Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Diana Johnson: UK should retain Trident

Diana Johnson's response to an epetition via CND .
Dear nnnnnnn,
Thank you for contacting me recently concerning the renewal of the UK's independent nuclear deterrent and the related EDM 150.
Unfortunately, due to my position as a Shadow Minister, I am unable to sign any EDMs.
I appreciate that Trident and continuing the UK's independent nuclear deterrent provoke strong and passionately held views. For this reason I am very glad to receive constituent's letters on this issue, which I take very seriously. I have also written to the Secretary of State for Defence, Phillip Hammond MP, with your concerns to highlight to him the strength of feeling on this topic.
I agree with you that it is important that the UK undertakes a wide-ranging and considered review of the defence capability we will need in order to meet current and future threats to national security.
The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in 2007 (by 409 votes to 161) to proceed with the renewal of our independent nuclear deterrent. The Government have now decided to proceed with the concept and design phase ('Initial Gate') of a new generation of Trident nuclear submarines. I agree with this since this means the ultimate decision over whether or not to proceed with renewing Trident (the 'Main Gate' phase) will take place in 2016. 
I believe that in an uncertain and unpredictable global environment and as long as other countries have nuclear weapons it is right that the UK maintain our independent nuclear deterrent. It is vital, though, that the replacement of our nuclear deterrent programme represents good value for money and that it meets our strategic defence needs.
The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which Labour had committed to establishing in its 2010 Manifesto, reported in October 2010. It undertook a value-for-money assessment of the Trident successor programme and made a number of recommendations including reducing the number of launch tubes on each new Vanguard submarine, further reducing the UK's nuclear stockpile and extending the lifetime of the existing nuclear submarines by 9 years. It is important that any final decision to replace the UK's independent nuclear deterrent is based on cost and capability and that the final design, nature and scale of the replacement are in the interests of national security.
The Government also conducted a review of alternatives to a like-for-like replacement for Trident, published in mid-2013. Ruling out a land-based nuclear deterrent as too risky, it found that the only alternative was to have a non-continuous submarine-based deterrent, for example by having two Trident submarines rather than four. As this would mean Britain no longer had a 24-hour nuclear deterrent in place, Labour believes there is no alternative to renewing Trident.  As the Review shows, it is the most cost-effective way of ensuring the UK maintains the minimum credible independent nuclear deterrent.
On the wider issue of nuclear disarmament, I agree that the UK should seek to further reduce our nuclear arsenal (we have already done so by 75% since the end of the Cold War).  In the long-term, Labour is committed to multilateral nuclear disarmament, creating a world free of nuclear weapons.
Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views.
Yours sincerely,
Diana Johnson
Labour MP for Hull North

Monday, 28 April 2014

Blaming immigrants is THE far-right tactic

There is one particular reason why the rise of Ukip is worrying.
Immigrants have, for a long time, been the lowest common denominator in politics. 100 years ago it was the Jews. Today we have 8 million – rightwing - newspapers daily, blaming immigrants for something or other. In theory, I have no problem with a popular island having immigration controls.
But that's not the only thing at stake with a big Ukip vote.
It's bankrolled by rich people. Farage was a Wall Street trader. So forget workers' rights, forget a public NHS, forget environmental defence such as against fracking or for species. Ukip voted for tax avoidance in the EU - while not turning up for most other votes. It claims millions in EU funding while silencing members who question it. Its EFD group is the far-right of the EU Parliament.
People from the EU coming here bring money with them. In net terms, they've been worth £25 billion to Britain since 2000.
""We must limit immigration there's a housing crisis." - Housing is short. But don't you think the lowest house-building since the 1950s has something to do with it?? Who's telling you to blame immigrants?
"Charity begins at home, we should look after our own first." - Sure... Who aren't we looking after? The disabled... indeed, forced to attend multiple humiliating ATOS assessments, their benefits at risk... 10,600 have died within 6 months of their benefits being ended like this. Who's responsible? YOUR GOVERNMENT! AND YOU want to vote for people who are MORE rightwing than that!!
"They're taking our jobs!" - Where do you think you live? This is a country run by arch-capitalist psychopaths! They're continually attacking wages (by inflation, by denying wage rises, by fiddling with RPI or CPI), pensions (by policy) and workers' rights to make things "easier" for business (ie their profits). They WANT unemployment – it keeps workers down, weakens unions and suppresses wages. True, immigration ALSO helps this – AND they know this! But remember, we have 2 million people working abroad too, so attack foreign workers here and you can expect British workers abroad to be attacked too – what was that about looking after our own?  Don't for a moment think people crazier than them will do workers any favours! Ukip has already been attacking the worth of working women.
Look. Where's the power in Britain? With immigrants coming here from other countries and working hard to make their way? Or with the 1% whose wealth has rocketed while everyone else's has stagnated or fallen? The 1% include the bankers who got Labour to pay them a trillion pounds when they crashed the economy and then ensured no-one changed the rules to stop it happening again.
Blame immigrants for your ills and the rightwing will continue to laugh all the way to the bank, at YOUR EXPENSE. Farage – he's good at laughing, isn't he?
The blaming of immigrants for the country's ills is THE far-right tactic. We must know this from history.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Wealth, Siemens and Andrew Cooper - Notes to Hull PA and LRC


April 26 – Hull People's Assembly

Wealth for all

There's a Facebook picture of a dolphin saying: Humans are the only animals that seek happiness with wealth! We often define wealth in terms of money! Only after most of us are reminded do we define it in terms of love – family – health - good food - clean water – a nice area – clean streets – decent pensions – a free health service – ease of travel – a society we can be proud of.

