Monday, March 28, 2011

Great German Green victories

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The Green party has taken power from Angela Merkel's conservatives in one of Germany's richest states, preliminary results from the Baden-W├╝rttemberg elections show... Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, suffered a humiliating defeat in a vital election last night in a state that had been in her party's hands since 1953 after a wave of anger over her government's nuclear policy. The anti-nuclear Green party scored a remarkable victory over Mrs Merkel's conservative party in a state election that turned into a referendum on nuclear power in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Budget for growth - for whom? how? at what costs?

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I'm watching as Chancellor George Osborne is 'setting out plans to kick start Britain's stalled economy in what he says is a "Budget for growth".' Er...growth for whom, how and at what costs? Will growth enable: current and future needs to be met; a fairer more equal society and world; a less wasteful society; a more renewable society; less polluted environments; improving health and general wellbeing? Will it make local communities stronger and more self-reliant? If George's growth does enable these things then we will genuinely have made real progress - but I'm afraid they dont even enter his head and he's not even assessing and measuring them properly. Such is his fixation with GDP growth that his only interest is more money flow through the economy.

Senator Robert F Kennedy's words on growth as measured by GNP:
"The Gross National Product includes air pollution and advertising for cigarettes and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. GNP includes the destruction of the redwoods and the death of Lake Superior. It grows with the production of napalm, missiles and nuclear warheads.

And if GNP includes all this, there is much that it does not comprehend. It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry, the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. GNP measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country…"

Part of the solution to our problems is to assess and measure the right factors in our society and economy, as long as we dont at the same time get obsessed with and tied in to a rigid, narrow approach to measurement. Progress should be assessed in terms of: efficiency; renewability; respecting environmental limits; stronger local communities; meeting needs now and in the future; local and global fairness; health, wellbeing and quality of life; and the interconnection between these. An evidence-based, reasoned, systems-thinking approach needs to be taken.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Three tests for the Budget

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Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP today set out the three major tests which George Osborne should address in his budget on Wednesday:
- It should be a budget fostering the development of a sustainable economy, not a budget relying on unsustainable growth
- It should crack-down on tax evasion and avoidance and ensure that banks and corporations pay their full share
- It should use this extra taxation to support, rather than cut, public services...

Green Party Three tests for the Budget

Monday, March 21, 2011

Military action in Libya

This * seemed like a sensible initial position on the Libya no-fly zone for the Greens. Given what Caroline Lucas said on last weeks Question Time, clearly siding with former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie on the panel in opposing military action, things have changed. On this issue I find myself in opposition to the Greens leader, for once, if not my party. MacKenzie basically said '‎'Not worth it...Nothing to do with us...' which is surely not something Greens want to be associated with - I certainly dont.

*On the subject of a no-fly zone, a Green Party spokesperson said:

"We are not ruling out support for a no-fly zone, but it would need to be very carefully handled and would need the support of countries in the region. It would have to be something that the civilian population wanted, and only be enforced to protect the civilian population.

"Past no-fly zones have not always achieved the desired outcome and have not always protected the civilian population.

"Most importantly, the UN Security Council must refer the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court. Colonel al-Gaddafi must understand that all those responsible for carrying out attacks on civilians will be held to account."

Mabinogogiblog: What can we do to bring the Libyan conflict to a speedy end?

Mabinogogiblog: What can we do to bring the Libyan conflict to a speedy end?

Jenny Jones for London mayor 2012

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Elected to and serving on the London Assembly in 2000, Jenny is a very strong Green candidate with a lot of experience. This experience includes: Deputy Mayor; Leader of the London Assembly Green Group ; Deputy Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee; Member of the Confirmation Hearings Committee; Member of the Transport Committee; Member of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA); and more...

Jenny Jones has been selected as the Green Party's London mayoral candidate.

Ms Jones will go up against Labour's Ken Livingstone and Conservative incumbent Boris Johnson at the 2012 election after winning 67% of the vote.

After the result was announced Ms Jones said: "London needs a mayor who will create a fairer city and reduce the gap between rich and the poor."...

...Jenny Jones fought off competition from Shahrar Ali and Farid Bakht to win what she described as a genuine contest.

She said: "These are hard times for people who care about quality services, local businesses, and protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities."

