Monday, 22 May 2017

This & That...




Had a strong sense yesterday of the ‘gloom’ in politics; I get to constantly contrast this world of political campaigning with the abundance of genuine concern I find in the anti-fracking campaign and some days, it is more stark. 

Compare & Contrast Arenas

In the anti-fracking movement 
…each person has walked away from their own lives to sacrifice time and so much more, to fight urgently and un-stoppably for what has to be done to safeguard the future for our children. That’s it – plain, clear, apparent and evident in every determined face and action. We do have our ups and downs but they always pass and we’re always still here and growing – no exit door from obligation.
..

In the election campaign
…I am encountering former or aspiring MPs from the various parties and more often than not, come away with more concerns than I started with. Despite the promises in manifestos and campaign material… there are few with the ACTUAL passion, determination, moral conviction or vision required to see them through to actual reality.


Within the anti-fracking movement we have cracks, fissures and eruptions – but we still shoot for the same goal together because it actually matters that we meet our obligation and responsibility to the children and the future. Not the same in the world of politics.

……………..

From fighting fracking alongside the ‘good people’ (the most inspirational, uplifting people to be amongst) and absorbing factual and clear reports and research …to running in the general election that brings with it the insincerity, lies, manipulation and recklessness that consumes much of what parades as politics – I’m more convinced than ever that we need to get the ‘good people’ into the other arenas.

Since 2011, the gates to fracking sites have been my stomping ground as well as the streets of cities and towns across the country; where we marched to be heard by a government that never listened. I’m committed by obligation as a grandmother to ensuring a safe future and it’s because of this (due to the absence of a duty of care in government) that my life has become that of an ‘Activist’.

In 2015 I took the opportunity offered by the Green Party, to stand against George Osborne in the election – a super-safe Conservative seat but this wasn’t about the challenge – it was for me, about meeting the man who was pivotal in bringing fracking to our shores and having two debates in which to confront him. Small gains you may think, for a commitment of months of my life but for me, it was worth it. I want to understand how the system works, how it is that clear threats to the health of our children, can actually be considered by politicians who have families too.

And it’s not just fracking – although it’s a good example of much that is wrong, all under one-subject heading – but I am deeply concerned about over-crowded, under-funded education, healthcare that is drained, exhausted, under-nourished and being nibbled away at by privatisation, what happens when we’re old and frail, whether ‘justice’ survives the current ‘justice system’ that excludes so many based on their financial situation, what trade deals we make and with who, how decisions to put our young people into wars without an honourable cause are agreed and how is it that so many politicians in positions of influence and power, can be deluded, corrupted, evil or just plain stupid on these matters.

Right now I am running in this election too. Poltics matters as an ‘arena’ to be in, as much as the entrance to a frack site, the unwanted, unwise runway of an airport or surrounding a cruel, inhumane detention centre etc. – arenas to be entered where the alarm needs to be raised and truths need to be given the opportunity to be heard above the manipulation and spin. The gain in this arena is the access to those who need to be held to account and to the industries that wield power over them.

There isn’t a living thing on the planet that isn’t under threat from the actions of governments across the world that put corporate greed above genuine need. Here in the UK we are facing a threat that is so close we can hear its foot on the accelerator – fracking - and that’s just the tip of a mighty iceberg that we realise exists; now that we see the system failing our children so blatantly and realise what it serves. It doesn’t serve the people of the country, it serves old industries and entrenched businesses to ensure they are sustained, supported and nurtured. Everything is measured against the benefits of their success in our economy – even the right to life of our children? Values and responsibilities are unheard and unheeded in the rigidity of growing in the same old direction, using the same old, time-worn tools.

There ARE better ways and such amazing futures on offer that would cause our economy, job industry and so much more to flourish – but like the threat to the establishment of truth in activist voices, the technologies and businesses that would bring better, also go unheard and unheeded. The localisation of power offered by renewables, the long-term jobs that come with renewables, the individual savings caused by renewables, the health benefits gifted by renewables - are seen as a threat to the grip on power of the existing fossilised, centralised industry and politics of the same-old…

Activism is sadly essential when a democracy fails to be one. We in the anti-fracking movement are acting in self-defence and we are unsupported.

