Friday, 27 February 2009
Conference on Surveillance and Security in Europe
Saturday 14th March 1.30pm to 4.30pm at Dragon Hall, Stukeley Street, London WC1
1. Discussion of Surveillance in Europe with Tony Bunyan*, Jean Lambert MEP and Guy Herbert**
3. The Security State – Northern Ireland Today with Steven Agnew*** and Jean Lambert MEP
The conference will be followed by a Social and Networking Event in the Ship Inn, Gate Street, Holborn (Complimentary food and drink) 5pm onwards.
Tony Bunyan is an investigative journalist and writer specialising in justice and home affairs, civil liberties and freedom of information in the EU. He has been the Director of Statewatch since 1990 and edits Statewatch Bulletin and Statewatch News online. He is the author of The Political Police in Britain (1977) and Secrecy and Openness in the EU (1999). On behalf of Statewatch he has taken eight successful cases on access to documents to the European Ombudsman against the Council of the European Union (the 25 governments). In 2001 and 2004 the "European Voice" newspaper (owned by the Economist) selected him as one of the "EV50" - one of the fifty most influential people in the European Union.
** Guy Herbert
Guy Herbert is Director of NO2ID, the organisation campaigning against the introduction of ID cards in the UK.
*** Steven Agnew
Lead candidate for the Green Party for the European Parliament in Northern Ireland; Research Assistant to Brian Wilson (Northern Ireland Assembly Member) and Animal
Rights Spokesperson for the Green Party in Northern Ireland.
With the support and assistance of the European Parliament
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Ref GS 11.0
TO: THE BRANCH SECRETARY
Royal Mail Privatisation - "Keep the Post Public". EDM 428 Update
Further to LTB 145/09, on behalf of the National Union, we wish to convey our appreciation to all Branches, activists - their friends and families - CWU staff who took part in the National Rally and Lobby of Parliament.
Thanks also to Jane Loftus, Vice President and Chair of the Postal Executive, who Chaired the Rally.
It should also be noted that our press and media coverage was excellent and particular thanks go to Kevin Slocombe, Head of Communications and the whole of his Department.
During the course of the preparation of this LTB, Lord Mandelson formally
announced the First Reading of the Bill to Privatise Royal Mail. The Bill
will be released to the public at 9.30 a.m. Thursday February 26th. We
understand copies of the Bill will be available from the following weblink
Hard Copies will be distributed in due course.
Note: By convention the House of Lords does not normally vote to overturn a Government Manifesto Commitment. As this Bill will be a clear breach of the Government's Manifesto commitment endorsed by the British people, voting as a whole, the Union will be seeking legal advice on this matter.
The list currently stands at 153 signatures. On the basis of pledges of support, it is anticipated that EDM 428 will be the third biggest supported EDM on a national question in this current Parliamentary session. (It is now moved from 7th to 5th)
With the world facing a "triple-crunch" -- climate change, peak oil and the credit-fuelled financial crisis - Jean Lambert, London's Green MEP, told a public meeting organised by the Green Party Trade Union group in Euston last Saturday [Feb 21] that the Party was working, in consultation with unions, non-governmental organisations and experts - towards a complete model for a new economy - a complete Green new deal that was "international, intergenerational and inclusive".
Some aspects of what were needed were clear, she said. First, Britain had to make a large investment in green jobs: "There are 22 million homes in the UK that need a comprehensive package of energy efficiency. A complete retrofit of Britain's housing to Green standards would create more than half a million jobs. More jobs could be created by improved public transport."
She continued: "The whole focus of trade policy has to change to focus on production methods and the outcomes for producers, rather than just prices to consumers.
"And there has to be a recognition that we cannot rely on the private sector to delivery core public sector services. Even Peter Mandelson is talking about a post office bank. That's great, if you can still find a post office."
In moving towards a low-carbon, environmentally friendly economy, an effective framework was particularly necessary for vulnerable industries such as coal and vehicle-manufacturing, she said. Those workers needed a structured system of retraining, of subsidies to redirect production. "The rule is to make resources redundant, rather than people."
It was essential to acknowledge that many people were now suffering a deep fear and insecurity about the future, she said. "We have to give them hope that the economy and society can be managed better, that Britons can feel their life belongs to them, rather than their being tied on to a daily treadmill whose speed they can't control. People need to feel that their life is grounded in family and community, rather than a cycle of money chasing non-existent money."
Other speakers at the meeting were: Tony Kearns, CWU senior deputy general Secretary; Sian Jones, a member of the Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee Working Group; and Ann Elliot-Day, PCS communications officer.
