Monthly Archives: January 2012

One shot at an international Arms Trade Treaty – UK leaders must commit

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=r9RSBmk-TXg

This year, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect human rights and save hundreds of thousands of lives.

UN member states have voted overwhelmingly to develop the first international Arms Trade Treaty – but we need to make sure that that Treaty is bulletproof.

This February marks the final UN Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) before the deciding negotiations in July. As the PrepCom approaches, we need to call on the UK’s party political leaders to support the strongest possible Treaty.

Any indication that the UK, as a major arms exporter and influential government, is reducing its support could encourage other countries who are pressing for a weaker treaty – one which fails to protect human rights. Read more about the Arms Trade Treaty

The human impact of the unregulated arms trade is shocking. This could change – but we’ve only got one shot.

Email David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg and ask them to publicly commit the UK to lead the way in securing an international arms treaty that saves lives.

You will find Amnesty International’s suggested wording here, and they will forward it for you from here (towards bottom of page) too:

http://action.amnesty.org.uk/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1194&ea.campaign.id=13280&utm_source=social&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=Arms&utm_content=arms_FB

Feel free to edit the message to add a personal touch.

‘Admit you got it wrong on solar’, says Green MP

The UK Government has lost its appeal against a court decision which blocked its attempts to reduce solar subsidies (1).

Responding to the decision, Caroline said:

“The High Court ruling is a victory for the solar industry and for renewable energy campaigners in holding the Government to account over its illegal attempt to make retrospective changes to the solar tariff.

“Having lost twice in the Court of Appeal and been roundly humiliated over the shambolic handling of solar policy, it is absolutely beggars belief that the Department for Energy and Climate Change is apparently planning to appeal to the Supreme Court.

“The very least that the Secretary of State can now do is to show some integrity, accept that his ministers got it wrong on solar, and pull the plug on this legal merry-go-round which is putting UK jobs and future investment at risk.”

Notes

1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16721328

Green Party Spring Conference 2012 24th-27th February, Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool

Spring Conference is heading to fabulous Liverpool and the historic Adelphi Hotel, three minutes walk from Liverpool Lime Street Station. As well as the core conference business of policy creation and amendment, there will be a packed fringe and discussion programme put together by you, the members, and opportunities to meet Green Party supporters from all over the country, as well as a range of extra-curricular activities organised by the local party.Early bird booking closes on 6th February so hurry and book to save 25%!

Book online at www.greenparty.org.uk/conference where you can also download a paper form, or request a booking form and crèche information from Louisa.greenbaum@greenparty.org.uk Tel. 01273 888 360.

Please check the website for more information, including travel, accommodation and crash space and draft timetable (coming soon): www.greenparty.org.uk/conference

Programme highlights include Speeches from Caroline Lucas MP, Leader; Adrian Ramsay, Deputy Leader; and Jenny Jones, London Assembly Member and Mayoral candidate for London.

Panel sessions on:

Crisis in the Eurozone, Crisis in the UK

Chaired by Romayne Phoenix. Speakers: James Meadway, Senior Economist, New Economics Foundation, Peter Tatchell (tbc), European guest speakers (tbc).

Corporate Recipes: How big business is meddling with your dinner

Chaired by Keith Taylor MEP
Speakers (tbc) from Tescopoly, National Farmers Union, World Development Movement.

Are young people turning to the left?
Chaired by : Ash Haynes Young Green co-chair, Norwich Councillor

Speakers (tbc): National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) – Michael Chessum, Compass Youth – Will Cass/ Aaron Peters, UK Uncut – Steve Reid; Black Students Campaign Kanja Sesay/ Aaron Kieley; Occupy Movement

No more fish in the sea? An overview of the state of the oceans.
Chaired by Elisabeth Whitebread, Policy Committee. Speakers (tbc): Willie Mackenzie, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace UK; Melissa Moore, Senior Policy Officer, Marine Conservation Society; Ian Cambell, UK Coordinator, Ocean 2012.

Over 20 Training sessions for party activists on subjects within Elections, Communications, Press and PR and Equalities and Diversity.

