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Friday, 30 April 2010

Kate Hoey, the Torygraph and policies on animals

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/harrymount/100037200/the-lies-the-animal-rights-lobby-are-telling-about-kate-hoey/

This article has appeared in the Torygraph today where Kate Hoey is receiving support from the hunting fraternity.

In the meantime I have signed up to support the campaign against blood sports being run by Brian May, from the band Queen. This is an important issue for me and I hope that many other candidates will also support it.

http://www.save-me.org.uk/

In a piece entitled 'Which party would animals vote for?" in Veterinary Practice Magazine it is stated:

Green Party


The 50 page Green Party election manifesto10 included the most detailed policies on animal welfare of any
political party, other than Animals Count. The Greens would phase out intensive farming, would ban the
production and sale of eggs from hens kept in battery cages (including“enriched” cages), would end live animal exports, and would limit journey times for all animal transport. They would immediately ban harmful scientific animal use, and invest in the development of non-animal alternatives. They would regulate the
companion animal trade, including a ban on the importation of exotic pets.
They would enforce strict animal welfare standards generally.

The Green website also included a detailed policy on animal rights11, which stated that: “The Green Party believes that animals have the right to live in safety, without fear or pain caused by human exploitation. We seek a more peaceful world, where all life is respected and all cruelty challenged.”

With respect to companion animals,the Greens stated: “The Party is opposed to the wholesale breeding,
manipulation and destruction of those animals who are chosen as companions to the human race. We will introduce measures to regulate the care and conditions for such animals including a two-tier system of dog-licensing (breeding and non-breeding), licensing of all animal breeders and dog owners,subsidised spaying and neutering, the implementation of good animal warden schemes and a prohibition on the import of exotic animals for the pet trade.”

Dramatic increases in their vote shares in recent years have placed the Green Party in a strong position to
contest three constituencies and it is quite possible that Dr Caroline Lucas,the party leader, could be its first
member of Parliament.

http://www.aknight.info/pages/publications/miscellaneous/Knight%20Politics%20Vet%20Practice%202010%2042(3)%2010-11.pdf

Greens ahead in Democracy Club Survey

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8651258.stm

News on the BBC election website that Greens have responded the most to the Democracy Club's survey of general election candidates. Well worth looking at They Work for You website. Notice the low rate of Labour responses.

Election 2010: Online volunteers to scrutinise MPs



The project has compiled a database of 4,100 candidates standing on 6 May

Democracy activists have enlisted 6,000 volunteers, covering all but one of the UK's 650 constituencies, for a project trying to keep future MPs in check.

The Democracy Club has asked every candidate standing on 6 May for their views on a wide range of issues.

It will monitor whether those who enter Parliament stick to their promises.



But only 6% of Tory candidates have given answers, and club spokesman Seb Bacon said they were "apparently very reluctant" to take part.

Green Party candidates had provided the greatest number of responses, Mr Bacon said, with replies from 65% of those standing in Scotland and 54% in England and Wales.

UKIP were the only other party with a response rate of more than 50%.

Among would-be Liberal Democrat MPs, 42% had replied, while the figure for Labour was 26%, Mr Bacon said.

Before polling day, the project's volunteers would "chase up" candidates who had not responded, he added.

"We already see the project as a success because we have at least some answers in most constituencies, because one of our primary goals is engaging people with politics on a more local level."

A list of more than 3,000 local issues was compiled, with each candidate giving their views on a handful of these topics.

The political website They Work For You is publishing all responses as they arrive.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Lib Dems, Labour and Greenwash

Copying this article from today's Comment is Free in the Guardian by Darren Johnson on 'greenery' claims from Lib Dems and Labour.

I am doing a hustings at lunchtime in Brixton organised by Lambeth Mencap and People First, organisations for people with learning difficulties. Having to work at the day job for the rest of the day.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/apr/29/green-party-policy

Your article about eco policy in the election campaign did not mention the Green party's policies (Last chance to save planet, say parties vying for green vote, 26 April). You focused on the two parties who'd launched their green manifestos the previous day, but comparing only Labour and Lib Dem eco policies was a bit like assessing which of two bald men was the best advert for a comb.


The article describes the Lib Dems' "£400 eco cashback scheme for new double glazing, boilers or solar panels". Had you compared this with the Green party's manifesto, you would have discovered that to meet the right CO2 targets, we need a £4bn-a-year programme to ensure all UK homes are energy-efficient. Similarly, the Lib Dems' "pledge to redirect £3.1bn" to green job-creation; but we believe that to achieve the necessary emissions reductions the UK would need a £44bn investment package, creating over a million green jobs.

And the article did not consider the parties' track record: for example, while the Lib Dems say they want more renewable energy, they have opposed windfarm proposals in Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon and Worcestershire. You say the Lib Dems would tackle aviation emissions, but don't point out that they've avidly supported airport expansions in Birmingham, Carlisle, Exeter, Liverpool, Manchester and Norwich.

And on their proposed fiscal measures to reduce road traffic, you don't say that they have voted against such schemes in Edinburgh, Manchester and York; not to mention that they've supported new road-building, from Newbury to the M74 and the proposed new Lancaster bypass.

You note that the Lib Dems say they want a zero-carbon economy by 2050. It would have been reasonable to observe that even if the Lib Dems' policies and practice were capable of achieving this, the target is in fact 20 years too late to satisfy the science. Perhaps the most reliable thing Nick Clegg says in the article was this: "Choose the only party that was taking a stand on saving the planet well before it became fashionable." On behalf of the Green party I'd like to say: thank you, Nick.

Meanwhile, what of Labour? Yes, it passed the Climate Change Act; yet it has attached to it the wrong targets and the wrong policies. But as you reveal, Labour is weaker than the Lib Dems on aviation, road-building, coal and nuclear. And Labour wants just 5,000 eco trade apprenticeships, whereas the Green party has identified a need for 350,000 training places.

On a proper comparison, one would surely have to conclude that there is still only one Green party. And this time, in places like Brighton, Norwich and Lewisham, the Greens are in with a real chance of a breakthrough, according to pollsters YouGov and ICM. If even a few Greens are elected they will be influential – able to cut through Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative greenwash in the House of Commons and force the debate to get real.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Last night's hustings in Vauxhall and Queer Question Time on Friday night

Last night's hustings in St Mark's Kennington were the largest hustings held in Vauxhall in this election and will be the last big parliamentary hustings. You can read accounts from various bloggers who attended below. A pity the South London Press were not there as they seem to cover the Streatham events but very little so far on Vauxhall. May be invited to discuss LGBT issues in Vauxhall on a local youth radio station, TLS, on Friday. Mentioned the concerning 47% increase in homophobic hate crime last night and the fact that I have addressed hate crime against the disabled and LGBT communities in my election leaflet.

http://onionbagblog.com/2010/04/28/do-the-hust-le/#content


http://southeasteleven.blogspot.com/2010/04/fallout-from-vauxhall-hustings-good-bad.html

http://garethwyn.blogspot.com/




At work today so could not blog before now about it. There was drama and a call for Straw and Blair to be tried as war criminals plus some up front questions re LGBT rights for Kate Hoey - my response to her record on this was "could do better." Comments on my blog from the SPGB suggest some bile in my direction, which I experienced last night from the candidate immediately after the hustings. Apparently quoting William Morris is only allowed for card carrying members of the SPGB. I do actually agree with Morris and regard him as much closer to the ideals of the Green Party than the SPGB.

