Monthly Archives: July 2012

Green Party Internal Elections 2012

Ballot papers for all members should arrive in with your copy of Green World within the next couple of weeksNominations for posts on the Party Executive (GPEx), including leadership posts, have now closed. The following candidates have submitted valid nominations for the following posts which will be elected for two years:

Party Leader

Natalie Bennett

Pippa Bartolotti

Peter Cranie

Romayne Phoenix

Discussed here: https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/green-party-leader-election-hustings/

Deputy Leader

Caroline Allen

Will Duckworth

Richard Mallender

Alexandra Phillips

EHustings

Answers from candidates for Leader and Deputy Leader to the first round of eHustings can be found via the links below. Candidates were given a word limit of 450 words for all six questions combined. Overlength contributions were cut from the end.

  • hustings (including your name and local party) no later than 12noon on Friday 10 August.Chair of the Party Executive (GPEx) – Tim Dawes (unopposed)

    Campaigns Co-ordinator

    Jennifer Nadel withdrawn

    Howard Thorp (unopposed)

    International Co-ordinator

    Sebastian Power

    John Street

    Derek Wall

    (Note from Andy Chyba: Derek gets my vote as he is hugely experienced, a key member of Green Left and a former National Party Spokesperson)

    Elections Co-ordinator – Geoff Smith (unopposed)

    External Communications Co-ordinator – Penny Kemp & Joe Williams (job-share) (unopposed)

    Management Co-ordinator – Mark Cridge (unopposed)

    In addition, the following candidates have submitted valid nominations for the following posts which will be elected for one year only, as these posts are currently filled by co-opted members:

    Local Party Support Co-ordinator

    Matthew Townsend (unopposed)

    Policy Development Co-ordinator

    Stuart Jeffery (elected unopposed)

    The election timetable will be as follows:

    • 10am, 1 June 2012 – nominations open
    • 12noon, 29 June 2012 – nominations close
    • Late July/early August – ballot papers issued with Green World
    • 31 August 2012 – voting closes
    • 11am, Monday 3 September 2012 – declaration of results

    For information, the nomination pack is available on the internal elections section of the members website, along with the rules for the ballot. Each of these roles has a job description. Job descriptions are available on the GPEx section of the Members’ Website.

SEPTEMBER NATIONAL PARTY CONFERENCE

Green Party Autumn Conference 2012

Will be held at the Council House in Bristol:
College Green, Bristol BS1 5TR

From 7th-10th September.

As usual, there will be Bridgend Green Party contingent going for the Fri/Sat/Sun of Conference.

The unwaged will be asked to pay at the under £10,000 p.a income rate – which would be £28 for the Fri-Sun.

“Crash Space” accommodation is usually organised at £5 per night, but has not been confirmed as yet. Andy and Gareth used this at last Conference and had a great time crashing in an old church! Creche facilities are available FREE of charge to Party members.

More details here: http://greenparty.org.uk/conference.html

Book online
Print a postal booking form

EARLY BIRD FEES

for advance bookings received before 22 August:

Income guide per annum Fri/Mon per day Sat/Sun

Per day

All 4 days

Under £10,000 £8.00 £10.00 £30.00
£10-15,000 £12.00 £14.00 £47.00
£15-20,000 £16.00 £20.00 £64.00
£20-25,000 £20.00 £26.00 £82.00
£25-30,000 £24.00 £30.00 £100.00
£30-40,000 £30.00 £39.00 £125.00
£40-50,000 £40.00 £50.00 £160.00
£50,000+ £55.00 £70.00 £225.00

(Please note that fees on the door will be 25% higher. Bookings received after 22.08.12 will be processed at the door rate.)

As well as the usual workshops and plenaries on policy motions, a full and varied fringe programme has been booked, and we we will also learn the results of the Leadership elections.

