Is there an epochal significance for British politics in the upcoming local elections in Norwich?

Regular readers of my articles will no doubt have noticed that I sometimes use words like ‘epochal’ and ‘history-making’ when describing Green Party achievements. I use these ‘hyperbolic’ phrases to reflect reality. They are a reflection of the massive steps the Green Party has taken in recent years, and in anticipation of future milestones to be passed not too far further down the road.

For example: In the last decade we’ve had our first MEPs elected and re- elected, and our first MSPs. This year we finally returned our first MP to Westminster. Now we stand on the threshold of an occasion every bit as historic as those achievements, if not more so:

In the local elections on Sept 9th (See here for why these elections are happening), the Green Party can capitalise on years of hard work by becoming the largest party on Norwich City Council (we are at present just 2 seats behind Labour) and potentially then forming the first-ever UK Green Principal Authority administration (We may well emerge on Sept. 10th with more seats than anyone else in Norwich and form a minority adminstration. Though in theory the other Parties could still stop us from forming an administration, by coalescing together). This could be therefore a real watershed moment… click here to read the full article at brightgreenscotland.org



The time to organise resistance is now

We reject these cuts as simply malicious ideological vandalism, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest.

Join us in the fight.


It is time to organise a broad movement of active resistance to the Con-Dem government’s budget
intentions. They plan the most savage spending cuts since the 1930s, which will wreck the lives of millions
by devastating our jobs, pay, pensions, NHS, education, transport, postal and other services.

The government claims the cuts are unavoidable because the welfare state has been too generous.

This is nonsense. Ordinary people are being forced to pay for the bankers’ profligacy.

The £11bn welfare cuts, rise in VATto 20%, and 25% reductions across government departments target
the most vulnerable – disabled people, single parents, those on housing benefit, black and other ethnic
minority communities, students, migrant workers, LGBTpeople and pensioners.

Women are expected to bear 75% of the burden. The poorest will be hit six times harder than the richest.

Internal Treasury documents estimate 1.3 million job losses in public and private sectors.

We reject this malicious vandalism and resolve to campaign for a radical alternative, with the level of
determination shown by trade unionists and social movements in Greece and other European countries.

This government of millionaires says “we’re all in it together” and “there is no alternative”.

But, for the wealthy, corporation tax is being cut, the bank levy is a pittance, and top salaries
and bonuses have already been restored to pre-crash levels.


An alternative budget would place the banks under democratic control, and raise revenue by increasing
tax for the rich, plugging tax loopholes, withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, abolishing the nuclear
“deter-rent” by cancelling the Trident replacement.

An alternative strategy could use these resources to: support welfare; develop homes, schools, and
hospitals; and foster a green approach to public spending – investing in renewable energy and public
transport, thereby creating a million jobs.

We commit ourselves to:


> Oppose cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services.
> Fight rising unemployment and support organisations of unemployed people.
> Develop and support an alternative programme for economic and social recovery.
> Oppose all proposals to “solve” the crisis through racism and other forms of scapegoating.
> Work closely with similar opposition movements in other countries.
> Organise information, meetings, conferences, marches and demonstrations.
> Support the development of a national co-ordinating coalition of resistance.

We urge those who support this statement to attend the Organising Conference on
Saturday 27 November 2010 (10am-5pm),
Camden Centre, Town Hall, London, WC1H 9JE.

Green Party Conference approaching…

Bank Profits a sign of economic sickness, not health

There is an interesting blog today by Steve Keen, which I think explains
quite a lot about our current predicament. Go to
www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/ to read it, as well as www.nakedcapitalism.com/
to see it reproduced on another very good, and wider, blog.

Keen refers to the situation in Australia, where he says government debt is
5.5% of GDP and private debt is over 150% of GDP. Of course both figures
are very different in the UK and the US, but I think his argument still
holds.

