30 Nov 2006

"self indulgent" green campaigners

hopefully see some of you at 12pm tomorrow outside the Indonesian Embassy where I will speak in favour of the free west papua movement.

this is from Sian on Charles Clarke's attack, a bit rich from a former minister in a government whose regulators are pushing rail fares up


CLARKE'S GOVERNMENT IS MAKING IT 'DAILY MORE DIFFICULT' FOR PEOPLE TO MAKE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CHOICES IN THEIR EVERYDAY LIVES

Green Party Principal Speaker Siân Berry today responded to Charles Clarke's diatribe against "self indulgent" green campaigners:

"Most people and organisations do want to make their own contribution in the fight against global warming, and it is up to the government to adopt the right policies to ensure it is easy for them to do this.

"It is self-indulgent for anyone in the parliament to talk about what individuals can do when they, as politicians, are well placed to ensure the right framework is in place for us all.

"Sadly Charles Clarke's government is making it daily more difficult for people to make environmentally friendly choices in their everyday lives - only this week we saw above inflation increases in rail fares - that make flying the cheapest option across several UK domestic routes! This is in stark contrast to Clarke's call for 'higher quality and cheaper transport.'

"Last month, the much vaunted climate change bill proved to be toothless and inadequate in it's refusal to set binding targets.

"Mr Clarke claims to believe the key to success over energy is more conservation and a 'dramatic increase' in the proportion of energy which comes from renewable sources. But the government have gone for the nuclear option - which ensures that exactly the opposite will happen: yet more money drained away from cutting-edge renewables in favour of old fashioned nuclear power.

"If Mr. Clarke reallly wants to beef up his green credentials, he should call for an end to aviation expansion, oppose the government's 30 billion pound road-building programme, and work to ensure New Labour abandons its steadfast support for nuclear power."

Charles Clarke is MP for Norwich South - one of the Green Party's target parliamentary seats. We have 11 Green Cllrs in Norwich South, and expect to make more gains in May 2007.

ENDS


Green Party Press Office
020 7561 0282
http://www.greenparty.org.uk

29 Nov 2006

GREENS LAUNCH EU BID TO ‘FREE WEST PAPUA’

GREENS LAUNCH EU BID TO ‘FREE WEST PAPUA’

WRITTEN DECLARATION CALLS FOR INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM

EURO-MPs are to call for the EU to intervene in forcing Indonesia to respect
human rights in West Papua – and grant the province a free and fair
referendum on independence – in a Written Declaration launched this Friday
(December 1st) to coincide with West Papua Independence Day.

The Written Declaration – the European Parliament’s equivalent of an Early
Day Motion in the House of Commons – has been co-sponsored by Green MEPs
Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert, Plaid Cymru Euro-MP Jill Evans and Italian
liberal MEP Luigi Cocilovo.

It notes that following the withdrawal of Dutch colonial forces, West Papua
has been under military occupation by Indonesia for more than 40 years. At
that time it was allowed to administer the territory until a UN-guaranteed
independence referendum could be held, but Indonesia failed to fulfil its
obligations under international law and hold such a vote, instead annexing
West Papua following a sham vote – the co-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ in
1969, in which just 1,000 Papuans, hand-picked by Indonesia, were allowed to
participate.

Human rights abuses of Papuans continue – with torture, disappearances,
detention without trial and murder of Papuans at the hands of the Indonesia
military commonplace.

Dr Lucas, Green Party MEP for South-East England, said: “The people of Papua
were promised a referendum on independence when the Dutch former colonial
rulers withdrew from the country four decades ago.

“They are still waiting – and meanwhile the Papuans continue to suffer
terrible repression, violence and abuse at the hands of an Indonesian
government more interested in securing lucrative business deals than
honouring historical agreements – or obeying international law.

“This Written Declaration calls on the EU to do whatever is in its power to
persuade Indonesia to change its approach – and grant freedom to the people
of West Papua that they might choose their future themselves.”

West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea. Formerly a Dutch
colony, it was invaded by Indonesia in 1962. The resource-rich country,
which boasts millions of square kilometers of tropical hardwood rainforest,
massive oil reserves and, reportedly, the largest gold mine in the world,
has remained under Jakarta’s yoke ever since. UK multi-nationals BP and Rio
Tinto both have substantial interests in West Papua.

The Written Declaration, which needs to attract the support of half the
European parliament’s 732 members to become official parliamentary policy,
will be published this week to coincide with West Papua Independence Day,
which is being marked by London demonstrations outside the Indonesian
Embassy and the headquarters of both Rio Tinto and BP.

West Papua Independence Day is held on December 1st to mark the anniversary
of the Dutch promise to grant independence to West Papua, originally made on
December 1st, 1961. The day provides a focus for demonstrations and
political activity for Free West Papua activists around the world:
ironically, though, the Indonesian authorities have violently crushed any
public demands for independence in the province itself. In 2004, two Papuan
activists, Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage, were arrested for peacefully
raising a West Papuan flag. Both are still serving long jail sentences.

The London demonstration, which starts at 12 noon outside the Indonesian
Embassy in Grosvenor Square, is expected to attract significant Green Party
support, and will be addressed by the party’s Principal Speaker Derek Wall.

Next week Indonesian and EU officials meet for a day of cultural and
economic discussions ahead of a planned visit to the EU by Indonesian
president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Dr Lucas said: “The EU-Indonesia day talks provide a perfect opportunity for
EU officials to raise the issue of human rights abuses and West Papua’s
constitutional status with their Indonesian counterparts. I hope they will
do so, but I’m not holding my breath.

“The advance papers for the meeting appear to heap praise on what EU
officials describe as Indonesia’s democratic and peaceful handling of the
island country’s various independence struggles – but these are words which
clearly don’t apply in West Papua and it is equally clear that next week’s
meeting is more about promoting trade than justice or human rights.”

In a direct message for the Papuan people to be read out on the island on
Friday, Dr Lucas said: “Indonesian oppression has led to the deaths of at
least 100,000 indigenous Papuans since the occupation began in 1962.
Beatings, rapes, torture and killings inflicted by the Indonesian army
continue unchecked: the military must withdraw from West Papua immediately.”

She added: “The people of West Papua deserve an end to the Indonesian
military occupation, the exploitation of their rich natural resources and
real self-determination.

“Only this will bring long-term peace to the island and an end to the
violence, intimidation and human rights atrocities to which we bear witness
today. Until West Papua is free, none of us are. Free West Papua! Papua
Merdaka!”


ENDS

Note to Editors:

Dr Lucas’s Written Declaration is available at www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk
(click on the Written Declarations tab and follow the links) – or on request
from Ben by email or ‘phone.

For more details of West Papua Independence Day, or Friday’s demo contact
Richard Samuelson of the Free West Papua Campaign samoxen@dsl.pipex.com Tel.
01865 241200. www.freewestpapua.og

For more information please contact Ben on 01273 671946, 07973 823358 or
ben@greenmeps.org.uk

www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk




Ben Duncan
Media Officer to Caroline Lucas MEP
benduncan@greenmeps.org.uk
01273 671946 (office)

West Papua protest Friday

FREE WEST PAPUA CAMPAIGN, OXFORD
www.freewestpapua.org

WEST PAPUA : 43 years of illegal Indonesian military occupation is 43 years too long!

Join West Papuan independence leader, Benny Wenda, and Free West Papua supporters from all over the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands for a DEMONSTRATION to mark West Papua Independence Day.

From 12 NOON, Friday 1st December 2006, outside the Indonesian Embassy, 38, Grosvenor Gardens, London W1 (south side of Grosvenor Sq.near the US
Embassy).

From 2.00pm we will make our way to St James's Square to protest outside the Headquarters of Rio Tinto & BP, two British multi-nationals with West Papuan
blood on their hands.

Benny Wenda says:
"Ist December is a day written in every West Papuan's heart. It's the day in 1961 when the Dutch gave us our flag, national anthem and parliament and promised us independence in 1970.

Two years later the Indonesians invaded and 43 years of occupation and killing began for my people. We call 1st December our 'Independence Day'
because we have never given up hope of freedom."

If you're travelling from Oxford, meet at 9.00am at the coach stop outside Queen's College, High Street, Oxford.

For more information contact Richard Samuelson
e-mail samoxen@dsl.pipex.com Tel: 01865 241200

Please join us! WEST PAPUA NEEDS YOU!

27 Nov 2006

EU MUST SUSPEND ISRAEL TRADE DEAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS GROUNDS’

EURO-MP SPEAKS AT PORTSMOUTH PALESTINE MEETING

‘EU MUST SUSPEND ISRAEL TRADE DEAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS GROUNDS’


Event: Euro-MP speaks on role of EU in bringing peace to
Palestine
Place: Menuhin Theatre, Central Library, Guildhall Square,
Portsmouth
Time: Friday, December 1st, 7pm


THE EU has a key role to play in bringing peace to the Middle East and a
resolution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, Green Party Euro-MP
Caroline Lucas will tell a Portsmouth meeting on Friday.

It should suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement – which gives Israel
preferential access to EU markets – until Israel ceases all violations of
Palestinians’ human rights, she will tell the meeting, which is entitled:
‘The European Union: its potential role in a just resolution of the
Arab-Israeli conflict and how we can get the EU to act’.

Dr Lucas, who is a member of the European Parliament’s delegation to the
occupied Palestinian territories and a former EU election observer in Gaza,
said: “Though a fragile ceasefire is now in place between Israel and the
Palestinians of Gaza, Israel continues to hold hundreds of Palestinians as
political prisoners and preside over an occupation which leads to
state-sponsored terrorism and systemic human rights abuses against
Palestinians.

“Peace will only come to the region when both sides abide fully with
international law: respecting the human rights of everyone in the region,
releasing political prisoners, ceasing attacks on civilians and
infrastructure and abandoning unlawful nuclear weaponry.

“The EU has a mechanism for putting pressure on Israel to do this – though
the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which contains a clause allowing the
treaty to be suspended on human rights grounds. It is now up to EU leaders
and the European Commission to make this happen and act to bring peace and
justice to the troubled region.”

