Thursday, 31 December 2009
OK, despite significantly increasing its vote over the decade, it has no more MEPs or MPs, but that is not the true test of a political party. The true test is the influence it has on society, both at home and internationally. Clearly the biggest change politically, this decade, in terms of debate, has been the emergence of Global Warming as a major concern, high on every country’s agenda.
Without the Green Parties around the world I doubt whether this new awareness would have succeeded. Credit must be given to Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and other campaigners, but politicians respond most to political opposition. So let’s have 3 cheers for the work of Caroline Lucas, Jean Lambert and other European Greens in the European Parliament and all Green Councillors and politicians around the world who have put Green Politics centre stage.
Happy New Year!
Friday, 4 December 2009
The debate on RBS Bankers' bonuses makes one major assumption to justify the £1.5bn payout. That is that RBS investment bank made a “profit” on its dealings of £6bn. But did they really? The clue is in the title of the organisation, an “investment” bank. One thing we know about investments is that they go down as well as up and when they did so spectacularly last year, it was the taxpayer who picked up the bill, not the investment bankers.
The new International Accounting rules, foisted on the world by the big four accountancy firms, defines “profit” these days as basically the net increase in the value of the organisation i.e. the change in the balance sheet. So RBS can claim a profit, when all that has happened is that their investments have increased in value. Then, someone suddenly realises that those over-valued assets in Dubai really are just piles of sand and suddenly those profits built up over several years disappear. Do the bankers then pay back their bonuses? Not on your nelly!
In other words we all learnt last year that “investment” banking is just “casino” banking, where the dealers hold all the cards. The other factor about profits is that to generate them, someone has to make a loss. Often it is you and me through our pension funds, which despite the gains in the stock market over the years, continue to disappoint pension holders. Equitable Life anyone?
The government should veto the RBS bonuses and call the RBS directors' bluff. After all governments around the world now hold large shareholdings in many of the banks. If they all agreed that these bonuses are obscene and built on Dubai sand and acted together to curb the avarice of the financial establishment, we may yet see real change in the way the banks do business.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Why have the Police created the largest DNA database in the world? Who are they targeting? Well more than 75% of all the black men in England aged 18-35 are on the database, but the Police deny that they are institutionally racist. A similar percentage of peaceful political activists who regularly attend demonstrations are also probably on the database, judging by the evidence of the G20 , Kingsnorth and other recent demos. But the police claim that they are not politically motivated. Anyone who has attended a peaceful protest will be aware of the massive police presence, the “evidence gathering” officers with their cameras photographing every face and every car number. So even if you are not on the DNA database, your face and personal details are on the national police computer. How long will it be before the police come knocking on your door in the middle of the night at the behest of this increasingly repressive Government?
Once upon a time the old Labour Party marched for civil liberties. Now New Labour marches with a goose step, turning the Police into a para-military force, empowered to suppress our liberties and arrest us for our DNA. New Labour IS Big Brother, but does anyone really think it will change under the Tories? Don't take the chance: vote for real democracy, vote for the Green Party.
Saturday, 21 November 2009
To add insult to injury the newly created European Foreign Secretary’s job has been given to a career opportunist, who has never faced an election in her life and who owes her political career since 1989 to patronage by the Labour Party. Plucked from obscurity, she has no Foreign Policy experience but Catherine Ashton had the temerity to claim that she was the best person for the job.
The truth lies elsewhere, I think. Reports in the French newspaper Le Monde suggest that Gordon Brown cut a deal with President Sarkozy at this week's Brussels summit. In return for French support for her the Prime Minister is said to have agreed to hand Ms Ashton’s highly influential old job of Internal Market Commissioner to the former French foreign minister Michel Barnier. Both Barnier and Rompuy want to scrap Britain's EU rebate, a rebate already massively reduced by Tony Blair as a spiteful present to the UK just before he quit as PM.
Ms Ashton had only had that job a short time, put in as an inoffensive apology for quitter Mandelson, when he jumped the EU ship to take over the running of Westminster. Yet another unelected official lording it over us.
The divine right of Kings, or in this case European Heads of State, to make shady deals behind closed doors has made the famed Democratic Deficit at the heart of Europe now a yawning chasm. In any other job such blatant patronage would be illegal. These appointments are an embarrassment for the whole of Europe & we should do our best to shame these flunkies into an early resignation.
So my message to the new President and “High Representative” (accompanied by the “Agincourt Salute”) is “GO AWAY, WE DON’T WANT YOU, WE DID NOT ELECT YOU SO RESIGN.”
