Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Greenman's Occasional Awards 2007

So, another year is ending and a new one about to begin, just the time for Greenman's Occasional Awards of the Year.

Services to Green Blogging Award : Jim, Daily (Maybe) (for consistently interesting posts and his Top Green Bloggers Poll.)

Best Lefty Group Blog : Socialist Unity Blog

Best Labourist Blogger : Dave's Part

Farewell to Blogging Awards :
1.Matt Sellwood
2. Metaphysics As A Guide To Lunch

Best Spoof Blog Article : Paul Kingsnorth as Brendan O'Neill

Most Welcome Political Exit : Tony Blair

Most Dramatic Political Exit : Benazir Bhutto

Most Dramatic Brit Lefty Split : Respect/Respect Renewal

Most Welcome Brit Political Split/Difficulties Award : The Fash

Most Avoidable/Regrettable Left Electoral Collapse : SSP/Solidarity in Scottish Parliamentary Elections.

Sadly Inevitable Lefty Defeat Award : John McDonnell, Labour Leadership Campaign

Rampant Sectarians Award :
1. Commenters below Socialist Unity Blog (SUB)articles

Highest number of annoying rightwingers and trolls commenting on an allegedly "left of centre" discussion site award
: Guardian Comment Is Free

Interminable irrelevant debates on religion award
: Guardian Comment Is Free

Most Boring/Predictable Election: Clegg/Huhne Lib Dem Leadership

Most Politically Important Domestic Electoral Victory : SNP, Scottish Parliament

Award for Canny Political Positioning : Scottish Green Party for "Confidence and Supply" model.

Footshooters Award For Green Blunders:
1. European Greens' Statement on Lisbon Treaty
2. Irish Greens voting to go into Government With Fianna Fail
3. English and Welsh Greens Voting for a Leader and Deputy model

Most Promising Green/Left Development : Ecosocialist International Network.

Most Creative Environmental Protest Award : Camp For Climate Action, Heathrow.

Wettest Protest Award : Campaign Against Climate Change, London, 8th December.

A Happy New Year To You All!

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Weekly Links - 30/12/2007

First, let me wish a very happy New Year to all of my readers in this, the last weekly links blog of 2007. Hopefully, tomorrow, I will have a go at the Greenman's Political Awards 2007!

This week the big story has been the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan and the shock waves that this event has caused. I am saved putting up too many links on this by the very hard work of Jim over at Daily (Maybe) who blogged on the subject with a comprehensive range of links on Thursday. Jim is ending the year on a bit of a roll, with a set of blogging resolutions and a review of the year.

Back on the Pakistan situation, Derek Wall yesterday posted an account of events there from the left wing Labour Party Pakistan, part of the All Parties Democratic Movement that is supporting a General Strike against the dictatorship.

An interesting article from the Guardian this week, noting something that I and other Green activists have been aware of as an increasingly common response (in England at least) when out campaigning and leafletting throughout this year - an anti-green backlash. There has of course always been opposition to and questioning (a certain level of questioning is always good) of environmental campaigns, not to mention ridicule and "I'm all right jack" stances. But recently this seems to be acquiring an aggressive and emotional element that was previously rare. A pop cultural manifestation of this is the mass popularity and soaring book sales of all things Top Gear and Clarksonish, and the tendency to still take the self-publicising contrarian Bjorn Lomborg seriously, as noted by Derek this week. Part of this is of course linked to quite rational suspicion of government and greenwash being used to cover shifting burdens onto poorer and middle-income sections of society. Therefore a left and social justice based response to climate change and the environmental crisis remains a high priority.

Many homes round here are still festooned with tacky or "ironic" festive light displays. (Yes, that inflatable Homer Simpson was mildly amusing the first time he appeared) Has anyone noticed how the advent of less energy intensive lights seems to have been taken as an incentive to light up even more by some? World By Storm over at Cedar Lounge Revolution blogged on Light Pollution this week - something I have felt very strongly about for a long time. Not being able to see the stars properly is yet another of those small annoying obstacles limiting our connection to our environment and the wider reality. To me it often seems that the more we are limited down to a synthetic and humanised environment the easier it becomes to ignore the effects that our actions and lifestyles have on other human beings and the natural environment.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Cornish Anti-Incinerator Campaign

The St Dennis Anti-Incinerator Group are campaigning against plans for mass burn incineration in Cornwall. They have an online petition calling for a Public Enquiry here -

There is also useful and informative stuff linked from their homepage here.

Good Luck and Best Wishes for the New Year to all groups and communities fighting the latest wave of incinerator proposals given the green light by New Labour in their eagerness to favour the greedy corporate waste giants! We shall overcome!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Seasons Greetings!

The greetings of the season to all my readers.
I will be taking a brief holiday break from blogging (barring any historic events that really demand comment immediately!).
All being well, normal service will be resumed after the festive season.


