Sunday, 22 December 2013

My thoughts on 2013/see you in 2014

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the turbulent year that was 2013 is almost at an end.

It has sadly been a year mostly of instability and despair-but also a year of moving on.

It has seen the deaths of three great heroes of our time-Hugo Chavez, Seamus Heaney and Nelson Mandela-and also the death of Britain's greatest modern villain,Margaret Thatcher.

It has seen Euroscepticism rise significantly,particularly in Britain.

It has shown us that five years on from the financial crisis, the threats get worse and worse-but this year has shown the potential definitely exists for us to fight against them.

It has seen so much, to summarise. My next update will be in the new year of 2014.

Best wishes,

Alan.

 

 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

My Winter Solstice/Christmas Message

Well, it is now the Winter Solstice, aka the shortest day of the calendar year, and thus almost the end of the year. This year, I must say, has been rather turbulent.

I thus wish to send this Christmas message to my blog's readers:

When enjoying the festive season, please also respect the environment and our well-being whilst you do so. 

For a few examples, remember to buy gifts and cards that will last rather than items that will generally end up getting junked. And if you wish to buy chocolate for a gift, perhaps to someone you love, please make sure it is fairtrade and thus please do not be tempted to buy those Quality Street, Roses etc. gift boxes. And also, if you need to wrap gifts, please do so responsibly and find wrapping paper you can recycle.

On another note, seasons' greetings to you all :)

Best wishes, Alan.


 









 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Local by-election results (19/12/13)

Readers, the results from yesterday's local by-elections featuring Green candidates are as follows, in case you missed them:

Bolton, Harper Green: Lab 744 (51.3%), Con 325 (22.4%), UKIP 252 (17.4%), Green 60 (4.1%), Lib Dem 53 (3.7%).

West Sussex (county), Haywards Heath East: Con 649 (35.5%), UKIP 576 (31.5%), Lab 346 (19%), Lib Dem 201 (11%), Green 55 (3%)

Mid Sussex (district),  Haywards Heath Frankland: Con 414 (45.6%), UKIP 269 (29.6%), Lab 103 (11.3%), Lib Dem 91 (10%), Green 31 (3.4%).

Highland Council, Black Isle (1st preference votes): Ind Barclay 1342 (32.8%), Ind Fraser 633 (15.5%), SNP 594 (14.5%), Lib Dem 489 (12%), Green 362 (8.8%), Ind Phillips 304 (7.4%), Lab 194 (4.7%), Con 175 (4.3%). Mrs. Barclay (the widow of Cllr. Bill Barclay, whose death caused this by-election), was elected.

I am at least glad we Greens increased our vote share in Black Isle, the most interesting of these contests-the Highlands are not exactly renowned for Green strength but conversely have generally had a particularly strong Liberal Democrat presence, at least at Westminster level.

These are of course the last local by-elections that will happen this year, and surprisingly, turnout was not as bad as similar local by-elections two weeks ago, given that many people want a break from political news at this festive time of year. 


Alan.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Russia has shown some decency to protestors for once-but it needs to relax in general

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say how thankful I am that the three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot-wrongly jailed on charges of 'hooliganism' not so long ago when they were just protesting against Vladimir Putin's authoritarian regime-and also the 'Greenpeace 30' (30 Greenpeace activists detained for blocking a Gazprom ship searching for oil in the Arctic Ocean, which for everyone's sake needs to be protected from oil and/or natural gas exploration) will be released following an amnesty from Russia.

But it is clear that the Putin government must improve significantly on the human rights front in Russia, especially with regards to freedom of expression, free and fair elections, and LGBT rights. These human rights should be respected in all nations across the world, from culture to culture. Russia needs to also deal with the significant levels of inequality caused largely by the actions of its infamous oligarchs.

I hope, over the next year, following this amnesty, the Russian government will at least try to change in these regards.

Alan.

On two recent deaths-who is actually more worthy of remembrance?

Ladies and gentlemen, the media in Britain has given significant reports on two recent deaths. One is of Dr. Abbas Khan, who went into the bombarded city of Aleppo, Syria to practice field medicine but was captured by Syrian troops loyal to Bashar Al-Assad and later found dead in his cell-likely at the hands of his captors. The other death is of Ronnie Biggs, infamous for his participation in the 1963 Great Train Robbery, his escape and subsequent evasion of capture for 35 years.

In relation to these two deaths, what I should say is this: Dr. Khan deserves to be remembered and mourned. He went into the job of field medic in Syria despite the brutal civil war Syria is undergoing, and the near-suicidal risk he took into trying to save the lives of people caught in the crossfire between rebels and Syrian government forces. There are few doctors anywhere who would risk this, even those more passionate about saving lives and keeping people healthy than most. The world should be thankful for people like Abbas Khan.

Ronnie Biggs, on the other hand, does not deserve to be remembered. He was merely a rather average small-time crook who happened to participate in a robbery (much) more spectacular than most at the time, and he is remembered more for his daring escape from Wandsworth Prison and years of exile than anything else. What he did was clearly and incontrovertibly wrong- he stole enormous amounts of money just for personal gain, and put an honest train driver, Jack Mills, out of work and into a premature death. It is only the escape Ronnie performed and his success in evading capture (before he voluntarily returned to the UK in 2001) that means people today know who he was. Most of the other participants of the Great Train Robbery have been forgotten, after all, and this crime would, in all likelihood, have just faded into criminological history had it not been for Mr. Biggs' lucky escape attempt all those years ago, which kept memories of the crime alive. 

There are some people we should remember-and some who we should forget so we can move onwards. From Alan.

Monday, 16 December 2013

On those who are leaving the SWP and other thoughts

Ladies and gentlemen, there has been much talk about those who are leaving the SWP rapidly and in droves, including Ian Birchall, biographer of SWP founder Tony Cliff.

Some speculate whether this will result in the SWP's final demise, after its long and mostly parasitic existence. The SWP is something the progressive elements of Britain can really do without; one protest group even destroyed an unmanned SWP stall down near Sussex University; I myself am quite tired of the SWP gatecrashing demonstrations and marches.

As I have said before, the SWP are not real socialists and contribute nothing useful to the British left. The newest socialist alliance, Left Unity, has wisely not let the SWP itself inside but rather those members who have renounced the SWP; the exodus is largely because of the Comrade Delta scandal. I am glad for those people who have left and renounced the SWP, and I hope that as many of them as possible will come and join the Green Party (as long as they respect core green values), and still remain progressive activists.

I have also heard that less than two years on from its introduction, Michael Gove's free schools project-designed fundamentally to remove schools from democratic control and accountability-is falling apart at the seams in many areas. As a key example, the Discovery New School, a free school opened in Sussex two years ago, will close down next year because of the terrible quality of its education; a free school in Derby is facing closure for the same reason. Pressure from parents in Barking and Dagenham, London means a referendum on academisation will be held across the borough and it should go against academisation. These are just a few examples of how fundamentally unworkable the free school programme is and how communities like ours can fight back against it.

Alan.


Saturday, 14 December 2013

What is bad for our environment is also bad for our health

Readers, you may have heard before about the fact that we humans, like all other living things, are dependent on our environment. This is one of the main reasons we must protect our environment, respect it, and try to avoid buying products that are linked to environmental damage, either directly or indirectly.

We also need to know that much of what is bad for the environment-pollution, 'fast food', soil degradation-is also bad for our health as well.

Excessive pollution over the decades-via emissions from coal, from petrol, from diesel, from other harmful gases-has proven itself to be a factor in increasing rates of cancer, infertility, developmental delay and other health problems in much of the world, especially in densely-populated areas. 

