neighbours. I might not know you, you might not know me, but chances are we’ve both been wished the best of luck by Horace at some point, whether you remember it or not.

I don’t know much about his life story, his tale is largely rooted in Barnet. I hope he got help where he needed it. I guess everybody liked the idea of somebody devoting their time to wishing complete strangers the best of luck, an upbeat message sometimes whispered, often bellowed. It made us smile, without thinking too deeply about the troubles that a man who stood outside a fast food shop or the post office shouting the best of luck repeatedly could be facing. The saddest thing is that some people didn’t just smile, nor did they stop for a chat. They taunted him. Some people actively tried to trigger his angrier side, calling him Stanley despite his distress. Others tried to goad his catchphrase out of him, behind adolescent cackles. Search his name on YouTube and the footage doesn’t really tell his story.

It’s a curious thing, hard to explain, but it’s only after you read that somebody like Horace has died that you realise how they play, albeit inadvertently, such binding roles in our communities. Somebody on Facebook compared Horace’s ever presence to the ravens at the Tower of London. Here was a man who never seemed to age, never changed his greeting and always seemed to be there as the shops, people and technology around us changed. There is a quality in that which is difficult to define.
There are other people like this, sort of living their lives in public, sometimes without choice due to their housing needs, but becoming part of all of our worlds. We look on, but rarely intervene. The fondness for Horace reminds me of the affection felt for Ushi Bahler, the woman who lived on the doorstep of the home she had been evicted from in West Hampstead for many years, despite her advancing age. The door locked, she lived among her saved possessions in the front yard. You see similar affection too for the shaven haired Big Issue seller who pushes a trolley around Camden Town selling bits and bobs. Unplanned, these people enter our minds and memories in a way that the man in the office suit who gets the same bus as you at the same time every day, sitting in a seat nearby, can’t.
Another example: the Big Issue seller outside Angel who got on with his work with a cat curled up around his shoulders. Every crook of London has people we all recognise collectively without ever really knowing. The Lion of South End Green is another example.
Given this curious neighbourhood fame – Horace has 4,000 6,000 ‘likes on Facebook’ and a petition for a bench marking his memory – maybe we should stop for a chat more often. Maybe at least we should make sure the YouTube footage is kinder.
The best of luck, Horace, the best of luck.


The real weather report.

The real weather report - what it would look like if they were honest

Monday, 24 September 2012

Revealed: Monsanto GM corn caused tumors in rats

French scientists have revealed that rats fed on GMO corn sold by American firm Monsanto, suffered tumors and other complications including kidney and liver damage. When testing the firm’s top brand weed killer the rats showed similar symptoms.
The French government has asked its health and safety agency to assess the study and had also sent it to the European Union's food safety agency, Reuters reports.
"Based on the conclusion…, the government will ask the European authorities to take all necessary measures to protect human and animal health, measures that could go as far as an emergency suspension of imports of NK603 maize in the European Union," the French health, environment and farm ministries said in a joint statement.
Researchers from the University of Caen found that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 – a seed variety made tolerant to amounts of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller – or given water mixed with the product, at levels permitted in the United States – died earlier than those on a standard diet.
The research conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini and his colleagues, said the rats suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. The study was published in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology and presented at a news conference in London.
Fifty percent of male and 70 percent of female rats died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group, said the researchers.
Monsanto spokesman, Thomas Helscher, said the company would review the study thoroughly but stated that other scientific studies had proved the biotech crops’ safety.
Some scientists however criticized the French researchers’ statistical methods and the use of a particular type of rat, saying the albino Sprague-Dawley strain of animal had a tendency to develop cancers.
But despite skepticism, the study draws attention to controversy surrounding genetically modified crops and the US biotech giant Monsanto.
Michael Antoniou, a molecular biologist at King’s College London – who acted as an adviser to Seralini's team – told reporters that the study stresses the “need to test all GMO crops in two-year lifelong studies”.
“I feel this data is strong enough to withdraw the marketing approval for this variety of GMO maize temporarily, until this study is followed up and repeated with larger number of animals to get the full statistical power that we want,” he said as quoted by Reuters.
Last Friday France said it will uphold a ban on genetically modified crops produced by the Monsanto. The move came as President Francois Hollande pushed his plan to put the environment back at the top of the international agenda.
In the wake of the publication, Jose Bove, vice-chairman of the European Parliament’s commission for agriculture, called for an immediate suspension of all EU cultivation and import authorizations of genetically modified crops.
This study finally shows we are right and that it is urgent to quickly review all GMO evaluation processes,” he said following the announcement of the research.
While being widely used in the United States, GMO crops have been less popular among European consumers, due to concerns about its impact on people’s health and the environment.
In California, opponents of genetically engineered food are fighting to have it removed from the food supply. They are also pushing to pass Proposition 37, a law that would legally require genetically modified foods to be labeled as such. Monsanto stands opposed to such a proposal and has donated over $4.2 million to lobby against it.
Agriculturalists across America have previously tried to take the biotech giant to court over charges stemming from their lab-made corn GMOs. Over 2,000 farmers have petitioned the US government to more thoroughly investigate the impact that genetically modified corn crop from Monsanto will have on the country.
As RT reported before, Monsanto wants to plant a corn variant across America’s Midwest that will be resistant to a powerful pesticide produced with 2,4-D, the same compound crucial to the make-up of the notorious Vietnam War-era killer Agent Orange. If approved, the new corn will be able to thrive as farmers douse their fields in the chemical, killing off unwanted weeds in the process, while at the same time subjecting Americans to a pesticide linked to cancer risks.