The Green Party Euro-MP for South East England, who is also co-founder and
co-president of the European Parliament’s cross-party Peace Initiatives
Intergroup and a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s
decision-making council, will make her comments at the Portsmouth Central
Library meeting this Friday, which has been organised by the Portsmouth
Network for a Just Settlement of the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

ENDS
Editors’ Note

The Portsmouth Network for a Just Settlement of
The Arab-Israeli Conflict has been established to:

· promote a deeper understanding of the conflict
· explore the options for a just settlement and ways to nurture the
reconciliation needed for a lasting peace
· encourage political action by people in Portsmouth and the
surrounding area to promote lasting peace through a just settlement of the
conflict.


For more information please contact Ben on 01273 671946, 07973 823358 or
ben@greenmeps.org.uk

www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk



Ben Duncan
Media Officer to Caroline Lucas MEP
benduncan@greenmeps.org.uk
01273 671946 (office)
07973 823358 (mobile)

Malachi Ritscher's Suicide Note

this horrified me, the idea of committing suicide in the most extreme way to protest about war and the fact that protest seems to have been ignored by the world's media, means we in the blogsphere have to shout out loud.

Malachi Ritscher's obitituary written by him is here.

report on his death here, I have lost the blog address so if you do copywrite apologies to you who wrote this on green bloggers over the weekend.

Saturday, November 25, 2006
Malachi Ritscher
Activist and artist Malachi Ritscher burns himself alive in Chicago in front of morning rush hour commuters to protest the war in Iraq.
From: http://cleveland.indymedia.org/news/2006/11/23624.php


Malachi Ritscher


The press has almost completely blacked out this news in mainstream press .
A long time Chicago activist, artist and contributer to the Chicago jazz scene has burned himself alive in an act of protest against the iraq war. He is only one of 10 Americans in history to have done this .
Buddist monks did this during the VietNam war.
On Friday, November 3, a man doused his body with gasoline and set himself afire to protest the war in Iraq . He died quietly in flames. His name was Malachi Ritscher.

Haven't seen it in the news? Me neither, which is kind of strange if you ask me, considering that it happened right here in downtown Chicago in front of hundreds of commuters during morning rush hour. The only conventional newspaper coverage to date was a tiny paragraph that appeared in the Saturday edition of the Chicago Sun-Times. Since then...nothing.

His death must not be in vain please spread the word
Malachi Ritscher's Suicide Note
- - - - - - - - - -

My actions should be self-explanatory, and since in our self-obsessed culture words seldom match the deed, writing a mission statement would seem questionable. So judge me by my actions. Maybe some will be scared enough to wake from their walking dream state - am I therefore a martyr or terrorist? I would prefer to be thought of as a 'spiritual warrior'. Our so-called leaders are the real terrorists in the world today, responsible for more deaths than Osama bin Laden.

I have had a wonderful life, both full and full of wonder. I have experienced love and the joy and heartache of raising a child. I have jumped out of an airplane, and escaped a burning building. I have spent the night in jail, and dropped acid during the sixties. I have been privileged to have met many supremely talented musicians and writers, most of whom were extremely generous and gracious. Even during the hard times, I felt charmed. Even the difficult lessons have been like blessed gifts. When I hear about our young men and women who are sent off to war in the name of God and Country, and who give up their lives for no rational cause at all, my heart is crushed. What has happened to my country? we have become worse than the imagined enemy - killing civilians and calling it 'collateral damage', torturing and trampling human rights inside and outside our own borders, violating our own Constitution whenever it seems convenient, lying and stealing right and left, more concerned with sports on television and ring-tones on cell-phones than the future of the world.... half the population is taking medication because they cannot face the daily stress of living in the richest nation in the world.

I too love God and Country, and feel called upon to serve. I can only hope my sacrifice is worth more than those brave lives thrown away when we attacked an Arab nation under the deception of 'Weapons of Mass Destruction'. Our interference completely destroyed that country, and destabilized the entire region. Everyone who pays taxes has blood on their hands.

I have had one previous opportunity to serve my country in a meaningful way - at 8:05 one morning in 2002 I passed Donald Rumsfeld on Delaware Avenue and I was acutely aware that slashing his throat would spare the lives of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people. I had a knife clenched in my hand, and there were no bodyguards visible; to my deep shame I hesitated, and the moment was past.

The violent turmoil initiated by the United States military invasion of Iraq will beget future centuries of slaughter, if the human race lasts that long. First we spit on the United Nations, then we expect them to clean up our mess. Our elected representatives are supposed to find diplomatic and benevolent solutions to these situations. Anyone can lash out and retaliate, that is not leadership or vision. Where is the wisdom and honor of the people we delegate our trust to?

To the rest of the world we are cowards - demanding Iraq to disarm, and after they comply, we attack with remote-control high-tech video-game weapons. And then lie about our reasons for invading. We the people bear complete responsibility for all that will follow, and it won't be pretty.

It is strange that most if not all of this destruction is instigated by people who claim to believe in God, or Allah. Many sane people turn away from religion, faced with the insanity of the 'true believers'. There is a lot of confusion: many people think that God is like Santa Claus, rewarding good little girls with presents and punishing bad little boys with lumps of coal; actually God functions more like the Easter Bunny, hiding surprises in plain sight. God does not choose the Lottery numbers, God does not make the weather, God does not endorse military actions by the self-righteous, God does not sit on a cloud listening to your prayers for prosperity. God does not smite anybody. If God watches the sparrow fall, you notice that it continues to drop, even to its death. Face the truth folks, God doesn't care, that's not what God is or does. If the human race drives itself to extinction, God will be there for another couple million years, 'watching' as a new species rises and falls to replace us. It is time to let go of primitive and magical beliefs, and enter the age of personal responsibility. Not telling others what is right for them, but making our own choices, and accepting consequences.

"Who would Jesus bomb?" This question is primarily addressing a Christian audience, but the same issues face the Muslims and the Jews: God's message is tolerance and love, not self-righteousness and hatred. Please consider "Thou shalt not kill" and "As ye sow, so shall ye reap". Not a lot of ambiguity there.

What is God? God is the force of life - the spark of creation. We each carry it within us, we share it with each other. Whether we are conscious of the life-force is a choice we make, every minute of every day. If you choose to ignore it, nothing will happen - you are just 'less conscious'. Maybe you are less happy (maybe not). Maybe you grow able to tap into the universal force, and increase the creativity in the universe. Love is anti-entropy. Please notice that 'conscious' and 'conscience' are related concepts.

Why God - what is the value? Whether committee consensus of a benevolent power that works through humans, or giant fungus under Oregon, the value of opening up to the concept of God is in coming to the realization that we are not alone, establishing a connection to the universe, the experience of finding completion. As individuals we may exist alone, but we are all alone together as a people. Faith is the answer to fear. Fear opposes love. To manipulate through fear is a betrayal of trust.

What does God want? No big mystery - simply that we try to help each other. We decide to make God-like decisions, rescuing falling sparrows, or putting the poor things out of their misery. Tolerance, giving, acceptance, forgiveness.

If this sounds a lot like pop psychology, that is my exact goal. Never underestimate the value of a pep-talk and a pat on the ass. That is basically all we give to our brave soldiers heading over to Iraq, and more than they receive when they return. I want to state these ideas in their simplest form, reducing all complexity, because each of us has to find our own answers anyway. Start from here...

I am amazed how many people think they know me, even people who I have never talked with. Many people will think that I should not be able to choose the time and manner of my own death. My position is that I only get one death, I want it to be a good one. Wouldn't it be better to stand for something or make a statement, rather than a fiery collision with some drunk driver? Are not smokers choosing death by lung cancer? Where is the dignity there? Are not the people the people who disregard the environment killing themselves and future generations? Here is the statement I want to make: if I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world. I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians, who did nothing to threaten our country. I will not participate in your charade - my conscience will not allow me to be a part of your crusade. There might be some who say "it's a coward's way out" - that opinion is so idiotic that it requires no response. From my point of view, I am opening a new door.

What is one more life thrown away in this sad and useless national tragedy? If one death can atone for anything, in any small way, to say to the world: I apologize for what we have done to you, I am ashamed for the mayhem and turmoil caused by my country. I was alive when John F. Kennedy instilled hope into a generation, and I was a sorry witness to the final crushing of hope by Dick Cheney's puppet, himself a pawn of the real rulers, the financial plunderers and looters who profit from every calamity; following the template of Reagan's idiocracy.

The upcoming elections are not a solution - our two party system is a failure of democracy. Our government has lost its way since our founders tried to build a structure which allowed people to practice their own beliefs, as far as it did not negatively affect others. In this regard, the separation of church and state needs to be reviewed. This is a large part of the way that the world has gone wrong, the endless defining and dividing of things, micro-sub-categorization, sectarianism. The direction we need is a process of unification, integrating all people into a world body, respecting each individual. Business and industry have more power than ever before, and individuals have less. Clearly, the function of government is to protect the individual, from hardship and disease, from zealots, from the exploitation, from monopoly, even from itself. Our leaders are not wise persons with integrity and vision - they are actors reading from teleprompters, whose highest goal is to stir up the mob. Our country slaughters Arabs, abandons New Orleaneans, and ignores the dieing environment. Our economy is a house of cards, as hollow and fragile as our reputation around the world. We as a nation face the abyss of our own design.

A coalition system which includes a Green Party would be an obvious better approach than our winner-take-all system. Direct electronic debate and balloting would be an improvement over our non-representative congress. Consider that the French people actually have a voice, because they are willing to riot when the government doesn't listen to them.

"Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government... " - Abraham Lincoln

With regard to those few who crossed my path carrying the extreme and unnecessary weight of animosity: they seemed by their efforts to be punishing themselves. As they acted out the misery of their lives it is now difficult to feel anything other than pity for them.

Without fear I go now to God - your future is what you will choose today.

Our Member of Parliament to challenge Queen's Speech

A good critique of the governments climate change approach from Tim Beaumont, who incidentally is part of the broad church which is the Green Left!