The proliferation of fast food in developed (and to a lesser extent, developing) nations has been linked to rising rates of obesity and diabetes, which contribute to higher rates of death from heart problems in these societies. Fast food also often uses palm oil in its production, and palm oil production has been causing rainforest decimation and destruction of the habitats of endangered species in Africa and Asia. 

The use of nitrate-based fertilisers to increase production of food is somewhat responsible for food crises that have occurred in recent years, and has also damaged the quality and nutritional benefits of our food. Pesticides that have been linked to the killing of bees and other insects are sometimes used on our food as well, and this has had harmful effects on long-term human health.

These are just some of the many examples in how things that are bad for our environment are also bad for our health. Please comment if you can list other examples.

Alan.

 


 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

On sovereignity

Ladies and gentlemen, in my honest opinion, the decision of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his People's Party government not to allow a referendum on Catalan independence shows yet more of his contempt for the freedom and democratic rights of the people of the various regions of Spain-as he has already shown in his willingness to impose crippling Troika-led austerity and his call for a ban on unauthorised demonstrations outside the Spanish Congress.

Polls show that consistently over half of the people of Catalonia would vote for Catalan independence, and due to the economic crisis' significant effects on Catalonia this proportion is increasing. 

Mr. Rajoy's arguments that 'an independent Catalonia would be forced to exit the EU' and that 'Catalans should not follow Scotland's example' reveal much about his authoritarian rule of Spain and his unwillingness to recognise that international finance was responsible for this economic crisis. The unemployment rate in Spain exceeds 25%, and is at least double that for young people in Spain. Only Greece's economic situation is worse in Europe.

Given the current situation, Catalonia would be wise to do as much as possible to break away from Spain, in the manner Scotland is trying to do so with respect to Great Britain. It should not be deterred by the threat of being forced to leave either the EU or NATO if it breaks away from Spain, as no nation wishing to respect its own sovereignity or the sovereignity of other nations should ever be a member of either the EU or NATO, which has shown itself to be nothing more than an international, pro-imperialist and terrorist organisation that has not been brought to justice yet. 

I hope this will also prompt greater support for peaceful Basque independence from Spain.

On the issue of another important type of sovereignity-food sovereignity, Brazil's Congress is threatening to repeal a law banning the use of terminator seeds (which are sterile seeds designed purely for corporate profit) as was wisely recommended by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in 2000. Food sovereignity-control of one's food source-is essential for humanity, and we must do all we can to fight efforts from multinational agri-businesses such as Monsanto and Syngenta to undermine it simply to inflate the profits of their shareholders. Given that Brazil is one of the largest agricultural producers in the world, Brazil's Congress should think wisely, respect the wishes of ordinary people not major landowners, and not repeal their moratorium on terminator seeds.

Alan.

 

 







 

 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

My thoughts of the day

Ladies and gentlemen, I apologise for not updating my blog yesterday, but I have been very busy recently with Christmas-time arrangements and short-term financial trouble.

I am thankful to all those leaders who flew over to South Africa to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela-although Enda Kenny, the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) accidentally referred to him as 'Nadiba' when Mr. Mandela's nickname was 'Madiba'. Oops!

Quite a few old, former Conservative MPs like Terry Dicks are still unrepentant about their views of Mr. Mandela whilst former Conservative PM Sir John Major correctly states that Margaret Thatcher's government was incorrect to oppose sanctions against South Africa-which in any case should have been imposed earlier under Labour in the 1970s under Harold Wilson and latterly James Callaghan, given that the Soweto riots and the notorious death of Steve Biko happened in the 1970s.

In other news, those protestors have successfully pressured Thai Prime MInister Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra, to call a snap election. What these pro-monarchists are actually trying to achieve are a reversal of important reforms Thai governments have been achieving for a few years now, and people like them were also responsible for the attempted coup against Thaksin in 2006. The people of Thailand need to realise that Yingluck is actually on the right track overall, at least for the most part, and remain vigilant of their government nevertheless to make sure Thai elites do not try to manipulate or overthrow Yingluck and her supporters. I hope Yingluck is successful in this snap election.

Meanwhile, today is human rights day (the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), which is a good time to remind you of once again how we must fight back against the EU-US Free Trade Agreement and the equally dangerous Trans-Pacific Partnership-we must not allow corporate rights to trump human rights, which both these agreements will effectively permit if passed via investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), a dangerous type of clause that allows corporations to sue democratically elected governments via secret, stacked offshore tribunals. We need to start this soon.

Regards, Alan.



 



 

 

Saturday, 7 December 2013

My tribute to Nelson Mandela

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank those of you who paid online tributes or other tributes to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the first black President of South Africa and an all-round hero in the struggle for human rights, who sadly died on 5 December this year.

I know that his legacy, his courage, his perserverance against South Africa's despicable apartheid regime, and his ability to forgive will be remembered for many generations to come.

I thank the Green Party once again for paying tribute to his hard work.

I must say,however, that it is a pity that since Thabo Mbeki (who was later succeeded by Jacob Zuma, current President of South Africa) took over from Nelson Mandela, that the ANC has neglected some of its fighting legacy in some ways, which partly explains why there is still grave levels of inequality in South Africa, as well as high rates of HIV/AIDS infection (although to be fair, many other nations are also affected by this problem), and also corruption within much of the ANC's leadership.

What must be remembered is that the struggle for human rights and equality goes on, and many of us in Britain and elsewhere in Europe are facing a great struggle of our own, that against the divisive neoliberal policy known as austerity-which affects most of us regardless of race, gender, disability, or other factors. If we keep perservering together against austerity, I know that we together can overcome it, just as the ANC overcame South Africa's apartheid regime.

So, readers, remember Nelson Mandela, his struggle against racism, what he went through, and what he achieved not only for black South Africans but for others across the world, for as long as you live.

Posted in memory of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born 18 July 1918, who departed this long walk of life on 5 December 2013, aged 95 years.



 


Friday, 6 December 2013

Local by-election results from 5/12/13

The results from local UK by-elections involving Green candidates are as follows:

Glasgow, Shettleston:  Lab 2025 (53.5%), SNP 1086 (28.7%), Con 224 (5.9%), UKIP 129 (3.4%), TUSC 68 (1.8%), Lib Dem 53 (1.4%), No Bedroom Tax 50 (1.3%), Green 41 (1.1%), Socialist 35 (0.9%), Christian 34 (0.9%), Britannica 31 (0.8%), SDA 6 (0.2%)

Liverpool, Riverside: Lab 1055 (70.9%), Green 144 (9.7%), UKIP 119 (8.0%),  Lib Dem 64 (4.3%), TUSC 49 (3.3%), Con 39 (2.6%), English Democrats 9 (0.6%), Cooney (Ind) 7, Goudie (Ind) 1 (0.1%)

Manchester, Ancoats & Clayton: Lab 965 (57.5%), Liberal 219 (13.1%), UKIP 138 (8.2%), Green 106 (6.3%), Con 75 (4.5%), Pirate 72 (4.3%), BNP 46 (2.7%), Lib Dem 31 (1.8%), TUSC 17 (1.0%), Comm League 9 (0.5%).

Nuneaton and Bedworth, Arbury: Con 395 (40.4%), Lab 369 (37.7%), UKIP 109 (11.1%), Green 56 (5.7%), BNP 35 (3.6%), TUSC 8 (0.8%), English Democrats 6 (0.6%).

Although these by-elections were remarkably interesting in the choice of candidates, the turnout for all of them ranged from deplorable to just awful, with Liverpool Riverside's by-election having a turnout of 11%-surely one of the lowest turnouts for a local by-election on record! Partly as a result of these terrible turnout figures, there were several candidates who got fewer than 10 votes.

