Tag: Conservatives

I’ve been a Green Party member, activist and officer at local, regional and national levels for ten years. But the honour and joy of working full-time for two Green politicians is a rare one in so small a party. So I thought I’d share some lessons from those seven years, things I would never have guessed before I stepped through the doors of City Hall to work in the London Assembly in September 2009. I imagine that there is nothing very special about my experiences here; that similar things could be said of members and politicians in the Labour Party, or Green MEPs. 1. Greens show remarkably little interest in their politicians Once a month members of the London Green Party can quiz their Assembly Members and MEP about their work. But when the opportunity arises, almost nobody asks them a question. Before I worked with them I knew very…

Read More Seven lessons from seven years in City Hall

One of my favourite subjects at school was geography. I remember learning about acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer, and global warming. It wasn’t until I got involved as a Greenpeace activist that it struck me: why hadn’t we sorted the third one out, yet? Read More Climate change must be our #1 priority

Anerley Town Hall is one of those Victorian projects that provide some of the few civic spaces left for local people. I’ve written to Bromley Council making clear that they need to secure its future, rather than continuing the neglect or flogging it off for a one-off lump of cash. Here is my letter: Dear Mr Thompson, I am writing as a local resident and occasional Anerley Town Hall user to feed in my views on the four options you have circulated regarding the building’s future. Regrettably, the council took the damaging decision to close the library service. This decision was the council’s, in view of funding cuts and the view – wrong in my opinion – that the new library in Penge made this facility unnecessary. But the library’s closure should not be taken as any indication of the building failing to provide value to the local community. While…

Read More A future for Anerley Town Hall

One of the many abuses of the English language in mainstream political parlance is the denigration of ideology. Defending his government’s cuts to public spending, David Cameron wrote in 2011 that: This is a government led by people with a practical desire to sort out this country’s problems, not by ideology. More recently, Nick Clegg attacked Michael Gove’s education policies as ideological, reportedly saying: Parents don’t want ideology to get in the way of their children’s education In fact, Nick Clegg really appears to have it in for ideology because he attacks it all the time. He said a couple of weeks ago: I don’t take an ideological approach to public spending. But it isn’t just our dear leaders trying to avoid the whiff of ideology. You hear it all the time – the Government’s cuts are “ideological” (i.e. bad), the Green Party’s opposition to nuclear is “ideological” (i.e. invalid).…

Read More A defence of ideology

Aled Dilwyn Fisher and Adam Ramsay have kicked off another little debate about the recent past and possible future of “the left”, following a total failure to seize the much-vaunted opportunity created by the massive financial crisis in 2008. Why did anyone except the hard left – not known for their astute political realism – believe that we were likely to see a reshaping of international capitalism in 2008? Governments regulating and administering the major economic powers and their possible successors approaching national elections almost all lined up behind what Aled succinctly calls “deficit fetishism”. Even Obama’s green-tinged stimulus is undermined by States doing the exact opposite. Adam is interested in narratives about greedy bankers and corrupt politicians, governments running out of money and youth unemployment spirally. Me too, but his writing verges on a pointless delusion – that “we”, a small rabble of bloggers and activists on the fringes…

Read More Never mind the narrative

The self-appointed TaxPayers’ Alliance have published a shoddy demolition of The Spirit Level, which kicks off by claiming that “the best way of getting rich is by satisfying or anticipating the wants of other people”. Apparently they are ignorant of advertising (shaping and creating the wants of other people), which is projected to reach £531bn globally by next year. That’s roughly the same amount that the UK Government brings home in tax revenue. Or to take a specific example, research from 2008 suggested that American drugs companies spend roughly twice as much on advertising as they do on research – getting rich by promoting cash-cow drugs instead of researching much-needed medicines. Apparently they missed the collapse of the global financial system in the past few years, which was triggered by companies getting rich through risky trading practices far distanced from the wants of people outside the financial services sector. Those…

Read More The CrapAnalysis Alliance strikes again

February feels a distant memory. Back then, the Conservative Party released a report called Labour’s Two Nations, attacking Labour’s 13 year record on inequality. Britain had become (they suggested) a society of low taxation on the rich and high marginal rates on the poor; under Labour, risky personal lending inflating a housing fantasy replaced prudent saving and improving housing affordability. So do the Conservatives now care deeply about inequality? Darren Johnson put the London Assembly Conservatives to the test this week, proposing that the Mayor of London implement Cameron’s policy of a maximum 20:1 pay ratio in the Greater London Authority group. Here’s the response of the Conservatives: In case you’re fooled into thinking that Darren and the Greens are ignoring the low paid, read Darren’s arguments in The Guardian. If we’re all in this together, shouldn’t government bodies ensure that the lowest paid receive a living wage whilst preventing…

Read More Are the new new Right in this together?

Halifax have published a great little fact sheet on some key housing trends over the last 50 years. The most dramatic is that the cost of buying a home has risen 273% above incomes over that period, with the sharpest rise during the 2000s when they rose by 63%. This is the increasing cost of housing adjusted for increases in income; or adjusting for inflation to state rises in real terms, for economists. Imagine if food or heating bills rose that quickly compared to incomes! Whilst the property-owning journalists hail this rise in house prices, more and more people are squeezed out of the market, or forced to sacrifice huge chunks of their salary to repay mortgages. Jenny Jones published a report on the housing crisis in London recently. She shows that over the past decade the cost of buying a home doubled in London, well above the national rise…

Read More The cost of housing doubles in London

For your average closet climate change denier or otherwise-stuck-in-the-mud politician, the Balance is a great weapon to deploy against evidence-based policy. “Of course we want to tackle climate change”, the argument goes, “but we must strike a balance between this and [insert contradictory aim here]”. If they understand the science of climate change, and have read the work of the Committee for Climate Change, they’d quickly realise they were asking for a balance between right and wrong, or more correctly and plainly for the wrong policy; you can’t really find a middle ground. So lately we see lots of senior Tories running this trope in an attempt to rein in the green public face of the Conservative Party (despite the party demoting most of its green lights to the back benches). Riding the resurgence of denial in the Telegraph and Spectator, these MPs are boldly defending their right to ignorance.…

Read More Can you balance right and wrong?

This one is a no-brainer for blog action day. The UK’s Committee for Climate Change has called for it, Boris Johnson of all people includes it in his air quality strategy, and it will help people save money as energy bills rise. The Government should set-up a boiler scrappage scheme (and you should sign the petition). Let people trade in old, inefficient boilers for new ones, or at least to get a massive discount. They did it for cars to help an ailing industry, why not do it with boilers to promote jobs across the country, cut carbon and help vulnerable households? This fun little gimmick is of course one small piece of the unprecedented housing puzzle. How exactly do we cut emissions from heating, cooling and electricity by 90-100% across all the nation’s buildings in the next twenty to thirty years? The technical challenges are big enough, and with…

Read More Scrap those old boilers, politicians