Subject: Lord Beaumont to address the House of Lords


SPEECH OF LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY, GREEN PARTY PEER IN THE DEBATE ON THE QUEEN’S SPEECH ON THE AFTERNOON OF MONDAY NOV 27 2006


My Lords, there are many things in the gracious speech that the sole Green Party representative in Parliament might have chosen to speak on and for a time I was tempted to speak on international affairs, to protest against our illegal involvement in two wars and to point out that no one had ever dabbled in the affairs of Afghanistan or Mesopotamia with profit to any of the parties concerned from the First Afghan War, chronicled by my great-great-grandfather Henry Havelock, through the advocacy of the use of mustard gas and the bombing of unarmed civilians by Winston Churchill to the present unhappy events.


Not all that long ago the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association sent me to Tonga and I learned there that there is a lot to be said for a policy of no entanglements and of dubbing ones islands The Friendly Islands and behaving accordingly


But even two illegal wars are not the most important matters on our plate.


Much the most important and dangerous problem is Climate Change and we very much welcome the forthright challenge of the Stern Report. In which the risks of making only small cuts to our CO2 production are laid out in full. Including the risk of an increasing likelihood of "abrupt and major irreversible changes".


The major changes include the melting of the Greenland icecap and the resultant 6m rise in sea levels that this implies.


The upshot of this is that if London, New York, Shanghai, Mumbai are to be saved and the cost and suffering of the refugees to be avoided going for CO2 concentrations of 550ppm as the Government is doing is really not enough.


In order for the UK to do our share to avoid such drastic consequences, annual reductions of 9% are needed now, order to cut CO2 production to 90% of 1990 levels by 2030.


That is the Green Party's message. The modest 3% cuts envisaged by the recent Climate Change Bill are simply not sufficient.


Annual reductions in CO2 production of 9% may sound ambitious, but in reality are not impossible, requiring only political will in the place of political rhetoric.


The first necessary economic steps include putting an effective value on carbon emissions, through a capped tradable quota system.


They include ending airport expansion, and embarking on serious investment in energy efficiency and renewables.


They include Market mechanisms such as the feed-in tariff scheme deployed by Germany, Japan and Spain, which has resulted in Germany installing 56% of the world's solar panels.


By paying households to generate clean, green electricity, such feed-in tariff schemes can be used to shift our electricity production by making investment in renewables cost effective for the individual. And let no one sneer at the efforts being made by Mr. Cameron. These are early days in exploring the way forward and Mr. Cameron is at least trying.


We also need to take responsibility for all the carbon production in the whole of our economy.


Having watched the demise of much of British manufacturing and the coal industry, it should be no shock to noble Lords that carbon emissions in Britain briefly dipped in the early 1990s.


But in truth, those now rising levels of CO2 emissions are an under estimate of what our economic activity produces. For we are in effect now exporting the production of CO2 abroad, to China and other countries. When we consume products manufactured abroad, they use carbon in production and transit. The production is counted in the carbon figures where it is produced, and the transportation, under Kyoto, is not considered at all.


If we took these factors into account, our society would be seen to produce around 20% more carbon emissions.


The most obvious and significant conclusion is that, if we were to meet our needs for food, clothing and household goods from local, sustainable production we could drastically reduce the level of carbon dioxide emissions.


The Green Party advocates a system of strengthened local economies, where we have a role as producers as well as consumers, thus not only reducing our impact on climate change but also reinforcing our identities and self-esteem within our local communities. Trade should return to its right role as being the exchange of goods we cannot produce within our own economies.


This seems far from the thrust of current economic thinking on any of the front benches at present, which ought to be a source of deep concern to us all.


Instead, we continue to hear from them about competitiveness in a globalised economy which provides ever cheap goods manufactured abroad for consumption in countries such as ours.


Such a view is fundamentally incompatible with serious and sufficient action on climate change.


Without addressing these fundamental measures, both the government and opposition continue to be insufficiently ambitious, and wrongly focused, for the sake of supposed 'economic stability', thereby risking catastrophic climate events.


The Green Party on the other hand believes we must begin to localise our economies into more efficient and sustainable units, to guarantee the future of our planet and economy.


Such a vision offers greater community and personal satisfaction: a world where conviviality replaces consumption, where local identity replaces global trade, and where community spirit replaces brand loyalty


ENDS.


Green Party Press Office
020 7561 0282
http://www.greenparty.org.uk

26 Nov 2006

China's new social movement

This from LRB on China is fascinating and important a new movement opposed to Stalinism and the free market, eager to talk to greens. Read more here

25 Nov 2006

Pray with me at the Church of no shopping

Starbucks has succeeded in "normalizing" its products, while sustaining brutal company policies in Guatemala, Chiapas and elsewhere. Put bluntly -- they don't pay for their coffee. Families are putting 7, 8 and 9 year olds into the fields to eek out that extra peso. So breaking through $bucks' veil of lies – the best liars in coffee – is like exercising your sacred boycotting muscle.



Well had lots of congratulations, ranging across the spectrum from Liam Macuid to Tariq Ali to Adam Afriyie MP, so thank you all! One of the things I enjoyed about the Principal Speaker race were the husting, the London Federation of Green Parties debate between Keith, Ashley Gunstock and I was videod and is on the Green Party members site. An open debate is always a good thing, it is not certain that John McDonnell will even get on to the ballot for the Labour contest, the contrast with the Green Party is obvious.

Anyway I was told to 'keep off of religion and politics' during my campaign, the campaign is over so I would like you all to pray with me at the Church of No Shopping, with Pastor the Reverend Billy. Join the congregation here.

Today by the way is International No Shopping Day, enjoy a day off of the rat race with me.

Infinite consumption on a finite planet, I don't think so, do you!

Here is one of the confessions from the church bulletin board


We're in Pennsylvania right now. The choir is going west in two buses, and I'm not on the one that has the espresso machine, with its Fair Trade Bird Friendly Shade-Grown stash. When we stopped for a holy pee break just now, I couldn't believe that it was a gourmet gas station – proud to serve $bucks. MY GOD NO! Oh, I was sorely tempted.

If we are "Backing Away" from the steaming black liquid of an Unfair Trade company like $bucks – it's a good way to strengthen our Unbuying Warrior Self. Starbucks has succeeded in "normalizing" its products, while sustaining brutal company policies in Guatemala, Chiapas and elsewhere. Put bluntly -- they don't pay for their coffee. Families are putting 7, 8 and 9 year olds into the fields to eek out that extra peso. So breaking through $bucks' veil of lies – the best liars in coffee – is like exercising your sacred boycotting muscle. It will be much easier to consciously shop throughout the year.

24 Nov 2006

PRINCIPAL SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED

Former Green Party Principal Speaker Keith Taylor commented: 'I congratulate Siân and Derek on their success, and wish them well over the next year."


NEWS: Green Party in England & Wales

PRINCIPAL SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED

Dr Derek Wall and Siân Berry have been announced as the two new Principal Speakers of the Green Party in England and Wales.

Their election puts two strong, grassroots campaigners into the Green Party's top positions, providing an ideal platform from which to seize on growing public clamour for political change and real action on issues such as climate change.

Both say they aim to recruit more members and activists into the Party from across the spectrum of single-issue campaigning and traditional party politics.

Siân Berry, 32, a resident of Kentish Town in North West London, is best known for her highly successful campaign against 4x4s which is credited for turning UK public opinion against 'Chelsea tractors' and helping to persuade London Mayor Ken Livingstone to charge gas- guzzlers a £25 congestion charge. She aims to encourage people who currently confine themselves to single-issue social and environmental campaigns to join the Green Party.

She says: "The only solution is to put Green politicians in power and that is why I put most of energy into getting Greens elected."

Dr Derek Wall, 41, is an economics lecturer and author, and is widely respected for his work promoting alternative, socially-based economic models. His most recent book, Babylon and Beyond, looked at the economics of the anti-globalisation and green movements and showed that alternatives to our current economic models are within reach.

He says, "For me, environmental concerns are vital but they can only be solved through social and economic change. That's what the Green Party offers the electorate."

The Green Party does not have a single leader but two Principal Speakers, who act as the party's figureheads, while fulfilling the public and media role undertaken by the leaders of more conventional parties.Standing unopposed as Female Principal Speaker, Siân Berry was elected in a vote at the Party's autumn conference in Hove on 24th September. The election for Male Principal Speaker was contested and was decided with a postal ballot of all members, which was announced today.(1)

Siân Berry said:

“I'm honoured to to have this chance to represent our party. It's by any measure a huge job – promoting the forward thinking ideas and work of our elected representatives from across the country.

"The government is still failing to take the lead internationally on climate change by cutting the UK's carbon dioxide emissions and it's time we stopped waiting. We have had nearly ten years of inaction from Labour, and now they are proposing cuts in emissions that don't go far enough, aren't backed up with annual targets and are not putting forward any of the solutions needed to achieve them.

"The Green Party is your only chance for truth and action on climate change. The environment is a political issue – and if you want to see change and action on climate change it's time to give up on trying simply to persuade the other parties with nice words and petitions. It's time to hit them in the ballot box instead and vote Green "

She added that, with elections next year, Greens would pass the 100 councillor mark:

"The other parties have all abandoned the principles of public ownership of essential services and of decent health, education and housing for all. If you still believe in a fair society, you now only have once choice – vote for Green councillors to make your voice heard."

Derek Wall said:

“I am pleased, flattered and surprised to be elected as Green Party Male Principal Speaker. I have dedicated my entire adult life to the promotion of green politics and regard this as my greatest challenge yet.

"Green politics is the politics of survival. Infinite economic growth is impossible on a finite planet. We must think deeply about how we transform our economy, our lifestyle and our political institutions.

"Green principles of ecology, social justice, non violence and grassroots democracy, are the only way forward for politics. The greenhouse effect is just one symptom of an unsustainable and unjust system.

"For me, environmental concerns are vital but they can only be solved through social and economic change.