In the political arena – we need to remain vigilant because the motives are not the same as they are for the ‘good people’ in activism. 















Who Sounds the Alarm?


Whether or not I was running in this election... I would write these words as an anti-fracking activist:

Since the very start, the ONLY party in Westminster that sounded the alarm and stood on the front lines to oppose this threat to our country... has been the Green Party of England and Wales.

NOW ...finally joined by the Liberal Democrats and under Jeremy CorbynThe Labour Party too in calling for a ban on fracking.

The Greens have lead the way with wisdom and honesty and although new leaders bring new promises - caution is essential. With a strong Green vote where it CAN matter most, we WILL have more Green MPs in Westminster.

More Green MPs to hold the other parties to account, to challenge their broken promises and history of harm and importantly, just as Caroline Lucas has done since day one... to continue to sound the alarms we NEED to hear.

Monday, 15 May 2017

The application of ‘implied inevitability’

I see it accepted that politicians lie, get away with fraud and are not subject to the laws that are used on citizens – their actions only lighty contested and any idea of success at stopping this, laughably ridiculed. We joke about ‘trusting a politician’ – wtf though, we put our money in the hands of government and in doing so have this contract in our heads that goes something like a conversation with a partner you entrust with the household budget when handing over our share:
“Right so make sure you’ve got enough in for meals, sorted the care arrangements for granddad, have enough change for kids’ bus fares to school, get the lock on the front door fixed, pay for your prescription, put some money aside for bills and  if there’s any change, pop in the ‘in case of emergency’ pot… hey and maybe we could use some of the change to get those solar panels we’ve talked about, will save us money."

Instead, we watch as our governments act like the reckless partner who on pay day nips out to the pub, has a pint too many, lends his most unreliable mate some cash (even though he knows this will not come back but he wants to look like the big boy), has another pint and decides the neighbours look shifty, staggers home, half-builds a big fence to keep them out and spends the rest on a gun (in my head I see George Bush & Tony Blair but there are many individuals and mate-pairings that would equally spring to mind in this scenario – Maggie & Ronald etc)…

Ok perhaps extreme but we bailed out banks ffs – we bailed out banks! We didn’t bail out the things that actually matter to people - healthcare, education, energy. Nope, we bailed out banks and then because the government used our taxes to do that – we were forced into austerity because it’s not good to be in debt and somehow we still owed lots of money …to banks?! The most sickening part of this is probably the deaths of unwell and disabled people for whom the cuts to benefits and services was the final straw. There are of course long-term costs too that will impact in stages as we experience the loss of services due to cuts: fewer fire stations, under-funded hospitals, fewer teachers leading to increased class sizes leading to children who are not given the best start in life, isolation and loss of community that comes with closure of libraries, post offices and bus services, increased tension and the need for bigger walls as our stance on defence looks threatening.

We get to vote to change the players and the parties – even sometimes to change the voting system for something equally undemocratic …but this is piece-meal and simply rearranging outdated, unsuitable, damaged goods over and over. Most rational adults I know (and even wiser children) don’t believe our system of government will stand up to the demands of corporate and industry backers even when what they insist on doing – actually risks harming our children. Writing that sentence, leaves me muted for a moment (never lasts long) That this system of government is not only tolerated but that there is even humour in the ‘never trust a politician’ line is I think based on an almost comforting familiarity – it’s always been this way.

John Ashton (in government roles for 30 years and hugely important voice for anti-fracking now) helped me to understand this reality when I was explaining that after every information event we did about fracking in towns across the country; by the end most of the room had recognised the clear risks to their families and went on to act in some way to find out more or to stop it. There was though in nearly every venue regardless of where in the country it was, a few who would come up at the end and say:
“You’re probably right but it’s going to happen anyway”.  


I couldn’t work out what it was that caused this reaction, this impotent response that showed easy defeat, a willingness to accept that governments play Russian roulette with our lives.

John smiled knowingly and said:
“Ahhh that’ll be the ‘implied inevitability’ – some believe that if the government has made its mind up, they can’t do anything to change it… and the government knows and relies on this.”

