Monthly Archives: August 2012

Bettws By-election – a reality check

Gareth’s excellent 24% in the Bettws Election in May gave rise to optimism that we could advance again in today’s by-election. It was not to be and casts May’s result in a different light. With most of Gareth’s vote switching directly to the Independent with a ‘don’t vote for political parties’ platform, it is clear that we had the anti-establishment vote in May and that the Independent offered an even more anti-establishment option this time around. Our Green message has not sunk in at all, sad to say.

Add to this the fact that Labour were taking no chances, and rolled out their big machinery and swarmed over Bettws like a rash today (apologies for the mixed metaphors – but it is getting late!), and we were always fighting over the minor places. We did at least beat the Tory – who couldn’t even be bothered to show up to the count.

So, time to re-group and re-evaluate where we are and where we are going. This will be what the whole party will be doing in the wake of the leadership election – with the result for this announced on Monday – and the Annual Conference just a week away.

Einstein said it is insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect different results. So it is more of the same for Bettws and Bridgend CBC. How depressing is that?

Welcome to the Asylum of the Universe!

The Green Party and the LGBTIQ community

In the course of my work I have become increasingly aware of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex & Queer people in our communities and issues affecting them. Some people will live in a full time presentation of their preferred gender, others will live part-time. And a whole new movement is emerging of people who are living between genders, embracing the potentials of gender-queer and gender-fluidity. It is a lot more complex than most people realise.

The mission of the National LGBT Green Group (LGBT-G) is to advance Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex & Queer (LGBTIQ) equality in our society and to raise awareness and understanding of Green and progressive values among LGBT people. LGBT-G aims to build a more sustainable and equal society where everyone is valued as an individual. The diversity within the LGBT community enriches all our lives, and should be encouraged and promoted. We will defend what we believe in, regardless of hostile media coverage.

http://www.lgbtgreens.org.uk/

Coming to terms with our sexuality can be a difficult and distressing time for anyone, but when there are no strong role models and apparent hostility at every turn, it can become a serious issue.

I have had the privilege this week of meeting an excellent role model who identifies as transgender, and also happens to be an excellent and highly qualified therapist who is expert in gender identity issues, cognitive behavioural, counselling and psychotherapy. I attended a suicide workshop that was a lot more interesting and stimulating than I thought possible.

Alex Drummond – Talk Me Better – http://www.talkmebetter.co.uk/?/counselling-services/gender-identity/

Alex Drummond – GrrlAlex – http://www.grrlalex.com/

Alex is based near Caerphilly, but covers most of South Wales – including Bridgend.

Earthjustice petition on Fracking to President Obama

Sponsored by: Earthjustice In the State of the Union, President Obama promised that drilling and fracking for natural gas would happen “without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.” But oil and gas companies are lobbying hard to get him to go back on his word.We need to push back! Remind Obama that fracking for natural gas shouldn’t come at the expense of people’s health.

http://www.therainforestsite.com/clickToGive/campaign.faces?siteId=4&campaign=EarthJustice-Fracking&ThirdPartyClicks=ETE_083012_EarthJustice-Fracking_F

Bettws By-election Update

Leafleting and canvassing schedule has had its up and downs, but with re-enforcements drafted in today from Swansea Green Party, courtesy of Keith Ross, we are back on schedule to complete planned activity tomorrow.

We have had issues with the Risograph printing facilities at Wales Green Party HQ, with graphics compromised a bit and an inability to print the reverse side of the last leaflet, but, overall, feedback has been positive.

The young lady standing as an Independent has broken cover and seems to be taking the line that we cannot trust the established parties to deliver on their promises. The Labour campaigning has been based on trying to take credit for things they have little influence on (re-building the school wrecked by fire, the Life Centre) and making a big thing of their candidate having lived there once upon a time. The Tories appear to have wasted no printed material or shoe rubber at all – which is one of their most sensible and greenest decisions they have made for a long, long time.

In all, it looks set for an interesting two way battle between us and Labour – with the Independent a potentially minor, but significant factor – if it proves as close as we hope (and the Tory completely inconsequential).

I hope to be able to post the result before midnight on Thursday – so watch this space!

Andy Chyba

Welsh Government E-Petition: Fracking

We are still very much campaigning for a UK-wide moratorium – but this FOTEC petition is something that should be supported as a precaution against the wider campaign failing to convince the ********** (choose you own term here) in the ConDem Government.

E-Petition:Fracking

We call upon the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Minister for Environment, Planning and Housing to produce a Ministerial Interim Minerals Planning Policy Statement as well as a new technical advice note to strengthen the precautionary principle with regard to planning applications for onshore oil and gas, including fracking.

All reasonable scientific doubt that there is any risk of adverse impacts must be eliminated, and strongest consideration must be given to the urgent need to mitigate climate change.