We Greens have strength in some parts of Glasgow, although Govan has sadly never been one of them-and with 12 candidates including ours in a part of Glasgow dominated by Labour and the SNP, it was quite an uphill struggle. John Flanagan's no bedroom tax ticket fared pretty badly here, considering his respectable performance in the Govan local by-election nearby some time ago. As for hopeless Scottish Democratic Alliance (a somewhat right-wing, Eurosceptic, Scottish Independence party) leader James Trolland, he at least got more than one vote.

Our notable upswing in Riverside is well-deserved, as we Greens have perservered in that area for many years against Labour's overwhelming dominance of Liverpool in general. Our candidate there, Martin Dobson, was selected to contest the Westminster seat of Liverpool Riverside in 2015, and I hope he can at least obtain second place, particularly with the Con-Dem vote in decline (it dropped further still in this seat). One surprise in this ward is that three candidates got fewer than 10 votes, including the English Democrats who contested this ward in 2012.

In Manchester's Ancoats and Clayton ward (which had a by-election not so long ago) the old Liberals (whose original members refused to merge with the SDP in 1988) achieved a surprising second place from nowhere to otherwise completely dominant Labour. Peter Birkinshaw contested again, and tried his best in a crowded field, with UKIP and the Pirate Party (to a lesser extent) on the up in many Manchester wards. As with Liverpool, the already weak Con/Lib Dem vote declined even further,as did the vote of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Although we Greens are making good progress in Nuneaton, we sadly did not do as well as we hoped even though this ward's by-election was caused by the disqualification of its Labour councillor, which I hoped would give us Greens an upsurge similar to the one we experienced in Warwickshire as a whole earlier this year. Owing to the low turnout and the particular circumstances, this was a surprising but nevertheless narrow Conservative gain, with TUSC failing to make any real impact at all despite having built a base in many areas of Warwickshire, especially Rugby. 

Even though both Welsh local by-elections were in Cardiff wards, Cardiff Green Party did not contest either of them even though it had done so in both cases before, and fielded candidates in all Cardiff wards in 2012-why? At least Cardiff voters who otherwise would have voted Green could (and did to a slight extent) vote against Labour via Plaid or TUSC, the latter of which are at least making progress on their otherwise poor results.

On another note, I will write my special tribute post about Nelson Mandela, who sadly passed away yesterday aged 95, tomorrow. I will remember his legacy for as long as I still live, or at least whilst I still have a functioning memory (life is pretty uncertain, you know).

Alan.



 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The defenders of democracy are the real patriots-not the elitist Establishment who attack them

Readers, in recent news, the Guardian's editor, Alan Rushbridger, was questioned by ConDem MPs about his exposure of whistleblowing hero Edward Snowden's relevations of how the NSA and GCHQ spied on us without us ever knowing it. He was deemed unpatriotic and was told he endangered national security.

It has become increasingly clear, with hindsight, that 'national security' has largely just been used to justify human rights abuses and other abuses of power by elites from across the world, and that many real patriots throughout history, who actually cared about their nation rather than just pretending to, promoted democracy, freedom and transparency, and a fairer nation, which is the message Mr. Rushbridger is rightly trying to bring across, rather than despair, division and hate as the pro-corporate right-wing media under Rupert Murdoch and Viscount Rothermere always do.

Speaking of patriotism, the ConDem government which has been in power these last 3 years has been the least patriotic of all-it is willing to sell any Britsh asset it can that is not nailed down and does not even to pretend to act in Britain's interests-only those of transnational corporations. As was once said, 'a merchant has no country'-this phrase has never been truer in modern times.

If we really care about Britain, then we should defend democracy, defend freedom, defend integration, and also fight for fairness and a better society-and against the current Establishment who have mis-governed for decades. 

Alan.

 
 

 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

My thoughts on education and how British education standards can be improved

Ladies and gentlemen, it has been revealed tonight on Channel Four news, in the Independent and elsewhere that PISA tests British children of GCSE age only overall scored 26th in mathematics, 23rd in reading and 20th in science out of 65 nations which PISA tests occurred in-no better than 4 years ago.

Not surprisingly, ConDem Education Secretary Michael Gove tried to spin this to say that education policies under Labour had failed, forgetting to mention that 3 of the past 4 years have been spent under the ConDems. Labour's education reforms have not turned out well in some areas,yes, but the ConDems' proposed 'reforms' to education will actually cause standards to slip even further-especially with the increased academisation Mr. Gove wants.

Differences in educational culture, and also social culture, account for much of the more signifcant  differences between nations-and especially us and East Asian nations, whose cultures often place a particularly high value on education compared to European nations.

The UK's education system does have several flaws that contribute to its rather medicore standing that should have been ironed out some years ago. Class sizes in British secondary schools tend to average at around 30 pupils per class in state schools (independent schools in Britain have half this number per class)-most equivalent publicly-run schools in other developed nations only have 20 pupils per class on average, and large class sizes have shown to be a particular barrier to improvement of education standards in many state schools because teachers are not able to focus on some pupils' individual needs when it is necessary for learning, particularly with a persistent minority of disruptive pupils that most state secondary schools have.

The fact British children start school at the age of 5, and not 6 as happens in most nations (and in the view of educational psychologists, should happen here as well), and the excessive amount of testing young children have faced (and will face if Mr. Gove's reforms come through) means that the pressure young children come under can put some off education throughout the rest of their schooling, particularly in crucial periods. Although examinations are important, they should only be used in the later and final stages of compulsory education. Also, what must be remembered in light of the reduction of coursework components in many qualifications is that both coursework and examinations have importance-coursework allows pupils to demonstrate the long-term effort they are willing to make and (closed book) examinations can be useful in determining natural aptitude (among pupils without memory problems,anyway). As shown from stories in China and Hong Kong, an excessive focus on examinations is not that good for education overall , even with the high standards of education China and Hong Kong have, because frequent moments of stressful cramming can be psychologically damaging to human health in the long run, especially for those who fail.

Finally, the influence of corporate-driven media and businesses on children ,which is pretty problematic in the UK, needs to be reduced signifcantly, so that British children have more useful and realistic, but nevertheless good, role models to aspire to and to work towards, rather than for example, often-promoted and heavily publicised glamour models and pop stars, whose status far fewer people can ever potentially attain. 

Any thoughts, readers? 

Alan.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Ukraine needs to assert its own position in Europe

Ladies and gentlemen, for the past few days or so there have been significant and now violent clashes between pro-EU protestors in Ukraine and pro-Russian opponents.

One side wishes to embrace the EU and potential economic growth, the other wishes to stay allied to Russia as Ukraine has done since it gained independence from the former USSR in 1991, along with many other ex-Soviet republics.

Ukraine, being the largest nation entirely within Europe at 604,000 square kilometres (2 1/2 times the size of the United Kingdom) and with a population of 45 million as of 2013, could potentially exert much influence in Europe in some years' time (if just because of these factors).

Ukraine does not need either Russia or the EU, in my honest opinion. Russia under Vladimir Putin is exerting uncomfortable levels of influence over nations close to it that should be self-determining, and Russia itself is pretty undemocratic due to frequent and widespread election fraud, as well as infrequent repression of journalists and human rights activists of all types. Partly because of this, similar actions have occurred in Ukraine under its current President, Viktor Yanukovych, of which the unjust jailing of Yulia Timoshenko has been the most shameful.

