For a public Royal Mail!

At the next Full Council meeting of Norwich City Council tomorrow evening (Tuesday 27 Jan.),

I will propose a motion asking Norwich City Council to

support the campaign for a publicly owned modern Royal Mail.

In 2008, Green Party City Councillors campaigned against the closures
of Post Offices in Vauxhall Street, Rosary Road, North Earlham, New
Costessey and Trowse.


This campaign is a campaign deserving strong support from everyone

who cares about the preservation of local communities. Last year we saw how willing the

government was to let Post Offices close, further abandoning communities across Norwich. I fear that a
privatised Royal Mail will seek to cut costs by putting
yet more pressure on local Post Offices, leading to further closures.

The motion states that a publicly-owned service is the best way to
serve the population of Norwich and to safeguard jobs in a time of

The government has a real opportunity to
modernise Royal Mail and to provide services at a local level, but
instead they have opted for a quick and nasty privatisation. This is a
move in the wrong direction, and is especially ironic when you notice

that the government is in the process of nationalising most of Britain‘s banks. . .


As we have seen before, privatisation is a
false economy which will lead to higher prices and poorer services.



Bring Railways in to Public Ownership, Greens will say at tomorrow evening’s Council meeting! [Media release]

Green Councillor Samir Jeraj will propose a motion at the 27 January
meeting of Norwich City Council calling for the Council to back a
campaign to bring the railways back into public ownership. This comes
at the same time as the franchised rail services being provided by
National Express have started to cut jobs in Norwich.

Councillor Jeraj said: “It is deeply concerning that National Express
are cutting jobs. It’s common sense to see that the quality of service
will be dramatically affected by this.”

“Instead of running the railways for profit, every pound of income
should be reinvested to improve the service and keep fares down.
Last year, National Express announced pre-tax profits of
£90 million, a rise of 9%.”

“Rather than seeking ways to carry on with a failed system of private
ownership, we should be looking to create a system of public ownership
which puts tax payers and rail users in control of railway services.”

“Rail renationalisation also needs to be combined with localisation.
An example of this would be for train lines such as the Wherry and
Bittern Lines to be owned and managed by a cooperative made up of its


Cllr. Rupert Read, Green Party Transport Spokesman and prospective Green
Party MEP for East Anglia, who will be seconding the motion, added: “There
has been a lot of talk about ‘joined-up government’. Well, it is high time
for joined-up railway services in this county and this country — and that
means it is just common sense to renationalise the railways. After all,
what’s good enough for the banks is good enough for the railways!”

A Hunger For Peace


The recent critically-acclaimed film Hunger brought home powerfully to many of us the brutality of the regime that faced republican hunger-strikers in Northern Irish prisons back in 1981. Fast forward a generation: who in the early 1980s would have thought that Northern Ireland would now (in 2009) be at peace?

I was a witness to one small part of the earliest stages of that real-life drama, the drama of the Northern Irish peace process.

Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, first rose to prominence as a result of the hunger-strikes recently dramatized in Hunger. He was elected an MP in 1983, but refused to take his seat in the House of Commons, because he did not accept the legitimacy of British rule over Northern Ireland. In 1984, he was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt by ‘ultra-loyalists’. In 1987, while I was in my last year studying at Oxford, he was invited by my friend Simon Stevens, then President of the Oxford Union, to speak in a major debate over ‘terrorism’.

The invitation was extremely controversial. Adams had only recently been allowed onto British soil at all, being considered persona non grata by Thatcher’s government. This was to be his first major speech in Britain as an MP and Sinn Fein’s Leader. Many did not want the visit to go ahead.

I helped Simon work on ensuring the visit could successfully happen after all. I vividly recall several phone calls discussing the arrangements, during which we heard various clicking noises on the phone – phone-tapping was a less sophisticated operation, in those days…

Simon had to go through a great deal more, to get things straightened out. He was taken to secret meetings with Sinn Fein officials in safe locations; so fearful were they for the safety of their leader after what had happened to him a few years before.