Titles of fringes:
Digital rights: beyond ACTA
Co-operatives and the social economy in times :of economic difficulty – opportunities and challenges
Women by Name – For All Female Green Party members (Women only)
The new threat from road-building
Climate Emergency, Arctic Emergency : how the latest science must redefine policy goals
Regional parties: just for Euros or the key to our party’s future success?
Greens in power – administration, coalition, and influence
Canvassing Software Demonstration
Banks, Occupy and One Million Social Enterprise Jobs
Working title ‘Learning from the Scottish experience’
For Conference first timers
LGBTIQ Greens Introduction & AGM
How to maximise media coverage in your local area
Fair Pay Campus Campaign
Beyond Students: Engaging Young People
Green House: the green think tank: Post-growth project
New Economics Foundation: The Great Transition
Trident and Nuclear Abolition
Getting the Message Across (members only)
Global Greens Report
Ecocide the Missing Fifth Crime Against Peace
Meet your Green MP
Land Value Taxation (LVT): putting policy into practice
Extreme Energy – Our Next Big Crisis (Featuring Bridgend Green, Andy Chyba)
Greening the economy: graduate skills and sustainable development
Bioenergy sustainability
The great growth debate
Political Strategy Workshop
Green Party elections strategy
Preparing for 2013 County elections
Campaigning for the European election
Producing quality target Ward material
Taking the next steps in targeting
Stable Populations: An Essential Condition for Sustainable Development
Shifting the emphasis from Movement to Place – making the case for streets as great places to walk and cycle
Meet the Green Party Executive
The Future of the NHS (Featuring outgoing leader Caroline Lucas MP)
Improve your Campaigning with Common Cause
Community planning for a green future
Flying out of recession? How Greens can challenge airport expansion
A Green Voice in Europe – an update from your MEPs
Safe communications: how to avoid harmful or contradictory messages in campaigning
Decision making in local government – insights and experiences of administration in Brighton & Hove

IMPORTANT – Change of Meeting Venue for Thursday’s Meeting

Hi Folks,Thanks to John for flagging up that the Coity castle PH has closed down in the last few days.

We therefore have to change venue for this week’s meeting.

Again thanks to John, who has booked a free room upstairs at The Railway PH at the bottom of Station Hill (just around the corner from the Coity Castle)

If we meet in the main bar at 7.00pm we can go up together. Apparently it is not the most salubrious of rooms, but with a good location and no charge, it may be worth considering as our new home.

The main road is Derwen Road; road to right is Station Hill; to left is Wyndham Street (pedestrianised)
Bridgend Station is one minute’s walk up Station Hill.
Bridgend Bus Station is about 3 minutes away
There should be free parking on Station Hill by 7.00pm.

If you need a lift or any further info., please contact me (Andy).

Bridgend Green Party Meeting 26th July – Agenda

Bridgend Green Party Meeting

7.00pm Thursday 26th July 2012 at the COITY CASTLE INN Lounge.

Bottom of Tremains Road, (by big railway bridge) Bridgend, CF31 1HA .

ALL WELCOME

AGENDA:

  1. Welcome and Introductions
  2. Apologies for Absence
  3. Minutes and matters arising
  4. Officers’ reports
  5. Councillor feedback
  6. Campaigns update
  7. Elections – Party Leader; Bettws; Brackla
  8. Autumn Conference
  9. AOB
  10. DoNM

NOTE – Venue is 2 minutes walk from both the Bus and Train stations in Bridgend.
See map: https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/next-meeting

Bridgend Christian School – ACE or CRAP?

I have had a vague awareness of Bridgend Christian Schoolfor some time, but it has only recently been brought to my attention exactly what sort of institution this is in our midst.I will try to keep this as factual as possible, for the time being at least, and based on information in the public domain.Looking at their website ( http://www.bridgendchristianschool.co.uk), we find that this tiny independent school currently has about 40 children on its roll.What else can we glean?First and foremost, it is a school that does not teach the National Curriculum or GCSEs and the like. It delivers the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme, and associated International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) courses, more of which later.There is a link to their most recent (2007) Estyn Report (http://www.bridgendchristianschool.co.UK/estyn-report/) which might have made interesting reading, if it had not been translated into gobbledegook. (Speaking in tongues perhaps.)
Thankfully it is available for us all to read here: http://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/provider/6726090/ . And it does indeed make interesting reading. With months of notice, they still managed to score virtually nothing over a grade 3 (good features outweigh shortcomings) with plenty of grade 4s (some good features but shortcomings in important areas) especially in Geography, History, French, creative and physical development and how well learners are cared for, guided and supported, along with how well the leaders and managers evaluate and improve quality and standards.It has surprisingly little to say about the Accelerated Christian Education programme delivered by the school, and makes no attempt to evaluate this against the National Curriculum or GCSE expectations. It does however have plenty to say about the school’s failure to meet a whole raft of statutory requirements, namely: welfare, health and safety of children; suitability of proprietors and staff; premises and accommodation; provision of information; and the manner in which complaints are handled.