Assembly calls for end to plastic bag giveaway

Assembly calls for end to plastic bag giveaway The London Assembly has called on the Government to introduce a mandatory charge on all single-use plastic bags in light of supermarkets’ failure to cut the number they give out to shoppers.

The motion, agreed[1] unanimously by Assembly Members, urges the Secretary of State for the Environment to enact reserve legislation, part of the Climate Change Act 2008, that would force retailers to introduce a levy on all single-use plastic bags.

According to figures from the waste reduction body Wrap, supermarket customers used almost eight billion carrier bags in 2011, a 5.4 per cent rise on the 7.6 billion in 2010, with each person using an average of almost 11 a month[2].

Jenny Jones AM, who proposed the motion, said:
"Free supermarket plastic bags are a myth; they cost us a lot money to deal with as damaging rubbish. Almost 1.5bn are given out in London every year, most destined to be used for no more than 20 minutes before being thrown away.

"The shame is that discarded bags are one of the easiest environmental problems to solve a simple levy introduced in Ireland cut their number by 90 per cent yet in England, the number being given out by the big supermarkets is actually rising.

"Supermarkets have failed cut plastic bag use voluntarily. We now need decisive action."

Murad Qureshi AM, who seconded the motion, said:

"You just have to go down the foreshore of the Thames to see the damage discarded plastic bags can do to our environment. Single-use plastic bags take decades to break down and are a hazard to plants and animals as well as being an eye sore for visitors and residents alike.

"England is clearly falling behind the rest of the UK on this issue. Wales has already introduced a charge, with Scotland and Northern Ireland due to follow suit. The Mayor pledged to introduce a levy on single-use plastic bags in the run up to the Olympics, I hope he hasn’t forgotten about it."

Andrew Boff AM, who successfully amended the motion, said:

"We recognize that these are difficult times for small business so it is essential that any levy on single-use bags does not put an unnecessary burden on them. However, there is no excuse for the incredible waste we witness everyday from the big supermarket chains.

"As it does not look like they the supermarkets are about to change their ways, its time for the Government to intervene. A small charge, introduced in the right way, could make a big difference."

The full text of the amended motion agreed at today’s meeting reads as follows:

"This Assembly notes the failure of supermarkets to prevent an increase in the number of single use plastic bags issued by them, through voluntary measures, over the past two years. It also notes the London Assembly's 2007 report[3], 'Bag to Basics', which supported the introduction of a national levy on single use carrier bags.

This Assembly calls on the Mayor to request that the Secretary of State for the Environment enacts the reserve legislation in place under the Climate Change Act 2008, and introduces a mandatory charge on all single use carrier bags, ensuring that small businesses are protected from any additional administrative burden."

The motion was agreed unanimously at a meeting of the full Assembly. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Alastair Cowan in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4504/4283. For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Green Room write-up in Camden New Journal

'THE SMALL FACTS OF HISTORY': Why Green Room could be London's most curious shop

Noel Lynch
The Green Room manager Noel Lynch: 'We’re all the time looking for something that’s a bit unusual'
Published: 30 August, 2012
Dinosaur turds, ‘Devil’s Toenails’, Thatcherabilia – The Green Room has it all,as SIMON WROE discovered
"IN the mountains of truth you never climb in vain,” declares a small notice in The Green Room in Archway Road, Highgate, a serious contender for the title of London’s most curious shop.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Plastic Bags

From The Guardian 1/8/12
A levy on single-use plastic bags should be introduced in England, environmental groups urged on Wednesday.
According to figures from the waste reduction body Wrap, supermarket customers used almost 8bn carrier bags in 2011, a 5.4% rise on the 7.6bn in 2010, with each person using an average of almost 11 a month.
But in Wales, where a 5p charge was introduced last October, the amount of single-use bags being taken home has fallen significantly.
England is the only part of the UK which has no plans for a plastic bag charge, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Surfers Against Sewage are calling for one to be brought in.
The organisations say plastic bags end up littering England's streets, countryside and beaches, while in the sea they can entangle or be swallowed by wildlife.
Most plastic takes an estimated 450 to 1,000 years to degrade at sea, but plastic may never fully degrade but simply break down into smaller and smaller pieces – eventually forming plastic dust, the environmental groups said.
And research is looking at whether small particles of plastic may be able to absorb toxins from the sea and then be eaten, with the toxins passed up the food chain to people.
Samantha Harding, CPRE "stop the drop" campaign manager, said bag levies had been shown to work in Wales and in Ireland, where plastic bag use fell by 90% following the introduction of a charge.
"A levy is coming to Northern Ireland and Scotland is already consulting on one. Why must the English countryside be the last to benefit from good environmental policies?" she asked.
Sue Kinsey, litter policy officer for MCS, said: "Single-use bags and plastic bags in particular are a menace to the amazing marine wildlife found in English waters.
"Animals get entangled in them and mistake them for food. This can lead to infections, strangulation, starvation and even death. A levy is a simple, effective way to stop such a pervasive and ubiquitous form of pollution."
Some retailers have introduced charges for their single-use plastic bags, but the groups are urging the government to follow the lead of Wales and bring in a small levy on carrier bags across England.
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "We want to work with retailers to help them lift their game to cut the number of bags they hand out.
"We are monitoring the results of the charging scheme in Wales and the outcome of the Scottish consultation on a charge."