For further information contact: Office of Jean Lambert MEP
020 7407 6269
Jean Lambert MEP part1
Jean Lambert MEP part2
Jean Lambert MEP part3
Jean Lambert MEP part4
Sian Jones (TUSDAC)
Anne Elliott-Day (PCS)part 1
Anne Elliott-Day (PCS)part 2
Tony Kearns (CWU) pt 1
Tony Kearns (CWU) pt 2
Questions and Discussion 6
Questions and Discussion 6
Questions and Discussion 7
Questions and Discussion 8
Questions and Discussion 9
Questions and Discussion 10
Questions and Discussion 11
Questions and Discussion 12
Penultimate Questions and Discussion
Questions and Discussion final
Monday, 23 February 2009
An article entitled "Nuclear Power? Yes please.." appeared in the Independent newspaper on 23 February, 2009. It states that "four of the country's leading environmentalists" advocate nuclear power as a solution to climate change.
The vast majority of the green movement remain staunchly opposed to nuclear power.
FIrstly, it will take more than a decade for these plants to come on stream, which removes one plank of their argument about nuclear power stations to be ready in time to deal with climate change. Renewables are quicker to build.
Secondly, the large companies ready to profit from this bonanza historically ask for huge government subsidies. Were the renewable energy sector to be subsidised on the same scale, the unit cost of the new technologies would plummet.
Thirdly, very few jobs are created in giant nuclear plants, a central concern today as we stare at the abyss of an economic depression.
Fourthly, nuclear power will generate around 8% of our energy needs despite all the projected capital expenditure.
Instead, we propose the immediate implementation of energy efficiency projects up and down the country. We can save many times more energy than that generated by Nuclear. Moreover, we can put tens of thousands of people back into jobs by retooling houses and businesses.
Finally, we should be subsidising UK technology companies to use their talents for solar, wind and tidal energy. We are already falling behind Germany, Denmark and even Portugal in the introduction of renewables.
Instead of the red herring of nuclear energy, the green movement calls for investment in modern, robust, renewable energy.
Contact: Farid Bakht
Green Left co/o email@example.com tel07736525187
Note to editors:
Green Left is a strand within the Green Party of England and Wales.
Friday, 20 February 2009
Saturday 7th March 2009
Kings College, London
Speakers include: Chris Baugh, Tony Kearns, Jean Lambert, Ian Lavery, Mark Lynas, John McClean, John McDonnell, Caroline Molloy, Ann Pettifor, Dave Prentis, Phil Thornhill and Matt Wrack.
This is an impressive lineup, but what will make the conference as successful as last year will be the active participation of rank and file trade unionists and greens activists such as yourself. So… DON’T DELAY, REGISTER TODAY!
To register simply send your name, address, phone number, email, union branch and £10 (£5 unwaged) to CCC, PO Box 417, Prestwich, Manchester M45 OAP. (Cheques payable to Campaign against Climate Change.)
PDF AT http://gptu.net/gleft/ccctuflyer.pdf
Thursday, 19 February 2009
We are inviting you to attend a public meeting and lobby of parliament about the welfare reform bill on Tuesday 3 March starting at 12.30 in committee room 14 at the House of Commons.
The lobby and public meeting are supported by a range of organisations including trade unions and the TUC, service user groups and campaigning organisations (for details of the supporting organisations please see the leaflet in this pack).
PCS are campaigning against plans to introduce -
- the privatisation of the employment service and social fund
- â€˜work for your benefitâ€™ schemes
- the abolition of income support
- cutting the benefits of single parents and those with long-term illness
- requiring all parents of young children to seek work
PCS wants the government to introduce progressive measures to help people in these difficult times. This is why we are fully supporting the TUCâ€™s demand for the government to urgently raise benefit levels.
We are asking people to attend the meeting and to lobby their MP. If you plan to meet with politicians on the day to discuss the welfare reform bill then you need to tell your MP beforehand. If you can not attend the lobby but support the campaign then please write to your MP about your concerns. We have provided a model letter in this pack.
If you would like more information about this campaign, please visit -www.pcs.org.uk/welfare
If you have any questions please email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to pass this information on to others who may be interested to attend the event.
We hope you will join us on Tuesday 3 March.
PCS General Secretary
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
Please forward this to your contacts, blog about it, join the Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=49065098953&wall_posts=#/event.php?eid=49065098953&ref=ts) and invite your friends, and come on the day, maybe with Green New Deal placards from the last one!
Thanks> > Tim > www.putpeoplefirst.org.uk
PRESS RELEASE - 11 Feb 2009
A huge new platform of unions, development agencies, faith and environmental groups plans to tell world leaders attending the G20 summit in April that only just, fair and sustainable policies can lead the world out of recession.
The alliance, which includes the TUC, Oxfam, ActionAid, Friends of the Earth and CAFOD, is calling on people to join a major demonstration for jobs, justice and climate in London on Saturday 28 March, five days before the summit.
Under the banner Put People First - March for Jobs, Justice and Climate, the groups will demand decent jobs and public services for all, an end to global poverty and inequality, and a green economy.
The march will assemble on the Embankment en route to Hyde Park for a rally to be addressed by speakers and celebrities from the UK and around the world.