Over 60 Fringe meetings from both internal and external organisations, on topics including: Co-ops and Credit Unions, Biomass – the new threat; Campaigning against fracking; Greens and anti-cuts movements; How 20mph limits can act as a catalyst for behaviour change; How can the Green Party learn from and support the Occupy movement?; NHS – going, going gone?; No More Murdochs; The great train fare robbery – fighting the fare hikes.

Evening entertainment including Welcome to Liverpool reception (supported by Liverpool Organic Brewery) on Friday evening followed by local musicians and performers, the ever popular quiz night on Saturday and an on-site conference bar.

Other info

First time at conference but want to know what it is all about? There will be information sessions for first timers on Friday 3pm and Saturday 9am]

Kids Club will be offering safe childcare and fun activities for 1-12 year olds for the duration of Conference – and its absolutely free for all GP members!

Crucial stage of the fracking battle – we need your help!!!

A year into the fight against fracking in this area, we are slowly getting into a position where we can land a knock out blow. We are committed to fighting the appeal case into the Vale’s decision to ban the test drilling application. We are up against big business interests and their money. We need just a few pounds of yours to fight them on your behalf. Go to the campaign website to donate whatever you can afford, and please pass this around: http://thevalesaysno.com/?p=351

The money is needed to pay for the services of an experienced barrister to help us make sure our case is presented in the most telling way possible. Any surplus will be made available for other anti-fracking campaigning activities, either locally or, potentially in other parts of the country. Please remember – this is not a NIMBY campaign. Our minimum goal is a UK wide moratorium on fracking.

I cannot stress how crucial this battle is. We have already set the precedent in persuading local planners to block these proposals. It would be tragic to have this overturned on appeal.

I am confident we have the right strategy to see this through to a successful conclusion – one that will have tremendous ramifications across the country by providing a legal precedent to support people trying desperately to protect their regions from this reckless and irresponsible pursuit of the short term buck.

It is over to you folks now!! Http://thevalesaysno.com/?p=351

Green viral videos – something for everyone here

Viral videos make the Internet go round. Well known fact. The biggest viral videos are as much a part of culture as any hit TV show. And yes, there are green ones.

Green viral videos have the added charge of carrying a beneficial environmental message along with quirky, irresistible footage. When effective, they can transport valuable information across the web faster than just about anything else.

Here are 9 of the best–and one that’s so bad, it might just be worth watching. There is comedy, horror, music, cartoons, documentary and mockumentary – something for everyone. For what it is worth I agree with the No.1 – it is brilliant. Which is your favourite?

9. The MEATRIX

This animated spoof of the Matrix became so popular that it spawned an entire series about the dark side of the meat industry.

#!

8. The Onion – Greening the Iraq War

The Onion is perhaps the most consistent source for satire on the all of the inter-tubes. Here, they manage to effortlessly send up both war misconduct and the green movement in one fell swoop.

7. Spiders on Drugs

Making use of the conventional format of the ever-ubiquitous nature video, this viral video spread like wildfire through the blogoshpere and all your friend’s FaceBook pages for one reason: it’s hilarious.

6. Captain Planet Parody

This video highlights both the viral video’s tendencies to capitalize on snark and the growing distinction between old school environmentalism and the technology-embracing new wave. And that Captain Planet is way dated.

5. How Much Water is in Your Latte?

Brief, informative, and shocking–all the ingredients that make for a good viral video. The amount of water wasted to create your morning latte will amaze you. Seriously good food for thought.

4. Story of Stuff

In addition to being a viral video hit, the Story of Stuff is now circulating in classrooms across the country. And well it should–the story of where all these goods that have become so central to our lives come from is a tale not told nearly enough.

3. Coen Brothers Clean Coal

In green circles, news of this video spread faster than an Al Gore book launch. The Coen brothers–Academy Award-winning directors of No Country for Old Men, Fargo, and the Big Lebowski–created this ad to lampoon the concept of clean coal.

2. Hatchery Horrors

Disclaimer: this is educational but disturbing. Perhaps not intended for the squeamish. There’s a chance you’ve already seen this one–or at least the beginning, before it got ugly and you clicked away. Hatchery Horrors, the expose of the cruel practices employed at poultry factories reached millions of viewers thanks to its rare footage and pointed message.