Somehow the the UCAS booklet ( http://www.bridgendchristianschool.co.uk/uni-entry/ ) has been scrambled too. However, I am again happy to help out. You can see this booklet here: https://intranet.arts.ac.uk/registry/staff/documents/ukquals2010.pdf . The school’s website says “Below is the UCAS UK Qualification document that shows which A level grades ICCE percentages are equal to (see page 64).” However, this is hard to substantiate currently. The International Certificate of Christian Education, the qualification delivered by the school, does not get a mention in the list of qualifications currently recognised by UCAS (http://www.ucas.com/students/ucas_tariff/qualifications).

Thankfully, the UCAS staff were very helpful when I called them today. UCAS explain it is entirely at the discretion of the individual institution whether they accept a particular non-listed qualification as relevant to an entry application. As these ICCE qualifications are not on the list that is covered by the UCAS Tariff system, they therefore attract no tariff points. Given the nature of the ICCE qualification, and given that it has been given an approximate equivalence by NARIC (see below), it may be considered, depending on evidence of what was covered and the relevance to the course being applied for. It would seem very unlikely that any University would accept ICCE qualifications in isolation, and that to gain entry to University an ACE educated child would still need to achieve conventional qualifications as well. So at best, the ICCE Advanced Certificate may be considered the equivalent of one ‘A’ level, by a sympathetic university department.

The crude equivalence ascribed to the ICCE is done by NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centre). This is the Government recognised organisation that evaluates (for a fee, of course) the equivalence of overseas qualifications. It has come up with its opinion on the value of ICCE certificates, giving some hope for holders of these bits of paper that higher education institutions may consider them. NARIC assessments, however, have only an advisory role, and I have so far failed to find any UCAS institution happy to accept them on their own as meeting entry requirements. (I would love to be corrected on this and find one that does!)

“”Can my child get into University with the ICCE qualifications?. The answer is yes, absolutely” says the website. Economical with the truth, I would suggest.

ICCE are the certificates issued by Accelerated Christian Education, a Tennessee USA (where else?) based fundamental Christian operation (tax-exempt business http://non-profit-organizations.findthebest.com/l/1434409/Accelerated-Christian-Education-Ministries-Inc ), that distributes its wares through Wiltshire based Christian Education Europe.

Its main products are PACE – Packets of Accelerated Christian Education, mostly fill-the-blanks workbooks, explained very nicely here by a young man that was put throuigh the ACE programme, and therefore knows the programme in detail, at first hand:

(Watch it to the end, there is an important message in the last statement.)

How is it delivered? The ACE methodology is clearly shown on their own website: http://www.aceministries.com/curriculum/?content=presentingACE

We could argue about the rights and wrongs of different pedagogies all night, but let us make clear that no reputable education programme uses the techniques seen in this system. It has a great advantage to schools like the Bridgend Christian School in that it does not really require teachers at all, just facilitators with the answer books.

However, we also have to confront the rights and wrongs of lies, miseducation and the plain crazy.

Take a look at these small samples of content of the ACE curriculum:
http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/top-5-lies-told-by-accelerated-christian-education/
http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/5-even-worse-lies-from-accelerated-christian-education/

Now, let us pause, calm down (if you are as agitated as I was when I first saw this litany of nonsense) and collect our thoughts here for a few moments.

Those that know me will know my views on religion. Those that know me well will also know that I do not like banning things, censoring people and imposing limits on freedom of speech. I will defend anybody’s freedom to spout any garbage they want, while equally insisting that nobody has the right to not be offended.

Johann Hari expresses it perfectly (in his column in the Independent talking about Geert Wlders – I have lost the exact reference details – sorry!)

“Free speech is for the stupid and the wicked and the wrong – just as much as it is for the rational and the right. All I say is that they do not have the right to force it on other people or to silence the other side. …. The solutions to the problems of free speech – that sometimes people say terrible things – is always and irreducibly, more free speech. If you don’t like what a person says, argue. Make a better case. Persuade people.”

So here goes. The essence of the problem here is not whether parents have the right to their religion, or even whether they have the right to bring their children up in their religion. The real question is whether or not they have the right to deny their children the right to a balanced education and to also thoroughly indoctrinate their children with what are essentially cult views. Even amongst the masses of the religiously deluded, only a very tiny percentage subscribe to the ridiculous (funda)mentalist views built into the ACE programme. If that is not a definition of a cult, I do not know what is.

So much for ACE education, it is more like CRAP education:

Christian Retrograde Academic Pap.