The EU, especially the unelected and easily corrupted European Commission, would in some ways be even worse for the Ukraine if Ukraine were to join it The pro-neoliberal, 'common market' policies of the EU (e.g. the Common Agricultural Policy) would ultimately cause serious damage not only to Ukraine's economy but also Ukrainian society itself. It is becoming clear that the general public of Eastern European nations overall are not faring that well in the European Union on at least a few levels. Particularly in light of the threat of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Ukraine should stay well out of the EU, as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland have wisely done.

I thus believe that the best outcome for Ukraine would be to assert its own, self-determined individual position in Europe rather than either rely on the influence of Russia or rely on prospective EU membership. 

Any thoughts on this matter?

Alan.

 

 



 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Left Unity has now emerged officially-what will come of it?

Readers, Left Unity, whose members hope to bring the various 'hard left' parties of the UK together to fight as one united force, hosted its founding conference at the Royal London Hotel yesterday.

Some of you may have already watched its founding video live-what did you think?

I am not sure what will come of Left Unity, but it may finally break the cycle that left-wing alliances in Britain have suffered under for many years. By not including the leech-like cult known as the Socialist Workers' Party, Left Unity might at least achieve something useful, somewhere.

I do of course remain a loyal Green Party member, but in my opinion it might potentially be worth the while of some local Green Parties to work with some Left Unity members in order to achieve a common goal of removing the ConDems from power and preventing Labour's return, and thus finally move the UK away from the neoliberal consensus.

We shall have to wait and see,though.

Alan.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Local by-election results (28/11/13) and other thoughts

Ladies and gentlemen, more local by-election results featuring Green candidates have come in-just two yesterday,though.

Lambeth, Vassall: Labour 1319 (59.8%), Lib Dem 468 (21.2%), Con 153 (6.9%), Green 113 (5.1%), UKIP 87 (3.9%), TUSC 44 (2.0%), SPGB 22 (1.0%).

St. Helens, Billinge & Seneley Green: Labour 936 (50.7%), UKIP 442 (24.0%), Con 248 (13.4%), Green 94 (5.1%), BNP 73 (4.0%), Lib Dem 52 (2.8%).

With the Liberal Democrats in serious decline locally as well as nationally, Labour is asserting considerable dominance in areas like Lambeth which have never had any real Conservative support-which even there is being damaged by UKIP which generally performs poorly in London.

In the St. Helens local by-election, Labour's vote share decreased significantly when UKIP came onto the scene- it is clear in local by-elections in the North of England that UKIP can damage both Labour and Conservative votes alike (Conservative votes even more so). At least we Greens held our own there.

On other thoughts, I have a strong retort for Boris Johnson's callous remarks about IQ and inequality: not only are IQ tests known to be unreliable methods of measuring intelligence and prone to racial bias (as earlier Stanford-Binet tests showed), but also, the environment we are raised in is known to play a greater part in our intelligence and development than genetics. In any case, Boris is also only using this argument to justify his elitist, selfish, narcisstic worldview.

I also wish to give my solidarity to those students occupying Birmingham and Sussex Universities, as my fellow Young Greens have done, and to those in Barnet who occupied Conservative MP Mike Freer's office in protest against his support of unjust anti-squatting legislation. Keep up the good work!

Alan.

 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Truths about Maoism and why it was/is never viable in a democratic context

Readers, it has recently emerged that the couple arrested for enslaving women for many years in a small house in South London were key members of a Maoist cult called the 'Workers Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought' which only existed for a few years in the 1970s. Police raided its premises in 1978, and the group went underground and effectively ceased to exist.

This Maoist cult does not tell British people (whatever Tariq Ali and the Guardian say) all about the far-left (which include more than just Maoists!); it just tells us what many seasoned socialists already know-Maoism would never in a democratic context expand beyond cult status. British Communist Party leader Robert Griffiths is right to denounce this Maoist cult as 'more of psychiatric interest than political interest, which had nothing to do with mainstream left-wing politics of the day'. The same could be said of most Maoist cults, in my honest opinion.

Maoism was only ever implemented by force from Mao Zedong himself (he was never elected, of course), and only in one nation-China. (The Nepalese Communist Party, despite apparently having some Maoist ideology, acted democratically and not in the way Mao Zedong did) The brutality of Mao's rule and the famines resulting from it became well known, and this was one of many factors that prevented it from becoming remotely viable elsewhere. Maoism was also never really socialist either, and after Mao died and Deng Xiaoping took over in China, Mao's ideas were twisted into a particularly brutal, authoritarian form of state capitalism which persists in China today. The derisory votes of purely Maoist parties across democratic societies are testimony to Maoism's unviability.

I am thus thankful that almost all socialists worldwide have wisely steered clear of Maoism, and have understood the real principles of socialism-equality,fairness,opportunity,and cooperation.

Alan.



 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The four Canadian by-elections, and how our Canadian colleagues performed

Readers, the results of the four Canadian by-elections, held yesterday at the height of the Senate scandal, which is characteristic of Stephen Harper's right-wing, authoritarian-leaning, neoliberal administration,  are now in.

Toronto Centre's by-election, with 11 candidates, was the most interesting of these four, and for some period in the past (before the infamous 1993 Canadian election, where the then Progressive Conservative government went from a majority to losing almost all representation in the Canadian House of Commons) was a Conservative-Liberal marginal.

This was the only one of the four by-elections where the social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP)'s vote increased-this time at the expense of the Conservatives rather than the Liberals,from which it took a lot of votes at the last Canadian federal election in 2011. The Conservatives here retained third place but their vote share fell to 8.7%-their worst ever share in this seat (which they held in the 1980s) by far and reflective of their now particularly high unpopularity in metropolitan areas like Toronto. We sadly did not do that well either despite the profile of Canadian Green MP Elizabeth May's hard work.

Perennial candidate John Turmel-who holds the world record for most legislative elections contested and is Canada's answer to the late Bill Boaks, in essence-received only 75 votes, which was still ahead of two Independents and the newly-formed Online Party (that only received 44 votes!). Turnout in this by-election dropped sharply from 66% to 38%.

Bourassa's by-election (in a safe Liberal seat) had the worst turnout that day,though,as it was just 26%-there are only a few UK by-elections with turnouts lower than that. The increase of the already strong Liberal vote there from 40.9% to 48.1% is testament to the rising star of Canadian Liberal leader Justin Trudeau (son of the late Pierre Trudeau). The already low Conservative vote share dropped even further in this seat- from 8.8% to 4.6%; the NDP vote did not increase either-at least the Canadian Greens did manage a slight rise in vote share.

Provencher was, with its previously huge Conservative majority (52.7%!) the least interesting of these by-elections, although the Liberals nevertheless got a significant strike, shooting from 6.7% to 30%, damaging both the votes of the NDP and more so the Conservatives alike. The Greens could at least say their vote share increased, if sadly only slightly.

Brandon-Souris' by-election caused a significant shock when Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale, son of late Conservative MP Walter Dinsdale, came within just 400 votes of winning this otherwise very safe Conservative seat (the Liberals only ever won it in the 1993 election I mentioned earlier, and lost it in 1997). Also, the turnout in this by-election actually increased-very rare in Canadian politics.

The next Canadian federal election will be at most less than 2 years away now, and I hope Elizabeth May will be able to help achieve another breakthrough. As a British Green, I can at least be sure that she can do a better job for Canada on many levels (not just on democratic processes and the environment) than the youngish-looking Justin Trudeau is likely to.

Alan.

 







 

Monday, 25 November 2013

Comment on the Chilean elections

Readers, I am pleased to report that socialist Michele Bachelet is likely to be re-elected as President of Chile after a break, given some of the damage Sebastian Pineira has done in his short tenure.

