People’s Climate March #COP21

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Can you spot Mum? Hint: she's the one on the left looking right at the camera with a beaming smile!

Can you spot Mum? Hint: she’s the one on the left looking right at the camera with a beaming smile!

 

Mum and I took to the streets of Liverpool for the People’s Climate March on Sunday – and we were papped by the Liverpool Echo!

I would have liked to have been a part of the madness in London but I’m proud to have been part of this smaller scale march. I think the fact that lots of peripheral cities worldwide were involved in the demonstration would have made our message to the world leaders at the climate summit in Paris all the stronger.

 

Me at Climate March in Liverpool

Me with my homemade banner!

Hey Mr Cameron, if you think this ‘migrant crisis’ is bad… you’ve got another thing comin’

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Climate Change Migrant Crisis

Picture: cjournal.info

 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to down-play the horrific reality of what Syrian refugees are going through/have been through, and I also don’t mean to down-play the compassion and pure humanity shown by the likes of the Germans cheering in their new habitants as comrades and as equals. But I do mean to highlight that this is only the tip of a very large iceberg. (You’ll see what I did there…)

All this talk about ‘how to accommodate’ these poor people has got me thinking. In many respects, Mr Cameron, I am tempted to call this ‘migrant crisis’ a practice run… or a warm-up exercise (another aptly-chosen description there) for British politics. I say this because, at the rate that climate change is happening, in approximately 30 years time we’ll be facing a refugee crisis on a colossal scale, and unlike any crisis humanity has had to overcome before. In choosing to ignore or put-off what we now know we must do (that is: switch to renewable energy) we are self-destructing. One of the primary and major effects we can expect from the start of this self-destruction is that large areas of our planet will soon become uninhabitable. The soils of Sudan will become too scorched to cultivate crops as the Sahara Desert expands and the low-lying Pacific islands of Tuvalu will disappear altogether. This, in turn, will result in the biggest mass migration the world has ever seen.

As Ellie Mae O’Hagan states in Mass migration is no ‘crisis’: it’s the new normal as the climate changes:

There is only one problem with calling this phenomenon of migration a crisis, and that is that it’s not temporary: it’s permanent. Thanks to global climate change, mass migration could be the new normal.

 

It seems like a good idea, with all the ‘confusion’ (in both the media and parliament) between the terms ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’, to state the definition of a refugee:

a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

 

Quite categorically, the developed, first-world countries such as the UK and the US are largely to blame for industrialisation, over-consumption, and the speed at which we have heated up our planet, and thus when the time comes, they will need to take responsibility for our many millions of displaced brothers and sisters. There is no dispute here, these will not be ‘migrants’ these will be refugees and the developed world has a moral responsibility to provide this refuge.

Mr Cameron is currently planning how the UK will take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years. Once he’s done with that, I suggest he has the foresight to either start planning the overhaul of the UK’s energy system (that’s if we’re not too late)… or start planning how the UK’s going to meet the real ‘swarm of migrants’.

 

“Britain needs an energy policy for the Big 60 million not the Big 6”: Why JC’s getting my Labour vote

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I went to Jeremy Corbyn’s super-oversubscribed rally on Monday 3rd August (and it has taken me an obscene amount of time to write about it). It made all the news for its mad turn-out. There was a queue all the way round The Camden Centre and down the road past St Pancras. I’d only managed to get an overflow ticket so I didn’t expect to get inside to hear the speakers but we were squeezed in because Jeremy (it seems right to call him by his first name, weirdly. Never felt that about a politician before) wanted to see as many people as possible. In fact, he even addressed the hundreds of people left outside, by standing on the roof of a fire engine.

This man does mean business and he’s eager to prove it – in the face of right-wing media’s failing attempts to frame him as the ‘joke’ vote. But in fact, for JC it seems it’s not the vote that he’s out to get… necessarily. He entered the Labour leadership with the intention of sparking and representing much-needed left-focussed debate, and he’s done a very good job of reinforcing that (whatever the outcome on 12th September) the labour party has a lot of thinking and reparation to do to unite their efforts and gain the trust of supporters.

Votes for Jeremy Corbyn

 

When I joined the University of Nottingham in 2010, I signed up as a member of the Labour Society. I knew nothing about politics and I thought uni would be a good place to start my learning. I knew I shared some values with Labour because of my mum. She’s a teacher and a NASUWT representative so education and the public sector are up there in her list of priorities.

It turned out to be an exciting time to be joining the world of UK politics as there was a huge student backlash against the newly-elected Tory-LibDem coalition, the LibDems having proved themselves spineless and allowing tuition fees to soar. So, 10th of November, I found myself down in London taking part in that mental Demolition march with the rest of Notts Labour Society. See my post on the Anti-Austerity March where I reminisce on the event.

Anyway, politics drifted from my agenda over the course of my university years for two reasons; I was sick and tired of the state of it, and I was too busy juggling essays and fun studenty things. But by the time this year’s (my first) General Election came around, I was pretty sure of my priorities when it came to policies and that is Environment. So, while Ed Miliband was busy fannying about pandering to right-wing bollocks and losing old labour following, he lost me to the Green Party.