I will be at Queer Question Time on Friday night at the Vauxhall Tavern, albeit not on the platform. Darren Johnson is speaking on behalf of the Green Party, Linda Bellos for Labour and Brian Paddick (remember him?) for the Lib Dems, together with some non-party speakers. Hoping that the South London Press will cover it. This will be an opportunity for Greens to show off our LGBT manifesto, which is far in advance of that of any other party. Question Time starts at 9pm and entry is £7.50 except for unwaged and NUS who are half price. As a  gay local parliamentary candidate I would not miss it for the world and am glad that LGBT issues will be fully debated in London's second gay village.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Leading trade unionist and health campaigner calls for a Green Party vote

As a health activist and trade unionist I know Geoff Martin and have seen him speak at many campaiging meetings about saving the NHS in London. Geoff is also the Chair of London Health Emergency. But his reward for speaking out against Labour's plans for the NHS meant that he was expelled from the party and also as the Convenor of UNISON in London. I am also a UNISON member and recognise Geoff's heroic fight to save public services and the NHS in London. The Green Party Trade Union Group, of which I am Treasurer, welcomes Geoff's comments. Geoff's statement is below. Geoff is now an officer of the RMT union.


"Geoff Martin, Labour's parliamentary candidate in Sutton and Cheam in 1992 and a leading campaigner in the fight to save services at St Helier Hospital today called on local voters to back Sutton's Green Candidate Peter Hickson.


Geoff Martin, who lives in Sutton and who was expelled by the Labour Party last year, said: "Voters sick and tired of the spin and sleaze of the main Parties have a real choice in this election and I would urge them to vote for the Green candidate Peter Hickson and give the political elite a real kick up the backside.

The Greens oppose privatisation of services like the NHS and support workers rights and decent pay and pensions. I would call on all trade unionists and socialists to make a positive decision and give Peter Hickson and the Green Party your vote.


The Labour Party is dead in the water and traditional Labour voters who feel badly let down by 13 years of Blair and Brown have a real alternative in  the Greens. My advice is don't stay at home getting angry on May 6th - get down the polling station and vote for Greens."



Notes for editors:

Geoff Martin was Labour's parliamentary candidate in Sutton and Cheam in 1992. A high profile trade unionist who was UNISON convenor for a decade, he was expelled by Labour last year after 30 years as a member. He was prominent in the long fight to save services at St.Helier hospital, Carshalton; and is currently a national officer of the RMT.

Green Party Election Broadcast Tonight

The Green Party election broadcast will be aired tonight on BBC 1 just before 7pm and on BBC 2 just before 6pm. I have put it on this blog before but it is well worth watching and of a high quality.

http://www.onlygreen.org.uk/

Monday, 26 April 2010

The Fox hunting vote and the campaign against animal cruelty

The issue of animal cruelty and welfare does not usually dominate political debate but with the Countryside Alliance having its HQ in Vauxhall and the current MP being its Chair it is an issue in this election in Vauxhall. The article below from the Guardian also indicates that those who want to restore fox hunting are targeting seats like Vauxhall to ensure that Kate Hoey is re-elected. The Green Party is totally opposed to fox hunting and firmly supports animal rights, also being opposed to animals being used in experimentation.



http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/mar/30/foxhunting-supporters-marginal-seats-election


Supporters of hunting with dogs are targeting key marginal seats in an attempt to boost the chances of repealing the 2004 ban on the sport.


The pro-hunting organisation Vote OK claims it will mobilise well over 10,000 supporters and have an impact on far more constituencies than it did at the last general election.

Working out of a farm in Gloucestershire, the organisation has no paid staff but claims its ability to channel the enthusiasm of volunteers from more than 170 hunts in England and Wales will ensure its has a significant influence. Its leafleting operation is expected mostly to benefit Conservative candidates.

Nicky Sadler, the coordinator of Vote OK and a follower of the Croome and West Warwickshire Hunt, said: "At the last election, in 2005, we were involved in 60 seats; this time around we are organised in 140 constituencies. It's a big logistic operation.

"Vote UK is a bit like a dating agency. There's a list of candidates who [we can pick]. We are colour-blind; it doesn't matter what party they are from. No one is suggesting that [repeal] should be a priority for government. We are giving people who are pro-repeal contact details so they take can it from there.

"If there's a sitting MP who has in the past supported hunting from any party, such as Labour's Kate Hoey [in London Vauxhall] or the Liberal Democrat Roger Williams [in Brecon and Radnorshire], we will [back] them."

Sadler admits that the "vast majority" of MPs supported by Vote OK will be Conservatives.

A YouGov poll carried out for the Protecting Animals in Democracy (PAD) campaign published at the weekend revealed that animal welfare issues such as hunting and animal experimentation are deemed to be an important election issue for 41% of the British public. The same poll found that only 21% believing that there is very little animal cruelty in Britain today. "This is the first time that the enormous political significance of animal welfare issues has come to light," said Dr Dan Lyons, head of campaigns at PAD and an honorary research fellow in politics at the University of Sheffield, said: "It's a clear warning to the parties that support for cruel practices like hunting could prove politically disastrous."

Vauxhall hustings tomorrow night in Kennington

Tomorrow night one of the largest hustings taking place in the Vauxhall constituency will be held in Kennington. I have already met my Labour, Lib Dem and Tory opponents at the housing hustings held last month and also at the pensioners and Lambeth Disablity Forum hustings last week. This will probably be the last and largest setpiece hustings for Vauxhall constituency in which I participate.

I certainly hope that the Lib Dems will be questioned in more detail about their environmental policies announced yesterday and also about Clegg's apparent willingness to enter into a coalition with the Tories, which is really concerning for this country and the possible impact on cuts in public services and the transfer of wealth to the already rich. It would also run directly contrary to the Green Party policy of creating a million new green jobs from public investment. The side of the church has a series of plaques commemorating the history of the church and the area. It was on the opposite side of the road in Kennington Park that the Chartists held one of their largest demonstrations in 1849 organised by the Black Briton, William Cuffay, who was subsequently transported to Tasmania for sedition. This area and constituency has a long and radical tradition and I certainly hope that it maintains it. This is a vital and historical election which is a turning point in British politics much as those of 1979 and 1945 were. I was accused by Kate Hoey, the sitting MP, of trying to 'out radical' her and the Lib Dem candidate last week at the hustings, but I am proud to wear that badge which has a long and noble tradition in this constituency.

19:30 - Parliamentary Hustings for Vauxhall constituency.

Organised by St Mark's Church and held at St Mark's Church (opposite Oval tube).
 
 
 

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Independent on Sunday on the Greens in this election

There is a large spread in today's Independent on Sunday about the Greens in this election with some interesting comments from various people including the comedian, Mark Steel. One of the articles is below.


Green surge as main parties try to attract eco-vote

By Brian Brady and Jonathan Owen

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/green-surge-as-main-parties-try-to-attract-ecovote-1953737.html

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Environmental issues will be pushed up the agenda in the last 10 days of the election campaign, as Britain's major parties scuffle to attract the eco-vote, and the Greens remain on course to return their first MP to Parliament.

A poll for The IoS today reveals that almost six out of 10 voters believe green issues have been ignored by the main parties during the campaign. Amid frustration at the sidelining of environmental issues, a growing list of well-known figures from the world of showbusiness, literature and academia last night added their weight to the growing clamour for Britain to elect its first Green MP, hotly tipped to be the party leader, Caroline Lucas, in Brighton.

The call, from green supporters ranging from Greta Scacchi to Billy Bragg, comes in the midst of the most intense election campaign since environmentalists became a political force almost four decades ago. A record 335 Green candidates will stand in seats across the country – including a full slate in Greater London.

The Green Party launches a new billboard campaign this week, underlining its attempts to promote a comprehensive platform, rather than just policies on the environment. It will be challenged by the three main parties attempting to take the initiative on the environment.

