Category Archives: Environment
A growing number are urging Government to move support from the Trident project and arms export industry to other sectors that meet real needs and use highly skilled workers for constructive purposes, designing emission-free rail, road and waterway vehicles, advancing renewable energy, particularly wave and tidal energy, engineering low emission new-build housing and retrofitting much of the housing stock.
- On the Lucas Plan website, following its 40th anniversary, we read that one of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s excellent reports, released during his 2015 election campaign, has put arms conversion firmly back on the political agenda.
- Following this, Steve Schofield, who is arguably the country’s leading authority on arms conversion, wrote “Defence Diversification or Arms Conversion? Why Labour needs a programme for nuclear and conventional disarmament“.
- The Campaign Against Arms Trade’s 2015 case study “Arms industry in the Clyde and renewable energy options” examined an arms dependent area in depth.
- The Unite trade union, withits dual commitment to world peace and disarmament and to the protection of its members’ jobs published “Defence Diversification Revisited” in March 2016. This looks at the history of “defence diversification” in the UK and elsewhere. At its July policy conference Unite committed itself to campaigning for a serious government approach to “defence diversification”, condemning the failure of successive governments to grapple with the issue after the Cold War.
- In 2016, MEP Molly Scott Cato commissioned a report “Devonport: Trident alternatives”, an overview of green employment potential.
In October this year, Andrew Smith cited a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute which put the cost to tax payers of government support for the arms trade at more than £100m a year, adding, “This is to say nothing of the huge levels of political and logistical support that the arms companies are offered”.
Widely accepted figures from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) are that arms exports only count for 0.2% of UK jobs and around 1% of exports. According to the MoD, 65,000 British jobs depend on arms exports and as the total number of jobs in the UK is just over 30 million the arms trade accounts for a tiny fraction of total employment.
And this manufacturing sector is not flourishing – the ‘defence’ industry now represents only 10% of all manufacturing.
A range of housing has been built on the Royal Ordnance site in Euxton, where the land is so contaminated that vegetable growing is forbidden. Last month, BAE, major employers in the area, announced that it will be cutting up to 750 jobs Warton and Samlesbury plants in Lancashire and up to 400 people will be made redundant in Brough, East Yorkshire.
The Trades Union Congress, passed a motion in October calling for the Labour Party to set up a shadow defence diversification agency to engage with plant representatives, trades unions representing arms industry workers, and local authorities. The agency would listen to their ideas, so that practical plans can be drawn up for arms conversion while protecting skilled employment and pay levels.
GND: “At the high skilled end (engineering and electronic) design; though to medium and unskilled work making every building energy tight, and fitting more efficient energy systems in homes, offices and factories . . . putting in place a new regional grid system, ranging from large-scale wind, wave and tidal electricity to decentralised energy systems that increase domestic and local energy production”.
We add to their recommendations the designing of emission-free rail, road and waterway vehicles and of advances in tidal and wave power, which have enormous potential but are currently lagging far behind solar, wind and hydropower technologies.
As Matthew Lynn wrote in The Spectator: “There might be a case for maintaining a modest, specialised arms industry to support our own army. But anyone who thinks an export-driven defence industry is important to the economy should stop kidding themselves”.
One Times reader commented: ”The Sunday Times is on a Corbyn bashathon today. “All hands to the wheel, 700 words on Jezza…” I would turn to the sports pages but I suspect there might be a sly dig at Labour lurking somewhere”.
Author Sarah Baxter’s photograph (right) adorns her article – and the headline continues (“his goons crush dissent”) by implying ‘heavies’ were menacing anyone failing to applaud. The sub-line was: “Labour moderates are put to the sword”, but she was merely rehashing recent events at the Unite Union.
New Musical Express (NME), a British music magazine, had the grace to give a straightforward account and also published the full text of the speech. Highlights were:
His words to the many young people in the audience who had been “fed up with being denigrated, fed up with being told they don’t matter. Fed up with being told they never participate, and utterly fed up with being told that their generation was going to pay more to get less in education, in health, in housing, in pensions and everything else. That they should accept low wages and insecurity, and they should see it as just part of life” . . .