The organisations backing Put People First say: “Recession must not be an excuse for putting off action for global justice or to stop climate chaos. The only sustainable way to rebuild the global economy is to create a fair distribution of wealth that provides decent jobs and public services for all, ends global inequality and builds a low carbon future.”
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “People are angry at the job losses caused by this recession made in the world’s banks and at the slow response of world leaders to the challenges of poverty and climate change.
“But while these are going to be desperately tough times, the collapse of free market fundamentalism and the big changes already brought about by President Obama provide the hope that world leaders can change course and start to build a fair and sustainable world.”>
Director of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition Ashok Sinha said: “We can and must tackle climate change and the economic downturn together. Only by investing in green jobs and thriving low carbon economies will a sustainable way of life be secured for generations to come.
“The lives and livelihoods of millions of poor and vulnerable people across all countries are at stake. The leaders of the G20 owe it to those most at risk yet least responsible for both the economic crisis and the threat of climate chaos to help create a global Green New Deal to tackle both.”
ActionAid Head of Policy Dr Claire Melamed said: “The crisis is more than a banking failure - it is a crisis of the whole system, but also a huge chance to put the economic system on a new and fairer path.
“With rising inequality and poverty made more desperate by the impact of the financial crisis, world leaders have to step up to the challenge - and the world is watching. The time is now: to make finance transparent and accountable, to share wealth more fairly, and to make markets work for everyone.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:> > People can keep in touch with the campaign via the website www.putpeoplefirst.org.uk >
Text of the statement endorsed by organisations backing the march:
On Thursday 2 April the leaders of 20 of the world’s biggest economies meet in London to tackle the recession and global financial crisis. Even before the banking collapse caused recession, the world suffered vast poverty and inequality and faced the looming threat of climate chaos. Governments, business and international institutions have followed a model of financial deregulation that has encouraged short-term profits, instability and an economy fuelled by ever-increasing debt, both financial and environmental.
There can be no going back to business as usual. The only sustainable way to rebuild the global economy is to create a fair distribution of wealth that provides decent jobs and public services for all, ends global inequality and builds a low carbon future. Recession must not be an excuse for putting off action for global justice or to stop climate chaos. Creating a just, fair and sustainable world is the only lasting way out of recession.
On Saturday 28 March thousands of people will march through London as part of a global campaign to challenge the G20 leaders.
Our message is clear. We must put people first.
Put People First: Decent jobs and public services for all.
Put People First: End global poverty and inequality.
Put People First: Build a green economy
Initial list of organisations backing the march: ActionAid, Action for Global Climate Community, ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa), Advocacy International, Akina Mama Wa Africa , BECTU, BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development), Bretton Woods Project, CAFOD, Centre for Democracy and Development, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, CHIC (Change is Coming), Christian Aid, Equity, Everychild, Fairtrade Foundation, Fatima Women’s Network, Friends of the Earth, Global Call to Action Against Poverty, GMB, Jubilee Debt Campaign, MRDF (Methodist Relief and Development Fund), Musicians Union, Muslim Council of Britain, National Union of Journalists, National Union of Teachers, New Internationalist, One World Action, Oxfam, Pants to Poverty, PCS, People and Planet, Progressio, Salvation Army, Save the Children, Stamp Out Poverty, Stop AIDS Campaign, Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, Tax Justice Network, Teach a Man to Fish, Tearfund, Trade Justice Movement, Trades Union Congress, Trading Visions, Traidcraft, UCU (Universities and Colleges Union), UK Aid Network, UNISON, UNITE, War on Want, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, World Development Movement, World Vision, WWF.
The survey will be live for one month and the results will be published in early June.
The survey can only be accessed via the LRD’s website at the following link:
Best wishes Sharon Russell Equality and Employment Rights
University & College Union
27 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JP
Website: www.ucu.org.uk Telephone: 020 7520 3242 Facsimile: 020 7833 8405
Saturday, 14 February 2009
Subject: Urgent - Heathrow demo 19th Feb - beat the counter-demo !
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 22:08:55 +0000
Urgent - now is the time to fight on Heathrow !
Demonstrate against Heathrow Expansion,
Downing Street, from 5.30 pm this Thursday 19th February
This is a demonstration against the crass decision to expand Heathrow – 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm opposite Downing Street. Speakers to include John Mcdonnel MP, Susan Kramer MP, Jean Lambert MEP. Pre-demo photo-op 1.00 pm, see below,
>>>> But a counter-demonstration in favour of expanding Heathrow is happening at the same time in Parliament Square. See here –
We need maximum number of people to make sure their effort is dwarfed. Please make it if you can – its only an hour or so after work. No doubt there’s aviation money behind the counter-demo (it also looks to have links with the whole sceptic backlash network..) …we have to beat them with people-power !
Other things you can do to help …..