Gordon Brown will launch Labour's Green Manifesto today at a "young people's mobilisation event" in central London. The Prime Minister will claim the blueprint would "create a greener Britain"; initiatives include cleaning up our energy supply, driving down transport emissions and "creating new jobs in a green economy".

But the paper, to be followed by similar pronouncements from the other parties, may not be enough to halt the Green surge in key seats including Brighton Pavilion, Norwich South and Lewisham.

Nick Howat, of the research company TNS-BMRB, said the prospect of a hung parliament could see even one Green MP wielding real influence. He added: "This would give a voice to the nearly 300,000 people in the UK who support the Green Party and are currently not represented in Parliament."

The party's top target is Brighton Pavilion, where MEP Ms Lucas is in pole position to take the seat from Labour. Ms Scacchi said: "I think Caroline Lucas will be very exciting if she gets in; let's hope it happens."

The comedian Mark Steel said the Greens had taken over from the traditional left. He said: "They've been able to do what the left hasn't – put forward an alternative to the free market and sound credible."

The Tories dedicated a chapter of their manifesto to green issues, with David Cameron pledging: "We will make it easier for people to go green, with incentives for people to do the right thing."

But the ComRes poll for The IoS found only 47 per cent of respondents believed Mr Cameron's commitment to the environment came "across as genuine".

Friends of the Earth condemned the Tories after only two candidates backed its package of proposals to slash UK emissions.

Friday, 23 April 2010

British jobs for British workers and the London Living Wage


At the hustings held yesterday in Brixton by Lambeth Disability Forum and the Lambeth Older People's Action Group, Kate Hoey showed some really reactionary tendencies. After a question from the audience about how many people repairing the roads in Lambeth were foreigners and not British and were not able to speak English properly, I condemned scapegoating foreign workers and pointed out that EU citizens had the right to work here and that the EU guaranteed free movement of people, including many UK citizens living and working in other EU states. I then went on to add that three of us sitting on the platform were Irish, to which Kate Hoey exploded stating: "I am British!"

Later she went into a complete tirade against the EU and condemned the UK's agreement to allow citizens of new entrant states such as Poland to come and work here several years ago. According to Vauxhall's MP, the UK should have waited almost a decade to allow this as it had produced "racial and social tension." So a strong element of xenophobia there with which I strongly disagree. I wonder how many of the jobs currently being done in the service sector by Eastern European workers would have been done otherwise and it was only a year and a half ago that I was in Scotland and was told that the raspberries there were rotting because not enough Eastern European workers had been to havest the crop. Of course, Kate knows that these EU citizens (unless they are Maltese, Cypriots or Irish) do not have a vote in this general election and can quite safely criticise them, although they do have a vote in the council elections.

Caroline Pidgeon, the Lib Dem candidate, did not think that the BNP constituted much of a threat and Kate Hoey then went on about the "multcultural and well integrated" nature of society in Lambeth. I disagreed with both and stated that I was genuinely concerned about the rise of the BNP and that the recent election in Hungary, where their sister party, Jobbik, gained something like 23% of the vote gave the lie to Caroline Pidgeon's complacency and I also pointed out to Kate Hoey that although generally Lambeth is free of the scourge, they are standing a candidate in one of the council wards. I will not make cheap political points against foreign workers and EU citizens and fully support their right to work and live here. Even Gordon Brown last night referred to the many British citizens living and working the EU during the leaders debate.

My caveat is that all workers here should be paid the London Living Wage and on that point, I will be supporting the event tomorrow in Brixton by Lambeth Citizens

http://www.southlondoncitizens.org.uk/#/lambeth/4535189457

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Professor of Human Rights Law on the Lib Dem position on LGBT Rights


Received this email yesterday addressed to the Lib Dem LGBT Group from Professor Robert Wintemute who is an expert on human rights law at King's College and a resident of Vauxhall. Robert has given permission for me to publish this on my blog. It does point out some of the inconsistencies in the Lib Dem position on LGBT rights. I have clearly mentioned homophobic hate crime on my election leaflets and also assisted in the drafting of the Green Party's LGBT manifesto which Robert refers to.

I also note the characterisation of the Vauxhall candidates in yesterday's Lurking about SE11 blog, which has now found its way into the Guardian. I am glad that my support for LGBT rights is mentioned and also that Kate Hoey's reactionary position on this is exposed - Kate's voting record has been closer to that of the Tories on this issue.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/davehillblog/2010/apr/21/lurking-about-se11-blog-vauxhall-election-candidates



Dear DELGA,


"I support gay marriage. Love is the same, straight or gay, so the civil institution should be the same, too. All couples should be able to make that commitment to one another." Nick Clegg MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats - Pink News, 17 Feb 2010.

I was assuming that this historic statement by Nick Clegg, which you quote in your website, http://www.delga.org.uk/, would appear in the Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010.

I was very surprised to find that it does not: http://network.libdems.org.uk/manifesto2010/libdem_manifesto_2010.pdf

Today, I searched for "lesbian", "gay" and "same-sex", and found nothing. The Manifesto's index contains only "homophobia" and "transgender" and refers the reader to pp. 35 and 73:

• Confront bullying, including homophobic bullying, and include bullying prevention in teacher training. (p. 35)

• Require better recording of hate crimes against disabled, homosexual and transgender people, which are frequently not centrally recorded. (p. 73)

That's it? The term "homosexual", not used by the lesbian and gay community, is used in a manifesto in 2010? The terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" do not appear? (There is a reference to "sexuality" (a non-legal term) at p. 30: "Most businesses do a great job of supporting their employees, but there is more to do to tackle discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexuality, age, race, religion or disability.")

I have just visited the Green Party's website for the first time. When I searched for "gay" in their Manifesto, I found a list of promised actions at p. 30: http://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/resources/Manifesto_web_file.pdf. These include:

• Open up civil marriages and civil partnerships, without discrimination, to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

I have voted Liberal Democrat since 1992. But if Nick Clegg can only promise equal access to marriage for same-sex couples in "Pink News", and not in his party's Manifesto, then I am not voting for him and his party. I will vote for the Green Party for the first time.

Best wishes,

Rob

Prof. Robert Wintemute (Professor of Human Rights Law)

School of Law, King's College London, Strand

London WC2R 2LS, United Kingdom

Vauxhall hustings today

Another hustings today and will finally meet my Lib Dem opponent, Caroline Pidgeon. More on the Lib Dems later.


14:00 - 16:00 - Parlimentary Hustings for Vauxhall constituency.

Organised by Lambeth Forum for Older People & Lambeth Pan-disability Forum

Lambeth Accord, 336 Brixton Road, Brixton, SW9 7AA.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

State of confusion


After Worker's Power candidate, Jeremy Drinkall, the Anti-Capitalist candidate for Vauxhall, having castigated the Labour Party for their pro-war position at the Stop the War hustings on Monday night, the following information comes to light on the Onionbag blog
http://onionbagblog.com/2010/04/20/hustings-hustling/#comments

It’s all very well Jeremy criticising the Greens and the LibDems but it seems to have been overlooked (perhaps because he didn’t highlight it) that he’s calling for voters in Streatham to vote for the Labour candidate there (and for voters in Dulwich and Norwood to vote for Tessa Jowell, who actually voted for the war). A copy of his party’s magazine handed out at the meeting carried a middle page article headed “Vote for Socialist and Labour candidates” in which the author called “on workers to vote anticapitalist and socialist candidates in the 40 constituencies where we can, and for Labour everywhere else in the country”, ie as Streatham is not one of the 40 to vote there for Chukka Umanna. So there was no need for Chukka to turn up. Jeremy was there to bat for him.

