Category Archives: Green Party

Natalie Bennett in Cambridge tomorrow with me:

GREENS NAME RUPERT READ AS CAMBRIDGE CANDIDATE
Natalie BennettParty Leader Natalie Bennett set for candidate news conference

The Green Party tonight (Fri) named the academic, author and campaigner Rupert Read as its candidate in Cambridge for next year’s General Election.

There will be a first opportunity to question Dr Read on his new campaign when he appears at an introductory news conference at King’s College on Monday (Oct 6th), introduced with a personal endorsement from Party Leader Natalie Bennett. The event will also reveal further high-profile endorsements for Dr Read’s candidacy.

Alongside his work as Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, Rupert Read is a former city councillor in Norwich, and already the Green Party’s national spokesman on transport. He has been instrumental in helping to develop Green Party policy nationally. He said:

“I love Cambridge: probably the most ‘networked’ and ‘thinking’ city in Britain. Cambridge Green Party is young and enthusiastic and fires me up for the campaign ahead. Cambridge was our third strongest result in the entire country in the 2010 General Election, and, according to our Party’s own research, quite simply the strongest place in the entire country in terms of Green potential. If not here, where? If not now, when? I would love to represent Cambridge in the place that matters the most: the House of Commons.”

Recent polling on voting intention by the Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft indicated that the Greens are starting with 9% support in the constituency. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times last week indicated that voting intention nationally put the Greens at 6%, neck and neck with the Lib-Dems, who currently hold Cambridge.

In a busy programme of events on Monday, there are five opportunities for members of the media to meet Rupert Read and hear his views on a range of issues:

11:00: News conference launching Rupert Read as the General Election candidate for Cambridge. With Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett. Chetwynd Room, King’s College.

12:00: Lunchtime talk and Q&A with Rupert Read and Natalie Bennett, Keynes Hall, King’s College. “The Green Vision for a Sustainable Society”.

13:00: Seminar with Rupert Read, Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, Coslett Building, Mackenzie Rd, Cambridge. Dr Read will be questioning the notion that “you can’t stop progress” by asking what progress really is.

14:00: Rupert Read and Natalie Bennett available for media one-to-ones.

19:00: Talk and Q&A with Rupert Read and Natalie Bennett, Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Trumpington St, Cambridge. “What Green Party Economic Policy Really Means”, including equality, taxes, renewables and localism in a post-growth society.

www.rupertread.net

follow me: @rupertread , and @greenrupertread , on Twitter.

Wittgenstein and Physics Conference that I’m speaking at:

I lead off this event, on 22 Nov., in Oxford, at the brand new St Cross Centre for the History & Philosophy of Physics (HAPP) at the University of Oxford:

10.30 am WELCOME

10.45 am Dr Rupert Read – How to Admire Science and Despise Scientism: Wittgenstein's Contribution to the Great Challenge of His Time and Ours

11.30 am Professor Martin Kusch – Wittgenstein, Einstein, Metrology

12.15 pm Professor Carlo Penco – The Influence of Einstein on Wittgenstein's Thought Experiments

1 pm LUNCH BREAK

2 pm Dr Chon Tejedor – The Early Wittgenstein on Induction and the Principles of the Natural Sciences

2.45 pm Dr Richard Staley – Boltzmann, Mach and Wittgenstein's Vienna

3.30 pm TEA/COFFEE BREAK

4 pm Professor John Preston – Wittgenstein, Jeans and Eddington

4.45 pm Summary of the Day's Proceedings

The key to this inaugural event is its role as an exemplar of the interdisciplinary approach of our new HAPP Centre to the chosen fields of interest (i.e. physics, philosophy and history). Also the very nature of Wittgenstein's career provides a unique progession through various of the key developments in both physics and philosophy in the late 19th and 20th centuries. e.g. from his early years in Boltzmann's Vienna, to study in Planck's (and then Einstein's) Berlin, then onto Rutherford's Manchester and eventually to join the cohort of great physicists in Cambridge in the 1930s and 1940s.
Free. All welcome.

Time to give all UK citizens a say

Statement from the Electoral Reform Society
Immediate release 09:45 19th September 2014
Contact: Will Brett (
will.brett@electoral-reform.org.uk / 07979 696 265)

Time to give all UK citizens a say

Commenting on the need for a UK-wide Constitutional Convention in the wake of the Scottish independence referendum, Katie Ghose (Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society) said:

“This referendum has demonstrated that when it comes to deciding the future of our country, people want to be asked. It would be a terrible waste if we do not build on that passion by ensuring everyone in the UK, and not just Scots, have a say in where power lies.

“Now is not the time for top-down commands on our constitution, issued by political leaders in the immediate, frenzied aftermath of this momentous vote. The future shape of the country is too important to be rushed through Parliament without consulting the people.

“We need a UK-wide, citizen-led Constitutional Convention to determine where power lies in the future. We can draw on international examples to create a process which does justice to people’s passion for change.

