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Taking a broader perspective…

Defend the Lambeth Labour one….

I don’t intend to revisit the debate in this post about what Labour councils should do about the cuts. Regardless of where comrades stand on that question, I think there should be a degree of unanimity about basic democratic norms we adhere too. If we take that as something of a given the actions of Lambeth’s Labour Group in withdrawing the whip from Councillor Kingsley Abrams are totally unacceptable. Abrams only ‘crimes’ appear to be speaking in a forthright manner and voting against a draft budget that includes £37 million worth of cut backs to local services:

Abrams told cabinet members to “get yourselves real jobs”, and was told by leader Steve Reed that his behaviour was “disgraceful, coming from a Labour councillor”.

Quite why comrade Reed feels this way isn’t explained. Either he doesn’t like the way Abrams voted or the way he spoke; neither of which are cause for disciplinary action in a democratic forum. True, Abrams may have been being a little angular but I think we all can be at times and a robust and healthy democratic culture tolerates this and absorbs it. I find it hard to believe the Labour whip, Jack Hopkins, protestations that he is feeling heavy-hearted about this decision though given the fact that not only has he withdrawn the whip from Abrams but has referred him to his local party to see if any further action is merited.

Disgraceful is an adjective many would feel applies to Labour councils making these cuts in the first place. Nonetheless I have yet to see any serious arguments that all those who do should be subject to disciplinary action. Events in Lambeth seem to set a worrying precedent. Are all those local representatives who stand-up for their communities to be treated this way? You would hope not but you never know.  It really should not be the case that a case for the allowance of free speech and free action should have even to be argued for in this context. You would kind of hope it would be taken as a given. However, that seems still not to be the case even for the brave ‘New Generation’ and their Captain Miliband. The much-vaunted policy review process seems to be descending into high farce as the leadership does everything within its power to avoid consulting the membership.

Labour’s cultural grasp of democracy and commitment to it internally and externally  frankly leaves a lot to be desired still. This is not just a academic question but one of political principal and necessity. Labour will not become a government again by running the likes of Councillor Abrams over with the bureaucratic tank. It may be elected but it won’t be a government. Councillor Abrams should be reinstated immediately and something akin to a democratic revolution should be sparked to sweep through the Party and cleanse it of the utter nonsense spouted by messers Reed and Hopkins in Lambeth.

Filed under: Labour, The Left,

A new proposal for a green future… How House of Lords reform should really be done

Councillor Rupert Read has been a Green Party City Councillor in Norwich since 2004, to find out more about Rupert visit his blogand twitter. You can view the original post here.

Introduction: House of Lords reform is next

Now that it is certain that the AV referendum will take place on May 5, coinciding with local election day and elections in Scotland and Wales (incidentally, this date is one which I first broke to the nation, scooping the BBC and everyone else), it is a good time to reflect on the strange beast that is the House of Lords, that almost scuppered this referendum (albeit not without some good reason!: see here).

There is of course a lot to be said for the House of Lords, at least as compared to the conduct of many of those who have won election to the House of Commons! In respect of this latest example, for instance, it is clear that in some respects they have intelligently improved the bill that will allow the AV referendum to go ahead, in particular by loosening the tightness of the strictures on constituency size.

But in the end, one thing is inescapable: the method of selection of the Lords – essentially, patronage – is just fundamentally unacceptable in a modern democracy. We need to have a House of Lords candidates for which are picked in some other, better way: either by election via proportional representation (which is Green Party policy, and seems likely to be the route that the Coalition chooses), or by lot (selection, that is, via the so-called ‘Athenian option’, argued for by OK’s Anthony Barnett: see this intriguing review).

Once the AV referendum has been won (or lost – please let it not be lost! #Yes2AV !), then the burden of constitutional reform will switch to the question of the House of Lords. This is not a ‘long-grass’ issue – Clegg and others in his Party are determined to make progress on it, and rightly so. It is in this context that I have been working on this issue.