"All those who oppose war, especially the suicidal conflict in Iraq, who believe that people are more important than profit, who oppose assaults on civil liberties and care about the natural world, should join the Greens and work for change."

“My success was inspired by the people I consider my mentors especially Nandor Tanczos, New Zealand MP who prefaced my book Babylon and Beyond, and the late Walt Sheasby who sadly died in 2004 as result of the Nile Virus, spread in California by rising temperatures. Walt’s commitment to the US Green Party and his activism must never be forgotton.”

Former Green Party Principal Speaker Keith Taylor commented: 'I congratulate Siân and Derek on their success, and wish them well over the next year."


ENDS


Notes for Editors:

1. Derek Wall was elected by 767 votes to 705 for Keith Taylor
2. The Green Party has 92 Councillors on 38 Councils, 2 GLA members and 2 MEPs. Where the green party contested an seat, it averaged 13.5% of the vote at the 2006 local elections


Biographies:

Siân Berry

http://www.greenparty.org.uk/individual/79

Derek Wall

http://www.greenparty.org.uk/individual/117

Books by Derek Wall:

Wall, Derek, Getting There: Steps Towards a Green Society, 1990. ISBN 1-85425-034-5

Kemp, Penny and Wall, Derek, A Green Manifesto for the 1990s, 1990. ISBN 0-14-013272-4
Wall, Derek, Green History: A Reader in Environmental Literature, Philosophy, and Politics, 1994. ISBN 0-203-41013-0
Wall, Derek, Weaving a Bower Against Endless Night: An Illustrated History of the Green Party, 1994. ISBN 1-873557-08-6
Wall, Derek, Earth First! and the Anti-Roads Movement: Radical Environmentalism and Comparative Social Movements, 2002. ISBN 0-203-26346-4
Wall, Derek, Babylon and Beyond: The Economics of Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Globalist and Radical Green Movements, 2005. ISBN 0-7453-2390-1

Green Party Press Office
020 7561 0282
http://www.greenparty.org.uk

Published and promoted by Jim Killock for the Green Party, both at
1a Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ.

Principal Speaker result- I won!

I am pleased, flattered and surprised to be elected as Green Party Male Principal Speaker. I have dedicated my entire adult life to the promotion of green politics since realising as a 14 year old back in 1979 that green politics is the politics of survival.

well I won much to my surprise, now back to work promoting radical green politics as the new Green Party Principal Speaker, here are the figures.

Round 1
Ashley Gunstock 273
Keith Taylor 572
Derek Wall 657
RON 17
invalid vote 1
blank ballot 1

so Ashley Gunstock eliminated

Round 2
Keith Taylor 705
Derek Wall 767
RON 35

so Derek Wall elected

Best wishes
Graeme McIver


I will try and do my best in the spirit of William Morris...


The core green message of ecology, social justice, decentralisation and non violence is going to be proclaimed loudly and clearly.

I am joint with Sian Berry and of course our MEPS and GLA members effectively will all be speaking on the GPEW behalf.


Statement.

I am pleased, flattered and surprised to be elected as Green Party Male Principal Speaker. I have dedicated my entire adult life to the promotion of green politics since realising as a 14 year old back in 1979 that green politics is the politics of survival. Infinite economic growth is impossible on a finite planet, today we consume on average globally 85million barrels of oil a day. This cannot continue, to sustain the diversity and beauty of life on our planet means we must think deeply about how we transform our economy, our lifestyle and our political institutions.

Green politics based on the four principles of ecology, social justice, non violence and grassroots democracy is the only way forward. The greenhouse effect is just one symptom of an unsustainable and unjust system.

I have taken direct action against road construction in the 1990s, written five books on green politics, contested numerous elections and I look forward to promoting the Green Party with energy and creativity.

For me environmental concerns are vital but they can only be solved through social and economic change. Green Party policies in the Manifesto promote such an understanding and I aim to publicise them as widely as possible.

Finally I would like to thank everyone involved in the election process, in contrast to the Labour Party where challengers face huge obstacles to even getting on to the ballot paper, democracy in the Green Party is vigorous and open to ordinary members.


My success was inspired by the people I consider my mentors especially Nandor Tanczos, New Zealand MP who prefaced my book Babylon and Beyond, and the late Walt Sheasby who sadly died in 2004 as result of the Nile Virus, spread in California by rising temperatures. Walt’s commitment to the US Green Party and his ecosocialist activism must never be forgotton.

I would call on all those who oppose war especially the suicidal conflict in Iraq, who believe that people are more important than profit, who oppose assaults on civil liberties and care about the natural world, to join the Greens and work for change.

23 Nov 2006

Green Left motions on travel

The chaos caused in London on the underground because of the mess ups by the PPI firm Metronet has become one of the main news stories this week in the capital. Many travellers have been late for work/appointments etc or have failed to arrive at all. Gordon Brown's insistence on pushing the policy of PPI has resulted in this. London Fed passed the following two motions on Monday night. They were proposed and seconded by two members of Green Left.

It would be good if this information could be circulated to unions, particularly T&G.

Joseph Healy
Southwark Green Party


The London Federation of Green Parties passed two motions on Monday night:

(1) Calling for the tube contractor Metronet to be sacked and for the work
to be brought in-house
(2) Supporting the strike by Metroline bus drivers

The following went out after the meeting:

*Sack Metronet!*
**
*The London Federation of Green Parties last night passed a motion calling
for the sacking of tube maintenance firm Metronet and for its work to be
brought back in-house.*
**
*London Green Party Chair, Noel Lynch said "Commuters have suffered too
long from the application of a flawed ideology. Metronet makes £1,000,000
per week but cannot produce even a minimum acceptable service. Only a week
ago the company was slated by the independent PPP arbiter for failing to do
it's job properly. Their inefficiency caused severe disruption to over 1
million tube travellers, affecting peoples' lives and even putting a strain
on the ambulance service. Enough is enough they need to be fired now!" *

Motions proposed by Noel Lynch and seconded by Tim Summers.

Open everything


Like Shakespeare and Dickens, they will become public property. Hooray. At least that is the theory. In practice, the recording industry has been lobbying at 78 revs a minute to get this period extended to - wait for it - 95 years or even longer than that (life plus 70 years) if they can get away with it.
excellent article from Victor Keegan




This is my article on open source lets shrink the market and the state, and just do it for pleasure and creativity.

Open source economics is a powerful alternative to corporate capitalism and state planning.

You will note also from todays Guardian that Mick Hucknall's creative energies will dry up unless copyright is extend for over 50 years...may be Mick could do something else when he becomes a pensioner.

21 Nov 2006

Green garbage



The EU have set strict limits on the amount of waste than can be sent to land fill, local authorities face big fines if they don't reduce what they throw away. So incinerators are on the march but even Bjorn Lomborg in his Skeptical Environmentalist chapter on air pollution notes that the tiny mb10 particles are a possible health danger. For the anti-incinerator campaign go here.

So I am encouraged to see Blackpool council taking a contract with an Australian company dedicated to digesting the waste and recycling with out burning. its here in the guardian

Of course local authority control might be better than corporate, may be a workers rubbish coop might be good...and yes we should all embrace zero waste and get a worm bin but this seems a bit of good news.

How are green local councillors getting involved in waste reduction? Green boxes are now common and recycling is common, local press from greens and the influence of greens in the EU have both helped.

20 Nov 2006

Jean Lambert address rally on religious discrimination

20th November 2006

GREEN MEP CALLS FOR AN END TO RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION

London’s Green MEP will tonight urge the UK Government to take cohesive and immediate action to tackle the increasingly common problem of religious discrimination, when she joins with Liberty and the British Muslim Initiative at a Rally to Defend Religious Minorities to address the issue.

Recent reports have shown that mounting levels of Islamophobic prejudice and discrimination have been present in the UK since September 11th 2001, yet little has been done to address the suspicion and stigmatisation threatening community relations and social exclusion.

Jean, who is the Vice President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Anti-racism and Diversity today supported the rally’s calls for a rational debate about the issues concerning religious communities without creating an atmosphere of hysteria and victimisation, to unite and promote civil and religious liberties on a national level. In her speech to the rally tonight Jean will say: “In light of Government action on the so called ‘war on terror’ we are now faced with restricted speech, not freedom of speech and relationships between those of different religions and beliefs are being distorted and destroyed.

“If we are looking at an overhaul of the anti-terrorism legislation in the UK the Government would do well to repeal such measures as the glorification of terrorism and the media should stop fanning the flames of racism.”

The Rally, highlighting the growing threat posed by political and media attacks on religious communities, has been supported by the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, the Muslim Council of Britain, National Assembly Against Racism and Stop the War Coalition among others.

ENDS

For more information please contact:
Morwenna Holland, Media Officer
tel: 020 7407 6280 or 07813149812
email: media@jeanlambertmep.org.uk
www.jeanlambertmep.org.uk

Notes to editors:
Jean Lambert: In October 2005 Jean was named MEP 2005 for Justice and Human Rights. Jean was first elected Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999 European elections. She was re-elected in 2004. She is one of nine MEPs representing London and one of two UK Green representatives in the European Parliament.

--

--
Morwenna Holland
Media and Public Relations Officer

Office of Jean Lambert MEP - London's Green MEP
Suite 58, The Hop Exchange
24 Southwark Street
London, SE1 1TY

Tel: 00 44 (0)20 7407 6280
Fax: 00 44 (0)20 7234 0183

Email: media@jeanlambertmep.org.uk Web: www.jeanlambertmep.org.uk

Venezuela Events

happy to say that the green party is affliated to Venezuela Information Centre


Dear friend,

I am writing to inform you of two events The Venezuela Information Centre is co-organising in the next few weeks:
1) On Wednesday 22 November, VIC, in conjunction with Verso Books, is hosting the launch of Tariq Ali's new book on Latin America, Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope in London. The event is from 7-9pm in Bolivar Hall, 54 Grafton Way, London W1. There are a limited number of places still available, so to guarantee entry please register beforehand by e-mailing info@vicuk.org or by ringing 0207 250 0132.