“Because we’re there demanding and achieving something very different in our society and in our lives.
“There’s a number of things, they’re very simple, very basic questions that we should ask ourselves:
- Is it right that so many people in our country have no home to live in and only a street to sleep on?
- Is it right that so many people are frightened of where they live at the moment having seen the horrors of what happened at Grenfell Tower?
- Is it right that so many people live in such poverty in a society surrounded by such riches? No it obviously is not.
- And is it right that European nationals living in this country, making their contribution to our society, working in our hospitals, schools and universities don’t know if they’re going to be allowed to remain here?
I say, they all most stay and they all must be part of our world and part of our community, because what festivals are about, what this festival is about, is coming together.
“Do you know what? When people across the world think the same, cooperate the same, maybe in different languages, different faiths, peace is possible and must be achieved. And do you know what? Let’s stop the denigration of refugees, people looking for a place of safety in a cruel and dangerous world. They are all human beings just like us here today. They’re looking for a place of safety and looking to make their contribution to the future of all of us, so let’s support them in their hour of need. Not a threat and a danger.
“I think we should adopt a maxim in life that everyone we meet is unique. Everyone knows something we don’t know, is slightly different to us in some ways. Don’t see them as a threat. Don’t see them as the enemy. See them as a source of knowledge, a source of friendship and a source of inspiration.
“We cannot go on destroying this planet through global warming, through pollution, through the destruction of habitat, through pollution of our seas and rivers. We have to live on this planet, there is only one planet. Not even Donald Trump believes there is another planet somewhere else. And so let us protect the planet that we’ve got. Use the technology that we have to manage and control the use of our natural resources so that the planet is here in future generations in better condition than it is at the present time.
“But let’s also look at instability and problems around the world and tackle the causes of war: the greed of natural resources, human rights, the irrational imprisonment of political opponents. Let’s look to build a world of human rights, peace, justice and democracy all over the planet”.
The rightwing press called his preference for attending the music festival over celebrating Armed Forces Day a former soldier pointed out that JC was actually raising the morale of his grand-children by promising them a better future.
And as two Sunday Times journalists feebly jibed at Corbyn’s wrinkles (‘Glasto raves with ‘Jagger’ Corbyn‘, looking down on the ‘Glastonbury festival masses’ who in a ‘rabidly Jeremaniac mood’ ‘succumbed’ yesterday to a ‘frenzied outbreak of Corbynmania’, Corbyn ended:
“This festival, this wonderful festival and all of its stages and music gives that chance it that opportunity to so many young musicians, that they may achieve and inspire us all. And I’m proud to be here for that. I’m proud to be here to support the peace movement here and the way that message gets across. But I’m also very proud to be here for the environmental causes that go with it.
“Let us be together and recognise another world is possible if we come together to understand that. Understand the power we’ve got to achieve that decent, better society where everyone matters and those poverty-stricken people are enriched in their lives and the rest of us are made secure by their enrichment”.
In February Jeremy Corbyn quoted Einstein: “If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes & shoddy furniture let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas & shoddy philosophies.”
Highlights of his latest address in the EU referendum campaign follow:
EU membership has guaranteed working people vital employment rights, including four weeks’ paid holiday, maternity and paternity leave, limits to working hours, protections for agency workers and health and safety in the workplace. Being in the EU has raised Britain’s environmental standards, from beaches to air quality, and protected consumers from rip-off charges.
In the coming century, we face huge challenges, as a people, as a continent and as a global community, serious and pressing issues which self-evidently require international co-operation:
- how to deal with climate change,
- how to address the overweening power of global corporations and ensure they pay fair taxes,
- how to tackle cyber-crime and terrorism,
- how to ensure we trade fairly and protect jobs and pay in an era of globalisation,
- how to address the causes of the huge refugee movements across the world and
- how we adapt to a world where people everywhere move more frequently to live, work and retire.