For I think that we need to broaden our sense of what can be achieved in House of Lords reform. It is not enough merely to democratise the upper house; we ought to seize this opportunity to rethink its raison d’etre. Especially as, if we have elections for the Lords, there will be a greater need to distinguish the Lords more radically from the Commons. One way to do so would be to give it a new purpose, besides just being a revising chamber. And that is the purpose of this ‘thinkpiece’: to suggest such a new purpose.

 

A new, ‘green’ purpose for the upper house; and how best to select candidates for it

 

What if we were to make the House of Lords into the House of the Voiceless? A place where the interests of non-human animals and of future people (see my http://www.opendemocracy.net/rupert-read/last-refuge-of-prejudice ) were, by oath, the first concern of the senators (if such is to be their new names)?

This would of course actually fit particularly well, if the selection of all or some candidates for this chamber were to be done by lot. (You could for instance select most of the senators making up the new Upper House by PR, and the rest, those designated specifically perhaps as ‘guardians’ for the voiceless, by lot: that would be a ‘hybrid’ upper house that could achieve the tasks of revising legislation and of protecting voiceless people/beings, in tandem. See below…) For then it would make great sense, to think of those selected as being given a special vocation (as jurors have, in another context) to voice the concerns of the voiceless.

The idea that I had some years ago (here is one of the first places that I started to write it up), a proposal that I have been developing in my philosophical work recently, and that I have been speaking on in various fora (see here and here), is specifically that all or (perhaps better still) some portion of the new upper house should be constituted by ordinary citizens selected by lot to represent powerfully the voices of the voiceless, in the deliberations of the nation. I recently offered evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (on which Green Party MP Caroline Lucas sits: see here for my evidence), along these lines.

It would be interesting to know what readers of Rupert’s Read think of this idea (or rather, more strictly speaking, of this phalanx of related ideas, for there are obviously various different ways in which the basic impulse here could be implemented, as I have already implied).

For those without time to visit the links, here is the idea is in a nutshell:

From the House of Lords to the guardians

Plato said we should be ruled by guardians. Habermas and other deliberative-democratic philosophers of course abhor the anti-democratic sentiment permeating Plato’s proposal, and rightly so. But… what if the guardians were selected democratically, for example by sortition? And: what if their deliberations became a high-profile model of what deliberation in a democratic society could be?

Still, there seems little case for substituting guardians for normal elected representatives, for decisions which can be made about us, by people who represent us. But… what about cases where the people, the beings who ought to be heard in or even to be making the decisions have no voice — even over matters which are life or death matters for them?

Future people are the most obvious case of such people. I propose therefore powerful guardians for future people / guardians of the future / guardians of future generations, either to take the place in our system of the royal assent, or to occupy part of the role of the upper house in the course of House of Lords reform.

Their most fundamental powers, besides standard revising powers, would be, on my proposal:

a) To veto in whole or in part new legislation that threatened the basic needs and fundamental interests of future people / of the voiceless.

b) To force a review, on petitioning, if appropriate, of any existing legislation or of administrative decisions that threaten the basic needs and fundamental interests of future people / of the voiceless

Conclusion: A path to a green future, via constitutional reform?

Everyone is agreed that our current democracy is failing to achieve a green future. Why not seize the moment offered by House of Lords reform, and consider some much more radical version of such reform than the Coalition is currently intending? Perhaps then, the time is ripe for thinking about helping to achieve a green future, by creating a new role, that of guardians, who would, in the context of radical reform of the upper house, become and then be an intimate part of our democratic institutions…

For after all: The people who would rule, if we simply move to selecting candidates for the upper house by PR elections, or by lot, without altering the raison d’etre of the upper house, are only the people (in fact, the adult, registered-to-vote, not extremely-infirm etc. people) who are alive now. But surely, ‘the people’ ought to be thought of in a far more temporally extended manner. Does a people only exist as a momentary time-slice? Surely not. A people, a nation-state, a community, a society, is something extended over time. It extends into the past, and extends indefinitely into the future.