2) On Saturday 2 December, on the eve of the presidential election in Venezuela, guests from Cuba, Bolivia and Colombia will speak at the Latin America 2006 - Making Another World Possible conference in London. The Conference will also feature a video link up with Venezuela, a showing of the new film "Venezuela - A Land with Many Missions," and two workshops on Venezuela. Registration is £10/£6 unwaged, and you can register by card on 020 7263 6452 or 020 7435 7241. Further details of this event can be found below.



Please don't hesitate to contact the office on the details below if you would like more information about either event, or leaflets for Latin America 2006 to distribute.



Venezuela Information Centre,

Tel: 0207 250 0132

www.vicuk.org / info@vicuk.org

LATIN AMERICA 2006
MAKING ANOTHER WORLD POSSIBLE
SATURDAY 2 December 2006, 9.30am-5pm, Congress House, Gt Russell St, WC1B 3LS

Latin America 2006 brings together trade unionists, NGOs, academics and progressive movements from Latin America and the UK to explore recent developments across the region and features films, music and discussion.

Latin America 2006 guest speakers include:
•WAYNE SMITH: Former Head of US Interests Section, Havana
•AIDA AVELLA: Former Colombian Congresswoman, Patriotic Union
•CESAR NAVARRO: Head of the MAS group in the Bolivian parliament
•HAROLD PINTER: Nobel Prize Winner, author, playwright, political activist
•TARIQ ALI: Broadcaster, author, (Pirates of the Caribbean and Axis of Hope), Telesur advisory board
•HUGH O'SHAUGHNESSY: Journalist and author
•VICTORIA BRITAIN: Journalist and playwright
•JOHN CRABTREE: Research Associate, Oxford University Centre for Latin American Studies
•COLIN BURGON MP: Chair, Labout Friends of Venezuela
•JEREMY CORBYN MP: Vice-chair, All Party Latin American Group
•JON CRUDDAS MP: Labour MP for Dagenham.
•FRANCES O'GRADY: Deputy General Secretary, TUC
•KEITH SONNET: Deputy General Secretary UNISON
•TONY BURKE: Assistant General Secretary AMICUS
•BARRY CAMFIELD: Assistant General Secretary T&G
•RUTH WINTERS: President, FBU
plus parliamentarians and trade unionists from Bolivia, Cuba, Colombia and Venezuela

Organised by Venezuela Information Centre, Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Justice for Colombia, T&G Latin American Workers Association

Tickets £10 waged / £6 unwaged - Register by credit/debit card at CSC 020 7263 6452 or JFC 020 7435 7241

* If you no longer wish to receive e-mails from VIC, please e-mail info@vicuk.org with 'UNSUBSCRIBE' in the e-mail title.

RESPECT resignations



Interesting post on Liam Mac Uiad's blog, Liam is a member of Socialist Resistance who have supported RESPECT but clearly the level of control freaky has got too much for him. I was afraid that RESPECT would make it more difficult for Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas to get re-elected, also having seen the SWP mess up the Socialist Alliance, I didn't think that an alliance essentially between them and George Galloway would be very stable. Linking progressive Muslims, the left (pretty homeless after the decline of the once strong labour left around Tony Benn) and greens sounded good but it hasn't delivered.

The Green Party is not perfect but the basic idea of free discussion is there, which is essential. The left has been poor at allowing debate to occur. The Tommy Sheridan affair has been pretty tragic as well, lets avoid 'leaders' neither 'Washington nor Moscow' perhaps should be no to Galloway, Sheridan and all the rest...it is hard job arguing for socialism when one looks at many of the socialists!

Socialism as social justice and a critique of capitalism is necessary but socialists don't always make what is necessary attractive by their actions.

I would say that the fact that SR members seem free to make their own decisions rather than being forced by their organisation to leave or stay in RESPECT on bloc is encouraging.

19 Nov 2006

Green councillors in action


Local councils have less and less power, Thatcher cut their influence, trying to make all decisions ones decided by the market....look at the way Blair is heavily pressurising local authorities to get rid of their council houses.

Nonetheless there are some great examples of action by Green councillors, now nearly 100 strong, in the UK (same figures as the Liberals in the 1960s who have thousands and thousands)...we need to elect more councillors and extend their effective action.

Brighton and Hove are campaigning on cuts to HIV/Aids services.

Brighton and Hove Green Party's local manifesto is here.

Phillip Booth who is a councillor in Stroud has an interesting blog with lots on the potential for change, Stroud is one of the strongest areas for the GP in England.


The news from his blog that pubs are introducing fingerprint checks is news to me!



Fingerprint scanning scheme for pubs

Pubs and clubs around the country are introducing fingerprint scanning systems for drinkers. The scheme which is backed by the Home Office was first trialled in Yeovil but plans are afoot to expand the system to Coventry, Hull, Sheffield, Leeds, Gwent, Nottingham, Taunton and possibly Swindon. If they are successful there are plans to spread it across the country.

Drinkers must have their thumbprints scanned and supply their name, address and date of birth to enrol onto the system before they are allowed to enter licensed premises taking part in the scheme.

I can't see local pubs like the Carpenters, Vine Tree or Star introducing such measures, but I am concerned by the increasing number of authoritarian measures are being introduced by UK pubs and clubs following new licensing laws which were introduced in November 2005. Licensees are now subject to increased fines and possible criminal prosecution with a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment for knowingly serving someone who is under-age. As a result many pubs have responded with extreme measures that threaten the freedoms of 'everyone', not just those who happen to look under 18, such as fingerprinting and ID-ing all customers as if they were all potential troublemakers.

Many readers of this Blog will know that I am wholly opposed to the introduction of the new ID cards - they are an extraodinary waste of money and unnecessary and damaging to our freedoms. Greens have campaigned locally on this, held public meetings and joined the national NO2ID card campaign. I have to say I was bitterly disappointed our local MP supported ID cards despite reservations he shared publicly.

If you are in any of the towns affected by this fingerprinting, especially Yeovil, and are willing to do something then send an e-mail to phil@no2id.net (please put "pub fingerprinting" in the Subject). And if anyone knows a pub that would like to take NO2ID beer mats, Newcastle NO2ID has created some with the logo on the front and key counter-arguments on the back, ideal for starting the discussions of the scheme that we need. Beermats are produced in huge quantities, so they need more than a handful to make up an order(if we can make up a total order of several thousand we can produce beermats for £15 per 100). Enquiries to newcastle@no2id.net

18 Nov 2006

'there is no honey on the moon'



It contains swearing, blood and sex, yet still somehow feels like a children's programme. Thirteen-year-olds should love it; anyone else is likely to be more than a little confused.

Taking a rest from my non violent political boxing match with Keith Taylor and have just watched Kidulthood.

Noel Clarke what a star! A little slice of Shakespeare, which is exactly what you expect from someone who received 'Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer..' Grime. London vibes, worth watching.

Here is the wiki take

a lot of media hysteria over this and although this is life plus 10, it is still life for a lot of teens in North Kensington.

Noel is Mickey in Dr Who and has ofcourse written episode 11 'combat' of the excellent Torchwood.

17 Nov 2006

So Farewell Milton Friedman



Milton Friedman died a day or two ago and there is an obituary in the Guardian by Charles Goodhart (famous for `As soon as the government attempts to regulate any particular set of financial assets, these become unreliable as indicators of economic trends.' i.e the Monetary Policy committee will fuck up if you give the monkeys long enough on the typewriters)


From Friedman's days in the Ayn Rand School for Tots to his monetary history of the USA (co-authored with Anna Schwartz) to his work with Mrs Thatcher, he was at the vanguard of liberal free market economics.

They say one thing 'leave it to the market', polllution, poverty, education, pets...leave it to the market. You know my open source views on this perspective. If you don't look at my book Babylon and Beyond. Defeated by Keynes they regroup via the Institute of Economic Affairs, Adam Smith Institute and fought their way back to dominate economics in the 1990s.

Most controversially Friedman was one of the 'Chicago boys' who advised Pinchot in his free market revolution in Chile.

Friedman famously argued that 'inflation is every where and always a monetary phenomenon' yet if you agree that to control inflation you must control the money supply, you must control the banks.

Mrs Thatcher tried to control M4 money supply, broad money made up of not just notes and coins (the cash in our pockets) but bank account deposits, some bills and bonds, etc.

Monetarists like Friedman and Thatcher were once famously described as 'the unspeakable in pursuit of the unmeasurable'. as Schumpter a rather more interesting liberal argued that understanding views on money 'is like understanding shifting clouds'.

Money is difficult to control...one thing is certain free market liberals have no chance, Mrs Thatcher liberalised banking allowing them to lend without government restriction, hated socialist mutuals the building societies were allowed to become banks...money grow and inflation in the late 1980s rocketed, big increases in interest rates led to the 1990 recession and the eventual demise of Thatcher.

Thatcher tried to and failed to cut government spending to cut money supply in the 1980s....her rule was about crushing the unions to push down pay, class confict was key, esoteric economics less so.

Don't get me started on social credit, 'monetary reform' or Major Douglas, let alone conspiracy theories of banking.

Money may be the root of all evil but trying to understand and control money is surprisingly difficult.

16 Nov 2006

Inefficient?

Out of interest Derek, how do you deal with the usual criticisms levelled by critics of green economics/socialist economics? ie, that without competition and the incentive of self interest as the driving force of production, production would become inefficient and the quality and range of goods would drop off over the medium to long term?

I wondered if you had any pithy answers to these objections. I usually find myself blathering for too long when I try to address them. I'm sure you are much more experienced at fielding these sorts of questions.



Excellent and important question....in our economy goods and services are produced because we make cash out of doing so or are told to do so by the state.

While states can be democratised and markets embedded in society, we need to think about other ways of running the economy.

The crude principle should be that something is done because it is intrinsically worth doing, ecofeminists point out that the real life and death stuff of looking after kids, elderly relatives, much subsistence agriculture is done largely by wome for free because it is needed. The high paid stuff like working in the city, running mcDonalds is only done because of cash reward.

