Wednesday, 28 February 2007

439,000 spying orders last year

UK issued 439,000 spying orders last year.

Blair plans police trawl after ID cards come inIain Thomson, <> 21 Feb 2007A report by Sir Swinton Thomas, from the Interception of Communications Commissioner's office, has revealed that 439,000 spying orders have been issued against UK citizens in the past 12 months.

While the bulk of these were for the gathering of requests for telephone lists and individual email addresses, a number involved more invasive forms of spying. More worryingly, over 4,000 errors were reported in requests, including cases in which phones were tapped or electronic communications intercepted. The error rate was described as "unacceptably high".A total of 795 government departments can make such requests, including MI5 <> and MI6 <>, 52 police forces, 475 local authorities and organisations like the Financial Services Authority <>.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted that fingerprints collected for the new ID cards will be used by police to trawl through databases of unsolved crimes. Blair said in a letter to those who signed the online petition against ID cards that the sweep would cover 900,000 unsolved crimes. "I believe that the National Identity Register will help police bring those guilty of serious crimes to justice," he wrote."They will be able, for example, to compare the fingerprints found at the scene of some 900,000 unsolved crimes against the information held on the register."

However, Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of the No2ID <> campaign, has hit back at Blair's assertions."The prime minister's claims on this subject are not exactly lies, so much as fact-free," he said. "Endlessly repeating a fabrication does not make it real." Booth pointed out that the 900,000 crime scene marks, which might be multiple or indistinct, leading to false 'matches', are misrepresented as separate crimes when in fact many are part of the same offence.


Wednesday, 21 February 2007

My selection statement for the London Assembly.

Below is my selection statement (limited to 500 words) for a place in the Green Party London Assembly List:

The day of the count for the last London Assembly elections was a bad day for both the Green Party and me. The Green Party lost a seat on the Assembly, and with that seat I lost a job: one I was passionate about and in which I achieved much for the Green Party.
Since that day the party has regrouped, redoubled efforts and despite scant resources run more candidates in more elections, winning more votes and seats than ever before. As Co-ordinator of the London Region I have seen this at first hand and I am proud of all we have achieved.

I am running for a seat on the Assembly because I believe I have the skills, experience and vision to do it justice. I will focus on two areas:

- the Assembly - implementing Green policies, scrutinising the Mayor -

more widely - promoting the Green party, supporting local parties. An Assembly member is a key ambassador for the Green Party, and I would not consider any term of office a success unless we implemented significant policies and had more members, councillors and support at the end.

I have the qualities needed to be an Assembly member:

- Dedication
I have been a Green Party member for 18 years, working tirelessly and successfully in many posts at London and national level. When previously on the Assembly I had a 100% attendance record on committees and was recognised for my effectiveness.

- Experience
Having served on the Assembly previously I know how it works. From exploiting the committee structure to questioning the Mayor, I can immediately start using the office to benefit the Green Party. I organised conferences on GM foods and animal rights issues at the Assembly. I engaged with and hosted groups working on health, disability, elderly, ethnic and trade union issues. I published reports on small shops, green spaces, plastic bags and lack of public toilets.

Media experience is also important. I have been interviewed on radio and TV countless times and featured in local and national media over 300 times while on the Assembly. Even since leaving the Assembly I have still generated coverage for the Green party in the Guardian, Observer, Financial Times and Mail on Sunday as well as numerous local pieces. -

Supporting local parties
Our Assembly members should be at the disposal of our local parties. My door is always open and will continue to be. I have visited nearly every local party from Bromley to Brent and Barking to Richmond and even helped found parties such as Newham and West Central. If returned to the Assembly I would expect to visit every party every year. Moreover, with my unrivalled knowledge of the local parties and activists, I would use my position as an AM to further develop and support the Green party across London. I am happy to answer any questions, contact details above. Also, feel free to check my blog:

Please give me your No. 1 vote.


I have also produced an A3 tabloid size leaflet. I can post it to anyone who wishes.

