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Friday, 28 May 2010

Moscow Gay Pride Launched

Moscow Gay Pride launched

Fifth bid to challenge Mayor’s Pride ban

Tatchell says Moscow Mayor is “criminal and should be put on trial”

Moscow – 27 May 2010

The fifth attempt to hold a Moscow Pride parade was launched today in the Grand Ballroom at the Lesnaya Holiday Inn hotel in Moscow.

Nikolai Alekseev, the Moscow Pride organizer, announced at the press conference:

“The courts today rejected our appeal against the banning of three Gay Pride rallies. We asked to hold these rallies in central Moscow this Saturday 29 May. Now we go to court on Friday in a bid to overturn the Mayor’s ban on holding a Gay Pride march through Moscow on Saturday,”
he said.

Organisers are not hopeful that the ban will be revoked.

“The Mayor’s reputation and authority is at stake. He has refused us for the last five years, ever since our first attempted gay parade in 2006. I hope he will change his mind but I doubt it. Mayor Luzhkov is not a great lover of democracy, human rights or gay people. Whatever the courts decide, the right to protest is guaranteed under the Russian constitution and we intend to exercise our rights,” added Mr Alekseev.

Today’s Moscow Pride launch and press conference was attended by international delegates and speakers, who were there to support the Russian gay activists, including Volker Beck, the German Green MP; Louis-Georges Tin, founder of the International Day Against Homophobia and President of the IDAHO Committee; Andy Thayer, the US gays rights activist; and Peter Tatchell, coordinator of the British gay human rights group OutRage! and human rights spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales.

Mr Tatchell told the press conference:

“The ban on Moscow Pride is illegal and Mayor Luzhkov is a criminal for banning it. He should be put on trial for violating the Russian constitution. The real criminals are not the organizers of Moscow Pride, but the mayor of Moscow and the judges who uphold this illegal ban.

“President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin are colluding with this ban by failing to order it to be overturned. I call on the Russian President and Prime Minister to show leadership by publicly condemning the ban and by calling on the mayor of Moscow to lift it. They should ensure freedom of expression and the right to protest to all the citizens of Moscow and Russia, gay and straight.
“We are here to defend the human rights of all Russian people. Many different rights have been violated by the authorities. It is not just gay people whose freedoms are being trampled on.

“Russia is a great nation with a proud and great history. Many important figures in Russian history have been gay or bisexual, including Sergei Eisenstein, Peter Tchaikovsky, Rudolph Nureyev, Sergei Diaghilev, Modest Musssorgsky and Nikolai Gogol. The gay contribution to Russian history deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated, with pride,” said Mr Tatchell.



Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Ship of Fools



http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/26/ireland-economic-collapse

A grim article on what Ireland is now experiencing and the model of cuts which the Tories openly praised before the elections. I experienced a lot of this first hand on my recent visit there. I am currently reading Fintan O’Toole’s book ‘Ship of Fools’ which tells the story of the crisis. Interesting that the Coalition here are taking soundings from the Coalition there.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Irish Impressions

So exahausted after the general and local elections I went to visit my family and friends in Ireland. My travels took me to Dublin, West Cork and Maynooth, County Kildare.

I had also decided to buy tickets to attend the Dublin International Gay Theatre Festival, but this being Ireland it turned out that there were two! Apparently the directors of the previous one festival and had fallen out and just to rub salt in each other's wounds had organised both of their festivals for the same week. It remeinded me of the witty remark of the Irish writer Brendan Behan who wrote: "The first item on the agenda of any Irish meeting is the split." I saw a number of good productions there ranging from a group of insane Australian drag queens called 'Drags Aloud' to James Joyce's only play 'Exiles' on open relationships, but given a gay twist, which was performed in the James Joyce Centre in a wonderful Georgian house with splendid ceilings. I also visited a wonderful pub called Kavanaghs situated beside the gate into Glasnevin cemetery, which I had not been into since I was at school in the nearby St Vincent's. The interior is wonderful - totally unchanged since about 1890 and is mentioned in several of Joyce's works in connections with wakes after funerals. It is affectionately known in the area as 'the gravediggers pub'.