Thursday, 19 November 2009
According to the Government figures released to Parliament, Richmondshire District Council has seen the revenue it collects increase from £10.9m to £25.6m in the ten years to 2008 – 134 per cent in cash terms or a 78 per cent real terms increase. Richmondshire is now collecting £28.2m in Council Tax for 2009/10, another massive increase.
These are the biggest increases in Yorkshire and a damning indictment of the stewardship of Conservative and Independent Richmondshire District and County Councillors alike. This Labour Government has certainly decreased its financial support for local government in the last decade, but local Councillors have only themselves to blame for such a large increase in Richmondshire.
Dithering Councillors and above inflation pay rises for senior staff are just two of the causes for this increase. All too often it is the same councillors making poor decisions at both District and County level. We have too many County Councillors who are also District Councillors and doing a bad job at both levels. Some Councillors are clearly well past their sell-by date and need putting out to pasture. What Richmondshire needs are new Councillors with new ideas, sustainable and cost effective ideas for the 21st century.
Richmondshire Tory and Independent Councillors will increase Council Tax above inflation again next year with the highest Council Tax payers likely to be charged more than £3000 a year for 2010-11. That’s £250 a month and for what? Council Services will continue to be cut and standards decline. Richmondshire voters need to ditch these failed councillors and vote for change at the next election.
Leslie Rowe is the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Green Party in the Richmond Constituency, North Yorkshire and a Chartered Certified Accountant.
Promoted by Leslie Rowe 73 Richmond Road, Brompton on Swale, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 7HF on behalf of Richmondshire Green Party, c/o 73 Richmond Road, Brompton on Swale, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 7HF
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
David Cameron made a "cast-iron guarantee" to the public in 2007 on behalf of the Tory party, that he would hold a referendum on the treaty. Today he has broken this promise, saying only that if Europe tries to amend the constitution again, he might then give the people a referendum. A stern “don’t do it again “ from Mr Flip Flop. Yet another policy of appeasement on Europe from the Tory Party, just like David Cameron’s predecessor Neville Chamberlain.
Is it any wonder people are sick to death of politicians who time after time break their promises and focus only on lining the pockets of themselves and their friends? Unlike the Green Party, Conservatives, Labour and Liberals all rely on “donations” from big business to survive. No wonder then that they support a European Union set up to bring even bigger profits to the multi-national companies. Many local jobs have gone in the UK, as manufacturing and now service jobs are being exported to cheaper parts of Europe and the rest of the world. The City of London, once touted as the saviour of the British economy has had to be bailed out by the British taxpayer, leaving us with higher taxes for years to come.
Despite claims to the contrary, the EU is a fundamentally un-Green institution. Even if we ignore the millions of pounds wasted on flying powerless politicians and European bureaucrats around Europe, we have further billions wasted on inefficient European Common Policies. In particular the Common Agricultural Policy, which subsidises meat production, a major source of greenhouse gases and which undermines Fair Trade in the developing world. The EU spends far more on supporting a cow in Europe, than it does in supporting a human life in Africa.
The EU encourages large supermarket chains to sell brands on a European wide basis, undermining local production. We should be switching back to local production of food and local production of consumer goods, to bring useful jobs back into the UK. Similarly instead of European wide monopolies of water, electricity and gas, who declare that big power stations (including nuclear power) are the only solution, we should be encouraging everyone in this country to generate their own power through solar panels, windmills and underground heat pumps. Even the Americans, under Barak Obama, are offering US citizens $25,000 to do just that.
If you voted Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat in the last General Election, please make up your mind now to not vote for them at the next General Election. If you care about your country and the environment and want a referendum on Europe, then you should vote for the Green Party.
But even if you cannot bring yourself to support the radical and sensible solutions of the Green Party, please do not just stay at home. Make sure you vote for someone, anyone, who will allow you a say on our future in Europe. And that means voting against the cock sure Tories as well as punishing the liars in the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Meanwhile, have you noticed that the BBC and other Government propaganda outlets have stopped issuing the names of service personnel when they are killed in Afghanistan? The BBC News barely reports the increasing number of deaths as they happen, let alone admits that each soldier killed has a name and a family.