[Hat-tip: Tom Lines]

My letter in the latest issue of RED PEPPER, on the General Election results of the Greens

To the Editor, RP;
 
     Steve Platt (‘Plattitudes’, June/July) is plain wrong on several aspects of the aftermath of the General Election:
1) It isn’t true that AV will make it “even harder for minor parties to get elected”. Rather, by disposing of the wasted vote argument and of the need for tactical voting, AV gives all smaller parties a foot in the door. AV, if it comes in, will certainly be of great benefit to the Green Party.
2) Platt’s attempt to get the Left falling in line behind Labour is, given this, extremely crude. At this election, the Labour Party suffered a massive defeat; while the Green Party got its first MP elected. Platt claims that “when it comes to the next Westminster election, everyone knows it will have to be Labour or bust.” No – when it comes to the next Westminster election, especially if we have AV, for the first time in ages socialists won’t have to hold their noses and vote for dreadful New Labour clones, but will on the contrary be able in many seats to vote Green (or Independent, or Respect, or SNP/Plaid, etc.) with some chance that their 1st-preference candidate may actually win.
3) Platt calls Caroline Lucas’s election in Brighton “exceptional”. Well, yes, it was exceptional – as was the election of the first Labour MP(s), a century ago. That doesn’t imply that it is “unrepeatable” – on the contrary! The floodgates to electoral success may well now open for the Green Party, now that we have broken down the credibility barrier. For one thing, many many former LibDem voters, for many of whom we were the first preference anyway (and FPTP has hitherto only obscured this) will plump for us. Interesting times!
4) Finally, Platt uses the raw votes figures from the Election to ‘prove’ that “In electoral terms, at least, there really is no alternative to Labour”. What rubbish. Again, this completely fails to take into account the unusual two-Party squeeze at this election (the tightest since ’92), the election of the first Green MP (which makes possible the election of innumerable more Green MPs), plus of course the possible coming of AV.
     Less ill-informed pro-Labour propaganda next time please, Steve; more pluralism, and more analysis, instead.
 
Dr. KaihSu Tai & Councillor Dr. Rupert Read
[Of Oxford and Norwich Green Parties, respectively]

Launching our Manifesto for the local elections!

We are launching our Manifesto in an hour’s time for the crucial local elections here in Norwich, now exactly ONE MONTH away. http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/05-08-2010-norwich-byelection-open-council.html
Come join us at the Forum!
  Here are the top headlines from the Manifesto:

Foreword

The Green Party in Norwich is ready to form Britain’s

first Green council, by taking over from Labour, to

run Norwich City Council in a new way. Our aim will

be to create a fairer and healthier low carbon city

where every voice counts.

Addressing social and environmental injustice lies at

the heart of our agenda and, if residents in Norwich

elect more Green councillors than councillors from

any other political party on 9th September, we can

begin to work towards a more just and secure future

for the city. The changes we want to make will not

happen overnight, and our immediate focus will be

on minimising the impact of the cuts being

demanded by the Conservative / Liberal Democrat

Government. We will prioritise saving services that

will affect residents’ everyday lives in Norwich while

creating a more open and efficient council which

enables local residents to enjoy a high quality of life.

1. Open Council

Green councillors will make decisions in public, after

finding out and considering the views of as many

local residents as possible. We will treat members of

other political parties with respect and make councilfunded

partnerships less secretive. We will make as

much information about the council as we can

available to everyone and find ways for some

decisions to be made within neighbourhoods.

2. Renewable Energy

for Local Homes

Green councillors will provide opportunities for

people who live in Norwich to fully insulate their

homes and install photo voltaic solar panels. We will

do this either by investing in partnership with energy

companies, or by setting up a council-run Energy

Services Company. This renewable energy will cut the

carbon emissions produced in Norwich and enable

residents to heat their homes more cheaply. We will

also relax planning guidelines to enable residents of

the city to add renewable energy systems to their

homes more easily.

 

If you want more, the whole thing will soon be up on the NorwichGreenParty.org website

The BBC in denial about our climate

News at One today on BBC R4. The main items:
  • The vast floods in Pakistan (No mention of manmade climate change, which will make such events progressively more common – until the glaciers in the Himalaya have melted away, after which the sub-continent will be in permanent drought).
  • The growing forest fire menace in Russia (No mention of manmade climate change, despite the all-time record temperatures of the first half of this year which will have contributed strongly to these fires. See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703309704575413244052775582.html)
  • Humungous iceberg breaking off from Greenland, two thirds the size of the Isle of White. At last, a mention of manmade climate change – the reporter reminds us of the record-breaking temperatures of 2010 – but tells us that a leading oceanographer remarked that “It isn’t clear that global warming is to blame” for the iceberg breaking off…
…God save us all. If this is the best we can do, then we are doomed. …There couldn’t be more misleading reporting. It is of course right that, technically, it is never possible to link any one weather-event or other event 100% decisively with manmade climate change. What the latter does is greatly probabilify these events.
If we are not prepared to recognise that, and will not report it, then we are basically in denial. And if the denial persists, it will be too late.
We have 76 of those 100 months left, folks… 76 months left, to turn this supertanker around…