At a meeting, one older gentleman who said the “it’s going to happen anyway” line and smiled condescendingly at what he perceived as my futile efforts to prevent a provably dangerous industry from progressing further, caused me to want to shout “spineless coward” … but that’s unfair and judgemental; just caused by the deep worry I have about where this ends up if the ‘implied inevitability’ succeeds in eventually damping us all down to completely-ineffective.

Why rise up, why challenge, why strive for better – when you accept that you have no power, no voice, no chance to affect change?  Look at what happened at Lancashire County Council (LCC)… it couldn’t be a clearer example of the deliberate infusion of ‘implied inevitability’ into not just our region but all communities…

LCC spent 18 months, countless Councillor and staff hours and tens of thousands of £s during the period where they examined shale gas company Cuadrilla’s planning applications for Preston New Road and Roseacre. They concluded NO to planning and as a community – we rejoiced that our Councillors reflected what so many of us had hoped for. There was a scent of democracy in the air in the summer of 2015 on a road in Preston.

Then came the appeal by Cuadrilla at the Blackpool Football Club and despite four legal teams defending the LCC decision and just one clearly flawed team opposing… despite reams of testimony by experts, countless peer reviewed studies referenced and enough evidence to fill a wall of the appeal room as well as days of community testimonies, a decision was made in Westminster and announced by and MP from Kent that the government felt the issue of national importance and would make a new decision for us. Cuadrilla was given the go ahead and our Council’s NO to planning, overturned. There remains an overwhelming stench of dictatorship in the stifled air at a growing frack site on Preston New Road.

THAT’S how ‘implied inevitability’ works… now every council in our country upon receiving a planning application for shale gas sites will ask if there is any point in doing much more than waving it through. Councils are underfunded and impacted hugely by austerity (as we each are) and are vulnerable because they cannot afford to defend themselves if their decision is not what the government wants to hear. And so it seems ‘inevitable’ that Councils will have to wave through applications – because what point in spending all that time and money when you don’t really have any say at all in the end?

The government got drunk again and decided that our neighbours needed sorting out,  though we had frequently gone round to their house to eat, drink and enjoy what they have... we didn’t want them coming to take our food and drink and comfortable sun loungers… so all in our household were told lies – we were told that while the neighbours were visiting they cost us lots of money that we would definitely otherwise have spent on those solar panels afterall and we’ll be much happier and wealthier if we stop sharing… even though we won’t be shared with either anymore. 

A snazzy  ‘Brexit’ was sold to us on the side of lying buses and we were forced to make decisions based on incomplete information and out and out BS… just saying the words “But you decided so that’s that – it’s democracy” – does not make it so. If I was offered a choice of kettles A or B but later found out that they were actually toasters – I wouldn’t expect to hear: “But you chose kettle A and rejected kettle B – you made your choice now live with it”. I’m not asking for a re-run of the referendum – I just want a real one. The Green Party is calling for our participation in the ‘Brexit Deal’ when it comes – a chance to indeed have a say in whether we accept it or not and it is hoped this will be supported by others in parliament.

So we enter into this mad dash toward another box-ticking exercise of an election that ‘implied inevitability’ and historic fact tells us will end red or blue. We have this awful First Past the Post (FPtP) voting system that pretty much ensures a 2-horse race every time and although I find the leader of the red team better this time round – neither of the two major parties want to change the voting system so that it more accurately reflects the broader colours of a diverse country. I’d like Jeremy a whole lot more if he addressed this – because otherwise it just looks like the ability to be one of the horses in the 2-horse race, matters more than getting true representation and fairness into our system of government.

 Here on the ground though there is a sweet aroma of co-operation and hope… agreement that the one thing we need is for the country not to go blue this time, is permeating amongst the many...
only 24% of voting-age citizens actually chose blue last time – that’s how warped this system is… 76% said NO to Conservative government but there they are, milling about and inflicting their harms on us anyway

In 27 seats, the Green Party has stood aside to achieve the unseating of Conservative MPs, Liberal Democrats and Independents too have done the same. In many places where the red team historically has no hope of winning… then other shades can challenge and use the platform to bring different views and ways. There are ‘issue candidates’ like the doctor standing against Conservative Jeremy Hunt (health secretary who made lots of people sick) and I am standing against a weak MP who claims to care about the risks of fracking but helps bring it to our doorstep anyway. For us it isn’t just one issue though – it’s the system and party that makes the issues reality.  A vote for a doctor or an anti-fracking campaigner is a clear signal of what a vote means.

