16 Sept 2013

Green Party Conference motion on fracking

Fracking Song by Emily Blyth Green Party of England and Wales Local Party Support Coordinator

Emergency Motion: Fracking
Over the summer months the oil and gas industry stepped up their attempts to bringing hydraulic fracturing for shale gas (fracking) to the UK.
In Balcombe, Sussex, Cuadrilla have begun testing on wells that could eventually be ‘fracked.’ In other parts of the UK, such as the North West and North East of England, South Wales and others fracking companies are hoping to begun exploring for shale gas imminently.
Protesters, including Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, have been arrested for demonstrating against Cuadrilla in recent weeks.
At the same time the UK government has been promoting fracking as an environmentally friendly way to provide energy for the country. Fracking companies will be given tax incentives and communities who accept fracking will be given ‘financial compensation.’
Conference notes that experts from OfGem and Deutsche Bank have said that shale gas exploitation in the UK will have negligible impact on fuel bills.  Furthermore leading economist Lord Stern has said that the suggestion that shale gas will reduce the price of gas is “baseless economics.”
Conference notes that Water UK  - the body that represents water companies  - has warned that fracking could lead to contamination of the water supply.
Conference notes a study by Bloomberg which says that the UK may need to drill 10,000 wells to stop our reliance on imported gas.
Conference sends solidarity to protesters who have been fighting Cuadrilla in Sussex and those protesting against fracking elsewhere.
Conference re-affirms it’s commitment to renewable energy solutions and to moving away from climate change inducing fossil fuels.
Conference re-affirms its opposition to fracking in the UK and instructs elected Greens to fight against fracking at every level.
Conference instructs GPEX to publicise the potential harm that fracking can cause to enable the Green Party at every level to take a firm line to protect communities, drinking water and the environment.
Conference instructs GPEX to publicise the fact that a dash for unconventional oil and gas in the UK is highly likely to mean we will fail to comply with our legally binding climate change legislation. 

13 Sept 2013

Learning from Latin America fringe at Green Party conference

Green Party conference 17.00-18.15 Hall Four, Saturday 15th September.



Maria Vasquez-Aguilar from Chile 40 Years On
Alvaro Sanchez, Embassy of Venezuela
Samuele Mazzolini, Ecuadorian commentator and researcher on Chevron
Derek Wall,  Green Party of England and Wales International Coordinator

Where next for the Green Party?

Green Party conference opens today in Brighton.  Brighton has been at the forefront of Green Party electoral success, electing our first MP Caroline Lucas and first Green Party local authority.

However, it provides serious challenges for the party. 

Caroline Lucas has made a significant impact on the political system in Britain. From her arrest for opposing fracking to her passionate speech against war in Syria to her Private Members Bill to renationalise the railways, she is often a lone voice against austerity and neo-liberal economics. It is difficult for the Green Party of England and Wales to win seats at Westminster, given the first past the post system, so every Green Party member knows that the most significant task they face is to ensure her re-election. At the same time, the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour Party machines are desperate to remove her. 

There are few firm voices in Parliament advocating ecological sanity, peace and opposition to the cuts agenda.  All on the left, not just those of us in the Green Party, need to support Caroline. Indeed, with Ed Miliband still committed to Tory cuts, it is essential that an alternative to austerity is present.

Opponents of the Green Party find it difficult to challenge Caroline’s record, but instead focus on the Green councillors' record in Brighton and Hove.  While some claim that trying to create socialism in one country  is impossible, none of us should dismiss the challenges involved in bringing in green policies in one city or town.  It is of course the worst possible time to be in local government, with life threatening cuts and  restrictions imposed by Eric Pickles. Also, the Greens run a minority administration and could be outvoted at any time.  Criticism of Green councillors in Brighton and Hove can be seen as a way in which opponents may suffocate the Green Party as  a resurgent force on the left of British politics.

 So how should Brighton and Hove Green Party councillors proceed in this uniquely difficult climate?  There are no easy answers, of course, but there are indicators.  One approach  is to advocate careful management even  if this means cuts.  This is logical, because as one minority council administration, resistance strong enough to fight the Tories and win looks unlikely.  At least in the Green Party there is a contrast with Labour, in that Labour councillors up and down Britain have been threatened with expulsion and sometimes removed if they advocate no cuts budgets.  In the 1980s Liverpool and other left wing councils stoutly resisted Thatcher, but in our decade left wing Labour councils who might provide solidarity with other no cuts administrations are a historical memory, like King Arthur or Boddicea.

Yet there is a point where we Greens become caretakers for catastrophe, managing as best we can, delivering cuts as compassionately as possible, showing perhaps that we are just as efficient or even better managers than councillors from other parties.  Yet the shit is increasingly hitting the proverbial and alternatives which are both  radical and  practical are essential.  Better delivery of policies that nevertheless bring misery is ultimately unsustainable.

