Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BBC News - Panorama: Three Fifa World Cup officials took bribes

1 comment:
Watched this with great interest, especially given all the stadium debate in Bristol that's been going on for ages. The extent and scale of the corruption was shocking. Well done to the BBC and others in the media for exposing it. Interesting that the Dutch have found, having looked at both the costs and benefits of staging a world cup, that they'd make a 150 million euro loss - so much for the economic benefits of staging the event! Make a case to stage it because you love football. Make a case to stage it because football originated here...and we are so well set up for it because its inherent in our culture - but dont bleat on about the value to the economy because net financial benefit is very hard to establish. Same goes for the Olympics and other major international sporting events.

BBC News - Panorama: Three Fifa World Cup officials took bribes

The program is available in iPlayer here.

Green stadium design for an aspiring green capital?

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'Why not outline for us how a man like yourself with so many letters after your name would achieve for the people of Bristol such a facility along sustainable development principles?' says sharp tongued Bristol Evening Post online debater Mark from Bristol.

I dont pretend to have all the answers but sustainable development is good sense not rocket science. First, dont build over green land in the green belt - either redevelop Ashton Gate or find a suitable brownfield site near existing good transport links. Second, seriously consider sharing any new ground. Thirdly use well established green design principles eg the One Planet Living Principles that are outlined here:http://www.oneplanetvision.org/one-planet-living/opl-framework/

I took part in the BCFC consultation and submitted some ideas on green stadium design plus examples of several football clubs who have used green design principles (see here and Dartford FCs Princes Park stadium design, pictured). Despite asking for a response by email and phone call I received none. Had city gone for a top notch green stadium design it would have been much harder for people like me to oppose it - and perhaps it would have been harder for Ashton Vale people too. Shouldn't our aspiring 'green capital' have a green football stadium??

New ground in the green belt is unsustainable development

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The Bristol Evening Post is absolutely right to speak out against plan to sell off and build over parks green spaces within the city (‘Council must see bigger picture’, Post June 29). I fully agree with them when they said that green spaces are ‘not simply there for this generation’ and that we are merely ‘custodians of these open spaces’. This sustainable development argument also applies to the green belt land where the new BCFC stadium is proposed. As a strong supporter of the proposed stadium however the Post is being very inconsistent - and one has to ask why.

Building a new BCFC stadium in the green belt is based on outmoded, old fashioned, discredited economic thinking. Our council has 'green capital' ambitions and so should be implementing sustainable development as an alternative to the current economic orthodoxy. Mainstream politics has said it was signed up to sustainable development decades ago but has done little or nothing to implement it.

Current economic thinking centres on growing the economy based on resources that are finite and non-renewable. There is only so much land for instance and we and other species need it for multiple purposes - using it for a game of football is hardly top priority.

We need instead to be selective about what grows in our economy -including football grounds - and ensure that economic development meets tests of: resource efficiency; renewability; being within environmental limits; meeting needs now and into the future; local and global fairness; human health, wellbeing and quality of life; stronger local communities. Town Green status for the land in Ashton Vale is in tune with sustainable devleopment and so I fully support it.

More on 'ground vs green'

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Copies of further comments I made yesterday in the online 'ground vs green' debate (below). 'Dog Walker' was one of the few to respond to my posts:

Dog Walker - by 'dealt with' you mean ignored or dismissed! This must be so because: f this stadium is built green belt land will be lost; carbon emissions will rise; natural flood drainage space will go; land with food production potential will go; wildlife habitats will be smaller in area; green space important to human health will be cut. Our current system has warm green words but little or no green action - which is why planning permission was given.

We are in agreement that our MPs are not competent drafters of the law! I dont agree with your assessment of my democratic credentials however - your way of thinking would mean that law has no value in a democracy and that there should be, in effect, no such thing as local democracy. I believe our democracy is not localised enough whereas your line of argument leads, in effect, to Vogons from another planet [pictured, from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy film] being allowed to turn up out of the blue and destroy the whole planet.

