Monthly Archives: July 2015

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered

I made something of a pilgrimage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2003. It had a profound affect on me. Every world leader should have to visit these places (and Auschwitz) as part of their induction.

I will certainly be at at least one of these memorial events detailed below. The photos have been added by me.


Begin forwarded message:

From: marie

Subject: Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered

Subject: Hiroshima Day, August 6th, and Nagasaki Day, August 9th 2015

This year is the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which took place in August 1945. 2015/2016 is also the year when the UK Government will decide whether or not to replace Trident, with all that means for our future.

Accordingly, you are invited to the following two commemorations to mark the events of 70 years ago.

Thursday 6th August 6:30 pm at Tredegar House Lake, Newport
and Sunday 9th August 2pm at Roath Park Lake, Cardiff

Please publicise widely, especially in this 70th Anniversary year of the bombings. Further details below:

You are invited to the Hiroshima commemoration on Thurs. 6 August at 6:30 pm at the Lakeside at Tredegar House in Newport. This is an annual event originally organised by the local (now disbanded) branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West, is the key speaker and one or two others from Newport Interfaith Group and elsewhere also say a few words before strewing flowers people bring onto the Lake.

For the Nagasaki commemoration on Sun. 9th August Cor Cochion Caerdydd and Cardiff CND invite you to meet at 2pm, by the cafe on the lakeside, in Roath Park, Cardiff. We will remember Nagasaki and the human impact of nuclear warfare in poems, readings and song.

To both events, please bring friends, flowers, poems etc.

We hope to see you there.
In peace,

Ingrid and Marie

Note: WILPF developed out of an International Women’s Congress against WW1 that took place in The Hague in April,1915. The name WILPF was chosen in 1919. Several UK branches are still active a century later, working for social, economic and political equality for all, including the abolition of the war system, total and universal disarmament and the elimination of racism and sexism. See Ingrid Wilson 15 Bryngwyn Road Newport NP20 4JS 01633 267367 07976 267367

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 21.33.28P.S. I would like to suggest that as well as the things listed in bold above, the more creative among you might consider taking a paper origami crane to float on the lake. To understand why and see how to make one, check out these links:
The Story of the Peace Crane
Instructions for making an origami crane 

TTIP in Bridgend

I won’t be around on 22nd August – but hopefully someone out there (Bridgend Greens??) may get involved with this

Begin forwarded message:

From: “volunteer” <volunteer>

Subject: TTIP in Bridgend

Date: 27 July 2015 14:46:02 GMT+01:00

To: Andrew Chyba <andy.chyba>

Reply-To: action

38 Degrees

38 Degrees Logo
Dear Andrew,

Politicians in Europe have just voted to keep working on TTIP. [1] That’s the shady trade deal between the EU and the US that puts companies’ profits before ordinary people. [2] Most people still don’t know what TTIP is – or how much is at stake. Together, we urgently need to change that, because the shady deal has just been given a boost.

So let’s keep making sure that people are talking about why it’s bad for all of us. TTIP is negotiated in the interests of the mega rich – and it’ll give corporations the right to sue our government for billions if they don’t like their policies. Talking about this deal is the last thing politicians will want us to do this summer.

Here’s the plan. On Saturday 22nd August, thousands of us will join together in high streets and town centres across the UK. We’ll be collecting signatures for the massive EU-wide petition against TTIP. [3] If each of us collects 10 signatures, imagine how many more people we’ll have joining the campaign! Before long, the public will start to turn against TTIP – that’s when politicians and officials will lose.

Will you join the team in Bridgend? We’ll be coming together on Saturday 22nd August, meeting up at 11am on our high streets, nationwide. Click below to join the team in Bridgend:



People need to know about this dangerous deal. It’s a risk to the future of the NHS, and our other treasured public services. It’ll weaken laws that protect our environment, and undermine international efforts to combat climate change. [4] But most people aren’t going to find out unless we tell them: TTIP is being negotiated behind closed doors and most media are staying well clear.