Friday, December 21, 2007

UK public service union launches green newsletter

The Public Service Union Unison have launched a new electronic newsletter, Green Unison, that you can sign up to receive here -

Not a huge leap forward, but nevertheless a welcome and positive move in the right direction. The first newsletter also reported on the recent International Trade Union conference that took place in New York -

UNISON has taken part in an international conference on trade unions and climate change in New York. The conference attracted trade unionists from around the world as well as representatives from environmental groups. Participants addressed a wide range of issues, including renewable energy, green collar jobs, the low carbon economy and how to build stronger ties between the labour and environmental movements.

UNISON policy officer David Arnold, who spoke at a workshop on the issue of carbon trading, said the conference showed how unions could come together with environmental groups on a shared agenda of green jobs and a better environment. He pointed out that at the end of the day the USA has to change because it is the biggest per capita polluter on the planet. “The way the US unions are working out what climate change means for the economy and recognising the scope for coming together with environmental groups to campaign for green jobs is a lesson to us all,” he said.

Meanwhile the Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU)continues its' work to make the Party relate better to the unions and organised workers and to be effective in presenting the Party and its' policies to that audience.

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Some Articles On The Northern Rock Fiasco

I thought it might be worthwhile posting some links on the Northern Rock situation in the UK and the broader global "credit crunch" today, including the views of organs of the Brit left.
Here is the official, establishment, BBC overview - Global Credit Crunch
And here is their tiimeline of events in the Northern Rock saga.
Here is the Wikipedia entry on Northern Rock.

Around the lefty blogs here is Dave Osler's view from Dave's Part, whilst here are comments from Molly of Gaian Economics blog on the banking crisis. Interesting with hindsight to read this from 21st Century Socialism back in October.

The SWP view here and the Socialist Party (CWI) here

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Government To Wheel Out Celebs To Push Incineration

Here is a story that did not get as much coverage as it deserved this month - Friends Of The Earth reveal that leaked information reveals a government plan to wheel out "celebrities" to promote their discredited and out of date incineration plans. These plans are of course becoming more and more obsolete as both tighter legislation at a European level and developments in waste treatment technology (such as anaerobic digestion plants)come online. Here is the FoE press release -

Government plans two million pounds PR campaign to promote incineration

The Government is planning a PR onslaught to promote the burning of waste, Friends of the Earth have revealed. Leaked Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) documents outline their controversial plans to use celebrity spokespeople to gain public support for incineration. Information obtained by FoE indicates that over £2 million pounds of taxpayers' money is planned for the scheme, at a time when DEFRA is cutting budgets in other areas.

DEFRA's plans aim to make it easier for councils to build incinerators by persuading the public that burning residual waste - waste that isn't reused, recycled or composted - is a good thing to do. In reality, the inefficiency of incinerators, and the fact that they divert waste from recycling, means
that they are much worse for climate change than other technologies. They are also extremely expensiveto build, requiring councils to sign up to at least 25 year-long contracts with massive multinational waste companies, requiring long-term financing through local council tax.

Dr Michael Warhurst, Friends of the Earth Waste Campaigner said:

"The Government is proposing to waste public money burying the dirty truths about incinerators. This "public engagement campaign" is selling outdated, expensive and polluting technology. It comes at a time when DEFRA's budgets are in crisis - it is outrageous that these plans are deemed a priority for spending when other vital work areas are facing cuts.

"If the Government really wants to help the fight against climate change, it should be aiming for much higher recycling rates, and should invest in policies to get waste out of landfill without incineration, which will reduce our climate impacts and increase our resource efficiency ."

Greenman's Occasional Organ calls on all "celebrities" that the Government might attempt to enlist to reject attempts to persuade, con or pay them to propagandise for the pollution, public health hazard and waste of resources that incineration represents.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Capitalism and Nature : Symposium at Manchester University

Advance notice of an event at Manchester University in the New Year:

Capitalism and Nature

Monday February 4th 2008

A one-day symposium at the University of Manchester organised by the Society and Environment Research Group, the Centre for the Study of Political Economy <> , and The Red-Green Study Group .
Monday February 4 2008: 10am to 5pm, with a reception to follow, at the Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.

The symposium will present and discuss a series of papers published in the September and December 2007 issues of the international journal Capitalism, Nature, Socialism .

The event is free and open to the public - but please complete the booking form
For more information contact Gavin Bridge ( , Society and Environment Research Group,


Coffee available from 10 o'clock

10:30 Introduction


* Ted Benton, The Rural-Urban Division in UK Politics
* Judith Watson, From Water to Land to Brownfield
* Commentary by members of the Society and Environment Research Group
* Discussion

12:30 Lunch


* Richard Kuper, European Agriculture in the Crucible of the WTO
* Dan Rigby and Sophie Brown, Whatever Happened to Organic? Food, Nature and the Market for "Sustainable" Food
* Graham Sharp, School Meals in England and the Contradictions of Capital
* Commentary by members of the Society and Environment Research Group
* Discussion

3:15 Break


* Bill Hopwood and Mary Mellor, Visioning the Sustainable City
* Jane Hindley, A Park for the Twenty-First Century
* Michael Cahill, Why the U-Turn on Sustainable Transport?
* Commentary by members of the Society and Environment Research Group
* Discussion

5:15 Reception,

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lib Dems Elect Orange-Booker Clegg As Leader

By a very narrow margin, British Liberal Democrats have elected former East Midlands Euro MP Nick Clegg as their new leader. Clegg, who sits in Parliament for a formerly Tory Sheffield consituency beat fellow Orange Book contributor Chris Huhne by five hundred odd votes.