The main problem is that while Mrs. Bachelet's socialist alliance did win a majority of seats in the Chilean Chamber of Deputies, it did not gain the two-thirds majority needed to implement major changes to the Pinochet-constructed constitution of Chile, which enforces basically a neoliberal system in many areas. At least the raising of taxes on the wealthy will mean some progress.

The systems implemented in the Chilean constitution, including the 'binomial system' (which makes it practically impossible for any party other than the two largest to get representation) are almost as bad as the European Union's current constitutional system, where only the unelected and unaccountable European Commission can initiate legislation despite the requiring of the European Parliament for final approval. This makes it impossible to reverse most of the pro-corporate EU directives which overall negatively impact on European institutions' ability to uphold human rights and environmental protections.


I wish Michele Bachelet the best of luck in the second round, where I hope it will be confirmed that she is elected President of Chile. Then she can help bring Chile in line with the more socialist South American nations of Bolivia and Venezuela.

Alan.

 
 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Good luck to the Canadian Greens tomorrow!

In case you are a Green who is also interested in seeing how Green parties across the globe are doing, I would like to inform you about four Canadian federal by-elections that will take place tomorrow, and Canada's Green Party has candidates in all four of these:

They will take place in the ridings (Canadian term for constituencies) of: 
Bourassa, Quebec (nominally safe Liberal seat)
Provencher, Manitoba (nominally safe Conservative seat)
Toronto Centre, Ontario (nominally safe Liberal seat, this by-election features 11 candidates, unusual by Canadian standards)
Brandon-Souris, Manitoba (nominally safe Conservative seat)

I wish all the Canadian Greens taking part tomorrow the best of luck.

Alan.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Scottish/Welsh nationalism and the 'Northern Irish paradox'

Readers of my blog, we are this point only one year away from the Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014. And in other news, First Minister for Wales Carwyn Jones is on the cusp of winning important tax powers for the Welsh Assembly, which unfairly has less power for Wales than the Scottish Parliament has for Scotland.

One thing I have noticed about many strong SNP areas is that they previously had a strong Conservative presence (and the Scottish Conservative vote in SNP-held seats is often quite high compared to the urban areas of Scotland, where Conservative support is very poor indeed). Whereas in Wales, many strong areas for Plaid Cymru have or had a strong Liberal presence, which was replaced by Labour as the Liberals declined in the 1950s and 1960s.

This brings me onto the 'Northern Irish paradox', derived from the fact that Northern Irish seats are divided along unionist/nationalist lines, with some strongly unionist, some strongly nationalist, and others in the margins (East Belfast is a good exception due to the strong Alliance vote,and in 2010 became the first Northern Irish constituency to elect an Alliance MP,Naomi Long). A few unionist/nationalist marginals did exist in Northern Ireland, but the split of the Ulster Unionists by the hardline Democratic Unionists (and to a lesser extent Traditional Unionist Voice) means only the constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone remains a unionist/nationalist marginal, with Belfast East being an alliance/unionist marginal.

Thus, because of this paradox, I believe the more rural and semi-urban areas of Scotland, which have shown more consistent support than the SNP and which have a poor Labour base, are more likely to support full independence, and that the more urban areas of Scotland (e.g. Glasgow) and the borderlands are more likely to support devolution instead. As for Orkney and Shetland? Some speculate that it might even become a nation in its own right (similar to the Isle of Man) if Scotland votes for independence overall, given the distinctiveness of those islands.

Some constituencies in Scotland can in electoral terms resemble some Northern Irish constituencies: North East Fife,for example, had a strong Conservative history and even though Liberal Democrat MP Sir Menzies Campbell has held this seat since 1987, the Conservatives have been in second place consistently-reminiscent of the electoral situation in Belfast East where the Alliance have been strong for decades. A similar situation is true of the Welsh seat of Montgomeryshire, which has a low level of support for Plaid Cymru and also has always been a Conservative-Liberal/Lib Dem marginal (mostly Liberal/Lib Dem). Whereas the more marginal SNP-Conservative seats (like Moray) resemble the situation found in pre-1990s South Down and also Fermanagh and South Tyrone, both of which are not very urbanised at all.

Incidentally, we Greens find it easier outside England to gain support in areas that have not had a strong nationalist vote-our Northern Irish Green counterparts' assembly member is in North Down, the Welsh Greens have mostly just contested areas without a strong Plaid Cymru vote, and the Scottish Green Party's strong bases are mostly in areas without strong SNP traditions. Useful for us, given that we Greens and the various nationalists sit in the same European group.

Any thoughts on this,ladies and gentlemen?

Regards, Alan.







 
 







 

 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Local by-election results (21/11/13) and other thoughts

Here are some more local by-election results involving Green candidates, this time from 21/11/2013:

Kirklees, Golcar: Lib Dem 1591 (47.6%), Lab 901 (27.0%), UKIP 450 (13.5%), Green 210 (6.3%), Con 189 (5.7%).

Rugby, Kilmorton: Con 400 (33.0%), Lab 339 (28.0%), UKIP 231 (19.1%), Lib Dem 221 (18.2%), Green 21 (1.7%).

Scarborough, Eastfield: Lab 310 (48.8%), UKIP 175 (27.6%), Ind G 97 (15.3%), Con 32 (5.0%), Green 11 (1.7%), Ind M 10 (1.6%).

The gain in Kirklees by the Lib Dems from Labour was quite a shock-what was going on there?

With regards to Scarborough, this seat was actually Lib Dem held, but the Lib Dem selected to defend that seat withdrew for personal reasons, which have not been disclosed clearly.

It is worth remembering that despite UKIP's fall in the polls, it still somehow gets many protest votes in local by-elections, as shown here.

In other news, today marks the 50th anniversary of the infamous assassination of US President John Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald, in Dallas, Texas. 

Several important questions still remain unanswered about the assassination of President Kennedy, as many people know. Were the CIA involved? Did Oswald act alone? What happened to many of the eyewitness photographs of the event?

Speculation about these questions can be found here:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/jfk-ten-unanswered-questions-about-the-assassination-of-john-f-kennedy-50-years-on-8955533.html

I also believe regarding recent news that the current age of consent ,16,is perfectly fine and should not be raised (but it should not be lowered,either). Young people are maturing more quickly these days, as seen by campaigns to reduce the voting age to 16 in the UK, and the fact that in Scotland, 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote on the independence referendum.

Regards, Alan.

 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The damage the SWP and AWL cults do to decent British socialists like me, and why people should never join the SWP/AWL

Over the past year, there has been significant exposure on what so-called 'socialist parties' like the Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) and the even worse Alliance for Workers' Liberty (AWL) act towards their members and socialists in general.

Last year, the case of a female SWP member who had been raped by another member, who had been let off by the SWP's executive committee, hit headlines in many British newspapers. As a result of the SWP's rape apologism, which had also been infamously stated a few weeks ago by Respect MP George Galloway, many members left the SWP and the student section of the SWP (the Socialist Workers' Student Society) was much derided across the NUS, with one of its candidates, Tomas Evans, coming below even re-open nominations in a 2013 NUS Vice-Presidential election. (The equivalent in FPTP is being beaten by spoilt ballot papers.)

This case also damaged the reputation of the British left in general, including honest but hard-line socialists like those from the Socialist Party of England and Wales, which unlike the SWP actually bothers to campaign at a local and national level. It partly explains why TUSC, (which the SWP is part of even though it ruined the better Socialist Alliance some years ago)
received the grand total of 62 votes in the Eastleigh by-election of 2013, less than half of the votes 'Howling Laud' Hope (the Monster Raving Loony Party leader) got and only beating the Wessex Regionalists, whose results have never been anything but derisory in their long existence.