Predictably the self-appointed Prime Minister Gordon Brown has crumbled yet again under US pressure and agreed to increase further the number of British troops in Afghanistan. This is in addition to the extra 150 troops who were “temporarily” brought in as reinforcements to cover during the presidential elections over the summer and will continue to be available for further “temporary” deployments. Luckily, Brown has a new policy for the troops: for them to be kept in a “greater concentration” of forces in central Helmand province, just to make it easier for the Taliban to find them. Perhaps they will be called “concentration camps”?
Meanwhile the architect of this decade’s British military disasters, Tony Blair, has once again been condemned as a murderer by families of service personnel killed and injured in Iraq. Many of those attending the official enquiry (i.e. cover up) into the Iraq war, squarely put the blame on Blair. The Liberal Democrats at their conference joined the Green Party in suggesting that Blair was complicit in the torture of terrorist suspects. Despite all this, the “never take no for an answer” European Bureaucrats, who are foisting the Lisbon Treaty on us (against the wishes of the majority of British people), are still suggesting that “Killer” Blair should be the first “President” of Europe.
In some ways, it would be appropriate that un-elected President of an un-elected European super state should be the bastard Blair. Perhaps we could arrange for his coronation to include a ride in an open top car through Sarajevo ….?!
The good news is that the Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, is refusing to sign the Lisbon treaty. If only we can persuade him to hold out until a British General Election, just to make David Cameron and the Tories sweat over the possibility that they will be made to keep their promise to the British people for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
Thursday, 17 September 2009
The Journal said the Polish and Czech proposals would be dropped because Iran's long-range missile plans were less advanced than predicted.
However, in November 2008 Russia moved its own ballistic missiles to Kaliningrad, between NATO member states Lithuania and Poland and Russian President Medvedev suggested that Russia would jam the US anti-missile system electronically.
We in Britain should follow Russia’s example in standing up to the USA. We have suffered military occupation by the USA for more than 65 years and it is time it was ended. The US came to support the British fight against Hitler in WWII and never left. Here in North Yorkshire the US bases at Fylingdales and Menwith Hill are both part of the “Star Wars” defence shield. An illegal shield designed to defend the USA, not Britain.
For far too long, successive British Governments, particularly under that fawning lapdog Tony Blair, have danced to the American tune, without question and without pride in our country's independence. Now is the time to declare UDI, send the US occupying forces home and develop the promised “ethical” foreign policy based on peace and reconciliation with the rest of the world.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
The heads of the Royal Colleges said doctors should demand world leaders listen to the scientific evidence of climate change and implement strategies to tackle emissions that will benefit the health of people around the globe.
A failure to negotiate a strong deal will have "catastrophic" results, with those in poorest countries hit hardest by the impacts on health of drought and pressure on water resources, storms, floods and conflict.
But, "what's good for the climate is good for health", the editorial by Lord Michael Jay of medical charity Merlin and Professor Michael Marmot, director of the International Institute for Society and Health, said "The measures needed to combat climate change coincide with those needed to ensure a healthier population and reduce the burden on health services."
"A low carbon economy will mean less pollution. A low carbon diet - especially eating less meat - and more exercise will mean less cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease."
A successful outcome at Copenhagen "is vital for our future as a species and for our civilisation", whilst failure to agree radical reductions in emissions would spell "a global health catastrophe", they warned.
Dr Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the BMJ, said: "Politicians may be scared to push for radical reductions in emissions because some of the necessary changes to the way we live won't please voters.” I think she under estimates the concerns of voters, but she continues:
"Doctors are under no such constraint. On the contrary we have a responsibility as health professionals to warn people how bad things are likely to get if we don't act now. The good news is that we have a positive message - that what is good for the climate is good for health."
Leslie Rowe 16/9/09
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Even before these spending cuts, British soldiers are still being sent to Afghanistan to fight an unwinnable war without the proper equipment to protect themselves or the helicopters to move around safely. The British Government is deliberately down playing the continuing daily death toll through their official propaganda machine, the BBC.
So the death of an aging American actor and a British cook from natural causes is headline news. But for the BBC, the murder of a young British soldier, his life tragically cut short by the misguided policies of this shameless, undemocratic British Labour Government is not. Go figure.
Monday, 14 September 2009
The BBC were interviewing Peter Mandelson & were as usual allowing his particular brand of verbal diarrhoea to pollute our airways. Not once did they ask the obvious question: “who elected you, Mandelson?”
Mandelson has called for the former directors of Rover MG to be banned from being directors for taking advantage of the gravy train Mandelson's Labour Government handed to them on a plate. This from a Government minister who not once, but twice had to resign in disgrace. This from a former EU commissioner who spent his time wining & dining European millionaires, including General Gadaffi's son, just before the Lockerbie killer was released.