Music used to be about non cash motives, creative arts motivation is not for cash, so in a sense if we see a merger between work and art we will move in the right direction. With the net increasingly music is going to be free and people will perform because they like doing so.

Open source is a good example of where people doing stuff for free because they enjoy doing so produces better results than paid work.

So there is plenty of evidence to say that incentives in terms of it needs doing and it is enjoyable get things done.

however we need to come up with solid transition methods or the free rider problem will mean that the shitty jobs will not be done or rather continue to be done with those with the least economics power.

A modest non utopian start would be to revive and extend mutuals and cooperatives, they still work within the market so face pressure but are at least owned by those who run them.

Open source needs to be extended and defended.

Central planning works quite well for rail, post office, etc and certainly a big expansion of council housing is necessary but I agree with Jim a centrally planned economy looks inefficient, inflexible and undesirable.

Capitalism though I don't think so.

This is all discussed in my book Babylon, so do me a favour and get your library to order a copy.

Libraries are part of ecosocialism as well.

Incidentally competition is not universal in the market, most markets are dominated by a small number of large firms. Tescopoly is often the rule.

15 Nov 2006

Anti-capitalism for bears


I used to have a great cartoon of chickens dancing around Col. Saunders grave, I suppose this would be an incitement to terrorism in Blair's Britain. Any way lets think about the economy.

I think we need green economics. Green economics argues that what is good for the planet and for people is not always what leads to the greatest expansion of GNP or short term profit.

Two examples are KFC, a giant advert that can be spotted from the sky, undesirable, along with the whole system of food production involved.

The continuing scandal of pharmaceutical companies trying to shape the medical system for profit and in particular using the patent system to deny cheap generic drugs to African citizens suffering from AIDS.

The interesting fact is that the alternative is not hair shirtism, although I guess we do need to cut back on flying until silent and co2 netural flights to Caracas exist, but consuming differently.

Cheap generic drugs, cheap low impact housing, locally produced food, libraries not just for books but pretty well everything...more leisure and pleasure.

The puritan Gordon Brown as PM, could be even worse than Blair for people and planet, certainly he focuses on the 'economic' forgeting that economics should serve humanity and other species...at present it is the other way around.

12 Nov 2006

Life with Derek


Well usual madness. Last monday went to Ann Pettifor's book launch on debt and global politics, I will read it but I was a bit alarmed by her failure to deal with ecological economics and her assumption that capitalism is fine, finance is evil. She even made a throw away remark about Mcdonalds being better than the banks because they made food. Lets have joined up alternative economics.

A much more interesting time on sunday with Lines the London Islamic Environmental Network, where I was pleased to be invited along, lots of lively contributions from the dangers of big supermarkets to debt to the way conventional economics promotes ever growing consumption. If you are a Muslim or have friends who want to learn more about Islam and the environment encourage them to look at this dynamic and thoughtful group. discussion list here

Well, some of you read this just for the worms. I have stuck my pets in the shed, I don't want them harmed by the frosts. Kitchen waste, cardboard cartoons, you name it, all in and the contents look like a horror movie, thousands of them writhing through the filth...its going to give me some hot compost.

I have planted lots of garlic, it grows over winter and you harvest in later spring.

Stern says carbon trading, I say ecosocialism and gardening.

Spent a lot of time reading Stern and writing a review for red pepper.

On another note, pleased to see Freddy Eastwood can stay in his mobile home, I too am a trailer dweller and we are green...i call mobiles low impact homes, so there!

and yes some good results for the US greens

11 Nov 2006

Poppy fascism: 11/11/11



had this comment on the blog from Mike

Am a Labour Party member who has had enough for all the reasons you've so eloquently outlined. Tomorrow will be the limit - seeing Govt ministers have the hypocrisy of laying wreaths at the cenotaph. How many widows have they created? The latest casualty was a 19 year old from Barrow. I just can't support Labour any more - ID cards, airport expansion etc etc. The totally damning thing about the party is that they should know better. There's no Green Party where I live to vote for, and so many of my friends (ex CND etc) are sticking with Labour despite their reservations as they see no other way and want to change their party from within. I don't think that's possible any more.


Today politicians and others lay wreaths for the dead of many wars here in Britain,
red poppies are worn. I have been sceptical ever since the late Heather Tanner, writer, Ecology Party member and husband of the master etcher Robin Tanner told me why she became a pacifist.

Incidentally she as a CND activist typified Ecology Party members in the early 1980s, they were not all ex-Conservative right wingers obssessed by the birth rate rather than justice.

Her brother fought and died in the first world war, just minutes before the declaration on he 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The ritual was more important to the powers that be that saving the life of ordinary men and women. His death changed her life and she campaigned for peace pretty much every day, joined the Quakers and the Peace Pledge Union.

So like Jon Snow I am alarmed by poppy fascism. This is about ritual, reducing the conflict is the priority and war pensioners should be supported by the state not charity. Can you imagine the government holding jumble sales to fund wars? I don't thing so, so let them fund the aftermath officially and properly not by badges.

A new book of Heather's writings has recently been published from the impressively named 'hobnob press'

An Exceptional Woman: the writings of Heather Tanner, selected and introduced by Rosemary Devonald. Heather Tanner (1903 – 1993) is best known as the author of four exquisite books about Wiltshire and its countryside, products of the lifelong collaboration with her husband, the etcher and artist Robin Tanner. Throughout her life she wrote poems, letters, essays and dialogues, which reveal the depth of her understanding of rural life, her benign humour and her mastery of language. This selection, made and introduced by her friend Rosemary Devonald, draws on largely unpublished material which she collected after Heather’s death. To her many friends, and those to whom her published work is known and appreciated, this collection will be an irresistible memento. To those unfamiliar with the name of Heather Tanner her writing will come as a delightful discovery – the work and life of an exceptional woman. To be published August 2006, 156-page (approx.) hardback, with about 25 illustrations (mostly by Robin Tanner), price £14.50, ISBN 0-946418-47-0

10 Nov 2006

GREEN ECONOMICS, MUSLIMS AND THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS

Salaams, may peace be with you -

Firstly, A really big THANK YOU, MERCI, SHUKRAN... to everyone who supported us in the build up to the national climate justice demonstration on Saturday. In the end there were about 20, 000 people at the march, and a further 10, 000 that went to the I-Count gathering in Trafalgar Square (Campaign against Climate Change estimates). LINE's input showed that it is becoming a more solid and skilled group, and we had lots of interest and lovely conversations around the stall, both near the US embassy at the start and near Trafalgar Square at the end. Thank you to everyone who came to check us out, chat with us, or simply pick up a leaflet.

However(!), the work still continues and hence we take great pleasure in inviting you to our November meeting *this* Sunday at which we are delighted to have Dr Derek Wall as our guest speaker, and who brings years of experience within the Green movement, as well as being an economics lecturer and author. Full details below...

---


The London Islamic Network for the Environment (LINE) invites you to:

GREEN ECONOMICS, MUSLIMS AND THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS

Date: Sunday 12th November 2006
Time: 2.15 pm to 4.45pm
Venue: 4th Floor, Muslim World League, 46 Goodge Street, London, W1T 4LU (entrance on the corner of Charlotte Street); Nearest Tube: Goodge Street (Northern Line)


Guest Speaker:
Dr Derek Wall (Economics Lecturer & Green Party Activist)

"But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters." (Qur 'an: 7:31)

'The greatest crime of the Blatcherites has been the spreading of the affluenza virus among the rest of us. They seem to despise mothers who care for their small children - or anyone else whose work is not paid. They use education to create good little consumer-producers, not to set minds free. They lock students into debts, then impose an insecure, workaholic working environment and a bloated property market that keeps the young on a hedonic, consumerist treadmill. Above all, their talk of "opportunity", "choice" and "freedom" is just Americanised material aspirationalism.' Oliver James, The Guardian, 23/10/2006. This months talk will explore some of these ideas with an opportunity to share views, and there will also be a chance to hear about environmental activities LINE is involved.


About the speaker:
Dr Derek Wall is a writer, lecturer in economics (Goldsmiths College) and a prominent member of the Green Party of England and Wales. He will be arguing that our present society is dominated by an economic system which sanctifies greed and promotes planetary destruction. Corporations, the debt based money system, 'free trade' and neo-liberal globalisation are all part of a system that must be replaced by one that respects both humanity and nature. While Dr Wall practices Zen and is a lay member of the International Zen Association, he has a long standing interest in Islam, which he believes provides a vital resource in the struggle for an ecologically sustainable and just future. He also recently spoke out against Islamophobic attacks in the Dedworth area of Windsor.

For more information:
LINE tel contact: 0845 456 3960 (local rate);
LINE website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LINEnotices

ALMOs no, Council housing yes

The Green Party must defend council housing, support for ALMOs is like support for IMF policies, yes this is at fiscal gunpoint but no we should not give in.


This is from Anne Gray, I am against ALMOs too, they are soft way of privatising the remaining council houses, houses are now selling for over £300,000 on average in London, where are my children going to live and yours if this stays like this!



I am strongly against ALMOs. This issue has been much discussed in the community in Haringey where live. It did actually come up in hustings in the May 2006 elections and one or two Green Party candidates did attend a public meeting specifically called to discuss the ALMO issue amongst tenants' groups, where they opposed the ALMO. All candidates in the local election, of any party, were challenged by the residents' anti-ALMO campaign to respond to a questionnaire about their position and I think virtually all followed my lead in giving answers which were opposed to ALMOs - with the proviso that any transfer to a genuinely tenant-led, tenant-controlled body should not be blocked by any new policy which might be put in place of the existing government stance.

ALMOs open the door to privatisation, because there are powers to sell off the ALMO to the real private sector (ie to a shareholder owned company) after a number of years.

The process of conducting a `referendum' about stock transfer in Haringey was seriously manipulated with a huge budget devoted to getting tenants to vote yes without telling them this crucial fact. Virtually the only argument put forward was that if an ALMO was set up, the council would get more central government money for improvements - but in fact there is no guarantee that this will happen.