The London Assembly selection contest

The London Assembly consists of 25 members elected every four years. 14 are elected from large constituencies in a first-past-the-post system. The other 11, called London-wide members, are elected under the List system on a proportional vote. The Green Party currently have two Londonwide members. The next London Assembly elections are in May 2008. We in the London Green Party have now the started the selection for our list. Voting is open to all London Green Party members. There are 23 candidates (including myself) for the eleven places on the list.

This is the reason why I have not posted in several days. Selection statements had to be produced, on-line hustings, formal hustings and a social hustings as well as producing a A3 leaflet.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Northern Ireland

I spent an enjoyable Saturday evening in the bar with a number of Green Party activists. The occasion (if one is ever needed!) was the visit of Lindsay Whitcroft, Co-Secretary of The Green Islands Network and leading member of the Green Party in Northern Ireland. As well as enjoying the company I took the opportunity to talk a little business and enquire how the campaign for the Northern Ireland Assembly elections is going.

You may remember that last month I predicted one or two gains for the Northern Ireland Greens. Admittedly not all commentators seem to agree (though I think it is something of an oversight not to even mention the possibility!).
However Lindsay confirmed to me that the Green Party does indeed have a good chance in North Down and South Down. They seem to be approaching the election very professionally and with a refreshing message for the people of Northern Ireland. Support from other Green parties seems to be playing an important role as well. I could say more but I wont just now in case I inadvertently give away any tactics. There will be plenty of time for analysing how the election was approached once we know the result (and hopefully it will be an historic one for the Green party).

Thursday, 8 February 2007

ID Cards.

Despite being a keen supporter of the anti-ID card campaign (I attended the launch meeting of the organisation and as a London Assembly member at the time helped to get the Green Party affiliated to the campaign) I tend not to dwell too much on identity issues and the emergence of a database state under this government. This is for the simple reason that it pains me to even think about it. My view is that the Home Office has probably had plans for an ID and database scheme ever since they were scrapped by Churchill and have been trotting them out to every Home Secretary ever since only to finally find a couple of willing idiots in the New Labour government who were happy to fall for the scheme. However, painful and all as it to be reminded of the plans, we must carry on the campaigning to ensure that they do not get off the ground. Do check out the NO2ID site and see if there are any meetings in your locality soon or anything else you can do to help. You can also pick up the badges and literature which I have on display in The Green Room.
As an incentive check out today’s latest news – school’s will be “urged” to get permission before fingerprinting children in their care!? Why will they not be forced? If fact – why on earth are they finger-printing children in the first place?! Unbelievable…


I can assure you that I do not make a habit of checking out the blog of (clinically sane) Melanie Philips regularly. Even when someone does draw my attention to it I usually have to leave the site in disgust or frustration before finishing a particular article. This piece of climate change spin (not quite denial!) is interesting though. At first glance Melanie seems to have a very strong point – it is worrying to see independent scientists over-ruled and having to tailor their conclusions to suit a more political agenda. Of course if Melanie had anything more than a passing acquaintance with the facts she would know that the actual reason that scientists are having their conclusions altered is because of the need to minimise the estimated effects of climate change in order to keep countries like the USA on board. One wonders who or what climate change deniers will turn to next in their attempts to confuse and ignore the issue.


I was most annoyed by the ITV news last night. While it is quite obvious that these letter bombs are being sent by some car-nutter, the report mentioned ‘animal rights activists’ a total of 5 TIMES. This is propaganda of the worst sort!

You can see where it leads to by reading the following report:

