Thursday, 31 July 2014

Thoughts of the day

I would firstly like to start on a positive note by saying that I affirm my support for Will Duckworth (first preference) and Amelia Womack (second preference) in the GPEW Deputy Leadership elections. I postitvely believe Will's hard work so far as Green Party Deputy Leader and within Dudley, and Amelia' passion and inspiration to young activists, will all be useful in tandem in the Green Party, especially as the 2015 general election looms ever closer.

I also ask you, if you can, in light of the escalating situation and death toll in Gaza, to come to a protest against Israel's attacks on Gaza (especially its massacring of families and shelling of schools and hospitals, which constitutes a war crime), outside the Israeli Embassy in High Street Kensington, London, tomorrow at 5.30 pm. Further details can be found via this link: I also hope you have found and signed a petititon calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be charged with war crimes-by encouraging these attacks on Gaza he is clearly guilty of them, just as one of his now-deceased predecessors, Ariel Sharon, was guilty of war crimes (he was unfortunately never officially brought to justice,though) when the Israeli army under his tenure gratuitously attacked and ravaged Lebanon in the 1980s. In the meantime, continue boycotting Israeli goods to stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Regards, Alan.


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

We need to be vigilant worldwide to prevent World War III ever occurring

It has been 100 years since World War I started, infamously sparked by the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbian nationalist Gavro Princip on 28 July 1914. However, what must also be noted are how the expansionism and greed of the empires of the day-Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and others-led to a build up to the conditions that became a major war waiting to happen. A similar build up in the 1930s led to World War II less than 21 years after the November Armistice was signed-and I believe in the time of the Great Recession we are mired in now, conditions are building up once again in some nations that could eventually lead, one day, to World War Three.

The conditions in question in some nations now somewhat resemble those faced by ordinary people in the 1930s after the Great Depression-a significant rise in support for extreme right groups (e.g. FN, Jobbik, PVV) increasing authoritarianism, escalating attacks on vulnerable groups in society, high unemployment, grievous exploitation by the rich, the wealthy dodging the recession by stealing from the public purse, increasing suppression of peaceful protest worldwide by the powers that be, and not that infrequent invasions like Israel's recent attacks on Gaza and Russia's interference in Ukraine. In the few years preceding World War II, Italy invaded Ethiopia (it was also known as Abyssinia back in 1935), Germany took control of Austria and Czechoslovakia, and Japan annexed major parts of China. 

What I believe is clear, 100 years after that fateful moment that sparked World War One, is this: wherever we are in the world, we all need to be vigilant, we all need to work together, and we need to oust the current free-market capitalist system, whose greed in the past played a strong part in both World War I and World War II, to prevent World War III ever becoming an eventuality-and reform of the United Nations is needed as well, especially regarding the Security Council. If we can implement green policies and create a system based on sustainability, based on equality and compassion, and based on respect for people and planet, we can make sure the 'never again' statement (regarding war) becomes a reality.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

How to avoid accidentally supporting or giving funds to Israel

I have alas learned that the recent death toll in Gaza has now risen to over 800.

With this in mind, helpful information about how to avoid giving funds to Israel has sprung up, and here are the three best ways to boycott the state of Israel:

1. Avoid buying any products whose barcodes start with 729 as this means that the product is manufactured or sold or distributed in Israel. Instead, if you can, try to buy products with barcodes starting 500, 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 508, or 509 as this means the product has at least some British connections.

2. Avoid buying from any of these major brands which have supported Israel: Nestle, Starbucks, Coca Cola, McDonald's, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Motorola, Marks & Spencer, Danone, Estee Lauder, and Volvo. All of these brands have also caused major environmental and humanitarian harm in their own right (and many are needlessly overpriced anyway), so you should be already boycotting these brands as I am doing. Buying fairtrade goods is much better.

3. Try to live a more ethical, more environmentally friendly lifestyle if you do not already do so. Suppliers of ethical goods are generally home-based, contribute to the local economy, and for other reasons will not export their goods as far as Israel anyway.

Hopefully, this advice will help us divest and thus deprive Israel (especially its army) of funds which will help the people of Palestine in the long term and end apartheid in Israel. Divestment campaigns helped end apartheid in South Africa, after all.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Local by-election results from 24/07/14 and other thoughts

In case you missed them, the results of local by-elections from yesterday that featured Green candidates were as follows:

Blackpool UA, Clifton: Labour 501 (41.3%), UKIP 362 (23.6%), Conservative 283 (23.3%), Liberal Democrat 33 (2.7%), Green 25 (2.1%), TUSC 10 (0.8%)

Doncaster MBC, Edenthorpe, Kirk Sandall & Barnby Dun: UKIP 1203 (40.8%), Labour 1109 (37.6%), Conservative 479 (16.2%), Green 160 (5.4%).

Maidstone DC, Staplehurst: Lib Dem 609 (36.2%), Con 603 (35.9%), UKIP 311 (18.5%), Lab 117 (7.0%), Green 41 (2.4%)

Reading UA, Southcote: Lab 1019 (59.8%), Con 340 (20.0%), UKIP 226 (13.3%), Green 69 (4.1%), Lib Dem 49 (2.9%).

We have at least tried to make a start in Doncaster, a place which is rather unfriendly towards progressive politics-as shown by UKIP's strong showing in Doncaster recently, and in the past the English Democrats had their strongest performance in Doncaster by far, partly due to the personal following of former Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies. 

Interestingly, on another note, the Liberal Democrats have been trying to gain ground in Maidstone, and have been faring rather well compared to many of their colleagues nationally-they only lost one seat in this year's local elections of Maidstone compared to the five losses by the Conservatives when the Conservatives fielded a full slate in Maidstone and the Liberal Democrats did not. Some online political commentators have been hinting of a shock Lib Dem gain in Maidstone, but despite the relative incompetence of Maidstone and the Weald's Conservative MP, Helen Grant, I do not believe that will happen.

Worryingly, it has just been reported by 'The Independent' that invertebrates vital to our eco-system-not just bees which have been under serious threat from pesticides-have declined as much as 45 percent over the last 35 years-and much of the world economy has been dominated by free-market economics during the last 35 years. There is clear evidence that the free market system and the corporations that run rampant under it is responsible for most if not all of this significant decline-especially pesticide manufacturers like Monsanto and Syngenta, who are also poisoning the world's food supply with GMO crops. Most crops depend on insects to pollinate them, and inverterates, which form 80% of the world species, also perform important ecological functions for us such as purifying contaminated water, absorbing decayed matter, and giving vital nutrients to plants. Once more, I will emphasise the importance of a green economy and the importance of ending the free-market capitalist system to save our ecology, and therefore us. A green society can help reverse the decline of many of these important creatures, not just bees.