You make the big mistake of assuming that building this stadium will have a net positive effect on jobs and investment. To my knowledge no-one has done the research sums to see if total benefits exceed total costs, taking into account all factors, including those I've mentioned above. Mostly what we hear about is benefits - my point is ok but what about the costs?? This the opposite of selfishness, Carl, because its trying to account for the impacts both on current generations and the generations of people to come - once green land is built over its nigh on impossible to get it back again.

Dog Walker - its so convenient for you to simply dismiss a whole range of health and environmental arguments isn't it. Is this a ground vs green debate or not? You seem to be ducking out to me. The planning process has no objective evidence whatsoever that total benefits outweigh total costs - and a decision taken on the basis of little or no evidence is irrational.

Why is it that you dont want to talk about and deal properly with climate change, biodiversity, habitats, flood management, human health and quality of life?? Where is your evidence that net economic benefits will result (you only state a possible benefit and mention no disbenefits)? Could it not be argued that the stadium proposal is an inappropriate development based on outmoded, old-fashioned, discredited economic thinking and that therefore persuing it would be unwise ? Bristol is supposed to have 'green capital' ambitions after all.

Given that we've gone beyond the planning process now wouldn't giving the land town green status mean that it would be maintain our ability to: fight climate change; increase wildlife; manage flooding; keep people healthy...If you built a stadium the opposite would happen and therefore shouldn't someone estimate the costs/benefits of all this in order for a rational decision to be made?

My point about Vogons [pictured] is not extending the argument to absurdity at all. Its my view that local democracy should count for much more than it does - and that the law should help prevent locals from being bullied into a situation they dont want. The law on town greens does empower people to apply for their space to be protected. You have not indicated that you would like any form of local democracy or legal processes to protect a community and its space and so in effect you are saying that if, as in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Vogons turn up one day to destroy our planet then that's all ok.

Monday, November 29, 2010

BBC - Live - Ground v Green debate

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Here's where you can watch the debate live, if you dont have a ticket to get in.

BBC - Live - Ground v Green debate (UK)

Or listen here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00c9lq6 if you are not in the UK.

Ground vs Green

1 comment:
Just chipped in to the 'Ground vs Green' debate going on on the Evening Post website, particularly in response to someone calling themselves 'another cynic' because they did not regard opposing building a stadium in the green belt as rational. Here's my contribution to a debate that is, as usual, of the very highest quality (!!):

'I think most rational people would be pro stadium. The only thing to be cynical about is the use of the TVG laws by a minority of people to undermine the workings of the democratic planning process.' said another cynic.

What's rational about:

- designating land as green belt and then not protecting it?

-the council/govt saying we need to fight climate change and then turning land from a net absorber to a net emitter of carbon?

-expressing concern about the need to be ready to deal with flooding caused by the sudden heavy rains we now get and then removing land that naturally absorbs and steadily releases flood water?

-saying wildlife needs to be protected but then concreting over habitats?
-having government agencies like Natural England working to show how necessary to our physical, mental and social health green spaces are and how we all need to live close to a green space and then removing said spaces?

-saying what a good idea local food production is, especially in view of things like peak oil, and then reducing the land area available to grow food locally?

-MPs strengthening the law on town and village green establishment in both 2000 and 2006 then going on to campaign against the use of the laws they established??

By the way another cynic, the current planning process is a statutory ie legal process primarily and not a democratic one. Though it has a democratic element to it through the involvement of elected Councillors and Secretary of State, they are supposed to be guided by rules and regulations not a party line...hopefully to establish a rational outcome. The Ground vs Green debate will not be finally resolved by petition or voting but by the law that is an essential feature of a modern democratic system - and in this instance it may well prevent a wider majority view prevailing over a very local majority view.

Debate on new BCFC ground

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THE Ground v Green debate to discuss plans for a 30,000-seat stadium at Ashton Vale will be broadcast live tonight from 7pm.

The Evening Post and BBC Radio Bristol have joined forces to organise the high-profile debate on one of the biggest issues in the city for years...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stop Sainsbury's on Ashton Gate

Link to Stop Sainsbury's website...

STOP SAINSBURY’S is a group of local residents, campaigning to stop plans to rebuild the local store at DOUBLE ITS CURRENT SIZE on the Ashton Gate football ground. This would make it a regional destination and “the biggest Sainsbury’s in the South West”.