West Cork was splendid, although I only had time to spend one night in the tiny village of Ballybritain, with my friend Geoff, now Head of History at Cork University, and his partner Celia. Geoff Roberts is a leading historian on the life of Stalin and his era and has just spent several years researching the life of Marshal Zhukov, the Soviet Supreme Commander in World War 2 and who is regarded as the military commander who defeated Nazi Germany on the Eastern Front. Geoff had been to interview Zhukov's wife in Moscow and I think a book is forthcoming soon. He has written books on 'Stalin as war leader' and 'Victory at Stalingrad. The battle that changed history'. Geoff and Celia are living in the former parish priest's house in the village which is directly opposite a huge Marian shrine, complete with statues of the Virgin Mary and St Bernadette. Rather appropriate for the only two self confessed atheists in the village!

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/ias/visitingfellows/07-08/geoffreyroberts/

Returning to Dublin I met up with some of the disaffected former Greens in Ireland, including former MEP, Patrician Mc Kenna, former Councillor, Bronwen Maher and current councillors Pat Kavanagh from Wicklow and Chris O'Leary from Cork, all of whom have resigned from the Irish Green Party over its sharp turn to the Right and role in the current coalition government. They are holding an event in Dublin on June 26th called 'The Emerald Forum' for all those ex Greens and others disillusioned with the stance of the current Irish Green Party. I am also hoping that one of them will be a guest speaker at the Green Left AGM on June 19th in London. There are many parallels between the situation of the Irish Greens in the coalition and the Lib Dems here. Both are locked into their respective deals as leaving would invite destruction at the hands of the electorate. This is why I placed a £10 bet yesterday with a friend that the Lib Dems will see out at least 4 years in the current coalition. The situation in Ireland is so bad that 3 constituencies with no MPs have been left over a year without a by election being called because the government is terrified of losing its paper thin majority in the Dail (Irish Parliament).

The effect of the economic collapse is everywhere visible - empty office blocks and shops to let. Many public servants have had their salaries slashed by as much as 15% and my brother who works for the Irish Times is bitter that he has to work one extra day per week for the same salary. The government drones on that the corner has been turned and that the uplift is coming but as unemployment grows, emigration to Canada and Australia increases - I even saw an ad on a Dublin bus for work visas in Australia. The medicine which the Irish have swallowed is being recommended to all others in the EU and is what the Tories also have planned for us. Indeed many people in Ireland told me that a similar dose would be administered to the UK in the near future by the Coalition. The impact of being in the Eurozone has had a particularly damaging impact on Ireland and several people told me that they questioned whether the Euro would continue or whether Ireland would remain in it. But it seems that like the Bourbons, the Irish have learnt nothing from history. The government still boasts of the lowest rate of corporation tax in the EU, while the multinationals having got their tax breaks up sticks and head off to Eastern Europe. There are many lessons, both economic and political to be learnt from the Irish experience.

A quote from Joyce springs to mind: "Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow."


Saturday, 8 May 2010

Thank you

Firstly, I would like to thank all of those who voted for me in Vauxhall. I am afraid that we were squeezed by the large turnout and the increase in the Labour vote across Lambeth. Interesting that there also seems to be some Tory support developing in Vauxhall also - probably the luxury flats along the river - they were just behind the Lib Dems.

My colleagues in Herne Hill dramatically increased the Green vote there and if it had not been for the general election on the same day, I am sure that we would have seen at least one Green councillor there. Sadly Lambeth will now be without any Green representation for the next four years but I am sure that the Lambeth Green Party will continue to play a role in the political life of the borough. As for Vauxhall, it appears that we may be having a general election within a year, the way that things are working out at national level. I sincerely hope that the Lib Dems will hold out for general electoral reform which would alter the political landscape incredibly. But we will have to see.