Thursday, 24 July 2014

American and European imperialism are responsible for Israel not being held to account for its crimes

Ladies and gentlemen, so far in the recent attacks on Gaza by Israel, 750 people have been killed by Israeli bombs and missiles-these incidents constitute a massacre of innocent people, not a war, and thus a war crime.

Despite the many war crimes the state of Israel has committed against not only Palestine but also other nations (notably Lebanon) in its existence, Israel has never been held to account for any war crimes or its many UN Security Council resolution violations. The main reason for this is the influence of the USA on Israel- and the USA, being one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, can veto proposed sanctions on Israel at pretty much any time.

The most recent UN vote on whether Israel should be held to account (aka a resolution on enforcing respect for international law in the Palestinian Territories) shows a major factor in not only the BBC's biased coverage of the events in Gaza but also Europe's attitude to this issue-not only did the USA vote against holding to Israel to account in this matter (as it always has done on similar issues regarding Israel) but every EU nation which voted here abstained. (Two European nations which are not part of the EU, Macedonia and Moldova, also abstained for some reason)

The reason those EU nations abstained? Many prominent European nations (Britain, France, Germany particularly) have exported arms to Israel and also purchase many Israeli arnaments.  This is in spite of the fact they have warned their own people not to invest in the illegal Israeli West Bank settlements, which are built on land stolen from Palestinians. Many EU states also still do not officially recognise Palestine as a sovereign even when more than half of the world's nations recognise Palestinian sovereignity. Also, the EU as a whole is Israel's largest trading partner-economic interests were clearly behind the abstention of those European nations on that important vote, which could have resulted in sanctions against Israel.

It is therefore clear that Western dominance and wealth have allowed Israel to attack Palestine and other Middle Eastern nations, and kill innocent people within Palestine for no reason, without suffering any reprecussions, in the same way that the power of the British establishment in the past allowed the late Jimmy Savile and so many other prominent figures to commit despicable sexual acts against young children. The UN collectively needs to resist the USA's influence and make sure justice is done here-notably all of the emerging BRICS bloc of nations voted for the resolution I mentioned earlier.

I also strongly believe reform of the United Nations is needed to finally bring Israel, the USA and a few other nations which have evaded fair justice so far, to justice for the war crimes and crimes against humanity they have committed which because of US (and sometimes UK) influence they have never been held to account for. For example, there should be no permanent members of the UN Security Council at all, and certainly no UN Security Council member (or UN General Assembly member) should have any right of veto within any resolution that has been reached fairly and democratically. 

Meanwhile, I stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza, and give my condolences to all the Gaza citizens who have died in this recent massacre so far.



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

My thoughts on the planned secession of some towns from larger boroughs

Earlier this year, an online poll showed that many residents of the small town of Yarm, historically in the North Riding of Yorkshire but now part of the unitary authority of Stockton-on-Tees (which really should be part of County Durham and in fact was before former Prime Minister Edward Heath's local government reforms came into force in 1973) want to move back into North Yorkshire, and within Hambleton District Council. Within the north of England, two other relatively small towns also want to secede from larger authorities: Morley from Leeds Metropolitan Borough Council (which covers quite a few other towns that are not really in Leeds, like Pudsey and Otley) and also Chorley from Lancashire County Council.

These three northern towns have good reason to secede-neglect by the larger boroughs they were forced to be part of. The imposition of the main local government act of recent times was undemocratic and culturally disrespectful-even after many of those merged authorities were disbanded (notably Humberside and Hereford and Worcester), there is still resentment in parts of many metropolitan boroughs and unitary authorities, as demonstrated often by localist parties in these areas. Such areas include Kirkby in Knowsley MBC, Hove in Brighton and Hove, Southport in Sefton MBC, and others. 

Like many Greens, I believe local areas should have more autonomy and a greater voice in their affairs, and I also believe local government finance should be decentralised so that local governments can support themselves without being at Whitehall's mercy. I therefore believe that these local secessions can be useful for self-determination and resistance to centralisation in general. I also believe it would be easier if all towns large enough became self-determining unitary authorities that would not be under the yoke of (usually Conservative-dominated) county councils which often fail to respect the needs and wishes of many towns under their authority.


Monday, 21 July 2014

Green songs and poetry: Wye, oh river Wye

Wye, oh river Wye,
Do you gleam ever so brightly?
Wye oh river Wye,
Does your stream flow so sprightly?

 I have looked upon your green waters,
 Which flow without fear,
Your stream rarely falters,
Across Powys and Herefordshire.

Wye oh river Wye,
Are you so natural and so clear?
But Wye oh river Wye,
Are the houses near to you so dear?

To many small towns
Down in that fair valley,
You have brought vibrance
For which we thank you gladly.

 Wye oh river Wye,
You are so clear, by and by.
But Wye oh river Wye,
Do your waters never touch fair Oswestry?

Sometimes dear river Wye,
Do I have to travel so far upstream,
To admire you? Is it because 
Your waters are not all what they seem?

Wye oh river Wye,
Your calm waters bring me a worthy invite,
But Wye oh river Wye,
Does your gleam not bring watery light?


Friday, 18 July 2014

My analysis of local by-election results (from 17/07/14) and other thoughts

Ladies and gentlemen, in case you have not yet heard, the results of local by-elections from yesterday featuring Green candidates were as follows:

Herefordshire Council, Ledbury: It's Our County (allied to Greens in Herefordshire): 835 (51.6%), Conservative 618 (38.2%), UKIP 166 (10.3%).

Herefordshire Council, Leominster South: Green 384 (37.9%), Conservative 222 (21.9%), Independent 198 (19.5%), UKIP 111 (10.9%), Labour 99 (9.8%).

King's Lynn and West Norfolk District Council, Airfield: Conservative 305 (45.7%), UKIP 233 (34.9%), Green 72 (10.8%), Labour 57 (8.5%).

Oxford City Council, Cowley: Labour 512 (39.4%), Green 269 (20.7%), Artwell 257 (19.8%), Conservative 152 (11.7%), UKIP 72 (5.5%), Liberal Democrat 39 (3.0%).

Redditch District Council, Church Hill: Lab 600 (43.9%), Con 339 (24.8%), UKIP 332 (24.3%), Lib Dem 40 (2.9%), Green 34 (2.5%), Independent A 13 (1.0%), Independent W 9 (0.7%).

The most momentous of these local by-elections was in Leominster South-we Greens worked hard to win it, and we won by a significant margin. Our win there travelled far and wide across Twitter even made it as far as BBC News! The It's Our County group, who we Greens support in Herefordshire, also won Ledbury, taking control of Herefordshire Council away from the Conservatives, who have had dominance in much of Herefordshire for decades upon decades.

