Thursday 4 November 2010

Student debt debate

Student debt debate

This new regime proposed by the Con Dems, puts UK education amongst the most expensive in the world whereas the Green Party wants to see education free including at university level, and to fund it by tax changes for those on 100k and over, among other changes.
At least £20K for fees over 3 years, plus a similar amount for accommodation and living expenses, will be hanging over most graduates for a good deal of their working lives, and may have to be paid back at the rate of £2,000 plus over 30 years - much like a mortgage. Many young people would feel intimidated by this prospect and the total number of students is likely to fall. If a graduate who was in employment later lost his/her job, the debt would remain on the books and actually increase as there is an interest charge, so that if the graduate returns to employment in a job earning more than £21,000 pa, s/ he will stand to pay back the added charge in the long run.
The position of the very poorest students was better covered, but the implication for those just above the bread line would be serious . Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have made the economic argument that these changes are necessary and "progressive", but the changes are going to hurt and there will be political repercussions, if not on the scale of the derided poll tax, but widely and permanently. The shift from state responsibility for the costs of higher education on to the shoulders of the individual is going to be profound. with thanks for commentary from Peter Reeve.

Friday 28 May 2010

We must demand proportional representation

We have had many queries since the election, asking why the Greens didn’t do better at a time when most people are now aware of the very real issues which only the Green Party has been seriously addressing - for more than 35 years!

It became quite clear as we approached polling day that people were going to vote tactically. Many people said to us, apologetically, that although they wanted to vote Green, they would in fact be voting Lib Dem or Labour because they wanted rid of the Tories and they wanted proportional representation. Even the far right wing parties did better than the Greens because those voters are typically less reflective and so tend not to vote tactically.

Knowing that we could not win this time in this very conservative area, a lot of the energies of the local party were focussed on supporting the Greens' campaign in Brighton Pavilion – where, at 6am on May 7th, Caroline Lucas was elected Britain's first Green MP . She is the first Green MP worldwide to have been elected under a first-past-the-post system: a spectacular achievement. There are of course, many Greens in government in other countries, as well as in the European Parliament. In the UK, Greens are in the Scottish Parliament, London Assembly, on many councils – and, at last, in Westminster!

So thank you to all those who voted for a fairer world (whichever box you put your cross in). The next job for us all is to push for a fairer electoral system which will make every vote count, so that people can vote from the heart, and the real issues can come to the fore and be addressed in the interests of people and planet instead of in the interests of corporations and the very rich.

comments welcome to

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Email Troubles

Message for those who think Shan and I have disappeared from cybercontact.

The emails with have temporarily disappeared.

We can be contacted on rigby"AT" or shan"AT" for the time being. The "AT" bit is to inhibit spammers, obviously one should use @

Friday 7 May 2010

The Morning After

My Green mate Richard has put up an interesting blog encapsulating the best of the night from our point of view.
For my own part, 686 votes was a bit gutting. Better keep on with the day job.

Hearty thanks to all of you who bravely voted for us. There was a strong incentive to vote for an 'old' party, in order to keep out a worse one.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

poster parade 4

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poster parade 3

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poster parade 2

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poster parade 1

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A Reminder

A pleasant day in Swanland - this poster is close to the polling station.

Bank Holiday - campaigning in Beverley

The other placard messages were: 'Cut pay to fat cats not jobs in public services - all Tories out.'
and 'ERYC leads where Cameron will follow' (referring to the grotesque discretionary early retirement pension fund payment for a senior officer of East Riding of Yorks Council)
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Tuesday 4 May 2010

Now listen carefully

I want everyone to look at this image carefully, and reproduce it when you enter the ballot box on Thursday.

an interesting hustings

The 'Churches Together' group organised a hustings in Beverley Minster on 26 April. I'm sorry it has taken time to reflect on it in the blog. All in all it was good for the Greens. 250 or so came, and the feedback afterwards was positive. A few more thousand needed before I can be confident of winning the seat.

Saturday 1 May 2010

David Davis refuses to join debate - again!

The article below by Jonathan Reed appeared in The Yorkshire Post on 27 April 2010:

'Call for apology follows market confrontation

A ROW has broken out between a clergyman and former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis after a confrontation at a market place.

Father Oliver Coss has called for an apology after a confrontation with Mr Davis in Cottingham market as he tried to persuade him to take part in a hustings event he was organising.