I did not get home until 9am yesterday morning after the count and then the local election count was yesterday. Obviously the big news of this election was the success of Caroline Lucas in Brighton - we finally have a radical Green voice in the Commons. The other high for me was the defeat of the BNP in Barking.

I am now going away to Ireland for a week to see family and friends. I will take up this blog in some form when I return. Once again, thanks to all of those who supported me in Vauxhall and Prince's ward.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Vote against the war tomorrow


Stop the War Coalition have issued the statement below re the general election. The Greens are the only main party calling for an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of troops. In Vauxhall Kate Hoey has not responded to the survey and neither has the Tory candidate (not altogether surprising). Caroline Pidgeon for the Lib Dems has stated that they support continuing the mission for the present. As a Green Party candidate I have been opposed to the war from the start and am on the national committee of Stop the War Coalition.

As STWC rightly point out, there has been a conspiracy of silence from the main parties about the war. But billions of tax payers badly needed funding for schools, hospitals and jobs is being poured into this futile conflict and thousands of lives, both Afghan and British are being lost. A vote for me is a vote against the war and Trident and nuclear weapons. The generals and the arms industry want to continue feeding the insatiable appetite of the war machine. Vote against the war - vote Green tomorrow.



 HOW TO USE YOUR VOTE AGAINST THE WAR



Stop the war's lobbying database can help you decide how to

vote against the war in Thursday's election. Thousands of

people have used it to question their candidates on a range of

issues concerning the "war on terror".



Of those who replied so far, 17 per cent of Labour and 17 per

cent of Liberal Democrat candidates support our call for the

troops to come home. Many of the smaller parties have higher

pecentages of candidates opposing the war. Not one

Conservative candidate has supported the call for the troops

to be withdarwn.


HOW TO LOBBY YOUR LOCAL ELECTION CANDIDATES

* Go to http://bit.ly/91ATZw

* Enter your post code

* Complete the survey (takes one or two minutes)



**********************************

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Richard Littlejohn and the Daily Mail come out for Kate Hoey in Vauxhall

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1271450/GENERAL-ELECTION-2010-Ive-tell-people-vote-.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Yes, its true. Littlejohn, the voice of bigotry and the Right has come out for Kate Hoey in Vauxhall. Littlejohn writes: " Elsewhere I would back decent constituency MPs such as Kate Hoey in Vauxhall..." Nuff said.

Top ten policies from our costed manifesto

Only two days left before the election. Here is a bird's eye view of what the Green Party is offering in this election. All of them are costed. For a radical alternative in Vauxhall - vote Green.


Green Party – top ten policies from our costed manifesto.

The full version can be read online at  http://www.greenparty.org.uk/




1. Stabilising the economy

Regulate the financial sector, permanently tax bankers’ bonuses and introduce the Robin Hood tax on international financial transactions, while reducing corporation tax for small firms.

2. Creating jobs

Create one million jobs in areas such as local manufacturing and food production, public transport, renewable energy, home insulation and repairing and recycling goods.

3. Education

Abolish formalised SATs testing for 11 year olds and reduce the huge paperwork burden on teachers. Protect schools and universities from cuts and privatisation, and abolish university fees.

4. Protecting public services

Protect public services from cuts and privatisation: keep the NHS public, protect Sure Start nurseries, re-open Post Offices, abolish charges for prescriptions and dentistry.

5. Pensions and care for the elderly

Introduce free social care for the elderly as in Scotland and raise the basic state pension to £170 a week.

6. Affordable housing

Take action to ensure that the million empty homes nationwide are brought back into use; introduce free home insulation for all homes within 5 years; and enable local councils to build new council housing again.

7. Transport

Redirect transport funding towards public transport, regulate the buses and renationalise the railways to ensure we have affordable and reliable public transport in the future. Improve cycle routes and pedestrian safety measures.

8. Youth facilities

Double spending on out of school services for young people to give them something to do and somewhere to go and introduce a national youth volunteering programme for the under 18s.

9. Climate change and energy security

The UK should lead the world by example in tackling climate change: energy efficiency measures in buildings, reducing travel miles by providing services like Post Offices locally and localising the economy, investment in renewable energy rather than nuclear power.

