Friday, April 29, 2011

Plot 6 promises were 'just spin' | News

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Hopes fade for a Temple Meads hub, as coalition 'fire sale' gets under way Bristol's greatest chance to transform the city's transport is being thrown away, says the city's Green Party.

A state of the art transport hub at Temple Meads looks set to fall victim to the coalition government's dogmatic sell-off of public assets, and the failure of successive city councils to take the project seriously...

Spokesman Peter Goodwin, of Stockwood, said:

"It looks like there was much more spin than substance in Cllr Hopkins claims about the chances of getting Plot 6. Neither he nor the Transport Minister can prevent the sale of the site. The truth is that little or nothing has been done by his officers to secure the site or even to work out what it might provide. It remains outside the official plans, even while extra money is being found to salvage cut-down projects like the bus rapid transits and the South Bristol Ring Road.

"If Bristol loses the Plot, the main parties on the council should be ashamed of themselves. For years, the council's had this gold-plated chance to turn the city's traffic problems around, making public transport attractive to far more people.

"They were told. They didn't listen. And now it's more than probable that they've blown the chance for good."

Plot 6 promises were 'just spin' News - further details and links here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'Safely' closing Oldbury nuclear power station costs £954m

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Nearly a billion quid to close the damn thing. Taking decades, during which it produces no power whatsoever. Leaving a legacy of nuclear waste for many, many future generations. It always has been a joke to refer to nuclear as cheap, clean and green - the figures speak for themselves. It would be irrational to build more.

THE cost of decommissioning Oldbury Nuclear Power Station has been set at £954 million, latest figures have shown.

A revised document just published by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) gives the estimated sum for taking the plant out of action and clearing the site once it stops generating electricity.

But it will take about 90 years to achieve the "final end" status.

Oldbury is the oldest operating nuclear power reactor in the world, having started producing power in 1967. It has already exceeded its expected generating life by a couple of years and one of its two reactors will close down for good this summer...

What would I be like as a councillor for Knowle?

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**A councillor for Knowle, brought up and living in Knowle, ready and available to respond to local issues

A councillor who will challenge corrupt politics as usual institutions, decision making processes and politicians

A councillor who will fight for: respect for our environment; stronger local communities; meeting needs now and in the future; local and global fairness; efficiency; renewability; health, wellbeing and quality of life

A councillor who is independent minded and doesn't have to vote the way party whips tell him

A councillor who's prepared to stand down if that's what the electorate wants

A councillor who can look beyond ward and city boundaries - thinking globally and acting locally

A councillor who'll champion vulnerable minorities and work for a fairer, more equal city

A councillor who'll help enable Bristol's transition into a low-carbon, low waste, sustainable city

A councillor who'll do all he can to protect our common assets.

**click image to enlarge and see details of all the candidates standing in Knowle in 2011.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Councillors Code of Conduct

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All councillors sign up to Bristol City Councils Code of Conduct for Members which includes the ten principles of public life below*. I have to say that the way conventional party politics works – with Whips enforcing a party line - it’s very hard to see how all councillors are consistently ‘making decisions on merit’ and reaching ‘their own conclusions on the issues before them and act in accordance with those conclusions’. This is something I will certainly examine and challenge if elected because its very important that councillors are objective and make good personal judgements (note that elected Green Party councillors won’t use a Whip system like other parties do). No point in signing up to a code you only follow part of!

*The Ten General Principles of Public Life

Selflessness – member should serve only the public interest and should
never improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person.

Honesty and integrity – members should not place themselves in situations where their honesty and integrity may be questions, should not behave improperly, and should on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour.

Objectivity – members should make decisions on merit, including when
making appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards or benefits.

Accountability – members should be accountable to the public for their
actions and the manner in which they carry out their responsibilities, and
should co-operate fully and honestly with any scrutiny appropriate to their particular office.

Openness – member should be as open as possible about their actions and those of their authority, and should be prepared to give reasons for thoseactions.

Personal judgement – member may take account of the views of others, including their political groups, but should reach their own conclusions on the issues before them and act in accordance with those conclusions.