The February 2007 edition of Jane magazine includes a true tale piece by SHAC animal rights activist Lauren Gazzola, headed "I'm in prison for beinga terrorist -- and I literally wouldn't hurt a fly." (p 62) Lauren writes about the day the FBI arrived at her house and cuffed and arrested her and two roommates. She explains that she was arrested under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (actually at the time it was the Animal Enterprise Protection Act but it has since been upgraded) "which punishes people who 'physically disrupt' places like fur farms and animal-testing labs." She explains, "But we weren't accused of doing anything violent...the charges... stemmed from our allegedly running a Web site that reported protest activity against one of the world's largest animal testing labs, Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS)." As background to the campaign Lauren writes, "In 1997, an undercover documentarian got a job at HLS and recorded the staff punching puppies inthe face and dissecting a conscious monkey." About the SHAC campaign tactics she writes, "There is no denying that some of the things people did in the name of the campaign were illegal. What's crazy, though, is that when I stood in the courtroom pleading not guilty, neither I nor any of my friends had been charged with participating in window smashing, tire slashing or paint throwing. We were on trial for writing about it." She writes, "By the time you read this, I will have served two of the 52 months I am sentenced to in federal prison." Her final line is, "They can jail the activist but they cannot jail the activism." Pick up Jane magazine to read the whole piece. It is important that Jane gets plenty of positive feedback for running a piece by an animal rights activist, and Lauren's piece provides a great opportunity to include a line about animal testing. Jane takes letters at The letters they print tend to be short -- just a few lines. Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor.

DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets.You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at

Monday, 5 February 2007


The proliferation of Starbucks stores has become a symbol of globalisation. Starbucks itself is probably not the worst offender in terms of environmental or social damage but for many people it has come to represent everything that is wrong with capitalism – from unsustainable environmental practices to unfair trading to the cloning of our high streets. So the recent news that Starbucks intends to open a new store in London every fortnight for the next 10 years will not have been welcomed by many people. To get an idea of the number of Starbucks already in London check out this map of London's Starbucks by postcode. I’m glad to say that my own postcode of N6 remains mercifully free of the Starbucks and I can get a decent cup of tea or coffee at Chez Maxime on Archway Road or the Toll Gate Café, behind the Archway Tavern. The Toll Gate is a favourite with Green Party people from our offices nearby.
For others see the excellent alternative to the Starbucks locater - the delocator will tell you where your nearest alternative, independent café can be found. Why not add to the list if you know of any not currently on the site.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

One Address: Planet Earth (Vote Green!)

One Address: Planet Earth (Vote Green!)

The flowers that were growing here
Will blossom here no more
The hearts and minds of bureaucrats
Are rotten to the core
There's no investigation
And no builders hesitation
As the playing field makes way
For yet another shopping mall.
The trees that once were growing here
Are learning of their fate
The bricks and slabs are piling up
To build a new estate
The trees end up as household wood
We're told it's for the public good
And not to worry
Saving earth is something that can wait.
As species our divisions are
The mountains trees and seas.
So why do we spend time and effort
Making more than these?
When it comes to caring
For the rock on which we live
All we've done is take and take
But no one wants to give.
Temperatures are rising now
And so are all the seas,
And gas and coal and oil use
And emissions from all these.
If nuclear 's an option
Then what lesson does it take
To make us learn and not repeat
Chernobyl's big mistake?
The animals keep vanishing
As we proliferate
Then we spend time destroying
Other humans that we hate.
If aliens are watching us
They'll give this place a miss
And keep it from their children
Hoping ignorance is bliss.
As forests turn to open fields
And fields then turn to sand
How will we tell our children
That they just don't understand?
The world that we are giving them's
Becoming a disgrace
A testament of failure
To the stupid human race.
So let me tell you something
If I may, for what its worth
We all have one address
And that address is Planet Earth.
© Stepan Pasicznyk 31/3/06
MP3 at

New items in the Green Room.

Arrived recently:

An American army canvas bag. Quite large, with inscription on side ‘US ARMY BREAD BAG’
A Victorian Vet or Doctor’s instrument box with various nasty looking implements.
Victorian figure of Jenny Lind – famous 19th Century singer.
Unique hand woven raw silk bedspread used in the King Author film, where it was in Morgan LeFey’s bedroom.
Pair of anointing spoons, replicas of those used in the Queen’s coronation.
A teddy bear school room with teddy teacher and students plus desks blackboard etc.
A long piece of dinosaur dung, about 80 million years old.

We get in a lot of books. Some can be viewed on our ABE site by clicking the following link and pressing ‘find a book’

Support Lt. Watada.