10. Democracy and Parliamentary reform

Replace the House of Lords with a fully elected second chamber; decentralise power to local councils and communities; restrict the lobbying power of big business over MPs; prevent MPs from holding directorships and consultancies that stop them being full-time MPs and may result in conflicts of interest.

The Irish vote

The Irish Post newspaper, which is the main paper for the Irish community in Britain published an article last week entitled "The Irish in government". The article by Paul O'Donovan had this to say about the Green Party and the Irish. It is in the May 1st issue but the article itself is not online.


“ The Irish community are also well represented in the Green Party.


Dubliner Joseph Healy is contesting Vauxhall against incumbent Kate Hoey who defends a 10,500 majority. Hoey, of course, grew up in Northern Ireland and has been active on the subject for some years. Healy hopes to increase the Green Party’s showing from the 4.6% of the vote taken at the last election.


The Green Party could well find support amongst the former Labour supporters in the Irish community. Its manifesto which calls for redistribution of wealth, a living wage and a state pension of £175 a week will be popular with many traditional Labour voters. While the party holds two European Parliament seats and has a growing influence on councils across the land, it has struggled to get a foothold at Westminster. There is though a good chance of that party leader Caroline Lucas will take Brighton Pavilion with a good showing also expected in Norwich South.

Other Irish representatives standing for the Greens include Limerick born Gayle O’Donovan in Hulme and Manchester Central and second generation Romayne Phoenix in Lewisham West and Penge. Another Limerick connection comes with former London Assembly Member Noel Lynch who is running the party’s campaign in the London region.”

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Manifesto Partido Verde en Portuges

Here is an abridged version of the Green Party manifesto for the Portugese voters of Stockwell and Vauxhall. Madeira Day cancelled today because of the rain but hopefully will go ahead soon.


A equidade é o que vale a pena lutar




O sistema bancário

O partido verde não iria salvar os bancários com dinheiro do estado – isso é, com o dinheiro da citadão. Nos vamos lutar para uma solução juste para o sistema financeiro, criando bancos de credito mutual, uniões do credito e pequenos bancos de comunidade, para fornecer emprestimos realisticos.

Nos lutaremos para introduzir uma Commissão de Altos Vencimentos, para assegurar que os bancários e dirigentes não seríam permitidos á receber um bonus como prémio para as suas falhas.


O Serviço Nacional de Saude

Mais que um bilhão de libras se destinam para a privatização; este é um desperdiçio. Embora a qualidade dos serviços medicos é sempre muito pior quando os hospitais e clinicos são organizados ao modélo dum ‘negócio’ em vez do modélo dum serviço público.

O Patrido Verde está contra a privatização, nem quer cortar ou fechar os serviços públicos. Reclamamos uma série completa de serviços locais, accessiveis á todos. Queremos que o pedicure sería mais accessível, e receitas médicas gratuitas á todos. A consulta inicial de oculista, além dos serviços dentais, deveríam tornar-se gratuitos mais uma vez á todos, como antigamente. Actualmente há falta de dentistas no serviço nacional de saude, Queremos que todos teríam accesso á dentista sem problema.


A pensão do velhice e serviços para os velhos

O Partido Verde quer ver uma pensão de aponsentadoria de £170 por semana, sem condições da situação financeira da pessoa. Além disso, um serviço gratuito de cuidados sociais. Queremos introduzir um programa de isolamento térmico da habitação, gratuito para todos, com prioridade aos velhos e ás pessoas que não têem condições para pagar o aquecimento da casa.

A habitação

Na inglaterra há falta de boa habitação de preço razoável, seja a renda seja para comprar. …./

Para facilitar a compra da casa, e para evitar que as pessoas seríam sem lar para viver, as propostas do Partido Verde incluem:-

• um programa de construção de habitação social

• preparer para serem ocupadas 300,000 habitações privados que têem sido muito tempo sem inquilino

• a renovação de 37,000 habitações sociais agora desocupadas no sector municipal

• para ajudar aqueles que não podem pagar sua hipóteca, uma possibilidade para que a municipalidade compre sua casa e lhe alugue,afim da familia tornar-se inquilino do estado em vez de tornar-se familia sem lar. Isso se chama ‘Right to Rent’.

