Political

Political stuff, mostly centre left Green Party politics

End Game: final gasps of the American Empire?

Is this another marker of the end of end of neoliberalism or the end of an empire? The American Empire? Like Rome and London, the final years of empire were highlighted by religious and political extremism pushed forward as the demand for change overtook the old ways.
Romes spiral of destruction started with ever more extreme political actions to keep the population and the wealthy in under control; and the evangelical embrace of Christianity whilst retaining devotion to expired gods.

In the UK, socialism and solidarity threatened the political elite. They were forced to embrace things that were good for people and not just the few; and a fiercely Christian system to had to concede that population gave up on religion – perhaps preferring science and logic.

So now in America, the quasi democratic system that allows you to choose between two parties of almost similar views promoting people from the same pool of political Continue reading

A person with a dream and vision is more powerful that a person with facts and a budget

 

A person with a dream and vision is more powerful that a person with facts and a budget

I know this has been doing the rounds for a while, but it always makes me think.  Can be thought of on many levels, but this is most clearly demonstrated with religion – people give their lives and those of other people to perpetuate that dream and vision.

Let’s hope that these visionaries use their influence to perpetuate tolerance, understanding, and a sustainable future for all.

Is #Gaza Israelis ‘final solution’ to the Palestinian people?

Concentrated into a small strip of land, surrounded with an iron curtain of walls, mines, and machines of war; is Gaza just an extermination camp to allow Israel to wipe the Palestinian people off the map?

It sure looks like it. Over 200 dead to date of writing in the latest conflict to just one Israeli death. Palestinian chrilden slaughtered at play. Trial by bomb and gun.

And yet for all this Israeli fire power, for all their technology and anger, all they are doing is creating another generation with passionate hatred towards their oppressors. Until Israel dismantles the Gaza concentration camp; until they stop the killing and show humility all they do is breed into a nation a passion and belief in the injustice and slaughter they experience.

There is no Plan B here for Israel. They are generating the very thing they are fighting against.

So, the only and final solution for the Israelis must be to destroy their sense of nation, community, and every single life. Gaza is the worlds largest concentration camp with what appears to be just one aim – the complete destruction of the Palestinian nation.

The shame and guilt we should be feeling is that we all let this happen. We buy Israeli goods, supply then with arms and do nothing to help the people of Palestine. I can only hope that both sides see sense, put down their arms, remove the barriers and seek a long lasting peace based on knowledge, co-operation and tolerance.

Think Green Party in European Elections 2014

What a great advert for the Green Party. If your ever thinking of an alternative just spend a minute or two watching this and decide what’s best for you, your family, community and country.

Heading to the European Elections

We are on the run up to the European Elections and it’s fascinating to see how little media coverage the Green Party receive. Others, who are more controversial and more extreme seem to get the attention. I guess this is in the interests of the broadcasters, who are after controversy to sell their stories, but it would be nice to think that the Green Party, with ever increasing local, national and EU representation would get the opportunity to put opinion forward.

I guess though this debate goes back to the state and privately owned media. A more transparent process, would certainly help to unlock our democracy and perhaps even make it a little more honest and accountable.

Blogging vs territorial and financial institutions

With the news that a number of bloggers have been banned from entering the country, I wonder how this freedom of opinion will change the way territorial institutions will see their role in managing populations.  The US and China are well known for censoring anything that would upset their political systems, the UK has clearly been doing this for some time by managing the press and media; but bloggers are a problem for these countries – they put in writing what they think.  They do so without the corporate or social controls put in place to sensor ‘professional journalists’.

Currently ‘freedom of the press’ is expressed by journalists in a small number of businesses that are on the whole, out there to make money.  They are constrained by this and constrained by the limitations that may be placed upon them by territorial institutions that may see them as a threat to their beliefs or methods of social control.  They are also at the influence of these same bodies who may be willing to fund their efforts on the basis of their support.  It’s a form of parasitic relationship, where they both rely upon each other for survival (i.e. it’s not in their interests to upset their parasitic partner).

Bloggers have the potential to loose these boundaries.  They have the ability to speak freely, to air their opinion and to upset the symbiotic relationship of the press and the state.