Unfortunately on the same day, we Greens lost the seat of Airfield we had to defend following the resignation of our councillor there, Lori Allen-somehow, we only finished a poor third. We did well in Cowley over in Oxford with long-serving activist Hazel Dawe but still only finished second-however, we are going in the right direction because the swing was from Labour to us and not the other way around.

The Church Hill, Redditch local by-election was notorious because the previous UKIP councillor in that ward had been expelled from UKIP over racist comments after just five days as a councillor- he resigned shortly afterwards. This set of local by-elections is hinting of the tide thankfully turning against UKIP-UKIP flopped badly in Cowley, did poorly in the Herefordshire by-elections, and only finished third in the Church Hill seat they had gained-they were also pushed down into third in the local by-election of Mabe, Perranarworthal and St. Gluvias in Cornwall, which they won last year by just 3 votes.

On other notes, I would like to say that if there are demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Gaza, who have been brutally attacked by Israeli forces (the Israelis have gone as far as bombing Gaza hospitals which had comatose and severely injured children inside) coming up in your area, please attend them or if you cannot, send messages of support. There will be a pro-Gaza rally in London tomorrow, starting from Downing Street at midday on Saturday 19th. 

I finally wish to say that I oppose the proposed Assisted Dying Bill (as it has become known) for several important reasons. One, it violates the absolution of a right to life, which I believe must be protected as much as possible, whether the life is that of a human or an animal. Two, we should focus on helping people with disabilities live, not die-this bill undermines the rights and wishes of people with severe disabilities. And three, people who are terminally ill already get sufficient help with their last days on earth-this bill is unnecessary.

Regards, Alan.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Thoughts on the 25th 'deathday' of Janos Kadar

25 years ago, on 6 July 1989, the death of Janos Kadar, the only (somewhat) admirable Eastern Bloc communist leader, occurred. Realistically I should have posted this 11 days earlier, but I have been preoccupied with other matters.

Despite the fact he was still a (somewhat) authoritarian communist, he was more moderate than other Eastern Bloc leaders, and in particular his point of 'he (or she, actually) who is not against us is with us.' rings true today for me. Sadly, this important quote has not been taken on board by left-wing groups in Europe properly, largely because he is little-remembered today, even though the case for united left alliances in Europe and elswhere, especially in Britain where the left has remained badly divided and fragmented over the last few decades, is stronger than ever. Unity of socialist organisations has proven to be very successful in European nations, most recently in Slovenia, and has worked well in Germany, Portugal, Spain, France, and Ireland (which was also traditionally weak for left-wing parties before the Great Recession started) over the last few years.

Even though Janos was the least bad of the Eastern bloc communist leaders, Hungary today has not only taken a decidely right-wing, somewhat Putinesque turn but also lacks a notable left-wing opposition (the Hungarian Workers' Party has low levels of support),in contrast to nations like the Czech Republic and the eastern provinces of Germany that once made up East Germany* where a reasonably useful left-wing alternative exists (* Die Linke is stronger in the eastern German states than in the western German states).

I believe now more than ever that across Europe, Greens and democratic socialists should take up the 'he (or she) who is not against us is with us' quote that Janos once spoke of and unite to encourage people to vote out the forces of neoliberal capitalism in future elections, and create a brighter, green, socialist future within Europe that has respect for people and planet, not money and corporations.



Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The thoughtful 49 who fought against DRIP

Amidst the media storm about David Cameron's cabinet reshuffle, which notably saw the departure of Ken Clarke, Michael Gove, William Hague and Owen Paterson from the Cabinet, the three mainstream parties gathered together to rush through the 'emergency' Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill, aka the 'snooper's charter', without giving MPs nearly enough time to scrutinise it properly. An earlier attempt at such a law was thankfully blocked by the European Court of Human Rights, which the coalition government (especially the Home Secretary, Theresa May) clearly has no respect for.

The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill, also known as DRIP, will require all telecommunications and internet companies to store all of your data of all types for 12 months, even if it states access to actual content can only be given to authorised people (the security services) by a Secretary of State. 

Even though the Liberal Democrats had opposed such an unjust law before, they joined in with the Conservatives and Labour (who whilst in government before extended surveillance powers significantly without good cause) to rush through this bill; at the crucial third reading, 436 MPs voted in favour, and only 49 MPs voted against.

I am pleased to say that Green MP Caroline Lucas, all three SDLP MPs, all six SNP MPs, and all three Plaid Cymru MPs voted against this awful measure (as did DUP MP Sammy Wilson), showing themselves to be the true opposition in Parliament. The only thing Ed Miliband (the 'official' opposition leader) is opposing right now is his voters' real conscience. An honourable mention must of course go to the MPs from all the three major parties of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative who also voted against DRIP.

The list of the MPs from 'mainstream' parties who voted against DRIP is below-was your MP among them?

Diane Abbott (Labour, Hackney North & Stoke Newington)
Clive Betts (Labour, Sheffield South East)
Brian Binley (Conservative, Northampton South)
Peter Bone (Conservative, Wellingborough)
Nicholas Brown (Labour, Newcastle-upon-Tyne East)
James Cunningham (Labour, Coventry South)
Phillip Davies (Conservative, Shipley)
David Davis (Conservative, Haltemprice & Howden)
Nick De Bois (Conservative, Enfield North)
Nadine Dorries (Conservative, Mid-Bedfordshire)
Robert Flello (Labour, Stoke-on-Trent South)
Hywel Francis (Labour, Aberavon)
Roger Godsiff (Labour, Birmingham Small Heath & Sparkbrook)
Duncan Hames (Liberal Democrat, Chippenham)
Dai Havard (Labour, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
David Heath (Liberal Democrat, Somerton & Frome)
John Hemming (Liberal Democrat, Birmingham Yardley)
Kate Hoey (Labour, Vauxhall)
Philip Hollobone (Conservative, Kettering)
Kelvin Hopkins (Labour, Luton North)
Ian Lavery (Labour, Wansbeck)
Mark Lazarowicz (Labour, Edinburgh North & Leith)

John McDonnell (Labour, Hayes & Harlington)
Michael Meacher (Labour, Oldham West & Royton)
Nigel Mills (Conservative,Amber Valley)
Grahame Morris (Labour, Easington)
George Mudie (Labour, Leeds East)
Linda Riordan (Labour, Halifax)
Adrian Sanders (Liberal Democrat, Torbay)
Dennis Skinner (Labour, Bolsover)

Andrew Smith (Labour, Oxford East)
Andrew Turner (Conservative, Isle of Wight)
Tom Watson (Labour, West Bromwich East)
David Winnick (Labour, Walsall North)

Regards, Alan.




Tuesday, 15 July 2014

My personal analysis of the GPEW Deputy Leader hustings of 2014

Yesterday, I watched a live hustings of the candidates for the next Deputy Leaders of the Green Party-four men, one woman. Due to technical issues, the live hustings started 40 minutes late, but luckily, it went well when it did get going.