Além destes medidas, queremos dar mais direitos, mais controle, aos inquilinos da habitação social, para dar-lhes uma voz na gestão da propria casa.

O emprego e o salário minimo

A nossa prioridade é a criação de um milhão de postos de emprego e de formação, mediante um investimento de 44 bilhões de libras. Aí incluido; energía solar, turbinas de vento, transporte publico, isolamento térmico da habitação, construção de habitação social, sistemas de tratamento de lixos e reciclagem.

Afim de reduzir a desigualidade, o Partido Verde lutará para um salário minimo de £8.10 por hora.


Os transportes publicos

Os bilhetes de trem na inglaterra são muito caras, mais que em quase todos os outros paises de Europa. O Partido Verde iría re-nacionalizar os transportes ferroviários afim de melhorar os serviços de transporte e reduzir o preço de bilhete. Nos vamos dedicar £1.5 bilhões aos subsidios de transporte para baixar o custo ao passengeiro, alguns bilhetes por 10%.

Em vez de £30 bilhões actualmente planificados para os projectos de melhoramento de estradas, iríamos investor-lo em transportes publicos assím criando 160,000 postos de emprego.

…E como vamos pagar todo isso ?

Segundo os nossos calculos, podemos realizar um rendimento adicional do estado de mais de £90 bilhões, mediante mais impostos para os ricos e para as empresas grandes, impostos nas atividades polluintes e nas transações financeiras, e por fechar muitos escápatórias fiscais além de isencões e concessões que afeitam apenas os ricos. Os programas que vamos cortar são o nova sistema de armas nucleares (Trident) e os bilhetes de identidade; terminar estes dois programas iría liberar ao menos £12 bilhões por ano.

The unanswerable case for electoral reform

Richard Moore writes in today's Independent on Sunday about the case for electoral reform. Having voted in elections in the Irish Republic under PR and STV, I was shocked by the primitivism of the first past the post system when I arrived in the UK in the 80s. Thatcher and Blair would never have received the huge majorities they did under STV and the resulting arrogance of the one party state would not have happened with all sorts of consequences for the miners strike, Iraq war and other issues. Greens support the STV system of PR and hope that the Lib Dems will not settle for the grossly inferior option of the AV list which Labour is currently offering. The danger is that if the Tories win, which some polls are suggesting, electoral reform will be jettisoned for at least another decade.


Electoral reform: Clamour for change grows



The case for ditching our first-past-the-post voting system is unanswerable, writes Richard Moore. But we need truly proportional representation, not the bogus alternative that Labour is offering.


The Conservatives are campaigning for "change" and "choice". The Labour Party's mantra is "a future fair for all". Both cling to an electoral system that restricts choice to a minimum and entrenches unfairness.


Since the flappers, as young women were dubbed in the 1920s, got the vote in 1928 and females became electors at the same age as males, there have been 20 general elections. In three of these, May 1929, October 1951 and February 1974, the party with the second largest number of votes perversely got more seats than the party with the largest number of votes. In three others, February 1950, October 1964 and October 1974, the parliamentary majority of the winner was in single figures. In 1931, a National government was elected, led by Ramsay MacDonald who, until two months before, had been Labour PM, but who, with several cabinet colleagues, formed an alliance with the Conservatives, Liberals and a number of the eminents who stood as independents. So, in more than a third of these 20 elections, and on all the evidence their number will increase on 6 May, the electoral system did not produce the decisive majority for a single party which is claimed to be its chief merit.