And she pledged to make fighting cuts to housing benefit, the NHS and youth services a key part of her mayoral campaign.

"Unlike elections for parliament or local councils, the elections for the London Assembly are held under proportional representation. That means every vote counts.

"I'll be urging Londoners to use their vote to elect more Green Assembly Members next year," she said.

Ms Jones was first elected to the London Assembly in May 2000 and has served as Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Assembly's Planning and Housing Committee

BBC News - Jenny Jones to run for London mayor in 2012 election

Also see:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lucas: lessons on nuclear power from the Japan disaster

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The lesson from the Japanese disaster is that you can never design out every possible human error, or natural accident, or unpredictable event. The problem with nuclear power is that it’s just so inherently risky. If a catastrophe does happen, then the impacts when we’re dealing with nuclear power are uniquely catastrophic, if you like, in a way that they’re not if we were dealing with the alternatives around renewable energy and energy efficiency, and so on. Of course, all of our thoughts are with the people of Japan, and particularly with those incredibly brave people who are at the plants now trying to bring them under control, but I just think that when we’ve got alternatives that are safer and cheaper, it does raise the question as to why we would run the risk with nuclear.

-“Wave and wind energy can’t be cheaper than nuclear, can it?”

Yes it can, and it is. If you look at the documents, that’s quite clear. Sometimes it doesn’t look that way of course, because nuclear’s very clever about not putting on its books the cost of decommissioning nuclear power at the end of its life. But if you add in those nuclear decommissioning costs, then nuclear is a lot more expensive. If we’re looking in Britain at the best way of being able to meet our carbon objectives, in terms of getting our emissions down to deal with climate change and keep the lights on, then it’s far cheaper, and government’s own statistics show this, to be investing in renewable energies and energy efficiency rather than nuclear. Of course the nuclear industry right now is engaged in a massive fight-back, trying to present itself as this nice clean energy of the future. I think the situation with Fukushima just shows us that that’s not the case, and it’s never been the case.

You can’t design out unforeseen circumstances. When they built those nuclear power stations 40 years ago, they never expected an earthquake of that size. Here in Britain, just back in the 1950’s, we had storm surges which were extraordinary and killed 300 people in East Anglia – you cannot predict what’s going to come in the future, and if there are alternatives, we should be using them. If it were genuinely the case that we had to make the choice between climate change and nuclear power, then of course the situation would be different, we’d have to look at it again. That’s not the choice we’re being faced with right now. You can never “design out,” whether it’s a terrorist attack, whether it’s human error, and when you’re dealing with something that’s as inherently risky as nuclear, it doesn’t make sense to take that risk.

Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party leader, on BBC Radio Sussex – 16 Mar 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Money spent up, recycling down: another Lib Dem failure

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So much for the Lib Dem 'plan' to increase Bristol's recycling rate to 50%. They banged on about this so much (see policy six in their 'six to fix') but have not delivered - and it looks like there are lessons to learn for all who want higher recycling rates about how to get larger numbers of the public onside.

BRISTOL City Council spent £45,000 hiring "waste doctors" to encourage more people to recycle but they appear to have had the opposite effect.

The "Recycling For All" pilot scheme was launched last September with two officers monitoring the rubbish produced by 3,275 homes in the city.

But rather than improve recycling rates the statistics show fewer people recycled their food, bottles and papers after the pilot than before.

Recycling For All was one of four projects the waste doctors were involved in.

If they found people were not recycling, the officers would send letters advising them how they could.

They also had the power to issue a £75 fixed penalty fine or begin court proceedings that could result in fines of up to £1,000 if people continued to refuse to recycle.

The idea was to drive Bristol's already impressive recycling rate of 39 per cent up – one of the highest in the country – even further.

The council had hoped a successful pilot could be expanded across the city, pushing the recycling rate up to 50 per cent.

But far from improving performance, results from the pilot show recycling rates dropped by an average of 10 per cent – and in some parts of the city by as much as 30 per cent...

Green spaces sell-off? Bristol City Council has no Plan B

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What sort of environmental decision making is it that does not properly consider - and in fact reconsider - all the options available, planning for a range of situations? Very poor quality, irrational, unsystematic and unsystemic - in short rubbish! Even on its own money raising terms the green spaces flog off favoured by Lib Dem, Labour and Tory Councillors alike is failing as income expected is now only a quarter of that originally envisaged. Cllr Gary Hopkins high handed, dismissive tone is again clear in the Post report on this though. Pity this man is not at the end of his 4 yr term yet - resign and put yourself up for re-election this May Gary and see how you get on!