‘Inevitably’ because the FPtP voting system doesn’t represent the many, the best we can hope for is to wake on 9 June 2018 and have got rid of the blue team… which means a Labour government and that would have been almost as bad under former Leaders – but there is Jeremy Corbyn and his small team of what sounds like wise voices. The blues have only a tiny minority so I am hopeful – but what matters here too is the bigger picture and in areas where no red has ever or will ever win, please vote for what will either unseat the blue or introduce another colour.

I’d like to see MPs from other parties making it through so we can begin to dilute the harsh red/blue hues and see little changes that could make big differences. Caroline Lucas is admired by people for finally getting major issues into parliament and respected by people from all parties for her skills as a politician (her key skills I think are in adding humanity and sense to the role and showing no clear bias to anything other than making choices that prevent the worst and aim for better for the way we live our lives and the way our environment supports us) – we need more of this.
Why vote for me? 


I find the question uncomfortable as it requires what feels like bragging – it’s not me I want you to vote for as a person, it’s me the Green Party way, it’s me the frustrated and determined anti-fracker that wants your vote. It is NOT inevitable that a ‘vote for Greens is wasted’ – Caroline is testimony to that along with exemplary Green Councillors (Gina Dowding must be the hardest working and most dedicated I have ever met) who just increased their numbers in local elections. Young people need more Green Party representatives because they’ll be around a lot longer to experience whatever the next governments throw at us. 

The Green Party has since its start – stood firm about our guardianship of the environment for generations to come and (amidst ridicule) insisted that the trees actually do matter, that air and water cannot be risked, that decent farming techniques that nurture the growing land and quality of the food we eat – are not to be trifled with and that above all, people and the natural resources that literally keep our species alive – come above and beyond money. There’s a whole lot more wisdom here in this party I am so honoured to be a part of – from the way our conferences actually give me a say in policies, to the kindness of policies that actually care for how our healthcare is supported, our schools fully funded and in these policies is sound economic sense – a healthy, educated population is worth so much more than money but does improve the economy and not drain it.

When I first joined in 2013 – I deliberately thought out my own policies before reading what was offered in the manifesto… in each case, the Green Party echoed my own insistences and the 10 principles is a good way to sum them up:

The Green Party isn't just another political party. Green politics is a new and radical kind of politics guided by these ten core principles:

  1. The Green Party is a party of social and environmental justice, which supports a radical transformation of society for the benefit of all, and for the planet as a whole. We understand that the threats to economic, social and environmental wellbeing are part of the same problem, and recognise that solving one of these crises cannot be achieved without solving the others.
  2. Humankind depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence. We do not believe that other species are expendable.
  3. The Earth's physical resources are finite. We threaten our future if we try to live beyond those means, so we must build a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term future.
  4. Every person, in this and future generations, should be entitled to basic material security as of right.
  5. Our actions should take account of the well-being of other nations, other species, and future generations. We should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of theirs.
  6. A healthy society is based on voluntary co-operation between empowered individuals in a democratic society, free from discrimination whether based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice.
  7. We emphasise democratic participation and accountability by ensuring that decisions are taken at the closest practical level to those affected by them.
  8. We look for non-violent solutions to conflict situations, which take into account the interests of minorities and future generations in order to achieve lasting settlements.
  9. The success of a society cannot be measured by narrow economic indicators, but should take account of factors affecting the quality of life for all people: personal freedom, social equity, health, happiness and human fulfilment.
  10. Electoral politics is not the only way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods, including lifestyle changes, to help effect progress, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.
Maybe my catch-phrase should be:

“Vote Tina for Fylde because I genuinely give a damn and won't give up or give in”



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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

More to life than fracking...