Find out more about the
revised Sainsbury’s proposal, or find out what you can do to help by writing to the planning department or getting in touch with your local councillor. Every letter and email will count in this decision process, so make sure that your voice gets heard.

use the contact form to send us your details and we can keep you up to date.

Together we can stop a new superstore in BS3 for the third time.

Science Museum's Atmosphere Gallery

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Energy and money saving website, energyrethinking.org, is hosting a live Q&A session with the Science Museum on Monday between 1 and 2 pm to celebrate the opening of the Science Museum’s Atmosphere Gallery on Friday 3 Dec. You can learn more about the new gallery here.

The Atmosphere Gallery is a new permanent feature of the museum which explores climate science. Gallery content developer Alex Fairhead will be on hand to answer questions on how science and technology will shape the future, and to discuss living in a low-carbon world. There are more details here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

European countries need to triple efforts to decarbonise

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A new tracking tool launched today by WWF and renewable energy business Ecofys reveals only about a third of the action needed to put European Union countries on a path towards a low carbon economy by 2050, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95%, is currently underway. The report and which available online by clicking here is called the Climate Policy Tracker for the European Union and claims to provide for the first time an up-to-date snapshot of greenhouse gas emission controls across the EU using a state-by-state and sector-by sector analysis...

European countries need to triple efforts to decarbonise

House of cards economics

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Work on the economy continues at the Treasury, in Ireland, in the EU, at the IMF and in many other places around the globe. There's little stability in a house of cards however.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tesco ignore the need for planning permission??

Tesco were refused planning permission for the entranceway/doors and windows they wanted in the former Friendship Inn - but they appear to have gone ahead and installed them anyway! They have appealed against the refusal - but it cannot be right for them to install ahead of permission as this would make a mockery of the whole system. Obviously they feel they can give themselves permission!

PLANS to bulldoze hundreds of homes in Knowle West as part of a massive regeneration project might be scrapped.

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I hope they abandon plans to knock down hundreds of homes in Inns Court - not least because the people living there - and the community around them - dont want this destructive demolition. Just think of what a home means to people and what they have of themselves invested in their home. Great to hear that the most popular regeneration plan is the one produced by the Knowle West Residents Planning Group.

PLANS to bulldoze hundreds of homes in Knowle West as part of a massive regeneration project might be scrapped.

Council officials have collated the views of residents and discovered while 84 per cent support regenerating the area, only about one in three (36 per cent) agreed with knocking down Inns Court.
More than half (52 per cent) said the estate should be infilled with new homes.
The residents' option, put forward by the Knowle West Residents Planning Group, offered alternatives to widescale demolition and was the most popular, with 40 per cent support...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Flak for Cllr Gary Hopkins 'build over green spaces' tsar

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Remove this superior, arrogant, rude - and undemocratic - Cllr from office the next time he stands for election - along with any who side with him.

L ISTENING to Councill0r Gary Hopkins made me extremely suspicious and concerned that the green spaces debate is a "fait accompli".

Mr Hopkins seemed to be on a different planet or wavelength regarding the reaction of the people living in the communities affected.
The majority of the communities are not in favour of these proposals, quite the reverse I would suggest, unless you are within an area that would be gaining some facility yet losing areas. Many people have attended meetings, responded to questionnaires, written letters and voiced opinions on these proposals, including those with a great love of their environment and years of community experience, plus others with a great deal of experience from their working careers.
Mr Hopkins' attendance at our local meeting was a disgrace as a representative of our council. His superior, arrogant and rude attitude towards those attending did nothing to present the council's proposals to attract useful comment or a reasoned discussion. It made those attending feel that "your thoughts are a waste of your time" and resulted in a majority vote for him to leave the meeting, which he did not...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mabinogogiblog: Greens must uphold the principle of non-violence.

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Good post reminding us of a key green principle.

Mabinogogiblog: Greens must uphold the principle of non-violence.

Here's an extract from one of my previous posts about when, why and how breaking the law (non-violently) might be justified...

