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.