Burke, in a passage clearly forgotten by supposed c/Conservatives in UK and USA for 30 years or more, says that society is a contract between the dead, the living and those unborn (with no limit specified on the generations ahead)… He is right…

It is clear that we need Lords willing to radically reform or to abolish themselves, if we are to achieve Lords reform, 100 years on from the Parliament Act. But I think, with ecological crisis looming or upon us, it is also high time to think about how such radical reform of the upper house can be dovetailed in with institutional reform to try to help assure a greener future.

Maybe undertaking such thinking would even make the Lords more willing to accept their own exit, in the service of a greater good…

Filed under: Uncategorized

Two replies to the #NotoAV camp….

Councillor Rupert Read has been a Green Party City Councillor in Norwich since 2004, to find out more about Rupert visit his blog and twitter. You can view the original posts here and here.

This exchange between the excellent Jonathan Bartley of #Yes2AV and the spinning sneering smearer Charlotte Vere of #No2AV was on the BBC this morning.  As you’ll see if you watch it, in the course of a general swipe at ‘minor Parties’, Vere comes pretty close to suggesting that Green voters’ second choice is likely to be…the BNP! Specifically: The ‘example’ Vere gives of how AV is ‘unfair’ (!) to large Parties and partial (sic.) toward small Parties is of a voter whose first preference is Green and whose second preference is BNP and so on…

She’s a repeat offender regarding this sort of thing, as Greens know from her often-dreadful campaign against Caroline Lucas in Brighton, and as anyone knows who follows for instance the seemingly-endless string of misrepresentations on her twitter-feed in the course of this AV referendum campaign.

The truth of course is that there is very little demographic intersection between Green and BNP voters  (See Pat Dade’s work in Cultural Dynamics, for confirmation of this; the geodemographic profile of the BNP is, for illustration, quite similar to that of Tea Party supporters in the States – who are hardly like to be Green-leaning!.

Potential BNP voters are proportionately more likely to vote Conservative (or UKIP, or indeed Labour) than they are to vote Green. Not, presumably, the kind of fact that Ms. Vere, a Conservative, likes to broadcast… So, on live TV, she smears small Parties in general and the Greens in particular (perhaps she is still smarting at having been beaten by one?), instead…

A reply to William Hague.

Dear_________,

Without your help, Britain’s traditional voting system could be ditched for something that is unfair, expensive and allows candidates that finish third to win elections.

On May 5th, there’s a nationwide referendum on whether to replace the system of First Past the Post with the ‘Alternative Vote’ – or AV. The Liberal Democrats demanded this referendum as part of the Coalition agreement – but the Conservative Party are actively campaigning for a ‘No’ vote. Here’s why:

AV is unfair. With First Past the Post, everybody gets one vote. But under AV, supporters of extreme parties like the BNP would get their vote counted many times, while other people’s vote would only be counted once.

RR: This is nonsense. It is like saying that if you go to a restaurant, and find that your preferred dish is not available because it wasn’t popular enough, then you shouldn’t have the chance to have a 2nd preference. AV is STV for single constituencies: It could equally well be named STV. Each person has only a SINGLE Transferrable Vote. (It is also worth noting, seeing as Hague gratuitously mentions the BNP here to try to smear the #Yes2AV campaign, that the BNP are campaigning FOR FPTP and AGAINST AV. This isn’t surprising: because the BNP will suffer badly under AV, which is the worst of all electoral systems for extreme Parties hated by the majority of voters, as explained here.

AV doesn’t work. Rather than the candidate with the most votes winning, the person who finishes third could be declared the winner.