Supporting Tessa Jowell, whose memorable quotes include: "I would lay down my life for Tony Blair" and "It is not a choice between a PFI hospital and a publicly funded hospital, it is a choice between a hospital and no hospital", and Chukka Umunna, who stated in his message to Stop the War that he supports the war in Afghanistan, and said the same in person at the pensioners hustings on Monday afternoon, I think that Jeremy has got some gaps in his political thinking. It is this sort of doublethink which gets the Left a bad name.

Vauxhall and hate crime

Yesterday at the London disability hustings I said that I had specifically mentioned hate crime against both the LGBT and disabled communities in my election leaflet, which all houesholds in Vauxhall should have received by now. Confirmation of a problem in Vauxhall is revealed by this police notice. Also Lambeth police stats show a 47% increase in homophobic hate crime in the borough in the year up until last month. The trial has also just started in London of the three people accused of kicking a gay man to death in Trafalgar Square at 10.30pm at night. Homophobia and hate crime is a live issue and needs to be addressed urgently by the police. And if you think that it is a marginal issue, then ask someone who is disabled or LGBT what it can be like.


http://www.discodamaged.com/2010/04/police-warning.html

POLICE WARNING



When leaving venues in Vauxhall:


Do not to have mobile phones, wallets and valuables on show and


Do walk in lighted areas.

This morning DIAS said that someone was brutally assaulted outside Area a couple of weeks ago. (Read here.) Eren Bessim, Metropolitan Police Diversity and Hate Crime Coordinator, has issued a reminder to be careful. He says "We have had another spate of robberies in this area; there is no intelligence to say they are targeting the LGBT community." He also has issued a number where you can text in reports of hate crime: 81025 and Lambeth followed by a message. He will

New poll on Afghan War and the election

The following is from the Independent and is about a new ComRes poll showing views of the electorate on the war. It demonstrates again that Green Party policy is correct and also that as a candidate I am justified in flagging up the war in view of the silence of the other parties on the issue and the impact on the country. We will see how this will be handled in the next leaders debate tomorrow about foreign policy.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/afghan-war-is-unwinnable-and-we-should-not-be-there-say-voters-1949621.html

High levels of voter dissatisfaction with Britain's eight-year military involvement in Afghanistan were uncovered by the survey.


According to ComRes, 72 per cent believe the war, which has so far cost more than 280 British lives, is "unwinnable", with just 19 per cent taking the opposite view.

More than half (53 per cent) say they "don't really understand why Britain is still in Afghanistan", with 42 per cent disagreeing. A gap between the sexes emerged, with 60 per cent of women but 47 per cent of men saying they did not understand Britain's presence in Afghanistan. A sense that the issue has so far been avoided in the election campaign emerged, with 70 per cent saying they believed the main parties did not offer them "any real choice of policies" on Afghanistan. Just 19 per cent said they believed they were offered a choice.

The war is bound to be a key theme of tomorrow's second televised debate between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg as it will mainly focus on international affairs. While the Tories have been fiercely critical of the equipment supplied to UK forces in Afghanistan, they support the operation as strongly as Labour.

Although Mr Clegg has urged a rethink of military tactics, the Liberal Democrats describe themselves as "critical supporters" of the campaign.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Hustings Report and Disability facts

Feeling pretty bushed. Had two hustings yesterday - Lambeth Pensioners Action Group and Stop the War Coalition later in the evening. Both went quite well I think, and it was interesting that the issue of the war and the costs of it and Trident etc, also emerged at the Pensioners hustings where the Labour candidate for Streatham, Chukka Umunna, sometimes called 'The British Obama' very unprofessionally lost his temper and began to berate some of the pensioners as he did not like the way they questioned him. Lost a few votes there I think. Whatever one thinks of a voter's question it is not in order for a politician seeking office to insult them.

Turnout was high for the Stop the War hustings and interesting that both Kate Hoey and Chukka Ummunna sent apologies and statements to the meeting. Not surprisingly Kate Hoey was against the war and Chukka in favour. The Tories also sent apologies and the Lib Dem Chris Nicholson, who was also at the pensioners hustings, fielded for the yellow team, complete with his own film crew! Issues ranged from Afghanistan to Iraq, Palestine, Iran and civil liberties and Guantanamo. I finally met up with Onionbagblog and he interviewed me after the hustings. At least he is a bit more aware of my views now and we did discuss the connection between the local and the global. He has given me a fair minded write up.

Finally, today it was off to the Pan London Disability hustings organised by Inclusion London. Questions ranged from hate crime against disabled people to equality legislation, education and employment for disabled people and welfare benefits. A number of activists and organisations from across London were represented. When the Tory candidate attacked the Human Rights Act and said that they would repeal it, I replied that this was what I expected from the Daily Mail and the 'unreconstructed Tory Party', adding that I was all in favour of the Act but concerned about the ability of disabled people to access legal aid and redress when their rights were infringed. I also added that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission needed to be much more proactive about disability issues than it had been so far. I finally added that I had placed my opposition to hate crime against disabled peopel on my election leaflet delivered to the voters of Vauxhall and it is a huge issue for the disabled community with many horrific stories recently in the media.

Here is the statement which Inclusion London issued after the meeting. I would like to add my condolences on the death of Dave Morris, the former Mayor of London's Advisor on Disabilities who passed away on Sunday. Dave was a passionate campaigner for the rights of disabled people in London and will be sorely missed. As a disabled candidate myself I totally support the calls for equality of disabled people in London and Vauxhall.

Deaf and Disabled Londoners and the elections




Many disabled people say they feel excluded by the political process and that disability discrimination needs to be taken more seriously. Deaf and disabled people continue to experience widespread discrimination. The results include poorer experiences in education and employment, greater likelihood of being in poverty, exposure to hate crime, under-representation in all parts of public and political life and a greatly reduced quality of life.

A lot of progress has been made in the last decade, but much remains to be done. And it is important that changes are build upon, not set back. Are the political parties aware of what disabled people want and need? Do they know how their policies will affect disabled people?

The disability movement says ‘Nothing about us, without us’ – which is a particularly crucial principle when deciding who is going to be the next government and next local government. These bodies wield tremendous power over our lives. We hope our meeting will mean politicians from the four parties represented will have a better understanding of what Deaf and disabled people want.


Key facts



There is no room for doubt about the inequality that blights disabled people’s lives and the role of discrimination in producing that inequality. Disabled people:

• Are more likely than non-disabled people to have no qualifications[2].

• Are much more likely to be out of the labour market or unemployed[3].

• When employed, are likely to be lower paid: median hourly earnings for disabled men are 20% and for women 12% lower than for their non-disabled peers[4].

• Have a net income 30% than other working age adults – and much less than this if disability benefits are taken out of the calculation[5].

• Are less likely to be called to interview when disclosing a disability than others with identical CVs[6].

• Are more likely to live in non-decent accommodation[7].

• More likely to live in unsuitable accommodation: 53% of disabled 0-15 year olds lived in unsuitable accommodation in 2005/6[8].

• Face a higher risk and greater levels of targeted violence in comparison to non-disabled people. Within the disabled population, people with learning disabilities and/or mental health conditions experience higher levels of targeted violence[9].

The discrimination represented in these facts is linked to, and in turn entrenches, poverty and inequality. Eradicating disability poverty and inequality through a strategic equality programme has to be central to politics. While there has been progress in some areas in the last decade, these and similar facts show how much more needs to be done.


Are public spending cuts compatible with disabled people’s rights?

How are the savage cuts in public spending that some political parties talking about going to affect disabled people? What would harsh spending cuts mean for the public sector and for the facts outlined above?

Would they threaten the kinds of funding and support essential to facilitate independent living?

