Letter from me in the INDY on police-impunity:

This letter has just come to my attention, published a few weeks ago in the INDEPENDENT:

 So, the “plebgate” policeman lied. If police can act this way to bring down someone as powerful as a Cabinet minister, then just imagine how they sometimes treat ordinary citizens, let alone demonstrators, animal rights and environmental activists, and so on.

Rupert Read, Norwich


100 days to go til European Election day!

>> Today, as the country wakes up to yet more weather chaos, the realisation is dawning in more and more minds that – as the Met Office itself has finally said – climate chaos is coming home to roost in this country. It’s tragic; it’s terrible; it’s a terrifying portent. This is a time for steady forward-looking leadership and long-termism, based on a sound understanding of the natural and human processes at work here. At last, the climate-denial of the Tory Right and of UKIP is being shown up for the profoundly dangerous nonsense that it is, and people are starting to realise that it is surely time to turn to the one Party that has been correct on this vital issue all along… (Just yesterday, a Guardian poll showed us moving up to 7%, just 2% behind the Tories’ Coalition Government partners, the LibDems!) 
>> Today, it’s  100 days to go  until ‘E-Day’, European Election Day, May 22.
>> Today, I’m happy to be able to announce that, to mark this moment, Natalie Bennett is visiting our Region: she’ll be speaking in Cambridge later, and appearing live on Radio Cambridgeshire.
>> Today, as this landmark concentrates all our minds, our regional Fundraising Director Paul Jeater has launched a new pledge: http://www.pledgebank.com/GreenstoWin2014. With 100 days to go til Election Day, Paul is seeking 100 people to pledge just £20 each… We are thus aiming to raise £2000 (in fact, I’m gonna throw in an extra £14, so that it adds up to 2014 :-).   So, please sign (and share) this pledge. Thanks!: http://www.pledgebank.com/GreenstoWin2014
>> Today, we in the Greens have our sight (and our sites) set on winning in 2014, on finally breaking through and taking that Parliamentary seat here in the East, that eluded us by just 1% five years ago. Surely, for the future, this is our time. It starts today!
  >> Please forward/share – and act on – this message, today! Thank you…<<
Dr. Rupert Read, lead Green Party MEP candidate in the East of England in the European elections.


Region still at risk after ban rejected by European Parliament.                                                                  

European Parliament members have voted for tough new targets on mitigating man-made climate change – but against an outright ban on fracking.

The Greens voted to adopt the strategy, despite the targets falling short of what they wanted and a bid to ban fracking being rejected by other MEPs, in order to give their strong backing to the setting of binding targets, an approach previously rejected by the European Commission.

Rupert Read, lead MEP-candidate for the East of England, commented:

This shows how strong the Green Party Group is in the European Parliament and how it needs to get even stronger. This is great news on climate, very welcome at a time when we are all realising that climate chaos is already wrecking our weather.

“But it is a missed opportunity to stop places like north Norfolk, and the Herts-Essex-Cambs border from being fracked. If I’m elected as part of a strengthened Green Group this May, I vow to press once again for a full moratorium on the climate-dangerous farrago that is fracking, across Europe. They’ve already done it in France; we can get it brought in here, too.”

The MEPs’ decision undermines proposals for a weaker climate change regime for the next 15 years proposed by the European Commission – reportedly at the behest of the UK and Polish governments – just last month.

The Parliament has decided to set higher targets to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions, to require all EU members to increase the amount of electricity they generate from renewable sources, and to require targets for energy efficiency measures too.

London’s Green MEP Jean Lambert said the decision represented massive progress on the proposals published in January.

I am delighted MEPs have come together to reiterate the importance of taking concerted EU action on tackling climate change, and requiring all member states to meet strict targets on energy efficiency and renewable energy generation as well as overall emissions reduction.

 Of course, we’d have liked them to be higher: Greens proposed binding targets of reducing total emissions by at least 60%, generating 45% of our energy from renewable sources, and cutting demand for electricity by 40% by 2030.”