The four men in question were Shahrar Ali of Brent, Councillor William 'Will' Duckworth of Dudley, Councillor Mark Ereira-Guyer of Bury St. Edmunds, and Councillor Robert 'Rob' Telford of Bristol. The lone woman in these hustings was Amelia Womack of Lambeth.

In my honest opinion, all of them put up a good performance, especially on the priorities the Green Party should focus on in next year's general election. Many questions were asked by many different Greens, and it did indeed prove to be a rather tough hustings, just like the Green Party leadership candidates' debate of 2012. Here is my opinion of the advantages and disadvantages of each of the candidates who took part, based on the answers they gave to Green Party members' questions and their past experience within the Green Party:

Shahrar Ali, Brent Green Party:

Good points: Shahrar was generally straight to the point when he answered each question, and answered in a relatively easily comprehensible way. He is also a good communicator and can appeal well to greens in areas like Brent, Harrow, Ilford etc.

Not so good points: Shahrar just did not seem radical enough for me, despite his other good points, and I believe that this could be an issue in places with a radical tradition like Tower Hamlets.

Will Duckworth, Dudley Green Party:

Good points: Will's personal experience and dedication within Dudley, and also his strong connection to working-class voters, will be particularly useful for winning over Labour voters and also the UKIP voters who have just been led astray by biased media coverage. 

Not so good points: The same hard left stance Will uses to appeal to ex-Labour voters who vote (or may vote) Green because of our left-wing policies could be problematic when dealing with more liberal greens/potential greens who live in affluent but liberal places like Richmond-upon-Thames or Malvern rather than industrial towns like Dudley, Sandwell, Sheffield etc.

Mark Ereira-Guyer, Bury St. Edmunds Green Party:

Good points: Having once been in Labour (as a Labour candidate, he almost won the safely Conservative seat of Bury St. Edmunds, he knows what it is like to have once been in a mainstream party,and therefore he has a lot of experience. He can also appeal to a rather wide range of voters, not just ex-Labour voters but also ex-Lib Dem and ex-Conservative voters (notable in Suffolk where he lives).

Not so good points: His 'not left nor right but green' stance, which can appeal to a broad spectrum of potential greens and particularly rural/semi-urban greens, can be a double-edged sword. With the three mainstream parties clearly right of centre, and with a major recession still going on, we Greens need to keep to a clearly left-wing stance, especially if we want to retain Brighton Pavilion and win Norwich South next year.

Rob Telford, Bristol Green Party:

Good points: Rob clearly knows what Green priorities need to be-defending Brighton in the general election and focusing on how green issues will be useful to voters. He is also particularly urbane which will be beneficial to getting out the student vote who once voted Liberal Democrat.

Not so good points: Like Mark, Rob took a rather centrist stance in these hustings (see above for why I believe this could be a problem). Also, Bristol Green Party is in my opinion one of the least left-wing Green Parties, and Rob has not exactly been that critical of Bristolian Mayor George Ferguson's pro-cuts administration.

Amelia Womack, Lambeth Green Party:

Good points: Amelia kept unwaveringly on track when she answered our questions, and she was clearly right on target with respect to what was important in the next general election and what we Greens need to do. She also understands the importance of media coverage of the Green Party well and her youth will help show young voters (who are much less likely to vote than older voters) that we can be an alternative to the tired old neoliberal consensus.

Not so good points: She could have been louder, and her portfolio and inner city lefty-liberal stance which can win favours in places like Hampstead and Islington may seem a bit too elite for the youthful voters who do not live in large cities or who are not students. Potential green voters in traditionally bohemian places like Hebden Bridge or Stroud also might not favour her as much as urbane greens.

Overall on balance, it was a close contest. But I will say that out of the four male GPEW deputy leader candidates, Will performed best in my opinion, and I firmly believe he should be re-elected Green Party Deputy Leader for a second term. As for other preferences, my second preference will go to Mark, my third preference to Shahrar, and my fourth preference to Rob. I will say it was difficult to decide,though. Amelia will also have my vote, of course.

Please feel free to give your thoughts on my analysis of these hustings.

Regards, Alan.



Monday, 14 July 2014

My thoughts on the recent Slovenian parliamentary election

Ladies and gentlemen, whilst the drama of the 2014 FIFA World Cup final (which Germany won, as I expected) was going on yesterday, the European nation of Slovenia had an early parliamentary election, which produced some interesting results.

Firstly, I am impressed with the United Left coalition of Slovenia, as I was worried that given polls from last month they would not secure enough votes to enter the Slovenian National Assembly, which has a 4% threshold for parties. As it turns out, the Slovenian electorate did make some left turns after all- United Left managed to win 6 seats out of 90 with 5.9% of the votes cast, giving the anti-capitalist left representation in Slovenia for the first time in decades. Notably, they also polled more votes than the Social Democrats of Slovenia, who like so many of their counterparts across the world (especially our own Labour Party back home) have just become soft neoliberals rather than actual social democrats. One downside is that the Slovenian Greens did not make a pact with them, which could have given them some representation (it works for the Portuguese Greens)-on their own, they only polled 0.5% of the votes cast in that election, well short of the 4% threshold. 

It is becoming clearer that Green Parties across Europe need to unite with left-wing/far-left anti-capitalist (and therefore genuinely socialist) parties to boost their chances of overthrowing the un-green, free market capitalist parties who dominate Europe-and they need to do it as soon as possible, especially with TTIP and worse besides looming across most European nations. 

As with the previous Slovene parliamentary election which took place in 2011, another party sprang from nowhere to win the largest number of seats in the assembly-the party in question being the Party of Miro Cerar, a centrist alliance rallying around Mr. Cerar's personal popularity. It won 34.6% of the votes there and 36 seats. Meanwhile, Positive Slovenia, which in 2011 won the most votes in Slovenia from a standing start, collapsed completely, falling from 28.2% and first place to a derisory 2.96% and ninth place, losing all their seats in the process. I do not believe that I have seen such a similar collapse anywhere in European elections of late-the fall of the Civic Democrats in the Czech Republic last year does not even come close. My belief is that their votes went to Miro Cerar's party and another splinter group, the alliance of Alenke Bratusek, which by itself won 4 seats with 4.34% of the vote, and thus I believe the dissolution of Positive Slovenia will come rather soon.

Despite the fact that this party's leader, Janez Jansa, had been jailed for two years for corruption whilst serving as Prime Minister of Slovenia, the centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party, SDS, only lost 5 seats, still leaving them with 21 and second place in the poll. Some of their votes may have gone to Slovenia's Christian Democrats, New Slovenia, who coincidentally won 5 seats. The Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia also performed well, increasing their seats from 6 to 10 in the new assembly. 