Friday, 3 August 2012

Shell stuck in a bog.

Shell and Gardaí mobilise to rescue TBM

Friday 3rd August 2012

This morning at about 4am hundreds of Gardaí and Shell private security (IRMS) mobilised to Glenamoy crossroads where sections of Shell's tunnel boring machine has been stuck on a jack-knifed lorry for the last number of days. Since then convoys of lorrys have been hauling stone from a stock pile inside the refinery to the site, dumping it into the field below the cab of the jack- knifed lorry. It is thought that they need better foundations than the bog road and fields in order to use a crane big enough to lift the weight of the lorry and the TBM.

Since this morning the area is under police occupation on a scale similar to that during the Solitaire pipelaying operation in 2008 and 2009. With no warning or notices the  North coast road between Glenamoy and Ballinaboy has been closed, there are Gardaí posted every 50 metres along this new haulage route and freedom of movement has been seriously curtailed.  Anyone who wishes to come down to document the occupation and harassment of the community would be most welcome.

Glenamoy locals have noticed the road subsiding under all the weight - this will become worse if they get a crane in there. The desperation of behalf of Shell and the Gardaí mirrors what is at stake - the Corrib project is literally at a crossroads and could be slipping into the bog that Shell have been fighting against for all these years.

The camp is open and if you ever thought about coming up here then now is the time. The resistance over the last few days has been inspiring - starting with the protest presence Dublin port, the tracking across country and the protests and blockades in Mayo. Would the convoy drivers have decided to head down a bog road to turn for a better angle on the last corner if there had been no pressure?

Besides protest actions to stop the delivery of the TBM to the tunnelling site (if they manage to move it at all) there is all the other work needed to keep the show on the road (and the TBM stuck on it)  - housekeeping, reporting, media work, tea, food, transport and lots more.

If you can't come please spread the word, and we'll try keep you up to date as things happen.

All the best
Everyone at the Rossport Solidarity Camp

Friday, 22 June 2012


It is with deep regret that I have been informed of the demise of another Green Party stalwart. 

Margaret Wright, GP councillor in Cambridge until recently, passed away last night.

I first met Margaret when she was Principal Speaker and I was her GPRC Friend.  She always had great energy and was a true trouper.

I remember meeting her after her appearance on the Ali G show. She was exhausted but triumphant.  She was the only guest that ever got the better of him when during a debate on aerosols she stuck her armpit in his faceJ  For once he was speechless!  I have the video of it somewhere.

When she came to Barnet for an election, the reporters were not interested in the MP’s; they all wanted to meet ‘the housewife who had bested Ali G’

I will miss her big smile and our phone chats.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Don't drink in this pub.

This Wednesday, I found myself in The William Blake in Old Street.  As I was awaiting some friends and AFTER I had bought a drink, the manager came up and told me that I had to take off my baseball cap. I asked  'WHY?'  and he went into a spiel that it was not really their idea but that local authorities insisted on it.  I knew this to be pure bullshit as I drink regularly in the Weathespoon pub, a few doors away.
Then it occurred to me that this was the pub that I had read about in the Islington Gazette - May 17th.  Page 7 -  ALOPECIA SUFFERER 'THROWN OUT OF PUB FOR WEARING A CAP'.
I asked the manager if they were the same pub and he denied it.  I checked when I got home and it was indeed
The William Blake.

I detest this type of clothes fascism and will never again drink there.

Why do (we think) we still need the Royals?


The recent out-pouring of patriotic fervour has made me consider a few questions about the meaning of our love for the Royals. 

One obvious question is how much has all this pomp and pageantry been costing us?   I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the answer turns out to be buried in the budgets of numerous departments and the total, therefore, extremely hard to winkle out of our Government.

But there are other, perhaps more interesting questions to ask about why the Royal family remains so popular, costing what it may.  And is it really so popular, or is the whole thing just being manipulated by a government which seems to have seized on the Jubilee to improve their own popularity, or divert attention from less happy events around us?  Rather in the way that Mrs. Thatcher managed to turn falling popularity polls upwards by trading on the jingoism which enabled huge numbers of British people to cheer when a large boatload of Argentinians was sent to the bottom of the sea.
 The suspicion that it must be at the very least a handy strategy for the Tories ( the Lib-Dems having clearly no power at all in our present coalition) is encouraged by the fact that the Queen did have a Golden Jubilee (under Labour)—well when was it ? Ten years ago, wasn’t it?—and did an awful lot happen then?  Not like this anyhow.

And what part do the media play in all this?  Are they too, glad of the diversion, after so much of their dirty washing has been aired in public and some of their biggest names hung out to dry?  On both main TV channels,  not to mention the newspapers, it was wall to wall Jubilee, and anyone who didn’t want to watch it, and didn’t care much for international tennis either, was in for a thin time.