But I started hearing about Jeremy Corbyn back in early July, and the more I read about him, the more I liked the sound of him. I was getting that pre-election buzz all over again. JC seems to be giving the labour party that much-needed nudge over to the left and the overall feeling at the rally was one of hope and excitement. It is clear that Corbyn has rallied a huge segment of the British public whose political involvement had stagnated out of either frustration and/or self-preservation. His compassion seems genuine and, if nothing else, it’s refreshing to see him in the leadership line-up looking like they could be your old English teacher. He has this approachable, down-to-earth vibe which makes him a very likeable politician; I can imagine having a pint with him down the pub.

At risk, of making it all sound like a popularity contest… Obviously, it’s the policies that should matter, so I’ve had a good look at those – especially the environmental ones.

In a nutshell, Jezza believes in the following 8 principles:

  • Britain providing international leadership on climate change and the socialisation of our energy supply leading an end to the era of fossil fuels
  • A modern, green, resource-efficient economy – creating 1 million new green climate jobs.
  • Ensuring everyone has access to a decent home that is low-carbon and affordable to keep warm.
  • Putting people and planet first – tackling the cost of living and climate crisis together.
  • Cleaner air – tackling the air pollution crisis in our big cities and committing to full independent public inquiry into levels of air pollution.
  • Protecting our ecosystems, wildlife habitats and a compassionate approach to animal welfare.
  • An international approach – support internationally agreed, universal standards of regulation of emissions and pollution.
  • A healthy, safe, environment, where people and nature thrive together.

… which closely align with what the Green Party pledge.

 

Having read through the Protecting our Planet manifesto, the following points grabbed my attention:

Over the next few decades 8 countries, 55 cities and 60 regions are aiming to have 100% renewable electricity, heating/cooling and/or transport systems. This is what a sustainable future will look like. Britain must be a part of it.

I will examine ways to allow communities to be owners of local energy systems, with the right (as in other parts of Europe) to have first use of the energy they generate themselves.

We must take action now to keep fossil fuels in the ground – end dirty energy
handouts, ban fracking and set a target date to end new fossil fuel extraction, and
begin to phase out high polluting coal power stations with support for workers to
re-train.

Zero carbon homes must become the norm, not the exception. To achieve this requires both higher energy efficiency standards on all new builds, while maintaining planning regulations protecting our greenbelt, as well as a national home insulation programme that would save the average household £250 on their energy bill, and cut carbon emissions.

Investment in public transport will both reduce fares and reduce car use, as well as halting the rise of asthma and other preventable air pollution diseases, potentially saving the NHS £18 billion in treated illness caused by air pollution.

The British bee population is in crisis, and England has the greatest decline of anywhere in Europe. Banning neonicotinoid pesticides that are harmful to bees and pollinators must be a priority as part of a multi-faceted approach to protecting our bee population and ecosystems more broadly.

A sustainable and compassionate approach to protecting our environment must be at the heart of everything we as a Labour party propose the British electorate.

It isn’t too late for Britain to catch up, and even lead, this energy revolution.

 

You might say that the bloke is too ‘idealistic’ but where would we be without ideals?! Wasn’t it ideals that got us the NHS, gay marriage, and many other wonderful things/basic human rights?

Anyway, I’m going to leave you with this great photo of JC riding his bike through London.

Jeremy Corbyn riding bike

Picture: standard.co.uk

 

**Update** I am actually unable to vote in the labour leadership elections – I was rejected because of the Green Party propaganda posted all over my FB from pre-general election… BUT please vote Corbyn if you have been given the opportunity!

Austerity can suck my…

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Firstly, gutted I can’t be at the People’s Assembly Anti-Austerity March today 😦 I have a 50th birthday party to attend. But I’ll be thinking of all the fabulous people who’ve made efforts to get to London from all over the country to stand up for what’s right.

For some of today’s protesters, Austerity is painfully-real. Anyone with sick or disabled loved-ones, whose right to good health care is being stripped from them by the cuts, or any teachers seeing education going down the shitter, will know too well. And their participation in the march will be out of utter desperation. But for others – much like myself – Austerity has had little effect on them personally, but it is compassion and empathy that has got their arses off the sofa and into the capital. Our world could do with a lot more of those two things.

Anyway, here are a few photos from back in first year of uni when I hopped on a bus down to London with the Labour Society to march against the rise of tuition fees…

Student March November 2010 Nottingham University

Student March November 2010 Nottingham University

Student March November 2010 Nottingham University

Student March November 2010 Nottingham University

Student March November 2010 Nottingham University

Post-Election Ponderings

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Green Party

Sorry I haven’t posted in over a week now, I’ve been drowning in the sorrows of having to face another 5 years of a Tory government…

On Friday, I went Kensington Olympia for The Place in the Sun Expo with work (I do marketing for a holiday rentals company) where we had a stand. One man, looking to buy a property, came up to me and said: “you must be pleased that the Tories got in – especially as everyone’s been waiting to see how the election pans out before they buy a holiday home.” It’s safe to say I said very little in response and he soon walked his pompous arse off in the other direction.

