Saturday, 18 March 2023

Back to the Philosophical Basis

 Thank you to Ecosocialist Alliance for publishing my piece in time for last week's Green Party of England & Wales, Spring conference:

Back to basics – back to the Philosophical Basis

"We’re not in the orchestra – but they’re playing our tune"

We’re in an ecological crisis, it’s the greatest threat we face and is the absolute definition of an emergency - yet politics continues to dance around the edges of the action required to save ourselves and all else that depends on nature and the environment as a life-support-system. Does our Party have the right focus for right now?
Each member has their own particular take on what the purpose of the Green Party of England & Wales is. Of course: ‘a political party seeking electoral power’ but what is it, that we want that power for? GPEW makes clear in the Philosophical Basis that it’s not about being IN power, it’s decidedly more moral than that:
>>PB503 We will even work with those who disagree with us where sufficient common ground can be found to do so. However, we do not seek power at any price, and will withdraw our support if we are asked to make irreversible or fundamental compromises.<<        
When I first read this and the rest of the Philosophical Basis, I felt aligned enough to join the Party. I saw GPEW as the ‘political wing’ of a global movement of honest campaigners; facing each crisis head on with science-based facts and stubborn determination to protect our life-support-system.
I’ll admit a certain UK-politics naivety as I wasn’t in the UK for much of my life and had no interest in politics – until there was no choice. Realising how unjust life was and how dangerous many political decisions were, I came to GPEW to see if anything could be done and with others, try to stop the nonsense masquerading as democracy.
Then I discovered First Past the Post voting and it was made clear that we don’t stand a chance in a 2-horse race where neither horse is willing to give up the chance of winning, by introducing Proportional Representation. I was broken at the realisation but not deterred. GPEW is clearly the Party that we need during an ecological crisis – it’s the very reason it was formed!
We’re not in the orchestra – but they’re playing our tune
I noticed though that GPEW was at least being heard by the creators of Manifestos for other Parties – in fact the Labour Manifesto of 2019 was so similar to GPEW’s Manifesto that it ended up coming out on top! Friends of the Earth said at the time:
“The Labour party has come out top in Friends of the Earth’s environmental assessment of the main UK-wide party manifestos, with the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats also putting forward a wide-range of significant policies to respond to the climate and ecological crisis.”
Would Labour have done as much, if they weren’t being reminded constantly by Green Councillors, Green Peers and our Green MP – that the issues can’t be ignored? It may be near-impossible to gain enough MPs to impact Parliament but at least we can champion truth and force other parties to include our policies. We only fail at getting the credit we deserve.
Politics aside (I know, this is a political publication) – the fact is, every person of every Party or none, needs to breathe unpolluted air and needs clean water, a survivable climate and nature with its essential biodiversity. What sets us apart from the other parties is that we have an urgent mission that’s been there since the start.
>>PB201 The human species is a latecomer to the biosphere. Our survival depends upon the continued survival of all the ecosystems which evolved before us. The Green Party therefore sees humanity as necessarily a dependent part of the natural environment. When human activity threatens the environment around us, that activity threatens our future survival. Political objectives should accept our dependence, not seek to transgress it. We do not believe that any other species is expendable.<<
When I first started opposing fracking, I saw stopping it as a ‘red-dot’ in the distance to aim for. Every decision I made was based on whether it would get me closer to the 🔴 ...or be a time-consuming distraction.
A lot of GPEW members I speak to, feel we may be caught up in distractions and that the ‘elections-first’ approach is damping down our other campaigns. Although many (most?) GPEW members are already active in local or national environmental campaigns like XR, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace or challenging HS2, fighting for clean air, opposing sewage-dumping, defending trees etc., we don’t see these as particularly GPEW campaigns. Taking credit isn’t a thing these campaigners do but perhaps we should. Our Green Politics is about more than our Party or just politics as per the Philosophical Basis:
>>PB501 We do not believe that there is only one way to change society, or that we have all the answers. We seek to be part of a wider green movement that works for these principles through a variety of means. We generally support those who use reasonable and non-violent forms of direct action to further just aims.<<
Sustaining our moral core and our aims is a tough one though in the world of party politics, First Past the Post voting, dubious funding and biased media where so much is staged and lacks any authenticity. I recall how out of place yet refreshing it was to see Caroline Lucas go on a tour of ‘leave’ areas to better understand what the real issues were; it was clear she genuinely gave a damn and not just because it might look good in media. Not that the media paid much heed of course.
Clearly we need political change and GPEW has the genuine focus on the environment that’s needed – the other Parties merely paying lip-service for votes. Realistically though and while we’re striving to add to our impressive list of Councillors or more than one MP, there has to be more to us doesn’t there?
As agreed by most ‘the house is on fire’ and we need to be continuing to act beyond politics, with the visible urgency that’s needed. People like Rupert Read and Greens CAN (Climate Action Network) get this. Whether you believe rapid change is possible or not – it’s going to happen ‘naturally’ as nature continues to be depleted, agriculture continues to pollute soil and waters and fossil fuel projects still get approval to do more harm.
With that 🔴 in mind but this time for genuinely life-saving Green policies - every decision we make as a Party must surely have first considered “where’s the environment/climate/nature/ecology in this?”
What are we putting our personal and party energy into?
We all want GPEW to ‘win’ and to be much more than a pressure group – but we aren’t winning quickly enough and at least, we are a really good pressure group. In 2020 Caroline Lucas introduced the Climate & Ecology Bill that has received cross-party support and is making its way through Parliament. Many GPEW Councillors have succeeded in putting motions to Councils and members when they hear of it, are supportive. IF the CE Bill was to pass – it would mean that plans to frack, to build new coal mines, to pollute etc would be illegal. It also crucially would mean that allowing nature to waste away would be illegal. Not only halting the harms to and loss of nature but the restoration of it.
On top of this, the CE Bill (supported by the Zero Hour campaign) would thankfully take away the need for us to spend so much of our time protesting to save the environment – the law instead would simply yet firmly, make that sort of thing… illegal. Phew. If we focused valuable energy and campaigning into getting Caroline’s Bill into Law, we will have achieved what our Philosophical Basis expects of us as a Party and maybe too, we’d have the breathing room (literally) and credibility to get into power despite FPtP.
Although it feels like the cost-of-living crisis, social injustice, class wars, privatisation of vital public services and corrupted politics should be a priority as they ensure that the vast majority suffer whilst the very few succeed, in the end everything depends on the environment; the economy, our health, society etc.
All our fights for a fairer, greener society will count for nothing if we stay on the planet-wrecking trajectory we’re on and there will be no justice, no anything.]