“Such a process needs clarity of purpose, and certainty about how its conclusions will be taken forward. It needs the full support of all the political parties, but it must also retain its independence from them.

“Above all, a UK Constitutional Convention must capitalise on the enormous amounts of interest and passion sparked in Scotland by the independence referendum, and bring that passion for determining our political future to the rest of the United Kingdom.”

ENDS

For more information, interviews and comment, contact Will Brett on 07979 696 265 / will.brett@electoral-reform.org.uk

NOTES

  1. Last week The Times published a letter from the Electoral Reform Society and 18 other democracy experts, which called for a UK-wide Constitutional Convention whether or not Scotland votes for independence.
  2. Citizen-led Constitutional Conventions have been successfully used around the world to settle where power should lie. For a recent example, see the Irish Constitutional Convention (https://www.constitution.ie). For more information about Constitutional Conventions and what this would look like for the United Kingdom, see http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmselect/cmpolcon/writev/constconv/m24.htm See also the Irish Constitutional Convention process.

Green Party House of Lords candidate selection

The Green Party is currently selecting who to nominate from within our ranks for House of Lords. Unlike other Parties, we do this democratically.

Greens! Here’s a few reasons why you might want to vote RUPERT READ (that’s me! 😉 for the House of Lords selection:

Experience:

  • An elected Councillor living in my own mostly working-class ward.
  • One of the top Green bloggers: The only Green in the Top 10 ‘Total Politics’ Councillor blogs: www.rupertsread.blogspot.com .
  • A key player in the team that has seen Norwich Greens reach such heights of success over the last decade.
  • Green Party’s candidate in 2009 Norwich North byelection. We achieved the highest-ever Green byelection result.
  • Green Party’s candidate in 2009 Euro-elections: we in Eastern-Region achieved the highest vote-increase anywhere in the country outside SE, and came within 1% of getting me elected.
  • Hugely-experienced media performer; many times on national TV and radio.
  • Effective communicator – look for instance at my supporting statement in the candidates’ booklet. I know how to reach people.
  • Reader in Philosophy at University of East Anglia, where I work closely with the world’s leading environmental scientists.
  • Eight published books, including the popular Philosophy for life.

Experience directly relevant to the Lords:

  • Worked directly with the late Lord Beaumont (the previous Green peer), including succeeding in bringing his bill on reducing aviation levels onto the floor of the Commons.
  • Learned much about the House of Lords while successfully ‘prosecuting’ Hugo Charlton (in a Green Party tribunal) for his attempt to bypass Party procedures and seize a peerage for himself, the last time the Party was offered one…

As a Green Lord, I would prioritise:

  • Working closely with our MP, Caroline Lucas, as I have already for some years, looking to exploit opportunities to achieve legislative change (and pro-Green publicity) in the interests of the country and the Party.
  • Transport: I was ultimately responsible (as the Greens’ voting rep. on the ‘Joint Highways Committee’) for the introduction of 20mph speed-limits in significant areas of Norwich, and would work hard to push genuinely sustainable transport policy in the upper house.
  • Constitutional reform: I would actively campaign for the abolition of the Lords, and for a reformed upper house to have a direct responsibility for the well-being of future generations.
  • I would be a full-time working peer.

[p.s. Comments are enabled! Feel free, all.]

A new proposal for a green future… How House of Lords reform should really be done


Introduction: House of Lords reform is next

Now that it is certain that the AV referendum will take place on May 5, coinciding with local election day and elections in Scotland and Wales (incidentally, this date is one which I first broke to the nation, scooping the BBC and everyone else: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/07/av-referendum-to-be-announced-next-week-held-in-may/ ), it is a good time to reflect on the strange beast that is the House of Lords, that almost scuppered this referendum (albeit not without some good reason!: see http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/michael-wills/house-of-lords-is-right-to-challenge-coalition-on-where-we-vote ).

There is of course a lot to be said for the House of Lords, at least as compared to the conduct of many of those who have won election to the House of Commons! In respect of this latest example, for instance, it is clear that in some respects they have intelligently improved the bill that will allow the AV referendum to go ahead, in particular by loosening the tightness of the strictures on constituency size.

But in the end, one thing is inescapable: the method of selection of the Lords – essentially, patronage – is just fundamentally unacceptable in a modern democracy. We need to have a House of Lords candidates for which are picked in some other, better way: either by election via proportional representation (which is Green Party policy, and seems likely to be the route that the Coalition chooses), or by lot (selection, that is, via the so-called ‘Athenian option’, argued for by OK’s Anthony Barnett: see this intriguing review: http://telescoper.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/the-athenian-option/ ).

Once the AV referendum has been won (or lost – please let it not be lost! #Yes2AV !), then the burden of constitutional reform will switch to the question of the House of Lords. This is not a ‘long-grass’ issue – Clegg and others in his Party are determined to make progress on it, and rightly so. It is in this context that I have been working on this issue.