1) Banner-painting, prop-making session from 1.00 pm this Sunday 15th at LARC (62, Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel tube – 0207 377 9088 - or ring mobile 07903316331 on the day if lost).
2) Fliering at West London tubes Monday 16th, Tuesday 17th, Wednesday 18th evenings. We will be at Hounslow Central tube 5.30 to 6.30 Tuesday eve. Please jon us if you are able to flier at other tubes at other times (maybe even better) please let us know ( email@example.com 02078339311 ) so that we can let other people know you will be there and they can join you. Fliers can be picked up from our office above Houseman’s bookshop at 5, Caledonian road (ring buzzer by green door or ask in bookshop) a minute from Kings Cross station. Flier also downloadable from www.campaigncc.org
3) If you can make it lunchtime – 1.00 pm – for our photo op outside the Dept of Transport, Horseferry Road (St James Park or Westminster tube) that would be really helpful. This is for media for whom the demo is too late in the day.and is our chance to get our message across in advance.
The theme is Green Future versus the BROWN past. – please come dressed / equipped appropriately for either of these – on one side, colour Green - windmills – solar panels – placards saying ‘lowcarbon economy’ ‘Green jobs’ ‘renewable revolution’ etc…..and on the other side colour brown, airoplanes, smoking chimneys, coal, placards saying ‘business as usual’, ‘carbon-intensive growth as usual’ ‘climate suicide’ etc..etc…(note we have Gordon Brown masks – we need appropriate placards for Brown to be holding – props to go with them)
4) You can also bring the themes, as described above, to the demo itself. Or your own brilliant ideas and creativity. (We will be there from 4.30 pm if you want to help us get set up)
Finally - they will never build the 3rd runway but this decision shows that Brown is happy to continue in ‘carbon-intensive-growth-as-usual’ mode just when we should be sending out a strong signal that we are making climate change priority number one, in advance of the critical Copenhagen Climate Talks coming up in December …….. Another reason this decision has to be challenged ….to the maximum degree possible !
PLEASE PASS THIS NOTICE AROUND !!
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Councillor Darren Johnson AM stands with RMT and TSSA members and supporters and the GPTU banner in a demo against London Underground job cuts on 11 February 2209.
Councillor Darren Johnson AM addresses RMT and TSSA members and supporters in a demo against London Underground job cuts on 11 February 2209.
Darren Johnson said to the rally this morning :
"Boris johnson is cutting jobs, axing new transport links and putting up fares. Public transport is not safe in his hands. I am solidly behind the unions in opposing job cuts. Passengers need a human presence on the underground to make their journey safe and efficient."
"It is hard to see how you can lose a thousand staff without having some impact on services. We need the mayor to spell out what work is not going to be done as a result of these redundancies. Tube passengers are paying above inflation fare increases at a time when they are likely to get a poorer service as a result of these job cuts."
GREEN PARTY TRADE UNION GROUP & London Federation of Green Parties
PUBLIC MEETING: ALL WELCOME
'WORK-LIFE BALANCE AND THE GREENING OF WORK - THE ROLE OF TRADE UNIONS'.
The world plunges headlong into Recession, but could this provide the opportunity for a ‘NEW GREEN DEAL’ or a ‘JUST TRANSITION’ from our current economic arrangements which cause economic & ecological disaster.? What will this new economy be like? How can workers’ rights be defended as it is built?
Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London
CWU Senior Deputy General Secretary
PCS Communications Officer (Green Issues)
Trade Union Sustainable Development Committee
2.00pm Saturday 21 February 2009
St Pancras Church Hall , Lancing Street off Eversholt St, London, NW1 1AN,
020 7388 1461, firstname.lastname@example.org
(next to Euston BR, tube and bus station)
To reserve a seat contact ; P.Murry, Secretary GPTU at email@example.com
Friday, 6 February 2009
Workers show their strength and win!
Friday 13 February 7pm
Friends Meeting House, Euston Road , near Euston station
Keith Gibson, Socialist Party member and member of the strike committee in Lindsey,
Jerry Hicks (left candidate for Unite general secretary).
I don't know if any of our comrades are thinking of attending this meeting - it could be very interesting - would be grateful for some feedback.
I am writing to request your support and attendance on Wednesday 11th February 2009 to demonstrate against the proposed job cuts on LUL / TFL.
We will be meeting outside St James Park tube station at 07:30 am to demonstrate outside 55 Broadway.
Please make every effort to attend and show your support.
Thursday, 5 February 2009
It clearly recognises that the current disputes about foreign labour are to do with basic trade union demands for proper agreed working conditions and full union recognition which should be supported on these on grounds and not be handed over for exploitation by right wing political organisations.
P.Murry Secretary pp GPTU
(with acknowledgements to Ian Wingrove & Joseph Healy)
Please find below a proposed letter for publication, sent to the Guardian today. 05 February
2009 Dear Sir The multiple walk-outs by engineering construction workers across Britain over the past week have indeed put the corporate threat to jobs and working conditions at the top of both the national and European agenda, as Seamus Milne rightly suggests (The target of this campaign of strikes is now obvious, 5 February).