All reactions:
Terry Robinson, Pauline Jones and 6 others

Monday, 20 February 2023

Dear Nanas...

A few weeks ago I received an invitation that insisted on secrecy and simply asked that I hold the date - 16th Feb 2023. I did as it came from Vivienne Westwood's family and was an invitation to the Memorial - then a couple of days before, another mail with a QR code and the location: Southwark Cathedral and time: from 1pm
The invitation made clear it was one person and only the named person... I was so hoping it would say that others could come. So sorry as I know Vivienne mattered and impacted more than me and was a true inspiration as an activist and Honorary Nana.

You may have seen the event in the papers or on TV and I can honestly say ...it was nothing like it seemed. I was seated with other activists, friends & family right at the heart of it and there was no real sense of 'celebrity' - this was a Memorial and it was so much more warm and intimate - more family and activism-focused than the images showed.
It ended with a reading by Vivienne's granddaughter who would have made her so very proud - such dignity and strength. The readings that preceded it, were given by the priest, Vivienne's partner Andreas, her sons Joe and Ben, her friends Helena Bonham Carter and head of Greenpeace John Sauven... each was like an opening into her world that revealed her life as a lover, mother, friend, artist and activist.
I didn't notice or recognise most of the celebs. They had no pride of place and were simply part of the crowd... only really noticable in the paparazzi area outside... inside it felt all-equal and just a lot of folk in crazy, colourful, creative clothes. I said to one woman as we were lining up to leave, that her bag was beautiful. She thanked me then on the news I saw the bag and realised it was Kate Moss... I really feel like I experienced something very different from what the press focused on.
Until arrival, there was no indication of what would happen on the day

I was close to the beautful piano in front of the pulpit and Nick Cave came and sat at it... playing the song that's topped my music lists for years.. INTO MY ARMS. It was so bloody right for right there and then. Then Chrissy Hynde popped up and sang so soft and sweet. A brass band from near Vivienne's hometown were overawed to be playing in this magnificent cathedral - but they were more than a match.