For I think that we need to broaden our sense of what can be achieved in House of Lords reform. It is not enough merely to democratise the upper house; we ought to seize this opportunity to rethink its raison d’etre. Especially as, if we have elections for the Lords, there will be a greater need to distinguish the Lords more radically from the Commons. One way to do so would be to give it a new purpose, besides just being a revising chamber. And that is the purpose of this ‘thinkpiece’: to suggest such a new purpose.

A new, ‘green’ purpose for the upper house; and how best to select candidates for it

What if we were to make the House of Lords into the House of the Voiceless? A place where the interests of non-human animals and of future people (see my http://www.opendemocracy.net/rupert-read/last-refuge-of-prejudice ) were, by oath, the first concern of the senators (if such is to be their new names)?

This would of course actually fit particularly well, if the selection of all or some candidates for this chamber were to be done by lot. (You could for instance select most of the senators making up the new Upper House by PR, and the rest, those designated specifically perhaps as ‘guardians’ for the voiceless, by lot: that would be a ‘hybrid’ upper house that could achieve the tasks of revising legislation and of protecting voiceless people/beings, in tandem. See below…) For then it would make great sense, to think of those selected as being given a special vocation (as jurors have, in another context) to voice the concerns of the voiceless.

The idea that I had some years ago (here is one of the first places that I started to write it up: http://rupertread.org/rupertread.org/wordpress/?p=1227), a proposal that I have been developing in my philosophical work recently, and that I have been speaking on in various fora (see http://rupertread.org/rupertread.org/wordpress/?p=456 , and http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_W5PrTdY3Jko/TTdrP14adxI/AAAAAAAAAfU/hrdjZXsSlIg/s1600/programme_25feb2010_draft.jpg ), is specifically that all or (perhaps better still) some portion of the new upper house should be constituted by ordinary citizens selected by lot to represent powerfully the voices of the voiceless, in the deliberations of the nation. I recently offered evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (on which Green Party MP Caroline Lucas sits: see here for my evidence: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmenvaud/writev/esd/esd12.htm), along these lines.

It would be interesting to know what readers of Rupert’s Read think of this idea (or rather, more strictly speaking, of this phalanx of related ideas, for there are obviously various different ways in which the basic impulse here could be implemented, as I have already implied).

For those without time to visit the links, here is the idea is in a nutshell:

From the House of Lords to the guardians

Plato said we should be ruled by guardians. Habermas and other deliberative-democratic philosophers of course abhor the anti-democratic sentiment permeating Plato’s proposal, and rightly so. But… what if the guardians were selected democratically, for example by sortition? And: what if their deliberations became a high-profile model of what deliberation in a democratic society could be?

Still, there seems little case for substituting guardians for normal elected representatives, for decisions which can be made about us, by people who represent us. But… what about cases where the people, the beings who ought to be heard in or even to be making the decisions have no voice — even over matters which are life or death matters for them?

Future people are the most obvious case of such people. I propose therefore powerful guardians for future people / guardians of the future / guardians of future generations, either to take the place in our system of the royal assent, or to occupy part of the role of the upper house in the course of House of Lords reform.

Their most fundamental powers, besides standard revising powers, would be, on my proposal:

a) To veto in whole or in part new legislation that threatened the basic needs and fundamental interests of future people / of the voiceless.

b) To force a review, on petitioning, if appropriate, of any existing legislation or of administrative decisions that threaten the basic needs and fundamental interests of future people / of the voiceless.

Conclusion: A path to a green future, via constitutional reform?

Everyone is agreed that our current democracy is failing to achieve a green future. Why not seize the moment offered by House of Lords reform, and consider some much more radical version of such reform than the Coalition is currently intending? Perhaps then, the time is ripe for thinking about helping to achieve a green future, by creating a new role, that of guardians, who would, in the context of radical reform of the upper house, become and then be an intimate part of our democratic institutions…

For after all: The people who would rule, if we simply move to selecting candidates for the upper house by PR elections, or by lot, without altering the raison d’etre of the upper house, are only the people (in fact, the adult, registered-to-vote, not extremely-infirm etc. people) who are alive now. But surely, ‘the people’ ought to be thought of in a far more temporally extended manner. Does a people only exist as a momentary time-slice? Surely not. A people, a nation-state, a community, a society, is something extended over time. It extends into the past, and extends indefinitely into the future.

Burke, in a passage clearly forgotten by supposed c/Conservatives in UK and USA for 30 years or more, says that society is a contract between the dead, the living and those unborn (with no limit specified on the generations ahead)… He is right…

It is clear that we need Lords willing to radically reform or to abolish themselves, if we are to achieve Lords reform, 100 years on from the Parliament Act. But I think, with ecological crisis looming or upon us, it is also high time to think about how such radical reform of the upper house can be dovetailed in with institutional reform to try to help assure a greener future.

Maybe undertaking such thinking would even make the Lords more willing to accept their own exit, in the service of a greater good…