Archive for the ‘Human rights and freedom’ Category

The recent blog of Kitty S Jones, Labour Party activist and blogger, has left many of us rather shocked and dumbfounded by her lashing out at the Green Party. This is not new but simply stronger language than what Greens face routinely from Labour. Kitty S Jones claims that the Greens are somehow on the Malthusian Right because we point out the need for policies that allow us to live within our planetary resources and not cause hardship to the poorest, as will no doubt be the result of climate change and environmental degradation. She goes on to say that if the Greens were really green we would join Labour.

Labour still, shockingly, fails to recognise the social and environmental reality of climate change and the limits to what our planet can sustain. How long will it take Labour to accept this truth and stop its dishonest politics of pretending that it is taking climate change seriously? When will it address the social injustice that this failure will lead to? These are are just some of the reasons that Greens are not able to join Labour.

Still in thrall to the filthy rich?

Many Greens left the Labour Party for its failure to do anything significant to challenge the Thatcherite agenda and because it continued to entrench that system when in government: setting up academy schools outside the control of democratically elected bodies;  tendering parts of the NHS to private sector bidders; continuing with a tax regime that fails to redistribute wealth in our highly unequal society; allowing a free-for-all in the City; and tendering out prison and other services. (And that’s without mentioning the destructive Iraq war.) Labour seemed in thrall to the rich, the filthy rich that they were happy to hang out with and take money from. This was the Labour Party of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and, we must remember, Ed Miliband. However much we may hope for more from Ed, can we with our hands on hearts ever trust him?

Only the Greens have been willing to speak out about domination by the wealthy and big corporates – the Establishment as Owen Jones powerfully explains – and to develop alternative solutions. Labour’s mild scolding of its wealthy banker friends hardly caused a ripple. Only the Greens have argued for the break up of large companies, for state funding of political parties to diminish the political influence of the rich, firm regulation of banks, and to challenge the domination of a handful of media barons.

It’s clear that Labour are nervous. No doubt in their heart of hearts they know that they failed the people in their 13 years in government: failed to tackle the underlying inequality in power and wealth and the big issues that face the UK and the world. Perhaps it’s this guilt that hits them hard and leads to them lash out at the Greens, with their half truths and exaggerations. Jones returns to the old lies about the minority Green administration in Brighton Council and refuses to acknowledge that the Greens were trying their very best to fairly address an equal pay problem in the Council in the months before the strike.

If Labour really wanted change, they would attack the Tories not the Greens.  A stronger Left is needed if we are to make sustainable change, not the weaker Left that Labour seems to want.


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By Natalie Bennett

Yesterday, as every year on August 6, Tavistock Square became a solemn place, a sad place, but also a place of resolution, as London CND held its annual Hiroshima Day commemoration.

The resolve was to continue to fight against these hideous weapons, particularly against Britain’s nuclear weapons.

The high turnout, certainly the biggest I have seen, perhaps in part reflected the fact that the is a feeling that austerity, with all of its social horrors, might at least hold out new hopes of UK disarmament.

When even very traditionalist defence experts are calling for Britain to abandon nuclear weapons, if only on cost grounds, the political ground is certainly shifting.

There were two participants who held more memories than most people present.

The veteran peace campaigner Hetty Bower, aged 106, pictured in the crowd right, said: “We have got to grow up and stop killing each other.”

MP Tony Benn said nuclear weapons are no use, we can’t afford them, and they not really independent of US. “We must get rid of them.”


Green MEP Jean Lambert,  pictured right, highlighted the almost casual acceptance of India’s nuclear weapons (with real politic proponents saying “we need a bulwark against China), contrasting it with the view of Pakistan.

She said that existing weapons states need to break the stalemate on non-proliferation. It was time we put down bombs and worked for peace, she said.

