Friday, 29 February 2008


Gordon Brown has warned retailers he will force them to cut down on plastic bag use if they do not act voluntarily.

Writing in the Daily Mail, he told stores that "If government compulsion is needed to make the change, we will take the necessary steps."

"We do not take such steps lightly - but the damage that single-use plastic bags inflict on the environment is such that strong action must be taken," he said.

Strong talk, but Gordon Brown is the Chancellor who bottled out after the Irish Government scheme was seen to be a success. When I was preparing my GLA report “Plastic Not Fantastic” in 2003, one of the supermarkets told us that they had fully expected the tax to come in at that time and were amazed when Gordon Brown turned it down. Still, better late than never.

However, the hypocrisy and fine words continue. Also in today’s papers:

“Meanwhile the Conservatives have released official figures which indicate that government departments and agencies have bought more than 1.2 million plastic bags branded with their logos over the last two years.”

Sunday, 24 February 2008


The Jersey Care Home investigation seems set to be big news.

What is not well known outside Jersey is that this is mostly down the Green Party Senator Stuart Syvret.

Stuart has had to endure persecution and vilification because of his determination to bring out the truth. Last autumn he lost his position as Minister of Health and was shouted down and not allowed to make his end-of-year speech in the parliament.

First elected to the States on 13th December 1990 as Deputy of St Helier No.3. Elected as Senator in 1993 and re-elected in 1999 and 2005.

He has been censored by the main newspaper. See here for a letter that they refused to publish -

However, after the letter was published on the internet, the newspaper backed down and printed it. It’s well worth reading:-)

You can read his blog at -

I love his quote “This blog, for example, is my own, small and ineffectual attempt to influence people as a counter-weight to the vast tracts of bilge, irrelevancy and effluvia we are fed by the mainstream media.”

Here is part of his report on his attempt to raise the issue in the States (parliament)

“Consider – and this is merely one example: a majority of States members voted to have me dismissed. The central ground for this action against me was that I was supposedly “undermining staff moral” – by getting very angry at things like the 18 month failure to detect abuse I describe above - and demanding of very well-paid senior managers that they start doing their damn jobs properly.

As the evidence demonstrates, these self-same civil servants then set about engineering my dismissal – in order to protect themselves and hide their many gross failings.

If a majority of States members weren’t generally ambling around in a torpor – going from one PowerPoint presentation to another - and pretending that this equates to doing work – had they applied some rudimentary thought – had they done a little research - they would have sent a clear message to Frank & Co that, actually, the decades of failure, utter incompetence – and worse – on the part of Jersey’s child protection apparatus had to end; - “Damn “staff moral” – the service does not exist for the benefit of those who work in it – it exists for the clients. If these very expensive managers cannot rescue a child from 18 months of abuse; if they see nothing whatsoever problematic in using coercive and punitive solitary confinement against children for days, and even months at a stretch – this nearly two decades after the Pindown scandal in the UK - then it is they we are going to sack – not the Minister because he has “undermined their moral”.

As I said in an earlier post, the “mistake” – though obviously, it wasn’t – I made was to be on the “wrong” side. Mangers versus victims? The abused versus those whose idleness and incompetence had failed to rescue them from abuse? I sided with the victims. Listened to them – believed them. The senior civil servants had to get rid of me from that instant.

If the States were not culpable; if the States were to exhibit some leadership and understanding, they would have recognised the very clear and obvious fact that the engineering of my dismissal was yet another symptom – yet another example – of the services being out of control, unaccountable and invulnerable – the very culture which has led to decade after decade of abuse going largely unreported and unpunished.

It’s not as though most States members could even claim ignorance of these machinations. Notwithstanding Phil Bailhache’s unlawful obstruction of the formal printing of my official Comments in response to the dismissal proposal, a photocopy of my response was distributed.

In this documentation – as one of the appendices – was the proof that the letter sent to Frank Walker demanding my dismissal, and signed by his friend Iris Le Feuvre – was, in fact, largely authored by the Directorate Manager of Social Services, Marnie Baudains – perhaps the most culpable of all senior officers for the many gross failings in child protection.