Despite playing up their differences during the campaign and engaging in the odd spate of personal abuse, there was very little to choose between the two - both fundamentally committed to neo-liberal globalisation and the Euro-federalist project. The media might have detected a little more environmental concern from Huhne or a little more social-democratic populism from Clegg, but on basics they are in agreement and both contributed to the Orange Book - the Bible of the liberal new right.

So, as a Green and ecosocialist, a left Euro-sceptic and industrial unionist I have little to say about the policy implications of the result - it is more of the same that is being dished up by all three establishment parties. However, in the world of realpolitik there is maybe more to be said. For those in the smaller parties, and indeed for those in political minorities held captive in the main parties the really important political question that this might have an effect on is that of electoral reform. At the moment it seems unlikely that either of the big two British parties will implement electoral reform and proportional representation. Labour have blatantly reneged on their manifesto commitments in that area. Without a form of PR elections will continue to be fought over a few thousands of swing voters in marginal seats, subject to the full attention of the reactionary media. Blandness and conformism will continue to be the order of the day and millions will continue to be unable to vote for, or elect people proposing radical challenges to the status quo.

The chink of light is that there might be a hung parliament at the next election. This might give an opportunity for the Lib Dems to force through (as their main demand when the post-election discussions begin) a referendum on the introduction of a form of PR. This is one of the few uses for which that particular political party is fit - and something the leadership would presumably find it difficult to trade away given its' totemic value to the bulk of their membership.

So if it is true that Clegg may be more able to win over the soft Tory vote in the South - which is where the Lib Dems need to be effective if they are to achieve the strength needed to push for PR in a hung parliament - then despite his same-old-same-old politics his election may have a positive outcome in the longer term. Also, for Greens and those on the left of centre, a Lib-Dem Cameron-clone fighting it out with the liberal-Tory himself on liberal-Tory political territory would be good for us too, as it will be less likely that the anti-war, trade union and left-of-centre vote will be wooed (other than in tactical terms in clear Lib-Dem/Tory or Lib-Dem/R-W New Labour marginals). That constituency will be looking for a new home in seats where they cannot make a difference otherwise, and the Greens (socially libertarian, anti-war, environmentalist, pro-workers' interests) are the obvious choice in many areas.

Of course this is not to say that the Parliamentary electoral field is the be-all-and-end-all of politics in Britain under current conditions, far from it; but it would be nice if combat on that particular field were made easier by a fairer electoral system. Then it might be slightly easier to build the kind of real "progressive alliance" - electoral, community and industrial - that is required to confront and combat the powerful forces of reaction and aggressive ecocidal capitalism.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Wobbly Benefit Gig in Brum

Mission Print Job Branch of the IWW are running an Xmas Benefit Gig for the Fellow Worker Ryan Boudreau Memorial Fund in Birmingham on Thursday 20th December.
Ryan Boudreau was a union cycle courier who was killed on the job. The battle to organise and defend workers in the despatch and courier sector (and all other workers!) continues. An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!

The gig features -

The Dregs
Generation Terrorist
The Fallen Angels

Thursday 20th December 2007, Market Tavern (Corner of Birchall St & Moseley St), Digbeth, Birmingham

Incidentally, the despatch industry in London was the site of a briefly successful union organising drive from 1989-1992, inspired by the industrial unionist IWW and the anarcho-syndicalist IWA/AIT, detailed in the pamphlet The Couriers Are Revolting - hosted online here.
Organising in the despatch industry presents many difficulties, not least the high turnover of workers. Nevertheless, DIWU and the IWW's efforts show that things can be achieved even in difficult circumstances.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Links on Sunday - 16/12/2007

To start this week with some positive news, the Green Party won a resounding victory in a council by-election in Brighton that was seen as a crucial test in the town where there are high hopes of Britain's first Green MP. More information on the Green Party of England and Wales site here.

Returning to last week's Climate demo in London, Simon from Swindon posted a good range of video and audio clips on Indymedia yesterday.

Meanwhile, if more confirmation were needed of the rightward drift of the Lib Dems and the likely orientation of their new leader (whether Huhne or Clegg - Orange Bookers both) we see David Cameron setting out his stall for a "progressive" (cough!) alliance between the Tories and the Lib Dems. He even (choke!) mentions the Greens. (No thanks Dave - even limited local dealings with the Tories in a few areas have been ill-advised and largely counter-productive) Now this may just be dodgy Dave trying to spoil the Lib Dems' party and cause rows, but he would not be able to play the card if the "progressive" alliance was unthinkable. Mind you, with the Tories leaning towards a reversion to 19th Century protectionism and the Lib Dems becoming ever more enamoured of German FDP style economic neo-liberalism the two parties appear to be swapping economic clothes. It is an unequal and patchy process with sizeable groups of resisters, but the Tories seem keen to leave behind (at least in terms of language and presentation) the Thatcherite laissez-faire economics that are growing in popularity with the Lib-Dems, who for their part want to bury the Social Democratic legacy of Charlie Kennedy, possibly the last representative in LD high office of the Limehouse tendency. Of course, Huhne has rejected the Cameron approach - but this is probably mostly to do with him needing to keep what passes for the Lib Dem "left" onside with his leadership campaign. The main demand "progressives" should make to the Tories and the other establishment parties - whoever is in power - should be a proportional voting system as soon as possible. Without this the British people are just going to have more of the same old neo-liberal dish, with different rhetorical side salads.