Bloggers also have a sinister side too – it’s all too easy for the territorial and financial institutions to ignore the press and publish their propaganda directly.  The US blogging scene is marred by this approach.

It is these two categories of bloggers that make territorial institutions nervous.  A rival can use the blogging platform to push their message, their change agenda and their culture into other societies; and an openly free and opinionated public can change the traditional balance of power within their society (in the UK, general opinion is filtered by a small self serving elite and re-purposed through the professional press and media).

So, this elite and their territorial and financial institutions have a vested interest to use blogging in conflicted ways: to understand threats/opportunities; and through chastisement and stigma, dissuade free opinion and free expression.

Blogging could become an important freedom of expression.  Something embraced not as rogue opinion but as a valued contribution to the development of a modern society – one where all opinion is valued and self moderated.

Food banks fill an essential gap in our welfare system

Frustrating to see that yet another Conservative is so insensitive to the people in this country – this time it’s about poverty and food banks. Chris Steward a councillor for York shows just how out of touch these people are. In their own little private well funded world. I don’t wish ill on anyone, but it would be good for Chris Steward and other Conservatives to live in poverty, not just for days, but for years. This would give them a little perspective and an understanding of how their view’s mismatch the needs of the people in this country.

Just to be clear though, in West Berkshire the Green Party do not agree with his words. He is at best an uninformed fool and worst a publicity seeking Toff. Food banks provide an amazing service in one of the great gaps in our welfare system. We should be praising the people and companies that provide food and people for their time helping others. If I had my magic wand I would change the welfare system and our working system – a move to a living wage, training, etc. A caring, cooperative and inclusive Green society would provide everyone with opportunities to do valuable work, pursue their interests, interact with their community, keep learning and enjoy nature.

 

‘Dear Richard Benyon,

A few days ago, Conservative councillor for York Chris Steward told the York Press: “The fact some give food to food banks, merely enables people who can’t budget (an issue where schools should do much more and I have said the council should) or don’t want to, to have more money to spend on alcohol, cigarettes etc.

“There is certainly no need for food banks; no-one in the UK is starving and I think food banks insult the one billion in the world that go to bed hungry every day.”

In my opinion this shows a lack of empathy and a serious gap in the Conservative Parties understanding of poverty and the causes of poverty.

Do you share his option, agree with his membership of the Conservative Party and will you be sharing your opinion with the Prime Minister?

Yours sincerely,

Adrian Hollister.’

 

Picture from ‘The Food Bankers’ WordPress site which can be found here.

Lower Tax does not equal better income

Interesting that the perception on Tax is driven by head line rates.

There is a media created impression that Tories generally reduce tax, but this is for the richest and for big business and they rely upon people aspiring to be like them to create the idea that lower tax = greater income. No idea what Lib Dem's stand for, depends on the direction of power I guess. Labour seem to have taken the stance that by increasing the wealth of everyone, there would be bigger tax income and a generally lower burden.

Labour failed by only going half-way, by gambling with the riches they created and by forgetting to create a fair and sustainable economy. Sustainable has to be one we can afford, removes the casino effect and allows everyone to prosper. Fair is just that – honestly doing the best for the country as a whole, not political donors or social/geographical stereotypes. There is only one political party in the UK offering fair and honest tax, the Green Party.

I wonder how many middle class tories and lib dems feel richer at the moment despite tax cuts for the richest?

John Bercow should publish the list of landlords

Dear Richard Benyon MP,

It is with great concern that I read about continued problems with MP's

expenses – the latest of which appears to indicate that MP's are

renting out a property they own (often one purchased under the old

expenses regime that was abolished following public outrage over the

system in 2009) while using the expenses system to rent out another

property in central London, and making a profit in the process.

It has been suggested that some MPs may even be renting their

properties out to each other to milk the system.

Could I seek your assurance that you are not party to this and could I

ask you to petition John Bercow to publish the list of MP's landlords.

I fear that anything less would further continue to undermine the

integrity of our democratic system.

I appreciate you time on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

Adrian Hollister.