But Mr Davis, who is campaigning to regain his Haltemprice and Howden seat, insists that during the exchange he was "firm but polite" and dismissed the incident as a "storm in a teacup".

Mr Coss, assistant curate of St Mary's Church, Cottingham, approached Mr Davis at the market along with Father Paul Smith, the Rector, after being told the politician was unable to attend Sunday's event, and said they were "astonished" by his response.

Mr Coss, who said he was a Tory voter but would be rethinking, said the meeting turned into "a deeply confrontational episode in front of our parishioners".

Now Mr Coss has written about it on social networking site Facebook where he said: "I want nothing more than an apology and this hustings to take place without any further unpleasantness".

But Mr Davis denied allegations he was rude. He said he already had campaign commitments when he received a written invitation the day before the encounter, and said a call received by a secretary several days earlier had not been passed on to him.

"I had no intention to be rude to anyone," he said.'

This has become a pattern. In the 2008 byelection the Tory campaign team used the same excuse (communications mix-up) to explain Mr Davis's refusal to engage with me on the civil liberties issue. What is he worried about?

Sunday 25 April 2010

domestic solar energy

Today's report in the Independent concurs with our experience of getting a solar hot water system installed about 6 years ago now by Smart Energy UK. Although their own assessor said our house needed 2 panels facing in 2 directions to make the most of the sun, the SE installers turned up and installed only one panel. This has meant we lose the sun too early in the day to heat the water for the morning. We have complained several times but have never managed to get the firm to do anything about it. As with so many other issues, there needs to be regulatory bodies (as there are with tourism for example) to safeguard the public from cowboy operators who are not interested in follow-up.

Saturday 24 April 2010

Saturday in Beverley - vote for your kids

Took leaflets and placards into Beverley. Sunny, busy. People walking past trying not to make eye contact. Feeling rather disconsolate - when a wonderful thing happened: 2 girls aged about 13 came up and asked what I was doing. I explained. One said 'Why are you dressed like that? It's weird' (boots, skirt, Green Party tabard, rosette and straw hat). The other said, 'That's rude', and I said, 'It's to attract attention.' Then they offered to take some leaflets to give out!! They did this for several hours, parading the placard up and down the crowded street....and they want to do it next saturday as well!

Politics Show

On Sunday 25 April, the Politics Show section for the North will be somewhere in the Leeds Liverpool Canal, and you might get a glimpse of me! The things we do for a little slice of TV exposure. Not sure yet whether to take my goggles and flippers. The topic is Employment and Jobs - if I get a chance, there is plenty to say!

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Manifesto lesson 3 - Immigration

I think it is time to get down my ideas on immigration - together with the Greens' policy stance.

This will be the first of a few postings on the issue, 'cos it is a mite complicated. The Green Party manifesto devotes just over a page to the topic (pp 45,46).
In one sense we can say it's quite simple, really. In brief, Greens will
  • be fair to all,
  • meet our international obligations,
  • sort out the issues which are causing people to want to move here, and therefore lessen the demand
  • sort out the mess inherited from the existing system, and
  • make sure children, particularly, are treated humanely.
These wholesome aspirations look a lot more complicated, when other factors and anxieties come in to play. These include worry about overcrowding here in the UK, fear of society being taken over by others with a lack of respect for our values, resentment of incomers getting a better deal than ourselves, fear of jobs being taken by migrants, and so on.

The position in Beverley and Holderness is affected also by the particular 'character' of local society, where for many generations there have been quite small changes compared with the experience in other communities.

And finally, for this posting, I don't think we are very good at hammering out local solutions to knotty problems, and this certainly presents a basket of problems which will need a lot of knocking around before they are resolved. This is a place where leadership has been called for, and been lacking. Greens will offer leadership, if the voters make it possible.

So, this is what happened ...

I was intending to do a piece on another topic, when an article in last Sunday's Observer gripped me. Will Hutton, a respected writer on economics, is saying, in the words of his headline, "Now we know the truth. The financial meltdown wasn't a mistake – it was a con".
This is a story about the implications of the pending prosecution against Goldman Sachs, 'the world's most famous investment bank'. The allegation is that they were selling a dodgy product, while at the same time supporting a hedge fund which was betting on the stock in that product collapsing. The question is, why have no allegations of bankers' misconduct emerged from the UK?
He makes the point, 'We have to live with the fiction that our banks and bankers are whiter than white, and any attempt to investigate them and their institutions will lead to a mass exodus to the mountains of Switzerland. The politicians of the Labour and Tory party alike are Bambis amid the wolves'.
Greens want to regulate this lot - with vigour.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Which policies do you prefer?