MEPs eventually agreed to set targets of 40% and 30% for reducing emissions and switching to renewables, as well as voting to accept the Greens’ proposal for a 40% cut in energy demand by 2030.

Ms Lambert added:

Of course I am disappointed that we couldn’t get the support for an EU ban on fracking, although MEPs have agreed that all exploration and drilling requests should be subject to a full community consultation. There should be no secret fracking under people’s homes without permission, as proposed by the UK Government.”

How water privatisation has worsened the effects of these floods.

It was manmade climate change wot done it. But human error – political error – has made it much worse…
It’s time attention starts to turn to the nefarious effect that water privatisation on Britain’s vulnerability to flooding has had, actively worsening flood conditions for many people. This was brilliantly exposed in the LRB, during the last truly ‘biblical’ (sic. – the days of ‘natural disasters’ are increasingly over; we live in the anthropocene, now…) floods: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n15/james-meek/when-the-floods-came . Do read!
And the issue is back on the media’s agenda, as this very recent Dispatches programme chillingly showed: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/videos/all/floods-your-money-down-the-drain . Basically, the water companies have made vast profits – while reducing investment in flood-protection etc.
It is a classic story of the perils of privatisation of a natural monopoly.
We Greens think that it is high time the water fat-cats were expropriated – and then we can use that money to start to help ordinary people suffering from the weather chaos, instead!

UKIP: or Green?

Second guessing who is riding up (and who is slipping down) in politics is a subtler and trickier game than it sometimes looks. With elections this May, and not least the five-yearly ones for the European Parliament, speculation is already building. And the European elections operate of course on a ‘proportional representation’ system of voting, thus making it much easier than usual for smaller parties to take seats…

  Far off on the right-hand side of the track, the Ukip horses are off, belting round the bend to whoops of delight from converts who love a good race to beat up the favourites. Few in the short term will stop them. Farage and his leather-backs can’t get into Europe fast enough to get us out of Europe. Or so his backers believe.

  But what’s this? Another storm on the horizon, other deluge, another flood, and then another drought most probably. Food and raw materials prices unstable and challenging. Fossil fuels running out and carbon emissions going up giving us a headache. This is where and this is why the Green Party is gaining credibility and support. It is being seen increasingly as the party which understands the importance of the enviroment, and sees the way things will be, regardless of all attempts at business-as-usual.

  Ukip is, metaphorically one for the road, a ‘down-the-hatch’ vote in memory of better times. Nothing wrong, one might think, in a bit of nostalgia? Truth is, though, there is little future in it, either. For the future is green, or it is nothing but a wasteland of squandered resources, and destructive competition between nation-states and peoples. Against such folly, including the ultimate folly of climate-denial, the Earth would surely be unforgiving.

Seasonal Migrant Workers in the east of England – how we can stop them being exploited


Greens condemn missed opportunity


EURO-MPs have agreed to adopt a common system for ensuring that seasonal workers from outside the EU, providing essential labour in the EU economy, are paid and housed properly anywhere in Europe.

But the UK Government has already opted out of the new rules in a move which the Green Party in the east of England has condemned.

The ‘Seasonal Workers Directive’ was adopted by a majority of MEPs yesterday, the tenth anniversary of the tragic death of 23 unprotected Chinese migrant workers in Morecambe Bay.

It guarantees access to rights enjoyed by other workers in their country of employment – particularly minimum wage legislation – and, crucially, the right to take action against rogue employers.

It also sets a maximum length of stay for migrant seasonal workers.

But the UK has already said it will opt out of the new rules, so the protection will not apply to the thousands of fruit pickers, tourist guides, hotel cleaners and other seasonal workers currently in the UK.

Eastern England’s prospective-MEP for the Greens, Rupert Read said:

“What a missed opportunity this is for this region and for this country. This excellent new European safeguard would have helped avert a future Morecambe Bay tragedy.

“Just as importantly, it would have helped low-paid British workers too by ensuring that their pay and conditions are not undercut by ruthless gangmasters exploiting workers from abroad.