The situation in Brighton and Hove reminds one of the travails of Labour governments in the 20th century.  When they tried to be good managers, to stop frightening the horses, to join perhaps the establishment and show they were safe pairs of hands, they, to be blunt, fucked up.  When Labour thought outside the prevailing wisdom they made real and effective changes.  Many of us would argue that the Greens risk being tamed, becoming another political animal too docile to challenge the power hungry corporations and militarist political establishment.  All Greens should remember that in the 1930s the Labour government embraced the Gold Standard, swallowed the conventional political medicine and embraced austerity.  Ramsay McDonald’s  policies nearly destroyed the Labour Party and his name spells the word ‘traitor’.  In contrast, the introduction of the NHS by Atlee’s 1945 Labour government provided something we all love. Business as usual for the Brighton and Hove Greens may simply be a recipe for defeat, if it appears to local Sussex voters that we are the same as the big three pro-austerity political parties but merely more efficient at delivery.

There are no easy answers for anyone in local government, resistance has to be built however difficult this may seem. Imaginative responses to the cuts are needed.  This weekend I am supporting Green Party proposals at our National Conference for a Progressive Council Tax.  This can be introduced in Brighton and Hove - the principle is simple, and it is legal.  Council Tax would nominally be raised to ensure the Council could protect its services, but  but about 80% of payers would actually receive rebates that amounted to a cut in their payments.  The minority at the top of the income scale would pay more so that money can be found to preserve front line services.

It is not a panacea, it will require a referendum, and on its own it is no substitute for Labour, the Greens and the trade unions up and down Britain taking on the government in a unified fight.  PCT requires detailed examination to iron out problems like shared households, however it is essential that the party does not close down this option and votes to further explore it, and any other means to practically challenge cuts and austerity.  

Derek Wall

12 Sept 2013

Green Party Executive Election winners

GPEX election results From members website

 The successful candidates:
Chair - Richard Mallender
Elections - Sam Coates
Equalities & Diversity - Shan Oakes & Jack McGlen (job share)
Finance - Michael Coffey
Internal Communications - Peter Barnett
Local Party Support - Emily Blyth

Commiserations to Simon Hales, 
Geoff Smith & Sam Riches.

11 Sept 2013

Gold mining in Greece: stories of resistance and repression

Noticed this on the Green Left email list so thought I would share

Come and hear first-hand accounts of resistance to gold mining in Greece by Eldorado Gold, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Thursday 19 September, 7 to 9pm, Unite House, 128 Theobald's Road, Holborn, London, WC1X 8TN
Nearest tube Holborn. See map at http://goo.gl/maps/KAWWX. Facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/163715900486791/ As spaces are limited please RSVP at RSVP.sittingonagoldmine@gmail.com

Under the pretext of a severe financial crisis Greece is reasserting its investor-friendly profile by opening up all goldmines across the country without regard to the threats that mining poses to the environment and to people’s livelihoods. Foreign investors are particularly welcome: fast track processes; tax relief; exception from damages; easy money; no royalties; no problems.  

But the true picture is not so rosy! Sham public consultations, questionable deals designed to advance specific corporate interests and the slow but steady destruction of the environment have been met with resistance. The struggle to oppose Eldorado Gold’s plans to create an enormous open pit mine on Mount Kakavos and within the ancient forest of Skouries has succeeded in capturing people’s imagination and inspiring waves of solidarity across the country. 

While organising their long campaign affected communities have learned a lot about Greek law; geology; environmental science; and the technologies of extraction. As they did so, they begun to ask questions about development, participation, human rights and the public interest. Their questions were answered by the riot police.
Now the people from Skouries are bringing this discussion to London. 

Lazaros Toskas 
member of the Struggle Coordinating Committee of Megali Panagia, will share stories of resistance and repression, of mining, rights and the politics of development. 

Other speakers from Corporate Watch, Greece Solidarity Campaign and London Mining Network.

10 Sept 2013

Hugo Blanco 'Building Alternative Power'

From my friend and mentor who publishes Lucha Indigena, indigenous fight. take a look here http://www.luchaindigena.com/http://www.luchaindigena.com/