BRISTOL City Council has never looked at ways of paying for the £87 million parks improvement plan that didn't involve selling off green spaces, it has been revealed.

The authority has always maintained that disposing of up to 64 sites across the city was the only way that enough money could be raised to pay for improvements in up to 200 others.

But it turns out that in the last five years of the Parks Green Spaces Strategy (PGSS), the council has never costed or even considered a plan that doesn't involve land sales.

The original funding for the improvement plan was £41 million from land sales; £21 million of grant funding; £15 million of money from developers and £10 million from the council parks budget. Since these 2006 estimates, the council has dropped the amount it expects to raise from selling land from £41 million to £11 million...

Bristol Green spaces Bristol City Council Liberal Democrats

Monday, March 14, 2011

38 Degrees | Save the NHS: Petition

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Please sign and pass details on!!

The Petition Text: To the Coalition government,
Our NHS is precious - we won't forgive you if you ruin it
Don’t break up our health service and hand it to private healthcare companies
Listen to the the real experts - doctors, nurses and patients - when they give warnings about these plans
Don't rush through massive changes without testing them properly first
Protect patient care - don't cut beds, wards, doctors or nurses

38 Degrees Save the NHS: Petition

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nuclear emergencies in Japan

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Japan has 53 nuclear power stations, making it third largest nuclear power user in the world. As a result of the earthquake and tsunami there are emergencies at 5 of them, 10% or so of the total in the country. Its incredible that nuclear stations have been built - and on a large scale - in a place where many earthquakes, large and small, often occur. Its incredible that these nuclear stations - with their systems (protected by systems) which protect systems... - have failed unsafely on this large scale. We have been told that nuclear stations are designed to do the opposite, hardly failing at all and when they fail they fail safely. Its incredible that a country leaves itself so heavily dependent on this energy source - or any single energy source. Or, given the extremely dodgy history of the nuclear industry, and given the goals that motivate industrial societies, is it so beyond belief??

Mabinogogiblog: Greens debate the Libya NFZ

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I'm with Dr Lawson and his sound reasoning on this one.

Mabinogogiblog: Greens debate the Libya NFZ

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Carbon Plan ‘offers little that is new’, says Caroline Lucas - Climate Action Programme

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The UK’s Carbon Plan is a ‘shallow compilation’ of the government’s policies and’ offers little that is new’, says Green Party Leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas.

The Carbon Plan launched today (8 March) by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne, is a government-wide plan on climate change, which sets out actions and deadlines for the next five years, to help the government live up to the claim as ‘the greenest government ever’...

...However, Caroline Lucas said: “The move to elevate green priorities to the top of the Whitehall agenda may be encouraging, but I would like to have seen a stronger push, with more in the way of new and concrete proposals that are genuinely compatible with meeting the targets and facilitating the much-needed transition towards decarbonisation.”...

Carbon Plan ‘offers little that is new’, says Caroline Lucas - Climate Action Programme

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Free writing workshops — Trading Local 2011

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on Saturday 8 October 2011

We want experienced and first time writers to create new 5 minute monologues to be performed by professional actors in Knowle shops. This is a great opportunity to turn a story into a drama!

Pieces will be developed in workshops led by Sheila Hannon, SOS’s Creative Producer. Up to 18 will be selected for professional production.

Workshops are free so just turn up!

» Download the schedule

For more information email us at:

Show of Strength Theatre Company

Friday, March 04, 2011

Claim that a Yes vote in the AV referendum will waste £250m is incorrect

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Excellent letter from Chris Millman in yesterdays Post about the AV referendum. The man deserves to be elected! Here's what he said...

J ACK Lopresti's claim that a Yes vote in the Alternative Vote referendum will waste £250m does not bear scrutiny.

Of this figure, £90m is for the cost of the referendum, which was sanctioned by his government, and will be spent regardless of the result.

He goes on to claim that much of the rest will be required for the purchase of vote counting machines.
How so?

They use AV in Austrailian elections where turn out is 100% (voting is compulsory over there) yet find that they are able to count the votes manually. Why should it be different here?