Few people, if any, would argue that law breaking is never justifiable - think of prominent examples of law breaking to achieve positive social change like Vaclav Havel and the 'Velvet Revolution' in 1989, perhaps inspired by people like Mahatma Gandhi to gain independence in India and Martin Luther King Jr campaigning for civil rights in the USA.

I do belong to a radical party that has this core value: 'Electoral politics is only one way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods to help effect change, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.'http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/values.html

It is justifiable to break the law when campaigning and in fact some may feel compelled or duty-bound to do so, often inspired by people like Gandhi (who in turn was influenced by Henry David Thoreau) . However, if the law is broken it must, in my view, generally: appeal directly to the sense of justice of the majority; not reject the rule of law; be non-violent; accept lawful punishment that results; be a shrewd tactical move (why do it otherwise?); be consistent with core green values.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

CAMPAIGNERS fighting Bristol City Council's plans to sell off green spaces are calling on people to join a protest meeting next week.

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CAMPAIGNERS fighting Bristol City Council's plans to sell off green spaces are calling on people to join a protest meeting next week.

The council has faced ongoing criticism for the area green spaces plan, which proposes selling off 62 sites across the city to fund improvements in other parks. Public consultation officially came to an end at the end of October, but residents are still hoping to get their message across. The protest is planned for 1pm on Tuesday, ahead of the full council meeting at the Council House on College Green at 2pm...Depending on the outcome of the motion to scrap the plan, a second protest is pencilled in for December 16, when a decision on which sites will be sold off is due to be made by the council cabinet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Research: biofuels significantly worsen climate change

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Britain's promise to more than double its use of biofuels by 2020 is "significantly" adding to worldwide carbon emissions, the Government admitted yesterday. Britain is signed up to a European guarantee to source 10 per cent of its transport fuel from renewable sources, such as biofuels, within the next 10 years.

But ministers have said that the policy is proving counter-productive and the greenhouse emissions associated with biofuels are substantially greater than the savings. They are now urging the European Commission to rethink the plan. The admission coincides with a major study published this week which concludes that biofuels will create an extra 56 million tons of CO2 per year – the equivalent of 12 to 26 million cars on Europe's roads by 2020.

This is because Europe will need to cultivate an area somewhere between the size of Belgium and the Republic of Ireland with biofuels to meet the target, which can only be done through land conversion – and more controversially, deforestation. The work will be on such a scale that the carbon released from the vegetation, trees and soil will be far greater than those given off by fossil fuels they are designed to replace.

The study, from the Institute for European Environmental Policy, found that far from being 35 to 50 per cent less polluting, as required by the European Directive, the extra biofuels will be twice as bad for the environment...


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Monbiot.com » The Lax Tax Pact

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Trying saying this quickly! Another great piece from George Monbiot.

Monbiot.com » The Lax Tax Pact

Letters: Greed not greens cause hunger | Environment | The Guardian

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Excellent letter in The Guardian:

Letters: Greed not greens cause hunger Environment The Guardian

Channel 4 documentary What the Green Movement Got Wrong (Last night's TV, 5 November) in our view made a series of misguided and inaccurate allegations and assumptions. It identified GM as a solution to hunger and implicated anti-GM campaigners for exacerbating food insecurity. As development organisations, we consider the documentary was extremely biased against environmental organisations that do so much to promote positive solutions. Hunger is a blight on humanity, but it is a political and economic problem. Its root causes include the broken and biased trading system; the bankers who gamble on the price of staple foods; and land grabs by financiers – all of which make food unaffordable for the hungry and deny their right to food.

In our view, the most significant impact that GM companies have made is to dominate the seed chain, selling expensive and patented seeds to farmers, seeds that are used more for livestock feed, cotton and biofuels – not for feeding people. The documentary didn't include any independent voices from civil society in the global south who are campaigning against GM and for local sustainable food production.

Had they done so, it is likely to have become clear that the small-scale farmers who provide food for most people in the world are not calling for GM technologies that are beyond their control. They are calling for political will from governments to take on the corporate lobbyists and protect their land, natural resources and production systems; a fair trading system to ensure fair prices; and a fair hearing from governments and documentary-makers on the future food system.