None of this was put to Mandelson by the Today programme. They just happily traded speculation about which lies Labour and the Tories would trot out to justify their public service cuts after the next general election. The “Today” programme is not a news programme, it is a vehicle for establishment propaganda, speculation and tittle tattle.
Saturday, 13 June 2009
A lesson in democracy? I don’t think so. The BNP had received 120,000 votes out of a total electorate of 3.5 million voters, which is less than 4 in every 100 voters in the Yorkshire & Humber region. The biggest winner on the night was the “voting is a waste of time” party. Two out of every three voters stayed at home. They could see no difference between the sleaze of the middle of the road parties and did not believe that the numerous non-Westminster parties were likely to change anything.
These non-Westminster parties were, however, the 2nd biggest winners. They included UKIP, BNP, the Green Party and numerous other heart-felt causes. With the exception of the Green Party, these were votes against something. Not in favour of a cause, but a protest against.
For UKIP & a number of other similarly titled parties, it was all about getting out of Europe. For the BNP, it was about immigration and the perceived injustice to the “indigenous” population.
The old establishment parties will attempt to ignore these protests, to dismiss them as an aberration. But they do so at their peril and at the peril of our democracy.
Sadly, democracy in the UK is now a sham, with an unelected Prime Minister leading a cabinet of unelected Lords and Ladies, most of whom would prefer to have a prime-time TV slot. The unrepresentative vote at the European Election must be seen for what it is: a stifled cry of despair from the electorate, desperate for the political establishment to listen to them and to their concerns.
If Westminster politicians continue to ignore the silent majority of the people of Britain, then before very long, rule in this country will be handed over to those black-shirted skinheads and yellow-jacketed police.
Now running an Accountancy Practice in the Yorkshire Dales, Leslie is married with 3 children at school. “Politics is a funny business,” reflected Leslie when recalling his 30 years in politics. “You will find some of the most innumerate bozos getting elected to both Westminster and Strasbourg; people guaranteed to put two and two together and get five.”
“However, they are all financial wizards when it comes to claiming expenses. We have Yorkshire MEPs who openly pay their partners from the public purse, with no pretence of being equal opportunity employers. And all MPs know that they can claim expenses worth three times their salary and do not have to pay council tax on their second homes.”
“Some of most talented and honest politicians are still knocking on the door of Parliament. Sometimes I think it is a pre-requisite of elected office that you should be too thick to be a threat to the powers that run our elected dictatorship?”
“Perhaps this explains why there are so few accountants in the European Parliament? Perhaps this also explains why the EU budget has not been approved for, what,14 years and their accounts are perennially being qualified? Frankly the EU is a cesspit of dirty money sticking to the hands of those who can stand the stench long enough to grab it.”
A 2006 audit report on corruption was kept secret until leaked earlier this year. It found money being paid to companies which did not exist and MEPs being paid full allowances for assistants when no assistants were registered as being employed.
Employees were paid bonuses of up to 19 times their monthly salary and received large "layoff" payments with no apparent justification.
“It is not as if you have to do any work after all. The UKIP MEP for Yorkshire & the Humber (Godfrey Bloom) has spoken less than a dozen times in the European Parliament during his 5 years in office and that includes a call for women to stay in the kitchen.
We need talented individuals to represent us in Europe, not jokers. People who can challenge the status quo and start cleaning up Europe. Unfortunately if you look at the lists put forward by the old grey parties, you will see nothing but the same old same old.”
Green Party candidate Leslie Rowe paused for a moment, deep in thought. “Then of course, we have the even more urgent problem of climate change …..”
You all face a difficult decision here tonight. No, I am not talking about the European Elections, the right decision on that is staring you in the face!
No, the decision to which I refer, is how you are going to face the future and the farming challenges it will undoubtedly bring.
We have reached what is called peak oil: that means that there are no more major oil reserves to find. It is down hill from here as oil stocks dwindle and competition increases. 95% of the food we eat is oil dependent - as a fuel, for fertilisers & so on.
The world will be a very different place in 20 years time. By 2030 you will not be trying to decide whether you should be putting red diesel or white diesel into your farm vehicle; because there will not be any diesel, red or white.
Along with diesel, will go plastics and pharmaceuticals, including fertilisers & pesticides, made from oil-based products. There will, ofcourse, be new products made from different materials, but by that time the level of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will have long assuaged any doubts about global warming.
