Friday, 30 April 2010

Adrian Ramsay :: Deputy Leader :: MP candidate for Norwich South | SHOCK NEWS: DAVID CAMERON TO VOTE GREEN

Adrian Ramsay :: Deputy Leader :: MP candidate for Norwich South | SHOCK NEWS: DAVID CAMERON TO VOTE GREEN

What has it got to do with me?



Up early, far too early it now feels, in order to be interviewed live on Radio Bristol this morning (click here and scroll to about 1 hour 40 mins to listen to my 5 minutes). Was out until late(ish) watching and listening to a Benjamin Zephaniah and Francesca Beard poetry performance at the Arnolfini last night, then watched a recording of the 'leaders debate' when I got home. Suffice to say that there was a great deal more of political value in the poetry performances than in the 'leaders debate'! See the very striking What has it got to do with me (above), Rong Radio and of course Talking Turkeys (links below) .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3HjMcY50Kc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4AgPSjzXkw&feature=related

   Stockwood Pete: Clear Green Water

Stockwood Pete: Clear Green Water

Three very distinctive reasons to vote Green in the local elections from Peter Goodwin the excellent Green Candidate for Stockwood (Pete gained 20% of the Stockwood vote and second place in the 2007 elections). See my series of 'Why vote Green' posts for further information (click on the Why Vote Green label on the right hand side or just search my blog using these words).

BBC News - Police probe Twitter votes gaffe by Bristol candidate

BBC News - Police probe Twitter votes gaffe by Bristol candidate

Bristol East surely deserves an MP who thinks before they act, who has a decent understanding of electoral law - and in fact a bit of good sense and responsibility about what is fair play to other candidates and to voters during an election??

A Labour candidate has apologised for revealing a sample of postal votes on the social networking website Twitter.

Bristol East candidate and party 'Twitter tsar' Kerry McCarthy said she was "kicking herself" after the gaffe.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary said it was looking into a possible alleged breach of electoral law.
It is illegal to reveal the votes cast before the end of polling day because it may influence the outcome of the election.


A Bristol City Council spokesman said the authority had reported the matter to the police after Ms McCarthy brought it to their attention.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Working for human rights here and around the globe

I'm grateful to the many people who have contacted me on the important issue of human rights (see example below). I very strongly agree with them about the importance of human rights and feel that MPs and Govts should see that: human rights are not undermined by a security agenda that denies opportunity for a fair trial or seeks to deport foreign nationals to countries where they face a serious risk of torture; the human rights framework in the UK is protected; leadership is shown in addressing the preventable deaths of women and children; the ‘Manifesto for Motherhood’ is supported; the debate on asylum and immigration is a principled one that does not pander to the prejudices of those with extreme views on this issue. If elected I would work very hard in all these areas. I signed up to support the Manifesto for Motherhood a while back now. I hope human rights activists agree with me that the Green Movement is at the forefront of many struggles for human rights around the globe eg for land, peace, basic needs, fundamental rights and more. http://www.onlygreen.org.uk/
__________________________________________________

Dear Mr Vowles,

I am writing as a supporter of Amnesty International in your constituency to ask what you can do to promote and protect human rights if you are elected to Parliament.

I know that you will be receiving information from many individuals and organisations asking you to support their policy recommendations to the next government.

However, I hope that you will agree that respect for human rights should be at the centre of all government policies, and therefore ask you, if elected, to ensure that:

- Women’s human rights are respected in the UK and overseas, including freedom from violence and active participation in decisions affecting their lives.
- Human rights are not undermined by a security agenda that denies opportunity for a fair trial or seeks to deport foreign nationals to countries where they face a serious risk of torture.
- The human rights framework in the UK is protected
- Leadership is shown in addressing the preventable deaths of women and children and to give your support to the ‘Manifesto for Motherhood’.
- The debate on asylum and immigration is a principled one that does not pander to the prejudices of those with extreme views on this issue.

I hope that you will support these recommendations and maintain a commitment to human rights during your election campaign and after.

Many thanks for your attention in this matter; I look forward to your reply.
Yours sincerely,

Freedom and space to play for children

I’m a longstanding and very active campaigner for the protection and enhancement - and indeed increase in – green, open and natural spaces in Bristol. I’ve also worked hard for safer residential streets with a 20mph speed limit. I'm naturally very strongly committed to Play England's Manifesto for childrens play, so that children and young people have the same freedom and space to play enjoyed by previous generations. I’ve signed up to:
1. To make all residential neighbourhoods child-friendly places where children can play outside 2. To give all children the time and opportunity to play throughout childhood 3. To give all children somewhere to play – in freedom and safety – after school and in the holidays. This is a vital aspect of a society where health and wellbeing are the true measure of progress.

http://vowlesthegreen.blogspot.com/search/label/green%20spaces

http://vowlesthegreen.blogspot.com/search/label/20mph

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Meet my reasonable needs to do the job of MP - no more, no less

Spoke at a very interesting meeting organised by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) last night in Whitehall. I'm grateful to the meeting organisers and to all those who attended and asked a wide range of searching questions. I'm already on record as supporting PCS campaigning to protect and promote public services, jobs, equality, those on low pay and unfair conditions of employment, and to fight fascism (see here and here). What I said went down well I think. There was good agreement in many respects between myself and TUSC candidate Rae Lynch (http://www.tusc.org.uk/) - not that this post constitutes a total endorsement of course!!

One of the most striking questions was on MPs pay and expenses. It was very powerfully put and reminded me of the commitment given now and whilst he was a Labour MP by socialist Dave Nellist to take 'only the wage of a skilled factory worker (40% of what he could have earned), less than half that which other MPs took for themselves, the rest he donated back to the Labour movement and to charities'. It also reminded me of the commitment I made on the issue of MPs pay and expenses all the way back in July 2008 (before the MPs expenses scandal) here (relevant extract below*). I am personally committed to making no net financial gain in any way, shape or form from being an MP and have always believed that only my needs to do the job of MP and should be met, no more and no less. I also believe very strongly in the merits of MPs living on income similar to that of people in general.

_________________________________________________

*Extract from July 2008 post: I recently posted about the work of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation who looked at what various categories of people need in order to live at an acceptable standard and participate in UK society. I propose that this sort of method should be applied to all MPs, including members of the Government - get a fair, independent body to examine what is needed for MPs to do their jobs well and also live decent, reasonably rounded lives and pay them and/or provide them with appropriate facilities as required.If I was ever elected as an MP (I wish!!) I would certainly work on this basis, whether or not this kind of system was the official one. Are any local MPs willing to have an independent body go over what their actual needs are?