It is good to see that when people vote blind for the policies on offer, without knowing which party the policies belong to, there is still a majority in favour of the Green Party.

The Vote for Policies site shows (rounded up to whole numbers):
Greens 25%
LibDems 18%
Labour 18%
Tories 17%
UKIP 11%
BNP 10%

The sample size is 144,000, so these results are pretty robust.
Dear reader, can you please vote according to your reasoned judgement?

Media - news about news

We had this nice bit of cover today in the Hull Daily Mail, and guess what - the web link we had published on the bottom had been hacked & has taken all day to fix. Google still thinks it's a corrupt location. Grrr. Martin Deane and our web host slaved for ages trying to deal with it.

Caroline had a slot with David Vine on BBC R2 this lunch time. He was pretty rough, but C handled it with dignity.

Manifesto - lesson 2b

I've just had a little insight. It's obvious, really, but helps to get things to click into place about the Greens grip on finance. All the tax and spend projections can be listed under two headings - either promoting social justice, or promoting environmental justice. We see social justice here in the UK best achieved by reducing inequality, hence the 'levelling out' principle in both taxation and expenditure plans. To realise why this principle is so important I cannot recommend too highly the book, The Spirit Level, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, and its associated web site .

We are, obviously, going for taxation and expenditure to protect and improve the environment (see pages 16, 17 of the manifesto), and that's because we think ahead, not just for the next three weeks.

Greens, the double issue party - for social AND environmental justice

Monday 19 April 2010

Manifesto lesson 2

Our policy on the economy starts with some assumptions. Firstly, the present system is bust and is only working in fits and starts. The collapse of last year is just a symptom.
The frequent failures come from irresponsible financial speculation (casino capitalism), forgetting that resources are finite, and not grasping the implications of increasing inequality.
The Green economy ties money to goods, resources and services. It promotes equality and fair shares, and balances the books honestly against the future.
This is not a doom and gloom scenario. It creates jobs - in abundance, promotes well being and good health and reduces the reasons for international disputes and conflict.

OK, sounds fine but what of the realities? The details are on pages 8 to 11 of the Manifesto , and include
  • paying back the debts (50% by 2013)
  • regulate the financial sector more stringently
  • protect public services
  • reverse the trend of falling taxation levels

Saturday 17 April 2010

A fishy tale

A lot of positive exchanges took place during our tour of the town today. Friendly discussions with young and old. But the fish man (top pic) engaged me in a taxation debate - who pays more tax (proportionately): the rich or the poor? I said, "the poor, of course" and he challenged me to find the source of that statement. I'll have to research it tonight. Watch this space

Saturday promenade

Shan and I did a sort of promenade today. Starting at the Buttercross in Saturday Market (lower pic), we met the voters - including a bit of banter with a Town Councillor (below) and a Green stalwart (above).

usurper prevails

This is a nest which has been occupied every year for the last 20 by a male wren - not necessarily the same one, mind you, but a wren has been there. Now, here is a robin in the nest. Maybe the cold winter has led to a loss in demand for des res from wrens. Maybe the wrens, who usually have more than one nest, have allowed a squatter in for altruistic reasons. Who can quess? Anyway, we are having a great time watching progress!

robin looks suspicious

thought you might like another shot

It don't mean a thing if it aint got that Green swing

We moved down Toll Gavel and found some live jazz - The Black Cat Swing Club - perfect. What we need is a big Green swing! Spoke with people from all around the East Riding and Hull - and further afield.

On the stump - Saturday Market

Great day today - Beverley, Saturday Market, Butter Cross. We thought how little this spot is used when it could be a wonderful stage for street theatre etc. Just shows how much our community needs enlivening. More trading of locally grown food needed too.

'leader' debate

The debate last thursday was a good thing if it helped increase interest in politics. Nick Clegg came out marginally better than the others, BUT, if the Green leader, Caroline Lucas, had been on stage she would have outshone them all. Clegg said he would do things differently – BUT, how differently? All three still cling to the idea of economic ‘growth’. The Greens know that we have to change our ideas fundamentally if we are to climb out of recession without massive job losses and/or more damage to the environment. It was Caroline who came up with the term Green New Deal which the old parties have now adopted, but - the Greens’ policies actually hang together. ALL the old parties forget that the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. We forget this at our peril. We can’t continue with infinite growth on a finite planet.