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With a focus on the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, no bombing of Iran, and the British public’s strong opposition to Trident nuclear missiles…

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by Sarah Cope

Camden Green Party members attended the opening of the Crossroads Women’s Centre’s new premises on Friday night. After launching a fundraising campaign in October 2010, the centre has raised enough money to relocate to a former doll factory in Wolsey Mews, Kentish Town

Since the organisation was founded in 1975, they have faced two evictions and an attack by far right
group Combat 18. Originally located in a squat, they have been in Kentish Town since 1996,
where the centre has become a much-loved part of the local community.

Providing room and support for diverse groups of women, from asylum-seekers to sex workers, from
women with disabilities to environmental campaign groups, the launch was attended by a wide
range of people. It was noted that it was in fact a very international gathering, with attendees from,
amongst other countries, Haiti, Ireland, India, Ghana and the US.

The hope is that with a premises twice the size of the last one, Crossroads Women’s Centre will be
able to assist twice as many women as before, and thus be twice as effective. These are also fully accessible, and boast a peaceful courtyard garden.

Camden Green Party Chair Natalie Bennett, who was in attendance at the re-launch, said “Crossroads do great work – I’ve seen first-hand in particular the assistance they provide to foreign-born women in the UK experiencing visa problems, and to women struggling with financial problems, particularly those with children.

“With the increasingly harsh immigration laws and slashing of benefits that we’re sadly seeing now, I know that these mostly voluntary workers will be working harding than ever, and desperately need this space.”

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Natalie Bennett, London Assembly candidate

I was delighted to be asked to represent Green Party mayoral candidate Jenny Jones at the Migrant’ Rights Network London hustings last week.

I’m constantly horrified to see just what a concerted attack is being made on the key rights of migrants and prospective migrants to the UK. This hustings brought together many of the groups trying to deal with that.

This is very much a London issue. London has the greatest number of migrants (2.4 million foreign-born people from a population of 7.8 million in 2010) of any UK region.

The most disturbing issue of all, because it affects extremely vulnerable people, is the changes to the rules on migrant domestic workers. From this month, those brought in by one employer are unable to change jobs without losing their visa – this, as a representative of Justice 4 Domestic Workers (which works with the Unite Union) said at the meeting, is a licence for “slavery”.

But also deeply worrying are the government’s planned changes to settlement rights for non-EU migrant workers. The plan is that they’ll have to earn more than £35,000 a year to win the right to settle. That means, on the government’s own figures, that 48% of migrant nurses, 37% of primary school teachers and 35% of IT/software professionals would be excluded. The plan is that removals of people who fail to meet the thresehold will begin in 2016.

That means the UK is in effect introducing a German-style guestworker scheme – the deal is that you can come here for a few years, probably some of your most productive, healthy years when we can work you very hard – then we’ll ship you out again and replace you with a fresh batch. No sense of building a career or a life, just a slog. What that would do for morale and productivity doesn’t bear thinking about – not to mention the human cost of disrupted lives.

Then, if you think that is bad, there’s also the question of family visas. The government plans to demand the family member who’ll be supporting the incomer have a minimum income of £25,700 (£50k if you have two children – which will exclude most people in “normal” jobs). The probationary visa will also extend from two to five years. Now – although you wouldn’t think it if you read the Daily Mail or the Telegraph – family visa entrants, as do most other migrants, have their visas stamped “no recourse to public funds” – but their sponsor simply has to show that they have the funds to support them.

A gentleman in the audience from Migration Watch tried to claim that actions to reduce immigration such as these weren’t an attack on migrants already here. I and, it was clear from the response, the audience strongly disagreed. The fact is if the two parties of government, and all too often the Labour party too, are saying, or signalling, “we have to reduce migration because migrants are taking our houses/jobs/school places”, then that badly effects migrants already here (and for the record that includes me – I moved to the UK in 1999, having been born in Australia and previously spent five years in Bangkok).

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It’s tricky to police a major protest. The Met have a tough job. Lost in a huge crowd of people exercising their absolute right to peaceful protest, are a tiny number of people exercising their idiotic urges to smash stuff.

Kettling innocent people is not the answer. It is a surefire way of destroying trust between police and protesters, it gives moral authority to the troublemakers and, above all, it is a denial of the right to protest, a fundamental, essential part of a functioning democracy.

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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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