The SWP itself does not act as a party in its own right-it has not contested any elections on its own since 1978. It also ruined the potentially good Socialist Alliance in the 2000s by changing it from a federal body (which proved useful given the slight differences between some of the SA's component parties) into a one-member, one-vote party, and then exerting harmful influence on it. It then ditched the SA for Respect, which initially made a significant impact but was too reliant on a single figure, George Galloway, (plus a few friends of his) to have long-term prospects, as shown by its virtual collapse over the past year. (The same quick collapse happened with the right-wing, Eurosceptic Referendum Party when its leader Sir James Goldsmith died in the same year it formed.) 

Exposure of the SWP has shown it for what it really is- a parasitic cult that gives the British left a bad name. Although there are or have been a few decent socialists in it e.g. Michael Lavalette, most of its members just disrupt the progress of real socialists. Thus, I am glad that the SWP failed to recruit me last year at the 2012 Marxism Festival.

There has not been much coverage of the rather small AWL, but believe me, it is worse even than the SWP. Not only does it mostly do nothing but waste time attacking other socialists (the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts,which it has heavily infiltrated,also does this), but it is also supportive of the actions of the apartheid state of Israel, which no decent socialist should condone or tolerate. It otherwise acts just like the parasitic,cultist SWP-no wonder an AWL candidate standing in the 2010 general election got only 75 votes (12th and last place) even though they stood in Camberwell and Peckham!

Thus, aspiring socialists, students or not, should never join the SWP or the AWL.

For those who have been duped by these cults, though, they should not worry.  For them ,there is still hope, if they leave the SWP/AWL and never return, then join the Green Party, commit ot green values, and thus see the light and be redeemed into becoming decent people who will still fight against the actions of the Establishment.

Any thoughts on this piece,ladies and gentlemen?

Alan.









 

 

My Green thoughts: The Northern Conservatives got what they deserved and my retort to Francis Maude

First of all, Owen Jones is right to put Northern Conservative Bernard Ingham straight: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/bernard-ingham-says-northerners-who-loathe-the-tories-are-demented-perhaps-i-can-put-him-straight-8952552.html

It is also clear that the Conservatives in the North of England, and also Scotland and much of Wales, deserved to enter their long decline, which is being exacerbated further by UKIP, as local and Westminster by-election results from the North of England show.

The infamous poll tax was first introduced to Scotland before it was introduced to England and Wales, and that is one of the major factors in the decline of the Scottish Conservative vote.

The Hillsborough disaster of 1989, and the collusion of the police (generally respected by Conservative voters to a good degree) and the pro-Conservative Sun newspaper in covering up evidence started a terminal decline in the Liverpudlian Conservative vote.

Now, this time around, the Conservatives are losing further ground in the North of England and in Wales to UKIP, and this has been particularly noticeable in the Northeast, because of their contempt for anyone (even working-class right-wingers) except the posh and privileged, and their contempt for important values like democracy and community cohesion.

On another note, Conservative Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has claimed in the Independent that 'we need companies like G4S': http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/we-need-a-vibrant-ecosystem-of-providers-but-i-expect-g4s-to-emerge-stronger-after-review-8950258.html

He is completely wrong: not only does our nation not only not need companies like G4S, our nation should not even tolerate them either. They are a liability to us all and their actions have created a black stain on Britain's reputation.

G4S, alongside Serco, have proven themselves to be incompetent, profiteering, violent and cruel- their employees are generally nothing more than glorified thugs, as incidents have shown.

G4S have been responsible for many wrongful deaths in our nation, particularly those of asylum seekers and immigrants- the Jimmy Mubenga case is just one example of G4S' cruelty and carelessness.

In the field of security itself, the 2012 Olympics debacle has showed that G4S are not even competent in that field.

The fact that they and Serco (and other corporate partners-in-crime) have defrauded the government, and thus us, the taxpayer, out of millions of pounds several times should be the final straw for these bloated private security companies. In my honest opinion, they should be shut down so that victims of their abuses can be compensated and so that their employees can find more productive security work or other work.

Any thoughts on this, readers?

Alan.

 

 

 

 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Boris is wrong again-the super-rich are not 'put-upon' at all

Today, ladies and gentlemen, the infamous Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, claimed that the super-rich were a 'put-upon minority' and compared their treatment to that given to 'travellers and homeless people' in his speech.

Boris is completely wrong- the super-rich may be a small minority, but they are not put-upon. The criticism levelled against the deeds of the rich and super-rich is ,in any case, well-deserved. The reckless actions of the super-rich (especially the bankers) are what caused the economic crisis of 2008 in the first place, and yet they still refuse to admit fault and in fact want to get even richer whilst the rest of us suffer for no good reason at all.

As with regards to his ridiculous notion that the super-rich should get knighthoods and/or other honours-not only should wealth alone not be a mark of honour, but also, the honours system should be scrapped anyway, as it is unnecessary, wasteful, divisive, and undemocratic. It is no surprise that renowned poet Benjamin Zephaniah refused to accept one of these honours, and he was right not to accept.

This is just yet another example of the type of person Boris really is-an egotistical, selfish, out of touch, cold-hearted (beep)-head-even when he pretends to be buffoonish and clownlike. London will be glad to see the back of him when he steps down as Mayor in 2016, which cannot come too soon, in my opinion. Our system also needs to change so that people like him do not end up in positions of high office.

Alan.

 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Human rights-in remembrance of the innocent and wrongly executed

As a member of Amnesty International, I am a strong supporter of human rights and action on human rights and against such things as capital punishment, torture, detention without trial, the arms trade, forced evictions, and unjustifiable discrimination.

Nearly one year ago today, an almost-certainly innocent man in the USA, Preston Hughes III, was executed, aged 46, in the US state of Texas (which has executed over 500 people in just over 30 years), for a 1988 murder even though the evidence generally points away from him, as the Skeptical Juror pointed out on his blog numerous times. 

Sad stories of wrongful executions like those of Mr. Hughes are well known in the USA and elsewhere. The USA may be notorious for this but as the case of Hakamada Iwao,77, of Japan-the world's longest serving death row inmate-shows, the fundamental problems with capital punishment, in addition to the risk of executing an innocent person, are not just confined to the USA. Many states that practice the death penalty also have seriously flawed judicial systems-China, which only a few years ago had 68 crimes punishable by death, does not have an independent or fair judiciary, and also keeps exact annual numbers of executions a 'state secret'.

It is also time of course to remember people like Herman Wallace, who was imprisoned for many years in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit. Even though he was released after 41 years of being held in such dehumanising conditions, he died three days later of liver cancer.

Stories like this are just a few of the many examples of how the international struggle for human rights needs to keep on going, and how we must be vigilant to maintain the human rights we gained. The upcoming trade agreements known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Trans-Pacific Partnership are a serious threat to human rights because of the abusive power they will give to corporations, and we need to keep up an international campaign to prevent them being implemented.

Alan.



 




 



 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Why human society is naturally democratic and other thoughts

Yesterday, I was confirmed by my students' union, Hertfordshire Students Union, that I have been elected to represent them at the next National Union of Students Conference in 2014.

This time, I only just got through, though, in a close fight between 7 opponents, despite my previous good record of representing my union, and making sure it has a voice within NUS.

This brings me onto the importance of democracy in human society-and why dictatorships always fail, eventually.

Before civilisation as we knew it, human tribes had to cooperate with each other, and thus take decisions consensively, in order just to survive, to gather food, and to help ensure continuity. If the chief of a tribe had acted dictatorially, that tribe (or at least the chief) would have undoubtedly not survived long.