Manifesto Lesson 1

photo: David Bebber of the Times.
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party Leader, at the launch of the party manifesto the other day.
"Our vision is for a fairer society that meets everyone's needs" - a statement taken from the preamble. 'Motherhood and Apple Pie', you may say, 'Surely all the parties are saying this'.
What the others are NOT saying is that our economic, education and benefit systems are all functioning to make matters worse, and not better. They are not saying that our foreign policy is being conducted in a manner which enhances global inequalities - frustrating the pursuit of Millennium Development Goals which are supposed to reduce differences.

Friday 16 April 2010

Freepost leaflet

The leaflet is being delivered, as some people have told me they have one. It seems so long ago since it was prepared!

Post Mortem

The hustings last night was good in parts, I suppose. I've looked through most of it, and reminded myself (once again) to look at the camera. But - the experience is certainly very testing.

I must confess to making a 'slip'. Things were going extremely well, when I was asked a question and I should have known the answer, but didn't. So, can you guess what I did? I gave the answer to another question. Now, this is OK, and a well established ploy by media savvy operators. However, I compounded the problem by giving the wrong answer to the question that hadn't been put (if you see what I mean).

Memo to oneself: keep to the truth - don't answer if you don't know the answer. Blundering on makes the situation worse. The lesson is that pontificating in public is harder than it looks. There is no substitute for knowing the stuff through and through.

There: I've said it.

This morning (Friday) we registered three candidates with the Returning Officer: Michael Jackson for East Yorkshire, Shan Oakes for Haltemprice and Howden and Bill Rigby for Beverley and Holderness.

Thursday 15 April 2010

Live TV Hustings - Today

After a solo show yesterday, there is a hustings at 7 pm this evening. This is plenty of time before the distraction of the national head to head - so viewers will be able to compare.

You can see it live or later at your leisure.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Live TV appearance -TODAY

I am just off to be interviewed at 2 pm this afternoon on a local internet TV channel. I hope you catch it live or via the web
It makes interesting viewing - for me, at least!

Monday 12 April 2010

Hull & East Riding Launch

A good turn-out for the launch of the four candidates who will run for the Greens in Hull & East Riding. The BBC Look North team did us proud with at least fifteen seconds of air time live on the 6.30 slot (gentle irony). Martin had the mike and competed`well against a cacophany of distractions from hooting passers by. We will look at the I-Player version tomorrow and see how it went for you viewers. The great thing was the good session afterwards in the Kings Head, Saturday Market. A worthwhile occasion. Thanks to all who braved the crisp and breezy evening.

the Battle Bike

The Skeffling interview (see below) was our first trial of the Mezzo. I took a train from Beverley to Hull, number 77 bus to Patrington, and then biked to Skeffling. As one might expect, the Greens were the first there! Labour came in a Jag (seriously), and the Tories (team of 3) by Alpha Romeo. Ten-nil for moral superiority.

Look North - another wind up

On Friday I trialled the new Party Battle-Bike to an interview with two other candidates in the middle of a field near Skeffling. This was to record a slot for Look North to accompany the LIVE broadcast of our local election launch in Beverley this evening. All the interest at this stage in E Yorks is on wind farm developments. This evening we hope to widen the agenda.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Robin moves into wren's nest

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Bang! goes the starting gun

In the days when I competed as an athlete, I would enter for the race, turn up in good time and warm up. Then, after settling down at the start, be off at the gun - all balanced and cool.
This particular race fo has certainly started when we all predicted, but (a) I can't find my kit, (b) feel unreasonably handicapped by the system, and (c) I am running several events at the same time!
Having said that - I'm glad to be here, offering a chance to Fight for Fairness!

Thursday 1 April 2010

A precious legacy tainted by venal politics?

One would hope that the Greens would not get into the dog's dinner described below. Maybe I have chosen an inappropriate metaphor ...

Today the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, acceded to worldwide demands and designated the Chagos as a marine reserve. This declaration will make it the largest marine protected area in the world, totalling more than 210,000 square miles - an area twice the size of the UK. He was responding to the demands of over 275,000 people who had written in support of the proposal to preserve this unique marine habitat from further exploitation by commercial fishing. Read a fuller version of the history at the Protect Chagos website. For the uninitiated, it may be helpful to be reminded that here in the UK only 30, yes thirty, square miles of our seas have the protection granted to the Chagos.