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Free eye tests for all

Copy of RNIB media release: Glenn Vowles Green Candidate for Bristol East takes RNIB quiz and says “It’s time we all took more care of our eyes ….that's why Greens would reintroduce free eye tests for all”

Glenn Vowles today took part in a quiz from RNIB to raise awareness amongst election candidates of the leading causes of sight loss. Questions also ask who can get free eye tests and how many of us are already living with sight problems.

Six million older people at risk of blindness
There are around 1.8 million people in the UK already living with sight loss, with around 2700 in Bristol East. RNIB’s quiz revealed that pensioners are most at risk of losing their sight, in fact two-thirds of partially sighted people are aged 75 or over. Yet, six million older people in the UK (47 per cent) are needlessly risking their sight by not having their eyes tested regularly, despite being eligible for free eye tests.

Saving sight
Mr Vowles was also shocked to learn that nearly 50 per cent of all sight loss is avoidable. This includes people with refractive error – that is people in need of a correct prescription for glasses or contact lenses - and people who have lost sight through conditions that could have been treated if detected early enough, such as glaucoma.

Glenn said, "Sight is the sense we most fear losing, so why are so many of us are potentially putting it at risk through not having regular sight tests? There needs to be a greater public understanding that a sight test isn't just about whether you need glasses, it can also detect signs of eye disease. It’s time we all took eye health and sight loss seriously."

RNIB recommends that everyone should get their eyes tested every two years, or more frequently if recommended by an optometrist.

-ends-

Notes to editors

1. Glenn Vowles, tel 0117 9717023,
glennvowles@bristolgreenparty.org.uk

2. Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is the UK's leading charity offering information, support and advice to around two million people with sight loss. Visit
www.rnib.org.uk or call 0303 123 9999.

3. The production of the quiz has been supported a by third-party agency provided by Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Ltd.


RNIB is non-political in its dealings and during the general election campaign and adheres to Charity Commission Guidance. RNIB does not support the views of any particular party.

The Small Charities Coalition

Passing this message on...The Small Charities Coalition helps small charities...With over 160,000 charities registered in England and Wales and 139,915 having incomes of less than £500k* there are bound to be dozens or even hundreds of small charities within your constituency who could benefit (*Source: Charity Commission, Dec 2009).

The Small Charities Coalition helps small charities get access to the advice and guidance they need - sometimes even training - free of charge, and without cooking the books!

A small charity is matched with an individual supporter that has the skills to mentor or coach the charity through a specific problem or a longer term issue such as organisational development or generating sustainable income. This supporter will either come from a fellow small charity or larger organisation. Small charities and supporters can also tap into the Coalition’s ever growing network at events and keep up to date with regular emails and newsletters. All that we ask in return is that charities be prepared to share their own skills and experience with their fellow small charities.

The Small Charities Coalition operates nationally and currently has 450 small charity members and 100 Supporters from charities such as Cancer Research UK, Beatbullying, Oxfam, British Red Cross and Anthony Nolan Trust. The more organisations that join, the more diverse and rich resources we have to draw on to help small charities.

So help us to help small charities in your constituency by telling them about the Small Charities Coalition and by displaying our poster (see image, click to enlarge) wherever you can. For more information please contact me on 020 7391 4812 or email atinfo@smallcharities.org.uk .

Thank you

Cath Lee
Chief ExecutiveSmall Charities Coalition

http://www.smallcharities.org.uk/


Tel 0207 391 4812

Monday, 26 April 2010

For animal wellbeing, opposing animal cruelty and suffering

Completed Policy Questionnaire for Candidates in the 2010 General Election www.vote4animals.org.uk

Dear Candidate,

Please provide your name, party and the constituency you are contesting, delete ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ as appropriate, sign and date the questionnaire at the end, and return copies of completed questionnaire as soon as possible to (1) your constituent and (2) to PAD, 5th Floor, Alliance House, 9 Leopold Street, Sheffield S1 2GY; email
research@vote4animals.org.uk ; fax 0114 2722225.

Candidate’s Name, Party & Constituency:
Glenn Vowles, Green Party, Bristol East

1. Hunting Ban

Recent opinion polling confirms a clear majority of both rural and urban dwellers are opposed to hunting with hounds. The legitimate sphere of personal freedom does not extend to cruelty and violence towards others.


Will you support the Hunting Act 2004, oppose any moves to repeal this legislation, and support robust enforcement of the Act?

YES

2. Democratic Reform
The Animal Welfare Act does not cover animals used in agriculture and research. A situation has evolved over many decades whereby the Government takes decisions affecting millions of animals in closed policy processes dominated by commercial interests, with animal welfare considerations effectively excluded. The ethical concerns of the public are largely ignored, undermining democracy and public trust in politics. We need a democratically-accountable body to create a level playing field and ensure animal protection is given a meaningful voice in Government for the first time.

Will you support the establishment of an Animal Protection Commission with overall responsibility for all policies affecting animal wellbeing?

YES

3. Battery Egg Farming
Battery farming of eggs – involving around 30 million hens every year - is arguably the cruellest form of farming in the UK. Current EU plans to replace conventional battery cage with so-called ‘enriched’ battery cages by 2012 are inadequate. ‘Enriched’ battery cages share many of the serious welfare problems common to the conventional battery cage. A comprehensive ban on battery cages will complement the scheduled 2011 prohibition of de-beaking, which is a painful and unnecessary mutilation.

Do you support a full ban on all battery cages for egg laying hens in 2012 and the scheduled prohibition of de-beaking in 2011?

YES

4. Reducing and Eliminating Animal Experimentation
There is broad agreement that the infliction of pain on animals raises serious ethical concerns and that there are significant scientific limitations to the use of animal models as a guide to human biology. We therefore support the recommendation of the Home Office’s Animal Procedures Committee for a determined, targetted effort to bring about the end of animal use. In other policy areas, demanding targets have been identified as providing a goal even where these targets might require technological and other innovation if they were to be met. We believe in an analogous strategy in relation to animal use.

Do you support a strategy to identify and implement targets for the reduction and elimination of animal experimentation?

YES

5. Animal Experiments: Freedom of Information
Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 blocks the publication of important information about animal experiments. PAD and the other major animal protection groups agree that researchers' names and addresses and genuinely confidential information should remain secret. Given that each animal experiment is only rendered legal through the authorisation by the Government, acting on behalf of voters, we believe that the public should be able to access all other information relevant to the ethics of animal experiments, including what is being done to the animals and for what purpose.

Do you support the repeal of Section 24 of the 1986 Act and the application of FOI to animal experiments, except for personal and genuinely confidential information?

YES

6. Biofuels and Animal Habitats
The preservation of natural habitats is crucial to protect the welfare of individual animals as well preserving biodiversity and other environmental benefits. Increasing demand for biofuels has proved to be a leading driver of deforestation in some of the most biodiverse places on earth, causing widespread suffering and death to many animals. Government incentives supporting the use of palm and other vegetable oils as fuel for transport, power generation and heating in the EU, are driving animals such as orangutans to the brink of extinction. Furthermore, the alternative source of biofuels is growing crops on agricultural land, which directly competes with growing food for people in areas where food scarcity is already a problem. Biofuels are not a sustainable solution to climate change, unlike truly renewable energy from sources such as wind, solar and tidal.