Respect for others - members should promote equality by not discriminating against any person, and by treating people with respect, regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. They should respect the impartiality and integrity of the authority’s statutory officers and its other employees.

Duty to uphold the law – members should uphold the law and, on all
occasions, act in accordance with the trust that the public is entitled to place in them.

Stewardship - member should do whatever they are able to do to ensure that their authorities use their resources prudently, and in accordance with the law.

Leadership – members should promote and support these principles by
leadership and by example, and should act in a way that secures or preserves public confidence.

BBC News - Carbon emissions 'hidden' in imported goods revealed

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The extent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions "hidden" in imported goods is growing, according to two studies. Official statistics do not include emissions created by making imported goods but researchers say they should. It comes as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports 26% of global emissions come from producing goods for trade. The Carbon Trust found such "embedded" CO2 could negate domestic carbon cuts planned in the UK up to 2025...The Carbon Trust research, posted on its website as draft findings not for circulation, confirms that the UK has increased emissions since 1990 rather than decreasing them, as politicians typically claim.

What may alarm ministers even more is a projection that the radical CO2 cuts planned by government into the 2020s may be offset by ever-increasing levels of CO2 in imports.

BBC News - Carbon emissions 'hidden' in imported goods revealed

Monday, April 25, 2011

Royal Wedding Dictators invite list

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"St James's Palace claims the Queen invited eight royal dictators to the royal wedding with the agreement of the Foreign Office. This approval was presumably sanctioned by the Foreign Secretary, William Hague," said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation...

...As a result of protests by human rights campaigners, Bahrain's royal autocrat is no longer attending the wedding. But seven other dictator monarchs are still on the guest list," noted Mr Tatchell."It is deplorable that the Queen is still inviting royal dictators from Saudi Arabia, Swaziland, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei and Abu Dhabi. All seven royal families preside over severe human rights abuses, such as detention without trial, torture, the denial of free speech, restrictions on press freedom and the violent suppression of peaceful protests...

Another Green World: Royal Wedding Dictators invite list

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Greater Bristol Cycling City project

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Great letter in today's Post from Jeremy Gardner - over £20 million spent on cycling in the Bristol area and there are still many glaring issues with the existing cycle network.

I WISH to make a number of points about the Greater Bristol Cycling City project. I approach this issue as a cyclist and a pedestrian and I would like to see more done to improve safety for both...In short, the cycle and pedestrian network across Bristol and urban South Glos is still in need of investment but there is no need for grandiose projects like bridges and new routes just to show the councils can spend the cash. What we really need is for the network we already have to be sorted out and made it safer. The reason many people don't cycle is because of safety issues so that must be the first priority.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Greens keen to pick up protest vote

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The Greens Deputy Leader Adrian Ramsay and Norwich Greens have set an excellent example for local Greens Parties to emulate:

Adrian Ramsay, a lynchpin of Green support in the region is standing down as a councillor in Norwich. It ends eight years on the council he was elected to at the tender age of 21.

He has now risen to the dizzying heights of Deputy Leader of the Green Party.

"I need to concentrate on my national role but I will still be campaigning in Norwich," he says.

The Green Party is once again hoping that this will be the election when they make the big breakthrough.

"I don't think we've reached a glass ceiling. We're growing around the region and particularly in Norwich. I think there are seats we can gain there - seats we contested strongly last time."

They are already in opposition in the city with 14 councillors to Labour's 16 and the party is hopeful of taking votes from disaffected Lib Dems who are unhappy at the coalition.

Mr Ramsay argues: "We've picked up lots of support in the last 13 years from people who felt let down by the Labour Government when they wanted a new type of politics and didn't get it. Similarly a lot of them voted Lib Dem.

"A lot of them voted Lib Dem tactically at the general election and feel let down in all sorts of ways on lots of issues and we have already started to see lots more people joining the Green Party who used to be in the Lib Dems. And in the local elections in Norwich in September we made another gain from the Lib Dems.