So what is the power of the Royals?  I reckon it’s something almost sacred—no surprise after all, since the Queen is, like all our monarchs since Henry the eighth, Head of the Anglican Church, which is not just any old church, but the established Church of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Note that Henry the Eighth took over the title of Defender of the Faith, from the Pope, and passed it on to every succeeding King or Queen of England. 

It is interesting to me, as a Scot, that this does not include Scotland ( since Scotland was not part of the UK at that time)  Scotland of course has its own established church, which is Presbyterian, where local congregations help to shape policy, although they do have a titular head, the Moderator ( but The ‘King and Head ‘ is said to be Jesus Christ.) 
 But the more important issue is that even although Scotland has a number of reasons for feeling quite separate from England, many of them being argued over currently, yet… royalty fever seems to pervade quite a number of bosoms among the so-called dour Scots.  Yes, even there…were there not many northern accents among the number of people interviewed by the media who had loyally braved cold and wet to stand for hours waving to Her Majesty?  And even if they do prefer to call her Queen Elizabeth the First( she is actually  the first Elizabeth of Scotland, as loudly proclaimed when some pillar boxes with the offending number 2, were blown up north of the border, at the accession) they still want to see her as one of us.  ( Well, her mother did grow up in Scotland).   And it should be noted that the Scot Nats have now quietly side –lined their earlier declarations of republican sympathies.

One popular argument for retaining the royals is ‘Well, who would we have instead ?’  with a list of undesirable and all too fallible politicians reeled off.  No amount of explaining that the Queen has no political power and neither would any one put in her place, will have any effect on these defenders of the Royal role. 

There have of course been rumblings to suggest that after this monarch, things may change.  But a recent poll announced on the BBC claimed that 55% of people thought that the monarchy ‘would last forever’.  What the other 45% thought was not revealed.

And then there is the question of leadership.  People may be ambivalent about leaders ( the history of the Green Party is a good example of this) but at the same time there does seem to be a primitive, almost atavistic  need to follow a leader, even if only a fantasy one, or a figure head.  No sailing ships in the old days ever felt safe to set sail without one.

 And perhaps this issue of safety comes near to the centre of the conundrum.  We like things the way they’ve always been.  Change is seen as dangerous, especially in difficult times.  And ironically, it may be that the more unpopular this present government becomes, the more we cling to some sort of magical substitute—if not God, then at least God’s representative on earth, as Defender of the Faith was supposed to mean originally.

So at last let’s come back to the issue of cost.  One can say that the parades and flotillas and banquets are  all harmless, and even useful in bringing a bit of colour into our drab lives.  And after all, millions of people came out to show their support for the Queen, who, we know, is both far above us, yet also quite human, just like us.  But is there really no great cost?  How many people in how many countries could have used a quarter of the money spent on this jamboree, just to keep them alive? 
That’s too great a cost, in my view. 
Jean Robertson-Molloy  EGP 6-6-12

Saturday, 19 May 2012


Kent's Romney Marsh proposed as nuclear dumping ground.

A vast underground silo for lethal nuclear waste is planned for construction under Kent's Romney Marsh. It's a real kick in the teeth for anti-nuclear campaigners and locals who have in fact only recently celebrated the announcement that two Dungeness nuclear power stations are going to be phased out.

Plans for the proposed 250 acre storage facility for the high-level waste of energy and weapons production in Romney Marsh (near to Dungeness) only came to light today (17th). So far the local council claim that they're only testing the waters of public opinion before making any moves, but plans are surprisingly well advanced.

The #12 billion dump would cover an area more than 22 times the size of Wembley Stadium. A network of tunnels up to a 1000m deep would be used to seal up the waste, which would be brought into the area by two trains a week for approximately 80 years. The waste would then be sealed up for ten thousand years until it 'becomes safe'. The debris dug out would be around the same volume as during the construction of the Channel Tunnel.

However, even over and above the obvious eco-objections, nuclear experts warn that the site is geologically unsound for the development as well as being a high flood risk area. Oh, and it's also an earthquake zone.

One man not put off by the idea of some toxic paddling is local Tory councillor Tony Hills. Shepway District Council on the whole also has a history of being pro environmentally destructive mega-developments. While plans for a marsh wind farm were thrown out, it has recently approved an expansion of Lydd airport which would see annual passenger numbers jump from 5,000 to 2 million.

Resistance to the radioactive plans are yet to manifest, but there's bound to be a whole load of people determined to give the Council and the developers their marsh-ing orders.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Jenny is top candidate for children.

Jenny Jones: Greens could hold balance of power on London Assembly

Recent polling figures have shown that with the Conservative Party likely to reduce its allocation on the London Assembly after the election next week, the Greens could help hold the balance of power next term.

Green Party Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones, who along with Darren Johnson, is one of two existing London Assembly members, said: “The Greens have consistently been able to play a leading role in determining policy at City Hall, and by voting Green on the Assembly in May London can help ensure whoever is Mayor next year is best held to account.

“The introduction of civil partnerships and the London Living Wage, the prevention of the Thames Gateway Bridge and massive increases in the cycling budget and provision all demonstrate that the Greens are able to set aside personality politics and old rivalries to win real achievements for Londoners.