Before the Oxford Union debate, I met Gerry Adams, and noticed the way he walked, still affected by the bullet lodged in his body. At dinner, I sat beside one of his bodyguards, a man from a background so different from my own, that, by the end of the meal, I felt I could start to understand why someone might take as hard-line a position on the possible use of violence – as a means of resisting what they saw as an occupation – as he and Adams did.

The debate was a little landmark, an early public moment in the slow journey towards negotiations and then, after a decade, peace.

Why rehearse this history? Because my mind is on the terrible conflict in Palestine / Israel. Ireland was colonially occupied by British people, much as Palestine was colonially occupied last century by Jewish (now Israeli) people – therein lies the root of the trouble(s). Decades of violence however seem hopefully to have come to an end in Northern Ireland; not so in Palestine / Israel. Might one dare to hope that, if we fast forward a generation, there could be peace there, too?

But first, there must be a real peace process. That means, for starters, that we all have to be willing to talk to Hamas, the democratically-elected government of Palestine. The Israelis say they will not speak with Hamas until Hamas recognises Israel. But why should Hamas recognise Israel, when Israel occupies Palestine and will not recognise Palestine as a state?

To overcome this mad impasse, it is necessary to talk. If there is ever to be a ‘Good Friday Agreement’ in Israel / Palestine, then the US, UK, EU and Israel must be prepared to talk with Hamas. After all, if our government is willing to parler with Israel, which has just killed a thousand Palestinians, then should it not be prepared to parler with Hamas, too? Let’s hope that Obama sees sense on this and agrees to open up a dialogue with Hamas.

Hamas are allegedly ‘terrorists’, Israel allegedly not. But: were not the IRA terrorists? Hamas are the elected government of Palestine. After Adams and some of his colleagues were elected, we talked with them. And we talked even with the IRA, who were never elected by anyone.

If there is to be peace in the Middle East, there needs to be enough hunger for it that one is prepared to parler with people who one doesn’t much like. Even with people who kill civilians. As Israel has cruelly killed many hundreds of civilians, in Gaza, in the last month. The dozens of police officers it has killed: civilians. The people sheltering in schools and basements that it has killed: civilians. The hundreds of young children it has killed: civilians…

Tony Juniper selected as Green Party General Election candidate for Cambridge

Radiohead star Thom Yorke backs Juniper to be “a great Green Party MP”

The Green Party today announces that Tony Juniper, recent Director of Friends of the Earth, has been selected as General Election candidate for Cambridge. There will be a press launch at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, starting at 11.30am Wednesday 21st January (please see below for further details).

Tony Juniper has lived in the city for 20 years and has campaigned on green issues for more than 25 years. As Campaigns Director and later Director of Friends of the Earth he led many successful initiatives on a wide range of issues from wildlife protection to organic food and from recycling to fuel poverty. He stepped down from leading Friends of the Earth in July 2008 following the success of the Big Ask campaign which led to the world’s first national legislation on reducing greenhouse gas emissions – the 2008 Climate Change Act.

Tony Juniper said

“More and more people can see that if we want a sound economy, a fair society and a secure environment, then we need to make important changes. The Green Party is alone in having a manifesto which shows how these changes can be made through due democratic process while at the same time reducing global inequality. The current economic downturn offers great opportunities to put forward the Green agenda.

I have spent many years influencing politics through campaigning and realise the crucial importance of entering the parliamentary arena. Not only have I seen at first-hand what needs to be done, but I have already spearheaded initiatives that changed legislation through enlisting the support of tens of thousands of citizens.

The incredible research and technology capacity we already have here in Cambridge can be used to help build a truly green economy. This is already beginning to happen in other countries and we are lagging behind. I want to ensure that Cambridge is at the forefront of this new global green revolution. By electing one of the UK’s first Green MPs, Cambridge can be certain of playing its part.”

Juniper,s selection has been welcomed by Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, who worked with him from 2005 to secure the world’s first national law on climate change.