See www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk for details of arguments and anti-ALMO campaigns throughout the country.


Anne Gray

8 Nov 2006

Carbon change needed: ideas from the Greens




This was from Spencer Fitz-Gibbon a Green party response to climate change, I think although a year or two old it is still good.

Incidentally some very encouraging Green Party scores in USA today.

while we are on climate change, I would recommend the pdf carbon trading, a good critique.


The Climate Change Challenge





Twelve commitments the government must make NOW if it’s really serious about stopping climate change


Dr Spencer Fitz-Gibbon
Green Party spokesperson on climate change




13 September 2004









Introduction




Why the Tories, Labour and the LibDems can’t be trusted on climate change





In a speech at the World Clean Air and Environmental Protection Congress in London, 24 August 2004, environment minister Lord Whitty stated that "internationally our first priority is climate change, in the long term probably the most important issue we face as a global community." Tony Blair himself has described how “critical” climate change is on a number of occasions.



And this week the Conservative and Labour Party leaders will be delivering major speeches on climate change. The Independent on Sunday on 12 September 2004 described the speeches, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday respectively, as “an unprecedented double-act".



The Liberal Democrats actively masquerade as a “green party” – but continue to support policies that make a mockery of their fine pronouncements. This could probably not have been better symbolised by Charles Kennedy’s choice of air travel – the most polluting form of travel – for his 2001 general election tour of the UK. Anyone who flies around claiming to be environment-friendly is surely missing something.



But whatever Conservative, Labour and LibDem politicians may say about climate change the fact remains that none of these parties have the policies necessary for the UK to make its fair contribution to the global effort of stopping climate change.




The need to go beyond Kyoto



Tony Blair has repeatedly claimed Britain leads the world with the Kyoto Protocol – but in fact Kyoto, while providing a potentially crucial international framework for agreement, contains targets which are far, far short of what’s needed. “Leading the world” in the pursuit of clearly inadequate targets is not much to be proud of – but the claim does give the false impression that Labour is on the case.



The Blair government has accepted the view of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, that the world must make 60% cuts in CO2 emissions by 2050, from 1990 levels. But the RCEP went further. It embraced the “Contraction and Convergence” principle, in which high-polluting countries will inevitably make much greater reductions than the lower-polluting countries, in the interests of global equity. For the UK to adopt Contraction and Convergence, we must commit ourselves to 90% CO2 reductions by 2050 at the latest. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have toyed with the idea of Contraction and Convergence, but neither party will commit itself wholeheartedly, and the fact is that most Labour and LibDem MPs still don’t understand the issue or its importance.




Aiming at the wrong targets – with the wrong policies



In short, the neoliberal parties – Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat – are simply not facing up to climate change:



a. They have inadequate targets.

b. They do not have the policies necessary to meet even their inadequate targets.

c. They have some policies that are taking us in precisely the wrong direction.



All three neoliberal parties support increased roadbuilding – Labour and the Tories to the tune of £30 billion during this decade – and we know that roadbuilding serves to generate traffic. Road traffic directly contributes at least 20% of our greenhouse gas emissions.



All three neoliberal parties support airport expansions. Labour wants to double or treble the size of the UK aviation industry within twenty years, although aviation is already the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and aircraft emissions at cruising altitudes are disproportionately damaging compared with the same emissions at ground level. Neither Labour nor the Tories are prepared to end the £9 billion annual tax-break given to the UK aviation sector. The LibDems, ever striving to appear “green”, have said they would make freight aircraft pay airport tax as passengers do, which would mean a LibDem aviation tax-break of £8 billion a year. And the LibDems would continue to tax passengers rather than tax fuel, meaning a passenger causing fewer emissions would pay as much tax as a passenger causing far greater emissions. That is no way to “make the polluter pay”.



All three neoliberal parties are keen to support economic globalisation, even though the process is known to increase trade - not least increasing the average distance travelled by goods - and thus increasing the ecological impacts of trade. The parties of unrestrained “free trade” are ideologically disadvantaged when it comes to cutting emissions.




Real progress on climate change – through Green economic policies



The neoliberal approach to climate change is doomed to failure. For the neoliberals, the bottom line is economic growth. There must be economic growth even if it causes climate change. This is economic folly, because climate change causes environmental damage (including greater and more frequent storms, floods, droughts, disruption of agricultural systems, sea-level rises, loss of inhabitable land) which then impacts negatively on the economy. For Greens, the bottom line is sustainability with social justice – we must promote equity, prosperity and sustainability in parallel with one another. That means, amongst other things, stopping climate change.



Real progress on climate change and economic development together is eminently feasible. Notwithstanding the Green critique of economic growth per se, the Green industrial revolution that we need to help stop climate change will mean massive growth in certain sectors of the economy – energy conservation measures, non-nuclear renewable energy production, low-emissions transport, low-emissions waste management, recycling and re-manufacture, and so on. The Green industrial revolution will generate, at a conservative estimate, 200,000 jobs in the Green energy sectors alone, and probably another 200,000 in Green waste management. Growth in this sense will not be an end in itself, but a means to an end – the creation of a prosperous, fair and sustainable economy.




Assisting sustainable development in poorer countries



There are those who say it doesn’t matter what we in this country do, because big countries like China and India will more than counteract our CO2 reductions. But this is only true if those countries pursue the same model of unsustainable economics that we in the West have. But the poorer countries can learn from our mistakes, with our assistance. It is in the UK’s own interests to make free transfers of technology to developing countries to help them develop sustainably.



Because climate change is the biggest threat to Britain’s and the world’s economy (let alone the human costs and the environmental costs), it isn’t a case of not being able to afford to stop climate change. The simple fact is that we can’t afford not to.




The challenge facing the Conservatives, Labour and the LibDems



This report lays down a challenge to the neoliberal parties: we say to the Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, instead of just telling us how serious climate change is - in the hope that you will dupe the voters into thinking you’re doing enough about it – make a crystal clear commitment, right now, to the radical policies Britain needs to play our full part in averting the worst consequences of climate change.



The following explains twelve important points. If they will not commit itself to achieving these twelve steps, as a minimum, then we know they aren’t serious about climate change.







Twelve urgent commitments on climate change





If the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats will not make these twelve commitments – NOW – they are not serious about climate change.







1. Contraction and Convergence strategy



We must immediately adopt the "Contraction and Convergence" model for CO2 reductions, which is calculated to achieve the necessary reductions in a globally equitable manner. This was pioneered by the Global Commons Institute, promoted by the Green Party and is now supported by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and many other bodies (1).







2. 90% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2050 or sooner



We must set targets nationally, and campaign globally, within the Contraction and Convergence framework, to limit the global mean temperature rise to 2 degrees C (2). For the UK, this means aiming for 40% CO2 reductions by 2020 at the latest, and 90% by 2050 at the latest.







3. Pass the Home Energy Conservation Bill


We must immediately revive and pass the Home Energy Conservation Bill, intending to achieve 30% reductions in UK domestic energy demand within 10 years (3).





4. Scrap the £30 billion national roadbuilding programme


We must immediately scrap the national roadbuilding programme and invest the £30 billion saving over 10 years in Green transport measures (4).







5. Pass the Air Traffic Emissions Reduction Bill


We must immediately pass the Air Traffic Emissions Reduction Bill, which was steered through the House of Lords in March 2004 by Green peer Lord Beaumont, and which would achieve 50% CO2 reductions in aviation by 2050, starting with 5% by 2010 and 10% by 2015 (5).







6. End all nuclear and oil industry subsidies


We must immediately end all subsidies to fossil fuel and nuclear power, and set targets for non-nuclear renewable energy production to meet at least 90% of UK domestic and industrial energy demand from zero-emissions sources by 2050.




7. Two million solar roofs by 2010


By 2010, we must establish two million solar roof systems in the UK, following and surpassing the lead taken by Germany (6).





8. Two million small-scale wind energy systems by 2010



We must embrace the latest technology in micro wind turbines suitable for many homes, businesses and public buildings.





9. End all aviation tax breaks


By 2010, we must end the £9 billion annual tax break currently given to the UK aviation industry (7).







10. Smart Energy strategies in all local authorities


All local authorities must implement the Green Party's Smart Energy Conservation Strategy - developing a comprehensive strategy to cut the local authorities own CO2 emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020 and 90% by 2050, including traffic reduction, energy efficiency in the local authority itself, home energy conservation, a Zero Waste strategy, and energy efficient procurement (8).







11. £2 billion a year from ecotaxes for renewables



By 2010, we must be raising at least £2 billion a year from ecotaxes to invest in non-nuclear renewable energy production, not including small-scale systems described above.







12. Financial support for sustainable development in poorer countries


We must campaign internationally for global action. And we must back up our words with financial commitment, including the free transfer of renewable energy technology to developing countries to help them develop sustainably.











Notes



1. For further information, search the Green Party website for “Contraction and Convergence”. For the Global Commons Institute see http://www.gci.org.uk/.

2. There is now a broad consensus amongst NGOs and scientists that this is a reasonable upper limit to avoid catastophic changes.

3. This Bill in 2002 had the support of over 400 MPs but was sabotaged by the government. See http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200102/cmbills/011/2002011.pdf for the Bill itself, and http://www.greenparty.org.uk/index.php?nav=news&n=126 for further information.

4. See eg The Green Transport Revolution (and how to pay for it), 2001 general election briefing, at http://www.greenparty.org.uk/files/reports/2004/The%20Green%20Transport%20Revolution.html. Also Real Progress on local transport, 2004 local elections briefing, which argues that
Green Party policies could cut traffic by 20% in 10 years: https://www2.greenparty.org.uk/files/reports/2004/Real_progress_on_local_transport.htm.

5. See Green Party press releases of 22 March, 31 March and 26 April 2004, at http://www.greenparty.org.uk/index.php?nav=groupednews&r=group%3D2.

6. See eg Solar Century: How local authorities can fuel the solar revolution of the 21st century, Green Party 2003 local elections briefing, http://www.greenparty.org.uk/files/reports/2003/solar.htm.