We need to make the case for reform in Europe – democratic reform to make the EU more accountable to its people
Mr Corbyn is critical of its shortcomings, from its lack of democratic accountability to the institutional pressure to deregulate or privatise public services. Europe needs to change, but that change can only come from working with allies in the EU. Changes include:
- economic reform to end to self-defeating austerity, putting jobs and sustainable growth at the centre of European policy,
- labour market reform to strengthen and extend workers’ rights in a real social Europe and
- new rights for governments and elected authorities to support public enterprise and halt the pressure to privatise services.
The crisis in the steel industry
A global problem and a challenge to many European governments, the European Union – 28 countries and 520 million people – could have made us stronger, by defending our steel industries together. The European Commission did propose new tariffs on Chinese steel, but it was the UK Government that blocked these co-ordinated efforts to stop Chinese steel dumping. Germany, Italy, France and Spain have done much better at protecting their steel industries, because they acted within EU state aid rules to support their industries; whether through taking a public stake, investing in research and development, providing loan guarantees or compensating for energy costs.The jobs created under the Conservative Government are too often low skill, low pay and insecure jobs. If we harnessed Europe’s potential we could defend high skill jobs in the steel industry and in others.
The Conservatives are committed to protecting the tax avoidance industry
The Prime Minister in 2013 personally intervened with the European Commission President to undermine an EU drive to reveal the beneficiaries of offshore trusts, and even now, in the wake of the Panama Papers, he still won’t act. On six different occasions since the beginning of last year Conservative MEPs have voted down attempts to take action against tax dodging. On Tuesday, the EU announced a step forward on country-by-country reporting. We believe we can go further. But even this modest measure was opposed by Conservative MEPs last December.
Labour has allies across Europe prepared to take on this global network of the corrupt and we will work with them to clamp down on those determined to suck wealth out of our economies and the pockets of our people.
Some argue that we need to leave the EU because the single market’s rules are driving deregulation and privatisation. They certainly need reform. But it was not the EU that privatised our railways. It was the Conservative Government of John Major and many of our rail routes are now run by other European nations’ publicly owned rail companies. They haven’t made the mistake of asset stripping their own countries.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is also a huge cause for concern, but we defeated a similar proposal before in Europe, together when it was called the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, back in 1998. Labour MEPs are rightly opposing the Investor-State Dispute Mechanism opposing any attempt to enforce privatisation on our public services, to reduce consumer rights, workplace protections or environmental standards.
Working together in the European Union is vital for tackling climate change and vital in protecting the environment we share
Climate change is the greatest threat that humanity faces this century. And Britain cannot tackle it alone. We could have the best policies possible but unless we act together internationally, it is worthless. Labour brought in the Climate Change Act, John Prescott played a key role in getting the Kyoto Protocols agreed. Labour has led the debate within Europe.
Regulations agreed in Europe have improved Britain’s beaches and waterways and are forcing us to tackle the scandal of air pollution which will kill 500,000 people in Britain by 2025, unless we act.
Jobs and migration
We live in an increasingly globalised world. Many of us will study, work or even retire abroad at some point in our lives. Free movement has created opportunities for British people. There are nearly three-quarters of a million British people living in Spain and over two million living in the EU as a whole. Learning abroad and working abroad, increases the opportunities and skills of British people and migration brings benefits as well as challenges at home.
Failure to train enough skilled workers means we have become reliant on migration to keep our economy functioning. This is especially true of our NHS which depends on migrant nurses and doctors to fill vacancies. Enough skilled workers should be trained to stop the exploitation of migrant labour to undercut wages and invest in local services and housing in areas of rapid population growth.
There is a strong socialist case for staying in the European Union and for reform and progressive change in Europe. We need a Labour government, to stand up – at the European level – for industries and communities in Britain, to back public ownership and public services, to protect and extend workers’ rights and to work with our allies to make both Britain and Europe work better for working people.