Thom Yorke said

“Tony Juniper has amazing energy and enthusiasm which inspires those around him, including me. He speaks a language that even I can understand when it comes to green issues and I have spent many evenings learning more from him than I can ever learn from books. Most importantly he has a keen understanding of how to change our political future from the inside without compromise, and has accumulated the most breathtaking amount of experience as head of Friends of the Earth UK. He would make a great Green Party MP, our country need people like him as the environment becomes central to UK politics.”

Cambridge’s Green Party City Councillor, Margaret Wright said,

“I am delighted that Tony Juniper has been selected. He has all the qualities needed to make an excellent MP for the city.”

Dr. Rupert Read, Lead Green Party European Election Candidate in Eastern Region added

“With Margaret’s election in 2008, Cambridge gained its first Green Councillor and the city now looks set for further growth of the Green Party. I am delighted to welcome Tony Juniper to our candidate list, here in East Anglia, and I am hugely encouraged by the prospect of voters in Cambridge being able to vote for Tony to be their representative in Westminster, where his abilities and great experience so clearly belong.”


Press Launch: Wednesday 21st January, 11:30am-12.30pm.

The King’s Room, Cambridge Corn Exchange
Wheeler Street,
CB2 3QB.

Additional photo opportunities:

10am Riverside Cycle Bridge, Riverside, Cambridge. Meet outside Riverside entrance to Museum of Technology.

City centre by arrangement after 12:30pm.

For further information please contact:

Cllr Margaret Wright 01223 362128 07828 912838

Eastern Region Press Office 01376 584576 07951 923073

For more information on Tony Juniper see

For more information on the Green Party see or

Greens campaign in St Albans

From the St Albans and Harpenden Review

Green candidate Rupert Read visited St Albans today to boost his chances of election to the European Parliament on June 4.

The 42-year-old university philosophy lecturer told the Review: “I have a realistic chance of getting elected – because the election uses proportional representation, I need only about one vote in ten across the East of England region.

“The neighbouring regions – London and the South-East – have had Green MEPs for quite a few years.

“Those MPs have helped local communities, for example by campaigning against unpopular supermarkets.

“And they have pushed through some really good legislation, such as the recent pesticide ban, opposed by most other parties, which will make our food and environment safer.

“The Government and the council should be responding to the economic slump by promoting ‘green jobs’ – jobs in small businesses, public transport and sustainable agriculture.

“The council should make sure these empty shops are rented out to locally based small businesses – that would provide desperately needed jobs, stimulating the economy without harming the environment.”

Mr Read, who lives in Norwhich and sits on Norwich City Council, has taken a year off from the University of East Anglia to concentrate on the campaign.

Greens Call for Just and Permanent Settlement for Palestinians

Lead Green candidate backs peaceful protests at Essex University against totally disproportionate actions of Israel

With the start of a fragile ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, Greens in Eastern Region are again calling for a just and permanant settlement to end the violence and deliver the two state solution that has been talked about for so long.

The Green Party opposes all of the violence in the conflict, from both sides, but notes that the hugely damaging war has had a totally disproportionate impact on the Palestinian people locked into the Gaza strip, with the loss of life being around 100 times greater for Palestinians than for Israelis and with over 300 totally innocent Palestinian children killed. Many more will be vulnerable over the coming weeks, as Gaza remains under siege and the ceasefire will be incredibly fragile until Gaza’s borders are opened.

Lead Green Candidate for the European Elections on June 4th, Dr. Rupert Read has backed peaceful protests as a way of drawing attention to the plight of the Palestinian peoples. Dr. Read has taken part in a number of marches and vigils recently and has also spoken out in support of students at Essex University and other universities who are holding protests in support of Palestinian students.

Dr. Rupert Read said:

“I offer my encouragement and respect to the students at the University of Essex – and of several other British Universities – who are struggling for the rights of students in Palestine. It is good to show such care about fellow human beings, even if they may be thousands of miles away, and to make a stand for human rights.

“Israel is in breach of the Geneva Conventions with its war and siege on Gaza. It still occupies Palestine. In such cases the Green Party fully backs such peaceful protests.”

