Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The 'Gordon Brown Party' Conference and the difference between saying and doing

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The crucial thing about Gordon Brown’s conference speech was the massive difference between what he seemed to say and what has been achieved in the last 10 yrs, during which he’s been a crucial, central figure of the Labour Government. For example Gordon Brown spoke warmly of action on climate change but UK emissions of carbon dioxide are higher now than ten yrs ago, income inequality is high and rising, childhood wellbeing is in a poor state according to UN figures. He spoke warmly about supporting our armed forces but they often lack protective equipment and vehicles, and are housed in often sub-standard accommodation. He stressed a commitment to the NHS but tens of thousands still die prematurely due to un-tackled hospital-acquired infections like C-difficile.

In the end what counts is not what politicians say but the action they have taken and the outcomes they have achieved. Lets assess Gordon Brown based on his record, which includes attaining a very tight grip on his party.

The Labour Party conference should be renamed the Gordon Brown Conference because it has been so very leader dominated (and at times election obsessed). I ask - where has the Labour Party gone? Presumably it is happy to be dominated and controlled by its leader, going along with what the leader wants, like the retention of Trident, or no referendum on the EU constitutional treaty, whether it really wants it or not, because it feels this is its best hope of retaining power. Is it not better to have a more broad-based leadership though?

Gordon Brown’s conference speech to some extent imitated fellow ‘conviction politician’ Margaret Thatcher, (or even Winston Churchill). It worked at pressing the right buttons with people. He scattered key words like Britain and British tens of times throughout his speech because he wanted to create a certain sort of appeal. Opinion poll figures after the speech seem to indicate that it has upped support for the Brown government. Are we really going to be fooled like this?

Yr on yr loss of green spaces

Great letter on loss of Bristol's green spaces from Chris Miller today. I've commented twice this month alone on the flogging off of allotment land for house building so there's a few clear exmples for a start! Pigs can fly, the Earth is flat, and Bristol City Council's 'green capital' plans really will make us a sustainable city!!

On: 'green' Tories, Cameron & Thatcher (and other jokes) ; Mining impacts; Environmentalism; and Our Common Future's 20th anniversary

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The Bristol Blogger used my name in one of his headlines yesterday. The story raised some issues that I have commented on via his site (copied, and expanded on a bit, below). Responding to his post (and one commenter) I said...

I'll do my best to stay calm and not rant on at great length about Tories merely talking green when it suits them, to get votes...(not that its working for them at the moment). Or in fact rant on about how there's a lot more to being green than environmentalism. Mind you my 'mate' Dave Cameron does wear a green tie a lot....

Interesting choice of film on mining those 'green' Tories have chosen to show, to say the least!! (Did you know that as well as apallingly dangerous working conditions and pittance pay: to make a single gold wedding ring takes 5-6 tonness of rock, leaving huge holes, tunnels, eroding canyons, leaving 20 tonnes of mine waste; traces of cynanide allowing miners to extract as little as half a gram of mercury from a tonne of rock; mercury used in extraction bioaccumulating in humans and the environment; huge piles of tailings laced with toxic substances; acid mine drainage polluting waterways....all thanks to major transnational companies).

Read the Newsweek article Blogger linked to with interest - not a bad piece really.

SHOCK! Mrs Thatcher and I do have something in common - no we are not both greens - we are both chemistry graduates (my specialism - rubber, Thatcher's - ice cream!!). She did understand and did pick up on climate change as an issue before quite a few other political figures, as far as I can gather. Despite having the scientific knowledge Thatcher cared not one jot about the environment though and took us not one iota in the direction of laying the foundations of a sustainable society - quite the opposite in fact. As an ardent capitalist she was even further from being green than being an environmentalist. Suffice to say I'm not about to 'do a Gordon Brown' and invite her for a photo opportunity outside my house wearing a suitably coloured dress - not that I'd want to or that she'd be the slightest bit interested!!!

There are certainly earlier, better and more lasting contributions to the climate debate from politicians, not least former Norwegian PM Gro Harlem Brundtland, a key figure, active still, in the highly influential report 'Our Common Future' - which is 20yrs old this yr, something which seems to have gone relatively unmarked! See http://www.jonathonporritt.com/pages/2007/09/our_common_future.html