RR: Yes, of course, the person who finishes 2nd or 3rd ON FIRST PREFERENCES could become the winner – IF they get enough transfers from other candidates. That is exactly HOW AV works. So, for example, David Miliband got more 1st preferences than Ed Miliband in the Labour Leadership election. But Ed won more transfers, and so came out the eventual winner. What this shows is that there were a lot of people who _didn’t_ want David to win, whose first preference was for Balls, Abbott, or Burnham. If the Labour leadership contest had been conducted via FPTP, then those people would have been forced either to tactically vote for Ed (thus being deprived of the ability to express their actual 1st preference) or would have risked ‘wasting’ their vote. AV ends those kinds of painful betrayals of democracy, and facilitates people expressing what their actual preferences are. (It therefore also, crucially, allows smaller Parties over time to build up their 1st preferences until they become contenders to actually win. This is how the Green Party has grown in Australia – see my recent letter in PROSPECT magazine).

AV is expensive. Calculating the results is a long, complicated process, which would cost the taxpayer millions.

RR: Actually, AV would be barely any more expensive at all than FPTP: see here. The very small additional cost – basically, the extra staff time to count the more complex ballot papers on election night – is surely a price worth paying for democracy. (Of course, it would be much cheaper to dispense with elections altogether – this seems to be the ultimate logic of this particular ‘argument’ of the No2AV side…)

No-one wants AV. Even the ‘Yes’ campaigners don’t actually want AV – they see it as a convenient stepping stone to yet more changes to how we vote.

RR: Well, it is certainly true that there are a good number of Yes2AV campaigners who would in the longer term want PR, myself included. But the question before voters is what stance to take IN THIS REFERENDUM. The Green Party’s preferred policy is PR: but AV is our second preference, above FPTP!… Hague is trying here to make the best as we see it the enemy of the good. His argument fails: just because AV is not perfect is no reason to vote for a worse system (FPTP) on May 5th! Given the alternative on offer, I DO want AV. (Also, we need to bear in mind that there are plenty of ordinary voters out there, and some members of the Yes2AV campaign, who DON’T want PR, and who do want AV. The AV referendum is about AV – let’s not let Hague distract with irrelevant remarks about PR.)

_______________________________________________________________

Thank you,

William Hague

Foreign Secretary

Comment on William’s message on the Blue Blog

Filed under: Conservatives, Electoral Reform, Green Party

The cynical ‘Big Society’ lie….

Councillor Rupert Read has been a Green Party City Councillor in Norwich since 2004, to find out more about Rupert visit his blogand twitter. This post was reproduced with the authors kind permission from Bright Green Scotland.

The reality is as follows: The government is forcing through big, rapid cuts. It is trying to target most of those cuts onto areas where public outrage at the cuts will not be too rapid or drastic. One obvious target has been local government (in complete contradiction with the government’s alleged ‘localism’ agenda): local government is a soft target, because money that goes to local government does not go direct to citizens, and so central government can always shift blame onto the local governments themselves. In the most cynical of ways, this latter is what Eric Pickles, the Local Government Minister, has now been doing for several months.

As a local Councillor, I know only too well how dependent many vital voluntary services / NGOs / etc. are upon local government to stay alive. The voluntary sector, these services, these groups, are in many cases now being slashed or driven to the wall, as local Councils desperately seek to make ends meet.

What the Government has perpetrated here really is a sickeningly cynical exercise. For it is nothing more nor less than a sick joke to talk about the ‘Big Society’ while creating conditions that you know will result in a severe reduction of the voluntary sector’s ability to cope and to do good things.

And precisely this is what Westminster has done. It is the opposite of joined-up government, and it is, in my view, both a stupidity and a disgrace.

Filed under: Big Society, Local Government, Westminster,

Tom Balwdin tells media off for ‘Red Ed’ remarks #spoof

By Jane Watkinson

Context: Tom Baldwin is Ed Miliband’s spin doctor and has made a name for himself by writing to the newspapers/MPs asking them to do rather pathetic ‘favours’. He instructed Labour MPs against attacking Murdoch regarding the phone hacking incident, whilst asking the media to call the coalition a ‘Tory-led’ government. Therefore, this spoof letter is inspired by Tom Baldwin’s courage. Note, there is likely to be a procession of such blogs.