In response, MEPs from the UK, Germany and Italy, representing Socialists and Greens, have threatened to veto this year's incoming European Commission, unless it agrees to revise the Posted Workers Directive, so that its original intention, to provide equal treatment for all workers, is upheld.
If we are to end "social dumping" in Europe, we must change the law, so that British and other European workers do not have to compete within factories and companies with those forced to work for lower wages and in poorer conditions. Instead of blaming "foreign workers", we should be challenging the rights of multinationals to undercut local pay rates and exploit workers.
It's vital that we resist the attempts of those on the far right who areusing these disputes to stir up racism and xenophobia. We therefore call on MEPs from all nations and political groups to sign our Written Declaration, in order to put serious pressure on Commission and Member States to ensure that they listen to workers across Europe, and that social justice is put above corporate profit.
Caroline Lucas MEP (Green), Glyn Ford MEP (Labour), Stephen Hughes MEP(Labour)
Apologies to people outside London, but I am the London Fed's political education officer and I want to get as many people as possible to the first of our series of discussion meetings, particularly since it is being introduced by our own dear Derek Wall.
I would be very grateful if you could you forward the following details to as many London – or close to London - GP members and supporters as possible.
Hasta La Victoria Siempre
(NB See TEN BOOKS TO SHAKE THE WORLD Reading List below)
Monthly educational discussion series in 2009
for all members and interested contacts of the Green Party in London
These meetings are to help Green Party members and supporters broaden and deepen their understanding of green politics. The books noted are described on the attached book list but reading them is strictly optional. All to be held in the meeting room on the ground floor of the Archway Resource Centre, 1A Waterlow Road N19 5NJ (immediately next door to the Green Party HQ) at 7.30pm. Waterlow Road is two minutes walk from Archway tube station.
The first four discussions will be:
1 Globalisation and the global recession
Introduced by Derek Wall
Books: Green Alternatives to Globalisation, Caroline Lucas & Mike Woodin, Pluto Press Babylon and Beyond, Derek Wall, Pluto Press(also The Credit Crunch by Graham Turner, Pluto Press)
Monday 9 February 2009
2 Origins of modern green thinking
Introduced by Sharar Ali
Book: Green History, Derek Wall, Routledge
Wednesday 18 March 2009
3 William Morris - the First Green?
Introduced by Jane Ellis
Book: William Morris, EP Thompson, Merlin
Wednesday 15 April 2009
4 The pensions crisis
Introduced by Pete Lang
Wednesday 20 May 2009
TEN BOOKS TO SHAKE THE WORLD
This is by no means a definitive reading list, nor could it be, because there is no established orthodoxy within the Green Party. We are a broad church – a heterodox and pluralist party whose members come from a variety of political traditions and who hold a wide variety of opinions (although we hold a number of key views in common). This booklist seeks to show that wide range and to demonstrate how such a plurality can contribute to a rich and productive debate.
The books described below have been chosen because they each contribute something to an understanding of the breadth and depth of green politics and because they are all currently in print (except one, which is readily and cheaply available second hand from Amazon).
Green Alternatives to Globalisation: A Manifesto
Mike Woodin and Caroline Lucas
Pluto Press 2004
This book is an accessible and concise statement of a Green alternative to globalisation. Arguing that globalisation marginalises poor people, threatens livelihoods, and is destroying the environment, Caroline and the late Michael Woodin propose a new approach - Global Localism - that thinks globally, but acts locally. They argue that Global Localism could be adopted and applied to help solve many of the current international crises, including climate change, trade and development, agriculture, the future of the EU, and international security.
The Economics of Anti-capitalist, Anti-globalist and Radical Green Movements
Pluto Press 2005
Derek has written a whistle stop tour through the various elements that make up the anti-globalisation movement, starting with the Keynesian type reformers like Soros and ending up with the eco-socialism, via autonomists, eco-feminism and anarchism. In effect it is an enquiry into the various political, economic and philosophical elements that make up modern anti-capitalism - with Derek taking a bit from most of them to pull together a coherent eco-socialist position. Here we find Marx for beginners plus all the other anticapitalists from billionaire George Soros to radical greens - ideal for busy activists and interested newcomers to green politics. Unlike most books on capitalism and anti-capitalism where you need an honours degree in economics or politics to understand the fundamental issues, Derek's history of capitalism is both very funny and very enlightening for the non specialist reader.
To Have or to Be?