Who knows what coalition will form in the Slovenian legislature this time around? I can at least in any event trust United Left to oppose the coalition, whichever form it takes, because as usual it will inevitably be pro-capitalist.

Disappointingly, the Verjanem list of Igor Soltes, despite winning enough votes to secure a seat in the European Parliament earlier this year, won no seats, and polled only 0.78% of the votes. The Pirate Party of Slovenia did not manage enough votes to enter the Slovenian assembly either-they only polled 1.34% of the vote, continuing the disappointment of the pirate politics movement which has been happening regularly over the last few years despite their expansion across much of the world. Finally, both Gregor Virant's Civic List and the Slovenian People's Party lost all of the seats they each won back in 2011, with their vote shares falling to 0.63% and an agonizingly close 3.98% (just 0.02% short of the 4% threshold!) respectively.

I hope this is a useful psephological analysis to all of you.





Sunday, 13 July 2014

TTIP is bad for both sides

Ladies and gentlemen, in case you did not already know, anti-TTIP protests were staged in many parts of the United Kingdom, most notably in London. And finally, the media has given proper coverage of anti-TTIP arguments- the main anti-TTIP protest featured in 'The Independent' and I am pleased the Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, got to give a good argument against TTIP and all its empty promises on BBC radio today.

In my earlier blog posts, I have explained why TTIP is so dangerous for people in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, because of the harmonisation of standards that will follow which will have severe environmental and health consequences for all EU citizens. But TTIP, like TPP, is bad for the USA as well-and we already have an example to prove this.

This example is NAFTA-the North American Free Trade Agreement. Both TTIP and the TPP simply plan to extend NAFTA and all its pro-corporate dangers- this time on a near-global level (more than half of global GDP will be covered).

The North American Free Trade Agreement has since 1995, far from giving the USA extra jobs, cost the USA one-quarter of all its manufacturing jobs, not to mention several hundred thousand other jobs-and has exposed Americans to the same corporate lawsuits which Canada and Mexico have been subjected to (in both cases, health and safety/environmental laws were involved). NAFTA has also severely damaged workers' rights in the USA (and also Canada, to a lesser extent), as employers were able to use NAFTA to threaten to move their jobs to Mexico.  The same thing will happen if TTIP and TPP are ever passed-massive job losses in every nation these agreements cover, a hollowing out of democratic processes, loss of important rights (de facto if not de jure) and a further transfer of wealth upwards to the already extremely wealthy elite-the only people who will gain any benefit at all from 'trade agreements' like these.

I thus call for solidarity on both sides of the Atlantic, and across every European nation, so that we can all stop TTIP together-transatlantic problems like these require transatlantic solutions to defeat them. TTIP will go to the European Parliament shortly (by the end of this year at most, I suspect), so we all need to act now and persuade our MEPs to vote down this corporate power grab-especially its ISDS clause.




Friday, 11 July 2014

My analysis of local by-election results (from 10/07/14) and other thoughts

Ladies and gentlemen, there were several local by-elections from yesterday featuring Green candidates, including the last of the deferred elections from May 2014. Their results were as follows:

Cheshire West & Chester, Broughton: Labour 614 (44.8%), Conservative 469 (34.2%), UKIP 131 (9.6%), Green 86 (6.3%), Liberal Democrat 70 (5.1%).

Cornwall, Illogan: Lib Dem 277 (23.8%), Mebyon Kernow 217 (18.6%), Conservative 215 (18.5%), UKIP 156 (13.4%), Labour 129 (11.1%), Liberal 121 (10.4%), Green 50 (4.3%).

Torridge, Kenwith: Con 136 (29.8%), UKIP 99 (21.7%), Independent G 98 (21.5%), Independent B 69 (15.1%), Green 28 (6.1%), Labour 26 (5.7%).

North Hertfordshire, Hitchwood, Offa and Hoo (deferred election): Conservative 734 (62.0%), UKIP 203 (17.1%), Labour 116 (9.8%), Green 74 (6.3%),Lib Dem 57 (4.8%).

I am pleased that in all those by-elections but one, we finished above a major party. In Cornwall, it would have been wiser tactically for us to endorse Mebyon Kernow, given that we Greens are not that strong in the Camborne and Redruth area, that we share quite a few things in common,and that a Green-Mebyon Kernow informal pact has worked before (in the 2005 general election, we contested St Ives and Mebyon Kernow contested the other Cornish seats). Like Skipton West last week, the Illogan by-election produced a six-way marginal with the winner receiving under 25% of the votes cast-although this is more predictable in Cornwall where locally, the divided electorate shows that FPTP is not viable for local elections, and has not been for some time. Last year, there were several five-way marginal results in Cornwall, especially in the Camborne & Redruth area.

It is rather strange in Torridge that no Liberal Democrat candidate came forward for that by-election, given that Torridge, like most of rural/semi-rural Devon, has strong Liberal Democrat support and little if any Labour support (Labour came fourth behind UKIP in the Torridge & West Devon seat in 2010, and were somewhat close to losing their deposit). I am also surprised we Greens only managed 28 votes in that local by-election, given that we have two council seats in Torridge council.

I am also pleased we are holding our own in North Hertfordshire-our result was a slight improvement on the 2010 result for Hitchwood, Offa and Hoo; meanwhile, both the Liberal Democrat and Labour shares decreased in that ward.

I would like to give my thanks to everyone who turned out for the July 10 strike yesterday, and for those who support the public sector and the useful work it does. My main concern of today, however, is that an emergency Data Retention Bill, which would require telecommunications companies to store all your data for one year, is coming close to being passed in Parliament, with the support of all three major parties (even though the Liberal Democrats just last year said they would oppose such a measure!). This act is just an attempt to push through a snooper's charter even though the European Court of Human Rights has stated this would violate privacy rights-we already have sufficient legislation to deal with actual terrorist threats (which is why David Cameron and Theresa May are claiming that this legislation is needed when it is not).

Please contact your MPs ASAP and ask them not to pass this draconian surveillance law!



Wednesday, 9 July 2014

In support of the 10 July strike

Tomorrow, millions of public sector workers will be striking across Britain, particularly in London. Major players include NUT (whose secretary, Christine Blower, appeared on Question Time last week), PCS, Unison, Unite, and many other unions. 

Although I am not in work at this time of writing (the new job I have does not start until September), and in particular do not work for the public sector, I, like many Green Party members support this strike in solidarity with these people, and against the wider austerity agenda that has been hurting us so much in the last 4 years, just so the rich can get even richer and escape the consequences of a recession that was entirely their fault-not ours.