Will spending cuts threaten the action needed to remove the discriminatory barriers that deny many disabled people education and employment? Would cuts encourage greater discrimination, weaker enforcement of equality law or worse access to justice?

It is easy for politicians to talk about savage cuts but the unfair results of this kind of rhetoric are already being felt in some local London councils.

While trying to outbid each other on the level of public spending cuts that they will make, political parties have been quite vague about what exactly they would cut – which is not surprising as savage public spending cuts are unlikely to be popular. The billions of pounds of spending cuts that some politicians are threatening could not be achieved by tinkering. They could mean large-scale cuts in jobs, in wages, in public service provision, education and welfare, legal advice or social care. They could threaten the moves to greater control and independence, to social representation and to enforcement of our rights.

These kinds of cuts in the public sector are likely to have big implications for disabled people. Is this fair? Disabled people have not caused the economic crisis or the problems in the banks and financial sector. Would it be fair to try to resolve the deficit by public spending cuts, particularly in areas that could hit the lives of Deaf and disabled people hard?

Inclusion London does not support cuts in public spending that will unfairly impact on Deaf and disabled people.


What disabled people want

In response to a survey earlier this year[10], Deaf and disabled Londoners told us what some of their priorities were for the next government. The priorities fell into five main areas and we present a summarised version of them here.

• Independent living

Disabled people want real rights to choice and control through a properly resourced independent living support system, with portable, joined up services which boost participation in society.

Such a system needs to be underpinned by a sustainable and funded network of centres for independent living, an Independent Living Act, delivery of more accessible and affordable housing for rent as well as to buy, available and user-friendly public services and a wider society that is designed for access and inclusion. Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance need to be protected and extended and the full additional costs of disability to individuals recognised and supported.

• Full inclusion and representation in society

Disabled people want a range of steps including a fully inclusive and non-discriminatory education system from pre-school through to higher education and training, ability to access all courses and establishments, and full and practical support for Deaf children to learn and work in BSL including a Bi-Lingual Education Act and with equality training compulsory for education professionals.

Stronger rights and firm enforcement of rights against discrimination and for equality in employment are needed: disabled people remain far less likely to be in employment and far more likely to be in low status and low paid employment.

Action to continue to remove barriers to employment, career development and involvement in public life is needed, including by extending successful supports like Access to Work and making it available for candidates for political office.

We also need much stronger action to tackle stigma and prejudice and radically improve media representations of disabled people. More financial support for Deaf and disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) is essential as a vital link to Deaf and disabled individuals – and no cuts in existing central or local government funding. We need delivery of the resources necessary to attain the goal of a User-Led Organisation in every locality – and local authorities to work with ULOs.

Action is essential to improve the representation of Deaf and disabled people in public life, including implementation of the 2010 Speakers Conference report recommendations on financial support to remove disabling barriers to political engagement. Action is also needed to allow Deaf and disabled councillors to carry out their work.

• An end to disability poverty

Disability poverty must be eradicated: this requires a strategic approach which understands why disabled people are more likely to be living in poverty and sets out steps to end this fact. Action required includes recognising and compensating for the extra costs of disability to the individual – Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance must be retained and additional costs recognised, for example by extending winter fuel payments to those receiving higher rate DLA.

Specific steps required are well resourced public services, benefits and supports, real action to facilitate access to quality and non-discriminatory education and pre-education childcare, and training support.

A national social care system is needed that is: consistent everywhere in the country, is rooted in respect for the independent wishes of the individual and where access is based on need not ability to pay.

We need an equitable health care system, with free provision of disability aids, no post code lottery and an education process to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against both health service users and employees.

• Full equality before the law – and laws that are enforced

Disabled people need comprehensive anti-discrimination and equality rights in law – which are monitored and strongly enforced. Strong and precise Specific Duties for the public sector duty in the new Equality Act are essential to continue to programme of improving equality.

Full incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) into UK law and withdrawal of the UK reservations to the Convention is needed.

Deaf people want a British Sign Language Act, and specific changes including full rights for Deaf people to serve on juries.

We want repeal of s141 of the Mental Health Act which discriminates against the political representation of people with mental health conditions.
We need stronger duties for inclusive design, manufacture, IT, planning and development.

Action against disability hate crime is needed, including a national register of incidents and collection and promotion of best practice in combating hate crime. Better access to justice through free legal support is essential.


• A fully accessible society

Stronger rights and action are needed to ensure that disabled people can access the built environment – from local shops, to housing right through to parliament – and access and use products, information, services and new technology, so that that everyone can live in a barrier free environment, the lives of disabled people are enriched and our talents and skills fully released into society.

‘Shared surface’ street designs that are unsafe for disabled people are unacceptable and need to be rethought.

The Lifetime Homes Standard should be the basic standard for all new housing, and funding for housing adaptations should not be means-tested.

The improvements in making public transport more accessible in the last decade need to continue – but with a very long way still to go, it is crucial that transport accessibility programmes don’t fall victim to budgetary cuts, as has happened with the Tube station access programme in London. We need a fully accessible transport system, including London Underground, with legally backed targets.





What do the political parties say?



We present below extracts from the manifestos of the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties where they particularly make reference to Deaf and disabled people or where they have relevance to the issues that Deaf and disabled people have raised. The manifestos were published too close to the date of this meeting for us to be able to offer a fuller analysis and we do not claim to be totally comprehensive. And please note the sections are not always the same because different manifestos set things out in different ways.

The Green Party

• On spending

Would ‘aim to more than halve the deficit by 2013’.

Say the fiscal gap is ‘not caused by too much public spending but by taxation dropping to unacceptably low levels’. So want to ‘rehabilitate progressive taxation’ and ‘raise taxation from its currently very low level of only 36%.

• On public services

Would ‘protect basic public services’ but say ‘modest efficiency savings may be possible (perhaps £2-3bn,or 0.25% over the entire public service each year...)’.

• On employment

Aim to create ‘a million extra jobs and training places within a full year of operation of...the Green New Deal’ and ‘reject workfare and forcing unemployed people into unsuitable jobs by removing benefits’.

‘Oppose discrimination in the workplace [including disability discrimination].

• On welfare benefits

Propose a ‘citizen’s pension’ paid to all independent of contribution record at the rate of the official poverty line (£170) and add that ‘Housing Benefit and disability benefits would continue to be paid’

Propose to increase Carer’s Allowance by 50%, heal ‘the rift between adults’ and children’s social services’ and provide ‘more short breaks to families, including disabled people or those with long term illnesses’.

Want to repeal the Welfare Reform Act 2009, cancel the ‘DWP benefit entitlement assessment contracts with the private sector’ and restore the link between state benefits and earnings’.

• On housing

‘Resume direct investment in council and other social housing and allow local authorities to use receipts from sales to fund new affordable accommodation...provide £2bn in 2010 rising to £4bn in 2011 to local authorities to expand social housing’.

‘End the right to buy and introduce the right to rent’

• On education

Would ‘ensure most children are able to attend a good local school with admissions policies decided locally and applying to all schools’.

• On health and social care

Will ‘oppose NHS privatisation and treating healthcare as a market’ and

‘abolish prescription charges, reintroduce free eye tests and NHS dental treatment for all, and ensure NHS chiropody is widely available’.

Would implement ‘in England and Wales the scheme that provides free social care to the elderly in Scotland’.

‘Provide the right to an assisted death within a rigorous framework of regulation and in the context of the availability of the highest level of palliative care’.

• On transport

Would ‘provide affordable, cheaper local transport that is accessible to those with disabilities by investing in buses and subsidising some routes’.