Do you support only giving subsidies to sustainable forms of energy production that protect animal welfare, and ensuring that biofuels with the exception of those sourced from true waste products (e.g. biogas from sewage) are not supported through targets and incentives?

YES

Doubt, questioning, evidence, reason...progress

As someone who very strongly believes in questioning, doubt, scepticism, naturalism and reasoning I was very interested to receive the email below* from the British Humanist Association (http://www.humanism.org.uk/home). I responded to the 'doorstep questions' in their manifesto as follows:

DOORSTEP QUESTIONS

1. Should government departments treat humanist, secular and religious organisations equally in policy making, funding decisions and consultations?

Yes

2. Should religious organisations be contracted to deliver public services?

No

3. What do you think the government's policy should be on faith schools?

No publicly-funded school should be run by a religious organisation. Schools should teach about religions, comparing examples which originated in each continent, but should not deliver religious instruction in any form or encourage adherence to any particular religious belief.

Privately-funded schools run by religious organisations should reflect the inclusive nature of British society and become part of the Local authority admissions system. This non-discriminatory approach should be extended to staff who must not be discriminated against in faith schools due to their own faith either in seeking employment or during employment.

4. What do you think about exemptions for religious organisations from aspects of antidiscrimination and equality legislation?

There should be no religious exemptions from equality and anti-discrimination legislation

5. Would you vote to retain or remove bishops from the House of Lords?

Remove!!

6. How would you vote on abortion / assisted dying for the terminally ill?

In favour of both

7. Will you defend the Human Rights Act?

Yes

8. Do you think dialogue work that doesn't include non-religious people (e.g. 'interfaith' work) is desirable?

No - dialogue should include non-religious people.

9. Do you think that religious leaders should have privileged access to policy and decision makers?

No!!

10. Do you think that publicly funded faith schools should be allowed to discriminate in their admissions and employment?

No
________________________________________________

*I am delighted to enclose the British Humanist Association’s (BHA) General Election Manifesto. The BHA is the national charity representing the interests of the large and growing population of ethically concerned non-religious people living in the UK. It exists to support and represent people who seek to live good and responsible lives without religious or superstitious beliefs.

The numbers of such people are undoubtedly growing and current figures (from the British Social Attitudes survey of January 2010) suggest that 43% of the population is happy to self-identify as non-religious, with the numbers of those not practising or affiliated to a religion much higher.

The BHA is deeply committed to human rights, equality, democracy, and an end to irrelevant discrimination, and has a long history of active engagement in work for an open and inclusive society. In such a society, people of all beliefs would have equal treatment before the law, and the rights of those with all beliefs to hold and live by them would be reasonably accommodated within a legal framework setting minimum common legal standards.

The Manifesto set out the BHA’s vision on a number of core areas of work, from human rights to faith schools to free speech. These are all important issues for the millions of non-religious people in the UK.

We have included a number of questions in the Manifesto for your consideration and we would appreciate it if you could take a few moments to consider the questions and email us your answers to pepper@humanism.org.uk. We will use collate the answers for information and may pass them on to another organisation who is mapping the views of PPC’s on various issues.

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Copson
Chief Executive
BHA

Support for nurses, patients and the NHS

Nurses and members of the public from every part of the UK have come together behind the RCN's six priorities for UK health...As a candidate for Parliament I have signed the priorities listed below and showed my support for nurses, patients, and the NHS. Voters can support nurses by emailing their candidates seeking their views and asking them to sign up as I have (click here to do this).

*Standing up for staff who speak out
*Safer staffing levels
*Give nurses the time to train
*Protect the nation's health
*Improve care for those with long term conditions
*Sustain healthcare investment

Green commitment to public services

Just signed up to all statements in the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) pledge and will be speaking on how Green policies are consistent with them at a candidates question time meeting organised by PCS tomorrow night, 6pm, at The Rose Green Centre, Gordon Rd, Whitehall (had several of the emails below*). I have pledged to: work to ensure that public services are properly resourced and delivered by the public sector and that there are no further local office closures, public sector job cuts or privatisations; support measures aimed at closing the UK tax gap including recruiting HMRC staff and ensuring tax loopholes are closed; support civil service national pay bargaining and to press the government to offer pay increases to public sector workers at least in line with inflation; honour the 2005 commitment on public sector pensions and defend the rights of existing members of the civil service compensation scheme; campaign to ensure any changes to public services are only made after proper equality impact assessments have been conducted and their findings implemented. I've previously expressed my strong support for the campaigns of the PCS on pay, jobs, office closures, privatisation, tax staff and fighting fascism here.

Greens are committed to high investment in public services and to opposing cuts. We have a £44 billion Green New Deal investment plan designed to begin the creation of a fair and sustainable society ie one that has health and wellbeing as the measure of progress in place of ‘growth’ and
which reconciles the economic and social with our environment such that we can all lead decent lives now and on into the future. Greens are arguing very strongly for: redistribution of wealth; closing the equality gap; resource efficiency; renewability; staying within environmental limits;
strong and empowered local communities; quality of life (see the Greens policies/manifesto at: http://www.onlygreen.org.uk/ )

______________________________________________________

*Dear Mr Vowles,
>
>I am writing to you as a prospective constituent to let you know about my
>union’s election campaign, Make Your Vote Count and to ask you to respond
>to our five election pledges.
>
>My union, the Public and Commercial Services Union, represents almost
>300,000 members in the civil service, non departmental public bodies and
>the private sector right across the country.
>
>As you know, public services are a particularly pertinent issue in this
>election and I am keen to find out where you stand on our key campaign
>issues (see below). Once you have responded to our election pledges this
>information will be distributed to PCS members locally and also published
>on the PCS website.
>
>1) I pledge to work to ensure that public services are properly resourced
>and delivered by the public sector and that there are no further local
>office closures, public sector job cuts or privatisations.
>2) I pledge to support measures aimed at closing the UK tax gap including
>recruiting HMRC staff and ensuring tax loopholes are closed.
>3) I pledge to support civil service national pay bargaining and to press
>the government to offer pay increases to public sector works at least in
>line with inflation.
>4) I pledge to honour the 2005 commitment on public sector pensions and
>defend the rights of existing members of the civil service compensation
>scheme.
>5) I pledge to campaign to ensure any changes to public services are only
>made after proper equality impact assessments have been conducted and
>their findings implemented.
>
>I would therefore be very grateful if you could outline your position on
>each of our pledges above in 150 words or less and send your response to
>.....or myvc@pcs.org.uk by 26 April.
>
>This offers you a unique opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to
>public services to me and other PCS members in your constituency. If you
>have any questions about this request or would like further information
>on our campaigns please visit www.pcs.org.uk/myvc .
>
>Yours sincerely

Friday, 23 April 2010

Making banks work in all our interests

Just signed up to support the Better Banking Campaign which call[s] for fundamental reform of the banking system [via]the introduction of four measures which will help ensure financial institutions serve the interests of all people, businesses and third sector organisations equally. These are:

*Transparency from banks about the communities they do and don’t serve

*An incentive structure to encourage banks to fully engage with people and businesses in all communities

*A cap on extortionate lending rates

*A commitment from banks to re-invest 1% of their profits for social benefit

Why was the Better Banking Campaign set up?