38 Degrees members have already made huge progress lifting the secrecy this deal is shrouded in, through events like these in the past. This time last year, around 150,000 38 Degrees members had taken action against TTIP – now over 400,000 of us are involved in the campaign! [5]

So, are you in? Just click the link below to sign-up to the team in Bridgend – it’s on Saturday 22nd August at 11am. You’ll be asked to pop in some details, and then you can join an existing meeting, or set the venue for another one. Then the office team will invite other 38 Degrees members along. You can also chat online with other 38 Degrees members to get to know each other before the day.

Click here to join in:



Thanks for being involved,

Amy, Megan, James, Nat, Blanche and the 38 Degrees team

PS: In a few weeks time, you’ll get a parcel in the post: leaflets, t-shirt, badges, petition sheets – and some top tips to help you on the day. It’ll give you everything you need to take along on the day. And here are some handy FAQs if you’ve got any questions now:

Even if you can’t make your local meet-up, you could go door-to-door flyering leaflets or ask your local community centre if you could leave the leaflets on a table there. Click here to sign-up for a pack:

PPS: Not everyone can make it out onto the streets – and that’s totally understandable. There will be many more things that 38 Degrees members will do together over the summer, so look out!

[1] War on Want: Divided: MEPs pass controversial TTIP resolution:
Global Justice Now: Pro-TTIP report passes European Parliament after “dirty tricks” from President Schulz:
You can find our how your MEP voted here:
38 Degrees: TTIP: Who voted for what?
MEPs voted on a set of recommendations about TTIP. It’s not a legally binding vote, but gives a clear signal to the European Commission who are negotiating the deal with the US that they can keep going.
[2] Here’s some information about TTIP (but the staff team will give you a simple fact sheet if you’d like more easy-to-digest information before the day!):
38 Degrees: Information on TTIP:
The Telegraph: What is TTIP and why is it so controversial?:
[3] 38 Degrees members will be encouraging other people to add their names to the EU-wide petition against TTIP. It’s already got over 2.3 million signatures!:
[4] Friends of the Earth: What is TTIP? And why worry about it?:
[5] Read more about what 38 Degrees members are doing to stop TTIP here:
And have a read about previous Days of Action that 38 Degrees members have taken part in here:
38 Degrees: TTIP: Day of Action:
38 Degrees: Day of Action against TTIP in Scotland:
38 Degrees: Save our NHS – what a day!:

Major tar sands pipeline leak – lessons to learn, especially about regulators?

Tucked away in the business pages of Friday’s i newspaper was the following three-sentence piece: A major oil pipeline leak detected in the Canadian province of Alberta dates back to late June, the tar sands operator Nexen Energy has admitted. The company said about 5 million litres of bitumen, sand and produced water was spilt near its Long Lake oilsands site in a leak that has affected 16,000 sq metres, The pipeline was installed last year.

I guess you didn’t see the coverage on the BBC. I didn’t. There wasn’t any. The Canadian media had a few bits on it though. Most telling, in my eyes was this typical statement by a company executive, Ron Bailey: VIDEO

Let me develop his words for him. (What he says in quote marks; what he could/should have added after this):

No human impacts here immediately – but there probably will be in due course, most likely of the nasty health consequences variety.

We are deeply concerned – at the adverse publicity and impact on profits.

We sincerely apologise – to our shareholders.

We will take every step that we see reasonable … to respond to this – at least possible cost and to get back to full operations as quickly as possible so that we can carry on as if nothing really happened.

“… the regulators help us decide what to do – as we sure ain’t going to do more than the absolute minimum they will let us get away with.

To be fair to poor old Ron, clearly a bit embarrassed at being thrust before the cameras, these are exactly the same old platitudes trotted out after every oil & gas industry foul up. It might just as easily have been Mark Miller or Francis Egan talking about the induced earthquakes in Lancashire, mightn’t it? (Check this 38 degrees video out)

Nexen’s CEO is Fang Zhi – yes Nexen is a Chinese company – and he utters similar meaningless platitudes as a PR gambit here: ARTICLE/VIDEO

Setting aside the the issues about foreign ownership of companies, especially in this sector, I think the biggest message from all this is about the role of regulators.