As I said – States members had this evidence in front of them – yet a substantial majority of them clearly concluded that the unprofessional gross misconduct involved on the part of a senior civil servant who, in order to protect their own position, set about political manoeuvrings to have their Minister sacked – was of trifling concern, compared to “undermining staff moral”.

Understand this: no other democratic, respectable legislature on the face of the planet would have taken this approach: – clear-cut evidence in black and white that a senior civil servant was a party to engineering the dismissal of a Minister in an attempt to hide their own deficiencies? “Well, we don’t care about that – what matters is that we mustn’t “undermine their moral”, the poor dears.”

So – a substantial majority of States members to blame for maintaining and continuing the culture failure towards vulnerable children?

Yes, clearly.

By acting as they did, the States of Jersey simple embarked upon another wretched episode in the culture of concealment.”

Thursday, 21 February 2008


Channel 4 have just screened our Political Slot film - sort of.

In the original film, Siân Berry, Green Party candidate for Mayor of London, explained how Greens on the London Assembly won a big pay rise for cleaners in the Fire Brigade by using their power of the Mayor's budget to create the London Living Wage Unit.

But Channel 4 didn't want you to see that. So they cut it out.

They were happy to let us tell you about how we've introduced a scheme to provide advice on greening your home, and how we've won funding to increase the amount and quality of green space in East London. And those are great achievements - but why is it that we're not allowed to tell you that there's more to Green politics than the environment?

We don't know. But it has left us asking how many cleaners at Channel 4 are on poverty wages.

You can see the full, uncensored broadcast at:
-- and please help get the word out by sharing it and posting it on your profile.

Fortunately, not everyone wants to stop us fighting poverty pay - organisations including the NUS, Unite, UNISON, the Fawcett Society, and Oxfam have made Siân a Patron of the new Fair Pay Network, to be launched on Monday. Keep checking from next week for more details on that campaign, and on how to join in.

Monday, 18 February 2008

*Animal Welfare is top concern

Animal welfare and fair trade are far bigger concerns to UK consumers than climate change, according to a huge new poll of UK shoppers.

Only 4% rate climate change as their top ethical priority, compared with 21% who think animal welfare is the most important issue and 14% who rate fair trade as their key concern.

The findings come from a survey conducted by the Co-op that has been used to draw up a "responsible retailing" policy, designed to reflect shoppers' concerns. The Co-op claims the survey is the biggest poll of consumer ethics ever undertaken.

The supermarket group analysed responses to a detailed, 4-page questionnaire from more than 100,000 members and customers. It intends to use their responses to guide changes to the way it does business. As a result of the survey the Co-op is halting the sale and use of eggs from caged hens with immediate effect. The 2,700-strong supermarket chain is also ensuring all its own-brand tea - including its 99 brand - becomes fair trade.

The customer-owned business, which made all of its coffee fair trade 5 years ago, intends to absorb the extra costs so that prices do not go up. 3 main categories emerged from the survey as the key areas of concern: ethical trading (27%), animal welfare (25%) and environmental impact (22%).

Some 4% pinpointed animal testing as the ethical issue they believe is the most important facing consumers - the same proportion as want more attention paid to climate change.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

*Mayor Hustings today.

Green Alliance ran a Mayoral Hustings in Whitehall this morning.
It was chaired by Jon Snow with the 'four principal candidates'
Sian started the session with a great speech that completely cut the ground from under all the other candidates.
Ken was quite good.
Boris was unimpressive and not even funny.
Paddick was just a grey man in a suit. He attacked Ken a few times by saying that his environmental record was down to him being forced by the Greens.
On a question on organic food for the Olympics, part of Ken's reply was:
".........You know Jenny Jones. She will knaw away at their soft bits, so the major sponsors might find it a bit of a double-edged sword"

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


"From October 2008, lone parents with older children will no longer
be entitled to income support solely on the grounds of being a lone
parent. Instead, those able to work may claim jobseeker's allowance.
They will be expected to look for work and, if necessary, acquire
the skills they need to do so, in return for personalised support.

"The change will be introduced for lone parents with a youngest
child aged 12 or over from October 2008 a youngest child aged 10 or
over from October 2009 and a youngest child aged seven or over from
October 2010."