Deborah Doane
World Development Movement
Patrick Mulvany
UK Food Group
Andrew Scott
Practical Action
John Hilary
War on Want

BRISTOL City Council has admitted it may have to make up to £70 mil- lion of spending cuts over the next four years – £20m higher than previously announced.

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I'm worried about the implications of this for vital services eg care for the elderly. Aren't we supposed to be remembering the contributions people made in the world wars? Many of these people are now in care homes or in need of care support to remain in their homes - we should be looking after them well.

BRISTOL City Council has admitted it may have to make up to £70 mil- lion of spending cuts over the next four years – £20m higher than previously announced.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Effective Labour Shadow Cabinet?

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I think its becoming pretty clear that Ed Miliband and his shadow cabinet are not performing well and not making an impact as an effective opposition (click image to enlarge). Why for instance did they not strongly make the point that the recent much bigger than expected economic growth figures are a result of Labour's policies and action whilst Alistair Darling was Chancellor? I'm not an economist but I know a bit about politics, decision making and complex systems, which includes economies. Its crystal clear that this coalition government cant possibly be responsible for the last set of growth figures because they've simply not been in power anything like long enough to have any effect.

There is a time lag between government economic policy/action and effects appearing so we'll only begin to see the impacts of the coalition government on growth as more months and years go by. We are however seeing the effects of the previous Labour government now. Labour's weak shadow treasury team failed to strongly point this out, made only lame comments and tended to talk down the economy. Ed Miliband and the shadow cabinet failed to go with what is both the truth and the best political strategy/tactic and take the credit for the growth figures - so maybe former Labour cabinet member Jack Straw was right when he said that a third of the new shadow cabinet is incapable - maybe its more than a third!

Will Cameron live up to this statement??

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David Cameron Strategy Challenge (Jonathon Porritt)

“Our action to cut the deficit might be making the headlines today. But if we get it right, our action to cut carbon emissions and move to a more sustainable, low-carbon economy could become one of the defining stories of the new politics of the Coalition. This Government will back strong rhetoric with decisive action”.(David Cameron)

Great quote. And good to see a contrast made between the kind of leadership required to deal with the deficit and the kind of leadership required to address climate change.
Six months on from the General Election in May, not a single citizen in the UK will have any residual doubt about the deficit priority. But apart from the usual suspects that make up the Green Movement today, that quality of leadership on the environment and climate change has been largely invisible to everyone else.

Sometime soon, the Prime Minister is therefore going to have to get his vision of “the greenest government ever” out and about. However beautifully crafted by his speech writers, one or two ‘keynote green speeches’ just won’t cut it. Warm words sort of help people feel better about things, but, in reality, they are next to useless when it comes to making things happen.

Happily, David Cameron has a perfect opportunity to hand to get this sorted before the first anniversary of the General Election next year – via the simple process of developing a brand new Sustainable Development Strategy for the UK.

The current (but time-expired) strategy played a hugely important role in getting Sustainable Development out of the clutches of DEFRA and properly embedded across the whole of government – and indeed across the whole of the UK. It helped make a lot of things happen, and the Sustainable Development Commission was able to use it to make considerable progress in a host of areas. It was widely admired by other countries struggling to make sense of their own sustainable development challenges.

So all the Prime Minister has to do is to take the same approach as he did with CO2 emissions through the organisation 10:10 – committing to a 10% reduction in emissions from the central government estate by May next year, and then instructing his Cabinet Ministers (and Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell) that there was to be no further discussion about this – something that Tony Blair (let alone Gordon Brown) never did in quite such robust terms.

So all he has to do is to instruct Caroline Spelman to get on and do what she already should have done in committing to a new Sustainable Development Strategy, given that the existing five year strategy came to an end in July. Instruct Chris Huhne, Vince Cable, Michael Gove, Philip Hammond and Andrew Lansley to help get it sorted out as expeditiously and as positively as possible. And instruct George Osborne not to let the Treasury bugger it up.