“Whatever the results in the Mayoral and Assembly elections, we will use our influence next term to win real victories for Londoners on the issues that affect them most: making fares affordable, tackling the air pollution that claims so many lives, restoring trust in the police and making London fairer and more equal for everyone.

“As I said yesterday, the polls don’t always provide a fair reflection on voting attention—and these aren’t even our best results this week—but we are very happy that more and more Londoners are relating to our Green vision for the capital.”

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Campaigning in Finchley Central

Ken Livingstone at Green Party meeting

Vote Jen 1, Ken 2, says Green Party

An extraordinary meeting of the London Green Party has decided to recommend Ken Livingstone as second preference choice for Mayor after first choice Jenny Jones.

Livingstone spoke to around 70 members at the Party's Headquarters on Leonard Street and fielded questions on his record and policies.

After over an hour of discussion, a vote in favour of recommending Livingstone as second choice carried with a clear majority.

Green Party Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones said: "The voting system gives Londoners a chance to make a positive Mayoral first choice for a more equal, healthier and affordable London.

"However, should I not be counted among the top two candidates after the first round, then I want a Mayor who will work with Green Party Assembly Members to deliver on pay equality, less pollution and cheaper fares.

"Ken Livingstone is far from perfect, but we know from his last time as Mayor that we can work with him to make positive changes in a way that would be impossible with either Boris Johnson or many other senior Labour politicians."

Livingstone said: "What we are seeing is that as we get closer to the election a broadening alliance of people wants a fairer London.

"The Green endorsement for second preferences is a key building block to winning change on May 3rd. I am very pleased that the Green Party has decided to encourage their supporters to cast their second preference votes for me.

"I look forward to working again with Green Assembly Members, including tackling air pollution, creating a fairer London, and improving pedestrian and cyclists' safety."

Discussions focused on the clear desire among members to help prevent a further four years of Boris Johnson's Mayorship, and the clear differentiation between recommending the Labour Party and Livingstone as a candidate, the man himself frequently opposing Labour Party policy.

Members emphasised that the priority of the campaign was to increase the number of Greens elected to the London Assembly in order to best hold the successful Mayor candidate to account.

Members raised particular concerns over Livingstone's record on road building, the poorly regulated financial sector and air pollution.

However, the meeting meeting voted to support the recommendation after hearing pledges to curb top pay at City Hall, help the lowest paid workers, end cheats and evasions over air pollution used by the current Mayor and Government and financially support boroughs wanting to introduce 20mph zones.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

‘Make The Difference’: Green Party launches high impact party election broadcast for London elections

Young Londoners feature in upbeat film directed by Rebecca Frayn, screenwriter for Luc Besson’s Aung San Suu Kyi biopic, and shot at famous Ealing Studios

The Green Party campaign for the 2012 London Mayoral and Assembly elections stepped up a gear today with the release of its hard hitting party election broadcast.
The stylish black and white film was directed by Rebecca Frayn, screenwriter for The Lady, Luc Besson’s biopic of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi – and produced by Christina Robert, founder of Brighton Green Pictures.

It features only children telling the camera about their vision for a better London – and how they would like voters in the city to use their ballot paper.

Jenny Jones AM, the Green Party’s candidate for London Mayor and the Assembly elections, said:

“The Greens want to make London a truly sustainable city and a more equal society, where problems like the lack of affordable housing and air pollution are tackled head on with new and creative ideas.

“This beautiful and high impact film perfectly captures the youthful spirit of our campaign, and I am deeply grateful to the incredibly talented director-producer team for making this happen.”

The video is available to view here:

For more information, contact Joe Williams on 07825511927, @earsopen or

If you think our election rules are tough..........

Pennsylvania Court Upholds Rigged Election, Bumps Green Party Candidate Running for Senate.

Mr. Romanelli will not appear on the ballot because Democratic lawyers persuaded the court that enough of the 95,000 signatures he collected were technically invalid to bring him below the state's 67,000 signature requirement. According to the state's ballot access rules, Democratic and Republican candidates must gather 2,000 signatures to get on the primary ballot, while other parties' candidates and independents must gather 67,000. Greens have called the rules grossly unfair, antidemocratic, and evidence of a 'gentlemen's agreement' between Democrats and Republicans to keep other candidates out of state races.

Full story-

Friday, 23 March 2012

John Norris RIP

It is with deep, deep, deep sadness that I report the demise of John Norris.

John passed away from a heart attack on Wednesday. In his heyday he was a giant in the Green Party with a powerful intellect. In fact, I often joked that he was ‘the GP equivalent of the weather – without him there would be nothing to talk about’. He served on nearly every post in GPEX as well as GPRC. Even after his stroke, several years ago, he served at national, local and regional level. Originally a local member in Barnet, then Westminster and Kingston before moving to York.
He will be badly missed by the party and all who knew him.
The funeral will probably take place in York. Funeral arrangements are not yet fully organised, so please contact me for details.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A storm in a sh...t hole

From Barnet Alliance for Public Service newsletter:

THE story of the past week was how Cllr. Rams banned our invitation for A Tale of Two Barnets from display in the libraries, and how within 24 hours we caused him to back down under public pressure.