• On promoting equality

Would ‘ensure that effective action is taken to prevent discrimination against disabled people’

‘Work towards ending stigma against people with mental health problems, including discrimination in employment’

‘Work vigorously towards ensuring that all levels of government are representative of the diversity of the populations for whom they work’.

Would require police forces to have ‘equality and diversity liaison officers whose remit is to tackle and take preventative action on crimes against...disabled people’ and would ‘campaign for...crimes against disabled people, including people with learning difficulties, to be dealt with effectively’.

Defend disabled people’s parking rights in retail developments.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Deaf and Disabled Londoners and the 2010 Elections - Hustings tomorrow

I will be speaking at this event tomorrow as one of the few disabled candidates standing for parliament in this election.
Press release

19 April 2010

For immediate release

Election Event for Disabled People


A major event for disabled people is being held tomorrow (20 April 2010). This will look at the policies of the major political parties on key issues for disabled people. This event is being organised by Inclusion London, the pan-London organisation promoting equality for London's Deaf and Disabled people.

The aim of the event is to increase the engagement of Deaf and disabled people with the election, encourage an increase in voting and ensure that the main political parties are aware of the issues for Deaf and disabled people.

The event will provide an opportunity for Deaf and disabled people to ask their questions directly of candidates.

A line up of 4 prospective parliamentary candidates and 4 senior councillors will be given 5 minutes each to present their views on issues for disabled people and disability equality. They will then be questioned by an audience of over 70 disabled people from across London.

One of the key speakers will be Parliamentary candidate for Vauxhall Joseph Healy who will be talking about what the Green Party can offer to disabled people in Vauxhall.

Chair of Inclusion London Kirsten Hearn said:

‘All parties have plans to make changes which will affect Deaf and disabled people’s lives. It’s important that we all know what those plans are and have an opportunity to question candidates about their intentions. Whether it be reform to the benefits system, plans for changes in national health and social care or how each party proposes to handle the recession, deaf and disabled people have a lot to say. Inclusion London’s election hustings is the place to air views and challenge the people who want our votes.’

This event is being held at the Holiday Inn Conference Centre in Bloomsbury. A full agenda is set out below.


ENDS



For more information contact Marie Pye 07714 245966


Notes for the Editor

1. Inclusion London is a city-wide disability equality campaigning and capacity-building organisation. We provide policy, campaigning and capacity-building support for Deaf and disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) in the capital.

2. Inclusion London promotes equality for London’s Deaf and disabled people. Our work is rooted in the Social Model of Disability and the Cultural Model of Deafness. To find out more please visit www.inclusionlondon.co.uk

3. Inclusion London has produced a policy briefing on disabled people and the elections, covering the party manifestos. For more information please visit www.inclusionlondon.co.uk or the contact telephone number above.

4. RADAR is the UK’s largest disability campaigning network with over 1000 individual and organisational members. RADAR is supporting the event and will present the RADAR ‘pledge cards’. Find out more at www.radar.org.uk

4. Set out below is the full programme for the event.


Deaf and Disabled Londoners and the 2010 Elections

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Holiday Inn (Booker Suite), Coram Street, Bloomsbury, WC1N 1HT

Programme

10.00 am

Introduction by Kirsten Hearn, Chair, Inclusion London

10.10 am

The Panel of Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

Each candidate will speak for 5 minutes introducing themselves and what their party thinks about disability equality.

• Adrian Berrill Cox, Conservative candidate, Islington North

• Catharine Arakelian, Labour candidate, Chingford

• James Sandbach, Liberal Democrat candidate, Putney

• Joseph Healy, Green candidate, Vauxhall

10.35 am

Questions from disabled people and discussion

11.05 am

Refreshment Break

11.25 am

Liz Sayce, Director of Radar, will speak on their ‘Election Pledge Cards’.

11.30 am

The Panel of Senior London Councillors

Each councillor will speak for 5 minutes introducing themselves and what their party will do locally for disabled people.

• Councillor Maya De Souza, Green Party, Camden Council

• Councillor Andrew Lamont, Conservative, Access Champion Kensington & Chelsea Council

• Councillor Ruth Polling, Liberal Democrat, Islington Council Cabinet Member for Equality

• Councillor Lorna Reith, Labour Deputy Leader, Haringey Council

11. 55 am

Questions from Disabled People and Discussion

12.25 pm Closing Remarks from the Chair

Busy weekend and a vision of the future

The weather was glorious over the weekend, which was just as well as I was out canvassing in Lambeth, and getting a good reception on the doorsteps. Also putting the finishing touches to my parliamentary nomination paper, which needed the signatures of ten good electors in Vauxhall and am meeting with my agent today and lodging with the Returning Officer at Lambeth Town Hall. The impact of the volcano on flying has been all over the news and just gives a minor indication of the possible impact of nature and climate on our world - it is a sobering thought and worth considering how minor this will seem compared to what is coming if we do not alter our economic patterns completely.

That is one vision of the future but I also spoke to my brother in Ireland yesterday who told me what things were like there at present. The budgetary cuts introduced there are along the lines of what the Tories would like to try out here if elected, and indeed they have lauded the Irish model. My brother told me that things had never been so bad and that most people he knew were now unemployed. There are empty properties everywhere and nobody can afford to buy or rent - indeed rents in Dublin have fallen by 30%. Emigration, especially among the young, has taken off again and many are heading for Australia or Canada. He said that it was worse than it was in the 80s, and I remember what it was like then, with 25% unemployment and real poverty. Public sector workers have been forced to take a cut in salary of something like 10 to 15% and there is a national go slow at the moment. Benefits have also been severely slashed. This is the fantasy world of the Daily Mail and the Tories, but for real people living real lives it is causing untold misery. There have been reports of increasing suicides in the Irish press by those unable to pay their mortages and repossessions are rising.

James Purnell, the former rising star of the Blairite Labour Party, said on This Week last Thursday that this could never happen in the UK. However, Portillo, who understands much better what the Tories have planned for UK Plc, contradicted him and pointed out that there is no golden rule excluding the UK from this fate. A Tory government after May 6th will introduce such a regime post haste but a Labour regime will introduce it slightly later. The economic policies of the Green Party are the only sane route to escaping from this mess without a decade of misery and a period which even Alistair Darling has admitted will make the 80s seem mild.

Today I am off to take part in the hustings with some of Lambeth's most politically engaged residents - the pensioners - at the Town Hall. And this evening is the Stop the War Coalition hustings at the Brix, St Matthew's Church, Brixton.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Endorsements from Peter Tatchell and leading health campaigner

"We Greens are the only party that wholeheartedly defends public services and working people. Our goal is a fair society. We've also got the best policies to stop climate chaos and ensure a clean, healthy and safe environment. I urge Vauxhall voters to support the Greens and vote for Joseph Healy."


Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner


"I wholeheartedly support Joseph Healy as the candidate for the Vauxhall parliamentary seat. He is an outstanding campaigner for civil, social and political rights. His work with disabled and vulnerable people is outstanding, especially in relation to challenging discrimination. He has excellent record in promoting and defending the right to health and social care for all and is a powerful advocate and champion of the community in the advancement of social justice and equality. He will make an exemplary MP."



Malcolm Alexander, Health campaigner and activist.

Malcolm Alexander is also the Co-Chair of the National Association of LINks Members and Chair of the London Ambulance Service Patients Forum.

The shameful bloody silence at the heart of this election

In today's Independent,
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-the-shameful-bloody-silence-at-the-heart-of-the-election-1946255.html  

Johann Hari writes about the war in Afghanistan and states:

"In this election campaign, there is a big blood-splattered hole we are all supposed to ignore. We are at war. It is a war that 64 per cent of Brits believe is "unwinnable" and should end now. It is a war that has killed 281 British people and an untold, uncounted number of Afghan civilians. It is a war that costs £4.5bn a year. It is a war to keep Hamid Karzai in power – even though he announced last week: "I swear I am going to join the Taliban." Yet the three biggest political parties are shouting their slogans over the hole as if it does not exist." 