Over the past two years, billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been used to bail-out the banking sector. However, we believe that banks should be doing much more to deliver a genuine social return on our investment. Up to 9 million people aren’t able to access banking services in a fair and equal way in the UK, often forcing them to turn to high-cost lenders or loan sharks for help. The recession has also meant that small businesses, charities and social enterprises have struggled to access finance.

The financial crisis, along with the...General Election, have presented us with a once in a generation opportunity to transform the banking sector so that it works in the interests of us all. If we are able to take it, it could help eradicate long-term problems such as financial exclusion which have affected some of the most disadvantaged communities in our society for many years. The Better Banking Campaign works to ensure that this opportunity is not missed.

Spin at the Arnolfini; reality at the Thunderbolt | News

Spin at the Arnolfini; reality at the Thunderbolt News

A mile from the Arnolfini media circus, a very different political viewpoint was being offered by campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Mr Tatchell is well known for many years of brave campaigning against prejudice and for human rights, most notably recently for his attempts to make a 'citizens arrest' of the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. In last year's Observer Ethical Awards, he was named 'Campaigner of the Year' and he was in Bristol as the guest of the Bristol South Green Party.

In a very wide ranging talk, Mr Tatchell challenged the main parties' unquestioning commitment to keeping the neo-liberal economy that has brought us so close to financial meltdown, threatens environmental collapse as resources are consumed at ever higher rates, and creates social unrest by widening the gap between rich and poor.

"The Green Party", he said, "is the most progressive force in British politics, with a visionary agenda for democratic reform, social justice, human rights, global equity, environmental protection, peace and internationalism."

"The Greens realise that the whole economic system has to change, in order to meet people’s needs and to ensure the survival of life on this planet. We propose a synthesis of the best bits of red and green, combining social justice with sustainable economics.

"A good example of how we would do this is our proposed Roosevelt-style Green New Deal. It would stimulate the economy through large-scale government investment in socially and environmentally valuable energy conservation, renewable energy and cheap, hi-tech public transport.

"This would slash carbon emissions and tackle climate change, as well as cutting unemployment creating hundreds of thousands of green jobs.

"With more people in work, more people pay tax and national insurance, thereby boosting the public finances. With more people earning, they’ve got more money to spend. They go out and buy things, which creates demand and new jobs to meet this demand. This stimulates economic recovery. We all benefit."

All the city's four Green Party general election candidates for were there to hear Mr Tatchell: Glenn Vowles (Bristol East), Alex Dunn (Bristol North West), Charlie Bolton (Bristol South), and Ricky Knight (Bristol West). Local election candidates included Tess Green, who is defending Southville, the Greens' only seat in the city council chamber.

LINKS:
Peter Tatchell's website
Green Party General Election Manifesto

Thursday, 22 April 2010

'Leaders debate' in Bristol

I will be introducing Peter Tatchell, speaking at The Thunderbolt, Bath Rd, from 8pm tonight when today’s ‘leaders debate’ is broadcast from the Arnolfini, Bristol by Sky and so I’ll have to watch a recording. Peter is of course someone who has offered up and demonstrated great leadership over several decades now – maybe the media will seek his view on the debate?

My view on the tv debates is that they are undemocratic if restricted to just the three people who lead a political status quo that is more discredited now than it has ever been! There is very little difference between the three of them in practice, including the Lib Dems, and it certainly suits their political agenda to exclude others. People have a right to see and hear a broad range of political leaders, including the Greens, Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, UKIP, Respect…In the last local and European elections the interest in parties other than Labour the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats was higher than ever, so don’t the media have a duty to help voters become fully informed??

Caroline Lucas MEP, leader of the Green Party and odds on to win the Brighton Pavillion seat and become the first Green MP at Westminster said this about the first tv debate:

Is Peter Riddell right to say “The shift to the Lib Dems seems to have little to do with their policies and more to do with Mr Clegg’s personal appeal” (The Times 21 April)?

Certainly it seems the Lib Dems’ 10-point jump in the polls has been almost entirely attributable to Mr Clegg’s 90 minutes of prime-time television. He performed well. But could he have performed equally well had he not been confident in a set of policies he believes enjoy a good deal of public support?

The independent Vote for Policies, Not Personalities website (
www.voteforpolicies.org.uk) has had over 150,000 people participate in its survey to ascertain which party’s policies they most support, without initially revealing which parties follow which policies. The Liberal Democrats are currently showing in second place, with just over 18%, ahead of Labour (17.6%) and the Conservatives (16.5%).

The Greens, however, are way ahead of them all, with well over 27% of respondents preferring Green Party policies.

I do regret the broadcasters’ decision to exclude the Green Party leader from the debates. But in the end, we must remember that it’s the policies that count. It’s policies translated into acts of parliament that affect people’s lives, not whether Gordon Brown looks tired or Nick Clegg feisty or David Cameron had, to quote The Times, “Disastrous pursed lips,” an “Unfortunate Elvis quaff” and “Awkward hand movements”.

I believe the Green Party’s flagship policy of a £44 billion government investment programme, to create a million new jobs in the UK, funded by tax reforms that would leave 87% of Britons better off, is a policy well worth voting for. And I think a high proportion of the electorate would vote for it, if the Green Party were given even a quarter of the airtime the big three parties get to explain their policies.

Green election leaflet for Bristol East

Copy of my general election leaflet (click to enlarge):




Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Why vote Green? Part Eight...

On environmental issues Greens are several decades ahead (see picture and report from 1989 for instance; click to enlarge). We continue to lead the way: illustrating the interdependence of our economy and society with the environment; protecting green spaces from inappropriate housing, road and other developments; prioritising refurbishment of empty properties; pushing for affordable housing on brownfield sites to meet local needs; working for car-free and energy-efficient developments; putting public transport and the needs of pedestrians and cyclists before motorists; protecting woodlands and open, natural and green spaces; obtaining funding to restore derelict land; working for high air, water and land quality.