But is it in reality meritorious? A large majority encourages arrogance and complacency in the first half of a parliament ("we are the masters now", as a Labour MP cried out in 1945 having just won with a landslide on 49.7 per cent of the votes cast), and fear and trembling in the second. Then the swollen ranks of government supporters realise how many of them will lose their seats on quite a small loss of votes. The arrogance and complacency may be extended over two or more parliaments, as happened after the 1983 and 1987 and the 2001 elections, if the opposition is enfeebled by incompetence and division. But in the end, panic is likely to prevail, as can be seen from the hectic disorganisation of the Labour Party in the past few months. Hewitt and Hoon may have glimpsed opportunities for golden gain by leaving the Commons, but the fact that their failed putsch was the third in Gordon Brown's short, if overlong tenure of No 10 tells much about the fearful confusion in the Cabinet.


The Daily Telegraph has rightly lamented how little understanding there has been of rural Britain since 1997. Billy Elliot, in which Tynesiders chant their hatred of Margaret Thatcher, shows how the old industrial areas felt abandoned and unheard in the 1980s. Hardly surprising, since for decades there have been almost no Labour MPs for rural seats or Tory ones from the old industrial areas. Farmers and rural craftsmen, miners and steel mill workers had, in the old phrase, "no friends at court" at times of painful economic and social change.


The Conservative Party is a unionist party. Yet one consequence of a Conservative victory could easily be the separation of Scotland from the kingdom. In the House just dissolved, the Conservatives had one Scottish seat. They will do better than looks likely if they treble that score. A Tory government – any government, in fact – will have to impose drastic cuts on public expenditure. A third of Scottish workers are employed by the taxpayers. So if an overwhelmingly English government does its duty to save the economy, it is Alex Salmond who will be rubbing his hands. In Northern Ireland, the present system freezes the electorate behind the largest unionist and nationalist parties and so helps the champions of bigotry DUP and Sinn Fein.

In a way it is to be hoped that Labour will win most seats and come third this time. The offensive absurdity of the present system would then be obvious to all. Real reform, and not the bogus allure of the alternative vote, would be hard to resist.

The alternative vote would actually increase the overlarge majorities in years such as 1997, when the general mood of the country tilts heavily in one direction. Although majorities in 1935, 1945, 1959, 1966, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1997, 2001 and 2005 gave domination to a single party, in none of these elections, except, marginally, that of 1935, has the dominant won a majority of the votes cast, let alone of the whole electorate. Such a distortion of democracy does not deserve reinforcement.

Happily, a far better system is available, the single transferable vote (STV). In this system each voter has as many votes as there are candidates in the constituency. He or she can plump for a single candidate, vote for all the candidates of their party or choose among them and among other parties. So a Conservative could choose between a Tory who has a sane attitude to the EU or one who foams at the mouth at the mention of the French. A Labour voter could back a candidate who supports a serious thinker about education, such as Barry Sheerman, rather than one who admires the brutalising, centralising policies of Ed Balls. Supporters of hunting could vote for brave Kate Hoey in the shires of south-west London and give their other votes to the local Tories or Liberals.

If the country was divided into 100 five-member constituencies, or 200 three-member ones, either of which would substantially reduce the size of the Commons, which the Conservative and Liberal Democrats want, and a substantial section of the electorate would be represented. The misrepresentation imposed by the present system, under which all Cornish seats are Liberal, all Surrey seats Conservative and all Tyne and Wear seats Labour, would be ended. But there would be no danger of undue influence from small bands of fanatics, as pertains under the list system in Israel and as did in the Weimar Republic.

All systems have their defects, but in STV they are minor. The count takes longer. The constituencies are larger, but with roughly 350,000 voters would still be smaller than for a single member seat in the House of Representatives in Washington or the Lok Sabha in Delhi. Competition within each party would increase and Irish experience suggests that this tends to favour members who press the flesh at funerals and cattle shows rather than those of the same party who are assiduous in the Dail. But this could be countered by insisting on attendance at debates and not just divisions in the Commons. If localism, another aim of the Conservatives, was promoted, MPs would have to deal with far less local detail and fewer personal problems, which should be the concern of councillors. Then MPs could concentrate more effectively on what Clement Attlee, the only Labour PM whose good reputation survives, insisted was the main duty of MPs, namely the scrutiny of legislation and of government

STV in Scottish local government has ended generations of incompetent, and sometimes corrupt, single-party domination. This is much needed in England too, as Doncaster demonstrates.

