Tuesday 23 August 2016

Labour leadership candidates answers to SERA's questions

Both leadership candidates have now supplied their answers to the Labour Environment Campaign (SERA) questions.

This is Jeremy's response

.......... and this is Owen's

I will leave you to make up your own minds but on first reading there doesn't seem to be much difference in their answers. Being the cynic that I am I do actually wonder who it was who penned these responses.

SERA Campaign

The SERA Breath of fresh air campaign is referenced in the answers and this is the link to the relevant pdf.

This is a national initiative yet many of the levers of change are accessible at local level. for instance, the task of monitoring air quality is undertaken by local authorities which for us is Amber Valley Borough Council. Upon investigating their air quality annual reports I discovered that Bridge Street in Belper, despite being a key monitoring location has not been tested since 2008. The records show that there was a 10% increase in certain classes of air contaminants between 2004 and 2008 even though the readings were still below the maximum permissible standards.

The next step should be to read the SERA fresh air pdf and you might also find this SERA article by Samantha Heath - Campaigning against polluted streets to be of interest.

Monday 22 August 2016

Re-posting: Labour Environment Campaign questions for Corbyn and Owen.

BelperStuff does not normally repost articles but this simple set of questions does not need any interference from me. If you want to know more about SERA (the Labour Environment Campaign) then try this link to their house magazine, New Ground.

The following was emailed to SERA supporters this month:

Labour Leadership Election 2016

In just under seven weeks (this was posted on 9th August)  we will meet in Liverpool for the results of the Labour Leadership Election and Party Conference.
So far in this campaign the challenges of climate change and the need for a strong and progressive set of environment policies has not been given sufficient prominence, indeed it wasn’t mentioned at all at the last hustings. It is time to change that.
We’ve produced the following questions to ask Owen and Jeremy, will you join us and ask them too?
1. Ambition: What do you think are the key environmental challenges ahead?
2. Challenging the Government: The government is not on track to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, will need to fulfil commitments agreed at Paris and agree new commitments flowing from COP21 in the next two to three years. How will you and your team hold the government to account and encourage them to pursue a stronger environmental agenda?
3. Brexit: There is a huge threat to environmental laws, protections and enforcement due to Brexit? How will you work with NGOs, SERA and across parties to get the best deal post-Brexit for the environment and challenge vested interests seeking to water down commitments?
4. Devolution: There is an important role and agency for the nations, combined authorities, Mayors and local authorities in driving strong environmental agendas. How will you work, support and further empower sub-national organisations in tackling climate change and securing ambitious environmental policies?
5. Mainstreaming: How will you mainstream progressive environmental policy, not just promoting ‘green’ policies like increasing recycling or biodiversity but across all areas of policy: housing (low carbon homes), economic development and growth (green jobs, skills and businesses), transport, procurement, and energy.
6. Just Transition: What is your commitment to ensuring people aren’t left behind in the move to a low carbon society, such as connecting environment programmes to former industrial areas (green jobs), promoting co-operative energy to give people a stake; and challenging climate change skepticism?
7. Inspire Members: How will you promote a strong environmental agenda within the Party and work with SERA to inspire members, activists and organisations? Also SERA runs a number of campaigns. SERA is currently campaigning on air quality and supporting a call for a new Clean Air Act. Will you support A Breath of Fresh Air and join a growing number of Labour MPs, MEPs, AMs and councillors demanding action?
At SERA we believe Labour must challenge the government on its environmental failings and that our party campaigns on an ambitious and progressive environmental agenda which can inspire voters and help us win elections. This is an agenda across policy areas including the opportunities for green jobs, improving the standard of living with access to clean air and green spaces, low carbon housing, more and cheaper renewable energy, and improved public transport.
We have sent these questions to the leadership candidates, and encourage you to challenge them on progressive environmentalism too. 

Saturday 20 August 2016

Weep for the voiceless, who have known the cross without the crown of glory!

Weep for the voiceless, who have known
The cross without the crown of glory!

I have been struggling these past few weeks with my own innate pedantry. Faced with a choice of two opposing trenches in the Labour Party leadership battle I have been scoring the mud spattered candidates on their inconsistencies and inabilities. There is much that has disturbed me .......... from the shadow chancellor proclaiming on a public platform that 175 Labour MP's were "f*****g useless" (see it here - an embedded video in a New Statesman article) to Corbyn's idea that extending the right to buy to private tenants would solve the housing crisis (he is quoted here on Labour List in June 2015) , and I could go on with many other issues where I find myself to be at odds with the Corbyn agenda.

Let me be pretentious for a moment

I have to say that I am unconvinced by many in the Labour Party who oppose Corbyn, just as I was in the 2015 leadership contest where I had a choice of 3 who promoted varying degrees of continued austerity but the only anti-austerity candidate was a man who claimed Hamas and Hezbollah as friends ........... that was not a choice so I voted for nobody. I will not make that mistake again. Now we are where we are, staring at each other from entrenched positions whilst between us no-man's land is pock marked with shell holes of distortion within which lay the casualties of the Labour war ............... the voiceless whose only hope is a return to a Labour government. 

The Joseph Rowntree Trust state that there are 13 million people living in the UK who do not have enough to meet their needs. It is they who suffer from austerity but gain nothing if Labour does not get back into power ............ that's 20% (and rising) of the population whose only hope is that the Labour Party wins the next general election.

The crux of the debate

That for me is the crux of the debate; not as some term it a battle for the soul of the party, nor is it a clash of ideologies however hard some try to push that idea. Even though it is tempting to make comparisons with the 1980's and the expulsion of Militant Tendency or the struggle for supremacy of the Bennite purists and the pragmatism of Wilson .................. this now is a different debate .............. should the Labour Party be a broad based movement tolerant of shades of opinion from far left to social liberalism (as expounded by L.T. Hobhouse) and thus attract voters from left, right and centre or should it redefine itself as an expression of grassroots power. I detect a sense that we are revisiting the debate of 1906 where the alliance of trade unions and socialist political groups, coexisting under the Labour Representation Committee banner, decided to call themselves The Labour Party. The core of that historic decision was that the party would seek to promote the interests of those it represented via the ballot box; to gain power through Westminster. Thus was born the Labour Party that gained so much success in the following 100 or so years. The idea that a balance between ideology and pragmatism would be electorally successful and result in such radical social change was but the stuff of dreams in the 19th century. Electability was the key.

Current UK polling for the 2020 general election. Source: link to Wikipedia
UK Opinion Polling for the 2020 election including polls which started on or before 12th August 2016 (moving average is calculated from the last ten polls)
  Liberal Democrats

The decline in Labour support following the EU Referendum in June is marked. I am afraid that Corbyn's assertion that he will have to appeal to potential Tory voters only elicits a shake of the head in disbelief. So back to Oliver Wendell Holmes:

A few can touch the magic string,

And noisy Fame is proud to win them:--
Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them!

We are letting so many people down, by failing to get elected we condemn them to more misery, more lost opportunities and failure to live up to their potential. It's called inequality.