We are widely recognised for our environmental leadership. Greens are particularly keen to stress policies on the economy, health, education, transport, defence and so on in addition to and in combination with environmental ones. Our economic and social systems exist within the environment and are dependent upon it and Greens – being joined up thinkers – address all issues AND how they interrelate. This is essential if we are to solve problems, take opportunities and secure our wellbeing.

Thoughts on The Age of Stupid



Having presided over the showing of The Age of Stupid and ensuing discussion at The Thunderbolt pub yesterday evening, here are a few thoughts from the notes I made. There is no lack of human ingenuity or 'grey matter' (as someone in the film put it), so if we set our minds to a task we can achieve success - including building the fair and green society needed to cut and cope with climate change. We need to re-establish the idea of leaving the world a better place as our notion of progress as opposed to passing on ever-larger problems to future generations. Its no good pretending climate change is not happening, going along with predominant public thinking, or talking about issues but not taking action - the established facts are that we need a total re-ordering of society to solve problems, take opportunities and secure our health and wellbeing. Happiness is not 'stuff'. Climate change is ultimately something of a leveller, with rich and poor at the mercy of natural forces. Are we knowingly going to wipe ourselves out? Surely not. Do we think we are worth saving? Yes! http://www.onlygreen.org.uk/

Brunel backs launch of complete slate of Green MP candidates in Bristol



Enjoyed taking part in the launch of Bristol's Green Parliamentary candidates yesterday. Good to see that it was covered well by local BBC TV and radio, as well as HTV news. No-one from the Bristol Evening Post was there though (its coverage of the local and general elections has been pretty minimal so far). Great fun to see 'Isambard Kingdom Brunel' backing the Greens call for a state-of-the-art multi-modal transport hub on Plot 6 right next to Temple Meads (see video for Stephen Petter's excellent performance).

We have an economic mess, inseparable from the political mess. Current politicians have and are failing to invest in the future - just look at Bristol's transport problems for instance. Investing additional billions in public transport is great [and much needed] joined up thinking: good transport policy as it provides quality alternatives to the car; good health policy as it cuts stress from congestion and illness from air pollution; good economic policy as it creates thousands of jobs and gets people to work on time; good environmental policy as it makes more efficient use of fuel and so fights climate change.

Action on women's equality

Email below received from the Fawcett Society. Just sent my responses, saying yes to: tackling the gender pay gap; increasing support services for victims of rape; addressing the low level of rapes that end in a conviction; working to assess the impact of any cuts on women's income and public services.
________________________________________________

Subject: Will you pledge to support action on women’s inequality in Bristol East and the wider UK?

Dear Mr Vowles,

I am writing on behalf of Fawcett Society members in Bristol East and across the UK to ask, if you are elected as an MP on May 6th, will you support action on women’s inequality in Bristol East and the wider UK?

In the South West Region region the pay gap between men and women is still a scandalous 18.8% and only 4.6% of reported rapes lead to a conviction. There is also mounting concern that action to tackle the UK’s deficit, in particular public service’s cuts, may well disproportionably disadvantage women if more consideration is not taken into how tax and spending policies may impact men and women differently.

In this context we are keen to hear whether if elected as MP for Bristol East you would:

Support local and national action to tackle the gender pay gap?

Yes

Increase support services for women victims of rape as well as address the low level of rapes that end in a conviction?

Yes

Work with Fawcett and others to ensure that both local and national deficit cutting proposals are assessed in terms of how they would impact on women – both regarding access to public services and women’s income’s?

Yes

We would be grateful if you could please respond by reply to the questions above as soon as possible and no later than 12 noon on Wednesday 28th April when the responses of all the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate’s in Bristol East will be published both on our web and in local and national media for the information of voters.

Links to answers given by your party nationally can be accessed here:

Since 1860, when our founder Millicent Fawcett led the campaign for the women’s vote, Fawcett has a proud record of working with parliamentarians to continue to progress equality between men and women.

If elected as the next MP for Bristol East we hope very much to be able to rely on your support.

With best wishes,

Ceri Goddard
CEO
__ _____________________________________________________
Fawcett produces a regular supporters’ e-bulletin, and briefings on key issues affecting women’s equality in the UK, please indicate here if you would like to receive these updates:

Yes

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Caring about walking

I care about walking and the walking environment and today signed up to the Ramblers election manifesto*. The Ramblers is Britain’s walking charity, making walking available to everyone through improving places for walking, and encouraging people to walk. Over half a million participants nationwide walk with us every year on 28,000 walks. http://www.ramblers.org.uk/

[The Ramblers] have produced an election manifesto which highlights the areas of importance to walkers, this document is detailed below*. Further campaign information can be found here.

Please support the work of the Ramblers and consider joining, which you can do by clicking here.
___________________________________________________

*The Ramblers

General election manifesto for walking: breaking down the barriers


Introduction
For 75 years throughout Britain, we have promoted walking and campaigned successfully for public access for walkers. We are Britain’s walking charity, making walking available to everyone through improving places for walking, as well as encouraging people to walk.


However, Britain today has increasing levels of political devolution and devolved powers. This means that we need politicians of all parties, whether located in Westminster, Cardiff, or Edinburgh, to support and work with us to contribute to a walking Britain.


As Britain’s walking charity we’re committed to ensuring access to all footpaths, the countryside, the coast, the town, and everywhere where people go walking. Over half a million participants walks with us every year on 28,000 walks. These walks are led by 12,000 volunteers. This work is at the heart of all that we do.


We’re also evolving and building on our achievements from the past 75 years. That’s why we’re doing new types of work including promoting walking for families and for people who currently don’t walk at all.


We deliver a wide variety of walking programmes across England, Scotland and Wales. Our walking programmes contribute to a wide range of political priorities such as: health, wellbeing, the rural economy, the environment and climate change.


In this General Election, we want candidates to commit to breaking down the barriers to walking with us. These are:


Physical Barriers:

A good walking environment is a major motivator for walking whereas a poor walking environment acts as a deterrent to walking.


We want to see:


• Protection and improvement of public paths in England and Wales, as well as proper implementation of legislation for new path networks in Scotland


• Delivery of the coastal route, which became law last November, as fast as possible


Financial Barriers:

There are big financial challenges facing the next Government, but the maintenance of green space, footpaths and open land to walk in, and the promotion of walking, is a low-cost way of delivering key public benefits.