The move to hold this referendum may have been more about managing divisions in the Conservative Party. But it is now a crucial democratic opportunity for people to have their say on our country’s future, and the future of our continent as a whole.
Left to themselves, it is clear what the main Vote Leave vision is for Britain to be the safe haven of choice for the ill-gotten gains of every dodgy oligarch, dictator or rogue corporation. They believe this tiny global elite is what matters, not the rest of us, who they dismiss as “low achievers”.
I appeal to everyone, especially young people – who will live longest with the consequences – to make sure you are registered to vote to keep Britain in Europe this June, to build a better world engage with the world, build allies and deliver change. The EU, despite its failings, has proved itself to be a crucial international framework to do that.
Read the full text here
Well before the election, MP Caroline Lucas wrote an inspiring open letter to Jeremy Corbyn: “I can help you build a progressive majority”
Written in September 2015, found in drafts: well worth publishing
In the space of just a few weeks you’ve brought something into your party that’s been missing for far too long: hope.
I’ve never felt so optimistic about a potential leader of the Labour Party. For the first time in my memory, the party of Keir Hardie and Clement Attlee looks likely to be led again by someone who dares to stand up for the radical changes demanded by the challenges we face.
I’ve shared many platforms with you, from opposing Britain’s disastrous and bloody war in Iraq to supporting investment in the economy in place of relentless and cruel austerity. Your inspiring campaign has put so many of our shared values into the centre of the debate in British politics.
The beauty of this moment, and what scares the political establishment most, is that the power of your campaign is coming from thousands of grassroots voices – not a diktat from above.
It hardly seems a coincidence that the first truly democratic leadership election in your party’s recent history is producing such a powerful resurgence in optimism. People do indeed vote differently when they know their vote counts.
However, to fully embrace this moment – and if Labour is to truly become part of a movement rather than remain just a machine – it’s crucial to recognise the multi-party nature of modern British politics.
No one party has a monopoly on wisdom, or is capable of making the transformation alone: a diversity of progressive voices is essential for our democracy.
Greens, for example, bring vital and distinctive issues to the table – most crucially, and at the heart of our politics, is the fundamental belief that a new social contract will only ever be possible if it’s built upon the foundations of “one planet living”. Without a safe climate at the heart of our policymaking, progressive politics won’t ever take root. Indeed, there is no better argument for abandoning tribalism than the looming climate crisis we face.
If we’re going to stabilise our environment and build a secure economy that serves our children and grandchildren, we have to work together.
For that reason, one of my few disappointments about your campaign is that it hasn’t focused more on reforming our ailing democracy
A truly progressive politics fit for the 21st century requires a voting system which trusts people to cast a ballot for the party they believe in.
If you do win this contest I believe you should take this opportunity – and the huge amount of momentum behind you – to call a constitutional convention to allow people across the country to have a say in remodelling Britain for the future. A convention has the potential to energise even more people than your leadership campaign, or the Green surge, and to inspire the kind of feeling across the UK that swept Scotland in 2014.
In the short term, for the next general election – which will still be contested under First Past the Post – my personal view is that there is potential in considering local grassroots electoral pacts where progressive candidates are standing . . . It’s only by winning that we have the chance to implement positive change.
By working together in the coming weeks and months we can continue to build upon the movement you’ve played such a huge role in creating.
Not only can we provide real economic alternatives to austerity, defend the trade unions and make the argument for urgent climate action, but we can also start to imagine an entirely different future – of a new social settlement, an economy that provides decent pay and allows people to flourish outside of work too. Crucially, a new politics will provide a constitutional framework which hands power from Westminster back into the hands of voters
The old politics is crumbling, not just in Britain but across our continent. We now have the chance to embrace a movement based not on greed or fear, but on resilient local communities, people working together and a stable economy that works for generations to come. I truly hope you win the contest on 12 September – and I look forward to continuing to work with you to bring about the progressive politics that has inspired us both for so many years.
Green MP for Brighton Pavilion