It is said that, while at present opposed to all forms of PR, David Cameron thinks STV is the best of the alternatives to the present system. He is an intelligent man and will probably soon be in the position when, recognising the obsolete duopoly has collapsed, he will have to accept that STV is necessary.

That would be real "change" and provide much "choice". The Labour Party in its deserved decline would at least be assured of "a future fair for all" rather than possible obliteration. The Liberal Democrats would belatedly rewarded.

Richard Moore joined the Liberal Party in 1951, and was adviser to the Liberals in the European Parliament from 1979 to 1996.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Todas las Voces and Immigration in this election

Today between canvassing sessions in Lambeth, I was invited to give an interview on a Latin American radio station based in Brixton. The programme is broadcast every Saturday and is called 'Todas las Voces Todas' and is available on http://www.aculcoradio.com/

There are many Latin Americans living in Lambeth and I discussed the Green Party's policies on climate change and the creation of new green and sustainable jobs. We also discussed the representative of the Bolivian indigenous movement who came to visit us in London at the time of the Copenhagen Climate Summit and who spoke on behalf of many of those indigenous at Copenhagen. I said that the main blocks to an agreement being reached there were the US and China who for their own economic reasons had put a real agreement in the bin. Also the fact that it was in many of the developing countries that the impact of climate change would be most visible at first, as was now happening in the Pacific islands and Bangladesh. We also discussed the presidential elections in Colombia where the Green candidate looks as if he could win and they told me that he is being supported by many young people there.

The subject of immigration was not discussed as such but I did refer to the many millions of climate change refugees who would be created if we did not tackle climate change both nationaly and globally.

Below is a piece on immigration written by Green Party Spokesperson and Head of Media, Spencer Fitzgibbon for the New Left Project Roundtable on Immigration.

http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/immigration_roundtable/#fitzgibbon

Spencer Fitzgibbon



The current debate around immigration only serves to highlight even further the reality that Labour, Tories and Lib Dems are essentially offering voters more of the same - and that the Green Party are the only real alternative for anyone interested in a more progressive society. All the other parties are making free with the word ‘fair’ during their general election campaigns, yet using immigration as a litmus test highlights just how superficial the commitment is to any kind of coherent social justice agenda. Just as on public service cuts, they jostle to see who can most impress the right wing media by promising to keep people out of Britain, rather than genuinely addressing the reasons why people migrate and the migratory role played by our foreign and trade policies, for example.

More than half the world’s population live on two dollars a day. To paraphrase Gary Young who put it so eloquently earlier this week in a Guardian piece, if you build a 10 foot fence and put food on one side, the hungry will build an eleven foot ladder. Nowhere in the immigration debate do we see proper recognition of the fact that it is economic inequality that drives the vast majority of migration - except from the Green Party.

I want to debunk once and for all the myth that people cannot access decent housing, for example, because of high levels of immigration. There is not enough high quality social housing because the govt has failed to invest sufficiently - and it is cowardly to use the immigration debate as a way of masking this fact. The same principle applies when it comes to jobs.

This is not to deny the experiences of the many people living in Britain today without work or a decent home. But we fail them just as much as we fail the immigrant communities that contribute so much to our culture and our economy by refusing to face up to the underlying problems. The far right is taking advantage of the lack of a proper honest debate on immigration. By failing to live up to their promises on fairness, the big 3 political parties are letting it happen. The Greens want a very different approach - a system that is fair and consistent, does not break up families, upholds the right to sanctuary and judges each case on its merits. A system that does not detain children and protects the large numbers of people living in the UK whose status is not defined. And above all we want immigration policies that are set in a context of tackling the poverty and inequality that prompt people to take the huge and daunting step of leaving their homes and familes to come to Britain.

Spencer Fitzgibbon is a Spokesperson for the Green Party.