Greens Welcomes Norwich Council Action on 20mph Limit [Media release]

Cllr. Rupert Read today welcomed a report to the Norwich Highways Agency Committee (NHAC, which meets this Thursday morning at City Hall at 10 a.m.) on which he sits as a voting member.

The report signals the beginning of the implementation of a blanket 20mph speed limit across residential areas of Norwich, excepting major arteries.

The report recommends trialling the lower speed limit in three residential areas around Norwich and then rolling out the lower speed limit across all ‘unclassified’ (low-traffic) residential roads in the city should it prove successful. It is proposed that the pilot take place from March to September 2009 in areas around Jex Road, Vauxhall Street and Borrowdale Drive.

Dr. Read, who is the Norwich Green Party’s Transport Spokesperson and lead candidate in the Eastern Region for the European Parliamentary Elections in June 2009, has campaigned hard for the speed limit change over the last few years, and it was an amendment by him to an NHAC report last year which made 20mph limits possible in Norwich. He says:

“I welcome this as the next step towards a more sustainable transport system in Norwich. It was especially encouraging to get such a positive response for the 20mph limit in the consultations with residents – it is good to see well over three quarters of those consulted being keen to make 20mph limits in residential areas happen.

“A 20mph limit across the city would make streets safer for everyone, saving lives and encouraging people to switch to more sustainable modes of transportation like walking and cycling. Furthermore, driving at 30 through residential areas is actually less fuel efficient than driving at 20, because with 30mph limits on residential roads drivers are constantly adjusting their speed, accelerating and decelerating, so the change should save motorists a little money, reduce casualties and help save the planet.

“The 20mph limit has already been implemented in UK towns and is the norm for many towns on the Continent. The evidence from these various ‘trials’ already in place shows the scheme to have substantial safety and pollution benefits, so I do have questions about the need to conduct a further and more modest trial here. But it is certainly very encouraging to see this change becoming a reality after years of resistance by the County Council.”

Rupert Read Green Party Councillor, Norwich, and Lead Candidate for Eastern Region for the Greens in the 2009 Euro-elections.

DID YOU KNOW: A vote of about 10% across Eastern Region on June 4 2009 would be enough to get me elected to the European Parliament.

Bank crisis latest – nationalise, before it’s too late!

So, the Anglo-Irish Bank is to be nationalised: . It seems clear that, denials notwithstanding, this is because of a run on the bank, a huge loss of confidence in it.
But why? Why would – how can – a bank that has a 100% government guarantee of its deposits face this kind of problem?
That it is poses a new moment in this vast unprecedented financial crisis, a new dilemma. If even a 100% guarantee of deposits is not enough to prevent a classic bank run, then where are we?
Where we are, is with the only option left being what the Irish government is now starting to resort to – full nationalisation even of institutions that have 100% government guarantees.
Private banks are a recipe for dangerous risk-taking behaviour and, ultimately, for corruption. Nationalised banks are less likely to be corrupt, and far less likely to engage in reckless behaviour of the kind that has driven this credit crunch. A 100% guarantee of deposits is of course potentially a recipe for reckless behaviour on the part of a bank – because the government has written them a blank cheque…
Governments need to move now to take full control of the banks. If they do not, we will see more cases like Anglo-Irish. Government support for banks, even – in fact, in some ways especially – support as strong as that being offered by the Irish government, is simply not enough.
Meanwhile, over here, shares in Barclays and other banks are plummetting… The banking crisis is in a new and extremely worrying phase… It is time to end to uncertainty! We MUST nationalise the banks now!
A failure to nationalise (and partly remutualise) the banking system very very soon may soon plunge us into a Depression.
--    Rupert Read  Green Party Councillor, Norwich, and Lead Candidate for Eastern Region for the Greens in the 2009 Euro-elections.   DID YOU KNOW: A vote of about 10% across Eastern Region on June 4 2009 would be enough to get me elected to the European Parliament...