Osborne backs Fracking

What the fracking hell is going on in the Conservative Party? Osborne says that he will "open up newly discovered shale gas reserves beneath our land" – fracking to the rest of us. This is the same fracking that caused earth quakes when first tested in this country and the same fracking that has caused gas and hideous pollutants to enter the water course throughout north America.

Green MP Caroline Lucas, tabled an Early Day Motion calling for a moratorium on the onshore and offshore exploration of shale gas.

Adrian Hollister, Green Activist for West Berks Green Party said, "With shale gas areas licensed by DECC as close to Newbury as Andover we are not immune to this – this is not someone else's problem. I cannot see how the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats can honesty cover up the evidence for the significant environmental damage caused by fracking. This just stinks of financial lobbying. It's not sustainable, sensible or ethical – but since when could these labels be attributed to the Tories?"

Clear Drop in English students

Green Party's Jenny Hicks from Reading has some insightful words on her blog today about the drop in the number of students at Reading University.

Jenny says that "…the rise in tuition fees up to a maximum of £9,000 a year has led to a "clear drop" in the number of English students applying for university places this autumn, an independent analysis of the impact of the coalition's controversial reform has found.

"There are 15,000 missing applicants who might have been expected to have sought a place on a degree course this academic year but did not, according to the Independent Commission on Fees.

The raising of fees prompted violent protests on the streets of London and inflicted deep damage on the reputation of the Liberal Democrats, who went into the election pledging to vote against a fee rise. Published a week before A-level results come out, the report says that the number of university applicants in England dropped by 8.8% this year compared with the tally for 2010."

Travellers in West Berkshire cause a stir – but are we the problem?

With the news that Travellers have settled in Stroud Green near Newbury, there seems to be an out cry in the local media against the desecration of their community space. We must remember that Gypsies and other Travellers are sections of society which are greatly disadvantaged and discriminated against. We must recognise that the travelling people have ancient, valuable and valid lifestyles and cultures, and they have a right to preserve these values. We in West Berkshire should strive to ensure equal rights and community obligations for Travellers as citizens, without imposing unwanted conformity to the values and lifestyle of the dominant culture. I can't help thinking that if parish and West Berks Council's provisioned spaces for the travelling community, then incidents like this would go away.

A34 broken again near East Ilsley

Yet another accident has blocked the A34 near East Ilsley again. This time a lorry seems to have jack-knifed, but you can read a more complete story on the Newbury Today web site. There was a mile tail back of cars attempting to get into Wantage via the B4494 on the usual divert North (A338) route. So accidents continue whilst an inept silence comes from WBC, OCC and the HA. It's about time that they stepped up to the mark. I've given up wondering where Downland's Councillor George Chandler is. We need a 'Wheres Wally' style search – perhaps collectively we can find him?

Anyway, put up a variable speed limit, a method of actively monitoring it and cameras to enforce it – simple.

UK Headquartered Vodafone pays no Corporation Tax

I question the ethical stance of a company that does it best to avoid paying it's fair share. I don't believe Vodafone should pay too much tax, but Vodafone must accept corporate responsibility for the welfare of their staff and communities within the countries in which they trade; and that means that they must pay fairly.

In a previous blog entry (about their last 6bn avoidance figure) still applies… "So, Newbury based Vodafone have yet again swindled us all out of cash. Swindled, because we as a country could have used that money for investment in services, debt payment, or even reducing the tax bill for the poorest. But no, the money goes to shareholders, a good deal of which won't even be in the country. Shame on you Vodafone." http://ow.ly/buNjK

With the reports that Vodafone payed no corporation tax in Britain last year, I can't help wondering why our tax system is designed to support the rich and the largest corporations (both of whom seem to pay little or no tax). By moving money to oversea's locations and transacting through countries with no tax/lax laws and no accounting standards, the super rich and large corporates get away with a lot. It's about time these groups paid fairly and in the spirit of honesty within the countries that they trade.

So why not have windfall tax on people, trusts and companies to ensure that they pay fairly and in the spirit of honesty within the countries that they trade?

Adrian Hollister.

Original article in the Telegraph here.