Alberta’s energy and environment ministers say they’re troubled by a huge pipeline spill in the oilsands region, but they have confidence the provincial regulator will get to the bottom of what went wrong. Fair enough. But getting to the bottom of what went wrong is surely just the first step of what should be expected from them, is it not?

For years I laboured under the illusion that regulators were there to stop things going wrong. I thought they were there to determine what could go wrong and ensure that, as far as humanly possible, they would not go wrong. I believe far too many people labour under similar illusions to this day.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 14.09.10

Report from the OGP (International Oil & Gas Producers)

As the never-ending catalogue of calamities in the oil & gas industries (data 1970-2007) continue to mount up unabated, it is clear that regulation and regulators are inadequate. Why is this?

One obvious answer, especially in the current political climate of austerity, is that their resources to do the job properly are being relentlessly cut. Doing the job properly involves a hell of a lot of costly research and and a lot of human resources in monitoring effectiveness and trying to enforce the regulations. It is very expensive.

The truth is, they never have been funded adequately to do the job as well as they themselves would like, let alone as well as environmentalists would aspire to. Thus we are left with the unavoidable conclusion, supported by the collective experience and observations of years of environmental activism, that the whole regulatory regime is little more than a PR initiative on behalf of the government agencies that are pursuing their economic growth agenda. This is as true in Canada, it would appear, as it is here in theUK.

It is the way of the neoliberal capitalists calling the shots. And if you don’t believe this – just wait and see what TTIP delivers!!!

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 14.21.45

The Cultural Impacts of Fracking

This is the approximate content of a talk I delivered at the Festival of the Celts on 24th July.
Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 21.19.20
Fracking has become one of those issues that gets under your skin (quite literally in some cases – more of which soon) and really energises communities of all sorts. This is symbolised in no uncertain way by this symbol on my t-shirt:
Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 20.58.58

Does any body recognise it? For those that don’t it is a symbol designed specifically for a pagan ritual held a couple of years ago called “Albion (or the Earth) Will Not Be Fracked”. It has however been widely adopted by fractivist groups and individuals around the world. Let me share with you some thoughts of the designer:

“This is the magickal sigil that will unite all our efforts……. Everyone involved across the world will focus their energies through this symbol to form a unified, magickal web of protection around Albion. ……. as the power of thousands of people flow through it, the Warrior’s Sigil (as it is named) will become fully energised and active in both the apparent and unapparent worlds.

Everyone should now prepare this sigil for the globe spanning work …….. Bless it with love and truth, honour and right-action, bravery and strength. Ingrain it into your subconscious. Becomes its friend and ally.

It has been designed to protect against ‘fracking’ – both fracking’s physical destruction to the land, and the violence and intimidation the state will use to protect its interests.

It is not a sigil of attack. It is defensive in nature. It is a shield, not a spear.

It can be used anywhere in the world to assist in protecting land, water and air from fracking, as well as all the peoples (both human and non-human) that call that land home. In particular, it can be worn as a protective talisman by those of you who physically stand against fracking’s fell greed. All those who wear it with good intent will be granted luck and protection as they fight against the bullying, violence and suffering that fracking companies, corrupt politicians, police and security firms unleash against them and their communities. Be of no doubt that, over here in Albion, Balcombe is only the start. State repression WILL increase. We must be ready. Our shield-wall must not crumble.

So when you go on demonstrations, or visit protest camps, or undertake more direct forms of resistance against the scourge of fracking, wear the Warrior’s Sigil to bring you luck and protection. Place it on t-shirts, on wristbands, on necklaces and rings, put up posters of it around where you live (especially if you reside upon a protest camp), hang it over your alters, carry it in your wallets or your pockets, you can even have it inked (either permanently or non permanently) directly upon your skin!

And as proof of that latter point, here’s mine (left), Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 21.17.13

and here’s Melanie Dawn’s (SWAFF organiser): 11780116_525431947615597_451942840_o

This is how strongly the issue grips and inspires people. It resonates with those that feel an affinity with the ground beneath their feet – not just pagans and environmentalists but artists of all types too.