Green Party Policy is clear and robust on these issues:

ED170 Education should include a celebration and recognition of religious and cultural diversity and spirituality. Education should encourage critical engagement with, and non-dogmatic exposure to, diverse, sometimes competing, world views and beliefs – whether based on culture, religion or spirituality.
ED171 Within that framework the Green Party recognises the right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

ED172 We recognise the importance of human values and the moral dimension in learning, and the role they play in different belief systems.

ED173 We will seek to cater for these rights and needs through ensuring that children and young people can practice their faith in schools, for example by providing prayer space for those who need or wish to practice their religion regularly.
ED174 At the same time we will abolish the requirement for a compulsory daily act of worship. Schools which choose to continue to hold acts of worship will provide an alternative activity for learners who choose not to take part. Pupils who do not participate in worship will not suffer any form of discrimination.

ED175 Religious instruction, as distinct from religious education in understanding different religions may only take place outside of school curriculum time.

ED176 No publicly-funded school shall be run by a religious organisation. Schools may teach about religions, comparing examples which originated in each continent, but are prohibited from delivering religious instruction in any form or encouraging adherence to any particular religious belief.

ED177 Privately-funded schools run by religious organisations must reflect the inclusive nature of British society and become part of the Local authority admissions system. This non-discriminatory approach will be extended to staff who must not be discriminated against in faith schools due to their own faith either in seeking employment or during employment.

ED178 Opt-outs from equality and diversity legislation will not be allowed for faith schools and they will not be permitted to promote homophobia or transphobia on the grounds of religion.

Many would go further. Several authors have been critical of religious indoctrination of children, such as Nicolas Humphrey, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins. Christopher Hitchens and Dawkins use the term ‘child abuse’ to describe the harm that some religious upbringings inflict on children.They claim that children are especially vulnerable to mental harms related to religion, including:

  • Terrorised by threats of punishment, such as eternal damnation in a fiery hell
  • Extreme guilt about normal, healthy sexual functions
  • Trained to disrespect science and reason
  • Indoctrinated into a particular religious faith, thus depriving the child of the opportunity to make their own free inquiry later, when they are mature.

But as if this was not all bad enough, the ACE curriculum goes beyond religious indoctrination, and as the youtube video above shows, goes into the realms of political Indoctrination too. Good examples were seen in the youtube video above. The programme is vehemently anti-communist and pro unfettered free trade and capitalism. It is also very much anti-Roman Catholicism – so it is not that I disagree with everything they preach!

Their website contains one more set of big surprises – the list of claimed supporters ( )

Most of those listed are not very surprising, but I wonder what big corporations, such as Ford, EMI and Benq, are doing being seen to be supporters of this bunch of crackpots. I will just have to write tom them and find out (watch this space).

Do I want to see these ACE/CRAP schools closed down? No.

Do I want to see these schools close down? Yes.

What is the difference in these statements, you may ask?

Ideally, I want to see the schools close because the parents realise they are paying money for a CRAP education. (The fees for the Bridgend Christian School are a mere £2000 a year, compared to the £10,000 a year you would pay at a typical reputable Independent.) The website tells us the staff are low paid. It leaves us to surmise why. Because of their love of the MIssion, perhaps. Because they have no teaching qualifications, perhaps. I would love to know what qualifications Debbie Merridew, the Science teacher has. The bottom line is you get what you pay for!

They are paying to have their kids exposed to abysmal pedagogy and plain idiotic curriculum, in the name of thoroughly indoctrinating their offspring into their dubious values and ridiculous beliefs. The system is designed on tried and tested methods to subjugate critical faculties and produce blind obedience. It is the way cults have worked for millennia.

The problem, of course, is that the people that patronise establishments are not likely to ‘see the light’. But what about the kids? The Estyn report suggests that they are happy enough and certainly well-behaved and mutually respectful and supportive. There are certainly kids in Bridgend in far more harmful environments. There is no suggestion that Bridgend Christian School utilises biblical punishment regimes, as documented in some similar schools.

So long as not a single penny of public money goes to these charlatans, and so long as we do not shy away from publicly declaring our views on what they are doing, I am not convinced we should do much more. But then again ………

What do you think?

(Andy Chyba)

P.S. Bridgend Christian School closed down and the operating company dissolved at the end of the Summer Term 2015.

Green Party Leader Election Hustings

Yesterday evening I attended the Leadership Hustings in Cardiff. All four candidates were present:

An Englishman, a Scotsman, a Welshman and an Australian man went into an Irish pub ………Except three of them were women and this was no joke, but the very serious matter of working out who is the best person to take over from Caroline Lucas as Leader of the Green Party of England & Wales. I do not propose to cover the content of their addresses and answers to questions from the audience, as their views and stance on key issues can be seen on their websites (see links above).

