The threat — and the lessons — of recession

The recession presents a threat to us all. The Green Party would tackle this threat through tougher action to regulate the finance sector and through a massive job-creation programme in renewable energy, public transport, sustainable local farming and other sectors of the 21st-century green economy [see posts on this, below:]. Our Leader, Caroline Lucas, has joined with the UK’s leading green economists to propose a ‘Green New Deal’ that will stabilise the economy and boost employment.

We as a society can only make real progress if we grasp the opportunity provided by this historical juncture to move away from a culture of debt-sodden materialism. Jobs and local economies would be far more secure if we replaced the mountains of ‘cheap’ imports with locally made goods that we genuinely need. A recession shows us all the importance of preserving resources: consuming less fuel, saving on heating bills, minimising damage to our shared environment. Let’s stabilise the economy, and end the cycle of boom and bust forever, by settling on a level of economic activity that meets our needs without squandering resources.

The threat presented by the recession is stark, and we in the Green Party fully recognise that. And that’s just why we all need to learn the lessons and create a stable and sustainable economy for the future.

I’m speaking at a Trades Union conference, this Thursday

I’m speaking at the annual general meeting of the Eastern branch of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS (1)) on Thursday December 4th. I will be addressing the event in Peterborough (at the John Clare Theatre, on Broadway, at 1.30pm) as a plenary speaker.


I’ve been a Trades Union activist for 20 years including (most recently) in the University and College Union at the University of East Anglia. If elected as an MEP for the Eastern Region in the European elections in June I will be a firm defender of workers’ interests.


The Green Party, as a staunch defender of social justice, recognises the important role unions play and strongly supports the right of UK workers to receive fair and equal representation in their negotiations with employers and their organisations, and to take industrial action when their rights are threatened. We are at present working with Unions in trying to ensure the right of unions to have workplace environmental representatives.(2)  We believe that the close relationship between New Labour and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), a lobbying group representing commercial interests, undermines New Labour’s commitment to workers’ rights. And we recognise that the UK lags behind all other EU countries in protecting workers’ rights. No other major party in England & Wales offers policies as attractive to unions and union members as the Green Party.


What workers need right now is good sustainable jobs. The government ought to be investing massively in creating green jobs, right now. The pre-budget report was a huge disappointment. The Green Party will keep working hard for green jobs: If elected next June I will work with Green Colleagues in the European Parliament to press for investment to generate millions of them!



(1)   The PCS is the fifth largest trade union in the UK, with over 300,000 members. It represents civil servants and others employed by government agencies as well as private sector workers, mostly in industries that have been privatised.


Bintree Woods must be saved : Green Party prospective MEP to join local residents in celebrating these woods, this Saturday. [News release]

Wensum ward Councillor and Green Party candidate for Eastern Region in the 2009 European elections Rupert Read will join a protest on December 6th against the proposed destruction of Bintree Woods.

In February 2008 Norfolk County Council, in partnership with the Forestry Commission and local landowners, proposed the conversion of 1.7 square miles of land around and including Bintree Woods into the largest combined gravel extraction works and landfill site in Europe.

Bintree Woods includes a conservation area within its boundaries, is home to abundant wildlife and abuts the Wensum Valley, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is an important and beautiful recreation area and occupies a highly visible position elevated above the surrounding farmland.

Norfolk county council will decide in January whether to set in motion the process of seeking planning permission by including Bintree on its list of ‘preferred’ sites for gravel extraction.

As part of a vocal ongoing campaign to save the woods, local residents and supporters will hold a walk through them on December 6th. It is timed to coincide with the Center for International Forestry Research’s second World Forest Day in Poznan, Poland, which will bring together policy makers and agenda setters to draw attention to the links between forests and climate change.

Rupert Read will be joining the walkers and joining calls to scrap the gravel pit plans. He commented:

“Bintree Woods must be saved for us and our children and their children to enjoy. The Green Party is 100% committed to conserving our countryside, rather than consuming and destroying it. I am proud to have been invited to join the local people in celebrating these woods this weekend, and am looking forward to this walk immensely. It will be good to be walking at the same time as people all around the world are walking in defence of similar woods and forests, which are our great joy and our greatest defence against the threat of climate catastrophe.”


Editor’s notes:

Green Party policy on forestry:

The Green Party is strongly committed to protecting British forests and increasing the area of forest in the UK from the current level of 8% to around 25%, bringing the UK into line with other European countries. The Greens also aim to increase control over forests by local communities by encouraging the creation of ‘community forests’ managed by local committees or community associations.

The Lakenheath 8

Now here is an interesting story: Some local folk are being prosecuted in Ipswich this week for allegedly trying to prevent the use of cluster bombs — in the very same week as the world looks set to ban cluster bombs (treaty-signing due on Wednesday)!
Tomorrow is the big day in court, when the accused bring in their expert witnesses.

Note also that one of these good people, Margaret Moss, allegedly did the action, despite being terminally ill.

Completely separate to the current court case, I carried out a non-violent protest IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS CHAMBER on the issue of cluster bombs, FIVE YEARS AGO, WHICH LED TO ME temporarily STOPPING DEBATE, BEING DETAINED, and GETTING SCARRED ON MY WRIST (it’s a small scar, but I can still see it…) from where the Sergeant at Arms and his men dragged me out of the Public Gallery… See a news story about this at the time, here: [See page 4].

CLUSTER BOMBS: “Who are the really serious criminals?” asks Green Party Prospective MEP [Media release]

A court case has started this morning in Ipswich and will go on this week over the next few days, to consider charges under the ‘Serious and Organised Crime Act’ following a demonstration at Lakenheath two years ago.
Eight protestors allegedly blockaded a compound in the base where cluster bombs were being stored, with allegations that these were ready to be dropped on conflict zones in the Middle East.
Rupert Read, Prospective Green Party MEP for Eastern Region, said
“Cluster bombs inflict injuries and deaths indiscriminately, often long after their use, which is why they are illegal under international law. It is alleged that the US military brought these bombs through local bases without permission of our Government, which then hushed-up the ensuing row.
“The British authorities appear to have over-looked the irony that this week (1) over 100 countries are meeting in Oslo to sign a Treaty outlawing possession and use of cluster bombs.
“We need to ask “Who are the really serious criminals?” when it comes to the manufacture, trading and use of horrendous weapons such as cluster bombs.”


Notes: (1) Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference – To be held on 2–4 December 2008.
Heads of State, Foreign Ministers and senior government representatives from over 100 countries are gathering in Oslo to sign a worldwide ban on the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster bombs. It will be the most significant humanitarian and disarmament treaty of the decade.