Take Sarah Woods, for example. She is one of Wales leading current playwrights. She was inspired through her connections with the Co-operative Social Goals Campaigning department to set up the Co-ops Frack Free Futures campaign. She was also inspired to write a radio play for the BBC entitled The State of Water, not directly about fracking, but focussing on the need to guard this precious commodity, set in a Welsh context.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 21.46.02Then there is painting. An internet search reveals a few eminent artists that have found inspiration from the fracking issue, mostly in North America it has to be said. My favourite is Barbara McPhail. She has a whole ‘Hydrofracking Series’ of 40 or more canvases, available as prints online. My personal favourite is this one entitled ‘Toxic Plume’ (left).

Of course, this image of fugitive emissions bubbling from a river bed has become a familiar one. It attracts interest as it is a rare (but not rare enough) situation in which the fugitive gases are in a sense visible to us. We must not be misled by such images. There is nothing special about river beds. Fugitive emissions can come up through the ground just about anywhere, completely invisibly to the human eye. This gives the lie to the industry claims to be able to monior and prevent fugitive emissions. They struggle enough with this at their well-heads, let alone anywhere else.

It seems to be that this human dimension of claim and counter claim, subterfuge and conflict that inspires many of the poets. Again, there is no shortage of fracking inspired poetry out there – much of it of dubious quality, but all of it from the heart.

This is certainly true of a American blog entitled FRACKING POEMS but I do like the message of this short verse inspired by news of New York State’s fracking moratorium:

Frackenstein Has Been Vanquished!

Our Joy Is Without Equal!

But Don’t Most Horror Movies

Spin Off a Sequel?

We certainly don’t ever want to get complacent at a achieving moratoriums – as the poem eloquently emphasises, they are prone to being lifted and the nightmare resuming.

I have also been attracted to this effort (by Nick Strong) that I came across on the Hello Poetry website , perhaps because it has a celtic dimension to it:

Well, what a week, full of revelation

Enough to stir this talk of revolution

Makes your hackles turn on end

Then send you round the bend

The English southern gentry have found oil

Right beneath their derriere boil

Now most of us on this golden isle

Need not worry about this pile

Those who wear weekend country tweed,

Built their fortunes from housing greed

Have already decided

That it will be one sided

They’ll say it’s theirs, by rights

And if we argue, will read our last rites

The South will declare independence

In certainty of their full ascendance

Over the outer reaches of this nation

They pounded into servitude, by taxation

And if we have the nerve to debate, I’ll be bound

They’ll leave it horded in the ground, 

Then blame the anti frackin’ hound

Now I may need a political re – education 

In a 1984 establishment for rehabilitation

But I can see it coming a five-nation island

Southland, Wales, Scotland, N. Ireland, 

And the Detritus

Not to be outdone, I had a go myself, not so long ago. It is called What does fracking stand for? Check it out here.

Wherever there is poetry, there is likely to be song. Something about the fracking issue really inspires the musicians among us. Indeed, Frack Free Wales was founded my musician Frances Jenkins, and alongside Justin Preece, performing at this festival, they were the only Welsh people arrested at Balcombe, prosecuted but acquitted.

Eighteen months ago I put together a Top 20 of YouTube fracking musical hits. There is genuinely something for everybody, in terms of musical tastes. Among the highlights were:

  • Leo Sayer (remember him?) performing with Aussies Against Fracking
  • The hip-hop classic “My water’s on fire tonight
  • Cuadrilla Killer, to the tune of Talking Head’s Psycho Killer
  • Cardiff’s Cor Cochion in harmony with Canton Community Choir singing ‘This Land is All
  • Top Celt, Frank Molloy, with a great song, great video and great lyrics
  • Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono with Artists Against Fracking
  • The Hydro Fracking Song by LRevolution – a Linkin Park style anthem
  • The heavy vibe of ‘Freakin Frackin‘ by Op-Critical
  • Lock the Gate by Laura Doe and the Chaps – off theAustralian  ‘Whole Lotta Fracking Going On’ fundraising album
  • Fracking Gasholes‘ – dodgy title, but a great song with an excellent video, including lyrics

and last, but not least:

  • The Fracking Anthem (to Blake’s Jerusalem) with words by Balcombe resident, and professional poet, Simon Welsh.