"We've got 38 councillors across the East of England, that's more than any other region in the country. It really is the Green Party that's strong in terms of organisation and picking up support from people who feel let down by the other parties."

Now firmly established in Norwich, the Greens are hoping for further success.

With the Lib Dems in Government they are competing to take over as the party of the protest vote.

BBC - Politics Points East: Greens keen to pick up protest vote

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

38 Degrees | Don't Scrap Environment Laws

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The government is planning to scrap green laws which protect our planet and help prevent climate change. Politicians claim that these important laws that reduce emissions, protect wildlife and the countryside are ‘red tape’ that we're better off without.We need to act fast to tell them that we want to keep these green laws. In many cases, public pressure led to the laws being made in the first place. Now, we need to work together to show that there’ll be a huge, people-powered outcry if they scrap these precious laws which protect our environment. Sign the petition to tell David Cameron and the government that we don't think these laws are 'red tape' and we want them protected.Click here for more information about the laws that are under threat, including links to detailed media coverage of this issue.

38 Degrees Don't Scrap Environment Laws

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lib Dem 'green' claims

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Wailur Rahman and Zahir Malik claim that the Lib Dems have been ‘campaigning on the environment long before the Green Party was created’ and have a ‘strong track record of delivering on the green agenda in Bristol’ (‘Credibility challenged’ letter, Post 19 April). If this is the case and it’s been effective then Bristol would be greener and more sustainable but total carbon emissions per person has risen to 12 tonnes compared to a sustainable level of 1 or 2 tonnes and this is in part caused by the atrocious traffic levels, poor public transport and huge waste of energy from Bristol’s homes and other buildings. Our carbon footprint would be made worse by Lib Dem plans to flog acres of Bristol’s green spaces against the wishes of local people!

They say the ‘idea of a transport hub at Temple Meads is not a new idea; it was even looked at when Avon County Council was in existence’. If the idea has indeed long been around and has been actively and effectively worked on we’d have a transport hub at Temple Meads – but we haven’t. If, as the Lib Dems claim, their commitment to tackling climate change is strong why haven’t they used the power and influence the have had over the years to bring about this and other changes?

The only logical conclusion is either that the Lib Dems have not been committed, not been campaigning, not been delivering or that the work they do is seriously ineffective – or both! The same applies to Labour and Tory claims. Thus, the Greens are challenging them and Lib Dem local election candidates in particular find their position is seriously under threat.

Green Councillors achievements: Kirklees excellent energy efficiency example

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Energy efficiency reduces fuel poverty, tackles climate change, creates employment, generates money for the local economy, produces warm homes with lower, affordable fuel bills, less misery, ill-health and social exclusion - and lowers winter deaths due to the cold.

Green Councillors are leading the way in developing energy efficiency. In Kirklees, Green Councillors delivered a project to provide free loft and cavity insulation to every house that could benefit.
They are providing loans for more expensive insulation measures, loans which only have to be paid back when the property is sold again. Council officers in Kirklees calculate for every £1 that their council spent on a similar insulation scheme, a further £4 was generated in the local economy.

Green Party Tackling fuel poverty, addressing climate change and creating jobs

Green Party | Caroline Lucas urges voters to go Green on May 5th

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I like the examples of what Green local councillors have achieved here*. In Bristol the Green Party presence on the council has: initiated the climate change select committee, vice chaired by Cllr Charlie Bolton which resulted in over 40 policies being adopted by the council; initiated the sustainable transport select committee, chaired by Cllr Charlie Bolton, which also had many policies adopted; produced the motion which led to the saving of the Bristol-Bath railway path; tried to get Bristol councillors to be eligible for ‘recall’, giving people a way to get rid of them; produced a policy motion to the council aimed at saving residential caretakers; gained extra money for energy efficiency measures; proposed a motion to decentralise the distribution of Section 106 money, now taken up by the council.

*Greens in local government have produced alternative budgets showing that savings can be made without cutting vital public services.

In Brighton, for example, Greens helped persuade the ruling Tory administration to drop plans to rip out a cycle path at a cost of over £1million.