1. Mr. W

I’ll refrain from discussing this one in case you haven’t seen it yet–but this German TV ad is indisputably a classic.

Watch at Your Own Risk . . . Let’s Save Our Environment

Oh yeah, and I promised an example of green viral gone wrong. Here is exactly that, in all its ridiculous glory.

Little Green Gathering 2012

Some of you may be interested in this event taking place next August.

Last year’s event was highly successful so I would advise booking early

For a brochure, newsletter and booking form – email lgg@chyba@go-plus.net

The Little Green Gathering

South Downs National Park

10th to 12th August 2012

Book now – prices from just £40 – only 300 places!

Other campaigns to look at: Hospital Chaplaincy; Academy Schools; the great British tax scandal

CHARITABLE CHAPLAINCY CAMPAIGN
The more letters sent the better
Send letters to: Your local NHS Trust – patient.experience and complaints; MPs, Assembly Members, local papers etc.May I ask you to take just a few moments to consider this question:

What does the Hospital Chaplaincy Service have that the following do not?

The Wales Air Ambulance Service
The Macmillan Cancer Care nursing service
The Cardiff Childrens Hospital

The answer is 100% funding from the Wales NHS budget.

How can this be justified in these times of cutbacks to services?

In excess of £1.3 million has been spent on chaplaincy services in Wales in each of the last three financial years; over £40m a year across the whole NHS.

The provision of a hospital chaplaincy service is not a statutory obligation for the NHS (although, bizarrely, it is a statutory obligation for the prison service and the armed forces). It is probably best described as a traditional provision by the NHS. But what is an organisation based on science doing wasting money on services that peddle superstition and delusion?

£1.3 million each and every year into the future may be seen as a small contribution but only by obtaining many such small contributions may these increasing demands be met.

The creation of a Hospital Chaplaincy Fund to cover the cost of religious care by hospital chaplains would relieve this drain on NHS resources.The proposed charity would need to raise about £1.5 million per year to maintain the present service. This is ought to be entirely achievable for a supposedly valued service. While the present fiscal arrangements are in place, a portion of this amount would be met by gift aid tax which is returned by the Treasury. The Welsh Air Ambulance charity raises £5 million per year.

In Wales the largest single faith community is the Anglican Church in Wales. Alan Rogers , of the Charitable Chaplaincy Campaign, has written to the Bishops and Archbishop of the Church in Wales suggesting that they might be the natural leaders in this enterprise. The reaction has been, the NHS has taken responsibility for religious care, so the Church need not act. Regrettably there appears to be a lack of leadership from the Church in this matter.

As a consequence, a strong lead from elsewhere is required. The CCC suggest that this should perhaps amount to a declaration of a time period for the transition to charitable funding. Anyone want to second this motion?

If you feel that it cannot be justified join the Charitable Chaplaincy Campaign.
Details can be obtained from Alan Rogers – just email Rogers.a

ACADEMY SCHOOLS – worrying developments
Send to:

MPs, Michael Gove, local papers etc

On the 12th January the Rt Hon. David Lammy has secured a debate in the House of Commons on the issue of forced academies. This is very important as it is the first public scrutiny of how the Secretary of State is using new powers obtained under the 2011 Education Act.
These powers appear to give Michael Gove the power to force schools to convert to academy status regardless of the views of parents, staff, governors, or the Local Authority.

Please take part in the debate and ensure these points are raised:

1. There is no evidence that converting primary schools into academies raises attainment. The evidence currently available suggests that the New Labour secondary school academy programme which came with significant additional capital and revenue has had mixed fortunes with some academies doing very well but other doing not so well. Some academies are in the OFSTED category of Special Measures.

2. Is forced academy conversion the best value in terms of school improvement? There is abundant evidence that a relentless focus on improving teaching and learning is the most cost effective method of school improvement.

3. How does the policy of forced academies fit with the values of Big Society in which power is supposedly being given back to local communities? This is direct central control of schooling disregarding the whole local community.

4. The new OFSTED chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has recently acknowledged that academies will fail. He is proposing a new layer of bureaucracy local school commissioners to oversee schools. Is there a danger of a new and costly bureaucracy which will duplicate the role of the LA?