Sign this petition

Petition Status:

Open Petition Start Date: 02/08/2012 Open until midday on: 24/09/2012
Sponsored by Gareth Clubb – Friends of the Earth Cymru

https://www.assemblywales.org/gethome/e-petitions/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=786

Creationism -– the thin end of a very dangerous Wedge Strategy.

I have written before on the need for the Green Party to base its policies on good science and rational thinking https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/is-anti-science-dogma-damaging-the-green-party-asks-Andy-Chyba/. For the most part it does this very well. We run into trouble occasionally by allowing our utopian visions to distort our interpretation of the evidence, but the principles of rationality are embedded in our core philosophy.

This is well reflected in our robustly secular education policies, for example (ED175-178). This is profoundly important if we are ever going to achieve a saner, more peaceful world. Of course people are entitled to practice whatever faith (or, for that matter, hobby, sexual practice, political doctrine etc.) that they like, within the constraints of the law of the land which ought to be another way of saying within reason.Things that are patently without reason are clearly problematical. The state legitimately intervenes when there is overwhelming evidence that something is ridiculous, harmful or dangerous. We have constant, largely political, debate and tinkering around the edges of the debates on these things, especially I terms of appropriate responses to these issues.

This brings me to the issue of creationism, and especially creationist ideology in schools. The current Governments willing support, to a point of encouragement, of creationist teaching has ignited a debate that we have not really needed before because the notion of creationism is so patently ridiculous.

We all know that creationism is not a mainstream Christian viewpoint, and it really should not be occupying the minds of rational human beings. That fact that it has come to do so is sinister and worrying. It has become part of a well established strategy, known as the Wedge Strategy which is being used so very successfully by the religious right-wing of US politics the Republican GOP and Tea Party in particular.

The Wedge Strategy is not about winning arguments. It couldnt be. It is simply about having the argument. It was a strategy Adolf Hitler used to such good effect. He called it The Big Lie – if you tell a big enough lie and keep repeating it enough, people will soon start believing it.

Creationists are using this strategy to validate their position and advance their political agenda. Simply engaging in the debate generates an illusion that erodes the robustness of the scientifically established fact of evolution. Most scientists will not waste their time on the creationist debate as there really is nothing to debate. However, Richard Dawkins and other eminent scientists have found themselves drawn into the debate as a result of moronic decisions by, arguably, the most irresponsible Education Secretary that has ever evolved Michael Gove.

The Wedge Strategy is working and we should all be very concerned by this. Its sinister impact is beginning to be seen in the public discourse now seen on issues such as abortion and rape. It can also be seen in the ever growing number of politicians, both sides of the pond, that are willing to consider the absurd and the ridiculous as acceptable. Five out of seven Republican candidates supported the acceptability of teaching creationist doctrine in schools. I heard more than one saying we should be teaching the controversy. What controversy? There has to be at least a thread of credibility for something to be controversial.

The Wedge is being driven in hard and we need to resist, and quickly, if we are not going to retreat into the Dark Ages. A line needs to be drawn in the sand NOW!

The intractable problem is that the absurd cannot be defeated by rational argument or with scientific evidence. It is Bertrand Russells Cosmic Teapot and the Flying Spaghetti Monster revisited.

We need to challenge miseducation at every turn. No, it is not acceptable to teach homophobia in voluntary aided Roman Catholic schools. No, it is not okay for big corporations to sneak money into supporting religious fundamentalist schools teaching the disgraceful ACE curriculum imported directly from the Bible Belt of the Deep South States (as with Ford and the Bridgend Christian School). No, it is not okay for Gove to sanction public money for the deliberate and demonstrable miseducation of children, as with the three creationist Free Schools he has just approved in Sunderland, Sevenoaks and Nottinghamshire.

These are all things that should be the preserve of churches –  not schools. Amen.

SUGGESTED READING:

Green Party Faith Schools policyhttp://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ed#Faith

Adam Rutherford “Ending the Wedge”http://newhumanist.org.uk/2841/ending-the-wedge

Denis G. Campbell “The Vagina Wars: GOP’s War on Women (WTF Are They Doing)”http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vagina-Wars-Women-Doing-ebook/dp/B007VDQ3MS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1345826225&sr=1-1 (Denis is an American journalist living in the Vale of Glamorgan – who I got to know quite well on the Vale Says No campaign. This is £2 well spent, I promise you – especially with the US Presidential Election coming up soon)

Wikipedia “Wedge Strategy” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

Wikipedia “Big Lie” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Lie

Wikipedia “Flying Spaghetti Monster” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

Jeevan Vasagar “Creationist groups win Michael Gove’s approval to open free schools” Guardian, 17 July 2012 – http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jul/17/creationist-groups-approval-free-schools

Andy Chyba “Bridgend Christian School – ACE or CRAP?” https://bridgendgreens.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/bridgend-Christian-school-ace-or-crap/