Altogether now: (click image, and then click ‘Show more’ for the lyrics)

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 23.31.12

Balcombe was, of course, the biggest and the best Community Protection Camp to date. These camps have become a cultural phenomenon in their own right. Barton Moss, Upton, Crawberry Hill, Dudleston, and Wales’s very own Borras, near Wrexham are all successful and mostly ongoing camps. It is hard to express just how inspirational these places are. Get and visit one, or at least support the first one in South Wales, which may well be with us before the end of the year.

Currently there are three sites identified as being most likely to see the drilling rigs turning up. These are near Bridgend, just outside the iconic village of Merthyr Mawr; Dyffryn, in the heart of the Vale of Glamorgan; and Llandow, near Llantwit Major. Subscribe to the Frack Free Wales newsletter to be kept abreast of all that is happening – via our website:

All this community activism has also given rise to a lot of film making, both amateur and professional. The big releases have included the now iconic Gasland and Gasland 2 by Josh Fox. How many have seen Gasland? (Not many) Well, it is available on Netflix and youtube – so check it out!

The industry’s response to Gasland 2 was to give the notorious Celt, Phelim McAleer a pot of money to go and make ‘Frack Nation’. Do not watch this without watching at least one of the the other movies I am flagging up! McAleer has previous. He made “Not Evil, Just Wrong” on behalf of the climate change deniers, along with “Mine Your Own Business” in which he describes nasty environmentalists keeping a community impoverished by opposing a mine development. I’ll say no more!

The opposite side of that story is told in Promised Land, the Matt Damon / Gus Van Sant Hollywood movie, that shows an impoverished farming area ultimately rejecting the big bucks offered by the industry as the result of an heroic grassroots campaign!

Finally I would like to flag up ‘Split Estate‘, a film that predates all the others, from 2009. Narrated by Ali MacGraw, it is very similar to Gasland in content, but with one key difference – highlighted in the title. Split Estate is a reference to the situation found in many western states such as Colorado and New Mexico, whereby the state never gave mineral rights to the landowners, as happened in many of the eastern states such Pennsylvania and New York (that feature in Gasland), when they kicked the British out after the War of Independence. During British rule, the norm was what we have in the UK – mineral rights being held by the crown. Hence the split estate; landowners own the surface land, but the state effectively owns the minerals beneath the surface. The film examines the consequences of this in pretty chilling terms. I watched it for the first time this week here(I think the subtitles are Russian!)

Viewed in this post-colonial context, I think it adds weight to the case for Celtic independence from the English colonisers. It may be the only way to wrest the mineral rights from the Crown and give Wales, and the other Celtic nations, true control over its destiny and its land.

I would therefore like to end by inflicting a bit more of my singing on you. I have written alternative ‘frack off’ lyrics to Land of My Fathers’, and it goes a bit like this:

Our land and our water, are vital to us,
We’ll always protect them, whatever the fuss.
The frackers can ‘frack off’, get off of our land,
Our future must be in our hands.

Frack! Frack! Oh no you don’t, it’s not on!
Keep our water clear,
And the land we hold dear,
Pack up all your rigs and be gone!

Thank you!

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 21.11.34

(Can you name all six?)

18 Welsh Labour MPs think it is OK to make the poor poorer

48 Labour MPs, including just 7 from Wales, defied Harriet Harman to vote against the Tory welfare bill, slamming its cuts to child tax credits and child poverty targets, despite orders from the acting leader and her party whips to abstain.

Leftwinger Jeremy Corbyn was the only leadership contender to defy his party whip and vote against the legislation, which aims to slash £12bn from welfare bills by cutting Employment and Support Allowance and reducing the benefit cap to £20,000 outside London.

During the debate, leftwinger John McDonnell, an ally of Mr Corbyn, declared: “I would swim through vomit to vote against this bill. And listening to some of the nauseating speeches in support of it, I might have to.

The bill passed its first serious Parliamentary hurdle with a government majority of 184, as 124 MPs of all parties voted against the bill’s second reading, including all 56 SNP MPs. But 184 Labour MPs abstained. The SNP’s Pete Wishart instantly urged the Speaker of the Commons to change the seating arrangements of the chamber to reflect which party was now the ‘official Opposition’.