7. See Aviation's Economic Downside, Green Party, 2003 edition, at http://www.greenparty.org.uk/files/reports/2004/AED3.htm.

8. See Smart Energy: Real Progress in local council energy policy, at http://www.greenparty.org.uk/index.php?nav=reports&b=8.

7 Nov 2006

Green results here

Some good green results here.Voters being intimidated, dodgy counting machines, this seems to be the story of the Mid-terms, just imagine if this happened in Venezuela, the US government would insist on a rerun and set up monitoring groups.

Interesting how the Bush regime threaten countries like Nicaragua who vote for candidates they dont, like.

Big pharm are heavily funding election candidates Democrat and Republican who oppose plans to use state power to push down medical bills. Shocking but true..


Executives at the UK's three biggest pharmaceuticals companies have been funnelling thousands of dollars from their personal fortunes to help the re-election campaigns of industry-friendly politicians in the US.


Over here they have Cancer United to do the job.

However, news just in Sanders wins as first socialist senator here

The Ecology Party in the early 1980s

“We must be brave because it is only when we are prepared to get arrested for our beliefs that people will sit up and take notice. Through direct action we shall see the real nature of the nuclear state; the cloak of public enquiries will be thrown aside and its teeth will be drawn. Direct action is the cutting edge of change.”


Don't worry only four chapters in total, although I stop in 1993! The Party grew from the 1979 General Election and then virtually collapsed.


The Party entered the 1980s in an optimistic mood. At the first Spring Policy Conference, held in Manchester in 1980, Porritt, then chair of the Party’s National Council, announced with a note of near euphoria that membership had risen from 500 to 5,000 in a year.


The number of ECO branches was now 192, giving credence to his claim that the Ecology Party was the fastest growing party in the UK. He revealed plans to increase membership to 20,000 over six months and “to achieve a level of visibility in the press and media such as to force an ecological perspective to the forefront of the political debate” [6]. The General Election gamble had worked and the Party was growing rapidly. In June 1979, Mike Benfield in the West Midlands, Goldsmith in Cornwall and Porritt in the Central London constituency picked up nearly 4% of the vote in the European Elections. The fifty-three General Election candidates had brought in over 40,000 votes – an encouraging total for an essentially new party, with only a few hundred members, contesting a system without proportional representation, during a fierce battle that was won by Mrs Thatcher.
Modest success spurred on policy development. The UK’s fourth largest party needed, it was thought, an extensive manifesto. Thus, the Spring Conference included voting papers on animal rights, education, employment and health. Numerous discussion papers were presented including one with the intriguing title ‘A Recession Can Be Fun’ from Clive Lord, outlining his plans for a Basic Income Scheme along with other imaginative solutions to unemployment. The eco-socialist ‘Multi-Coloured Ecology’ group circulated a newsletter calling for the Party to look to its roots in the politics of William Morris, the Romantic Poets and the Diggers. A decentralist faction, ‘Ecology and Organisation’, produced literature drawing attention to “bureaucratic tendencies” that they feared were taking control. A minor organisational and constitutional argument was to ensue. Econews editor Peter Frings asked whether the National Executive Committee had not been

“… afflicted with a collective form of tunnel vision. How else can one explain the fact that they are attempting to resolve the problems of the Party solely in terms of economic efficiency? What about costs of centralization, most of which cannot be totted up on a bureaucratic balance sheet?” [7]

Decentralists were worried about suggestions that a central office should be set up in London. They feared that this would lead to the establishment of a national bureaucracy and would model the Party fundamentally. Others argued that without effective national organisation, the Party would be unable to fulfil the promise of its modest General Election success and increased membership. “The choice now facing us is whether we are to take an effective part in the politics of the nation, or whether we shall be satisfied with a worthwhile non-polluting leisure active for a tiny minority of aware middle-class people”, argued Fleming. Without the London office, he continued, the Party would be “doomed” [8].
Fleming won the debate and a modest office was established in the home of Paul Ekins, who volunteered his services as an assistant press secretary. Yet Executive decisions to elect a single leader and end the three year rule were thrown out by the Autumn 1979 Conference in a decentralist spirit.

The Autumn Conference decision to strip the Executive of powers to present motions to the Party showed that new political sensibilities were growing amongst the Ecology grassroots.
Despite the creation of a national office in London, the decentralist spirit was gaining ground, reflecting a third shift in Party politics. If Goldsmith had pioneered ecological politics in the 1970s, and if Porritt and Fleming had given this politics an organised and human form, a new generation was now to supply the Party with a radical and, for some, a rather challenging approach. From 1980 onwards, the Party has, in Petra Kelly’s words, been very largely an “anti-party Party”. The membership expansion saw a massive increase in younger supporters and radicals. Those who were to power the peace, animal rights and women’s movements of the 1980s were joining ECO is disproportionate numbers.
Many of the new ECO members and most of its growing number of activists saw political activity differently to Porritt et al. Rejecting necessary organisational niceties, they may be accused of naïveté; nevertheless, while practising a Green lifestyle and extending the strategy of the Party, they were an asset without measure. The Post-1968 generation had come to ECO. Brig Oubridge, Maggie Lomas and Sid Rawle of Tepee Valley in West Wales joined at this time and held views broadly representative of many new ECO activists who lived within four walls. Long standing radical members from the South West, such as Peter Frings and David Taylor, initially created much of the controversy, calling for empowerment politics, community action, non-violent direct action (NVDA) and coalition building to create a Green movement outside of Westminster. Opposing what they perceived as centralising moves, they clashed with traditionalists and made common cause with the new wave. The social and political differences between the decentralists, who looked to cultural change, and traditionalists, who concentrated on the efficient construction of a parliamentary road to Ecotopia, were to mark the Party for the rest of the ‘80s.
Support for direct action was controversial. Brian Kingzett, the Welsh representative on the NEC, saw it as “the slippery slope”:

“How can a group, dedicated to gaining the authority to change the laws of the country, be seen to be flouting the law without surrendering all credibility as a serious political force?” [9]

David Taylor, whose legendary Bath Anti-Nuclear Group sabotaged and eventually stopped nuclear waste dumping from the port of Sharpness, stated in response:

“We must be brave because it is only when we are prepared to get arrested for our beliefs that people will sit up and take notice. Through direct action we shall see the real nature of the nuclear state; the cloak of public enquiries will be thrown aside and its teeth will be drawn. Direct action is the cutting edge of change.”

Taylor and other ECO activists had built scaffolding towers on the railway line carrying nuclear waste trains to the river Severn, risking possible injury and long prison terms.
A gentler part of the cultural shift came with the first Green Gathering at Worthy Farm, Pilton, in Somerset, a site better known for hosting the Glastonbury Music Festival. It was proposed at the Spring Conference, which rejected it after an emotive debate in which Sid Rawle proposed “no confidence” in Porritt’s chairing, accusing him of bias. Despite the vote, the Summer Gathering in July 1980 was to be the first of many. Six hundred people took part; there were numerous debates on strategy, lifestyle and politics. An ECO peace group, later to become Green CND, was established and children played on the famous anti-nuclear scaffolding. The Autumn Conference and AGM held in September 1980 in Cardiff were influenced by this new cultural mood. Sid Rawle, former Slough park keeper, former Young Communist League activist, organiser of the Windsor Free Festival, recipient of an island off the west coast of Ireland from John Lennon and later defender of Stonehenge, was very much in evidence. Described at an earlier Keele conference as “living propaganda for the ecological cause”, he was elected on to the new National Council (previously the NEC). The Revd. R. Mayles, known affectionately as Rick the Vic, made an eloquent speech in support of the legalisation of cannabis, a controversial policy accepted by Conference. The three-year rule meant Porritt was replaced by Gundula Dorey, a probation officer and zoology graduate from Bristol, as the new Council Chair.
The new Council had to deal with a number of difficult issues. The initial optimism of 1979 and 1980 was fast shrinking. Media interest was focusing on Roy Jenkins’s possible plans to create a new centre Party with his dissident Labour colleagues. Recession was biting and unemployment was rising towards the three million mark; ecology and zero growth were far from attractive concerns to most voters. Success had created its own failure. A ten-fold increase in membership in a short period had created great stress. The Party did not have the ability to effectively service new members and its reliance on volunteer administrators simply did not work. Between 1973 and the early 1980s, the Party employed no paid helpers or employees. Regional organisation was patchy and administration became a hit-and-miss affair. According to Paul Ekins, now National Secretary, many of the new regions were in “totally predictable turmoil”. He appealed for help from members with “an organised mind and a spare evening a week”. Soon, membership was to fall as drastically as it had risen.
Parliamentary by-election results in 1980 ranged from a nearly acceptable 600 votes in South-West Hertfordshire, to humiliating scores in Manchester and Glasgow. Throughout the Party’s existence, it is fair to say that such by-elections have produced the worst set of results and European Elections the best, irrespective of wider circumstances. Local elections have almost always been as encouraging as by-elections have been depressing. The 1980 local elections saw the Party gain an average of 5% across the country – very encouraging in contrast to the by-election disasters.
1981 started with a new national office in Clapham and the rudiments of effective organisation, thanks mainly to Paul Ekins. An office assistant was appointed and paid the princely sum of £25 an hour. Sadly, February 1981 saw an attack on Ekins home in Battersea. A spokesperson for the neo-Nazi paramilitary group Column 88 claimed responsibility:

“We attacked the home of one of your members last night because he is standing against a right-wing candidate in the Greater London Council elections. If this candidate does not stand down he will be wasted” [10].

This sinister threat was not carried out, although Ekins did oppose a National Front candidate. In 1983, an allegedly ‘eco-fascist’ faction took control of the Front but took relatively little interest, thankfully, in ECO. May 1981 saw over 270 local election candidates nationwide. Jeremy Faull was elected with 50.1% of the vote, scraping back into his Cornish seat. The results were poor in London but better in rural areas.
1981 saw the launch of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the beginning of the end for the Porritt/Fleming dream.