Gaza flotilla attacked: Green response:

 

Foreign Secretary William Hague – a prominent member of the ‘Friends of Israel’ organisation – has issued a statement deploring the loss of life. But that ‘evenhandedness’ just isn’t good enough. All of those killed have been civilians engaged in a humanitarian task; and they have been killed by Israeli troops operating outside the law, piratically, in international waters. We in the Green Party condemn their actions; and, if our government fails to issue a similar condemnation, then we will be left with no alternative but to conclude that this new government is soft on Israel, and is not serious about opposing internationally illegal violence, extra-judicial murder and war.

 Also: Caroline Lucas MP, the Greens Leader, has condemned Israel’s attack on peace activists:

If you are a Liberal Democrat contrast this with the silence of your Leader. Time to join the Green Party if you care about peace and justice.

The Green Party Leader, Caroline Lucas MP, has called on the Government to condemn the actions of the Israeli troops in firing on a ship carrying volunteers and medical supplies to Gaza, and to back an urgent inquiry into the incident.

In a strongly worded message to Foreign Secretary William Hague, she has demanded that he urgently contact the Israeli authorities to demand an end to the attacks, and that he ensure that Israel is held fully to acount for an illegal and unprovoked attack.

Speaking this morning, she said:

“I completely condemn this deadly attack on the humanitarian aid convoy. I am deeply shocked by the brutality of the assault, which has left a still unkown number of people dead and wounded. My thoughts are with the victims and their families.

“This attack is a serious infringement of the principles of international law. The Green Party calls on the UK Government, and the EU, to apply pressure to lift the ongoing blockade of Gaza, which makes essential humanitarian aid for the population of Gaza virtually impossible to deliver. We also call for the quick establishment of an international inquiry to shed light on the circumstances of this attack.”

Every single East Anglian MP is part of the governing coalition

ALL East Anglia’s MPs are part of the governing coalition. Every single MP in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex is either LibDem or Tory. As the cuts get underway, isn’t it time to have some opposition around here? Genuine opposition to the cuts, from a Party that (unlike Labour) hasn’t caused the problem, and has a real programme (the Green New Deal) designed to obviate the need for most of the cuts proposed…

That’s where we come in… Get in touch with us, if you’d like to get involved: www.greenparty.org.uk

(Or get in touch with me direct.)

In Norwich South, for instance, I bet that many LibDem voters were surprised when our new LibDem MP helped usher David Cameron into Downing Street. Many Norwich LibDem voters are feeling confused by this- the Lib Dems really have changed for the worse since the days of Paddy
Ashdown (back before I left their Party ;-).

The Miliband commitment to climate change is mostly just rhetoric

(First published at http://liberalconspiracy.org)

The Miliband brothers both claim to be ‘green-leaning’ candidates, and this is part of what helps them to appear modern and progressive.

But the reality, given their actions when leading various government departments, is that their rhetoric masks a lot of inaction.

1. That effort is being successfully conducted if emissions are going down. But most people don’t realise that our Co2 emissions are still going up.

A key reason is that the Milibands, David and DEFRA and Ed at DECC, have repeatedly suggested that Britain’s CO2 emissions are going down.

2. David Miliband has often claimed that the UK has achieved major cuts in greenhouse gases since 1990. He sometimes says Britain is on course to achieve 25% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2012. But the figures that Miliband and his successors at DEFRA/DECC (including most notably Ed) are using leave out embodied energy, the inclusion of which would make it very clear that this cannot be so.
Even on the most generous figures available to govt (not only excluding embodied energy but also international transport), CO2 has more or less flatlined since 1997, rising in recent years, and thus showing an overall small rise. It is only slightly (a few percentage points) below 1990 (Kyoto baseline) levels. When those factors are included, then there has been little or no reduction even since 1990, and a significant increase since 1997.

3. There has been and remains a further systematic under-estimation of Britain’s contribution to CO2 emissions from air travel, because only aircraft taking off from Britain are counted. That sounds reasonable, until one notices that almost 70% of the passengers taking off and landing in Britain are Britons. DEFRA/DECC ought to be attributing 70% – not 50% – of the emissions of planes taking off from and landing in Britain to the UK. Between 1990 and 2003, estimated CO2 emissions from aviation rose by 90%, a staggering increase.

4. Furthermore, the government statistics do not take into account most of the effects of ‘radiative forcing’ – the increased global heating effect of emissions at high altitude, with the cocktail of gases and water vapour that planes emit.
To be fair to the Milibands, they both pushed for transport to be included in Copenhagen and in the EU ETS.

But this doesn’t excuse their not having acknowledged the realities bullet-pointed above, which were repeatedly pointed out to the Milibands during their time in office, by Monbiot, by myself, and by others.

If the Milibands wish to be seen as ‘green-leaning’ Labour-leadership candidates, then surely they ought to repair their rhetoric on emissions, and concede that the reality is that the Labour government did not reduce climate-dangerous emissions, but in fact saw them increase.