We want to see:


• Linkage of Common Agricultural Policy subsidies which are better used for recreation and access provision


• Investment in walking schemes to benefit health, wellbeing, environment and the climate as part of the Olympic legacy


Cultural Barriers:

Reverse the culture which constantly prioritises vehicle users whilst walkers get left behind. This culture and priority in both national and local government needs to be challenged if the benefits of walking are to be maximised


We want to see:


• Positioning of the walker at the top of the transport hierarchy; particularly giving greater priority to walkers at road intersections


• Strong action being taken against those who put walkers’ lives at risk through reckless driving


Legal Barriers:

The law should be on the side of walking rather than making it harder for walkers


We want to see:


• Amended legislation which requires an independent review when there is an objection to orders to gate alleyways, which are used by people of foot


• The protection and promotion of public access, and green space to be made accessible, safe, and well-maintained, through use of the planning process in both town and country

Refugee protection

Greens want a sustainable society. A crucial aspect of sustainability is fairness: within our society; from generation to generation; locally and globally. Greens are opposed to discrimination on grounds of: age; ethnic group; gender; sexuality; class; nationality...Progess in our society is measured not only by wealth but by our capacity to act in a humanitarian way.

My committment: There is no place for racism and xenophobia in modern British politics. Nor is democratic debate advanced by the denigration of the most vulnerable in our country, including children and asylum seekers who do not enjoy the right to participate in elections. I promise to remember the importance of refugee protection, even in free and wide-ranging debates about immigration policy. I will never play fast and loose with the proud tradition of a nation that must always offer succour to those in genuine fear of persecution.

See: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/

http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/

Championing mental health

As a Green I think that health is all about joined up thinking ie I take a systems or holistic approach. This means that to be healthy and to address health issues, problems and opportunities successfully I believe we have to consider physical, mental and social (and, for some, spiritual) aspects and the interrelationships between them. The mental health dimension has long been neglected - and we need to put this right. If elected, I pledge to champion mental health in the next Parliament, taking up the cause of thousands of people affected by mental illness that are: facing discrimination in everyday life; being denied basic treatments to help them recover; languishing in prison without any healthcare (see http://www.rethink.org/).

Monday, 19 April 2010

Rosso - Verde: Defend East Bristol Community Adult Education.

Rosso - Verde: Defend East Bristol Community Adult Education.

Defend East Bristol Community Adult Education. This is about the imminent cuts to the courses that are run in the community; for those who are learning English, for those who have left school without qualifications and now feel ready to try again and maybe prepare themselves for further education and a new career, for those with learning difficulties who benefit from courses that are close and sociable. For many of these people the travel to Bristol City College and accessing the courses there is daunting, expensive and just not appropriate to their circumstances and other responsibilites.

The closure of these local classes is a real loss to them and to the whole community.
Students, teachers and others in the campaign have so far held meetings of over 100 people, lobbied the Council outside and in the council chamber and are now organising a march. See below. Please publicise and support.

Defend Adult Community Education in East Bristol Saturday 24 March
Assemble 11.30 at the Beacon Centre by the City Academy, Russell Town Avenue BS5
(near Lawrence Hill and the bottom of Church Road)
to march into town via Lawrence Hill and Old Market, round Broadmead and to Castle Park
for music, food and speeches.

E mail bigmarch@hotmail.co.uk or join the FacebookGroup: Defend East Bristol Community Education.
Please bring banners, placards, whistles etc.

Affordable homes, safe and sustainable communities

I'm very happy to agree to this National Housing Federation pledge (email sent today). 'I pledge to back the building of more affordable homes and to work towards all constituents having access to decent, affordable housing in safe and sustainable communities.'

Green Party policy on housing is to: build a new generation of quality council homes; support the development of housing co-ops; bring back into use Britain's 300,000 long-term empty private sector homes; renovate Britain's 37,000 empty council homes to help cut waiting lists; give social housing tenants greater control over the management of their homes and neighbourhoods; improve the quality of housing stock to help reduce household bills; help people at risk of repossession keep their homes via a Right to Rent scheme. Further policy details here.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Friend of the Earth

Many thanks to Friends of the Earth for all its efforts over many years on a wide range of issues. They have given great leadership. I'll continue to do my best to take part in and support their work (including signing their pledge, below) by advocating a sustainable society ie one that reconciles the economic, social and environmental. The Green New Deal, a £45 billion investment plan, would be a great start down this path.

I PLEDGE TO SUPPORT

· Policy 1: A local carbon budget for every local authority: that caps CO2 in the local area in line with the scientific demands for emissions cuts and local circumstances; and enough money and technical support to enable councils to do their bit to tackle climate change.

· Policy 2: Sufficient investment in switching to a low carbon economy to: achieve a reduction in UK greenhouse gas emission of 42 per cent by 2020; create jobs and boost the recovery; and eliminate fuel poverty.

· Policy 3: An international deal on cutting emissions where those responsible make the deepest cuts first, and developing countries are supported to grow in a low carbon way.

· Policy 4: A new law which will tackle the major greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation caused by the UK’s dependence on imported feeds for livestock - and which will support better UK farming and domestic feed production.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Green Party manifesto launch: some links

*Election 2010 Peter Walker - Greens promise tax rise to boost public spending
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/15/general-election-green-party-manifesto
"The best outcome for the party would be to hold significant bargaining power in a hung parliament, where any Green MPs would offer their support on a "case by case basis".

*Election 2010 John Vidal – Green Party’s radical new policies would be a boon to the new parliament
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/15/green-party-radical-policy-parliament
"The policy wonks in other parties should start taking them seriously."

*Manifesto dissection by way of annotated policy guide
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/interactive/2010/apr/15/green-party-manifesto-2010-policy-guide

*Slick launch – Election blog
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2010/apr/15/green-party-launch-oliver-burkeman
"There are multiple camera crews and TV lights and constant, clicking shutters, and a manifesto document with graphic design that rivals Labour's and outshines the Tories'. There are several designer suits in evidence, and very little facial hair."

*The Green Party: A manifesto for a low key life – Michael White
"So it's a pleasure to read a document that starts off from the proposition that work should be satisfying, that life should be quieter and fairer, that quality time matters."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2010/apr/15/green-party-tax-quality-life
Also mention cloud of volcanic ash that threatened our media coverage, along with the UK skyline

*And a minute by minute blog:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2010/apr/15/general-election-2010-leaders-debates

*The Times
Green Party launches its business as usual alternative manifesto - Laura Dixon
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/election_2010/article7098748.ece
"While environmental issues are still key — with pledges to invest heavily in public transport and nationalise the rail system — the party is also keen to also present itself as the party of social reform."

*Much BBC online coverage. Here are two items:
Greens pledge for a fair society
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8623197.stm
Manifesto watch: Green Party
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8622742.stm
"The fact that some of Fleet Street's finest had made the journey to the South Coast shows how seriously the party is being taken these days."

*Daily Telegraph Two articles with embedded video footage, focus of coverage on tax rises
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/green-party/7593669/Green-Party-election-manifesto-sets-out-73bn-of-tax-rises.html

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Peter Tatchell in Bristol

I'll be introducing Peter Tatchell at a discussion event next Thurs, 22nd April, 8pm, The Thunderbolt pub, 124 Bath Rd, BS4 3ED. £3 on the door.