Moving to blogs, the Lenin's Tomb blog hosted a good guest post by Gareth Dale on the Bali summit this week.

Just in, the Socialist Unity Blog reports on developments in Scotland around Tommy Sheridan. S.U.B. have also been covering the split in the main British far-right party, the BNP.

Overseas, Renegade Eye has been covering the developing situations in Bolivia and Argentina.

Molly at Gaian Economics blogged on the "Credit Crunch" this week. Congratulations to Molly on coming top in Jim Jay's Green Blogs poll (in which my humble efforts also appeared in the top twenty). I will get round to reviewing Molly's book Market Schmarket eventually!

Finally this week, Derek Wall has been blogging on Vegetarian and Vegan Christmas recipes and posts his recipe for vegan Xmas pudding!

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bali - Despite Concessions, World Surrenders to Bush Regime?

European politicians are doing their best to spin the shoddy "compromise" (for which read capitulation) agreement at Bali as a great global step forward and a victory for common sense. The supine BBC (Brown Broadcasting Corporation?) plays ball by presenting the US "U turn" on what was needed from and for developing countries as the main story. This is presented as the pay-off for kicking any binding targets for the US itself at least two years into the future (presumably in the faint hope of awaiting the election of an administration more amenable to actually doing anything that begins to have an impact on the massive problem)
So now we have another two years of negotiation leading up to the UN Climate Conference of 2009 in Denmark, when all the best scientific opinion tells us drastic action is needed now. This is a significant victory for the ruling class of the US and its Canadian and Japanese partners in crime.
Of course, moves to halt deforestation, and to transfer cleaner and renewable technologies to developing countries are very welcome and desperately needed, but without significant action by the big emitters in the short term these moves are not enough.
At least the French are being a little less triumphalist about the deal -

France's Deputy Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet acknowledged the deal amounted to far less than the EU had wanted.

But, she told the AFP news agency: "The public can understand that we brought the United States into the negotiations.

"It's a framework that is quite weak but which still moves forward."

Much of the agreement again rests on market mechanisms such as carbon trading which have been so weak in achieving results so far and in some cases amount to a license to pollute based on speculative assessments of what might have happened without the trade.

Friends of The Earth International response here.

Greenpeace International report here.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Global Greens Bali Statement

The Global Greens issued the following statement at the start of the Bali meeting :

Time for commitments

Alarmed by the speed of climate change and the insufficient action, particularly of those countries that bear the greatest responsibility for emitting greenhouse gases, Global Greens call for the Bali meeting to agree on a negotiation mandate to establish, by 2009 at least, a binding regime for global greenhouse gas reductions that is consistent with avoiding dangerous climate change.

Global Greens call for the Bali mandate to
build on key principles and mechanisms of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol taking into account common but differentiated responsibilities;
set a long-term goal of limiting average global temperature increase to below +2°C above pre-industrial levels;
require the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60% by 2050 compared to the 1990 level, with binding targets for industrialised countries and broader global participation in reduction efforts, in particular by emerging economies through fair and proportionate targets;
include effective and predictable financing for adaptation, incentives to avoid deforestation and forest degradation and reduce land use emissions;
make significant advances in facilitating clean technology transfer and deployment;
include the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices; and
aim to establish such an international agreement by 2009.

Global Greens maintain that reducing global emissions must not lead to other threats such as nuclear risks, including nuclear proliferation, the risk of terrorists getting control over nuclear technology, or the risks posed by the impossibility of safely disposing of nuclear waste. Nuclear power must remain excluded from mechanisms aimed at promoting emission reductionsunder the international climate framework.

Climate change must be recognised as an issue of human rights and global equity, with security implications that might threaten international peace. Global Greens consider that finding an equitable solution is fundamental for success in international climate policy, and support the principle of converging global per capita emissions.

Global Greens are convinced that a low carbon or even zero carbon society is possible and can be combined with increased quality of life. To achieve this, it is necessary to set out a binding emission reduction pathway for the coming decades to ensure investment in energy-saving, resource-efficient and renewable energy technologies.

Global Greens consider it imperative that global emissions peak by 2015, and that greenhouse gas emissions thereafter decline to a level which is sustained by the absorption capacity of natural sinks, recognising the alarming evidence in the latest science that this capacity is decreasing.

Industrialised countries must play a leading role in tackling climate change at world level. Global Greens call for developed countries to commit to domestic reductions of at least 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.