Dear Mr Media,

I am writing to ask for you to refrain from using the ‘Red Ed’ slogan to describe Ed Miliband. Frankly, we find the use of the term rather inappropriate and divorced from factual reality. The following will outline the reasons for why such a term is inappropriate and what you should call Ed Miliband if you require such pseudo-isms.

Now, the following facts are not allowed to be leaked and quoted, ok? Let’s just keep it as our own elephant in the room. The facts are significant in outlining the serious misjudgements regarding your application of ‘Red Ed’. There are several caveats with such a nickname:

  1. As a party, whilst we have conceded the need for more tax rises, if we had been in government we would still be enacting Darling’s economic policies of halving the deficit within a Parliament primarily through cuts (a plan that Darling said would result in cuts harsher than Thatcher’s). Try ‘reding’ that.
  2. We introduced the ESA scheme, we initiated the Brown Review, we introduced stricter medical tests for benefit recipients, placed more emphasis upon work and introduced negative condescending words such as ‘NEETS’ into dominant language currency. What is more, we still support many of the cuts to welfare, alongside reform to incapacity benefit with the ESA scheme and have been largely vacant when it comes to opposing disability cuts (and benefit cuts overall) in general (which are to be slashed by over 20%).
  3. Before you cite Miliband talking at the March for an Alternative demonstration as evidence for such disparaging remarks, this was purely to appease the growing anguish towards Ed from those Red people. He won’t be marching though; he’s such a tease.

We would rather you used the term ‘progressive’ Ed, especially given Ed’s rather brilliant idea to rename the Labour Party to the ‘Progressive Labour Party‘. I hope you can see the sheer brilliance of such a plan, Ed never fails to amaze me with his ever developing astuteness. It is rather comparable to the way he toyed with those kids protesting against tuition fees; simply genius.

Essentially, whilst Ed Miliband doesn’t like Len McCluskey, we are as he says campaigning for “fewer cuts later on”.

Love and Kisses,

Tom Baldwin

P.S. Obviously, we support a free press, democracy and right to expression etc etc. However, we expect this to be said in the strictest sense of confidentiality, so make sure to get the plumbing done so we don’t know of any leaks!

Filed under: Labour, , , , , ,

AV contains within it FPTP: A new argument for #Yes2AV

As a #Yes2AV supporter, I am sometimes asked this question:

‘Will there be an option, in AV, to just vote for one party when not wanting any of the others in at all?’
The answer is YES. Under AV, if you simply place a ‘1’ next to your favoured candidate (rather than a cross), then you are voting as if it is FPTP (the current system), and that is completely allowed.
In fact, there is a very important point here: It really is unnecessary for FPTP-lovers to oppose AV at all. FPTP is ‘contained within’ AV. FPTP-supporters can simply vote using a ‘1’ instead of a cross, and could lobby for everyone else to do so too. There really is no need and no reason for them to oppose the new system…
It would just be nice if they were to let those of us who would like to rank candidates by preference to be allowed to do so… It is really rather illiberal of them to stop us from doing this, when we are perfectly happy for them NOT to list candidates in preference order (below ‘1’) if that is their preference…

Filed under: Electoral Reform

Labour has forsaken all bonds of fellowship….

By Darrell Goodliffe.

At the very end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Aragon gives quite a rousing speech as he leads the combined forces of Rohan and Gondor in a seemingly suicidal all-out attack on Sauron’s Mordor. He talks of a day when all bonds of fellowship are broken and boldy intones ‘today is not that day’. However, for Labour today is that day. In Egypt, pro-Mubarak thugs are attacking the forces of democracy in a clear provocation which no doubt is intended to actively engage the army on the side of the regime. Meanwhile, in Westminster all Ed Miliband can do is prate about democracy and is too busy playing the statesman to express some real practical solidarity.