With that kind of prime ministerial push behind them, “delivering a new Sustainable Development Strategy” seems a suitably modest additional test for Spelman and Huhne. After all, these were the two that were stupid enough to make a knee-jerk decision to get rid of the Sustainable Development Commission, before they had any clue at all about what they were really doing, and have rather pathetically been trying to put things right since then. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the evidence that the Sustainable Development Commission has just presented to the Environmental Audit Committe’s Inquiry into what should happen to SD in Government, once the SDC disappears next April.

Far more eloquently and reasonably than I could possibly manage (still being more than a bit pissed off about what happened earlier in the year), it lays out exactly what it is that the SDC does, exactly how it gets it done, and exactly what the outcomes have been. No false claims, no whingeing – just a comprehensive, very professional account of what happens today and what the Government will now need to get done by other means.

So do have a look at it:

No world cup football here??

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Yet another reason not to build a new Bristol City football stadium in the green belt - looks like the chances of England hosting the 2018 World Cup have nosedived...

BBC Sport - Football - Fifa row has "harmed" England 2018 World Cup bid

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Ruscombe Green: University decision a disgrace

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Well said Green Cllr Phillip Booth, this is my view exactly. Private up, public down.

Ruscombe Green: University decision a disgrace

...University education it seems must now be viewed solely as a personal asset, and those lucky enough to get it should foot the bill. This is a radical departure from how we once conceived the public realm. When I was lucky enough to go to University higher education was seen as a social good, enriching our whole society rather than merely an individual's future salary. Universities passed onto the next generation knowledge and added to it. As one commentator said: "They were about learning rather than earning."

Higher education should be a shared public good not just a prize for individuals. Already we have seen under Labour more wealthy children going to the more prestigous universities - the Coalition will now be entrenching still further the inequalities.

Are you sure religious faith is a good idea?

Just a few topical examples to back my point:

Rev Wallace Benn: Campaign for women bishops 'just like Nazis in 1939' Mail Online

A Church of England bishop caused outrage last night by linking those who support the ordination of women bishops to the Nazis.

An Iranian woman who faced being stoned to death will hang today, a human rights group has claimed.
The International Committee Against Stoning said that the authorities had given the go-ahead for the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
Her fate has provoked international outcry after she was sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery...

Canny Cable's Capitalist Con

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Vince Cable was reported as attacking capitalism in his Lib Dem conference speech but in fact he played it pretty cannily - if you view politics on terms like his ie NOT 'what you see is what you get'. He was entertaining, used humour and exaggeration effectively and saw to it that his speech was widely circulated to the media beforehand. He used some colourful language, ‘spivs’, ‘gamblers’, ‘murky world’, ‘markets...rigged’ – which the media zoom in on – and drew just the (‘angry’) reaction he wanted from the business world. All of this created the general impression that Business Secretary Vince wanted and more than got him through what might have been a difficult Lib Dem conference. West Country Tory MP Jacob Rees Mogg described it -pretty accurately - as ‘throwing a few lentils’ to his party faithful. I’d describe it as leading everyone on a merry dance (see picture for evidence) - using spin in an attempt to put us in a spin, confusing and causing problems for us with deception/disguise and behaving in a way that hides realities.

Being keen to understand all variations of and views on capitalism – never more so than since capitalist economic systems around the world took many industrial economies to the very brink due to the banking crisis – I closely watched the Cable speech and have followed some of his pronouncements since. Vince Cable stressed the importance of finance, the deficit and its ‘correction’ through cuts and freezing public sector pay. He spoke of how economic growth is essential, how we must remove obstacles to growth and how it should be led private enterprise (he's since stressed the importance of growth eg here). He referred to his agenda as pro-market, pro-business – with competition central - and how high taxes on rich people and companies could send them abroad. The privatisation of Royal Mail was mentioned and he referred to graduates as having to make a bigger contribution to the cost of their higher education (what has since emerged is the creeping privatisation of higher education through the establishment of a free market in tuition fees). Vince has since stressed how he wants to speed up Royal Mail privatisation.