5. The policy of forced academies has no mandate. It did not appear in either Tory or Lib Dem manifestos or in the Coalition Agreement. In the debate at the time of the 2010 Academies ActMichael Gove made clear that academy status was entirely a voluntary or permissive matter.

6. The apparent absence of due process in forced academy conversions appears to breach the expected norms of public consultation. Indeed there are doubts if there is any effective mechanism for consultation with all stakeholders. In Haringey, North London, 5 schools were given 2 weeks over the Christmas holiday to agree conversion or have the academy order and sponsor imposed on them.

7. There has been no public Parliamentary scrutiny of the either Academies Programme or the Free school programme since the election despite repeated stories in the media of financial problems and stakeholder opposition. The rate of voluntary conversions far exceed the DfE initial impact assessment which identified only 200 conversions per year. MPs have a public duty to scrutinise the impact of much greater numbers converting.

Even more sinister and worrying is the way Faith Schools are taking advantage of Academy status.

I am writing to you urgently about what I think is the single most threatening development in the area of faith schools since their expansion began in 2001to bring your attention to new moves by the Church of England and the Department for Education rapidly to expand the Churchs role in our state education system.

If the Church and the Government have their way and their ambitions are realised the Church will become the single largest provider of schools totally funded by the state. That means that a majority of schools may be allowed to discriminate religiously in employment discriminate religiously in admissions and teach curricula heavily skewed towards Christianity right across the board.

For some time we have been warning that the governments Academies programme has provided a huge opportunity for the Church to take control of inclusive community schools which convert to Academy status. Community schools are maintained by their local authority do not have a religious character and before the coalition government made up two thirds of all state schools. However they are now converting in droves to be Academies and therefore opting out of local authority control. It is natural that many of these schools will look to replace the local authority and gain support of another parent organisation and the Church of England is by far the largest and oldest private provider of schools.

The Church is now waking up to the unique opportunity that the Academies programme has presented it. In July Malton School became the first to seek a double conversion first changing to an Academy and then to be a CofE faith school. In late SeptemberArchbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams acknowledged that Malton was not the only school that is seeking to do this stating that there had already been many many community schools interested in becoming CofE schools upon Academy conversion. Dr Williams stated that We are looking at the middle-term future where the Church of England will be quite conceivably the largest sponsor and provider of secondary education in this country which is a rather startling and breathtaking proposal.

And now we find out that the Church even has its eyes on every non-religious school and the government is actively supporting the Churchs plans. Last week it was revealed that the Church is working on a major new report looking specifically at how it can capitalise on the demise of the local authorities and Discussions are also in progress with the Department for Education about how the process for community schools wishing to become CofE faith academies can be made quicker and easier. At present there have to be separate consultations dealing with academy and faith proposals but plans are being devised that would allow them to be combined.

Even those that choose not to go down this route may fall under Church control. The article continues by looking at Canterbury Diocese where the Church has been establishing formal collaborative relationships between different types of schools – faith and secular – since the summer… The diocese is currently working on a groundbreaking set of plans that would allow it to sponsor community schools that are becoming academies without them becoming designated faith schools – a model that does not presently exist. Such a model will still allow the Church to still put some slant on the curriculum of the school and perhaps also require senior staff to be practising Anglicans.

Commenting on the proposalsMichael Gove says that I dont think we should interpret whats happening as some kind of clerical takeover. Its not like the dissolution of the monasteries being reversed with our childrens education being placed in the hands of monks and abbots. The truth is that CofE schools are generally popular and the direction of travel we want to go is to give more responsibility to schools that have proven successful.

In fact this is a potentially massive takeover. It is unsurprising that a national church to which 80% of the population do not actually see themselves as belonging and whose services are attended on a monthly basis by under 5% of the population should see its only hope for future survival as a state-funded service provider. But the idea that government which should be providing schools inclusive of all, is facilitating this drive with public money is shameful.

Please oppose these proposals every step of the way for the sake of the education, society and future we bequeath our children and grandchildren.

The Great British Tax Scandal
Our tax agency is letting big businesses like Goldman Sachs off billions of pounds of tax. MPs have called for action, but the government isn’t responding. Let’s boost the MPs’ call and get the Prime Minister to ensure full transparency and full payment. Sign now:

Click here to sign the petition