Stop Government Snooping into your Private Internet use

The government will be able to monitor the calls, emails, texts and website visits of everyone in the UK under new legislation announced by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government. Under the new legislation, Internet firms will be required to give intelligence agency GCHQ access to communications on demand, in real time. Whilst on one side the Home Office is looking at this as a way to tackle crime and terrorism, it's clear that the impact personal liberties and the potential for political, military or terrorist abuse present a risk to every citizen.

The risk is that George Orwell's portrait of a nightmare state could easily come true here. If left unchecked it will be possible for the state to examine your personal life in detail. They will be able to do this without your consent. The boundaries of this intrusion have yet to be defined – so who would stop the government of the day using the information for social control and social manipulation?

The Digital Economy Act from 2010 is often seen as the first stage of 'controlling' the Internet and starts to open the doors for abuse of personal liberties – it's a stepping stone for the Chinese style Internet manipulation and control. Our local MP, Richard Benyon spent a great deal of time at the pre-election hustings asserting that he opposes the Digital Economy Bill – all this was for nothing though as Richard Benyon MP went back on his claims and failed to vote against the bill in 2010 (being absent from the debate). So much for the letter I have from Richard Benyon…

So we can't trust Richard Benyon MP to help here (especially as our MP has almost never voted against David Cameron's dictation – how can he represent Newbury when he is looking after his political career?)

Let's just look at what they are attempting to achieve – the government want to look at everything you do electronically – phones, email, social networking, browsing, blog entires – you name it. They are looking to do this because knowledge is power – power to catch the bad guys – power to manipulate the good guys; and lets face it, the majority of us are good guys. Quite frankly, I would oppose any type of social manipulation – especially for political, military or terrorist goals. Remember, if the government can do it, someone can pay for the government to do something else (remember those that paid to eat with David Cameron – does the lobbying abuse stop there?)

Let's break it down into the two key groups they are following. The bad guys (let's not get into who 'bad' people are for now) are the minority. They are generally skilled and trained on how to avoid detection and monitoring and they generally make things a bit difficult for the intelligence agencies to form a complete picture.

The rest of us, don't use any of this technology and at the moment don't see any need (why would we need to be afraid of our own government?)

So, if the majority of people who they do want to monitor would know how to get around it (using Tor for example), this will leave them monitoring the rest of us. If we are doing nothing special, then the only purpose would be for social management or social control.

So what are the risks? Analytics can be used to map relationships, communication streams, social groups, class structures, targeted demographics, keep all your personal information etc. They can with some simple software know your entire life in detail.

Bit like phone hacking for government, but with the added power that serious analytics can bring. For example, at the moment you could track your social network usage and other public documents to form a picture of people (try your name in 123people); but this generally only works with your consent. The government could force access to this information without your consent, add your emails, browsing history, how long you spend on sites, track what you clicked on, etc. Like google on steroids they could track your life. Would you trust any government or the military with this type of information? How quickly would the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats sell this out to business or to the US (who funds their political parties and second jobs)? What would happen if the information was 'lost' on a USB key (terrorist would literally kill for this type of information – such as who are most likely to support their cause)?

Making you feel more secure yet?

So who will police GCHQ and do it in an honest incorruptible and non-political way? How can we ensure political paymasters don't abuse the information or buy access to it? How do we ensure we keep the freedom of our press? Where do the courts come in here? This is a badly thought move towards a Tory police state.

The Green Party will consistently and openly oppose these deeply flawed and illiberal moves by the Government. The Conservative, Liberal Democrat and New Labour attempts to control the internet and snoop on our personal lives, our social networks and our personal communications are a disgusting move towards a police state. If you are looking to oppose these Orwellian moves, look for a fresh and honest approach to politics – join us, help us and vote Green at the next election.

Adrian Hollister, Newbury Green Party.

Richard Benyon continues to enjoy tax avoiding ‘Trust Fund’

Apart from MP Richard Benyon and his family estate, I'm struggling to find anyone in West Berkshire that benefits from the new budget. Whilst the Chancellor targets his version on 'morally repugnant' tax avoidance, he fails to tackle tax avoidance from Trust Funds and other vehicles set up to hide the super wealthy from the tax. If they were looking to be fair and honest, they would ensure that all loop holes for Trust Funds are closed and that these bodies pay their fair share. But with all his family silver tied up in one of these tax avoidance schemes, why would Richard Benyon want to do this?