Why did Cllr Rams ban it? Because one of the quotes on the leaflet, by one of our members who is learning disabled, had spelt out his feelings about the council: “As a user of social services my view is that Barnet councillors don't give a sh...t about disabled people...”. This “sh...t”, with the triple dots included, was the official reason for the banning.

The real reason, I guess, was another quote from another resident: “All over the country citizens have stopped inept and corrupt councils selling off their life-preserving services to profiteering, tax-avoiding multinational speculators. We can do it here.”

Soon enough, after a little storm arose which included press releases, interviews and of course the bloggers, even Rams understood that foul play makes him stink, and he dropped the issue. Or so he said, because not all the librarians received the amended instructions that allow now the posters to be posted on the libraries' notice boards.

However, Cllr. Coleman still has an issue with sh...t holes. Recently the public toilets in Victoria Park were locked and a note came up on the doors (both Ladies and Gents): “Due to anti social behaviour these toilets have had to be closed until further notice”.

A quick check revealed that the “anti social behaviour” was clogging the toilets with newspapers.

Now follow the logic: The park warden gone – the service is about to be outsourced and in the mean time our John has to divide his working hours between several parks. This is very unfortunate for us, Victoria Park's users, because he was the person who maintained the toilets and made sure there is toilet papers in them. So what should the unfortunate citizen do when having to use the loo and being caught without toilet paper? He or she uses the services of News International; only there's a limit to the amount of bullshit that even public toilets can absorb...

Yes, even our sh...t holes carries a political message: You cannot entrust Coleman with a toilet roll – do you really want him in the GLA?

Monday, 12 March 2012

Campaigning in North Finchley

With Poppy, the Camden/Barnet Constituency candidate and Jean Lambert MEP.
Trying to figure out Barnet Council's crazy parking system.

Chatting with a North Finchley shopkeeper.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Cost of two wars to the USA.

Cost of War in Iraq & Afghanistan

Total Cost of Wars Since 2001


Help, Is that 1.3 trillions or what?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Animal Self-Liberation Front

Refusing to wait for the aid of bi-pedal liberators, 8 capuchin monkeys took matters into their own hands and broke out of a Brazilian zoo. The monkeys utilized a rock to smash open the lock on their cage and made a break for it under cover of darkness.

Apparently this isn't the first time monkeys have tried to escape the small community zoo, but workers say using a stone tool has been their most surprising and effective method yet. Unfortunately 4 of the monkeys have been recaptured. 3 of them were caught using traps baited with fruit. The 4th monkey was captured after it broke into a restaurant. "It was a surprise because this isn't the jungle here, and to have a monkey enter my establishment," said the restaurant owner. "It was fun."

 According to an article posted on on the incident, "Capuchin monkeys are thought to be the most intelligent of the New World monkeys, exhibiting a remarkable ability to use stone tools. Researchers have observed capuchins in the wild gathering rocks, often collected from great distances away, to help them to crack open hard nuts. This skill is passed on as younger monkeys learn by watching their elders. "Applying this same tool usage to the novel task of breaking locks, however, indicates an extraordinary use of logic to solve the unnatural dilemma of their captivity. But what's more, perhaps, is the fundamental desire which guided their actions: the longing to be free."

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Film on the cuts

London Green party member, Ed Pond, has made a short satirical/pro-active film about the cuts. It features cool music, skits and his performance poetry.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Social care funding gap has widened by £500m, says Age UK

From Community Care magazine

The gap between social care funding and need has grown by £500m for older people in England in 2011-12, compounding a situation in which 800,000 pensioners were already going without services.

That was the message from Age UK in a report today that warns that a multi-billion injection of cash is required to ensure the care system can serve all who need it by 2015.

Eight hundred thousand older people in need of social care were not receiving formal support in 2010, previous research for the charity by the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the London School of Economics had found.

PSSRU estimated that £7.8bn, excluding user charges, would need to be spent on older people's social care by councils in England in 2011-12 to ensure no further increase in unmet need; however, just £7.3bn was spent, found Age UK's latest report, part of its ongoing Care in Crisis campaign.

Were social care spending for older people to remain flat in real terms until 2015, the charity estimates that this funding gap would grow to £2.1bn.

“Behind these figures are real older people struggling to cope without the support they need, compromising their dignity and safety on a daily basis," said Age UK's charity director, Michelle Mitchell.

Age UK called for a multi-billion pound package of measures to revive the care system, including:-

• An entitlement to care and support for all those with moderate needs and above under the Fair Access to Care Services system. This is yet to be costed but the bill would be several billion pounds.

• Implementation of the Dilnot commission's proposals, notably a cap on lifetime care costs for all at £35,000, extending state funding to existing self-funders. This would cost £2.2bn a year by 2015.

The Local Government Association said the findings reflected the scale of government cuts to councils, whose budgets are due to contract by 4.7% this year and 3.3% in 2012-13, without adjustment for inflation.

“Local authorities, which are already squeezing every pound through cutting red-tape, making back office savings, linking services and exploring a whole range of other innovations, are going to find it increasingly difficult to make further savings against a backdrop of escalating costs, a system that is underfunded and compounded now by severe funding cuts," said LGA community well-being board chair David Rogers.

However, care services minister Paul Burstow re-iterated his long-held view that cuts to service levels were councils' responsibility. "The government has provided enough for councils to maintain the current levels of access and eligibility if they work hard and smart, and invest in new ways of working like telecare and reablement," he added.

