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Archive for April, 2010

That’s to judge from the graffiti on this billboard. Not quite in the Cameron mock-ups class, but certainly heartfelt!

It reads: “Altho we don’t know much about politics or running a country… but hey!”

English Democrat billboard graffiti

I’ve not met our local candidate, but did meet the Westminster one – his answers prompted one member of the audience at our joint hustings to ask if “an English parliament” was his answer to everything? He said “no”, for the record…

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Camden Green Party members and friends enjoyed a fun morning on the Big Green Battlebus on a tour of Camden spreading the “Vote Green” message. All very environmentally friendly – the bus is fueled by recycled chip fat – and great fun – the top deck was the place to be for the party.

Highgate candidate Naomi Aptowitzer, as you’d expect from a rapper, proved a dab hand on the loudspeaker system, while Holborn and St Pancras candiidate Natalie Bennett unwisely decided to push vocal chords already stretched by a flood of hustings.

Camden battle bus

Waves and smiles greeted us – thanks all!

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On Tuesday, I spoke at the Charlotte Street Association hustings. It was an exciting night, with the Lib Dems and Tories coming under heavy attack from the audience for their decision to expand South Camden Community School instead of building a new school south of the Camden Road.

Ten of the twelve main party candidates were there, and an audience big enough to leave standing room only in the Drill Hall bar area.

Education and housing were major issues, but with the audience mostly coming from Fitzrovia, the most vital questions were about planning, planning enforcement, and the steady drive to turn Fitzrovia into an extension of Covent Garden. The creeping rise in late licenses, the failure to offer a 24-hour noise hotline, and the danger posed by Derwent Partnership’s ‘improvement’ schemes are the biggest issues threatening an area where it often seems that Camden Council has forgotten people actually live.

As you would expect, the candidates from all the parties were saying that they would resist development, and the destruction of the character of the most lovely area of Central London. But it’s easy to be a Green in these situations. We are the one party who can confidentally stand up and say we do not believe in growth and profit for their own sake, allowing them to ride roughshod over people’s lives, that the plans of organisations like the Fitzrovia Partnership have nothing to recommend them, and that we are prepared to fight them not just at a ward level, but at a council, a London-wide and even a national level.

At the hustings, Fitzrovia residents made it clear that Camden Council has treated it as an area where business and commerce are more important than residents. This has gone on for four years under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, and for decades before that under Labour. However their local candidates spin it, Bloomsbury is doomed to a steady erosion of everything we love about it if Camden Council remains controlled by these three parties.

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I’m happy to have just signed the Ramblers’ Manifesto.

It calls, as you might expect, for better protection for public footpaths, for the quick development of the new coastal route, and for better development of green spaces for walking.

But the part that interests me most,, particularly in relation to Holborn and St Pancras, is the call for walking to be made the highest prioirity form of transport.

There’s a very practical application of this just down the road from me in Somers Town – on the Euston Road, where a number of the traffic lights force pedestrians – at least ones obeying the “green man”, to wait for a complete traffic cycle in the middle of the road, with traffic speed fast, choking fumes, and the delay.

Euston Road is a real community barrier, splitting people apart, and certainly the hostile setting of the lights for pedestrians doesn’t help.

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* Monday, April 19 – from 6.30pm for 7.15pm start, Grand Connaught Rooms, (Edinburgh Room), Great Queen Street, WC2, organised by the Bloomsbury Association

*Tuesday, April 20 – 7pm, St Pancras Station, under the Betjeman statue, run by the Camden New Journal

* Thursday, April 22, Macnamara Hall, The Irish Centre, Camden Square, 7.30pm, for Camden Square Neighbourhood Association

There should be plenty of time to get through lots of issues in that.

(And in case you think I’m under-employed, I’m also doing a couple for university students and sixth-formers, and with private associations…)

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I just had a local resident emailing to ask me about the Green Party stance on the arms trade, and looking again at our manifesto on the subject, I thought it well worth highlighting.

“We would act to reduce arms sales worldwide by ending Government support for and subsidies of arms exports, including through UK Trade & Investment’s Defence Security Organisation and the Export Credits Guarantee Department.
• Press for successful negotiations over a robust and comprehensive global Arms Trade Treaty.
• Use skills and resources at present tied up in military industry in the UK to create new jobs and produce socially useful products, especially in the renewable energy sector.”

This is a business trading in misery, oppression and death that we simply should not be in.

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At the St Pancras parish church Holborn and St Pancras hustings on Wednesday night, leafletters from The People’s Charter were out in force.

Arriving early, I had time to read their leaflet, and was pleased to see that the charter’s stance on a fair economy, a fairer Britain, decent homes, returning public services to public ownership (e.g. the railways), on equality and gender justice, and more, are all entirely in line with Green Party policy.

I was pleased to be able to say that in my introductory remarks.

And looking around later, I found that it was “launched back in March as an appeal that could unite all those looking for an alternative to New Labour policies”.

I’ve now signed the charter, and I’d urge you to do so too.

I couldn’t find out anywhere how many signatures the charter has now, but certainly it must be plenty.

It’s a reminder how closely aligned Green Party policies are with what many people want in public policy – as supported by the Vote for Policies website, where with a “blind tasting” test, Green Party policies are winning the popular vote with (as I write now) about 28% of the more than 125,000 people who have completed the survey.

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