However, this campaign has been accompanied by the pleas of the indigenous Chagosians, forcibly removed a generation ago to make way for the building of a US Air base at Diego Garcia. Despite winning a High Court ruling to permit them to return, HM government remains intransigent and awaits an EU Court of Human Rights judgement as to whether the continued exile can stand. See the Channel 4 news report

One can only hope that a way can be found to respect the rights of the indigenous people in a manner which promotes the vital conservation objectives of the marine reserve.

The lessons of this exercise will prove valuable to conservationists and politicians struggling with the sustainability of our own local waters, and those of the NE Atlantic, over fished to a disastrous level through the workings of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This Policy, in the process of reform needs radical revision as a matter of urgency. The world’s marine ecosystem needs a successful resolution of both dilemmas.


A few words on hunting: We walked up to see the Holderness Hunt meeting on Beverley Westwood last Boxing Day. You might assume the Greens are opposed to hunting and you would be right that we are against hunting with dogs for sport. On the other hand, we are happy to see the vestiges of an ancient tradition in the form of horses, people and hounds getting some exercise - but without killing foxes - as was the case on Westwood on Boxing Day. If foxes need controlling there are more humane ways to do that than using packs of dogs to tear them apart.

The Tory MP, Graham Stuart, on the other hand, said that if the Tories get into government at the coming election, he hopes the anti-hunting law will be repealed - so that this bloodthirsty 'sport' can resume. Mr Stuart spoke of retaining the 'freedom' to indulge in hunting foxes. The Greens' view is that we certainly want to retain our freedoms, but that archaic customs such as hunting and killing animals with dogs should no longer be seen as acceptable behaviour. Barbarity towards animals supports and encourages barbarity towards human beings.

Wednesday 31 March 2010

policy bite

I hope this letter gets a place in the local rag this week.

I have found it fascinating that, no matter how carefully a letter is drafted to try to conclude a debate with the clinching argument, there is always a come-back. Like a forest fire, the flames of debate flare up from unexpected places. In the latest case it was “the carnivore’s revenge”.

To be clear: Greens do NOT say ‘that we all should be vegetarians’. However, humans are eating increasing amounts of meat and dairy products and this is having serious consequences, not only on our health but also on forest cover – particularly in the Amazon. It’s not that the cows need the grazing, but that the land is commandeered for the soya they’re fed with. Oh, and there are local people to be cleared away before the soya is planted, with injustice and human rights implications. Friends of the Earth is running a campaign on this issue called ‘Fix the Food Chain’.

So, our increasing appetite for animal products leads to accelerating climate effects from the methane and reduced tree cover, human rights violations for many poor people, with consequent civil unrest, and extraordinary profit for the few.

Green policy in a nutshell – “You can’t get owt for nowt“

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Nuclear comment - scrap Trident

I like this summary from Martin Deane:
"Green Policy #9: Scrap Trident and British nuclear weapons.

40 years ago Britain undertook to halt, reduce and eliminate our nuclear capability when we signed the NPT or Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Labour-proposed renewal of Trident, after Blair’s vote in 2007, is hardly that. Labour apologists say renewing Trident is completely within the terms of the NPT and doesn’t count as an escalation. They argue that the actual number of warheads is decreased – and this may even be true! However, the NPT commission doesn’t see it that way and regards the proposed renewal as an escalation of capability and therefore may be in breach of the Treaty.

Scrapping Trident is part of our 8 point plan on Peace and Security as per latest draft manifesto.

No replacement of Trident . We cannot conceive of any circumstances in which we could or would use these expensive and immoral weapons, and would de-commission the existing system and not renew it.

There are various figures given for costs. The most frequent is a £76 bn lifetime cost. But the the total cost could be as high as £130 bn (Guardian). And we have plenty of plans for that level of expenditure!

The reasons the LibDems give (Nick Clegg, last June) are that it’s too expensive and not fit for our security needs. They still believe in and want a nuclear deterrent just not that one.

In 2007 when Blair put Trident renewal to a vote, some 72% of people polled against it and nearly 100 Lab MPs revolted over it.