It is also clear that whilst democratic societies have flourished, or at least survived, countless dictatorships have fallen and failed-even if in some cases after centuries.

Most humans are naturally cooperative with at least a few other people, and thus to ensure social stability help each other in at least one way. Dictators, by definition, are selfish, arrogant, and uncooperative, and only hold power through fear-not through respect. The economic damage done by dictatorships generally leads to their inevitable overthrow-as has been seen in the undoings of Eastern European dictatorships in 1989, the French Revolution of 1789, and the Russian Revolution of 1917. 

This is partly why the free-market state will fail-it is pretty undemocratic in practice, as well as the proponent of a failed economic model. But we need to work together, in order to fight for the green, democratic socialist state that in my opinion, humanity will need this century to make sure that they live to see the 22nd century AD.

Alan.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Local by-election results (14/11/13) and other news

The results from local by-elections of 15/11/13 featuring Green candidates are as follows:

Allerdale, Seaton: Lab 464 (40.0%), UKIP 426 (36.7%), Con 133 (11.5%), Green 108 (9.3%), Lib Dem 30 (2.6%).

Bournemouth, Winton East: Con 503 (41.8%), Lab 215 (17.9%), UKIP 212 (17.6%), Lib Dem 191 (15.9%), Green 48 (4.0%), Independent 34 (2.8%).

Stoke-on Trent, Baddeley, Milton and Norton: City Ind 861 (32.3%), Con 504 (18.9%), Lab 444 (16.6%), UKIP 333 (12.5%), Ind E 313 (11.7%), BNP 79 (3.0%), Green 50 (1.9%), Lib Dem 32 (1.2%), Ind D 27 (0.9%), TUSC 25 (0.9%).

The Allerdale seat had previously been occupied by an Independent, whose death precipitated the by-election. Surprisingly in this part of Cumbria, no Independent candidate came forward. Even though UKIP's poll ratings are sinking slowly, they came pretty close to Labour here. I am at least glad we held up well here, given that the Lib Dems, the Conservatives, and UKIP had not stood in Seaton (Allerdale) in 2012 but did so here.

In Bournemouth, the significant increase in the Conservative vote can be attributed to the fact that it was only low (by Dorset standards,anyway) last time in Winton East because of the numerous Independent candidates standing there which almost certainly split the Conservative vote. None of those Independents stood here this time around.

 The Stoke-on-Trent by-election, despite its low turnout (19%!) was the most interesting of these local by-elections. Although the City Independents did not stand here in 2011, they won the seat albeit with a low vote share of 32%. With 10 candidates, votes were quite well split, in yet another example of why first past the post is bad for democracy and should be scrapped.


Despite the fact they control Stoke-on-Trent council, Labour only came third in this seat. The UKIP vote also did not significantly increase,with much of the increase coming from the former BNP vote. Given that we Greens have no real base in Stoke, and thus could not make a real impact, we are at least glad to have beaten the Lib Dems and the Socialists. 

Also, I am glad that the Independent has finally come clean on how dangerous the Anti-Social Behaviour,Crime and Policing Bill is-why did they not cover it before? Please sign any and all petitions against this pro-police state bill you can find,and help us build a campaign against this bill and support the ongoing campaign against the 'gagging law'..

Alan.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Shame on MPs who stayed silent on the Bedroom Tax yesterday and other thoughts

As some of you already know, a motion by Labour to defeat the pernicious and cruel 'Bedroom Tax' failed yesterday by just 26 votes-the current Con-Dem coalition has a majority of 58. 

What is shameful is that most Liberal Democrat MPs (only two, Andrew George and Tim Farron voted for this motion) , even from constituencies where the bedroom tax would have the worst impact (e.g. Brent Central, held by Sarah Teather) voted against the motion (and thus for the bedroom tax) despite harrowing stories of bedroom tax victims, and also 47 Labour MPs who could have helped the motion pass did not show up.

The list of Labour MPs absent on the day includes notably Diane Abbott, Paul Flynn, Ed Balls, David Lammy, Chris Bryant, and Chuka Umuna, who are not only prominent in the Labour Party but also represent constituencies known to have above-average or relatively high levels of unemployment and poverty.

My friends in the Green Party,including Caroline Lucas, are proud to stand against this vicious tax and attack on the most vulnerable people in our society.

In other news, the Conservative Party has been deleting speeches from its website that were published before 2010. The reason why they have been doing that? To in particular hide the false promises they made to the public (especially regarding the NHS, schools,and our society) before the 2010 general election.

One more thing-good luck to Green Party local election candidates Alistair Grey, Sandra Hale, and Andrew Colclough in tomorrow's local by-elections in Allerdale, Bournemouth, and Stoke on Trent.

Alan.




 

Monday, 11 November 2013

All of the Commonwealth needs to follow the examples of Canada and India-and boycott this year's CHOGM

Readers,

I hope you have had the time to watch the Channel 4 Documentary 'No Fire Zone' exploring the human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan Army and the Sri Lankan Government, especially its President, Mahindra Rajapaska. These were first exposed in detail by Wikileaks cables.

As a result of the exposure of said human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (even though in my opinion his own record on democratic and human rights is bad and getting worse) and Indian Prime Minister Mammohan Singh have decided to boycott the 2013 CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) which is due to be held in Sri Lanka.

Although they are right to boycott, their actions will not prove all that useful unless all Prime Ministers of all Commonwealth nations (i.e. David Cameron, Tony Abbott et al.) follow suit and boycott the summit, to send this message to Mr. Rajapaska: No platform for human rights abusers, anywhere!

It is important for us to remember how important democracy, peace, and human rights are to a modern, fair and just society, and how we must not in good conscience condone or tolerate abuses of either of these values by any leader of any nation.

Alan.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Condolences to the victims of the recent Filipino typhoon-and other thoughts

Readers,

Just recently, a 'super typhoon' struck the Phillipines, killing at least 10,000 people...and this death toll could potentially rise.

I give my condolences, thus, to the victims and their families. I hope aid is given to the Phillipines to help recover from the destruction the typhoon wreaked.

On another note, today was Remembrance Sunday, and I hope you wore white poppies of peace rather than the red poppies most people wear. 

Alan.

 

 
 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Why green politics is crucial to our future-and why I am glad to be a loyal British Green

Readers, over the past year or so, quite a few activists I know have left the Green Party for one reason or another, either to defect to another party or to leave politics altogether.

Regardless, they still need to realise why green politics and sustainability are essential for our future, and why their activism was and is important to achieving the aims of green politics.

It is clear now to almost everyone, bar a few (often wealthy) stubborn and selfish climate change deniers like the Koch Brothers, that artificial climate change is real and is occurring; the IPCC report showed this and so did the fact that we reached 400 ppm in terms of greenhouse gas emissions,which includes carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane etc. This artificial climate change has occurred primarily because of the effects of the last 30 years of the neoliberal capitalism that has had a grip on the major nations of our planet.

The inequality, the destruction of animal and human life, and environmental damage that capitalism has wreaked means monetarist politics has to go if humanity is to survive in the long term. We are all dependent on our environment-we may be intelligent but ultimately we still have some of the same fundamental needs as our fellow animals, whether they be cats, dogs, birds or other animals-and also on each other so that we can progress. We need thus a sustainable future which recognises that stability, co-operation, human rights, fairness and equality are much more important than growth and money.