                                        BUILDING ALTERNATIVE POWER

The present reality is that it is big capital -- the transnational corporations and financial institutions -- that truly rules the world.  Meanwhile, the states -- both the USA and in Europe -- are in a grave economic crisis.  The beneficiaries of this crisis are the banks and other financial institutions.
          The crisis is not just economic but also political.  The United Nations Organization (UNO) has been displaced by NATO, a military organization headed by the United States.  The Organization of American States (OAS) is discredited.  "Legitimate" capitalism is more and more tied to the drug trade by way of "financial havens" that also serve to launder funds arising from corruption, as in the case of the Spanish government.  So-called "international law" is trampled underfoot by the USA and its European servitors, as in the case of Evo Morales's flight.
          The crisis is environmental as well, as seen in the global warming that worsens every year.  In each of the UNO-sponsored meetings, this is affirmed by the very countries most responsible for climate change.  They say so openly, and the only question under debate is how to profit from the global disaster.  The environmental crisis becomes steadily worse, thanks to technical and scientific advances, with the cutting down of rain forests, open-pit mining, the increasing use of transgenics, the extraction of hydrocarbons, the construction of hydroelectric plants and rapid-transit systems, the transport of food from one continent to another, etc.
          Furthermore, it is a moral crisis.  The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the head of state of the world's most bellicose country and later to the European Union, the world's main arms exporter.  The UNO's Food & Agriculture Organization (FA)) awarded its 2013 World Food Prize to Monsanto and two other representatives of agricultural biotechnology, mortal enemies of human health.
          The policy of priestly celibacy, together with the Catholic Church's operation of schools, has led to a pattern of sexual abuse of children by clergy protected by the church hierarchy.  This and other immoral practices within the Vatican led to the resignation of one pope and his replacement by another with a known close association with a South American dictatorship.  Meanwhile, the Catholic religion continues its discriminatory practices against women.  Other Christian churches condemn the cultural practices of the world's native peoples, while the system identifies the Muslim religion with terrorism.
          The cases of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, as well as the prisoners held in Guantánamo, are a great scandal that shows the crisis in its moral dimension.
          All signs indicate that this is the final crisis of the capitalist system in its ultimate, neoliberal form.  It is quite plain that capitalism cannot survive this crisis.  What we do not know is how it will die.  Perhaps it will be pushed aside as the world's ruler by humanity acting together to form egalitarian, truly democratic society.  Failing this, the system in crisis may drive us toward the extinction of the human race, including the very governments that capitalism now commands.
          In the face of the system's ever more scandalous oppression of the rest of humanity and its destruction of the environment, more and more sectors of society are erupting into open rebellion, breaking with the system's norms and replacing them with practices that benefit people and the environment.
          The best known example is undoubtedly the native Zapatistas who are building a new world in a small part of the Mexican state of Chiapas.  They elect their governing councils in rotation.  These comrades serve without pay under the command of their base, not the other way around.  Unlike in the ruling system, their purpose is to serve, not to profit from their office.  The Zapatistas grow their crops and raise their livestock in an environmentally sound way in small personal plots or larger collectives.  They are developing an educational system rooted in freedom and truth, in opposition to the official system that suppresses the students, fills their heads with lies and turns them into servants of capitalism.  They are also building a health system whose goal is to heal, in contrast to the neoliberal health system that aims to enrich the laboratories and corporations to the detriment of its patients' wellbeing.
          Because the Zapatistas are encircled by the system that aims to stamp out the example they are setting, they are obliged to maintain a militia for self-defense, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).
          This, then, is the best known example of the construction of alternative power, but it is by no means the only one.  On practically all sides we find attitudes that break down the norms imposed by the system and depart from the framework it imposes.  They are steps, largely unconscious ones, toward an alternative, popular form of power in opposition to the oppressive official system.
          The world's native populaces maintain their own communal forms of organization, which in lesser or greater degree are democratic and horizontal, with collective labor practices.
          There are also factories that are occupied and operated by the workers, themselves, in a horizontal form and for the collective benefit.  In Argentina and other countries, this is another manifestation of alternative-power building in embryonic form.
          Cooperatives of environmentally sound producers in coordination with consumer associations are yet another example of incipient alternative power, as are the promoters of alternative medicine throughout the world.  We see, too, the many mass demonstrations that have rolled back transportation fares in Brazil and those on a smaller scale in Lima that put a stop to the parliamentary nomination of a putschist to serve a guardian of the constitution.  In Uruguay the workers' organizations have established their own television channel.  And it is important to note that the manifestation of power by peasant communities in defense of water stands as an obstacle to the developing new open-pit mines.
          In various forms and degrees the peoples of the world are resisting the power of the system.  They are contributing their own grains of sand -- for the most part in an unconscious way -- to the construction of alternative forms of power.  Let us join our hands in defense of humanity.  We know that the world's present rulers will utilize violence in their attempt to crush us, but we will learn to defend ourselves.  We are confident that we, like the Zapatistas, will be able to build a new world in which humanity governs itself in a horizontal manner and reintegrates itself with Mother Nature as her sons and daughters, not her enemy.
          This is the real alternative.  If we fail, the ever more savage attacks against nature and humanity by the system in crisis will bring down the destruction of our species, including the destroyers themselves.

Hugo Blanco

Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles

Derek Wall ’s article entitled  Imperialism Is the Arsonist: Marxism’s Contribution to Ecological Literatures and Struggles , argues that Ma...