Deforestation and forest degradation, especially in tropical forests, need to be tackled in the international climate policy framework. Global Greens call for urgent agreement to develop effective global measures, in particular to counteract any negative impacts linked to agrofuel expansion. Measures to address climate change must not damage biodiversity, water and nature. They must respect the rights of local communities and be fair to developing countries. Global Greens call for a global system of biodiversity accounting linked to improved carbon accounting systems.

Global Greens insist that the international climate policy framework must also provide independent and predictable financing to assist low-income vulnerable countries in adapting to already inevitable climate change.
Global Greens support the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as a means of promoting climate-friendly technologies but emphasise that, as an offset mechanism, it is only a temporary solution. Global Greens maintain that the use of flexible mechanisms must be supplemental to domestic reductions.
Global Greens

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Climate Change : Adaptation and Vulnerability

At the time of writing the picture is still not clear as to what the implications of the Bali talks are. However, various official documents give an insight into some of the debates and talking points. An example is this UNFCCC report on Impacts, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation in Developing Countries.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change report is sobering reading indeed. Quite apart from the dire warnings of the dangers now faced by poorer people around the world the introduction suggests conservative estimates of the coming costs - by 2030 it is estimated that developing countries will require USD 28-67 billion in funds to enable adaptation to climate change. Remember, this is just an early estimate of likely ongoing costs for adaptation in the developing world, this is before we talk about the necessary mitigation measures.
Over the next few days it will become clear what the implications of the Bali meetings are - and the corresponding size of the task for campaigners and NGOs. One thing is already clear, the current US administration continued throughout the summit to be a major blockage on the route to even barely adequate international measures to tackle the defining issue of our times.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Infamous Day

So it finally arrived, after all the dishonest tinkering and showy re-dressing of the European Constitution, the rulers of Europe gathered in Lisbon to sign up to the final so-called "reform" treaty. Conspicuous by his absence was British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who apparently had some really pressing engagement with back bench MPs that led to him arriving late to sign up - after the fanfares and Euro-nationalist jamboree had passed - with an obviously embarrassed David Milliband standing in for his PM. This charade merely added farce and shame to an already disgusting display of the arrogance of the European political elite.

This blatant over-riding of the wishes of many of the electorates of Europe in the interests of the business-class and private jet elites and the messianic bureaucrats will surely provoke the reaction it deserves. In Britain the pressure for a referendum, as promised in Labour's election manifesto, must be increased and we must demand that MPs show some backbone - and let them know they will be exposed if they do not.

More on the Lisbon Treaty on the left-Eurosceptic Campaign Against Euro-Federalism website here. And here is the CAEF submission to the House of Lords EU Select Committee Inquiry on the Lisbon Treaty.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Reissman Campaign Continues

Next Monday a rally is taking place in Leeds for the sacked Manchester mental health worker Karen Reissman and her colleagues who have been taking solidarity action. Rallies took place in Manchester and London on Tuesday. The following was posted on Indymedia -

Karen is a Psychiatric Nurse with Manchester Mental Health Trust.
Karen is the Chair of the UNISON Branch and a member of UNISON’s Health Service Group Executive.

Karen has been sacked by her employer for;

• Speaking out against NHS cuts and Privatisation
• Telling people she was being disciplined
• Protest her innocence

Karen has received fantastic support from her colleagues who are currently on indefinite strike.

Come along to the meeting to hear Karen explain what has happened.

Still sacked after her appeal the need for solidarity with Karen and her colleagues becomes more intense with threats of further victimisation for those who have supported her. Her ongoing campaign for reinstatment is boud to become a test case fopr all trade unionists and their right to speak out.

Please join the rally this Monday called by the Trades Council

Monday 17th December
Time 7.15-9pm
Place Council Chamber
Leeds Civic Hall

Posted by Mike Fenwick on behalf of Leeds Keep Our NHS Public

There are solidarity events coming up on Thursday 13th and Tuesday 18th December in Manchester - a gig and a comedy night with Mark Steele and Mark Thomas -

# Thursday 13th December, Strikers' Solidarity Event/Benefit Night and gig (for the campaign to reinstate Karen Reissmann), Irish Community Centre, 17 High Lane, Chorlton, Manchester, M24 9DJ.
£5 entrance fee to raise money for the strike fund, music, DJ, raffles (entrance fee includes raffle), prizes. Buy on the door or in advance from the venue - also tickets available on the picket lines. All proceeds from this event will go to the strike hardship fund.

# Tuesday 18th December, Mark Thomas and Mark Steele, Strikers' Solidarity Event at the Comedy Store in Manchester, at 8pm. Tickets, priced £14 (£10 concessions) are available from (08448 260001) or the comedy store (0161 839 9595).

More info from the campaign website -

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Energy debate in MSM

With various news stories around oil, coal, gas and renewables and the continuing Bali conference some UK mainstream media (MSM) outlets are commenting around these issues.
One of the stories is about BP (Beyond Petroleum? I don't think so!) investing £1.5 billion towards the extraction of oil from Canadian tar sands. This is a very expensive procedure in both financial and energy terms. This was reported in yesterday's Independent.