Only the Green Party offers a fair tax system. Let's start with the closure of the nearly £30 billion a year lost to fraud and tax evasion. That would help balance the books and allow us to keep the NHS whilst investing in our future. If you feel suckered into voting Tory or Liberal Democrat in Newbury last time around – don't you think it's time for a real, honest and fair change? Join the Green Party, vote for us, and help us change this country for the better.

Roy McNulty is just McNutty for Newbury/Thatcham trains

Newbury Greens have slammed the McNulty review as potentially disastrous for Newbury's commuters and has suggested that Newbury and Thatcham area does not need fare increases and less station staff, but more investment and more regular trains to and from London and the West Country.

Adrian Hollister, Newbury Green Party said, "Roy McNulty perceives his 'value for money' report only in terms of immediate cost and not value for the community, our society or longer term value for the country.

“Newbury area train stations have seen a gradual reduction in quality of service provided to the communities they serve. Ever decreasing quality of station services will only go to show how detached McNulty is from the consumer.

“A clear example of this are the plans to remove station staff at our busiest stations. We cannot rely upon the current train information systems as they are most often out of date; and we cannot rely upon ticket machines to help us with the cheapest fare nor answer the question 'so which platform is that?', let alone 'can you help me with my bag?'.

“Twitter and iPhone app's are a much more reliable source of 'where the train has got to?' than First Great Westerns on station automated signs. Thinking that these systems and automated ticket machines can replace friendly station staff, is just not true.

“The icing on the McNulty cake is that to deliver less in a less convenient way he is suggesting that we increasing fares! For our commuters will be a real slap in the face and is completely contrary to the aim of reducing prices and encouraging lower carbon and sustainable travel models. Fares from Newbury to London are already ridiculous, they need to be reduced not increased. The way to reduce prices and ensure financial viability is to get more passengers by getting people out of cars and on to trains. We can only do this by making trains more appealing, more reliable and travelling to the place where people need to go.

"Privatisation has brought nothing but increasing costs to this country, however we should expect nothing less of Lib Dems and Conservatives who are wedded to the principle of putting markets before people."

End Dog Breeding Abuse

A BBC programme on Pedigree Dogs and the methods used to produce the 'perfect' dog has hit the headlines again for highlighting breeding issues for pedigree dogs. It's one of those shock programmes that highlights the risks to the welfare of pedigree dogs. The documentary, from 2008, was updated with a 'Three Years On' version highlighting that some positive changes have taken place, but that deeply troubling issues are still prevalent in an industry that has historically cared more about the appearance of dogs rather than the animal's health and well being.

Adrian Hollister, Newbury Green Party: "I agree with the recommendations to create an independent government-backed regulator. This will help the Kennel club as it's in a difficult position juggling their commitments to both breeders and dogs."

Green Party Deputy Leader Adrian Ramsay said on the Green Party web site:

"The breeding practices that have been exposed in the BBC documentary show that dog welfare is being disregarded. It is perverse that some breeders deliberately breed dogs with major health problems and deformities for prestige and to win competitions.

"The Green Party has long supported the measures that the journalist called for in the documentary. An independent regulatory committee is crucial to safeguarding the health of dogs."

Green Party Animal Welfare Spokesperson and Vet, Caroline Allen also comments:

"In my job as a small animal vet it is clear that the Kennel Club alone cannot deal with this problem. I have seen no sign of a decrease in breed related problems and there are many other issues associated with irresponsible dog breeding that the Kennel Club can simply do nothing about. Many breeders act outside of the Kennel Club, as do puppy farms. We need to regulate the whole industry to prevent the sort of suffering that vets are seeing on a daily basis. The financial cost of irresponsible breeding is also a high one, with increasing number of strays and dog attacks, costing local authorities and the NHS millions. The Green Party would introduce a requirement that all dogs be micro-chipped and would require that all breeders be licensed. It is time to tackle all aspects of irresponsible breeding."