Worryingly, amidst the publicity for this planned strike, the Con-Dems have touted an idea, originally touted by London's awful mayor, Boris Johnson, that will effectively make public sector strikes impossible-they propose requiring a 50% support threshold for strikes, when most elections in Britain cannot reach a 50% turnout let alone 50% support for one party, for example the London Mayoral election. In the last general election, not a single MP from any party achieved votes from 50% of the registered electorate in their respective constituency. 
This law is just an excuse to intimidate public sector workers into accepting lower pay and eventual outsourcing of their service (if the Con-Dems continue to get their way)-many local government workers now actually work for private companies as their work was outsourced by local councils pressured to exhaustion by Eric Pickles and his Whitehall cronies.

Let us make this strike matter, no matter what the mainstream media try to do to black out progressive voices like ours-if we are all together, we can rally and bring the austerity agenda in Britain to an end. In this battle against austerity and neoliberalism, united we stand, divided we fall. 

Regards, Alan.


Monday, 7 July 2014

Political history: Our original British ecologists-where are they now?

In my spare time recently, I have been researching the history of the Ecology/Green Party, and in particular our candidates from ages past (by which I mean the 1970s and 1980s). In particular, I have been able to locate an archive containing all the names of the Ecology candidates from the 1979 general election, and I can trace at least the London ones of the 1983 general election (and also Ecology candidates of London from the 1981 Greater London Council election and London borough elections of 1982).

I have noticed many of them are still active, or at least were active recently,in green politics of one form or another, particularly in the South West region. In the spirit of the 'where are they now?' posts of the total politics website, I have found out what happened to many of those original British Greens:

Don Grimes (contested Bath in 1979 and 1983): Don is thankfully still an active Green in Bath-he contested the Bath and North East Somerset local elections of 2011 (the most recent ones).
Nicholas Albery (contested Kensington in 1979): Nicholas sadly died in 2001, aged just 52.
Jonathan Porritt (contested St Marylebon in 1979, Kensington in 1983, and the London Central European Parliament seat in 1979 and 1984): Arguably the most famous of the original ecologists (at the time), Jonathan P. left the Ecology Party long ago and later founded the Forum for the Future with another original ecologist, Sara Parkin.
Chris Retallack (contested Bodmin in 1979): (unsure)
Brian Goodale (contested Hitchin in 1979): (unsure)
Jacky Dempsey (contested Bournemouth East in 1979): (unsure)
Gundula Dorey (contested Bristol North East in 1979, Bristol East in 1983, Bristol West in 1987): Gundula is still an active Green in Bristol.
John Ingham (contested Bristol West in 1979): No longer involved in active politics as far as I know, but John I. has since co-authored some books on environmental issues.
Peter Dunn (contested Reading South in 1979): Is this the same Professor Peter Dunn (who did much research into renewable energy, and one of his degrees was from the University of Reading) who died earlier this year?
Jonathan Tyler (contested Birmingham Edgbaston in 1979 and earlier the Walsall North by-election of 1976): During the 1980s, Jonathan T. briefly left the Green Party, but he returned and now lives in York, where he is still active as a Green.
Bert Pettit (contested Chippenham in 1979): (unsure)
Jeremy Faull (contested North Cornwall in 1979): Jeremy, one of the first ever Ecology/Green Party councillors, sadly died in 2011, aged 81.
Ray Burcham (contested Devizes in 1979): (unsure)
Tony Whittaker (contested North Devon in 1979, an earlier Coventry South East in October 1974): He is still around as far as I know, and was a founder member of People (the original name of our party).
Peter Frings (contested Exeter in 1979 and 1983): I noticed a Peter Frings who works with Cello PLC and obtained an ecology degree from the University of Exeter in the late 1970s-this might be him.
David Kerridge (contested South Gloucestershire in 1979): May be still active as a Green-unless I have confused him with another David Kerridge.
Hilary Bacon (contested Honiton in 1979): (unsure)
 Jim Keeling (contested Christchurch and Lymington in 1979): (unsure)
 Howard Hoptrough (contested St Ives in 1979 and 1983, Truro by-election of 1987, contested Cornwall and West Plymouth European seat in 1989): Still alive, but no longer politically active as far as I know.
 Richard Carder (contested North Somerset in 1979): Still active in Friends of the Earth.
 Geoffrey Garbett (contested Taunton in 1979): Now lives in Cornwall, and contested last year's elections for Cornwall Council on our behalf.
David Abrahams (contested Torbay in 1979): (unsure)
Sally Rodwell (contested Westbury in 1979): (unsure)
David Corry (contested Barkton Ash in 1979): Was active in Leeds Green Party for some time, but I am unsure of his current activity.
Clive Lord (contested Batley and Morley in 1979,earlier he contested Leeds North East in February 1974 then Batley and Spen in 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001, and 2005; contested Leeds European seat in 1989): Clive is still very active in Leeds-one of the Green Party's most dedicated supporters and he (almost certainly) holds the current record for most elections contested on the Green Party of England and Wales' behalf (local, national and European).
 Joyce Wade (contested Keighley in 1979): (unsure)
 David Whitbread (contested Loughborough in 1979): (unsure)
 Peter Sizer (contested Warwick & Leamington in 1979): (unsure, although a recent candidate in Waveney local elections, Stephen Sizer, may be a relative of his and might be able to tell me more)
John Davenport (contested Worcester in 1979): John was a councillor in Worcester for some time, although I am unsure of where he is now (is Laura Davenport, a prominent London Green Party member, his daughter or otherwise a relative?)
Guy Woodford (contested Worcestershire South in 1979, 1983, 1987, and 1992): Guy now lives in Herefordshire, where he still helps the Green Party.
John Beale (contested Brighton Pavilion in 1979): (unsure)
Nick Bagnall (contested Chichester in 1979): Now lives in New Zealand.
Colin Fry (contested Gillingham in 1979): (unsure)
Anne Rix (contested Rye in 1979, and Bexhill in 1983): Now lives in Devon; Anne contested Torridge council's elections as recently as 2007.
Peter Rout (contested Bedwelty in 1979):(unsure)
Brian Kingzett (contested Pembroke in 1979, Cardiff West in 1983, Gower in 1992): Brian was rather active in the Green Party for quite some time, but I have heard no recent news about him.
Cicely Marsh (contested Altrincham & Sale in 1979 and 1983): (unsure)
Anne Hill (contested Leeds East in 1979): (unsure)
Sara Parkin (contested Leeds North East in 1979): Sara Parkin led the 'green right' Green 2000 group within the Green Party, and then after the 1992 general election got recalled by Green Party members for her mistakes that almost ruined the Green Party of England and Wales. She left active politics and co-founded Forum for the Future with Jonathan Porritt. 
Keith Rushworth (contested Leeds North West in 1979): Keith was active in Leeds Green Party, but appears to have left in the 1990s.
Peter Lewenz (contested Pudsey in 1979): (unsure)
Alistair Laurence (contested Ripon in 1979, Leeds North West in 1983): (unsure)
David Pedley (contested Shipley in 1979): (unsure)
Biff Vernon (contested Beckenham in 1979): Biff now lives in Louth, Lincolnshire (apparently) and works with Transition Louth.
Irene Coates (contested Brentford & Isleworth in 1979): Irene (if this is the same Irene Coates who was also an author) now lives (or lived) in the Isle of Wight.
Steve Lambert (contested Chingford in 1979, Walthamstow in 1983): Steve still remains active in Waltham Forest Green Party, and contested local elections earlier this year in Hoe Street, as he has done for 36 years now.
David Smart (contested Dulwich in 1979): (unsure)
Geoffrey Syer (contested Hendon South in 1979): Appears to have since died (my research found an ecological event in his memory)
Adrian Williams (contested Islington Central in 1979): Adrian is still active in Islington Green Party, although he has not contested any other parliamentary elections.
Peter Hussey (contested Crosby in 1979 and 1983): I have found a recent letter of Peter's from 1996, but I have found no recent information about him.
Tim Pye (contested Lowestoft in 1979): (unsure)
George Hannah (contested Norwich North in 1979, Bermondsey by-election of 1983, and Saffron Walden in 1987): (unsure)
Stewart Biggar (contested Edinburgh South in 1979):(unsure)