Yet I have been attacked as a parliamentary candidate for blogging about this by one of the main bloggers in Lambeth, onionbagblog. All I can say is that any candidate in this election who ignores the war and its impact on both the cuts agenda, loss of life both here and in Afghanistan, criminalisation of communities and a host of other issues which affect the community in Vauxhall, as well as everywhere else, is mendacious and cowardly. So I am amazed to see that the Labour Party candidates for the parliamentary constituencies in Lambeth cannot even be bothered to send a representative to the Stop the War Coalition hustings in the Brix, Brixton, next Monday night at 7.30pm where I will be on the platform, together with representatives of other parties.

And while we are on the subject of mendacity - Nick Clegg emerged as the winner of last night's debate in the polls, yet Chris Huhne was quite clear on the BBC later that the Lib Dems are not opposed to having a nuclear arsenal, only to renewing Trident. One other issue not addressed by Mr Clegg was the war in Afghanistan. But the Green Party manifesto launch yesterday was quite clear about it. We want this war to end and end now. The manifesto is downloadable below.

http://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/resources/Manifesto_web_file.pdf

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Manifestos and one course menus

Details on the Green Party's manifesto launch today in Brighton. I have had access to the manifesto for some weeks now but it has been embargoed from the press etc, but I can tell you that it contains some very good and radical policies. Last night I attended the first ever hustings for the voluntary sector in Lambeth at the Town Hall, along with colleagues who work in the voluntary sector there. I was not on the platform as it was for council candidates. The Labour, Lib Dems and Conservative parties had wheeled out their big guns, withe the respective leaders of all three groups on the Council on the platform. The Greens were represented by Duncan Law who is standing in Brixton Hill ward. The local voluntary sector was well represented in the audience and some questions had been sent in beforehand by directors of the various organisations.

I was unable to stay for the whole event but the moment of the night for me was when Cllr Whelan, the Tory group leader, said that the manifestos all three main parties were "indistinguishable, apart from a few words here and there." The Labour Leader's face (Steve Reed) was worth seeing at that moment! However, Cllr Whelan is basically correct and the same goes for the three national manifestos - all offer a menu of cuts - the only difference being when and how you want them. Only the Green manifesto contains something radically different. It is still grey politics v green politics.




 Manifesto launch today


The Green Party will launch its 2010 general election manifesto this morning. The launch will take place at the Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel, starting at 10.30.

Darren Johnson, the party's national spokesperson on trade and industry and its candidate for Lewisham Deptford, will chair the event. The party's manifesto will be introduced by Caroline Lucas MEP, party leader and candidate tipped by bookies and pollsters alike to win the Brighton Pavilion constituency, and Cllr Adrian Ramsay, deputy leader and candidate in the party's Norwich South target seat.

The party’s manifesto will include tax changes to reduce inequality. It will also include a government investment programme to create around a million new jobs and training places across a wide range of economic sectors including jobs for carers, midwives, plumbers, builders, engineers and public transport workers.

The Greens will say that a determined effort to prevent cuts to public services will result in swifter recovery from the recession, large-scale job-creation and long-term economic stability. The manifesto will spell out a package of savings from scrapping projects like Trident, ID cards and new roadbuilding, as well as raising higher taxes on the highest incomes, to pay for the investment programme.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Don't mention the war


I could not have put it better myself. And I wonder why no Labour Party candidates are available to attend the Lambeth Stop the War Coalition hustings next Monday night in Brixton and answer some of these questions.

From the Socialist Unity site http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=5580

Labour candidate for Newport, Paul Flynn MP, has ceased blogging until May 6th to comply with electoral law. However it is well worth reading the article he posted on 11th April, just before the dissolution of parliament.



by Paul Flynn MP



When you think you have heard everything a few new titbits of news appear from the hopelessness of Afghanistan.



Drug use among the Afghan Police show 68 per cent testing positive for cannabis. There is a similar percentage for the chaotic Army. Of course, Present Karzai has threatened that he might join forces with the Taliban. there is also an accusation that he is a drug addict.

The three foundations on which the new liberated Afghanistan is to be built after NATO’s sacrifices are Karzai, the Afghan Army and the Afghan Police. All are collapsing. We have an election here but no one is saying a word about a war without purpose.

The news about cannabis exposes another double cross. there was celebration that heroin production had dropped. Balkh province was an example. No heroin anymore because the farmers had switched to growing cannabis. Nothing to do with the intervention of our forces. All to do with market forces. Cannabis is in demand.

Afghanistan, already the world’s top opium supplier, is now the world’s biggest producer of cannabis, according to United Nations drug experts. UN experts estimate that 60,000 households are now growing cannabis.

A British-backed paramilitary unit is hunting down Afghan drug lords as part of a new strategy against the drug trade. Four helicopters have already been provided by Britain for airborne assault missions. The United Nation official added: “Corruption has been a major lubricant of the very prosperous drug industry… it’s throughout the system.”

Corruption has been the lubricant of all business and political life in Afghanistan for centuries. We are fighting it fiercely with our own democratic ethical corruption on an industrial scale. Pallets piled high with bubble-wrapped bundles of $100 bills are delivered daily distributed throughout the land to buy Afghans. Meanwhile Western fingers are wagged at Afghans and they lectured in the ethics of business virtue.

There will not be much about this in the papers tomorrow. No party deems it worthy of any attention.

After all, there is an election to be fought

Green Party Election Broadcast

After yesterday's Labour manifesto launch with reactionary and disgusting chapter titles such as 'Crime and Immigration' and today's Tory launch which should be entitled 'How we learned to love the Cuts' here is the Green Party's election broadcast which is offering something really different and genuinely radical. The Green Party's manifesto will be launched on Thursday.



Monday, 12 April 2010

Power 2010 Campaign for the protection of privacy - Signed up


Just had the message below from Mark Thomas and the Power 2010 campaign against ID cards and ID databases. I have replied to let Mark and the campaign know that both myself and my party are absolutely opposed to this ID card policy being touted by New Labour. Apart from the civil liberties implications there are also the costs. Now there is one cut I would be happy to support.

And a quick response to Onionbag Blog - all of the issues I have been blogging about affect Vauxhall - whether it is improving hospitals, ending the wars, or protecting civil liberties. MPs are supposed to have a national as well as international view on things. The old Green slogan applies: "Think global. Act local." So I make no apology for being an internationalist nor for having non-tunnel vision, unlike some of the other parties.



Dear Joseph,


Last I checked, I wasn't above the law. The same rules that apply to you also apply to me. And I'm a celebrity!

So it seems rather obvious that the people who often set these rules - our MPs - should also live by them.

But they don't - especially when it comes to how government treats our personal information. And it's time we put a stop to it.

Tell every would-be MP standing for election in your area that you'll no longer accept one rule for them and another for all of us.

All our children are now documented on the government's ContactPoint database, but MPs can get their children "shielded" for the sake of their privacy. What about our privacy?

Hundreds of MPs voted in favour of each and every one of us being fingerprinted for the ID database and having an ID card. Yet I'm sure I don't have to tell you that very few MPs have chosen to get one, even though they're now available to those who volunteer.

But what should we expect? After all, dozens of these same MPs voted to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act, all in the name of their "privacy" of course, whilst passing laws that erode all of our privacy.

