Green jobs!

Nuclear energy produces 75 only jobs per TWh per year; oil and gas around 250 jobs; wind produces up to 2,400 jobs. If we invest properly in renewables, then we will insure ourselves against unemployment.
Yet some nay-sayers say that all this statistic tells you is that wind power is ‘inefficient’ and that we should be investing in nuclear power stations instead.

But what is their definition of efficiency? It is apparently how economical in labour-power an industry is. But that is an utterly bankrupt edition of ‘efficiency’. In today’s world, we have no shortage of labour-power; what we have a shortage of is oil and gas and climatic space for any more carbon emissions.
Relative to those shortages, providing lots of jobs (which is what people want, and gives them an income) is efficient. [Read Herman Daly, if you want to learn more on this.]
Except, I guess, if you really want nuclear power, then it is true, you can guarantee lots of jobs: i.e. a never-ending toxic-waste clean-up…

Of course, the really big potential for renewables in this country is in water power, and especially tidal power (I mean tidal range and tidal lagoons, not tidal barrage). A mixed basket of renewables, to insure against intermittency of supply — that is the way forward; that is how we may yet save ourselves, and prosper…

Transcript: Jeremy Paxman asks Clegg where the £20bn of cuts will come from

If you missed Paxman’s mince-meating of Clegg the other night, that I blogged on at the time, then here for added fun is the transcript…:

BBC Newsnight, Monday 15th September


JP        Where are you going to save the £20bn?

NC        Well, some of the savings we have already identified. For instance above average income families should not be part of the tax credit system, that would save around £3bn. We’ve said that the Child Trust Fund that gives a few hundred quid to 18 year olds is money not well spent when it is younger children that need help more. That would save about half a billion.

JP        You’ve already committed that to be spent on more teachers haven’t you? That’s a previous commitment.

NC        No, no, no, the £20bn, let me be quite clear about this, will go towards some of our spending priorities, towards the elderly, housing and teaching.  What we’ve said today is that the money left over won’t simply be handed back to Whitehall, it will be handed back to lower and middle income families who have paid much more tax as part of their overall income than the wealthy.

JP        We’ve so far checked £3.5bn of the £20bn you are going to save.

NC        There are, there are, there are other items too. The road building programmes, that’s almost a billion. We are looking at some defence contracts which we think aren’t worthwhile. The Government wants to spend about £13bn on the NHS IT Project. I’ll be announcing on Wednesday other items.

JP        You chose the figure of £20bn

NC        Correct

JP        So far we’ve been able to identify about £4.5bn, £5bn, £5.5bn on things you can save money on, where is the rest?

NC        Well, I’m not able to tell you the rest, because, firstly if they were a good idea the other parties would nick it and secondly, because how spending is allocated by government and therefore how we think we can save, is something we can only decide on finally at the time of the next general election. What we are committing ourselves to as a party now is that £20bn, 3% of the total government expenditure of over £600bn will be identified, it will then be reallocated, redirected to our spending priorities, on the elderly, on the young, on housing and the remainder will be handed back in tax cuts to people who need a break at a time of real economic hardship.

JP        Is it true you plan to save some of the £20bn by shutting down one government department?

NC        Yes, we think that the former DTI government, DBERR as its acronym is called, is not doing a job that really justifies a whole department. That would save us about a billion pounds.

JP        So that would be a billion pounds, and you’ve factored into that redundancy payments and the rest of it have you?

NC        Errrrr, we would probably need to look at the figures in a little more detail when it comes to the next general election, when we know exactly what the payroll of DBERR is then, but the rough figure is about a billion.

 JP       And Vince Cable’s idea that all senior civil servants earning more than £100k a year should have to reapply for their jobs, how many civil servants is it please?

NC        I don’t know. That of course is an illustration that Vince gave today about the extent to which large amounts of money are being spent to pay people very considerable amounts of money, and we don’t really know if that is money well spent.

JP        We are still a long way off finding £20bn aren’t we?

NC        Well, Jeremy, errrr, of course. I’m not going to present to you now on Newsnight a shopping list of what would be the £20bn.

JP        Well why not? You’ve given us the headline grabbing figure of £20bn, why can’t you give us the proper details?

Drivers urged – leave your cars at home

Drivers are being urged to leave their motors at home as part of a car-free day.

As part of In Town Without My Car! day, an international festival of environmentally friendly transport, families are being encouraged to walk, cycle or catch the bus into Norwich city centre and local towns on Monday.

Ahead of the day, Norfolk County Council will hold a stand at the Forum tomorrow offering local travel information, maps and free travel plan advice.

People who make a sustainable travel pledge will receive a gift and be entered into a prize draw to win Park and Ride tickets, bicycle locks, bicycle lights and other goodies.

Stevie Spencer, the county council’s smarter travel choices officer, said: “We will be on hand to offer advice to people who would like to reduce their car use and provide information on other ways they can get around.”

As part of the scheme, drama group Stopwatch Theatre has been touring schools, putting on a production to encourage pupils to walk, cycle and use the bus wherever possible.

The idea of the scheme is to make drivers across Europe explore other means of travelling and to question what town centre streets are really for.

Ali Clabburn, managing director of Liftshare, the Attleborough-based car sharing company which also matches up cyclists and walkers, said: “In Town Without My Car! day is the perfect opportunity for people to get out of their cars.”

Rupert Read, Green Party city councillor, said he hoped the initiative would have a long-lasting effect.