In the Green Party we do not want these weapons. We do not want a replacement. Nor do we do not want a nuclear deterrent. A significant majority of the British people agree with us (58% to 35% in last September’s poll) . Nuclear deterrence is a highly dangerous outcome of the Cold War.

It is necessary and vital to think differently in the 21st century – especially on how we use dwindling resources, and how we foster international cooperation and development.

We cannot conceive of any use these weapons have: they cannot be used, that would be the ultimate failure. Nor is Trident actually an independent but relies on American missiles, know-how and say-so – they don’t help our security, they keep us tied to US policy"

Monday 29 March 2010

Peter Levy Show

Our colleague Mike Jackson was interviewed in the Peter Levy radio show this lunchtime. He is the Green candidate for East Yorkshire, and it is pleasing that we were brought in. However, he was kept cornered by Peter into giving responses to questions purely about windfarms and the like. I sent the following email to the BBC, hoping that it may get an airing at some stage.
Hello Peter,
I enjoyed your interview with my colleague, Mike Jackson, earlier.May I reinforce the key point; the oil and gas bonanza in the last decade or so has burnt most of global supplies – we are soon to be so short that we’ll be handing out the stuff by the teaspoon, not for energy, but for medicines, fertilisers, plastics and the like. In preparation for this shortage, what are governments doing? Going to war to secure oil supplies. This is not responsible leadership appropriate for this crisis.

Greens see the link between the oil and gas addiction of our society and embarking on futile war. This shows lack of concern for the needs of our children and grandchildren. Best wishes

Friday 26 March 2010

Hustings under way

Broadening the agenda

Shan did me proud with this letter, also in last week's Beverley Guardian.

Local debate continues

We try to keep wider issues, like peace, justice and sensible economics, in the public eye. So this piece (published on 19 March in the Beverley Guardian) plays into the hands of those who think we have nothing to talk about, but the weather!

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Longcroft School hustings

This event (19 March) was organised by the East Riding Youth Assembly (as you can see), chaired by one of the Longcroft students, in front of forty or so sixth formers. The candidates are beginning to know each other quite well! L to R Bill (Green) Ian (Lab) and Graham (Con).

Again, a cracking range of issues, which gave no-one an easy time.

Saturday 20 March 2010

Hornsea bites back

Last Monday we went to a meeting of small businesses in Hornsea convened to consider ways of responding to the arrival of a new branch.

The Market Weighton Chamber of Trade sent a member to share their experience of Post Tesco Shock Syndrome, followed by a business link adviser. He gave a presentation on strategies helpful for keeping your business on its toes.

Useful chat with a parich councillor, and with some of the shopkeepers, all pretty anxious about what might happen to their business.

Tesco economics is plain barmy.

Friday 19 March 2010

Early spring in Howden (and Hornsea)

On the train on the way back to Beverley from a meeting in Leeds last tuesday, I felt impulsive - must have been the weak spring sunshine - and jumped off at Howden. Howden station is perhaps a mile from town so I had a good walk to start with - and noticed the ditch between the path and the fields. It looked lifeless - at a time when other still water is surging with frogs. Is it full of chemicals due to our current intensive agricultural methods? Can anyone tell me?

Nearing town, the first thing I noticed was the huge carpark in a field. I later discovered it's for the Press Association. As its quite a step back to the station, I decided I'd better first find out train times and was told Shire Hall was my best bet for tourist information - but - Shire Hall is closed on mondays and tuesdays. So where could I get information? This search gave me insight into the kindliness of people in Howden: the owners of the Minster View Hotel found me a train timetable, the landlord of the Wellington Hotel let me use his computer to try to check current train times (not easy!), and one of the post office staff found me an up to date timetable. I bought a meaty little magazine - Howden Matters - and chatted with the owners of various hostelries and shops. Some were angry about East Riding Council drawing yellow lines on the road and fining people for parking...but, to be fair (and I'm no admirer of ERYC), others felt it wasn't such an issue. Cars! It was nice to be free of one.

Having spent monday evening at a meeting in Hornsea of small traders trying to develop survival strategies for the arrival of Tesco, I do feel Howden is very lucky to have the ethical Co-operative and not to be dominated by the big-bully supermarkets. There are some great little shops in Howden - including butchers, deli, homecare - long may they thrive.

I spent a really pleasant afternoon in historic Howden and hope to return soon - thanks for the friendly welcome!