In Oxford, Leader of the Green Group, Cllr David Williams put forward a costed budget which would have reversed some of Labour's spending cuts. Greens wanted to cut the number of senior council officers and take back their recent 23% pay increase.

Lancaster Green Party's local manifesto puts forward its vision for a fairer, greener society and explains in detail what Lancaster Green Councillors have done for their city. Local Cllr Andrew Kay says, "We will not stand by and watch the rich get richer, while ordinary people lose their jobs and the services they depend upon."

In Norwich, where the Green Party is the second largest group on the Council, Greens have invested in renewable energy, spoken out against the crippling cuts and lobbied Government to deal with the financial difficulties in a fairer way.

Green Party Caroline Lucas urges voters to go Green on May 5th

Public now to be consulted on council handling of town green applications

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Pressure from a range of green campaigners has helped bring about public consultation on how the council handles town green applications. An excellent contribution to local democracy by those campaigners.

PLANS to take some town green applications out of the hands of independent inspectors have been put on hold.
The city council's public rights of way and greens committee yesterday agreed to ask the public before deciding on a rule change that could have seen some of the bids to protect open spaces from development decided entirely by a council sub-committee...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

COUNCILLORS may ditch the services of an independent inspector when deciding on town green applications.

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In place of using independent legally-trained inspectors to advise on whether a town/village green application, which many Bristolians are using to try to protect their local green space, should be refused or accepted (often involving an oral hearing into contentious evidence), Bristol City Council, who controversially want to flog quite a bit of Bristol's green space, are proposing instead that the decision is based entirely on officer advice, or, in contentious cases, a hearing to be heard by a four person sub-committee of the Public Rights of Way and Green Committee. Fix of fair? I say its a fix - and it cant be fair that the council are both police officer, judge and jury!! Officers and Councillors are not independent - its impossible to separate them from the policies of the council. Decent coverage of this matter by the Evening Post.

...the Green Party believes the council wants to make the changes to "wriggle out" of creating more town greens.

In a statement, the Greens say:

"This proposal to change the procedure may seem obscure but has important implications for protecting Bristol's open spaces.

"We believe the council has about 17 new application for town green status waiting on its books for determination, and if it is intended to use the new procedure, then it is clear from the outset that this is all about saving money and not improving its fairness.

"This proposal is a false economy since the money saved by not employing an independent inspector is likely to be used up very quickly if any applicant makes a challenge to the decision in the High Court."

The Greens believe the new procedure will be open to challenge because:

■ There will be bias because the council itself owns much of the land under application so it is an interested party in the decision;

■ Councillors with their party political pressures will now be making the decision rather than an independent person;

■ The council legal advisers and officers advising on the decisions are directly employed by the council and so will be less likely to decide against its wishes.

Charlie Bolton, Green candidate for Southville, said:

"It's very important for the council's procedures to be fair and any changes must have full consultation."

Gus Hoyt, standing for the Greens in Ashley, said:

"We want decisions on town greens to be taken by legally experienced people and not along party political lines behind closed doors."

The report before councillors says: "In its capacity of registration authority, the city council has to consider objectively and impartially all applications for registration of new greens on their merits, taking account of any objections and of any other relevant considerations.

"Registration as a town or village green is dependent purely upon past use, and not upon future plans."

Friday, April 15, 2011

BBC News - Greens launch English poll push with anti-cuts message

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The Green Party has launched its campaign for next month's English local elections, promising to be the "true opposition" to the coalition. [see party broadcast here]

Leader Caroline Lucas said the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour had all broken promises and urged the creation of a more honest politics. She called for more local action to improve the environment and a halt to the government's spending cuts.

The party is running 1,605 candidates for council elections on 5 May. At the party's official campaign launch in central London, Ms Lucas said: "We have a government that is handing financial settlements to local councils which mean they are going to make horrendous decisions and big cuts.

"It's crucial that there are Green councillors to protect people from the most harsh of those cuts."'

Extreme austerity

She added: "Our whole analysis of the cuts project is that it's the wrong approach. Yes, we need to address the deficit but a better way is to get people back into work to ensure there are more taxes coming in.