Does this sound like a firmly capitalist approach or an attack on capitalism to you?? Andrew Neil said in his analysis immediately after the speech that he thought it faced in two directions at once. Ex-Chancellor Alistair Darling described Cable’s speech as ‘political hokey cokey’ (great phrase!). In my view the speech liberally (and Liberal Democratically!) sprinkled firm capitalist policies and actions amongst crowd-pleasing rhetoric designed to create the impression of anti-capitalism! There is certainly debate about precisely what capitalism is but few, if any, would dispute that it involves private ownership, private profit, decisions made by a market and economic growth as the primary aim – all which are extended by Vince Cable’s policies and actions along with those of the Coalition Government he is fully signed up to. So, its Vince Capitalist then.
[I'll follow up on this post with a further analysis of capitalism later]

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

How experts found that the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco are seriously harmful

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BBC - Mark Easton's UK: Drugs debate hots up

...the ISCD [Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs] has returned to the fray with what is called multicriteria decision analysis.

This approach includes 16 criteria including a drug's affects on users' physical and mental health, social harms including crime, "family adversities" and environmental damage, economic costs and "international damage".

The scientists, based on their expert knowledge, score a substance on each category from zero to 100...

The problem remains, however, of how much weight to give each of these categories.

"The weighting process is necessarily based on judgement, so it is best done by a group of experts working to consensus," the report authors say.

"Extensive sensitivity analyses on the weights showed that this model is very stable; large changes, or combinations of modest changes, are needed to drive substantial shifts in the overall rankings of the drugs."
What emerges is a ranking of drugs at complete odds with the official Home Office classification system.

The fact that alcohol emerges as the most harmful drug leads the authors to conclude that "aggressively targeting alcohol harms is a valid and necessary public health strategy" but its place at the head of the table also suggests a legal status in stark contrast to the much less harmful effect of Class A drugs including ecstasy and LSD.

It is also notable that cocaine and tobacco emerge with very similar rankings in terms of harm...

We've been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

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We've been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian

It suits governments to let us trash the planet. It's not just that big business gains more than it loses from converting natural wealth into money. A continued expansion into the biosphere permits states to avoid addressing issues of distribution and social justice: the promise of perpetual growth dulls our anger about widening inequality. By trampling over nature we avoid treading on the toes of the powerful.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Green Party | Public sector cuts are economically illiterate

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I very strongly agree with Caroline's analysis - just as you cant sober yourself up by continuing to drink more whisky, you cant solve economic, social and environmental problems caused by business-as-usual growth with more...er...business-as-usual growth.

Green Party Public sector cuts are economically illiterate

In an article this week for Compass, Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion, labels the coalition government's public sector cuts as "socially divisive ... environmentally disastrous ... and economically illiterate."

She goes on to emphasise that our economic prosperity "may be built on rotten foundations ... the growth that has paid for our welfare state is built on the exploitation of natural resources, and on the exploitation of people here, and round the world."

"When we talk of a green recovery, we're not talking about a traditional economic recovery boosted by selling some home insulation or building some windmills.

"Millions of environmental campaigners seem to seriously believe that we can address climate change, slow the loss of threatened species and habitats, manage chronic water and resource shortages and put an end to over fishing and continuing soil erosion, whilst pursuing pretty much the same kind of economic growth that brought these natural systems to the edge of collapse in the first place.

"In other words, the trade off appears to be to ignore the inevitable long-term consequences of business-as-usual growth in order to help to protect short term organisational effectiveness. It may make sense from a tactical point of view, but strategically it's unsustainable."

For the full article, please click here:

Lancet: study on harm from drugs


Given the results of this study we should be taking significant action to tackle legal drugs eg alcohol and tobacco, as well as illegal drugs. Surely there is a strong case for increasing the price of both very significantly through higher taxation? The higher the price the more use is discouraged. We are after all cutting housing benefit, child benefit etc at the moment and the more tax we raise on undesirables like alcohol and tobacco the smaller any cuts would need to be.

BBC News - Alcohol 'more harmful than heroin' says Prof David Nutt

Alcohol is more harmful than heroin or crack, according to a study published in medical journal the Lancet.
The report is co-authored by Professor David Nutt, the former UK chief drugs adviser who was sacked by the government in October 2009.

It ranks 20 drugs on 16 measures of harm to users and to wider society.
Tobacco and cocaine are judged to be equally harmful, while ecstasy and LSD are among the least damaging...