Mike Hudema, the climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace in Canada, told The Independent: "BP has done a very good job in recent years of promoting its green objectives. By jumping into tar sands extraction it is taking part in the biggest global warming crime ever seen and BP's green sheen is gone.

"It takes about 29kg of CO2 to produce a barrel of oil conventionally. That figure can be as much 125kg for tar sands oil. It also has the potential to kill off or damage the vast forest wilderness, greater than the size of England and Wales, which forms part of the world's biggest carbon sinks. For BP to be involved in this trade not only flies in the face of their rhetoric but in the era of climate change it should not be being developed at all. You cannot call yourself 'Beyond Petroleum' and involve yourself in tar sands extraction." Mr Hudema said Greenpeace was planning a direct action campaign against BP, which could disrupt its activities as its starts construction work in Alberta next year.

Mike Hudema's Independent article is here. The paper's editorial referenced the story in its' editorial yesterday.

The Guardian picked up on the story today and linked it to the news that Shell are selling off parts of their renewables operations in developing countries.

The Guardian also subjects the government wind energy announcement to scrutiny. There is growing scepticism about the UK govt's ability to deliver on this pledge.

The paper hosts a version of much of what George Monbiot said at the Climate Change rally on Saturday, where he says that fossil fuels should be left in the ground, but that the peak oil situation will mean that they are more attractive to investment and resources that are ever more difficult and costly to extract will be brought to market and add to the emissions problem.

The Guardian's editorial makes various sensible points about the need to clean up existing emissions and develop Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as quickly as possible (If it can be - and as Monbiot gloomily comments - this is a big if) for both developed world use and for those engaged in massive coal-fired power building programmes as in China.

These are all difficult and complicated questions, but a way must be worked through, and workers' organisations should both have an input and engage in open minded debate on the issues. As such the Trade Union Climate Change Conference organised for February 22nd at the University of London Union by the Campaign Against Climate Change could be important, and it would be good to see open minded involvement from mining and energy union members. The campaign have made it clear that they have no fixed position on the energy path for Britain, whilst being fairly clear that renewables should play as large a part as possible.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Weekly Links - 10/12/2007

A number of my fellow bloggers attended the Climate March in London over the weekend, so here are links to some of their relevant posts -
Louise (On Socialist Unity Blog)

More pictures and a report from Indymedia here.

Calvin was at the Glasgow event.

On the related issue of Biofuels, the Green Party commented last week on the Biofuelwatch report.

On international affairs, as the Balkans situation reaches a new crossroads today over the question of Kosovan independance, here are some articles and discussion from Socialist Unity Blog.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

London Climate Change Demo

I went to the Campaign Against Climate Change demonstration and rally in London on Saturday. It poured down and we were all soaked, but it was good to meet up with old friends and comrades and the atmosphere was defiant. The green and red flag - printed with the letters E.I.N. (for Ecosocialist International Network) - had its' first outing and can be partially glimpsed to the left of the photo above (Courtesy of Sas from CCC website).

Here are some pics from Indymedia - and here are some of the Glasgow event.

Here is the CCC gallery of pics from the London demo. Here is the gallery of pics from protests around the world.

Here is the report from the Independent on Sunday.

Major demands voiced at the demo were that the government reverse on airport expansion - particularly the third runway at Heathrow; for a tougher Climate Bill with annual targets and the inclusion of aviation and shipping emissions; and for global action against deforestation.
There was joy that climate criminal John Howard of Australia had gone, with Australia at last signing up, for all its flaws, to the Kyoto Treaty.

Feeling the heat on this and other issues, the British government have announced a major push on Offshore Wind Power development. Not enough in itself, but nevertheless a welcome first step. As the London Observer reports, with increasing demand for renewable energy, measures to increase supply cannot come fast enough.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Turn Up The Heat!

This weekend gives a great opportunity to publicly manifest concern over climate change and apply pressure on the governments who are dragging their feet over action. The need for action becomes clearer and clearer.

Yesterday the WWF claimed that a vicious cycle of climate change and deforestation could lead to severe damage or destruction in 60% of the Amazon rainforest.
Rainforest destruction is a clear example of where action by the richer nations could make a difference if enough pressure can be applied to force it-

Strategies to halt deforestation in the Amazon include minimizing the negative impacts from cattle ranching and infrastructure projects to rapidly expanding the existing network of protected areas.

“We can still stop the destruction of the Amazon, but we need the support of the rich countries,” says Karen Suassuna, a climate change analyst at WWF-Brazil. “Our success in protecting the Amazon depends on how fast rich countries reduce their climate damaging emissions to slow down global warming.”

The London Climate March on Saturday 8th December gathers at Millbank at 12 noon for a march to a rally at the US embassy at 2.30pm. Green MEP Caroline Lucas will be speaking.
In Scotland there is a demo in Glasgow (Meet at the "Ski jump" ramps - nearest Subway, West Street - at 12.30 or join the march at George Square at 2pm.
In Belfast there is a gathering at St Annes on Donegall St at 1.30 - take drums whistles or noise makers. Don't let the weather put you off - remember that increasingly severe weather is part of what this is all about!