Unlike Derek Wall (who in a few of his blog posts has written about the early history of the Green Party) I have only been in the Green Party a few years, and therefore have not actually experienced talking with most of the people above. Therefore, I have had to rely on internet research for much of this information. I still hope nevertheless that it is helpful.



Friday, 4 July 2014

Local by-election results (02/07/14 and 03/07/14) and other thoughts

Several by-elections, including a particularly important deferred ward election in Tower Hamlets, took place on Wednesday and Thursday this week. The results of the local by-elections which feature Green candidates were as follows:

Craven DC, Skipton West: Labour 185 (24.0%), Lib Dem 143 (18.5%), Conservative 131 (17.0%), UKIP 126 (16.5%), Independent 120 (15.5%), Green 67 (8.7%).

North Yorkshire CC, Skipton West: Independent 391 (23.4%), Conservative 355 (21.3%), Lib Dem 309 (18.5%), UKIP 238 (14.3%), Green 194 (11.4%), Labour 181 (10.9%).

Colchester BC, Wivenhoe Quay: Labour 857 (46.7%), Conservative 629 (34.3%), UKIP 129 (7.0%), Lib Dem 127 (6.9%), Green 90 (4.9%), Patriotic Socialist 2 (0.1%).

Northamptonshire CC, Brixworth: Conservative 1297 (55.4%), UKIP 500 (21.3%), Labour901  248 (10.6%), Green 228 (9.7%), Lib Dem 69 (2.9%).

Cheltenham BC, Charlton Park (deferred election): Lib Dem 861 (45.9%), Conservative 767 (40.9%), UKIP 154 (8.2%), Green 46 (2.5%), Labour 46 (2.5%).

Tower Hamlets LBC, Blackwall and Cubitt Town (deferred election, average votes of candidates): Labour 901 (31.8%), Conservative 818 (28.9%), Tower Hamlets First (25.7%), UKIP 206 (7.3%), Green 94 (3.3%), Lib Dem 65 (2.3%), TUSC 11 (0.4%), Independent 11 (0.4%). Two Labour councillors and one Conservative councillor were elected.

Most of yesterday's by-election show more woe for the Liberal Democrats,particularly in the market town of Skipton, which has been one of their local strongholds for a long time now. Both the Skipton results also produced two of the most farcical and undemocratic of FPTP results on record- each one produced a result that could be classified as a six-way marginal, and the winning candidates each received less than 25% of the votes cast-and of people who actually bother to vote in local by-elections. I am in particular disappointed we slipped back in Skipton and Colchester, and only tied with Labour in that Cheltenham deferred election (Cheltenham is one of the worst local areas for Labour in the UK), although a swing from Labour to us in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, which is in one of our weaker regions, the East Midlands, is rather promising.

In particular, I feel it is unfortunate that Tower Hamlets First (given that the Greens had no realistic chance of winning Blackwall and Cubitt Town ward) did not win any seats in that deferred election-those 3 extra seats would have made them the largest party on Tower Hamlets Council and given a real credibility boost to Lutfur Rahman's administration. However, had Labour won all 3 seats in that ward (which they failed to do), Labour would have control of Tower Hamlets council by one seat, and would then use this position to undermine Lutfur Rahman's work as much as possible in the same way they undermined Peter Davies' administration in Doncaster from 2009 to 2013 when Peter Davies was mayor there.

On another note, large numbers of activists with disabilities from across Britain are coming to an Independent Living Fund teaparty near the DWP headquarters in London, to gather support to stop the closure of the ILF, which has been a lifeline to many people with disabilities in Britain, especially those people who have severe disabillities. Unfortunately, due to limited funds and living outside of Greater London, I cannot join them today, but I would like to say I am there in spirit and solidarity and wish them the best of luck. I hope (rather optimistically,I admit) the police will not harass their tea party in the same way they brutally repressed Disabled People Against Cuts activists near Westminster Abbey last weekend for no good reason. We are just peaceful activists wanting fair treatment, a better life, and support so we can actually lead useful lives-we do not deserve to be kettled, denied important medication, or verbally or physically abused by state-sponsored thugs (aka the Metropolitan Police)!




Thursday, 3 July 2014

We need to stop voting tactically-and vote for people we actually want as MPs

Ladies and gentlemen, there have been two recent and important news stories about Labour.
One is that Labour has ruled out renationalisation of railways and other public transport even if it wins the next general election, and the second is that loyal left-wing Labour MP Dennis Skinner, aka the Beast of Bolsover, has been voted off Labour's National Executive Committee, apparently because he 'irritated Ed Miliband's office' (although there is no evidence for that rumour). They are just the latest in a long line of articles confirming that Labour under Ed Miliband is still New Labour and will just continue down the failed road of neoliberalism and privatisation that the Conservatives under Thatcher and Major, Labour under Blair and Brown, and the Con-Dems under Cameron and Clegg have been following despite overwhelming evidence having been demonstrated several times that for the good of humanity, neoliberalism must end and a new consensus-hopefully the green consensus-must come about.

In spite of this, Lord Ashcroft polls in Labour-Liberal Democrat marginal seats like Norwich South and Manchester Withington show that tactical voting (just to unseat the Liberal Democrat MPs who hold these seats, Simon Wright and John Leech respectively) will still come into play even though the Labour candidates who will try to win these seats next year will almost certainly not be much different from the Lib Dem MPs they are trying to replace. The same tactical voting issue, and the issue of MPs who won based on tactical votes not being likely to be a real change from before, will hold true in Liberal-Conservative marginals like Solihull and St Ives, or Labour-Conservative marginals like Lancaster & Fleetwood and Hampstead & Kliburn. 