Thursday 18 March 2010

Hustings at Wilberforce

It's Wednesday - it must be Wilberforce. We are beginning to get into a rhythm. Yesterday's event was at one of Hull's sixth form colleges whose students come in large numbers from the Beverley and Holderness patch. So I was pleased to be able to share a platform with (L to R), Christine (Con), Stephan (the Principal), Jonathan (entrepreneur), Mike (Lib Dem), Ian (Lab).

Six scorching questions: Why bother to vote? Should we be in Afghanistan? Is global warming an issue? HE fees - should they continue? Are the BNP now 'mainstream'? and, finally, how do you eat a cream egg?

Half of the audience of 120 or so is old enough to vote. Asked at the beginning, how many intend to vote, only a minority responded. I hope we persuaded some to change their mind. One student afterwards gave Greens the victory in debate - maybe he was a voter!

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Hard times in Roos

The illustration is one of the ads by the Department for Energy and Climate Change that was criticised by the ASA. The government has pledged to continue its campaigns on climate change, despite the advertising watchdog banning two of its press ads. Last October's £6m ad campaign, by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, has become a lightning rod for the politically charged debate over the issue. The campaign, including a TV ad, four press ads and two billboard posters, prompted almost 1,000 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, denouncing it as misleading, scaremongering and distressing.

The ASA has today ruled that two of the press ads, which used nursery rhymes to push the message of climate change, were in breach of the advertising code. In its ruling the ASA said that the language used to indicate how storms, flooding and heatwaves will increase "should have been phrased more tentatively". However, the ASA added that the images of the UK flooding and of a drought "were not in themselves ... exaggerated or misleading".

The above little piece in today's Guardian (the old Manchester Guardian, not the Beverley Guardian!) links with my experience last night at the Roos wind farm enquiry.

A company called RES has had its planning application turned down by the East Riding Planning Committee, and their appeal against the decision has gone to a public inquiry. The inquiry has been spread over eight days, but one of the hearings was not in County Hall, which is in Beverley, 30 odd miles from the site, but in Roos itself. I elected to give my views at this meeting. The parish hall was packed – 60-odd people at least. Objectors were heard first, and the leader of the objectors gave a careful and comprehensive case lasting about one hour and forty minutes. She was followed by seven or eight others. After two and a half hours, the three people prepared to speak in support were called. The first, Mike Jackson, a fellow Green, described the experience a Lisset, a village near to his home which has had a wind farm in place for nearly a year. I made my case as follows

* Government has failed to make clear to the nation as a whole the true extent of the energy security crisis, hence it is entirely understandable if communities bridle at the thought of a wind farm invasion whose case they don’t accept. The ad campaign shown above illustrates the hamfistedness of the current efforts by DECC
* Local authorities have been given no incentive to use their community connections to discuss a strategic approach to sustainable energy provision in their area, so the case for putting the installation has had to be made by the developer
* Local communities have had no incentives to become partners with the developers in a scheme. The only beneficiaries appear to be the landowner and the developer.
* This dogs dinner means that if the appeal is upheld, the community will be resentful, add their voice to the network of others under ‘threat’ and make subsequent applications more difficult. If the appeal is tuned down, government will come up with more draconian planning arrangements which make applications easier to succeed and breed more local unrest.

My support was therefore highly qualified – but support nevertheless. Which made me no friends at all!

Our dear government is making Greens a scapegoat for their incompetence

Sunday 14 March 2010

On the stump

At least two reasons to feel good during Market Day in Beverley yesterday. The weather is picking up, and we were comfortable standing for a few hours. Even better was the warm feeling we got from the regular positive responses from passers by.

Vulture Funds - Tory plot!

some bits of news just take your breath away. This one did.

I have sent this letter (below) to my MP, Graham Stuart, following a story in the Guardian (web version) on Saturday 13 March. There seems to be no sign of it in the Sunday version. If you have a local Tory MP, please consider sending your own version to him/her.

People have being buying third world debt (which was scheduled to be written off anyway) and successfully suing for their recovery in UK courts. This bill was supposed to extinguish the practice in our jurisdiction.