Appeal for International Support from Carolyn Ho, Mother of Lt Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer of the US Army to refuse to go to Iraq

Dear Friends,
As the first commissioned officer in the US Army to refuse deployment to Iraq, Lt. Watada speaks for all men and women in uniform who oppose this illegal and immoral War. His courage and will to defend the US Constitution, uphold the rule of law, and stop the wanton loss of life poses a threat to the powers that be. They are intent on putting him behind prison walls hoping that people will forget his message and that the so-called "surge" in troops will continue unabated. His court martial scheduled for Feb. 5, 2007 promises to be a mockery of justice. In disallowing the Nuremberg defence and declaring the movement order to deploy to Iraq legal, the judge has in effect found Lt. Watada guilty. In addition the judge's refusal to dismiss the "conduct unbecoming..." charge signals the military's intent to prosecute him despite his constitutional right to free speech. It is ironic that higher ranking officers, both retired and active duty, have spoken out but have not been charged. Yet, Lt. Watada, a junior officer farthest from the top, is being made an example to suppress dissent among other officers and the rank and file Lt. Watada faces a maximum of six years in a military prison. Although officials claim that they do not care what the public thinks, they are certainly tuned in to the pulse of the national and international community. Public opinion is a critical part of the defence and the prosecution must know that the world is watching. You can help to build international support for Lt. Watada by contacting people in your personal, professional, and religious networks.

Please to go to: to learn more about Lt. Watada's case. Under "Take Action", supporters can click on SIGN THE PETITION & GET ACTION ALERTS by email. There are suggestions that can galvanize support and perhaps change the course of the court martial. Write, demonstrate, demand justice and no punishment for Lt. Watada. His voice of resistance to this heinous war cannot be silenced!
In Solidarity,
Carolyn Ho (Lt. Watada's Mother)

"The war in Iraq is in fact illegal. It is my obligation and my duty to refuse any orders to participate in this war. An order to take part in an illegal war is unlawful in itself. So my obligation is not to follow the order to go to Iraq." - Lt. Ehren Watada.

Saturday, 3 February 2007


This is written by a brave young Green Party friend of mine:

Over December I spent a month out in Palestine working with International Solidarity Movement, an organisation with the basic aim of helping support Palestinians with their non-violent resistance to the illegal occupation. Whilst resistance in Britain can largely be seen in terms of protests and demonstrations, simply living in Palestine is a form of resistance and the main aim of my work was to help Palestinians in their daily lives. It is difficult to give a summary of my time out there so check out and my blog from out there.Most of my work took place in Hebron, in the West Bank. This involved walking children to school to ensure they aren't attacked by Israeli settlers who 'share' the city centre with the Palestinians. These attacks take the form of verbal abuse, spitting, eggs or even rocks. Indeed one other solidarity monitor was attacked with a bottle in the face. The fact that these kids still want to learn is a testament to them and their families - having tried to bunk school for a good deal less at their age what they go through on a daily basis is pretty incredible. Of course it has huge psychological impacts on all members of the family. Other times I would go along and support demonstrations, often with farmers who had lost access to their land. Whilst I've seen some brutal police actions in Britain nothing compares to what I saw out there. At peaceful demonstrations, I was attacked by sound bombs, tear gas, batons and rubberbullets. Live ammo is on occasion fired, especially at demonstrations we don't go to. Daily life out there is pretty grim and depressing for Palestinians but despite this they were incredibly generous and appreciative to me whilst I was out there. Whilst what I achieved doesn't seem like much it does actually make a difference to their lives. Where international observers are placed there is often a lot less abuses of the Palestinians, whether that is waiting times at checkpoints, settler attacks or a whole host of other problems. Whilst it can be a disturbing experience I certainly think it is aworthwhile and enriching one at the same time. The occupation is not going to end with words alone and people's action is required in order to achieve this. Whilst the movement has to be Palestinian lead, they need international support and solidarity and I would urge those with time to go. Those who are time poor but perhaps slightly more cash rich, please think about sponsoring those who go out there.