I have been asked in messages, what it was I stood for, apart from anti-fracking and why I am with Green Party of England and Wales... what I replied is below:

Reply:
What appealed to me about the Green Party was a line I read in some literature in 2013 that said:
"We don't seek power for power's sake, we seek power in order to change the system"

Although fracking is a single issue, it is representative of much that is amiss in our democracy. Lobbyists for industry are heard and aided, to the detriment of citizens... that in itself is a huge warning that something is very wrong. I sense that this attitude permeates all sectors; our NHS has been underfunded to the point of collapse that makes it and us vulnerable to privatisation. Already parts of the service are in private hands - a stealth approach that is ugly and immoral. Healthy citizens, like educated citizens aid society and are an asset; I believe (and thankfully so does the Green Party) that neither knowledge or health should be linked to financial consideration and should be accessible to all. This stuff pays for itself in ways that can't always be measured in cash terms.

I don't believe wars solve anything and I believe the art of diplomacy is not applied as strongly as necessary to maintain good relations. Clearly I care about the environment in which our families grow up and strive for renewables to be producing our energy in order to ensure a healthier environment and jobs that last as long as the resource.

Our governments have bailed out banks and enforced austerity - never considering bailing out healthcare, bailing out education... bailing out Britain. I see services cut in rural areas, leaving residents isolated with poor transportation, no libraries, no post office and often no pubs and our 'care for the elderly' no longer fits as a description for what many go through. Our lives are not enriched by government, they are burdened.

That was lengthy I know.. but you are the first to have phrased the question as you did and it helped order my thoughts, thank you :)

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Day 83 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 83 in the Cuadrilla house… and the good people wondered and amused ourselves with ‘Deal or No Deal’ references as under blue skies and sunshine, we enjoyed the sight of great big yellow boxes flanked by members of a glorious, red-hatted Greenpeace team… all somehow locked together in a ‘box-them-in-lock-on’. It was the finest of days. Day 82 achieved a successful dent on access to the site also but was sadly far more traumatic to all involved, due to a tragic accident on the M55 that added to traffic issues and led some to blame good Protectors. To set the record straight – Day 82’s lock on did block the road but was only intended to do so briefly – it was the police that allowed it to go on for nearly 4 hours more than required. The Protectors had explained to police that the pulling out of site fencing… across our footpath and to the road, inhibited our articles 10 & 11 rights to protest and that the lock-on would not be blocking the road IF it was possible to use the public space to block just the site. Eventually the lock-ons were allowed to reclaim the public space at the site entrance… no chaos was needed, just sharper decisions that put our rights up there with the ones the police afford Cuadrilla.



So stock prices are wobbling again for Cuadrilla’s parent company AJ Lucas, the drill is not yet here and the timetable remains over 2-months behind schedule – that’s the good bits. The bad bits include police over-policing on a massive scale with 100+ police active each day on this protest and despite claims of neutrality, appear to be runners for trucks and enablers of this industry. They push and shove us into ‘kettles’ – surrounding us with a police-officer-wrap-rounds that hold us in place to, as they say:

“Keep you safe”

Question then on Day 83 to the police: IF this is about holding us away from danger, why then despite the lock-on did they allow a convoy of trucks to use the small amount of site entrance-way available and access/leave the site? How is this putting safety as the consideration? If you’ve seen footage from the many livestreams of vehicle movements in and out of the site on most days, we are kept as far from vehicles as possible – yesterday they brought the vehicles close to people who couldn’t move by virtue of their peaceful, non-violent action! Who are they keeping safe? Actually …perhaps that question is answered if we change the first word from ‘who’ to ‘what’. It is too obvious to ignore the fact that the bias goes to keeping the industry safe. Who dictates this? What does a morning briefing at Police HQ sound like? What are their aims laid out as?

Another thing about our actions and police behaviour around them that is worth noting – they hide us. There IS a beauty in protest and on Day 83, it was colourful, calm and lovely to behold …but the police vans added to the blockade by lining all their vehicles unnecessarily in front of the line of Protectors. The action was on the footpath at the entrance to the site and did not encroach onto the road – the police vehicles hiding it did though. They could say they were avoiding distracting passing motorists – but police activity drew more attention than we would have done!