I met Vivienne before Nanas were founded as I was on her Talk Fracking 5-city tour in early 2014 - sleeping on a coach, holding nightly public meetings and spending days doing media and publicity. It was intense, exhausting and fascinating - also a huge help in those early years in getting the message out. We met again that year at Glastonbury but it was her time with Nanas that really impacted and brought her to becoming an Honorary Nana.
Nanas were mentioned during the Memorial and I really wanted to let you know this... that she genuinely cared as we knew she did. Helena Bonham Carter paid tribute to our declaration of war at Cameron's house on a tank and John Sauven head (Greenpeace) spoke of how proud Vivienne was of being in various roles including being an Honorary Nana.
I wished so many more of us could have been there to honour her. I had packed my tabard 'just in case' - lol I tend to keep it nearby a bit like superman and telephone boxes maybe! Anyway... I wasn't going to wear it as it seemed a bit attention-y and it was all about Vivienne. I did though end up popping it on as it felt right.
We couldn't take pics because it was asked that we don't and I was only there for the day so didn't linger. I did though feel I spent the day alongside all of us who admired her and held the wonderful memories close.
The most moving moment of the day was when all of a sudden her delicious voice echoed throughout the Cathedral in a video interview with her brother ❤
Tina xxx
(Nana Queenie)

Friday, 10 February 2023



Why should we as individuals have to protest to get our government to meet its legal obligations and act on its promises?
Where is the law that ensures the government prevents further harm to the quality of our air, water, soil, nature - OUR actual life-support-system?
Protest forces us to accept sacrifices and accept damage to ourselves and those around us: family time, work, job prospects, reputation, criminal records, abuse by police etc. And there are attempts to further criminalise OUR actions as laws tighten - but WHY?! To maintain a status-quo based on power and profit. We are criminalised yet it's the govenment and industry blatantly breaking legally binding commitments!
Activists endure horrid arrests and cases in courts because we won't sit back and not act against injustice and criminal behaviour. The government is clearly ineffective and worse... compliant in the crimes against nature. Throughout my years calling the government and industry out - I have not found an effective law that supports me or the campaigns for our environment.
Action is essential and activists and campaigners are doing what we believe is needed, taking action ...until some binding law does the job of protecting us and our future.
So... I've joined a campaign for the 'Climate & Ecology Bill' with Zero Hour. IF the bill becomes law - it would simply be illegal to approve plans for further destruction and illegal to keep polluting - illegal to not be working to restore nature etc. As it bloody should be.

The Bill has cross-party support and is currently passing through its stages in the Lords and the Commons... the group pushing this through is amazing and has dedicated campaigners - but could do with more. Take a look if you get a chance. www.zerohour.uk

Monday, 31 October 2022

Saturday, 15 October 2022

What's precious?

"What matters to you and what will you do to protect it?" There are countless interesting discussions resulting from the vandlising of art (thankfully protected by glass) done by young folk trying to get action on the decimation of our life-support system that's happening across our vandalised world. To be clear, my view is that in the image attached... NONE of the scenes should be happening.

The stuff of life (air/water/soil/creatures/biodiversity) is being vandalised every moment of every day. I see and understand well, the rage and desperation they must feel ...facing the reality of a future without that life-support system. Although our tactics are very different (I favour targetted rather than scatter-gun) - the fact of any of us standing up to the criminals in polluting industries and our complicit governments, IS to be applauded (even if the act itself isn't).

I wish we'd succeeded in protecting the future and that instead of vandalism and protest - our young had positive futures to look forward to. It's as if our young are worth/less than #VanGough.

Back to the Philosophical Basis

  Thank you to Ecosocialist Alliance for publishing my piece in time for last week's Green Party of England & Wales, Spring confere...