Filling the gap between need and funding was as much a matter of reforms to the way the system worked, through increased investment in prevention and reablement and greater integration with the NHS, as it was about resources, said Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president Peter Hay.

However, with the government due to issue a White Paper on the long-term reform of adult social care this spring, Hay issued a challenge to ministers: "We have offered the government a sector that's open to bold and innovative reform. It's up to the government to take [the offer]."

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Brighton and Hove Labour councillors join Tories on council tax

Labour say they oppose the Tories but locally whose side are they on?

It was always assumed that Brighton and Hove Conservatives would vote for a council tax freeze in the city, supporting their national party policy.

But for the first time yesterday (Thursday 26 January) Brighton and Hove Labour councillors formally declared themselves in alliance with the Conservatives, saying they would likely reject the Greens' proposals for a 3.5% council tax rise.

They chose instead the Tories' tax 'freeze' and the £5.4m in cuts to council services that would accompany such a freeze.

The council motion carries no weight and has no effect on the budget proposals themselves: it was just indicative of party feelings.

Green cabinet member for finance, Councillor Jason Kitcat said, "City politics have gone in a bizarre direction for the Labour Party to be uniting with the Conservatives to impose an additional £5.4m in cuts on the people of Brighton and Hove.

"We already face huge austerity measures from the Conservatives in Westminster and now Labour says it will be helping the Conservatives to make things even tougher in our city.

"These 'blue Labour' councillors have spent the last two months criticising the Greens for what they call frontline cuts.

"Now they're declaring that if they had their way, they would impose a further £5.4m reduction in services.

"Yet they don't seem to know how they would fund the £5.4m that the tax freeze would cost. So we call on the Labour councillors to get their act together and reveal their cuts in detail.

"We gave the city plenty of time to look at our proposals and suggest amendments, to which we listened.

"It's only fair on the people of our city that the both Labour and Conservative councillors should reveal their cuts or admit that they don't actually know how they would balance the books.

"It's time for them to put up or shut up."

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Japan diverting tsunami funds to support whale hunt.

Japan caused outrage as authorities confirmed it is diverting millions of pounds tagged for the reconstruction of its tsunami-devastated coast to protect its annual Antarctic whale-hunt. Roughly 2.28bn yen (£19m) from a reconstruction fund for areas badly hit by the crippling 11 March earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster will be used to beef up security for the Japanese whaling fleet, which left port under heavy guard in December.
The money is part of about 500bn yen in "fisheries-related spending" green-lighted by parliament. Japan's Fisheries Agency justified the decision by saying that "safer hunts" would ultimately help whaling towns along the coast to recover. Conservationists immediately condemned the plan. "Not only is the whaling industry unable to survive without large increases in government handouts, now it's siphoning money away from the victims of the 11 March triple disaster, at a time when they need it most," said Junichi Sato, executive director of Greenpeace Japan. "This is a new low for the shameful whaling industry and the callous politicians who support it".
The whaling boats left in secrecy from Shimonoseki in southern Japan, guarded by an unspecified number of coast guard officers, a patrol ship and other "security measures," according to local media reports. The fleet's target catch is said to be about 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Sympathy for the royal family

Comment seen on an e-group:
"You've got to have sympathy for the royal family!
How will they cope with the benefits cap?"

Peter Tatchell Day

How and why PinkNews will be celebrating Peter Tatchell Day

by Benjamin Cohen for

25th of January marks what we’re calling Peter Tatchell Day, his 60th birthday. I’m delighted to explain how and why will be celebrating the birthday of a man who has through direct action changed Britain and the world for the better.

All of the advertising spots around the site will be donated to his Peter Tatchell Foundation on his birthday to raise awareness and fundraise. will lose a not inconsiderable amount of money but we want to do it to mark an important day in the history of our community. Over the course of his 60th birthday year, we will donate a further 41 million advertising spots around this website and iPhone app to his foundation to celebrate the 41 years since he joined the London Gay Liberation Front.

Way back in 1973, aged just 21, Peter staged the first ever gay rights protest in a communist country – in East Germany – which resulted in him being detained and interrogated by the secret police, the Stasi. Many years later, in 1998, he helped expose the Nazi war criminal, SS Dr Carl Vaernet, who conducted gruesome medical experiments on gay prisoners in Buchenwald concentration camp.

More than any other person or organisation, Peter has, often single handed, campaigned for the rights we now enjoy in the UK. He’s also been a huge campaigner all around the world for LGBTQI rights. I believe that the 25th January should be celebrated not just throughout the LGBTQI communities around the world but actually beyond because he’s not just fought for our rights, he’s campaigned on a variety of human rights issues and put his own life on the line when he did, such as his two attempted citizens arrests of the Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. After the second, he was severely injured by Mr Mugabe’s body guards.

Over the next few weeks, PinkNews is inviting you to send in your memories of him, how you met him how, how he inspired you and how you believe he’s changed your life for the better. As well as how you think he should continue his work.

Peter probably won’t remember, but I actually first met him on the former Channel 4 programme, The Big Breakfast. He was fresh from attending hospital after his attempted arrest of Robert Mugabe and I wasn’t at that stage publicly out. I was promoting a BBC programme I was appearing on. He probably won’t have realised how influential on me that meeting was and how I looked back on that when I decided to launch PinkNews.

