Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Nuclear news

The Post says 'Japan's largest industrial electronics maker has signed a £700 million deal to buy the UK's nuclear project Horizon, which will build new reactors at Wylfa, Angelsey, and Oldbury, South Gloucestershire...' (here). They should say is planning to build, subject to conditions being right and obtaining the various proper permissions.

Saying 'will build' is distinctly premature and it's bad journalism (again) from The Post not to give further details eg Hitachi has: not worked out exactly how much it would cost to build six new nuclear power plants in the UK; a government-guaranteed "strike price", or minimum price for nuclear generated power, has not yet been hammered out; it is not clear when the plants would be completed, nor who would operate them; the boiling water nuclear reactor system that Hitachi is keen to install has yet to be granted UK safety approval... http://tinyurl.com/8fn58rn

There are many ways to build energy security - most of which would generate more jobs and more efficiently and more quickly and without increasing the legacy of nuclear waste to future generations.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Candid Commissioner

Given that the Electoral Commission has said: “The swearing of an oath will be an important symbol of impartiality, emphasising both the significance of this new role in local communities and that PCCs are there to serve the people, not a political party or any one section of their electorate.” can there be anyone to vote for as Police Commissioner for Avon and Somerset than a suitable independent?

Sue Mountstevens (pictured) looks like she will be the only independent standing in November's Police and Crime Commissioner election (a situation not helped one bit by the high cost - the deposit alone being £5000). She is well qualified to do the job: member of the current police authority; Bristol magistrate for 15 years; vice-chairwoman of the Independent Monitoring Board at Bristol prison. For me she says all the right things on her website too: http://suemountstevens.co.uk/ . Her Twitter site is here: https://twitter.com/sumountstevens

Who should I cast my second preference vote for though?



Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bust bigotry

Its right to call for an end to topless women appearing on page 3 (see report here). Its not simply an exposed pair of breasts that's the issue as some seem to think however. Exposed breasts in some contexts other than as seen in certain daily newspapers, magazines are not an issue.

The thing is that women are being portrayed as mere sex objects much more often and in a much more narrow and ignorant way than men are. The evidence is common experience.

Would it make sense to approach it the other way and ensure that both men and women are equally seen only in a narrow, ignorant, sex object way?? Or should we instead try to ensure that all people are seen in a more rounded, fair and complete way?

Please sign Lucy Holmes petition on this issue here, and join over 47,000 other people (figure correct 17 Oct 2012 but growing fast!).

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

People paramount

Bristol 1st indicates that the people of Bristol are paramount rather than any single political party. The logo marks out what mayoral candidate George Ferguson stands for: representing all Bristol's people and involving them in decisions - and involving in his cabinet, as a matter of principle, people purely on the basis of expertise and not party allegiance. I'm strongly in favour of this pluralist and inclusive approach.

See: stories here and here and Bristol 1st website here

Member's means

Many MPs have second jobs eg North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg received around £132,000 in the year to August from his company Somerset Capital Management. The Conservative MP works 35 hours a month in return for the cash...(story here). As a matter of principle shouldn't we expect MPs to work full time for their constituency? Mr Rees-Mogg for example has time and energy that he could direct into working for voters in his constituency that he is directing elsewhere. Surely there are enough problems and issues to work on in his constituency, the SW region, the country, the EU and the world to keep this (and other) representatives busy for a lifetime! Docking some pay from MPs with second jobs is perhaps missing the point - they should not have these jobs whilst being an MP to begin with, so make it a rule that they cant.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

'Successful' shooting??

Joined in a debate on the cruelty, or not, of culling badgers  by shooting and whether supermarkets should label milk from farms involved in culling  here:

BCFCfinker - @Melindola
Quote from RSPCA link provided below
http://tinyurl.com/8wwklgk from pdant:

"In order to free-shoot a badger in a quick, humane way, there are two 'lethal' points which would need to be successfully hit."

Seems pretty clear to me. The RSPCA appear to acknowledge that shooting can be humane (or if you want to split hairs, not cruel).