'Big business isn't working - why the future is Green' is the topic the prominent rights activist, campaigner and Green Party member will be speaking on. Click on image to enlarge.

For me Peter is an inspirational character who has shown great courage and persistence on both a personal and on a political level...whether its his attempt at a citizens arrest on Robert Mugabe, advocacy that we protest about the Pope's forthcoming visit to the UK, or his very persuasive argument for gay marriage via a civil ceremony as a benchmark for equal treatment under the law, and more...details via: http://www.petertatchell.net/

The Age of Stupid south east Bristol screening

An Indie Screening of The Age of Stupid, the climate blockbuster from the director of McLibel, starring Pete Postlethwaite: Tues 20th April, 7.30pm, The Thunderbolt, 124 Bath Rd, Bristol BS4 3ED. Free entry. Click image to enlarge.

"You wont see a more important film this year" according to the News of the World.

"I defy anyone to come out and not feel like they've got to make a difference" Caroline Lucas, Green Party Leader.

Bristol Happiness Lectures 2010

You may recall my post on the Happiness Lectures a couple of years ago. I wrote about sustainability-happiness connections. Many people are overloaded and stressed due to fast, urban lifestyles and long hours of work. They are often in debt, anxious and depressed, wasteful and polluting because of their dogged pursuit of more and more. People try to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ but gain no fulfillment from this as they go around the unsustainable viscious circle of consumption. Yet politicians in the big parties still say we need more consumption to get us out of recession!

I've written on happiness and related topics a fair amount (published in date order here). Thought I'd mention this year's Bristol Happiness Lectures taking place at St George's Hall on the Tuesday evening, of May 18th (see picture, click to enlarge). The lectures also mark the launch of the new improved edition of the book Find Your Power, now subtitled 'a toolkit for resilience and positive change' by Dr Chris Johnstone from Bristol University, a key thinker on happiness and related issues. Pity the lectures are not happening during the election campaign, to encourage discussion on wellbeing.

The new edition of Find Your Power has a forward from Rob Hopkins, of the Transition Movement. It has been updated to look more into our current context of economic uncertainty and climate challenge, and has new material on resilience, recovery from depression and addressing global issues. This is a book that can be applied to any kind of change - and it addresses both personal and planetary issues (including climate change and peak oil). I'll be reviewing Chris Johnstone's updated book in full on this blog later in May/June.

For more on the link between tackling depression and addressing global issues, see the article 'Resilience, Recovery and the Self-help SSRI' which can be downloaded from the writing page on Chris Johnstone's website at http://www.chrisjohnstone.info/writing.htm

Green Party | “87% of Britons would be better off” under Green Party’s recession-busting manifesto, says the candidate tipped by ICM, YouGov and Betfair to become UK’s first Green MP

Green Party “87% of Britons would be better off” under Green Party’s recession-busting manifesto, says the candidate tipped by ICM, YouGov and Betfair to become UK’s first Green MP

The Green Party today launched its general election manifesto Fair is worth fighting for at the Brighton Metropole Hotel. The manifesto (1) was launched by Caroline Lucas, the Green Party leader who is tipped by pollsters and bookies to take the Brighton Pavilion seat on 6th May. Deputy leader and Norwich South candidate Adrian Ramsay also addressed the lively press conference, as did Darren Johnson, Green Party candidate for Lewisham Deptford and current chair of the London Assembly...

To see the key policies and read or download the manifesto click here:
http://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies.html

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

BBC News - BNP accounts to be investigated

BBC News - BNP accounts to be investigated

This BBC report concludes...

...The investigation follows comments by the registered auditors, Silver & Co, that the financial statements submitted did not "give a true and fair view of the state of the party's affairs at December 31, 2008".

The auditors went on: "In our opinion it cannot be said that the accounts comply with the requirements of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, as adequate records have not been made available."

Commuter stress takes up to two years off your life - Times Online

Commuter stress takes up to two years off your life - Times Online

Now here's another reason for developing local jobs in local economies and strengthening local community life - and cutting the need to frequently travel long distances - at the core of Green thinking and practice.

RESIDENTS of commuter towns should be worrying about more than the price of their season tickets. Those with long journeys face stresses that are taking up to two years off their life expectancy, new research has found.

People living in Watford, Hertfordshire, can expect to die 1.8 years earlier than the national average of 79.6 years, while the residents of Windsor, Maidenhead and Reading in Berkshire, and Brighton in East Sussex were all found to have a life expectancy of a year less than the national average for those earning similar incomes...

The old politics is dead. But where is the new? | Anatole Kaletsky - Times Online

The old politics is dead. But where is the new? Anatole Kaletsky - Times Online

Its GREEN !! We may well see the first Green MP(s) elected this time, to add to MEPs, MSPs, AMs and over a hundred councillors.

BBC iPlayer - Panorama: Spoilt Rotten?

BBC iPlayer - Panorama: Spoilt Rotten?

Yet another reason for big emphasis Greens are putting on the vital importance of preventive health care and health education, including measures against smoking, alcohol and other drug abuse for, healthy diets and more walking, cycling and other exercise...

From obesity to alcohol misuse, from rotting baby teeth to hearing problems caused by passive smoking - Britain's largest children's hospital is treating younger and younger children for health problems which are ultimately preventable. Many are the result of kids' lifestyles and are, according to the experts, causing them unnecessary suffering.

BBC News - 'No malpractice' by climate unit

BBC News - 'No malpractice' by climate unit

This is no surprise to me. The core science has always been very sound - and verifiable by multiple pieces of work by different sets of scientists all over the world. The BBC report begins...

There was no scientific malpractice at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, which was at the centre of the "Climategate" affair.

This is according to an independent panel chaired by Lord Oxburgh, which was convened to examine the research published by the unit...

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Green Party | Greens in first place in online policy survey

Green Party Greens in first place in online policy survey

...an independent website which allows users to pick a political party based on policy alone has had some intriguing results.

www.voteforpolicies.org.uk sidesteps bias and traditional loyalty by getting voters to pick their favoured political policies without knowing which political party the policies have orginated from.

After 62 000 votes, the Greens have surprised political commentators as runaway leaders with over 28% of the vote.


By contrast, the establishment political parties are faring less well. The Liberal Democrats were the highest scorers of the other parties with 18% of the vote. Behind them Labour and the Conservatives followed with 17% and 16%, respectively. Minority parties UKIP and the BNP lagged behind with 11% and 10%.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Three former Labour MPs granted legal aid for expenses trials | Politics | guardian.co.uk

Three former Labour MPs granted legal aid for expenses trials Politics guardian.co.uk

Three politicians charged in connection with alleged irregularities in their parliamentary expenses have been awarded legal aid, it was reported today.