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

DWP Workers On Strike

DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) staff in Jobcentres and Benefit offices are on strike today and tomorrow.
The PCS union have organised the action in response to the derisory pay offer they have received. Unfortunately other public sector workers have settled so there is not the added pressure of other disputes ongoing that had been anticipated, but other public sector workers are offering solidarity and the mood against the government is angry - the HMRC fiasco is linked to the cuts, penny pinching and attempts to bring in the private sector in parts of the Civil Service.

PCS Press Release on why they are going on strike:

The two day strike to be followed by an overtime ban will be held next week on Thursday 6 December and Friday 7 December and adds to the pressure on the government following rows over party funding and the loss of child benefit data. The two day strike comes as the DWP seek to impose a pay offer which would see approximately 40% of staff receive 0% pay increase next year.

Members are angry over the three year pay offer, which sees cost of living increases for longer serving staff members of 2% this year, 0% next year and 1% in the final year. The pay offer averages just 1% a year over the three years and sees the lowest paid receiving increases which take their wage to only 24 pence above the minimum wage.

The news comes as it emerged that the DWP would be closing three pension centres located in Birmingham, Blackpool and Dearne Valley at the cost of 650 jobs. The union warned that the closures would further damage the pension service which has been hit by delays and backlogs.

Commenting, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: "The department has provoked conflict and the inevitable disruption that strike action brings by walking away from last minute talks. This insulting pay offer that will see low paid staff receive a pay cut in real terms has provoked anger amongst people who have borne the brunt of job cuts. Imposing a pay offer that averages out at 1% a year will do little for the morale of staff who have seen job cuts and services suffer.

"The government have got to start realising that its policies of cuts and driving down pay are not only damaging staff morale and services, but creating the conditions for systemic failure across the civil service. If the government and the department want to avoid damaging industrial action, then they need to re-start talks quickly on a fair pay deal for staff."

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Climate - Dire Warnings And Faint Hopes

With the Bali summit underway a range of articles across the media on the issues. Good to see the palm oil and deforestation issue getting some coverage. I read in a recent article by Ronnie Hall of the Global Forest Coalition that deforestation is equivalent to one fifth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions - more than the contribution of cars, ships and planes combined. Much of this deforestation occurs to supply land for palm oil used in a vast range of products in developed economies and for timber (often illegally logged.)
Ronnie suggests that rather than spend so much time fiddling about with largely ineffective carbon markets and carbon trading the conference attendees should spend some time addressing this problem.

Elsewhere, a rather depressing article from George Monbiot on the shifting of goalposts caused by newer data on climate change (accompanied as ever in the comments by the usual chorus of naysayers, deniers, professional contrarians and blatant hate merchants.)

It becomes clearer and clearer that the nature of the crisis facing us and its likely effects makes the favoured "nuclear solution" of the neo-liberals less and less of a good idea. Apart from the fact that further nuclear plant cannot possibly be brought on line globally in sufficient quanities and quick enough to make a significant impact the fact remains that nuclear power is not a resilient (to use the terminology of the emergency planners) enough technology to survive the coming upheavals that now seem inevitable to a greater or lesser extent. Further nuclear plant will hinder mitigation, and eat resources needed for both mitigation and adaptation. It is a "carry on as though nothing is happening and no changes are needed in consumption patterns or resilience of communities and energy supplies" option that will aid nuclear proliferation and scatter toxic timebombs across the globe in the face of the rising sea levels, social disruption and probably wars that are coming.

What is needed is a massive turn to distributed, resilient, renewable energy generation, and social and economic changes on a global scale to take away the power of those who have got us into this situation (and are likely to doom us all if they continue along their current path of limited action and complacency) and give it to the people.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Meetings In London And Manchester

In the run up to the Global Climate Change Day of Action on Saturday, the LSE Students' Union is running its' annual Climate Change Action Week. They have a meeting on the socialist approach to the challenge of Climate Change on Wednesday afternoon -

Can capitalism stop ecological meltdown? Can socialism?
What do socialists say about climate change?

1-3pm, Wednesday 5th December
Room S300 (3rd floor, St Clements House, Houghton Street, LSE)

Speakers: Derek Wall (Green Party male principal speaker and Green Left),
Clive Bradley (Workers' Liberty)

We will be discussing the relationship between capitalism, class
exploitation and ecology, whether socialists can develop an effective
programme to save the planet and what force can create an egalitarian,
democratic, sustainable society.

All welcome

Sponsored by LSE Green Party and London Workers' Liberty students

Another interesting meeting at the LSE during the week is on Thursday, with the excellent Donnachadh McCarthy whom I heard speak at a conference earlier in the year -

THURSDAY 6TH DECEMBER: Tomorrow's Buildings - Can Eco-Buildings Become the Affordable Solution?, 2pm, G108
Speakers: Donnachadh McCarthy, author of 'Saving the Planet Without Costing the Earth', environmental auditor at 3 Acorns Environmental Transformations and owner of the first private home in London to export solar electricity to London Electricity!
Wil Anderson, Designer and Builder of 'The Tree House' in Clapham (

IWW Film in Manchester
Meanwhile, in Manchester the IWW Local is having a film night in collaboration with
Manchester Projectile Films on December 11th at the Friends Meeting
House, Mount Street, Manchester M2 at 7.30pm. All Fellow Workers welcome!
They are showing the film "An Injury to One"

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Bali High (Hopes) or Low (Expectations)?