Fromm was a psychotherapist and political activist who combined a background in Freudianism and Frankfurt School marxism. He argued that 'modern man has become alienated and estranged from himself within consumer-oriented industrial society' and called for 'a rebirth of enlightenment to allow each person to fulfil his individual needs while maintaining bonds of social fraternity.' In this book he looks at the concepts of selfishness and altruism, applying these to the crisis of contemporary society and possibilities for solutions. He considers ideas introduced from many great people of the past (Spinoza, Marx, Eckhardt, Buddha) and identifies a common thread between them. He then uses this common theme in order to state that man has two options in deciding how to relate to this world - one based on selfishness and greed, the other based on love, solidarity, creativity. He also wrote The Fear of Freedom and The Sane Society.
William Morris, Selected Writings and Designs
William Morris (ed. Asa Briggs)
Poet, novelist, weaver, textile designer, wallpaper designer, typographer, socialist, conservationist – and outstanding in all these fields – phew, what a man! Essential writings of the founding father of green politics (and essential reading for any Green), out of print, but available very cheap from Amazon. An alternative (or additional) introduction to Morris is E.P. Thompson's monumental William Morris, Romantic to Revolutionary, without doubt the best political biography of Morris.
Green History Reader in Environmental Literature, Philosophy and Politics
This book traces the development of ecological writing through history and gives a broad critical review of green ideas and movements, reinforcing the importance of environmental concern and action in our own time. Animal rights, ecology as science, feminism, green facism/ socialism/ anarchism, land reform, peaceful protest, industrialisation, ancient ecology, evolution, grassroots activism, recycling, Taoism, demographics, utopias, sustainability, spiritualism...(pause for breath), all these issues more are discussed. Authors examined include Alice Walker on massacre in the City of Brotherly Love, Aldous Huxley on progress, Lewis Mumford on the organic outlook, Engels on natural dialectics, Thoreau on the frontier life, the Shelleys on vegetarianism and playing God, Bacon on the New Atlantis, Hildegard of Bingen on green vigour, the unknown writer of the Bodhisattva and Plato on soil erosion etc., etc. This is less humourous than Derek's more recent Babylon and Beyond and, as an academic book, rather expensive, but it is the most thorough history/revew of green thought available and well worth reading.
Capitalism as If the World Matters
Jonathon Porritt is a former leading member of the Green Party and its predecessor, the Ecology Party and a former Director of Friends of the Earth, who is now a confidante of the Prince of Wales and advisor to a number of large corporations, including as Marks and Spencer. In this book he argues that capitalism may be the best solution to poverty and global environmental degradation, albiet a reshaped and highly regulated capitalism. He is aware that the majority of active greens see capitalism as the root of the problem, but he argues that they are ignoring the potential of market mechanisms and property rights. His book does not offer a detailed description of his vision of a green capitalist society, nor of the practical steps needed to tame and channel the anarchy of the market, but he does suggest an alternative view for the direction of green politics and he is among the clearest and most coherent proponents of that view.
The Enemy of Nature: the end of capitalism or the end of the world?
Zed Books 2007
This book presents the diametrically opposed analysis to that of Jonathon Porritt. Joel Kovel puts the case that capitalism, with its unrelenting pressure to expand, is unreformably destructive to ecologies. He argues against the reigning orthodoxy that there can be no alternative to the capitalist system,on the grounds that submission to it is suicidal as well as unworthy of human beings. Developing a synthesis between marxism, ecofeminism and the philosophy of nature, he criticises existing ecological politics for their evasion of capital, advances a vision of ecological production as the successor to capitalist production, and sets out the principles for realizing this. Joel is an American academic and ecosocialist of formidable intellectual stature; his book is extremely densely argued and at times can be a little hard going, but it's really worth the effort.
Heat: how we can stop the planet burning
This is deservedly a best seller, in which George Monbiot argues that carbon emissions need to be reduced by a whopping 90% if we're to avoid hitting the 'tipping point' which will accelerate us towards global disaster. Essentially, George prescribes a diet of privation. If we want to avoid a forcible return to Neolithic huntergathering, we need to elect to ration ourselves: and cutting our energy consumption to the bone is the only way ensure a positive outcome. That means eating what's locally available, keeping our cars in the garage and evolving a workable system of public transport and food deliveries. And most of all, it means an end to globetrotting - because there's no fast and effective way to travel that's acceptably carbon-neutral. Where the book is weak is dealing with solutions that can involve people other than those currently living relatively comfortable lives in relatively prosperous urban and suburban neighbourhoods. Monbiot makes a valuable point when he says that the keys to change are held by exactly those people with most to lose, but then largely ignores the problems and life experiences of just those people. What do you do if you live in a rural area with little or no public transport, the nearest shop is eight miles away and Ocado don't deliver within fifty miles of your home? Or if you live on a run down council estate with no shops, no jobs, few services and little public transport on the edge of Glasgow or Leeds? Nonetheless, this is a really valuable and thought provoking book.
