Charles Clarke: running scared of the Greens?

Charles Clarke is making national headlines today warning that Labour may lose the next general election. His concerns about Labour’s prospects may be linked to last year’s local election results in his own Norwich South constituency, where the Green Party came in first with 30% of the vote… And Norwich Greens have a strong chance of further gains at this year’s local elections on 1st May. By 2010, which is when Clarke predicts there will be an election, we will be very strong indeed…

Charles Clarke knows full well that his constituency is one of the strongest prospects for a Green MP — and that, we in Norwich Green Party believe, is why he is running scared.

Norwich South, btw, is one of three national Parliamentary target seats for the Green Party at the next General Election.

[Clarke’s comments have been making headlines all day today on Radio 4. They have so far to my knowledge hit the Daily Mail: here, The Guardian, here and the BBC: here

The story was initially broken in this morning’s _EDP_: here]

Reasonable manners, in the blogosphere

Dear readers of Rupert’s Read;
One thing I am pleased about about this blog is that when we have had debates or disagreements here, they have virtually always been good-tempered.
Because the norm out there in the blogosphere is often not like that. Take ‘Comment is Free’, for example, on the Guardian Unlimited site: the level of debate on CIF is pretty awful, frankly, in terms of civility. It is a very unpleasant place to take part in any debate, generally, unless perhaps (as most commenters do) one hides behind the veil of anonymity (which ‘ain’t allowed’ here).
And the truth is, in case any fellow commenters reading this don’t realise it, that there are many many people who get put off even reading (let alone posting to) CIF because of the volume of plain nasty comments that they risk getting, when they do.
I am slightly singling out CIF here, because I believe that this is actually one of the worst places on the blogosphere in terms of this kind of abuse. (Another particularly bad place is the comment-zone on Iain Dale’s blog, but even that bear-pit is not as nasty as the comment on CIF often is.)
Long may good manners on Rupert’s Read continue! Thanks to all of you reading this who help to ensure that I don’t need to block anyone from commenting or moderate comments or delete comments (except very occasionally…)

Don’t say ‘terrorist’.

I am fed up with reading in the papers about ‘terrorists’ doing this and that.
Anyone remember Nelson Mandela being called a ‘terrorist’? Well, he was, over and over, for many years.
Someone using the word “terrorist” is a fairly reliable symptom of an attempt to stop their readers thinking, and simply to scare and repel them from the people under discussion.
It is quite similar in that regard to the use of words such as “nigger”, “kike”, “towel-head”, etc.

[For detail, I recommend a perusal of Steven Poole’s fine book ‘Unspeak’.]

And before I get flamed, let me remark that I myself am a convinced believer in and practitioner of non-violence. I don’t condone asymmetric warfare. But neither do I condone lazy and ‘violent’ communication.

20 mph on residential streets, please!

Many streets in my ward are highly residential areas where, unfortunately, a small number of drivers drive TOO FAST.
For safety’s sake, we need 20mph speed limits.

Furthermore: ‘Modal shift’ (to less polluting transport modes: bus, bike, foot) is the key to reducing carbon emissions. Cars driving too fast is the key reason why people do not shift to bike and foot. Ergo: reducing speed limits is the key to reducing carbon emissions.

20mph limits are green.

Is the Green Party a single issue Party?

Well, yes, in a way we are … the single issue is: all political issues, combined into one, wholistically. Because you cannot have (e.g.) a transport policy which is not simultaneously also a crime policy, an economic policy, an ecological policy, en education policy, a food and farming policy…. We are the only Party that truly believes in joined-up government. We look at things wholistically, unlike the other Parties. If that is being a ‘single issue party’, then I plead guilty!
Another way of putting it would be… the single issue is: saving the human race, and making life wonderful.

Interest rate cuts will only worsen the debt crisis – and the coming recession

OK, so let’s get this straight:
Low interest rates and easy money in the States (and Britain, and almost everywhere) led to a crisis in the ‘sub-prime’ mortgage market, which has brought on fears of a recession in the States (and everywhere). The Fed’s response, as Wall Street cottons on to the danger of recession, and tumbles? Lower interest rates by three quarters of a percent, a week early!
Are these people complete imbeciles?
Let’s get the next part of the story straight (i.e. what will happen over the next several months/years):
Eased credit in the States leads to a further bubble in the ‘sub-prime’ mortgage market (and probably also a sudden surge of inflation), which in due course will lead to a still worse crisis, and thus to a real recession…
The U.S. and U.K. nowadays are debt-ridden — debt-sodden, debt-addicted — countries, mortgaged to the hilt. The Fed has just redoubled that. It truly does beggar belief.

We are living beyond our means. It is time to get real. It is time for some thrift. It is time to stop believing that economies can keep growing, and debt keep rising, without a reckoning.
Through what they have done today, the Fed have simply blown a new, bigger bubble that will really bring the whole house of cards tumbling down a little down the line, far worse than if they had done nothing.
Thank God Mervyn King doesn’t seem as much a fool as these fantasists who believe that they can con themselves and everyone else into eternal debt and eternal growth. But when America snots all over the world, as will happen just a little later, we may all yet catch pneumonia.