Sustainability and fairness are some of the core parts (perhaps the two most important parts) of green politics, and that is why I am proud to still be with the Green Party of England and Wales, and still helping to achieve a better long-term future for us, the human race. I hope those activists within Green Parties around the world can remain loyal to green politics as long as possible, because we need the help we can get to achieve our goals and to preserve our environment,and therefore us, from the chaos ,carelessness and destruction that comes from the free market.

Alan.



 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Local by-election results from 7 November and other thoughts

The results of local by-elections that took place on 7 November which featured Green candidates are as follows:

Durham, Crook: Labour 741 (40.4%), Independent 496 (27.0%), Wear Valley Ind 360 (19.6%), Lib Dem 145 (7.9%), Con 54 (2.9%), Green  40 (2.2%).

Nottingham, Dales: Labour 1644 (66.4%), UKIP 364 (14.7%), Con 220 (8.9%), Green 99 (4.0%), Lib Dem 78 (3.1%), TUSC 72 (2.9%)

Nottingham, Radford and Park: Labour 1146 (65.2%), Con 355 (20.2%), UKIP 123 (7.0%), Green 80 (4.6%), Elvis Loves Pets 31 (1.8%), TUSC 22 (1.3%).

Sefton, Derby: Labour 903 (64.7%), UKIP 293 (21.0%), Ind E 97 (7.0%), TUSC 48 (3.4%), Ind B 29 (2.1%), Green 25 (1.8%).

West Oxfordshire, Chipping Norton: Labour 810 (57.0%), Con 500 (35.2%), Green 58 (4.1%), Lib Dem 53 (3.7%).

One worrying aspect I have noticed is that Labour, with the large swings towards it from the Lib Dems and with UKIP damaging the Conservatives' vote in Nottingham further, could soon have control of every single council seat in the city of Nottingham, which has a population of 310,000 people. This has serious implications for the people of Nottingham.

Interestingly, in the Sefton local by-election, the Independent candidate, Juliet Edgar, posted election leaflets which would sound quite in place at a local TUSC meeting-anti-bedroom tax, anti-cuts, anti-establishment etc. Those leaflets might explain the socialists' poor result in that by-election.

In other news, the 'gagging law' (aka the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaiging and Trade Union Administration Bill, to give it its proper title) has been delayed, thanks to pressure on peers, by five weeks. However, this is not good enough- part 2 needs to be scrapped, part 1 needs to be reformed, and this, as the Electoral Commission has said, needs months, not weeks, to deal with properly.

Thank you for reading, 

Alan.





 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

The public de facto supports Green Party policies-they just need to know it now

Fellow blog readers,

Various polls carried out 3 days ago show that a significant majority of the public, which surprisingly included half of all people who voted Conservative in 2010 , support the renationalisation of energy and transport (especially railways and buses), as shown by this link here:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/519684/20131105/left-wing-price-controls-nationalisation-yougov-poll.htm

However, none of the three main parties (also not UKIP) who most of them voted for support these measures at all, particularly not the ConDems.

I can tell you that we in the Green Party are fully committed to nationalisation of railways and of energy, so that there will be a greater focus on renewable energy, a reduction of energy prices, a reduction of rail fares, and lower pollution as people move away from car use gradually. This is becoming increasingly important in modern times, given that we need to reduce pollution from carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and also our reliance on fossil fuels.

Therefore, if you wish to achieve these important steps of bringing things back under public control, readers, vote Green in the 2014 European elections and the 2015 general election.

Alan.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

My thanks to those who came to the Bonfire of Austerity

Today of course was the 5th of November, commonly known in Britain as Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night.

Many of us, though, decided to celebrate this night by staging anti-austerity bonfires (which involved burning straw effigies of Cameron and Clegg, amongst other things, or so I have heard) such as the one in Westminster Bridge in London by Anonymous.

To my readers across Britain, well done if you came along to a Bonfire of Austerity event in your area (I was at the event in Barnet,North London). Also, readers, by supporting the Green Party, you can help elect us and we will metaphorically give austerity its final bonfire- by renationalising key public services, enforcing a living wage nationwide, and creating a green economy to replace the failed free market system.

Regards, Alan.

Monday, 4 November 2013

The arms traders are the real criminals in this case-not the activists who tried to stop them

Earlier today, I visited Thames Magistrates Court (which is actually in Bow,London, and not actually near the River Thames itself thus) in support of my friend Melanie and her fellow peace activists, who in early September staged action outside the DSEI arms fair-the largest regular international arms fair worldwide, to disrupt the unethical and immoral activity that takes place inside it.

Currently,she and her fellow activists now face charges of 'obstructing the highway' just for staging this peaceful protest-yet the real criminals here are the arms traders and their associate companies, who were never questoned or searched, let alone arrested or prosecuted for fuelling grievous war crimes worldwide.

Although an international arms trade treaty, due to the support of Amnesty International, was passed a few months ago, there is still much work to do if we are to collectively defeat the evil,murderous,international arms trade, and thus bring real,long-term peace to our world.

Alan.

 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

2010 was not the first time the Liberals/Liberal Democrats sold us out

The sell-outs by the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives' coalition partners, over tuition fees, democratic reform, and secret courts that have happened since 2010, are well known to us by now.

What many of us do not realise is that this was not the first time the Liberal Democrats had sold the people of Britain out to the Conservatives- their predecessor components, the Liberals and the SDP, did exactly the same thing before the 1988 merger of the two.

In early 1977, following losses in important by-elections (Woolwich West and Walsall North) by Labour under Harold Wilson and later James Callaghan, the then-Prime Minister James Callaghan had to ask newly elected Liberal leader David Steel to form a pact in order to continue governing Britain in the economic crisis it and many other nations were facing.

Soon after the Lib-Lab pact was formed, Mr. Callaghan and the Labour government moved away from their traditional leftist position, and started making notable cuts to public expenditure, and sold off Britain's shares in British Petroleum, partly under pressure from the Liberals (as Mr. Callaghan also made a few useful reforms in his tenure), who had never been as economically left-wing as post-war Labour were.

Maybe because of this, Mr. Callaghan should have held an election in 1978-he did not, and was forced out by a vote of no confidence in 1979-won infamously by one vote (311-310).

Given that all Liberal MPs voted with the despicable Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives when it came, and the fact that Liberal voters were shifting to the Conservatives (in light of the 'Rinkagate' scandal involving ex-Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe) more so than Labour voters were in most cases, it is clear that the Liberals would have sold the British people out in either scenario by siding with the Conservatives.

For real betrayal, however, we must go to the Social Democratic Party that formed following the Limehouse Declaration of 1981 via the 'Gang of 4'-centre-right pro-EU former Labour MPs Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, David Owen and Bill Rodgers.

It is clear with retrospect, early 1980s Labour leader Michael Foot was on the right track when it came to tackling the consequences of Mrs. Thatcher's incosiderate, reckless monetarism, as well as on reform. This was intolerable to many 'moderate' Labour MPs, 28 of whom (alongside Conservative MP Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler) formed the SDP, damaging both Labour and Conservative votes alike. To have any hope of survival, as they were not a grassroots party, they had to get the Liberals to help them.

The consequences of this betrayal by the SDP were evident-they split the Labour vote heavily but only held 6 seats,allowing for Mrs Thatcher's landslide victory of 1983 (even though the Conservative vote declined). They even sided with her much of the time when it came to the sell-off of public services. The pressure from the SDP also pressured Neil Kinnock into moving away from the left, which paved the way for New Labour years later. They also damaged the Liberals by merging to form the Liberal Democrats, making them less socially liberal and more economically liberal. 

Thus, not only are the Lib Dems opportunistic sell-outs, but in the post-ward period always were-luckily, it is likely they will finally pay the price for their betrayal this time come 2015.

Any thoughts, readers?

Alan.