I know of quite a lot of Greens who dislike the notion of a leader altogether, but I believe they have two key roles to play:

  1. The public face of the Party, which in these media focused times can be crucial.
  2. Strategic leadership – in terms of marshalling resources and optimising the fruits of our labours

The first point is the reason why many shy away from the notion of leaders altogether, but in the world we live in today, it would be a high risk strategy to swim against this particular tide. And I don’t think anyone could say that Caroline was not a big success in this role and thereby has been an asset to us all.

So in terms of this aspect of the role, how do the the candidates shape up?

All are highly intelligent and confident, articulate people, as I am sure you would expect, but as much as we may despise it, this aspect of the job boils down to persona, charisma and communication skills.

For me, this rules out Natalie and Pippa, for very different reasons.
Pippa has charisma in abundance, as we all know locally, but she can get a little carried away at times, meander a little, and be prone to the occasional gaffe. She is a fantastic campaigner, and great motivator, but I believe her skills are best used locally rather than on the national stage.
Natalie is a tremendous intellect and has achieved fantastic things in terms of re-shaping the national party already (especially for women), and although she is a media person (newspaper editor), her medium is the written word. I simply cannot see Natalie coming across well on TV and radio, and I believe this is a crucial consideration. She will, I am sure, be a key player in the future of the Party, but not, for me, as Leader.

So this leaves Peter and Romayne.
I have not seen or heard much of Peter before this campaign. He is a canny operator, for sure. He says the right things, and has an air of confidence and grit about him, but still manages to leave me a little cold. He needs a sprinkle of that magic ingredient, charisma. The regulation suit and shirt (thankfully no tie) do not help. He is close to the real deal, but maybe too much of a safe option. He has a great shot at becoming an MEP, and I would urge him to focus and make that his priority. The more electoral success we can muster, again, the better for all of us.
This leaves Romayne. If I am honest, Romayne was not quite at her sparkling best last night, seeming a tad weary, but she has a proven track record of electoral campaigning success (in Lewisham), national campaign leadership (with the Coalition of Resistance) and a down to earth, straight talking, feisty style that I believe will connect the best of the four with our target audience. Prominent in Green Left, she is also the most convincing Eco-socialist for me.

As for strategic leadership, they all have a lot to offer, but again, not necessarily in the Leader’s role.
Pippa has only just taken over the reigns of the Wales Green Party Leadership and, despite claiming business leadership skills, has yet to prove she has what it takes to shape an efficient Party machine. In some ways this may have come a little too early for her. I am keen to see what she can do in terms of licking Wales Green Party into shape before wishing to endorse her for national leadership.
Natalie comes across as having a strong vision of where she wants to take the Party, and I share much of the vision she lays out, but I have nagging doubts about her style and ability to carry people with her. She can be abrasive and I suspect talk of ‘making the party fit for purpose’ may not go down well with some senior figures in the Party who have brought us to where we are today.

Peter has a particularly strong vision of what is needed to help us here at the grass roots and has a strong socialist agenda in terms of human rights, housing etc., but I am unconvinced about his long term vision for the party. He talks repeatedly about being against ‘debt capitalism’ as if the right type of capitalism may be ok. I feel confident that he would help the Party develop and, as I said before, be a relatively safe pair of hands, but is this enough, I keep asking myself? One huge advantage he does have is that, with the Party constitution as it currently stands, he would probably come packaged with the very impressive Alexandra Phillips as his Deputy – http://alexfordeputy.org.uk/ . They have similar priorities and I believe Alex offers leadership skills that could effectively complement Peter’s. How well they know each other and would work together, I am not sure. (Update: please read comment below  from Caroline Allen – also a candidate for Deputy)

This again leaves me with Romayne, on balance, as my preferred choice. Romayne not only has the fullest, most rounded CV for the job, but she has the strongest socialist, anti-capitalist vision. She does not come across as a career politician, but as passionate would-be revolutionary (peaceful, of course). She also comes with a declared running mate, in Will Duckworth. Again, he provides complementary qualities and they come with an assured symbiosis between the two of them. Some may perceive them as a riskier option to Peter/Alex, but I firmly believe that we need to be more outspoken and provocative, but in a controlled and measured way. If we want to start ridding ourselves of the white, middle-class, do-gooder image, and start connecting with the disaffected, disillusioned traditional Labour voter, then it simply has to be Romayne and Will.