FOSSIL-FUEL INDUSTRIES MUST PAY TO DEAL WITH THEIR WASTE

Even conventional economists nowadays acknowledge that market ‘externalities’ should be paid for, to ‘internalise’ their costs: so, for instance, both the nuclear industry and the fossil fuel industry should be forced – wherever, whenever, and however feasible — to pay the full (including the future) costs of the safe disposal of their wastes.

The implications of this simple and obvious statement are colossal. In the case of the nuclear industry, there is good reason to believe that it would finish the industry off: with uranium supplies fast-depleting, there is now a real question as to whether there is even enough usable nuclear energy left in the world to clean up the mess of the nuclear industry, past, present and future (for back-up for this claim, see www.theleaneconomyconnection.net/nuclear/Nuclear.pdf). The British government for one is at least pretending that in future the nuclear industry will have to include the cost of dealing with its waste within its business model (see e.g. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=428999&in_page_id=2 ); whereas in the case of gas, oil and coal there is still no such pretence, even (fashionable blather about ‘clean coal’ notwithstanding). It simply strikes one as obvious that the nuclear industry should clean up its waste: why has the obvious parallel with the fossil fuel industries never been seriously explored? Let’s explore it a little: In the case of the companies that mine fossil-fuels, there should be a very substantial (and retrospective) windfall tax to cover the vast adaptation and mitigation costs of manmade climate change.

This proposal would not only be just; it would also play the vital role of hugely incentivising the development of renewable energy — a point to which I will return momentarily.

It might be objected that applying this tax retrospectively would not be just, in that fossil fuel companies/suppliers have not always known about the polluting effect of their product. ‘Unfortunately’ (as noted by Richard Bramhall, in the analogous case of the asbestos industry, at http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,2240289,00.html ), ignorance in this regard is no defence in the eyes of the law. Nor of course is it a defence that some fossil-fuel companies have been wilfully funding climate-change-sceptical thinktanks, in order to try to make it appear as though maybe they are NOT responsible for polluting (with CO2) our eco-system to the dangerous point now reached… (see e.g. http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/exxon-secrets ). The windfall tax that I am envisaging should be backdated at the very least to the time when a strong scientific consensus was reached on fossil fuels’ guiltiness in the case of Carbon Dioxide versus Humankind: say 1990, to give a very conservative estimate which can therefore hardly be disputed.

What renewables desperately need is fair costing of their rivals. Forcing the fossil fuel industries to pay for the vast greenhouse-gas pollution that they have caused might just bring about the green energy revolution that we desperately need, if our civilisation is to survive and flourish. Especially if the tax revenues concerned were put into R&D and subsidies for tidal, wave, solar, etc. …

It is astonishing really that the simplicity of the idea that motivates this article has never before, as far as my researches have shown, been applied directly to the most pressing case of all. If you make a mess, you should clean up after yourself – every child knows that. Our greenhouse-gas-full atmosphere is simply the biggest and most dangerous mess that corporations have ever made. Wouldn’t it be sweet, if the windfall profits of the Earth’s biggest polluters could be put to work to prevent the very climate catastrophe that their extraction and burning of fossil fuels has come close to bringing about?

An open letter to the _Guardian_ on nuclear disinformation

[I have been writing the _Guardian_ and other papers, to try to get them to stop calling nuclear a ‘low’ or ‘zero’ (!) carbon source of energy. I encourage readers to do the same! They aren’t publishing my letters, perhaps because they don’t appreciate the criticism. But how can I help but criticise, when they are so wrong on this?
Here is my most recent letter:]

Why does the _Guardian_ keep publishing articles that propagate the myth
that nuclear is ‘low-carbon’? (The latest is Mark Milner and David Gow,
writing on Monday Jan. 26, including nuclear alongside renewables in their
article on the EU’s efforts to incentivise green energy.) It surprises me
that so many _Guardian_
environment correspondents have swallowed this uber-myth of the nuclear
PR industry. Once one factors in the very substantial amount of energy
needed for mining, transporting and processing uranium, for
building nuclear power plants, for protecting them and their fuel
from sabotage and accident, etc, and once one includes the
vast amount of energy needed to decommission, monitor and protect
nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years, then nuclear
ends up with an absolutely huge carbon footprint — and very
probably a negative net energy balance.
As David Fleming’s sadly-neglected report on this vital issue
(www.theleaneconomyconnection.net/nuclear/Nuclear.pdf ) makes clear, the
real question now is whether nuclear power even has enough energy left,
from its fast-depleting uranium, to clean up its own wastes, let alone
to contribute anything to our energy needs beyond that.

I call upon the _Guardian_ to
engage in a public and journalistic investigation of the true carbon
footprint of nuclear.

Gazan humanitarian crisis shames us all

As I write, the terrible blockade on Gaza, which the world is barely noticing, is easing slightly. But it is truly terrible, that Israel is collectively-punishing the population of this ‘open-air prison’: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/CC981B4C-A277-4F1F-B9FB-ADD6BCBB67E5.htm . They are literally killing the civilian people of this stateless place:
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=27093

My partner Juliette wrote about this brewing crisis in our newspaper column, 9 days ago:
http://oneworldcolumn.org/192.html
Shame on the world indeed, for ignoring this desperate crisis…