How We Can Save the Planet
In an easy to understand, yet very comprehensive account of global warming, Mayer sets out the problem, explaining how global warming is happening, and why it must be avoided. The current strategies, mainly of the UK government and industry are described, and exposed as woefully inadequate. In the second half of the book, Mayer explains what he considers a fair and just system for reducing our CO2 emissions on a global scale – the concept of contraction and convergence; and a mechanism for how we in Britain can fairly share out the massive reductions in emmissions required of us – the extremely contentious idea of individual carbon rationing. There are, of course, all sorts of details to argue about – both within the book and growing out of it – but it is an enormously important and useful contribution to the debate.
Small is Beautiful: a study of economics as if people mattered
E F Schumacher
Blond & Briggs 1973
This is one of the most influential books of the late twentieth century, as far as green political economy is concerned – and rightly so. Schumacher maintains that the western worls's current pursuit of profit and progress, which promotes giant organisations and increased specialisation, has in fact resulted in gross economic inefficiency, environmental pollution and inhumane working conditions. He challenges the doctrine of economic, technological and scientific specialisation, and proposes a system of intermediate technology, based on smaller working units, communal ownership and regional workplaces, utilizing local labour and resources. His essay on Budhist Economics is a gem, and his essay on intermediate technology in the Third World was based on his work establishing of the Intermediate Technology Development Group (now the organisation Practical Action) in 1966.
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Its incredible how fast this crisis is still moving. I wrote most of this paper a week ago, but since then the IMF has admitted that this is the worst global recession since the Great Depression and that Britain will be among the worst hit, Brown has described the situation as the first true crisis of globalisation and one which has no precedents. It has been announced that he total deficit in occupational pension funds has increased by 49% in a matter of weeks and more and more firms are now closing their schemes to existing workers. And significantly, we have seen the first signs of unrest among working people in Europe, with demonstrations in Russia, strikes in France and, despite its confused and ambiguous character, a wave of unofficial strikes by power industry construction workers in Britain.
A fortnight ago, I watched an interview with John Varley, Chief Executive of Barclays, in the course of which he demanded that the government buy corporate bonds and other financial paper from him and his fellow bankers. When asked how bad things could get, he thought for a moment and replied that we could slide into a Japanese type recession. It was then that I realised that he didn’t have any idea of how the crisis is going to develop; he was simply saying that if the banks weren’t able to offload their dodgy assets it was possible that we could be in the worst position he could imagine, and Japan in the nineties was it.
The fact is that none of the bankers, economists, financial journalists and other sundry ‘experts’ have a clue about what may happen in the coming year and in particular, none of them have any idea about how bad things are likely to get. Of course this isn’t a new phenomenon: when the business cycle is in its up phase the system appears to be more or less predictable and economists tend to claim God like powers of foresight and wisdom. However, when this phase comes to an end, as it always does, in a credit crisis and a rapid and disorganised fall, the system becomes chaotic and disorganised. While it is possible to discern possible outcomes during such chaotic transition periods (like the one we are currently in) it is impossible to make any categorical predictions, despite what various economists and politicians may claim.
Given the intensity of the current crisis there is a vast range of possibilities. The most optimistic (from the ruling class’s point of view), sees the current second phase of government underwriting of the banks stabilising the situation, unemployment topping out at 3.4 million and the recession bottoming out some time in 2010. The worst scenario is a global collapse of the monetary system. Such a collapse would lead to what Marx and Engels, in the Communist Manifesto, described as “the mutual ruin of the contending classes”. We have seen what such a collapse would mean in the experience of countries such as Weimar Germany, Somalia or Liberia. Such an outcome on a global scale would lead inevitably to local, regional and almost certainly, world war.
The events of the last few days show that the inbuilt need to maximise profits make the financial system unreformable. On 15 January, the ban on short selling was lifted. The very next day, short selling led to a 25% fall in the value of Barclays shares. The effective government control of a big slice of the British banking system has proved valueless because of the government’s aim to use that control in the short term interests of the banks rather than the long term interests of the people.
There is a strong possibility that the current round of state bail-outs will not succeed in either stabilising the situation or increasing the banks’ liquidity – and the first suggestion that the British government’s triple A credit rating might be in question came on 20 January and lead to a collapse of sterling against the dollar on 21 January. But if the bail-outs do succeed temporarily, they will just tend to replace the systemic contradictions that caused the crisis with contradictions between states and a tendency towards protectionism. Increased state borrowing or quantitative easing by one state (particularly the USA) will either be at the expense of other countries or will lead them also to print more money, which will lead to more political conflict and mutual stagflation.
This crisis is not just another credit crunch (albeit a massive one) of the kind so familiar in the history of capitalism, but the herald of a new phase in the development of the contradictions of the system. This is a crisis of what Paul Sweezy christened ‘financialisation’, the progressive shift in gravity from production to finance that has characterised the economy and which has been the main force lifting economic growth since the 1970s.
