Thursday, 19 January 2012

Politics can be fun

Kent Green Party put on a hustings for European Election candidate hopefuls at the weekend. 13 of the 18 possible candidates attended. As there are only 10 places on the list this will be a very competitive selection process.

The most interesting question for me in a very lively debate was on immigration. It’s a question that often comes up on the door step and there are many myths. Not all immigrants are illegal – despite what the tabloid press say. The biggest category of legal immigrants is international students. As well as paying very high fees which prop up our university system they also spend money while they are here.

Luckily recent reseearch by the Oxford Centre for Migration has shown that the general public are far more tolerant of immigration than our politicans - or the tabloid press.

Kent Green Party has a report on our immigration policy on the web sitec at Scroll down the page to 'miscellaneous' to find it.

Do have a look at it. The title: Legal Fair and Safe. That is the kind of immigration policy we need

Do we live in a police state?

There are reports in the London media about peace protestors being cleared from outside Parliament. The protestor not evicted is one who has a court injunction forbidding anyone from removing her while her case is being heard.

I had just been discussing with my students how the police can be held to account by the courts. This  shows how important it is that the police can be held to account by someone – the only person who had any protection was the one who had already involved the courts in her case. But it is also alarming that peaceful protestors are being treated this way by the heavy arm of the state.

The state with does not tolerate dissent is a dictatorship. We have become a society that is very intolerant of dissent – or even difference. Do we really want to continue down this road?

Foraging is Green

On a very personal note, I have always been an enthusiastic forager. I make blackberry jam and elderflower cordial form berries and flowers collected from the wild.

Thanks to Alys Fowlers’s Thrifty Forager book I have now taken foraging to new heights. I have masses of beautiful cuckoo flowers (or lady’s smock) in my front garden where I have left these ‘weeds’ in peace to lourish. Not only are they beautiful wildflowers and good for bees but now I know that they are edible to humans. The leaves have a tangy mustardy flavour. 

I am a forager – Alys is in the advanced foraging league! In times of austerity any free food is a good thing!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Should the Scots go free?

As usual, the Green Party is way ahead of everyone else on the political scene. We awarded the Scottish Green Party independence way back around 1990. I was at the Conference where they went independent – that was when I discovered that bagpipes being played can make me cry: I had always scoffed at other people’s stories!

The basic Green position is one of self-determination. Whatever the constitutional position, Scottish people deserve to decide this themselves. Alex Salmond may have devious motives but what is wrong in principle with Scots deciding when they want to have a referendum and how they want to phrase the question – or questions. Of course, Salmond knows he is more likely to win a vote on ‘devo max’, maximum devolution, rather than one on full independence.

Who wants all the bother and expense of running a diplomatic and consular service around the world for your citizens - having to send delegations to all the proliferating World Summits and to the EU? We would lose the oil revenues which is probably what really scares Cameron. So charge Scotland for the other services separately.

Whether devo max or full independence, the West Lothian question becomes acute. With a greater degree of independence for Scotland, more and more decisions will be made about Scottish affairs at Holyrood by Scottish MPS. Which leaves Scottish Westminster MPs increasingly deciding on exclusively English matters: is that legitimate when England has no regional assembly of its own?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

How to bring people together and solve a housing crisis

Do you have an elderly relative who is having trouble getting about like they used to? Not really able to keep the place clean, cook or shop for themselves anymore? Here is a possible solution. There is a brilliant charity which marries solutions to two problems at once. A charity in North London, Homeshare, pairs elderly people who are having trouble coping with everyday tasks with younger people who need cheap accommodation in expensive areas. The home owner gets live in support form someone who is prepared to help with everyday household jobs as well as helping with shopping and other outings. They also provide companionship and the added security of having another person in the house. What does the ‘lodger’ get in return? They get to rent a room at a low rent in a desirable high cost area where they could otherwise not hope to be able to afford to live. They get companionship and extra security too and they get a learning experience. West Kent is an expensive place to live – perhaps we should suggest a Homeshare for this area?

Sunday, 1 January 2012

hostgator discount

Do plastics use less energy than alternative packaging?

Recently the Guardian published an article with claims that plastic packaging is more energy efficient and produced less greenhouse gases than any alternative packaging e.g. renewable and compostable packaging. Does that sound like an advert for the plastics industry? Well it was, and shame on the Guardian for publishing it without exposing the source. 

The article said the report was by an Austrian environmental consultancy. It was, but guess who paid for it? Plastics Europe which describes itself as the Association of Plastics Manufacturers. In which case you would expect it to say nice things about plastic – and it does.

Their introduction to the report states with refreshing honesty that ‘The intention of this…study was to …demonstrate that the use of plastics can in many cases actually help save resources.’ No bias there then!
Equally damming is this statement from the study: ‘The scope of the study…is so extensive that a large number of assumptions and extrapolations have had to be made.’ So based entirely on facts then?

Check out the article at:

HD on Europe on youtube

Interview on student debt on youtube

H D on youtube

Fame at last. Have a look at this interview on Student Fees in Higher Education on you tube!