The UN Climate Change Conference gets under way today in Bali (BBC Report)

UNFCCC Executive Director Yvo de Boer urged the international community to use the summit to take "concrete steps" towards curbing climate change.

"We urgently need to take increased action, given climate change predictions and the corresponding global adaptation needs," he said in his welcome message to delegates.

"In the context of climate change, projections of economic growth and increases in energy demand over the next 20 years, especially in developing countries, point to the urgent need to green these trends."

We will see how the government representatives gathered there respond to the latest warnings from the IPCC.

Greenpeace UK have links to various Greenpeace bloggers from around the world commenting on the Bali conference.

Here is the Friends of the Earth (UK) press release on the Bali talks.

Friends of the Earth wants to see a firm commitment by developed countries and a strengthening in some of the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms that currently allow industrialised countries to offset their carbon emissions at the expense of people in developing countries. Friends of the Earth is concerned that a reliance on market-based solutions is failing to reduce global carbon emissions whilst allowing companies to continue business as usual.

Friends of the Earth is urging negotiators to:

* Commit to at least a 40% reduction in 1990 levels of greenhouse gases by 2020 from industrialised countries
* Agree a timetable for negotiations to establish an international framework for major emission cuts post 2012, with legally binding burden-sharing of emissions reductions based on historical responsibility;
* Agree a major increase in funding for the world's most vulnerable countries to enable them to develop low carbon economies and adapt and build resilience against the impacts of climate change;
* Establish an independent verification system to ensure emissions reductions and financing obligations are met, with stringent penalties for non-compliance.

There is an opportunity this weekend to apply pressure for action through the global actions that are planned for Saturday 8th December. In the UK there is a demonstration planned for London, organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Weekly Links - 02/12/2007

I have various links for you this week, after what has been quite an exhausting few days.

The Remploy dispute continues after the predicted treachery of the management and the government in the shape of Peter Hain. Despite all the assurances and weasel words around the time of the Labour Conference and possible election hysteria, Hain has now agreed to the slippery and vindictive managements' plans. It has been asked - what would have happened if Remploy was a bank?

Elsewhere the National Blood Service dispute also continues, with a campaign to pressurise via councillors in those areas scheduled for NBS cuts. Here is the Save Our Blood Services blog. The IWW continue to work on this issue.

The campaign to defend the William Morris Gallery continues. This featured this week on the Green Party Trade Union Group Blog.
More on the campaign and what you can do here.

Returning to the malign actions of Peter Hain, Louise reports on the latest raft of welfare "reform" proposals on the Socialist Unity blog.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

World AIDS Day 2007 - Peter Tatchell Protests Over HIV Prevention Funding Cuts

HIV funding for gay men slashed

One-third cut from London budget

Group at highest risk loses £650,000 in funding

No proper consultation, expert advice ignored

"NHS chiefs plan to slash funding for HIV prevention work among gay
men in London by 36% - a cut of more than £650,000," said gay human
rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage!

He was speaking ahead of World Aids Day, which is this Saturday, 1 December.

"If this cut goes ahead, it will mean that the NHS money allocated for HIV prevention work among gay men in London next year will be less than half the money invested in 1997," added Mr Tatchell.

"The London NHS is spending over 200 times more on HIV treatment than
on HIV prevention. This is a perverse, distorted health-care

"Cutting finance for prevention work among the highest HIV risk group
is just plain ignorant. Prevention makes more sense, and is more cost
effective, than treatment.

"These proposed cuts have been announced without proper consultation
with gay and HIV organisations, and against the advice of expert HIV
agencies and professionals, such as the Terrence Higgins Trust and Gay Men Fighting Aids.

"London has a huge concentration of gay and bisexual men. One in 12
male Londoners have acknowledged having had a same-sex experience,
according to the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles
(1994). The real current figure is probably much higher.

"It is crazy to undermine life-saving health promotion work. This cut
is a short-sighted move that is likely to result in more HIV
infections, more illness and death and, given the high treatment
costs, more NHS expenditure in the long term.

"It is a short term budget gamble that is putting at risk the lives of gay Londoners.

"Gay and bisexual men remain the highest risk group for HIV in the UK, accounting for 80% of all domestically-acquired HIV infections.

"The rate of HIV infection in our community has risen by 20 per cent
in the past five years. The need for education and prevention work is
still very great.

"Condom use and safer sex messages are not reaching many men who have
sex with men, especially teenagers and members of minority race and
faith communities.

"There is an obvious and urgent need for more and better HIV
prevention campaigns for gay men, rather than these penny-pinching

"Yet again the Labour government reveals its Jekyll and Hyde attitude
to the gay community. One minute they are repealing homophobic laws.
The next minute they are undermining life-saving HIV prevention

"I urge people to write letters of protest to the Health Minister,
Alan Johnson MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA," said Mr Tatchell.

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