With these words "Ready For Work: full employment in our generation" issued with minimal publicity in late December 2007 ushers in a worrying time for many single parents. Funny enough, I haven't heard any newspapers complaining on this attack on the poor. Instead they give loads of publicity to the squealing of millionaires who have been asked to pay a derisory amount to the exchequer.

Mothers of seven year olds will soon be forced to go out to work, sometimes for these rich 'non doms' who do not like paying taxes.

In the meantime, who looks after the 7-12 year olds?

- - Show your love for efficient cars this Valentine's Day - -

It would be nice to thank all the kind car owners who have downsized and make a conscious choice to buy a low carbon car. What better time than this Thursday - Valentines Day.

The 4x4 Campaign have designed a special card that can be downloaded (2 per page), printed (2 sides) on a colour printer, and left under the windscreen wiper of someone’s low carbon car, like an electric G-Wiz, Prius or Smart Car. You can find the file to download here:

You can find a list of cars that are cleaner and greener (less than 120 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide) at the bottom of this message – don’t forget the all-electric G-Wiz, which has zero emissions on the ground.


TOYOTA, Prius, 1497, E-CVT, 104 g/km
HONDA, Civic Hybrid, 1339, CVT, 109 g/km
CITROEN, C1, 998, M5, 109 g/km
TOYOTA, Aygo, 998, M5 or Multi5, 109 g/km
PEUGEOT, 107, 998, M5 or A5, 109 g/km
SMART, Fortwo 50bhp, 698, SM6, 113 g/km
DAIHATSU, Charade, 989, M5, 114 g/km
VAUXHALL, Corsa, 998, MTA5, 115 g/km
SMART, Roadster, 698, A6, 116 g/km
DAIHATSU, Sirion, 998, M5, 118 g/km
SMART, Fortwo 61bhp, 698, SM6, 120 g/km


CITROEN, C1, 1398, M5, 109 g/km
TOYOTA, Aygo, 1398, 5MT, 109 g/km
PEUGEOT, 206, 1398, M5, 112 g/km
CITROEN, C2, 1398, M5, 113 g/km
FIAT, Panda, 1248, M5, 114 g/km
RENAULT, Clio, 1461, M5, 115 g/km
VAUXHALL, Corsa, 1248, MTA5, 115 g/km
CITROEN, C3, 1398, M5, 115 g/km
FORD, Fiesta, 1560, M5, 116 g/km
MINI R56, Cooper D, 1560, M6, 118 g/km
HYUNDAI, Getz, 1493, M5, 118 g/km
VAUXHALL, Corsa, 1248, M5, 119 g/km
FIAT, Gd Punto, 1248, M5, 119 g/km
FORD, Fiesta, 1399, M5 or ASM, 119 g/km
FORD, Fusion, 1399, M5, 119 g/km
FORD, Fusion, 1560, M5, 119 g/km
TOYOTA, Yaris, 1364, M5 or Multi5, 119 g/km
VOLKSWAGEN, Polo, 1422, M5, 119 g/km
CITROEN, C3, 1560, M5, 120 g/km
CITROEN, C4, 1560, A6, 120 g/km
RENAULT, Modus, 1461, M5, 120 g/km
RENAULT, Megane, 1461, M5, 120 g/km
PEUGEOT, 207, 1398, M5, 120 g/km
PEUGEOT, 207, 1560, M5, 120 g/km
SKODA, Fabia, 1422, M5, 120 g/km

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

*Highgate Byelection - Vote For The Green Party Candidate

Green Party candidate Sarah Mitchell with her daughter.

I am Sarah Mitchell and I have lived in Highgate, an area I love, for 7 years.
I have been an active Green Party member since 2003 and I am a cofounder
of the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s. I worked for the BBC for 6 years
and am now a freelance radio producer, making programmes for BBC Radio 4.

I am known for getting things done. In 2005 I moved from Highgate
village to the Summersby Road estate, where I immediately set up a Residents’
Association. I am well aware of the problems tenants and leaseholders in
the ward have with the ALMO Homes for Haringey, and have been demanding
that they fulfil their repair and maintenance duties on our estate.