A Labour leader looking to express solidarity would have done alot more than Ed. A Labour leader doing this would, for example, made it quite clear the British government should break off all diplomatic relations with the Muburak regime. They would have insisted that the Muburak regime immediately be de-recognised as the legitimate government of Egypt and that Britain would only deal with a transitional government comprised of all the major opposition groupings. They may even have raised the possibility that Muburak be internationally indicted as the criminal he is.  They certainly would not have ‘pacifically’ questioned a Conservative Prime Minister to the point where even The Spectator is brimming with praise. The labour movement and the Labour Party was founded on the values of solidarity and internationalism – two values that the leadership is solely lacking.

No doubt some will praise Ed for his ‘statesman’ like behaviour but I cannot find it in my heart to care about his poll ratings and presentation points today. What matters is the lives of those who are currently being crushed under the jackboot in Tahrir Square and thats all that should matter to any Labour Leader. What the Muburak regime is doing is terrorism. Just because the state sponsors it in this case should not make it any less morally repellent than the other variety. However, it seems the Western ‘war on terror’ has hit the buffers in Egypt. We don’t like it when its on our shores but when its despots across the Arab world cracking down on our own people our governments simply seem to care and be prepared to settle for doing an awful lot less. Words are all we get and, let’s be honest, there is usually a qualification and caveat to them.

This double-standard will come back to haunt us as all our historical double standards currently do in the shadowy and barbaric guise of Al Quaeda . If the Muslim Brotherhood gains support in Egypt then we have nobody to blame but ourselves because when we had the choice our leaders were prepared to doing nothing practical to assist the Egyptian people in bringing the Muburak government down. They on the other hand have at least stood, fought and died for regime change; that is not to recommend their vile politics but is to recognise how these politics gain popular currency. Ed Miliband would do well to reflect on this today because today he let the Labour Party down and he also let the Egyptian people down….

Filed under: International Politics, Labour

Vodaphone uses national security as an excuse for Egypt….

The below first appeared on Liberal Conspiracy. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Sunny Hundal and Rupert Read.

Customer service representatives from Vodafone have justified cutting off telephone communications in Egypt using ‘national security’ as an excuse.

The statement was made to Liberal Conspiracy reader and Green party candidate Rupert Read in a reply to a query.

The email read:

From: Webform
To: rupertreadrules@yahoo.co.uk
Sent: Monday, January 31, 2011 7:53 AM
Subject: Re: Restoring coverage [#5593488]

Thank you for your email.

Vodafone restored voice services to our customers in Egypt on the morning of Saturday 29th January, as soon as we were able.

The decision to cease service, in certain parts of the country, was made following instructions from the Egyptian authorities. The authorities have the right to instruct operators to take extraordinary actions on national security grounds, and the operators are required to comply. Moreover, we would like to make it clear that the authorities in Egypt have the technical capability to close our network, and if they had done so it would have taken much longer to restore services to our customers.

It was therefore clear to us that there were no legal or practical options open to Vodafone, or any of the mobile operators in Egypt, but to comply with the demands of the authorities.

Moreover, our other priority is the safety of our employees and any actions we take in Egypt will be judged in light of their continuing wellbeing.

Regards,

Vodafone Customer Services

Rupert Read told us:

Do you know what you are saying here? You are taking the side of a dictatorship that has been suppressing and murdering its people, in the name of national security…
Frankly, it’s no wonder that more and more people in this country are campaigning against you … and that with the hundreds of thousands of protesters in Egypt, your name is mud.

Pretty much.

Update: Great article by Salil Tripathi on what other steps Vodafone could have taken

 

Filed under: International Politics, , , , ,

Labour should oppose the cuts with more bite…

Jamie Potter is a graduate in Journalism and Politics, a member of the Labour Party and his blog can be found here.