The No Campaign estimates these machines will cost £125m when the actual cost will be nil. The remainder of the £250m figure that they have plucked out of the sky is to cover the cost of educating the public in how to use the Alternative Vote.

Why should this be necessary? It is a perfectly simple matter to list the candidates 1,2,3, in order of preference and if you do not feel inclined to do so, a simple X will suffice to indicate that this is the only candidate acceptable to you. No doubt the Government will spend some money encouraging people to vote, as they always do, but a voter turning up at polling station without any knowledge of AV whatsoever would still be able to cast their vote in the old fashioned way.

Mr Lopresti's other claim, that AV allows supporters of fringe parties to have more than one vote, is equally ridiculous.

The system of listing candidates in preferential order allows an 'instant run off'' to take place, so that, effectively, there can be further rounds of voting without the voter having to return to the polling station. Yes, the votes of eliminated candidates are redistributed according to the voters preference, but the votes of those whose choices have not been eliminated will also count in each 'round.'

Mr. Lopresti's contention that AV will benefit the Lib Dems is less easy to debunk, because nobody knows how people will behave when free of the temptation to vote tactically.

I think it is more likely that UKIP will be the party to profit, as there are a great many Euro-sceptics who are unhappy with the Conservative party, but keep voting for them for fear of letting Labour in. I suspect that this is the real reason that Mr Lopresti is so frightened of AV.

Chris Millman, Coombe Dingle

TALKS to end the dispute over the stadium site at Ashton Vale being turned into a town green have broken down.

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Not a very enticing offer if this is all that it amounts to, so no surprise talks have broken down, for the moment at least.

He said: "We felt we had tabled a very good offer but for obvious reasons, I cannot discuss the details.

"As far as we are concerned, the meditation process is still on-going and we want to continue with the talks."

The Evening Post understands that part of the offer was to allow the open land to the south of the stadium site and the wetlands to be registered as a town green.

This would still allow the 19 acres that would be needed to build the new stadium on the landfill site to be developed.

TALKS to end the dispute over the stadium site at Ashton Vale being turned into a town green have broken down.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Bristol City FC joy hit by Village Green mediation failure | Bristol24-7

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...In a letter seen by Bristol24-7 this morning, mediation between local community groups who want the space protected, and the club, has failed. The legal advice now being given to Bristol City Council is to approve the Village Green application.
This would permanently end the club’s plans of building a new 30,000 seat stadium near their traditional home – a bitter blow following the celebrations that took place in the chamber of the city council last night...

Bristol City FC joy hit by Village Green mediation failure Bristol24-7

BBC News - 'People's watchdog' touted to keep UK green

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BBC News - 'People's watchdog' touted to keep UK green

SAINSBURY'S won permission last night to go ahead and build a superstore at Ashton Gate.

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Just what we need to build a sustainable society - yet another bloody supermarket, a giant one smack in a place where local high streets would suffer too! It still may not happen though. Its simply not the case that this represents 'a giant step forward for a new...stadium'. Its not planning applications but is the town green process that has to come to a resolution either by negotiation/mediation or the legal process if necessary. If a town green goes ahead then this green belt site for the new stadium is ruled out - and would Bristol City want to sell Ashton Gate, at least on the currently thought of timescales, then??

6-1 victory: Fans greet the council decision with a standing ovation and cheers after councillors voted by six votes to one in favour of the plan. Sainsbury's won permission last night to go ahead and build a superstore at Ashton Gate.

The decision means a giant step forward for a new 30,000-seat stadium on a former landfill site at Ashton Vale.

Councillors on the planning committee which approved the supermarket plan last night voted 6-1 in favour, with two abstentions.

SAINSBURY'S won permission last night to go ahead and build a superstore at Ashton Gate.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Ruscombe Green: Call for windfall tax on banks

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...At the Green party conference Caroline Lucas criticised the huge profits announced by UK banks - a stonking £25 billion. A windfall tax would restore public spending and help minimise the damage done by the cuts regime to public services, the economy and society as a whole. At a time of austerity, it is just not right that banks such as Lloyds TSB, part owned by the tax payer, are recording such huge profits. At the conference it was noted that there would be wide public support for a measure requiring the banks to pay a windfall tax on bank profits of 50%

Ruscombe Green: Call for windfall tax on banks