Peter has been an amazing ally of mine since we started He’s always supportive, eager to help and constantly writing columns for us. Even in my other life at Channel 4 News, Peter’s been a help. I remember phoning him as he sat, badly beaten in a Moscow police station, after being attacked by neo-Nazis at the banned Moscow Pride in 2007. Immediately after he was released, with a huge bloodied black eye, he recorded an interview via satellite telling a large audience in the UK how badly the Russian authorities were treating gay people in the city. Through his highlighting of the Moscow Pride ban, and the legal case brought by LGBTIQ campaigners in Russia, the country was subsequently found in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights by the European Court of Human Rights.

The work that Peter does is inspiring, it has changed lives and it’s not just been by leading huge campaigns. He has helped many individuals too, including many LGBTIQ refugees in the UK escaping persecution in their home countries. With Peter’s help, for which he receives no salary, a large number have successfully been recognised by the British authorities and have been able to build new lives for themselves, free from the terror of state persecution.

His leadership of the Equal Love campaign, arguing that gay couples should have the right to marry and that straight couples should have the right to hold civil partnerships has so far been a partial success. The prime minister David Cameron has pledged to introduce gay civil marriage, although Peter is continuing the fight to ensure that gay couples should be allowed to hold religious marriages and straight couples to hold civil partnerships. In other words, true marriage equality. But it’s unlikely that without his campaign that the government would have even started moving in the current direction.

I’m really hoping that our many readers from all around the world dig deep from now until Peter Tatchell Day and throughout his birthday year to help support his and his team’s work through the Peter Tatchell Foundation. Click here for more details.

Benjamin Cohen is the founder and publisher of He is also a correspondent for Channel 4 News

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Try something new today, supermarkets told: pay a living wage

Try something new today, supermarkets told: pay a living wage in London Darren Johnson has called on supermarkets, the Mayor and Government to make work pay for all workers in London, following an investigation by the Fair Pay Network into low pay in the four largest supermarket chains. Last year the National Minimum Wage fell further behind the cost of living in the capital, rising 2.5% while the London Living Wage – calculated to cover basic living costs in the capital – rose by 5.7%. The higher rise in the London rate was attributed to benefit and tax credit cuts, and rises in food costs, average rents and public transport fares.
Darren Johnson commented:
“The minimum wage isn’t keeping up with the rising cost of living in London, forcing more parents to work two jobs to make ends meet. The Government needs to ramp the minimum wage up to be a genuine living wage, but instead they are letting the gap grow wider.
“The Mayor of London needs to get on his bully pulpit and call for all employers in London to prioritise pay rises for the lowest paid above bonuses for chief executives. In this age of obscene inequality we cannot leave it to employers to make sure they pay their staff enough for a basic standard of living.“

The Fair Pay Network report is available online:
On the 1st October 2011 the National Minimum Wage for workers aged 21 rose to £6.08, compared to the London Living Wage of £8.30. The latter is calculated each year by the Greater London Authority based on actual living costs and average incomes.
Since 2008, the National Minimum Wage has increased by 6.1% while the London Living Wage has increased by 11.4%.
16% of London’s workforce earns less than the London Living Wage, rising to 41% of part-time workers.
I believe it ought to be pointed out that people press-ganged by welfare reform legislation and bad advice from JobCentre Plus to join supermarket staff on 'work experience' as trainees get much less than the formally recognised staff members and were more likely to be obliged to work over Christmas than the regular staff members. For further details of this, contact Anne-Marie O'Reilly of Boycott Workfare

Sunday, 8 January 2012


From Schnews
Sea Shepherd have taken to the skies. Well kinda... taking a leaf out of the US military manual the anti-whaling activists have gotten themselves a drone!

The battery powered, remote-controlled aircraft has a range of 300km, and feeds back GPS co-ordinates, live video and still images to the activist ships to pinpoint the Japanese whaling fleet. It's already clocked up one victorious mission, with one sortie for the drone allowing the ship Steve Irwin to track a whaler over 28 nautical miles away. The three ships belonging to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are all equipped with drones, donated by Bayshore Recycling, a New Jersey-based, environmentally-minded recycling company.

Once only used in high-tech military operations by the US air force and Israeli spies, drones are now becoming more and more commonplace, and affordable! You can pick one up for as little as #300 (google it if you don't believe us), control it with yer smartphone and use for whatever you wish. Now available to the general public, the mind boggles as to what new and inventive (and potentially terrifying) applications this technology could now have once dastardly people start customising and modifying them. Meanwhile after the drones found the whalers, Sea Shepherd engaged in a six hour stand off with one of the Japanese Yushin Maru 3. See

Thursday, 5 January 2012

New 50p coin explains the offside rule

People may soon come across some new 50p coins in their change. One of them includes a diagram that attempts to explain the offside rule in football.

The 29 new coins form a series which features each of the Olympic and Paralympic sports to be contested during London 2012. The football coin was designed by London journalist Neil Wolfson.

Although the designs will be attractive to collectors, all the coins are legal tender so should start to appear in change soon. Around 87 million of these coins will be in circulation.