Court officials confirmed that the former Labour MPs David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Jim Devine would receive taxpayers' money to fund their legal bills, which could run into six figures...

What a damn cheek these former MPs have - applying for tax payers money to defend themselves against fraudulently taking taxpayers money!

Supporting fairtrade

'If you are elected as an MP on May the 6th, would you, in principle, support the continued growth of Fairtrade in the UK?' *YES - and in practice too (see here)!!

I feel very strongly about this - and I'm sure you are not surprised to hear that it is natural Green territory to work for 'better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world...requiring companies to pay sustainable prices (which must never fall lower than the market price),...address[ing] the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers...enabl[ing] them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.' See http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/

____________________________________________________

Dear Mr Vowles,

I am aware you must be very busy these days, but as we approach the general election I would like to ask for two minutes of your time to answer one simple question:

If you are elected as an MP on May the 6th, would you, in principle, support the continued growth of Fairtrade in the UK?

A simple yes or no answer would be very useful. [*see above!]

Of course we would also welcome any additional thoughts or comments you'd like to provide regarding Fairtrade!

Please respond to the following e-mail adress:
election2010@fairtrade.org.uk

Many thanks,
Toby Quantrill
Head of Public Policy,
Fairtrade Foundation

Only Green

Today sees this website go live: http://www.onlygreen.org.uk/. Here you can: see the Greens Party Election Broadcast; you can personalise it and email it to your friends; you and your friends can visit the site and not only look at our key policies but take a Policy Matchmaker test to see how close you are to the Green Party.

Green leader Caroline Lucas interviewed on the Andrew Marr show

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8613967.stm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/The_andrew_marr_show

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Labour attacked over mailshot to cancer patients - Times Online

Labour attacked over mailshot to cancer patients - Times Online

What an unethical approach to politics this is, targeting cancer sufferers and/or potential sufferers. I think we should be told exactly how this targeting was done so we can all check to ensure that private medical data was not used in any way.

Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI -Times Online

Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI -Times Online

...Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.


The Pope was embroiled in new controversy this weekend over a letter he signed arguing that the “good of the universal church” should be considered against the defrocking of an American priest who committed sex offences against two boys...

Clean up politics! Power 2010 event

Great to respond to questions from voters at the Power 2010 event in Broadmead this Saturday (see pictures). Also good have a natter with other candidates, though representatives from Labour and the Tories were very thin on the ground (Paul Smith from Labour and Nick Yarker from the Tories were there and some other Labour leafletters came along late on) - does this say anything about their committment to radical democratic reforms??

See my post on the Power 2010 pledge here. My response to the DEMREF 2010 survey on democratic reforms is here. Blog posts on democracy or related to democracy are published in date order here.

Detailed Green Party policies on public administration and government:

Friday, 9 April 2010

BBC News - Gordon Brown gives advice on tactical voting

BBC News - Gordon Brown gives advice on tactical voting

'...if people don't want a Conservative government, then they must make sure they don't allow the Conservatives to get in.' Gordon Brown

Since the fight in Brighton Pavillion is between the Greens and the Tories, Gordon Brown is effectively advising non-Tory voters there to vote Green. I've alway been of the view that people should vote on their convictions myself but the current first past the post system does present some people with a dilemma - and in Brighton, as elsewhere, people voting Green could help create historic wins.

The Greens top three seats...

Brighton Pavillion http://www.carolinelucas.com/cl.html

Norwich South http://www.adrianramsay.org.uk/sites/adrianramsay.html

Lewisham Deptford http://www.darrenforlewisham.org.uk/sites/darrenjohnson.html

Free schools meals for all children

I very strongly agree with Steve, who emailed me today (copied below). Its Green Party policy to provide all children with a meal at school free of charge. Our full policy statement on schools meals says,

'It will be a minimum requirement that all children are provided free of charge with a balanced nutritious lunch including local and organic non-GM food, free from additives. Vegetarian, vegan, religious and other dietary requirements will be catered for. Vending machines will only supply healthy snacks and not crisps, carbonated drinks and sweets. Schools will be encouraged to involve children in growing, preparing and cooking food. Not only will this provide invaluable and essential education in the importance of a good diet, but evidence shows it will greatly improve behaviour, quality of life and learning.'
__________________________________________________

Dear...

I am writing to you because all children deserve a hot healthy meal at lunch time. Providing more free school meals will ensure that every child in your constituency realises their right to not go hungry and will reduce educational and health inequalities. They also make good economic sense as they reduce health care costs and increase educational standards.

As a Parliamentary candidate for my constituency I call on you to support the extended provision of free school meals to ensure that all children have a hot, healthy meal at lunch time.
Yours sincerely

Steve...
________________________________________________
Further Green policies on Young People and Education:

Pledges on children and childhood

I pledge to support children today to make tomorrow better for everyone - see email below from Action for Children. See all posts on young people here (which includes details of NSPCC, Every Disabled Child Matters, Save the Children and Gingerbread work and pledges).

Via the Political Exchange site I've also signed Plan UK's pledge to: Do what I can to ensure young people are given a voice in discussions about issues that affect the world they live in, particularly climate change; Support the campaign to ensure more girls have the chance to realise their potential and go to secondary school; Encourage more schools in my constituency to create links to schools in developing countries to share learning and turn young people into global citizens.

Also via Political Exchange I've agreed with the National Deaf Children's Society work to: Close the gap in educational attainment between deaf children and other children; Improve public services so deaf children and their families get the support they need from the start; Help deaf children in my constituency get the same opportunities as other children
______________________________________________

Dear Mr Vowles,

Make the future better: take your action for children now

As a prospective parliamentary candidate for the forthcoming general election, I would like you to take action for children now by pledging to support children today to make tomorrow better for everyone.

Around a million of today's children will be trapped in the same cycle of deprivation as their parents. From the moment they are born, their hopes of leading a happy and fulfilling life will diminish. Right from their first breath, they will be at risk of neglect - they will do worse at school, they are more likely to be unemployed, they are more likely to suffer mental ill health, to misuse drugs or alcohol and to end up in prison. And eventually, when they have children, the chances are the same thing will happen all over again. The costs of this to individuals, families, the State - and society as a whole - are almost unquantifiable.

But it doesn't have to be like this. Financial support alone will not solve the problem of deprivation. We are writing off their futures unless we take action now. We know what action is needed: targeted early intervention breaks the cycle of deprivation.

Please sign our pledge to support our campaign for early intervention and help us stop another generation being caught in the cycle of deprivation.

http://e-activist.com/ea-campaign/clientcampaign.do?ea.client.id=114&ea.campaign.id=5915

To find out more, read our latest research: Deprivation and risk: the case for early intervention.
http://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/content.aspx?CategoryID=680

Best wishes,

Helen Donohoe
Director of Public Policy