Mark Ferguson wrote on LabourList on Sunday of Labour’s need to avoid engaging with the anti-cuts movement until it becomes clear what it is they stand for and what it is they hope to achieve. I couldn’t help but feel like this was a call to see what the anti-cuts protests mean for Labour in terms of numbers, votes and power rather than a recognition of the necessity to fight the cuts.

Labour’s intransigence in engaging with the anti-cuts movement is doing itself no good. While I feel torn over whether Labour should or shouldn’t be involved with such campaigns (something which stems from my own radical nature but also recognition that it’s only really Labour who will put the Coalition out of power), having such mouthpieces pouring derision over those taking part and evaluating it on the basis of its electoral merit is going to do little to endear Labour to those out on the streets actually doing something.

Some of Ferguson’s criticisms of the protests are flimsy. Any seasoned activist would be wise to mask up, no thanks to the police’s love of surveillance  Similarly, protesters wearing helmets to a protest isn’t uncommon. If anything, it’s advisable given the Met’s predilection for weilding truncheons and the occasional horse. Neither are a precursor for violence. At least, not on behalf of the protester.

Ferguson then goes on to imply that the demonstration was only peaceful due to the police presence at Topshop and Millbank. Does he not trust protesters to act peacefully without the strong arm of the law watching over them? To suggest that the predefined endpoint and criterion for success of these protests is violence is to show a complete misunderstanding of their peaceful motivation and the countless successful protests that have taken place across the country. Police apologist springs to mind.

What particularly sticks out though, is the criticism of the protests for being unfocused and (I may just be misinterpreting this) a hint towards the lack of leadership, which then begs the question of why then do Labour not seek to take up this role? One could quite easily turn Mark Ferguson’s opening remark on its head as the anti-cuts movement ask what Labour MPs stand for at this point in time and what they hope to achieve?

That these actions seem to have no coherent focus isn’t necessarily a bad thing. First of all, ‘movement’ should be used loosely, as it is more a massive collection of groups and people motivated by different cuts and government policies, which in itself is indicative of the sweeping scale of Coalition cuts.

Secondly, what we’re seeing in some places is as much a venting of anger and frustration as it is a concerted attack, but it is through such actions that relationships and connections are made and the foundations for more thoughtful activism established. Bringing Egypt into the equation on Saturday wasn’t a smart move in terms of fighting the cuts, but I don’t think a single incident undermines the wider ‘movement’.

Likewise, the lack of a rally or speeches shouldn’t be mourned but celebrated. Rallies and speeches detract from the more organic and participatory actions such as blockading stores which give people the space to discuss ideas among themselves and, more importantly, talk to the public. Who listens to a speech at a rally point in Hyde Park apart from those already on the protest?

Meanwhile, in party political land, it feels like the major voices of the Labour party are more than happy to sit on their hands and make mumbling, stumbling attacks on the Coalition every now and then. The appointment of Ed Balls to shadow chanceller I hoped would inject a little bit of bite into Her Maj’s Opposition but he’s been somewhat muted thus far. The differences between the politicians and the people couldn’t be any more stark.

Filed under: Labour, , ,

AV is a ‘game changer’….

Councillor Rupert Read has been a Green Party City Councillor in Norwich since 2004, to find out more about Rupert visit his blogand twitter. The below letter was published in Prospect.

To the Editor;

Peter Kellner’s piece (Jan. ’11) on how the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill badly underestimates the effect that AV will have on the composition of the Commons.

Because it puts an end to the main form of tactical voting and to the ‘wasted vote’ argument, AV changes the expressed first preferences of voters. For example, the rise of the Greens in Australia has been predicated on growing numbers of Aussies voting Green even if and where the Greens have little chance of winning; voters can affords to do this, because their second preferences etc will still count.

If the AV referendum goes through, expect much more substantial changes to British politics (than Kellner has woken up to) -including an accelerated rise for the Green Party.

Faithfully,

C’llr. Rupert Read, one of 21 Norwich Green Councillors

Norwich

Filed under: Electoral Reform, Green Party,

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