As far as Wales’ MPs are concerned, they voted as follows:

Plaid Cymru maintained solidarity with their SNP and Green allies in voting solidly against. It was also good to see Mark Williams, the only Lib Dem left in Wales, justifying the faith shown in him by the Ceredigion electorate. You got what you voted for in the Tory held seats (does anyone know if Chris Davies has a conscience or some other reason for abstaining?).

But what an utter shambles for Welsh Labour, in line with the national farce that is the Labour Party. 18 fell into line with the utterly and hopelessly out of touch leadership of the party, insofar as that even exists. Firstly, let’s acknowledge the few that did the right thing:

  • Madeleine Moon – Bridgend
  • Jo Stevens – Cardiff Central
  • Ann Clwyd – Cynon Valley
  • Gerald Jones – Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney
  • Paul Flynn – Newport West
  • Carolyn Harris – Swansea East
  • Geraint Davies – Swansea West

I have to say an especial well done to my own MP, Madeleine Moon. I have had cause to criticise her her before for not having the courage of her convictions and strength of character to defy the party whips. Let us hope this is an encouraging, long overdue, sign of things to come from her. As for neighbouring Ogmore, Huw Irranca-Davies better be prepared for plenty more ‘wanker Irranca’ taunts.

This is, of course hot on the heels of the vote to apply the Climate Change Levy, for which the only opposition in Wales came from the 3 PC and one Lib Dem MP. Not a single Labour MP did the right thing on that occasion.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 19.58.10

Welsh Labour are now beyond even a sick joke. They are a busted flush and beyond redemption. Even if Jeremy Corbyn were to win the leadership battle, that could only lead to the whole party imploding.

The Welsh public need to wake up fast to these realities. There is barely nine months until the Welsh Government elections, and it is patently clear from the votes discussed above, that Wales needs to recognise who it can really trust to act in its best interests.

It would be nice to think that Wales Green Party had its own Caroline Lucas waiting in the wings and on the cusp of victory next year. That is patently going to have to wait a while.

In the meantime, we need to see as many Plaid Cymru AMs elected as possible, try to regain faith in Lib Dems where they are best placed, and failing this, scrutinise the Labour candidates to see if they have the credentials to merit our support (my list does’t go much beyond Mick Antoniw at the moment!).

It is time to build a Welsh Ecosocialist Alliance, across party divides, and set Wales on course to become the fairer, cleaner and more prosperous society that it have always sensed it has sought to be. Labour has moved away from these values. It is surely time for the electorate to move away from Labour.

Britain’s first energy positive house built at Stormy Down, Bridgend

The Solcer House at Cenin in Stormy Down, Wales The Solcer House at Cenin in Stormy Down, Wales, was build as part of the Low Carbon Research Institute programme. For every £100 spent on electricity used, it should be able to generate £175 in electricity exports.

Cardiff University Britain’s first low cost ‘energy positive’ house, which can generate more electricity than its occupants will use, opens on Thursday despite George Osborne axing plans to make housebuilders meet tough low carbon housing targets from next year.

The modest three-bedroom house built in just 16 weeks on an industrial estate outside Bridgend in Wales cost just £125,000 to build and, said its Cardiff University designers, will let occupants use the sun to pay the rent.

Using batteries to store the electricity which it generates from the solar panels that function as the roof, and having massive amounts of insulation to reduce energy use in winter months, it should be able to export electricity to the national grid for eight months of the year.

For every £100 spent on electricity used, it should be able to generate £175 in electricity exports, said Professor Phil Jones, whose team from the Welsh School of Architecture designed the house specifically to meet the low carbon housing targets set by the Labour government in 2006.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 00.48.03

These were scrapped last week by the Conservative government on the the grounds that housebuilders should not be over-regulated. “It was disappointing to see Osborne scrap the plans,” said Jones. “But the devolved Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish governments can set their own building standards. One reason we built this house was to demonstrate to builders that you could meet the standards at an affordable price with off-the-shelf technology. The housebuilders could do it too if they wanted to.”