Dear Graham, As you will be aware, on last Friday evening members of your party killed a private members’ bill that would have put an end to the disgraceful practice of corporations buying up old debts of some of the world’s poorest countries the suing them for large sums.
The bill had enjoyed widespread support within parliament and from leading charities.
One would expect all Members of Parliament to have supported Mr Gwynne’s bill but Conservative MPs objected to it, knowing that this would mean it would run out of time and have no chance of becoming law.
It appears that your party, having pledged support for the bill, then objected to it and refused to admit who was responsible.
One can only conclude that this was a decision taken by your front bench in a direct breach of commitments given by David Cameron. Can you please
Make your view of this action clear in a reply to this letter, and
Pass on my concerns and seek a clarification from David Cameron
Yours sincerely
Bill Rigby
Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Beverley and Holderness

Wednesday 3 March 2010

'All war is organised murder'

Brian Haw's Awesome Peace Protest

We had a chat with Brian Haw on February 21st. He’s been camping opposite the Houses of Parliament for 8 years to protest against the aggression, death and destruction perpetrated by this country on Iraq. Brian deserves all our respect and admiration for standing up for human rights and civilised behaviour.

Friday 26 February 2010

Politics Show Sunday 21st Feb

The Green Party was featured on the BBC Politics Show last Sunday with film of Hull North candidate Martin Deane, Huddersfield's Andrew Cooper, and myself doing a live bit from the London studio. Trouble is they asked me about climate change, and that's just not our main issue. I had about five points I wanted to make - but no time!

Young people and political debate

I spent a very interesting afternoon last week observing an East Riding Youth Assembly meeting in Beverley where young people were putting themselves forward as potential members of the Youth Parliament for the UK. 30 secondary school students spoke about what mattered to them - and it was all about justice. Issues included lowering the voting age, divorce and its effect on kids, bullying, the need to listen to young people’s views and to talk about disability in schools, unfair attitudes towards young people, and lack of things for young people to do. It was very impressive – and all these issues are championed by the Green Party whose slogan is ‘Fair is worth fighting for’.

The afternoon proved how caring young people can be, so it’s worrying that, in my experience, many young people don’t vote at all, often saying they know nothing about it. This allows the ‘grey’ parties (and the far right parties) to win seats because many older people seem to vote out of habit - or protest. It’s often younger people who want sensible fair Green politics, but who don’t vote…so its easy to see why we don’t get the positive change we so desperately need.

So, I’m inviting colleges and schools to please hold hustings (a meeting with questions to a panel of politicians) in the run-up to the general election. There was a Green landslide vote at Wolfreton School hustings (see below) : when people hear Green policies they like them. If you know a school or college (or, for that matter, any group at all) which is looking for a Green speaker, or a Green panellist for a hustings, do please get in touch with us.

Greens Landslide Win at Wolfreton School

I was delighted to be invited to Wolfreton School recently to participate in a political hustings in the run-up to the General Election. The audience was the whole of Year 10 and some sixth form politics students. The venue was the lecture theatre with adult politicians stage left and student politicians stage right. The adults represented Labour, Lib Dems, Conservatives, and myself for the Greens. The students represented Labour, UKIP, Green, BNP, Tory and Lib Dem. Tom (aged 13) also spoke as a member of the UK Youth Parliament. The politicians, young and old, described their policies, and questions followed.

Natalie and I gave the message that Green is the only way out of the recession. We can afford our policies because we would cut out the massive UK spending on ‘defence’. We would create hundreds of thousands of green jobs in agriculture, house refurbishment, insulation, public transport, and new energy technologies.

The audience voted and the result was a LANDSLIDE vote for the Greens!

Young people invariably believe in Green policies, but if they don’t vote (when they can), the older voters put in the OLD outdated parties and we get old outdated policies to keep us in the same old mess.

Many thanks for the event, Mr Richardson – if only more schools would do this….well done Wolfreton!

Saturday 6 February 2010

Beverley Town By-Election

Thursday 4 February: Result of the election in Minster South Ward
Dack(Green) 182
Foot(Lib Dem) - 165
McGrath(Labour) - 149
Dominic Peacock(Cons) - 322

Our 22% would mean about 143 MPs if reflected in Parliament. - as if! And we lost to a self-confessed "Toff" in a deerstalker. Beverley! Sigh.

Full House!

You will not be able to read this page without keen acuity, but it is displayed to demonstrate our first FULL HOUSE - a whole page of letters linked to our campaigns - in the Beverley Guardian.
Anti-clockwise, from the top: two on our local MP's stance on foxhunting, one from Pete Dack, the Green Party candidate in the Town Council election last Thursday (more about this above), one on dog shit, one from a strong opponent to ERYC's approach to Norwood House, and one from me on greens and climate change.