"Otherwise there is a greater risk of a double-dip recession. We can already see what extreme austerity is doing in countries like Portugal and Ireland."

Ms Lucas said the Greens expected to gain councillors in the party's power bases, which include Brighton and Norwich, and elsewhere across England.

She called on councils to protect the "most vulnerable" in society from the impact of budget cuts and also for local authorities to do more to promote the use of renewable energy sources.

The Greens' election broadcast will air on 27 April. It features Ms Lucas "ambushing" an audience at a west London comedy club to tell them about her party's policies and call for a less "cynical" form of politics.

She told the BBC:

"It is trying to make the point, in what is usually a comical setting, that the issues we are dealing with are very serious.

"We are the true opposition party and we have the people and experience to do that job across England."

The Greens have two Members of the European Parliament and Ms Lucas became the party's first Westminster MP at last year's general election.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Anger at plans to change town green applications,Bristol24-7

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This is called fixing the system to get the outcome you want, instead of a thorough, rational, evidence-based approach!! ...Instead of using independent legally-trained inspectors to advise on whether a TVG [town/village green] application should be refused or accepted (often involving an oral hearing into contentious evidence), they are proposing instead that the decision is based entirely on officer advice, or, in contentious cases, a hearing to be heard by a four person sub-committee of the PRWG [Public Rights of Way and Green Committee].... Following the row over the sell-off of the city green spaces, the possibility looms of councillors bound by party loyalty to agree to the plan to sell these green spaces being in charge of deciding whether local objections to those plans are allowed.... Anger at plans to change town green applications Bristol24-7

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Action for Happiness

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This great campaign received some good media coverage today: Action for Happiness is a movement of people committed to building a happier society. We want to see a fundamentally different way of life where people care less about what they can get for themselves and more about the happiness of others. We are bringing together like-minded people from all walks of life, drawing on the latest scientific research and backed by leading experts from the fields of psychology, education, economics, social innovation and beyond.

Members of the movement make a simple pledge: to try to create more happiness in the world around them through the way they approach their lives. We provide practical ideas to enable people to take action in different areas of their lives - at home, at work or in the community. We hope many of our members will form local groups to take action together.

We have no religious, political or commercial affiliations and welcome people of all faiths (or none) and all parts of society. We were founded in 2010 by three influential figures who are passionate about creating a happier society: Richard Layard, Geoff Mulgan and Anthony Seldon.

Action for Happiness is currently part of The Young Foundation, which is a Registered Charity (274345) and Company Limited by Guarantee (1319183) in England and Wales. Action for Happiness

Nick Clegg no local hero as Lib Dems leave him off election leaflets | Politics | The Guardian

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Nick Clegg wasn't on the Focus on Knowle Election Special leaflet pushed through our letterbox recently either - no images, no quotes, not even brief ones. First time Lib Dems have been in national government for yonks and they don't want to remind us of the achievements so far - wonder why!! Maybe he'll feature on future Lib Dem material we receive before the 5 May polling day?? Or maybe they'll at least list what they've done for local authorities so far in the coalition government?

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Lib Dems doing a great job of running the city?? With £28 million cuts??

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"We all have concerns about what is happening nationally, and about how the party is performing, but locally I kow that the Lib Dems are doing a great job of running the city" says Chris Davies, Lib Dem candidate for Knowle (Focus on Knowle Election Special newsletter, April 2011 - see image). Great job of running the city?? £28 million of cuts this year and more cuts to follow - going along with his Lib Dem friends in coalition with the Tories at national level! This man faces in two directions at once expressing concern but implementing cuts.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Peoples message: energy saving and renewable energy not nuclear power

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Message I've just received from Friends of the Earth: 21,000 of you have now signed our petition for a safe and nuclear-free future . This fantastic support for clean, green power is backed up by a recent poll. 75 per cent of people want energy saving and renewables (like wind and solar) to be Government's top energy priorities. The petition has already travelled far and wide. But with big decisions about energy coming next month we want to organise an attention-grabbing hand-in to the Government. Please send us your ideas - as big and bold as you like. The message is clear : Energy saving and renewable resources can provide all the energy the UK needs. There's no need to gamble on nuclear. So put on your thinking caps! What's the best way to get our message across to Government?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Rupert's Read: Greens overtaking LibDems...