The contradictions within this financialisation of capital are leading to ever bigger bubbles that burst more frequently and with more devastating effect, threatening each time a worsening of the condition, endemic to mature capitalism, of slow growth, and rising excess capacity and unemployment/underemployment.
It is gradually becoming clear, to all but the most rabid neo-liberals, that financialisation, the structural transformation of the capital accumulation process in which the traditional role of finance as the servant to production has been stood on its head, with finance now dominating over production, has proved disastrous.
The only things that can done within the system to stabilise the economy is to dramatically expand state spending in ways that genuinely benefit the population and to carry out a really radical redistribution of income and wealth. While more far sighted economists and corporations might see the logic of such a course (in the mid thirties, Joseph Kennedy said that “he would gladly give up half his fortune if he could be sure the other half would be safe.”) the nature of capitalism is such that if a crisis ever led to their adoption, every attempt would be made by vested interests to repeal such measures the moment the crisis had passed.
And of course, neither of these proposals is on the agenda at present, except (in the case of public works) to the most minimal extent. Even the Green New Deal, which is easily the most radical of the Keynesian proposals currently being proposed, is modest to the point of invisibility when it comes to the issue of the redistribution of wealth.
One of the problems with the orthodox fiscal measure to increase demand - cutting income taxes - is that at the moment the rich will not spend and the poor cannot. There has been a reduction in the levels of unsecured debt over the last three or four months as people who are able to have reacted to the crisis by trying to reduce their debt as much as possible. Increasing the amount of disposable income of the prosperous (the usual aim and effect of tax reductions) will have only very limited effects of demand. However, any marginal increases in the disposable incomes of poor people is spent and thus has a directly stimulating effect on the economy as an increase in demand. So we should be looking to increase the social wage, in particular benefits to the poorest.
There is an urgent need to redistribute wealth away from corporate profits and towards wages in order to increase demand; We have to campaign at a number of levels, but our demands must relate to the every day experiences of working people. They are worried about the security of their jobs, they are worried about housing and they are worried about their security in old age, or if ill, disabled or unemployed.
Therefore, in addition to the programme we have previously put forwards in response to the Green New Deal we should be making the following additional demands:
• The banking system must be reorganised to meet the needs of working people rather than the banking institutions.
• Therefore, the state must hold a monopoly on the creation of credit based on a clear overall strategy for the use of that credit and the Bank of England must be transformed into the agency for implementing that strategy.
• The corporate finance and retail functions of the banks must be separated. Trading in derivatives and other exotic financial instruments must be banned and the debts acquired in trading in them cancelled.
• In the face of rapidly rising unemployment we must campaign for a 35 hour working week, for the banning of systematic overtime working and for the extension of parental leave to at least one year.
• We must campaign for a huge programme of social housing construction for the four million families of council and housing association waiting lists and for the upgrading of existing housing.
• We should be arguing for the immediate re-indexing of the retirement pension to national incomes rather than RPI, and its increase to at least the levels it would have been at if Thatcher hadn’t sabotaged it – around £160 a week. Other benefits should be increased by the same sort of order.
• We should demand that the state underwrites (in effect, nationalises) occupational pensions in short/medium term and in the longer term introduces a new universal SERPS which would incorporate existing state and private occupational pensions.
We are in an unprecedented situation and none of us can tell where we are heading. A complete global collapse of capitalism – which is now conceivable, albeit as a remote possibility – would lead to suffering and violence on an unimaginable scale, and would certainly lead to the development of authoritarian state regimes, including in Britain, that would be in continual conflict with each other. We would have arrived at 1984.
In such an uncertain environment we must try to mobilise working people for a defensive battle with the state, on the basis of the sort of demands raised in this paper and in our critique of the Green New Deal. But to do so, the left has to turn its back on historical divisions. Realignment of the left (and that includes the Green Party as well) now becomes an urgent necessity for its existence and an essential precondition for the development of a new mass party of working people.
At a full Lambeth Council Meeting on Wed 28 Jan, Cllr Thackeray, successfully proposed a motion to make Lambeth Council a "Living Wage" employer. Currently through national pay bargaining rules, every direct employee is paid a Living Wage, but hundreds of staff who work for the Council via contractors are often not and forced to endure poverty pay.
Cllr Thackeray's original motion would have made Labour-run Lambeth responsible in ensuring that all employees of the hundreds of sub-contractors used by the Authority are also paid the Living Wage, including cleaners, security/reception staff and labourers, but a wrecking amendment put forward by Labour was passed to neuter the most relevant role of the motion.
The original motion stated that, "Lambeth Council reaffirms its support for the establishment of the London Living Wage, set at a level calculated by the Living Wage Unit to avoid the 'working poverty trap' in the capital, a situation affecting around 400,000 Londoners who are paid less than can reasonably fund the basic costs of living in London."
However Labour ensured that the part of the motion was deleted which would make Lambeth responsible for ensuring that its hundreds of sub-contracted employees were similarly guarenteed a Living Wage.