According to Jones, the building costs of the 100 squar e metre energy positive house could drop below £100,000 if several were built at the same time. “We save money and space by making the photovoltaic panels the roof itself and by dispensing with radiators and making the air collector part of the wall,” he said.

“The building demonstrates our leading edge low carbon supply, storage and demand technologies at a domestic scale which we hope will be replicated in other areas of Wales and the UK in the future,” said Jones. “Buildings that can generate, store and release their own renewable energy could be a game-changer. [This house] is intentionally built with the best off-the-shelf, affordable technologies, so it proves what’s possible even now – and there’s plenty more technology in the pipeline,” said Kevin Bygate, chief executive of Specific, a consortium of major companies including BASF and Pilkingtons.

Welsh economy minister Edwina Hart , who is due to open the house on Thursday, said it showed what could be done with little money. “This unique property has the distinction of being the first building of its kind in the UK. It is a great showcase for the technologies being developed in Wales, with the potential to be adopted and replicated in future housing developments across the UK creating wide ranging long term benefits for the economy, the environment and occupiers.”

Source: Guardian

Location map for Cenin, Stormy Down (just off a48 between Bridgend and Pyle):

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The Greece Euro Debacle has Reminded the British Left Why it Used to Oppose the EU

Mike Shauhnessy operates the London Green Left Blog. I don’t often fully agree with Mike’s analysis of things, but on this occasion he echoes my thoughts exactly. I am therefore reflagging it here:

The Greece Euro Debacle has Reminded the British Left Why it Used to Oppose the EU

By Mike Shaughnessy

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 19.00.49I think it is fair to say that the British far left has, by and large, remained anti the European Union (or its various predecessor organisations) over the years. Of course, Tony Benn was always against our membership, but the broader left in Britain (the Labour left and the trade unions) changed from its opposition to the EU to a position of being in favour of continued membership in the late 1980s.

What caused this change was the Thatcher Conservative government in Britain at the time and the introduction of Jacque Delors European Social Chapter. In the autumn of 1988 Delors addressed the British Trade Union Congress, promising that the European Commission would be a force to require governments to introduce pro-labour legislation.

Delors appeared to be an ally for the British left’s fight with the Thatcher government, and this is where the roots of the Conservative Party’s opposition to all things European began. ‘Socialism via the back door’ was a phrase much bandied about at the time by the right of the Tory party and their cheerleaders in the press.

I think something is changing though and the treatment handed out to Greece over the last five years, and most acutely since the election of the Syriza anti-austerity party to government, has been a catalyst for a mood change amongst many on the British left.

I conducted a poll on the Green Left Facebook Page last week on the question of ‘does the EU’s treatment of Greece make you more likely to vote for Brexit’. Although the sample was small, there was a marginal majority from yes voters. The Green Left Facebook page has a lot of Green Party people using the site, so normally I would have expected a fairly large majority for no voters to this question.

Veteran of the British left Tariq Ali has said, that Greece has made his mind up to vote for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU when our referendum comes around, probably next year.

I read an interesting piece today by Ian Dunt on the Politics.Co.Uk site, entitled ‘The British Left is Finally Turning Against the EU, in which he argues against the EU from a largely anarchist perspective. He writes:

Today’s referendum reflects how Syriza has started to re-introduce the notion of participatory democracy to Europe…This week has finally seen this lesson start to be internalised by the left. It has done more to further the eurosceptic cause than anything Ukip has ever done. The debate has shifted from the right-wing critique of Europe – immigration, market interference – to the left-wing one, which is of German fiscal extremism applied to powerless local communities.

I must admit, I’ve been a Europhile for as long as I can remember as I have always liked the ‘internationalism’ associated with it, but I am having my own doubts now too. I was always happy with the Green Party line on the EU, that is, we want a different sort of Europe, for the people, not for the corporations and bureaucrats. But will we get a change to Europe to anything like we would want to see? I really doubt it in the foreseeable future.

The EU is a thoroughly undemocratic organisation and particularly with recent events in Greece which have thrown the spotlight on this. The EU appears to be going to completely ignore the decisive referendum result against the EU’s terms delivered by the Greek people on Sunday.

I am beginning to wonder whether this is a club I want to belong to after all.