The six seats I have mentioned also show good Green potential, especially in the case of Norwich South which I hope we can win next year. The important point is this-tactical voting will achieve nothing useful in next year's general election, because the evidence is clear that all three major parties are clearly the same on so many levels-welded to neoliberalism, not committed to major reform in the EU, and not that interested in major electoral reform or decentralising of powers. On the other hand, Green Party MPs, who support policies that the British people actually want (as has been shown consistently by polls over the last year at least), and who are honest and committed to change where change is necessary, are a clear alternative, as is the Green Party itself. We have now reached 17,000 members, in a nation which has one of the lowest political party membership rates per capita in the whole of Europe, and we are providing a useful safe haven for progressive politics within the UK.

I ask you,therefore, as has been said before, do not vote tactically when the next general election comes around-vote for someone who promotes what you actually believe in and what you actually want. This way, there is at least a chance that you will elect a progressive and properly representative MP in your constituency, rather than just tired old pro-Establishment deadwood.



Wednesday, 2 July 2014

My thoughts on the upcoming 2014 Green Party internal elections

Ladies and gentlemen, the internal Green Party executive contests will be rather interesting, to say the least. In 2012, The Independent (and some other newspapers) kept a close eye (at least for a few days) on the Green Party leadership election of that year and the four contenders, following Caroline Lucas' decision to concentrate on parliamentary duties, so I might as well post about this now.

I am pleased to say that Natalie will effectively be running unopposed for Green Party leader, as she has done an excellent job for the Green Party over the last 2 years despite not having nearly as much charisma as Caroline has, and despite all that has been prevailing against us these past few years. The contests for male deputy leader (we now have two deputy leaders, not one) and international coordinator will be the most interesting, although I am banking on Will Duckworth and Derek Wall (opposed by Ray Cunningham and Anna Clarke, who I know nothing about at the moment) to be reelected to those positions without any real problems, particularly given Will's help in making West Midlands Green Party make great steps forward, especially in Solihull and Warwickshire. Nonetheless, given the candidates' statements I have seen, Mark Ereira-Guyer, Rob Telford and Shahrah Ali will give Will a tough contest here, and the same will be true in the Trade Union Liason officer contest, where Newark by-election candidate David Kirwan is running against Romayne Phoenix, even though Romayne has proven herself well not only in the Green Party but also in the People's Assembly. 

This internal election is still two months away at the moment-all I can do here is watch, wait, listen and cast my vote until it concludes in September.


UPDATE: Romayne Phoenix is in fact only running against RON in the GPEW Trade Union Liason Officer contest as David Kirwan's nomination papers were rejected.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Commonwealth News: Results and my analysis of recent Canadian by-elections

Ladies and gentlemen, my eyes turn once again to Canada, as four federal by-elections, all with (Canadian) Green Party candidates, took place yesterday.

The results of the by-elections in question were as follows:

Alberta, Fort McMurray-Athabasca:

David Yurdiga, Conservative, 5,945 (46,8%, -25.0%); Kyle Harrietha, Liberal, 4,491 (35.3%, +24.9%); Lori McDaniel, New Democratic Party, (NDP) 1,449 (11.4%, -1.8%); Brian Doeher, Green, 449 (3.5%, -1.0%); Tim Moen, Libertarian, 374 (2.9%).

Alberta, MacLeod:

John Barlow, Conservative, 12,394 (68.8%, -8.7%); Dustin Fuller, Liberal, 3,062 (17.0%, +13.3%); Larry Ashmore, Green, 1,042 (5.8%, +1.2%); Aileen Burke, NDP, 766 (4.2%, -5.9%); David Reimer, Christian Heritage, 763 (4.2%, +3.7%).

Ontario, Scarborough Agincourt:

Arnold Chan, Liberal, 12,829 (59.3%, +13.9%); Trevor Ellis, Conservative, 6,344 (29.3%, -4.9%); Elizabeth Ying Long, NDP, 1,844 (8.5%, -9.6%), Kevin Clarke, Independent (1.5%); Shabaz Mir, Green, 307 (1.4%, -0.9%). 

Ontario, Trinity-Spadina: 

Adam Vaughan, Liberal, 18,434 (53.4%, +30.1%); Joe Cressy, NDP, 11,823 (34.3%, -20.2%); Benjamin Sharma, Conservative, 2000 (5.8%, -11.0%); Camille Labchuk, Green, 1,919 (5.6%, +1.2%); Linda Groce-Gibbons, Christian Heritage, 174 (0.5%); John Turmel, Independent, 141 (0.4%).

Quite a night of woe for the New Democratic Party in particular-especially in the Trinity-Spadina riding (constituency), where they suffered one of the heaviest negative swings in their history-25% towards the Liberals. With Trinity-Spadina being a known Canadian bellwether, this looks good for youngish Canadian Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Incidentally, in one of the Canadian Conservatives' safest ridings, a 25% swing to the Liberals was also achieved. However, it does not look that good for Canadians in general-as in Britain, the real differences between the Liberals, the Conservatives, and the NDP are becoming fewer and fewer. None of these three parties have any real commitment to stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), for example, which is even more dangerous to Canada than NAFTA has ever been. The Conservatives suffered quite signficantly in all cases, even in MacLeod, a riding so safe for the Canadian Conservatives it makes British constituencies like Beaconsfield look more winnable for non-Conservative candidates.

Sadly, it was not that good a night for the Canadian Greens as I hoped-only in two ridings did their vote share increase, and even then, only slightly, despite the hard work of Elizabeth May and ex-NDP MP Bruce Hyer in exposing the cruelty and recklessness of Stephen Harper's neoconservative regime-within the English-speaking world, its gratuitous disregard for human rights and our environment is on par only with Tony Abbott's and David Cameron's regimes in Australia and Britain. In particular, our Canadian colleagues were just 81 votes behind the Conservatives in Trinity-Spadina and worryingly we were beaten by perennial candidate Kevin Clarke in Scarborough-Agincourt-how? 

Turnout for these by-elections was also terrible, even compared to the turnout of British by-elections- the turnout in Fort McMurray-Athabasca was apparently as low as 15.2%-even Manchester Central could achieve a better turnout (18.2%), two years ago! In all cases, turnouts fell below 1/3 of the registered electorates-FPTP is bad for democracies everywhere, not just in the United Kingdom.

With the next Canadian federal election having to take place by the end of next year,and with more ridings up for contention this time around (338 as opposed to 308 in previous years), I hope the Canadian Greens will be able to make another breakthrough, the same way my Green colleagues in Britain will try to make more breakthroughs next year.

Best wishes,