He said: “I have a car, but I use it as little as possible. I find that cycling as much as possible is the best way.”

But he warned the day could be “a mere tokenistic gesture” unless people looked at the long term.

Peace one day

21 September 2008 is Peace One Day, and Norwich councillor and as lead Green Party candidate for MEP for the Eastern Region in the June 2009 Euro-Elections, I have been asked to speak at the big ‘Peace one day’ event in Norwich. I will be speaking about my long experience in the peace movement, including in peaceful direct action at nuclear weapons installations and at Westminster.
I am very pleased to have been invited to speak at this event because I am passionate about addressing the root causes of all conflicts around the world. I’m a Quaker, and a determined advocate for non-violence and peace all over the globe. I sincerely hope that some day, peace will break out around the world, and not for just one day, but a lasting peace…
Instead of fighting each other in wars over land disputes and oil dependency, we could unite and fight against the one phenomenon which will potentially wipe us all out by the end of this century.  We could line up together and fight for our lives, and for those of our children, in a war that will bring us together like never before.  Global over-heating caused by man-made climate change will defeat humankind unless we all make a concerted effort to beat it.
[The main event will start at 6 pm in the Assembly Rooms, Norwich.  Tickets are free and can be booked by telephoning 01603 424121.]
[I will also be taking part in the Quaker ‘Peace One Day’ events earlier that afternoon, at the Forum and around the city of Norwich.]

Beyond the Halifax

What is happening now in the City and in the States sadly vindicates all that we Greens have been saying for so long about money. You cannot trust private banks with the money supply. Allowing these parasites to run the economy is like allowing vultures to run an aviary.
The demutualisations of the 80s and 90s are now clearly visible for what they were — stupid short-termist profit grabs, at the cost of long-term financial security.
Your money is pretty much safe in a co-op, a mutual, a state-owned bank or a credit union. But if your money is with the robber-baron private-bankers, then watch out…
I had an account with Halifax, when I was growing up. It had a very small amount of money in it. When they demutualised, they closed down my account and simply confiscated that money.
That little episode tells you all you need to know about the ‘ethics’ of standard money-grabbing private banks.
The financial system needs to be re-regulated, part-nationalised and put on a sound long-term footing. Greens will always favour long-term security over short-term profit. One day, learning from bitter experience, the banking system will catch up with us.


The 20 September 2008 will be a date to be remembered as a momentous occasion for the Green Party in Norfolk for years to come.  The Norfolk Green Party bi-annual General Meeting be held that day (at 10.00 am – get in touch with me if you’d like to come along); it will be the first held in the company of the new Deputy Leader of the Party, one of Norfolk’s own, Adrian Ramsay.
In what will be a lively, upbeat affair, we will be building upon the Party’s new solid Leadership structure, led nationally by the inspirational and charismatic Caroline Lucas.  With Adrian Ramsay as her Deputy, it is an extremely exciting time for the Green Party in general, and the Norfolk Greens in particular: the next 12 – 18 months will see Ramsay challenge Charles Clarke for the Norwich South seat in the General Election, and June 2009 will see me run for MEP in the Euro-elections here in East Anglia.
Norwich could prove pivotal to both campaigns. Norwich has proved to be a stronghold for the Green Party.  Caroline Lucas became an MEP for South-East England because she has such high support in Oxford and Brighton.  In the same way, Norwich and Norfolk could play the key role in projecting me on to the European stage.
And if the General Election is called as expected in the 12 months after the June 2009 Euro-elections, the momentum gained from my campaign may get behind Adrian’s and snowball him into Westminster. 
As we Norfolk Greens convene this Saturday, the knowledge that Ramsay could win the Green Party’s first ever seat in Westminster, and that I have a real chance of becoming an MEP for the Eastern region, will I believe lift the mood of the meeting like never before.    

RR on Radio 3 last night – listen again to me debating Anthony Grayling: Man is NOT the measure of all things…

Listen again here to my debate with Anthony Grayling last night on Radio 3, on ‘humanism’. (It’s about 34 minutes into the programme – you can just move the bar at the bottom straight along to it.)
I think the conversation was useful, and certainly fun. In retrospect, however, it seems to me that we were speaking somewhat at cross-purposes in our debate, and don’t actually disagree quite as much as we thought we did. For, for Grayling, apparently, humanism is only the sum of all non-supernaturalistic religion. Take for instance the list of philosophers with which Grayling begins: this has little or no unity! This is hardly a tradition. As an alleged ideology, as an ‘ism’, it cannot possibly be compared with (say) Hinduism or Buddhism; for it is thin gruel indeed. As I said, on the programme: if all that humanism is is the absence of superstition, then I have no beef with it. But that hardly seems to me to match closely with the actual use of the term ‘humanism’, to connote some coherent, substantial and positive belief-system that is in debate with and sometimes disagreement with ecologism, with the animal rights movement, and with the great mystical religions.
(Finally, and regretfully, I feel bound to note that at one particular point last night Prof. Grayling was hardly the greatest advert for humanity or for Reason: his gratuitous rhetorical swipe against me to the effect that I allegedly am ignorant of the nature of Buddhism would sit better in the mouth of one who does not frequently praise, as Grayling does, the value and centrality of human reason… I hope that, if the debate continues in another forum, Anthony models a little more fully the intellectual virtues that he (rightly) sets such store by.)