Surely the crucial part of this RSPCA quote is the phrase 'successfully hit' ? Even with people shooting well they are highly unlikely to be 100% 'successful'. Where they are not 'successful' then the chance of inccurately shot badgers being in pain and suffering increases. This means that shooting cannot be free of cruelty.

The RSPCA briefing says there are 'severe welfare concerns'. It refers to 'untested culling methods' (shooting) and the 'untested delivery method' (farmers). It describes the: 'high risk' of wounding; the 'small margin of error' and the anatomical and behavioural features of badgers that make cruelty free shooting highly unlikely.

What would be wrong by having a system where customers can know fully what they are buying by labelling milk as from a farm involving badger culling or not involving badger culling?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

People, power, parties

Interesting to note that all the main contenders for Mayor of Bristol have committed themselves to 'more people power' (here). I really do hope such a thing actually comes about. What I'd say to the three bigger parties, however, is: why have we had no significant and effective empowerment of people in Bristol if it's really what you stand for? Consultations are often a sham, voters are disillusioned and opportunities for genuine, empowered participation are poor. I have little faith that the big parties really want to empower people - if they did they would empower people to be able to remove them from office between elections through a recall/petitioning mechanism. Political parties want power for political parties in my experience.

The better, more specific ideas on participation and empowering people are with the Green's Daniella Radice (here) and with George Ferguson (here).

Inequality disempowers people, so its also interesting that this issue came up in the online discussion/comments on this story. Lib Dem candidate Jon Rogers raised the matter. Here's a copy of my response: @CllrJonRogers - The gini coefficient which is a measure of overall income inequality in the United Kingdom is now higher than at any previous time in the last thirty years. See http://tinyurl.com/2wtjwcb . The Coalition the Lib Dems are in will be cutting billions more from public spending, including spending on welfare for the poorest, in the coming years. See http://tinyurl.com/8qs5bat . You, as a Lib Dem Bristol City Council Cabinet member have made well over £20 million cuts in council spending per year, including to services for the vulnerable.... See http://tinyurl.com/9oopcvo . Can you explain how all this helps to create a more fair and equal society?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Massive mudslinger

Believe me I'm no fan of elites but this is a non-story, saying, One of Bristol's leading musicians has claimed mayoral candidate George Ferguson's membership of Bristol's elite Society of Merchant Venturers is a conflict of interests. Massive Attack's lead singer Robert Del Naja... (here). There is no substance to it at all. Its all pure supposition and mere accusation, in this instance by just one 'famous' person throwing mud. So a candidate(Ferguson, pictured) belongs to a society (Merchant Venturers) and even if he resigned from the society he would still have friends in it. So what? There must be many, many candidates who are members of various organisations and who would retain friends if/when they left in the event of getting elected. Now, it really would be a story if there was any evidence of undue and unjustifiable influence or unethical practices - but there is no such thing! Or can someone provide evidence....?

Come to think of it aren't members of political parties members of a selective society, with a lot of friends etc etc...

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Austerity applesauce

Any new Mayor of Bristol will have very hard budget choices forced on them it seems, given that, 'One of the first jobs facing Bristol's incoming elected mayor will be to cut an extra £25 million from the city councils budget. The authority has revealed it faces making deeper cuts than first anticipated as funding from central government is reduced.' (see here). However, that should not stop whoever the Mayor is from giving voice to the growing numbers of people who see the complete folly of cuts and austerity economics.

Govt borrowing is up AND we've had savage cuts. In fact Govt borrowing is up in part BECAUSE we've had savage cuts. Cuts are depressing economic activity. Austerity policies, pronouncements, plans and actions have reduced confidence, reduced spending, reduced investment, increased costs to govt, reduced govt income...and have been a big help (!) in causing and then lengthening the recession we are still in (thanks to Dave, George, Nick, Vince and co). I support the case against austerity and cuts and for a Keynsian stimulus for our economy to get out of recession and going in a sustainable direction.