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Caroline Lucas, on the WESTMINSTER HOUR this weekend: "I’ve taken great comfort from looking at the opinion polls coming out of Scotland at the moment, which show the Greens overtaking the Lib Dems; that is exactly the direction I think we’re likely to be going in. We’ve got the Scottish Parliament elections coming up, as I say, on two polls now Greens have been ahead of the Lib Dems, and it’s very much our strategy to replace the Lib Dems as the third party in British politics." Way to go! Rupert's Read: Greens overtaking LibDems...

Government promotion of arms trading

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There is a very strong case for closing the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO). The UK's active promotion of arms trading through the UKTI DSO should end because arms trading has a devastating impact on millions of people including many living under repressive and violent regimes (see BBC report below*). Such regimes can never be relied on and selling arms to them threatens the security of both the people in those countries and UK interests.

Arms export deals: MPs criticise UK's stance - Ministers past and present have been criticised over the UK's export of weapons to regimes in Africa and the Middle East.

The cross-party Committees on Arms Exports Controls accused ministers of "misjudging" the risk that the weapons might be used for internal repression. Countries recently sold UK arms include Libya, Egypt and Bahrain.

But the government, which has revoked arms licences to several countries, said its safeguards were "robust".

As recently as last year, the UK approved arms exports to regimes that have used force to confront popular uprisings.

Ammunition and tear gas were sold to Libya, with sniper rifles, sub-machine guns and CS grenades exported to Bahrain. Parts for armoured vehicles and weapons also went to Egypt.

The cross-party group of MPs noted that since January the government had "been vigorously backpedalling", revoking a total of 160 arms export licences. In February, dozens of licences for the export of arms to Bahrain were revoked after a Foreign Office review amid fears over the suppression of protests there....

(click the link* for more details)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Royal Wedding - Do you give a damn?

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Royal Wedding - Do you give a damn? - I share Peter Tatchell's view (below), * "An ICM poll poll published in March, found that 79% of the British people are largely indifferent or don't care about the Royal Wedding. One-third of councils have no applications for Royal Wedding street parties and two-thirds have five or fewer applications. There is no great public enthusiasm for William's and Kate's nuptials. Monarchy is losing its lustre. It's becoming just another strand of celebrity culture and soap opera," said human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell. * "We should start thinking about the post-Elizabeth II era. It's time there was a serious public debate about the alternative to the monarchy - an elected head of state, chosen by the people and accountable to the people. * "This is an issue of democracy and human rights. The monarch is our head of state. The monarchical system is anti-Catholic, sexist and, by default, racist. Catholics are barred. For the foreseeable future, no black or Asian person can be our head of state. First-born girls are passed over in favour of younger male children. These discriminations are out of step with the values of modern, liberal Britain. * "I would prefer a democratically-elected, low-cost and purely ceremonial president, with no political powers and with any citizen being eligible to stand for the post, regardless of their race, gender, class, faith or sexuality. * "Our head of state ought to be chosen based on merit and public endorsement, not on the grounds of privileged parentage and inheritance. They should be subject to periodic election, so they can be replaced if they fail to fulfill their duties as expected. * "Monarchy is incompatible with democracy. It's a relic of feudalism and of a bygone aristocratic, imperial era. The time has come to consign royalism to history," said Mr Tatchell.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Spot the odd one out

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"We come in the traditions that have marched in peaceful but powerful protest for justice, fairness and political change.
"The suffragettes who fought for votes for women and won. The civil rights movement in America that fought against racism and won. The anti-apartheid movement that fought the horror of that system and won."

And the radical message was...

“There is a need for difficult choices, and some cuts. But, this government is going too far and too fast...”

...not radical at all! In fact the same as the Coalition Government but a little less and a little slower