Local Shops and Services

I have campaigned for local shops and opposed our high streets being taken over by big supermarkets and coffee chains. If elected I would fight to rejuvenate high
streets such as the much neglected Archway Road. I would also try to ensure that the post office there isn’t closed and demand that HaringeyCouncil encourage small businesses rather than slap fines on them, as happens under the current system.

Haringey Council must also continue to support Jackson’s Lane as this really is the hub of the whole community.


We have NO recycling facilities in our street and I know several other streets in the ward suffer similarly. You may think that the other parties have picked up the green baton – don’t believe it! We are the original Green party with the
know-how and dedication that the council need at this crucial moment as they attempt to brand themselves the ‘Greenest borough’. As your councillor I would demand every
household have access to doorstep recycling facilities, as well as campaigning for free insulation for every home that needs it, better cycle routes and
higher parking charges for gas guzzlers.


Like a lot of people in Highgate, I am a parent – I have a one year old daughter, Clementine, and am a member of the Maternity Services Committee at the Royal Free Hospital. I am also keen to get the council to address the problem of demand outstripping places in our local nurseries and primary schools. Indeed, there are no children’s centres in the ward. I would campaign to ensure that all children in the
ward have adequate facilities, aiding their development and socialisation.

Decent Homes

I would work to make ‘decent homes’ a reality, not just a council catchphrase. Although many people live in good conditions in Highgate, there are those that do not, and they often get overlooked. If elected, I would fight on your behalf
to make Homes for Haringey more accountable. In my role of chair of the Residents’ Association I have already been working alongside Cllr Williams and Cllr Hare, and know that we would make a great team for the ward.

Green councillors are already working for Highgate in the borough of
Camden – isn’t it time Haringey had a Green councillor too?

I will provide a strong, hard-working, independent Green voice on the council. A strong voice for the ward is needed as we are often overlooked by Haringey council, despite paying more council tax than any other ward!

You already have two Lib Dem councillors representing the ward – ensure you don’t get a monopoly.

Choose the independent Green to speak for YOU!


I would oppose the privatisation of our local GP surgeries, a shocking development which has already been allowed in other parts of London. I would also fight cutbacks of local health facilities such as the well-used baby clinic.

Vote Green on 6th March
Vote Green Party

Published by Haringey Green Party. Agent: Mike Shaughnessy, 11 Herbert Rd, N11 2QN.

*Non Dom’ Fury

Gordon Brown is facing a huge onslaught for his very mild proposal to tax non domestic millionaires and billionaires who have lived here for next to nothing for a minimum of seven years.

I think the whining of these leeches is hilarious. £30,000 would not even cover the wine bill of most of this crowd!

At a time when the Government is increasingly persecuting the disabled, the unemployed and single mothers these people should be taxed much more, but I dare say, strings will be pulled and it will end up ‘only the little people pay taxes’ as one millionaires once famously stated.

*Children 'could be targeted today by Taser squads'

Green Party councillor Romayne Phoenix warned today that local children could be targeted by police Taser squads on Lewisham's streets.

She also voiced fears that Taser-armed officers may be under-trained in use of the high-voltage weapon.

Lewisham Police are participating in a pilot scheme in which the new weapons are distributed more routinely to officers who are not experts in their use. The pilot began in December and ends this August.

Green Party councillor Romayne Phoenix said:

"I am deeply worried that police have cut their training in the use of these weapons from three days to just 24 hours in order to cut costs.

"They have also said there is no lower age limit for who can be shot with these powerful devices, which means our children are at risk.

"There may be a place for this tool in policing, but Lewisham residents should not be guinea pigs for a scheme that cuts corners in police training and which allows young people to be shot with 50,000 volts."

" My fear is that if adopted as a ' piece of personal protective equipment' , use of the Taser could gradually become more common place, and some of the valuable policing skills such as negotiation, persuasion and common sense might become a thing of the past. "

Currently there are two London IPCC investigations involving the use of Tasers.

Cllr Phoenix, who is a member of the Lewisham Community Police Consultative Group (LCPCG), learned of the training cuts and lack of age restrictions on Taser targets when the Met Police's Territorial Support Group gave a presentation on the controversial weapon at the LCPCG's last meeting.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


If the world consisted of just 100 people:

Most people have seen the stats, but this little film is useful in cementing them in your mind.