References:

1. BBC Documentary: http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2012/09/Pedigree-Dogs-Exposed-Three-Years-On.html and the original http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00d4ljk

2. Green Party call for action to end Dog Breeding Abuse: http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/green-party-call-for-action-to-end-dog-breeding-abuse.html

20’s Plenty for West Berkshire Communities

Inspired by the recent introduction of 20 mph speed limits across Portsmouth, Oxford and Reading, spokesman for Newbury Green Party, Adrian Hollister, said:

"By allowing communities to introduce their own 20mph speed limit on their roads, we would be clearly define areas within our communities that our residential areas are not designed for high speed motoring, short cuts or through roads."

"Reducing this speed not only improves safety it also allows eye contact between drivers and residence which helps to further discourage anti-social driving habits. This may be especially important for communities around and near schools, community centres and areas of high pedestrian traffic."

"These decisions should be taken by local people and I would also like to see the option for residence in West Berkshire, through their Parish Councils, to choose to change their road priority from 'the car is king' to one where pedestrians and cyclists have priority over other traffic."

ENDS

Facts you need to know:

1. When hit by a car at 40 mph your chance of being killed is 90%, at 30 mph this drops to 20% and at 20 mph it drops again to just 5%.

2. See http://www.20splentyforuk.org.uk/fact_sheets.htm for briefing materials

Is 3 minutes of additional journey time on the A34 too much?

The closure of the A34 last week has highlighted the problem with the road. All southbound traffic diverted through the Downland's via the A338 or via Newbury. The traffic until late morning on these roads received a constant flow of HGV's and cars and, in the view of the residents that I have spoken to, very few respected the communities or speed limits of our Downland villages.

The cost of this closure to our economy is likely to be measured in the millions, but who has counted the number of minor accidents due to the sheer volume and recklessness of the traffic through our Downland villages? Great Shefford took the brunt of the traffic this time with Wantage a major sticking point just north in Oxfordshire.

For the HA to find no problem with accident rates on this route exposes the narrowness of their vision. They see the most serious accidents and nothing in their figures represent the number of minor incidents attended by the emergency services/motoring services and none seem to include any information from the insurance industry – one of the better measures of the true number of incidents.

It is still clear that there is a problem on these roads. A variable speed limit based around 50mph common speed could reduce the number of accidents to near zero and would add at most three minutes to the journey time of an 80mph average speed motorist (and next to nothing for anyone on or below the speed limit).

So why do the HA defend these three minutes? Where is West Berkshire Council? Where is Cllr George Chandler? This complacency shows why we need the Green Party represented in West Berkshire – we are the only party interested in constructive citizen centric change.

Where’s Wally? Actually finding Cllr George Chandler is more difficult

I've been on the accident black spot issue on the A34 at East Ilsley for a long time… there is a standard pattern, usually involving slow traffic, panic breaking from high speed and the ripple effect back around the bends. No rocket science here, just common sense.

What I find amazing is that West Berkshire Council don't seem to be representing residents here – where is the ever illusive Councillor George Chandler who covers the Downland's Ward? Pipe, slippers, and a copy of the times springs to mind.

So come on George, kick off your slippers and start earning your right to represent us – it's time West Berks Council started to pull it's weight.

Smug David Betts gloats at 2,274 fines in Newbury

The new road layout at the Parkway in Newbury has caught out many drivers. David Betts spoke to the Newbury Weekly news saying "some people just drive about with their eyes shut". He admitted that some people had been fined multiple times. Not really fair looking at this as a cash cow, it's greedy and arrogant. We should give the cash back and perhaps issue a 'smug tax' on councillors gloating like this to make up the difference. At the very least David Betts should issue an apology and consider moving to a more suitable role.

I call on West Berks to do the right thing: Give the cash back, issue warnings (always best to educate people before punishing them) and never look on fines as income – they are a penalty and not a tax.

Fines like this should be put into a community fund and distributed in a way that helps to fix the causes of the fines and protect our communities.