And that the party needs to do a lot more to deal with the problem of man-made climate change.

Green Party policy on Europe – correcting a common misconception

  The Green Party position on Europe is not remotely ‘Euro-sceptical’. We are an internationalist and pro-European Party. The European Green Party is the closest thing that there is to a genuine pan-European political Party (a new ‘International’, one might say): the Green MEPs vote together much more often that other groups in the Euro-Parl.
  What the Green Party in this country is is deeply critical of existing European institutions, which are profoundly undemocratic, overly centrist, and deeply prejudiced toward big business. This is why we opposed the Lisbon Treaty. Any self-respecting leftwing / radical Party would take a similar view – which is why New Labour did not, presumably…

Churchill was an ‘unelected PM’. [My latest EDP ONEWORLD column]

By Rupert Read

Last Saturday, I was in London, taking part in a big demonstration in Trafalgar Square in favour of changing on antiquated voting system in this country. Alongside Libdems, Greens, one or two Conservatives and UKIP-ites, and many people belong to no political party, I marched with Billy Bragg to where the Conservatives and LibDems were talking about a possible coalition. We chanted “No deal without PR [proportional representation]”, until eventually Nick Clegg felt obliged to come out and address us. I stood a few yards away from him, as he spoke with us and (sometimes) we chanted back friendlily to him. It felt like democracy alive.

Now, a week later (how long a week can be in politics!), Nick Clegg is actually Deputy Prime Minister, in a coalition with the Conservatives. And all the intervening worries about how we might end up with ‘an unelected Prime Minister’ (if we had ended up with Brown’s successor as Labour Leader, as Prime Minister) seem like ancient history.

But they are not. For the new coalition government, whatever its faults (and I suspect that they will be many), is promising some interesting political reforms. We may end up with a changed electoral system (not, sadly, PR, but at least AV, the ‘Alternative Vote’ system, in which you rank the candidates in order of your preference, and therefore no candidate can be elected without a majority of votes). We may end up with an elected second chamber. And we will probably end up with fixed-term-Parliaments.

Now, if we have fixed-term Parliaments, and if those Parliaments are hung (as they often will be, especially under AV voting), this makes it inevitable that there will sometimes be ‘unelected Prime Ministers’. For, if power changes hands during a fixed-term Parliament – if there is a rupture that forces a change in what the governing coalition is – then the Prime Minister will by definition be changing without a new election.

Some might say this is awful, having an ‘unelected Prime Minister’. But note the following three facts:

  1. We are not talking about a Prime Minister from the House of Lords. We are talking about a Prime Minister who has been elected just like any other MP, to our House of Commons. We have a Parliamentary system, not a Presidential system (the misleading format of the TV debates notwithstanding). MPs choose who the Prime Minister is, the people don’t choose the PM directly. We saw this in action a few days ago, when it was the balance of preferences among the MPs that ultimately determined that it was Cameron who would end up in number 10.
  2. Many countries on the Continent are well-used to this. Germany, for instance – and if you travel Germany’s railways, see Germany’s green infrastructure, etc., then you’ll know that Germany is often governed much better than Britain…
  3. Commentators have often pointed out recently that it is exactly 70 years since Churchill’s coalition government was formed. But they omit to mention that Churchill too was an ‘unelected Prime Minister’. He succeeded to power after Chamberlain resigned, without any intervening General Election. If being an ‘unelected PM’ was good enough for the man who is by popular acclaim the ‘greatest Briton ever’ (though actually Churchill wasn’t great in how he behaved toward the miners, Gandhi, etc. – but that’s a story for another occasion), then it should be good enough for us now.
As I say, if we have fixed-term Parliaments (which would end the ludicrous uncertainty about when General Elections are going to be), then we will get used to it being thus. And why shouldn’t we; for there just is no decisive argument, at the end of the day, in our political system, against having a so-called ‘unelected Prime Minister’.

GREEN, not yellow and blue…

Its welcome news that the new government is abandoning plans for a 3rd runway at Heathrow. But the fundamental issue is unaddressed.
The neoliberals gathered around the Cabinet table (They’re neoliberals to a man – even Huhne is basically a downtheline Orange-Booker) want nothing more than to restart economic growth. (Of course, their mad rush to cut cut cut may create a recession or even a (disastrous) Depression for a while, rather than, as Greens wish to do, stabilising the economy; but sooner or later, they will probably succeed in starting up the conveyor belt of ‘economic growth’ once more.)  Their economic desires run exactly counter to their environmental desires.
This is one of the key reasons why I quite the LibDems, and joined the Greens, a decade ago. This governing coalition has no more clue than Labour does about the fundamental constraint: that you can’t keep growing the cake, because the ingredients are running out, and the bins are all overflowing…
 
We can have prosperity without growth; but we cannot have environmental sanity with growth.