Yesterday I linked to an article that summarised concerns of medical professional in British Columbia who, like their counterparts in New York – have called for a moratorium on fracking due to strong concerns for public health. The article is worth your time because it draws in lots of different links and references to reputable, peer-reviewed work that shows reasons for alarm.

From yesterday I shared:

What the hell are we doing - wasting the precious days of our lives in endless moments of confrontation and frustration? Why can't we just stop and get back to a regular life with regular priorities and regular joys......because we have no choice; once you know of an impending risk that means danger to the children, you are obliged to act to prevent harm. It's what good people do.

Medical professionals know and share our stance... if police who witness our strange lives each day, read our things here, I hope they understand this and realise we act for their children too. Saying no to fracking is caused by peer-reviewed independent research, first-hand accounts and evidence/ Saying yes to fracking is caused by commercial vested interests. Full stop.

From the link:
[Technological developments in the fracking industry have outpaced health and environmental research. We are only now starting to get studies that tell us about the health impacts associated with fracking. The information is still preliminary, but overwhelmingly raises red flags for health. One study, which looked at all the health-oriented research on fracking, found that 80% of all studies had been done between 2013 and 2015. Of the ones that looked at public health outcomes, 84% identified potential problems.

Preliminary studies on the human health effects of fracking have identified concerns with the hormone-disrupting properties of fracking fluids and their potential for reproductive and developmental toxicity, increased asthma rates, and congenital heart disease with greater proximity to natural gas development.
Very few studies have examined longer-term health outcomes with longer latency periods such as cancer or developmental outcomes. To quote a review of the literature: “This is a clear gap in the scientific knowledge that requires urgent attention.”
...the best approach is to act in accordance with the precautionary principle. As stated by the World Health Organization: “in the case of serious or irreversible threats to the health of humans or the ecosystem, acknowledged scientific uncertainty should not be used as a reason to postpone preventive measures.” CAPE Doctors in B.C. believe that this approach should be applied to fracking in B.C.]


Times are busy and there is much to come and much more to be done but we have the support and commitment of our Protectors here at the roadside of Preston New Road Rolling Roadside ProtestGreenpeace UKFriends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland and coming soon …much more from the wonderful Reclaim The Power who plan a summer of actions. Councillors, potential politicians, some existing politicians of all parties who r ealisethe risks of fracking are fighting too… activism in ALL arenas is what will stop not just THIS threat but others to come; from profit led industries that do not value us. We can all impact somehow, from where we are. See you tomorrow?

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About the picture:


*Author Sue Hampton has dedicated her book 'Woken' to those who do what we do… Nanas are honoured to be in the company of Water Protectors everywhere, thank you <3 span="">





Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Tina for Fylde...

The Fylde may not be considered a marginal seat but it presents a huge opportunity to reach people who may not yet be engaged in the fight to empower local democracy and stop fracking decimating our air and water quality, community health, agricultural land, roads and most importantly... our children's health. Currently, Mark Menzies MP Fylde is helping to ensure his Conservative Party are unchallenged and it is through your support that we can make a dent in his 'safe seat'.

Please help support my campaign if you can: FUNDRAISING HERE

Fylde voters have much to consider at this crucial time. Fracking is a current and urgent major threat to our rural area; major industrialisation could put both our farming and tourism industries at risk which will negatively impact jobs and the very way our lives are lived.

For six years I've been campaigning to strengthen local democracy and to stop the shale gas industry. The Green Party of England and Wales is the only party that matches my hopes and intent for a future where renewable energy is pivotal not only to the way we get energy but to the jobs it will bring, the community power it will generate and the ways in which our community and family health will improve.

Lobbyists for industry have for too long had a louder voice in government than the people of the UK and it is imperative that we change this before more harm is done; the Green Party seeks to 'hack the system' to change it in ways that benefit people as well as business. Voting reform is a priority too as our First Past the Post system means we can have a government like this one that was only supported by 24% of the eligible voting population.

Our legacy to our children is at stake and we can't take that lightly - it is our greatest obligation.

Any funds raised will be used for our local Green Party campaign costs: deposit, printing, mailing etc. and supporting our activities here.