I've had enough of these hypocrites, haven't you? Join us in demanding that all candidates commit to scrapping the ID card scheme, and to defending our privacy - and that of our children - as fiercely as they defend their own:

http://www.power2010.org.uk/privacy

Thank you,



Mark Thomas

________________________________________

Pensioners, Health and Publicity


Another busy weekend. On Friday night I was on an Iranian Television current affairs programme here in London with a speaker from Stop the War Coalition, speaking about last week's nuclear arms reduction treaty between Russia and the US and the impact of this both globally and for UK defence spending etc. On Saturday I spent the day as a member of the Green Party's Regional Council agreeing last minute candidacies from around the country, and dealing with urgent disciplinary matters within the party, as well as other urgent issues attached to the election. I really wanted to go on the national demonstration to protect public services and the NHS but duty called and there is a legal and administrative side to this election as well as the actual campaigning aspect.

I am also busily answering emails from many charities and campaigning organisations asking for my views on various issues, as well as requests to attend hustings. I have agreed to attend the Lambeth Pensioners Action Group hustings Monday 19 April 2010,Assembly Hall,1.30pm to 4pm, Lambeth Town Hall,Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RW on behalf of the Green parliamentary candidates in Lambeth. The Green Party's Pledge to Older People will stand us in good stead at this event and I am curious to see what the other parties are offering pensioners in this election - we should know by this week with their various manifestos finally being released.

Caroline Lucas appeared on yesterday's Andrew Marr show and gave a brilliant performance cutting through the hypocritical cant about cuts from the other parties. You can see it here

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

Tonight I am attending the London Ambulance Service Patients Forum meeting at Waterloo at London Ambulance Service NHS Trust HQ at 5.30pm, where I am the Vice Chair. We are expecting a presentation from the Care Quality Commission about monitoring ambulance services across London, I have been centrally involved in pushing for a list of quality demands for patient transport in London, where the current system allows taxi companies to run very substandard services for patient transport out of some London hospitals. The Forum is putting a list of demands to every LINk (Local Involvement Network) in London about this.

I am out and about helping our team in Lambeth but also ensuring that I get my nomination papers for Vauxhall in on time to the Town Hall.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Lambeth Stop the War Election Hustings on Monday 19th April in Brixton


I have been on the Steering Committee of Stop the War Coalition for about two years and am the Green Party's representative there. As such I have taken part in all the major demonstrations over the last two years and spoken at several of them. The issue of the wars and their costs - now principally Afghanistan, is not something remote which does not affect the voters of Vauxhall. One reason why cuts are being discussed in the public sector, which will impact on local hospitals, council services etc, are the massive costs of the Trident renewal project and the war in Afghanistan. The Green Party is completely opposed to both - and though Nick Griffin claimed on BBC News 24 the other night that his party is the only one calling for an immediate troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, this is not the case. The Green Party's policy is for an immediate withdrawal and to end this senseless and unwinnable war which is costing the lives of thousands both in Afghanistan and the UK. I will be speaking at this hustings on Monday week.




Lambeth Stop the War Election Hustings



A chance for you to ask candidates questions about Afghanistan, Civil Liberties, Palestine and the War on Terror generally



Monday 19th April



7:30pm - 9pm



The Brix, St Matthews Church, Brixton Hill, SW2 1JF



www.lambeth-stopwar.org




Thursday, 8 April 2010

Greens warn that exclusion from harassment in Equality Act is "appalling"

NEWS FROM LGBTGreens In the GREEN PARTY of England and Wales



http://www.lgbtgreens.org.uk/

Welcome for Equality Act

Greens warn that exclusion of LGBTs from harassment is “appalling”

Equality Act enshrines hierarchies



8.4.10


Peter Tatchell commenting on the Act said: "The Equality Act includes many positive advances for LGBT rights. But it is appalling that harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity is explicitly exempted. This exemption applies to many institutions, including schools. Under the Equality Act, schools will have no legal obligation to prevent the harassment of LGBT staff or pupils, despite the pandemic of homophobic bullying. Gordon Brown supported this exemption, as did David Cameron."


Caroline Lucas, Leader of the Green Party, commented:

“Tories battled the Equality Bill in the House of Lords while the vote on the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 was only supported by 29 Conservative MPs[1]- the following members of the shadow cabinet voted against the bill: Kenneth Clarke, Mark Francois, Dominic Grieve, Erik Pickles and George Young. Many more members of the party were conspicuous by their absence with a Conservative turnout of 58.2%[2]


“The Green Party will continue to campaign on 6 core areas which offer the strongest, most comprehensive and radical LGBT equality policies of any party:

(1) Open up civil marriages and civil partnerships, without discrimination, to both same-sex and opposite sex couples.

(2) Require all police forces to have LGBT Liaison Officers with paid time allocated within their work schedules to tackle homophobic and transphobic hate crime.

(3) End the blanket, lifetime ban on gay and bisexual blood donors.

(4) Amend the Equality Bill/Act to provide explicit protection against harassment to LGBT people.

(5) Refuse visas and work permits to "murder music" singers and others who incite homophobic and transphobic violence.

(6) Ensure safe haven and refugee status for LGBT people fleeing persecution in violently homophobic and transphobic counties.”



Phelim Mac Cafferty, National Chair of LGBT Greens stated: “There can be no doubt that the Green Party welcomes the Equality Act which will become one of the final pieces of legislation of this government to be read before prorogation. However let us also be clear: we will continue to demand that LGBT are explicitly protected from harassment under legislation.

“The Green Party has deep concerns that the way in which the Equality Act has been written may establish a hierarchy in how equalities are understood. So for example the rights of lgbt people could be pitted against those with religious beliefs.”


ENDS

David Cameron "Coming Out" Street Party

News out today that the former leader of the Conservative Party's LGBT Group is calling for voters not to vote Conservative but to vote Labour after her experiences in the party and particularly following the recent gaffe by Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling. Green Party and LGBT activist Peter Tatchell is organising a "coming out" street party this Sunday challenging "call me Dave" to distance himself from Grayling's comments and to ask what exactly Tory LGBT policies are. Don't expect a long answer.


David Cameron "Coming Out" Street Party



2pm, this Sunday, 11 April, outside Conservative election campaign HQ, 30 Millbank, SW1P 4DP



You are invited to join this Sunday's carnival-style "Big Gay Flashmob" street party.



It has already attracted over a thousand supporters on Facebook. Please sign up:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=110970195595502&ref=mf



Following the Tories recent mixed messages on gay rights, including Chris Grayling's confession that he supports the right of B&B owners to refuse accommodation to same-sex couples, the theme of Sunday's street party is:



"David Cameron: Come Out! (on gay rights)....David Cameron, what are your gay rights policies?"



"Right now, the Tories don't have any official lesbian and gay rights policies," said LGBT human rights Peter Tatchell.



"The Conservative Party annual conference has never voted for gay equality and there are no gay rights policies in any Tory policy document. The Conservatives are offering the gay community no new measures to remedy the remaining vestiges of homophobia.



"Like Gordon Brown, David Cameron supports the ban on same-sex civil marriage and the lifetime ban on gay blood donors. This week, Cameron blocked government plans to ensure that all pupils receive sex education and education to counter homophobia from the age of 15," said Mr Tatchell.



Co-organiser, lesbian environmental activist, Tamsin Omond added:



"David Cameron talks about gay rights but he hasn't got any specific gay rights policies. He isn't saying what he would do for gay people if he became Prime Minister. We want to know.



"Sunday's street party will be a lot of fun. We hope David will join us. This is his big opportunity to end the confusion and outline his policies to ensure gay equality. We want him to join us - and to bring Chris Grayling too," she said.



Further information:



Tamsin Omond 07878 535 968



Peter Tatchell 0207 403 1790



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