LIBDEMS HAVE BETRAYED THEIR VOTERS

 

Greens criticise Conservative-LibDem deal over public sector cuts and voting reform:

Senior figures in the Green Party in the East of England are saying today that the LibDems have betrayed the people who voted for them at last week’s General Election with the deal they have struck with the Conservatives for a new coalition Government.

Among what it bad with the agreement that they have struck: The LibDems have agreed to Conservative plans to start making public sector cuts during this financial year and the LibDems have failed to get an agreement for the introduction of a proportional voting system. (1)

Adrian Ramsay (Green Party Deputy Leader nationally, and also a Councillor in Norwich) commented: “There are real risks to cutting back on public spending while the economy is still recovering from recession – which is presumably why the LibDems didn’t support making cut backs this year in their manifesto. I’m very concerned that the LibDems have now signed up to the Conservative cuts and about what this may mean for crucial local services such as Sure Start nurseries and day care centres.

“The Green Party’s General Election manifesto showed that there are ways of dealing with the deficit whilst protecting public services.”

C’llr. Rupert Read (who narrowly missed election as this Region’s first Green MEP, a year ago) added: “The way forward should have been through green investment to stabilise the economy, not through public service cuts. So the people of Eastern England can trust that we in the Green Party will fight these Tory-LibDem cuts, tooth and nail.”

C’llr. Read continued: “I fear that the new alliance between the Conservatives and LibDems will take us in the wrong direction. I don’t think these cuts are what people in the East voted for last week. Many voters who voted LibDem last week have already told us that they are now regretting having done so, and will instead look to the Greens next time.”

C’llr Ramsay concluded: “Nick Clegg has also failed to use this situation to secure a fair voting system where every vote counts equally. LibDems have been campaigning for this for decades and this was their chance to make it happen. I think many LibDem activists and voters will be feeling betrayed.”

NOTES

1. There is going to be a referendum on the Alternative Vote, but that is not a proportional voting system nor is it LibDem policy.

Tory, LibDem, Labour – a certain Shakespearian quote comes to mind

So: At a time of unprecedented market failure (financial, environmental), we have a government of deregulators. At a time when the state has saved the day (for now) financially, and is a key part of our only hope environmentally, we have a government of ‘savage’ cutters. At a time when we supposedly live in a classless societies, we have a government of toffs who believe that they were ‘born to rule’ (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/election-2010/7664461/David-Cameron-born-to-be-prime-minister.html ). And at a time when proportional representation was at last within reach, all we are going to be offered is the dismal half-way house of AV.

Millions voted to keep the Tories out – and the LibDems have voted them in. Voters won’t forget that betrayal.
And Labour let this happen, shamefully, by abandoning the chance of a ‘progressive alliance’. They could have stopped the Tories, as I’ve been arguing on this blog these past several days – they have CHOSEN not to. Shame on them.


What would Mercutio say?

…Anyway: It’s going to be a long long haul. The fightback begins here. I’m proud to be a Green tonight; and ashamed of the failed political system we live in, and of the useless politicians who are swapping from the Government to the Opposition benches and vice versa. Who are leading us to economic and environmental disaster.
Yes, I’m not a happy bunny tonight. And the most probable future for our country and our world is, I fear, grim. The only consolation is that all three Parties have disgraced themselves (apart from the Tories, who were a disgrace already), and so there may be good times ahead for genuinely oppositional voices, who have got it right, such as the Green Party. Unlike the others, we didn’t lose Thursday’s election – we broke through, for the first time.
And we are going to be needed more than ever.

#ProgressiveMajority or bust

The awful threat looming if we do not get a #progressivemajority government is that of a snap election in which Tory cash – and #Cashcroft in particular – will overwhelm us all, all the Parties of the green/left/centre. For: we’ll be bust, unlike the Party of the rich.
If there is to be a ‘rainbow alliance’ of some kind, then it needs to get some positive response from Labour SOON. Why are Labour being so hostile about the smaller Parties at present? (http://bit.ly/96lrX6 ) They need to get over that, and fast.
 
The government will (quite rightly) have no security not to be voted out if it has made no effort whatsoever to respond to the concerns of the SNP (http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8674000/8674198.stm ), Plaid, Greens, etc. As Riddell pointed out on Today this morning, you have to have some kind of Agreement (I think Riddell over-estimates how difficult it would be; he fails to take into account the strong anti-Tory sentiment that would bind the Parties together): http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8674000/8674182.stm . A minority government is sooner or later bound to fall. A Co-operation Agreement, by contrast, could work – as it has done in Scotland, these past 3 years.
 

Caroline Lucas on a #progressivemajority

“I think we would rule out a formal coalition, but we’re very interested in talking about ways we might co-operate.”

And on her victory in Brighton Pavillion: “It’s only one seat – but it’s the first seat. It was only 24 years between the first Labour MP and the first Labour government.”

These quotes are from a New Statesman piece (which spins the first one very misleadingly), to appear soon.