In general, London looked pretty down and there was a solemn vibe on the train home.

It’s easy to feel despondent and helpless when politics epicly fails you, but what we need to do now is channel that anger into action, so here are a select few of the many things that you can get involved with to get that voice of yours heard:

  • Go to Speak Up For The Love Of… Day Of Action On Climate Change in London, where you can speak to your local MPs about how they propose to protect the planet – 17th June
  • Join the End Austerity Now march in London, organised by The People’s Assembly – 20th June
  • Start volunteering for the charities who protect the values of the common people that the Tory government do not share – whether that’s tackling homelessness amongst youths by helping charities such as Depaul UK (seeing as though housing benefits for under 21s is being scrapped…) or by joining a Greenpeace group.

Something needs to change in the way we do voting in the UK. Under proportional representation, the Green Party would have 24 MPs, rather than the 1 (the wonderful Caroline Lucas) that they have under the current circumstances. Although, I suppose one saving grace is that at least we don’t have 83 UKIP MPs

1 day to go! #election2015

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So with one day to go I thought I better post about my thoughts on the election before the whole thing passes me by in a whirlwind of media-fuelled madness.

Firstly, this was posted on Twitter by my good friend Nick, and it’s pure gold. Trust Brighton & Hove to nail the anti-rightwing vandalism.

Brighton & Hove - you get it

Brighton & Hove – you get it

So, as you’ve probably guessed – like hopefully a load of people in Brighton & Hove will be doing – I’ll be voting for the Green Party on Thursday.

I'm even wearing a Green Party rosette.

I’m even wearing a Green Party rosette.

I live in Streatham in South West London and I’m pretty sure that labour MP Chuka Umunna is going to win the seat in my constituency – and he’s kinda cool so I don’t really mind. Jonathan Bartley of the Green Party is getting my vote on Thursday because he’s ‘an MP who gets things done’, he’s a community activist and gets stuck in with helping real working people so he actually might have an idea of what it’s like to lead a real working life.

I know that the Green Party will not win this election but at least my vote will accurately reflect the things that I believe in:

  • A publicly funded health service, free at the point of use
  • An end to privatisation
  • A focus on mental health, and making the resources for this a priority
  • An to end austerity, and instead implement a new wealth tax on the top 1%, a Robin Hood Tax on the banks, and the closure of tax loopholes
  • A minimum wage of £10 per hour
  • A cap on rent – especially here in London!
  • A huge reduction on tuition fees (or scrap them all together)
  • A better system for teachers and teaching (my mum is a teacher and she’s fed up with the bureaucracy and rigidity of the curriculum)
  • Cheaper transport – train fares have gone through the roof

And most importantly for me:

  • Protecting the planet. The government must take serious action against climate change because as much as we must try as individuals to live sustainably, it is impossible to get everyone on board around without creating nationwide policies and global pacts. Fracking is a waste of time – we need to ban it entirely and focus this money and energy into renewable technologies before we destroy the land we live on. In fact, we need to phase out fossil-fuel based energy generation all together.

You could call my vote a wasted one, but I don’t see it that way. The more people vote for Green Party in this election, the more the new government (whoever they will be…) will have to listen to a huge chunk of the public who care about the planet and are concerned for its future, and subsequently the more likely environmental issues will be at the forefront of parliamentary decision-making.

That’s my two cents out of the way.

One more thing I have to share with you. I popped home to North Wales this bank holiday weekend to see my mum. We visited my grandma on Sunday after she’d been to her Catholic church, and she gave me a letter which was entitled ‘The General Election 2015’ and was addressing ‘Catholics in England and Wales from their Bishops’.

Now, I’m not religious in any way, but this letter seemed to strike a cord. Apart from the bit where the Bishops are casually reiterating their homophobia with a mention of the ‘true Christian understanding of marriage’, it seems that a lot of the values within this letter align with Labour and Green Party policies. Eg. Where do you candidates stand on directly helping the poorest and most vulnerable people in the UK and also helping them to transform their lives? and What are the views of your candidates on tackling climate change and supporting sustainable development? Yes Cardinal Vincent Nichols, represent!

But obviously all this went way over my G’ma’s head, as she’s voting for the tories.

Check it out… the last question in the letter asks: How in the light of the Gospel, can my vote best serve the common good? Is this a huge nod towards a Green Party vote? Green Party: for the common good…

The Catholic church are covertly telling us to vote Green!

The Catholic church are covertly telling us to vote Green!

 

Anyway, regardless of where your values lie and what you believe in, please vote tomorrow – we all have the power to make a difference so let’s not let that be wasted. If you’re thinking of not voting, watch this captivating video by Owen Jones for The Guardian.