Adrian Hollister

West Berkshire Green Party

Daylight Savings Bill – kicked into touch by administrative process

Dear Sir George,

I write in reference to the recent timing out of the Daylight Saving Bill. It seems a disappointing state of affairs when a significant minority can destroy democracy in action. 140 MPs turned up to vote in favour of the Daylight Saving Bill and only 16 voted against, but those against talked for so long that the bill ran out of it's allocated time. To use administrative process to block the bills progress seems petty and anti-democratic.

Clearly there is a substantial process and administrative problem with the way bills are handled in parliament; something I do hope that you are working to resolve. But, given the cross party support, support from a large number of organisation and support from the general public, I do hope that you can urgently find additional government time to look at the Daylight Savings Bill (there are strong precedents for giving Private Members Bills more government time when needed).

Yours sincerely,

Adrian Hollister

cc Richard Benyon MP

This message was sent in support of 10:10’s Lighter Later campaign and the Daylight Saving Bill. http://www.lighterlater.org

Don’t forget to object to the Incinerator at Chieveley

It's only eight days to go to have your say on the Incinerator plans at Chieveley. The Green Party and I are in complete objection to such plans. So I urge all those with an opinion on the subject to get onto the West Berkshire web site and register their opinion now!

You can find the online planning site in West Berkshire here. You will need to register, but you can see other public comments and you will get a letter in the post to confirm your opinion.

There is also a web site http://www.wbagi.org that can give you a little more detail from local residents and some details from Grundon here.

Unlawful subsidies for UK Nuclear power

It's interesting to think that the UK could be subsidising nuclear power unlawfully. This stance raises awareness of the problem of nuclear power – there are a lot of hidden costs. It's not just the building of a plant (with all it's concrete etc), the running, or the decommissioning; its a combination of all three. We will leave a radioactive legacy for generations. Not just a few years, not even in your life time or that of your kids and grandchildren.

For all that time, we will have to actively manage the power stations and radioactive waste:

-We have to keep it secure and protected from terrorism or threats from other states. It's interesting that in London Under Attack: The Report of the Greater London Area War Risk Study"", the nuclear power stations and stock piles are targeted because of the devastation they would cause to most of the country.

-We have to keep in cool and contained.

-We have to protect it from our environment. Storms, rain, earthquakes, land slips, etc. Anything can damage our storage systems and nothing is as immune as you think (re: Fukushima).

-We have to protect our environment from it. I'm not too keen on drinking contaminated water or eating foods contaminated by radioactive particles.

All of this costs money – a lot of money – and we have to pay for that and so do our future generations.

If we included these additional costs, would Nuclear power ever be seen as viable?

Vodafone in another massive Tax dodge

Private Eye have uncovered a further massive Tax dodge from Vodafone.

"£6bn… and then some

The latest major tax avoidance ruse slipped under the public radar because Vodafone stopped setting aside money in its accounts for its offshore disputes in 2006. But the agreement with HMRC, which the company said covers “all outstanding [controlled foreign companies] issues from 2001”, must have cleared the scheme (Vodafone would only say it was “confidential”), letting the company off well over £2bn plus whatever it can funnel through the set-up in future and making the Eye’s initial £6bn estimate of the cost of the dodgy deal look conservative.

The revelation also seems to contradict Hartnett’s repeated assertions that nothing less than the full force of the tax law was applied to the company, since this scheme is if anything more squarely caught by the UK’s tax laws than the Mannesmann arrangement and on its own would have brought in more than £2bn. More troubling questions, then, for the NAO and retired Judge Park."

So, Newbury based Vodafone have yet again swindled us all out of cash. Swindled, because we as a country could have used that money for investment in services, debt payment, or even reducing the tax bill for the poorest. But no, the money goes to shareholders, a good deal of which won't even be in the country. Shame on you Vodafone.

Blame culture on Teachers, no news on under performing Heads or Govenors

The Tory and Lib Dem government has that it plans to make it easier for head teachers in England to sack under performing staff. According to the press release it is due to go ahead from September 2012. Seems to me to be another blame culture thing – point the finger and not fix the problem. I wonder if head teachers and governors will be under the same pressure? It would be interesting if we could have a public review of head's and governors, especially around here in the Downlands of West Berkshire.