The Chinese proverb talks about being condemned to live in interesting times. But changing & interesting times, give changing & interesting challenges. Are you going to complain bitterly about the changes being forced upon you, o r will you embrace those challenges and be innovative as British farmers have been over the ages?
Fashions will change. Some old practices will make a comeback, like rotation cropping and fixing nitrogen in the soil by natural means. Food production will change. Because of the shortages of artificial additives, organic farming will inevitably become more popular. Some crop yields may be down, but added value will be up and costs reduced.
The cost of producing organic food could be vastly reduced. Currently organic food is too expensive because the government is not serious about supporting it & it does not reap the economies of scale. But we are also paying hidden costs for intensively produced food through cleaning up pollution, ill health and other damage to the rural environment.
As the NFU manifesto suggests, investment in publicly funded agriculture science is an essential element of this farming evolution & must be supported. But for us that means improving organic yields, re-introducing traditional varieties & researching alternatives to chemical pesticides.
The rising cost of international transport will make import of the current vast array of out of season & exotic vegetables unviable. Improvements to farming techniques should increase the options for farmers who embrace the future and learn to live in this brave new world we are seeing being developed.
70% of global freshwater is used for agriculture and yet glaciers that feed the rivers are melting and aquifers becoming depleted.
Shifting weather patterns means that rain becomes less predictable & flooding more likely.
75% of global fish stocks are exhausted or over fished.
4.6 million hectares a year of rain forest are cut down to make way for farming - a lot of it to produce feed for cattle.
10 million hectares of farmland a year are lost to salination and erosion
We applaud the NFU climate levy scheme that has reduced CO2 emissions for the horticultural business, but is this enough?
Next year the government is introducing the Carbon Commitment Allowance scheme, where large organisation will have to pay £12 for each tonne of CO2 produced. International agreements beyond the EU will that before 2020 a similar scheme will apply to farming?
After all, food and agriculture account for around one third of greenhouse gas emissions.
There is increasing concern about food safety, fuelled by BSE & other outbreaks. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticide residues and chemical additives threaten to damage our health and wreck ecosystems. There is increasing opposition to the cruelties of factory farming and current levels of meat consumption are not sustainable. Obesity is on the rise in the UK, while people go hungry in countries growing ‘cash crops' for the West.
These trends must be reversed. Safe, good quality food, produced by sustainable and humane farming methods can be available for all. But this cannot be achieved if priority is given to the profits of agribusinesses, supermarkets and large food manufacturers.
With the use of the Internet, Farmers’ markets and origin labelling, farmers are in a better position to cut out the middleman, to fight against the increasing power of the supermarkets. However, the Green Party agrees with the NFU that there should be a proactively enforced supply chain code of practice.
You know that we could grow a lot more food in our country than we do. As the import of food becomes more expensive, we certainly don't need to import large quantities of the same food we export; this “food swapping” makes no sense and will be curtailed by cost. Much imported food comes from developing countries. To benefit the people in those countries & to be fair to British producers, it must be on the basis of fair trade not free trade.
Fair Trade is not possible within the EU given the different ways the Common Agricultural Policy is interpreted in different EU countries and the distortions it creates in the world market. Frankly we believe the CAP is a busted flush and should be scrapped completely: to be replaced with measures that promote sustainable regional and local self-reliance.
The Green Party does agree with the NFU that only areas facing real challenges to sustainability should be designated Less Favoured Areas.
We need more organic as well as local production - to reduce wasteful transport, provide local employment, and strengthen links between producers and consumers.
Most food produced in the developing countries is already organic. It is multinationals selling fertilisers and genetically modified seeds for massive profits that threaten traditional, local food security.
We do not yet know what the long-term effects of GMOs are, but the risks to the environment and our health are irreversible, so we must ban the production and import of GM food (including animal feed) and progressively eliminate pesticide, antibiotic and other drug residues.
Our agriculture policy seeks to pursue an ecologically sustainable and fairer society .We recognise the fundamental importance of those who work on the land. But industrialised farming depletes resources, pollutes soil, air and water. The result is loss of biodiversity, increased disease and overproduction. The health of growers is threatened and the food created is perceived to be unhealthy by consumers.
So, this is the decision you have to make: face the future and elect the Green Party to work with you to get the right polices for the future. Or bury your head in your fertiliser bag and vote for the old Grey parties who will do too little too late.