“Green policy is to help low paid workers in this way and it is crucial here in the East, where we have many migrant seasonal workers on the land. But the British Government has stupidly opted out of this protection, presumably because they don’t want to upset fat-cat friends of theirs who profit from the blatant exploitation of some migrant workers.”

London’s Green MEP Jean Lambert, a long-time colleague of Rupert Read’s, worked on the new rules with the Parliament’s Employment Committee. She is also the Green Party’s Immigration Spokesperson. Ms Lambert said:

 “All too often migrant seasonal workers from outside the EU live in makeshift housing and are forced to work long hours for low pay, often without any type of contract.

“But the new rules mark an important step towards addressing their vulnerable and uncertain situation. MEPs have voted to establish the general right of equal treatment, albeit with some exemptions, as well as sanctions against employers.

“This is crucial to deter unscrupulous employers who try to exploit the precarious situation in which seasonal workers often find themselves and stops such employers trying to undercut basic wage agreements. MEPs also supported the right to adequate accommodation to stop the practice used by some employers of charging so much, it leaves workers permanently in debt to them”.

Porous surfaces – to mitigate flooding risk

Parts of East Anglia suffered badly from flooding a couple of months ago, and some still are suffering. The South West is now suffering much worse still. This is weather chaos, the consequence of human-induced climate change, starting to come home to roost. We need to tackle it at source. But we also need to mitigate its effects. Example:

As the Green Party’s lead MEP candidate for eastern England, I am calling today for urgent advice and encouragement (and, where necessary, financial incentives) to enable local authorities and property owners including householders and landlords to improve the drainage and porosity of parking and similar hard surfaces within their control, in order to cut flooding risk.

Areas of Tarmac and other hard paving need drainage holes skillfully punched into them to enable excess water to be absorbed underground instead of filling up over-loaded surface water drainage pipes, and lying in pools on roads, pavements and in car parks.

Landscape and groundwork contractors should be diverted into this flood-prevention work as one of our national priorities. No-one should be contracting them to cover more areas with non-porous paving. Local authority hydrological engineers and ecologists should be among the specialists advising on this work.

More severe storms and rainfall have been predicted for years now, but the government has been too fixated with the economy, and with its misplaced endless promotion of yet more economic ‘growth’ and ‘development’. It has plumped for Tarmac-ing over more and more, instead of making changes that would actually improve the quality of our lives, and of preparing for the worst, as people in the South West are now discovering.

Government has again failed to consider what, over time, is the dominant factor in our lives: climate and the environment. Until it does, and green ideas come first, we will be forced to live with tragedies, distress and waste. The Committee on Climate Change told BBC News recently that just as scientists are predicting more extreme weather, buildings are being allowed on flood plains, gardens are being paved over and urban green space is being lost. This has got to stop.

Greens reject inadequate meat labelling proposals

Proposals labelled ‘horsemeat’…
A motion tabled by Green MEPs to reject new rules proposed by the European Commission on origin labelling for meat was endorsed in a European Parliament vote today.
The Greens welcomed the outcome and called on the Commission to come forward with new and more comprehensive proposals, with Green food safety.
The Green Party’s MEP for South East England, Keith Taylor, said:
“We’re very pleased that a majority of MEPs have joined Greens in voting to send this inadequate legislation back to the Commission. After the horsemeat scandal in the UK people are increasingly concerned about the origin of the food they are eating.
We need full transparency in the food production chain, including country of birth labelling. Displaying this information is also an important tool for meat-eaters who want to choose to eat meat from animals that did not suffer the stress of long-distance transport, given the failure to reduce animal transport times in the EU.
The proposal from the Commission would provide only for the country of rearing and slaughter to be named on the label but not the country of birth. This must be redressed. While today’s vote is not binding, we hope the Commission will heed the outcome and come forward with a new proposal providing for full transparency.

I know that many of my constituents are worried about where their food is coming from and I’ll continue to push for changes in the way our food is labelled to ensure people have access to all the information they need to make informed decisions.”