MP’s should not vote on political party funding

Why should MP's get to vote on political party funding?

I know for sure that I personally support the change to level funding – it would open democracy in our country and it would certainly help political parties with limited budgets (such as the Green Party).  How much money you have should not influence your ability to get elected.  The US system is the worst case I can think of and we are moving towards it.  It's not democratic, it's just a plain worship of mamon.  Here in Newbury we are a US style system – you either vote Tory or their pet party the Lib Dems – at least that's what they want you to think and with the budgets they wield they can afford to buy the marketing to let the messages stick.

It is also so easy to see that donation money could be used to influence the actions our elected MP's take.  There is, for example, no discrimination of where that money comes from home, abroad, extremists, faith groups, companies alike.  Would you be happy for your MP to vote on stem cell research if you know their party was funded in any by businesses in that line of work?  or allow them to vote on banking regulation when assisted by researchers or others from the banking industry?  It's just so open to accusations of corruption that it stinks.

The only fair way, and the only way to ensure that corruption of any form is ruled out from our electoral system is to ensure that each party has the same budget to spend and ideally as little as possible. 

I wonder how Richard Benyon will vote here in West Berkshire?  For level political systems or to keep one that is open to accusations of corruption, waist and power hungry greed.

If you agree that things need to change, you need to vote for your local Green Party candidate – the only political party offering real ethical change.  Adrian Hollister

The Green Party ahead of Liberal Democrats in new poll

The Green Party ahead of Liberal Democrats in new poll

 

The Green Party are surging ahead of the Liberal Democrats according to the latest voter intention figures published by ComRes. Public support for the Liberal Democrats has declined dramatically thanks to a growing disillusionment with the coalition government over controversial NHS reforms, cuts in housing and education and a U-turn on tuition fees.

The report coincides with another election poll released earlier this year by polling company, Marketing Means, which revealed a large swing to the Green Party in March this year.  However, while previous voter intention surveys such as Market Means have indicated the Green vote is increasing, the new ComRes report which came out on the 16th October 2011 proves that the Green Party is now a real alternative for traditionally Liberal Democrat voters.

Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party recently called on disaffected Liberal Democrats to look to the Greens, saying:

 "I have a special message for those Lib Dem supporters who are beginning to despair of the path their leadership has taken them down. If you became involved in politics to serve your local community, to protect the environment, or to challenge inequality, then join us.”

The ComRes report coincides with another election poll released in March this year by polling company, Marketing Means which revealed a large swing to the Green Party.

The report shows when asked if voting were compulsory, 7% of those asked would vote Green, where only 6% would vote Lib Dem.  The same question indicated a decrease in support for the Conservative Party, with 15% choosing Labour compared to 13% saying they would probably vote Conservative.

General Apathy for Academy Status

With fascination I've been following the mini Poll on the Newbury Today web site – "Are you in favour of schools receiving Academy status?" The results (to date) show a general apathy towards the whole Academy scheme with more than half not bothered if their schools change.

Rachel Fryer, the Greens' education spokesperson, has a good summary of why people should care: "The Green Party has always spoken in favour of greater freedom for the school to decide how it is run. However this does not and must not mean putting the running of the school into the hands of a private sponsor who may know nothing or very little about education, and taking the power away from parents and teachers who have little representation on the governing body at an Academy."

"Academies can see principals paid in excess of £120,000 whilst there is a high turnover of valued and committed staff lower down the pay scale as they are invited to reapply for their jobs on different pay scales."

"Time and again Greens and others have asked why the freedoms and funding attached to Academies cannot be given without the strings of creeping privatisation and millionaire sponsors attached. Yet no answer is given."

"With the proposals of up to 25% cuts across local authorities, inevitably affecting front-line staff including teachers, we could be facing the situation of having new buildings without the teachers to go in them. Let's give the money directly to schools through greater investment and through bringing back BSF (Building Schools for the Future) money, trusting schools and teachers to know the best way to spend money to improve education."

Adrian Hollister

Newbury & West Berkshire Green Party