For money is an illusion. Every note contains a worthless promise... "I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum  of ten pounds." Once, long ago, you could claim your ten POUNDS of gold. But the link to the Gold Standard was broken many years ago. Modern money bears no relation to the promise. It's now FIAT money – not the Italian car – but the Latin for "Let it be made". It is created – by banks.

A bank clerk types £5000 into a computer. The bank doesn't HAVE the £5000! The bank has PERMISSION to create £5000 - out of nothing! They create MANY TIMES the entire bank's total value in assets. (When Lehman Brothers went down it was leveraged at 81 times its assets!) We make it REAL! We pay IN the money earned by the sweat of our brow. It's a con. It's the never-ending creation  of money,  it's eternal  inflation. It requires every union and every worker to campaign endlessly for ever-higher wages – or lose out. We're so used to it we barely question it. Our economy is the same – endless growth, based on endless resources – presumably on some infinite planet!


Siemens is a great deal to have for the Hull area. The factory provides 700 jobs – which we hope will be local. But the joy expressed over Siemens is tempered by anger over the lost 2000 jobs from Hull City Council. ALL local jobs – in this the city with the country's highest youth unemployment.  Council jobs are jobs in service to the community. Siemens jobs are there to make money for the company.  Service jobs in a needy city are there for the long term; Siemens jobs are there while the work lasts. Wind giant Vestas closed its factory on the Isle of Wight in 2009 losing 425 jobs. 220 jobs were rescued by Vestas agreeing to a research facility after a 2-week worker sit-in by workers - and no doubt some government help.

NOW -  the fact that Britain - with the greatest wind resources in Europe - doesn't have its own major wind turbine manufacturer – is a matter for ridicule!

Nevertheless, the Siemens deal is a win, as will be the major North Sea windfarms if they take place. At the same time, the ConDem government is ending the onshore wind subsidy in 2015, and making windfarms a local council planning matter alone, thus undermining one of the greenest industries we have. But it's election time…

Cllr Andrew Cooper

Imagine thousands of council homes in Hull being solar powered! Ending fuel poverty there!  Ending the worry of ever- rising bills from the Big 6! Imagine no charge to tenants and they get the power for free!  - You won't have heard ANYTHING about this, but in February, Cllr Andrew Cooper got Kirklees to agree to install solar panels on 2000 council homes!  The excess power means the council gets paid back in 12 years! But what coverage did this get?? NONE – save the Huddersfield Examiner.  For months the BBC has blocked coverage of the Green Party regional campaign. Next Wednesday they've deigned to do a piece – other than on Ukip! Andrew Cooper will be in Hull on Wednesday.  Years ago, he started the Kirklees Warm Zone scheme – now copied by councils round the country. Nowadays he's our Green Party energy expert. And this year he's the lead Green Party candidate for our region.

Martin Deane is Green Party candidate for Avenue Ward, Hull, in May 22nd.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Scaremongering and half truths on oil and gas extraction

Bill Rigby of Beverley Friends of the Earth and a local Green Party member writes:

Dear Sir,

There have now been at least eight meetings locally, sponsored by both 'sides' in the debate, with a lot of coverage on local radio and TV. A few firm details are beginning to emerge.

People's concerns extend beyond fracking and include extraction of oil and gas by any means. The local exploration company, Rathlin, says it is not going to 'frack'. Like John the Baptist, it is preparing the way for another to come in to dig a network of wells, less than half a mile apart, across the whole of the County. If Rathlin's initial exploration tells them it is possible, they will frack.

The MP for Beverley and Holderness has taken the unprecedented step of asking his constituents via email what their views are. This is good in principle but the questions themselves reveal the bias of the MP.

Beverley Friends of the Earth organised a brief public consultation at the beginning of the year, where many people queued up to say how worried they were. So we wrote to the Council, giving our findings and 160 signatures, collected in just over an hour.

The reply, from the Environment portfolio holder, Cllr Symon Fraser made no commitment to do anything, but concluded, "I can assure you that Members and Planners are aware of, and sensitive to, the anxieties of the community on this difficult matter."

Beverley Friends of the Earth find this assurance totally unsatisfactory. To meet the full expectations of this promise, we call upon the Council to

  • conduct a survey of the local community on the issue (but omit questions as to their political affiliation, and skewed items which commit the respondents subtly to agreeing with fracking)

  • organise a public consultation and debate with all 'sides' present (the drilling company have so far refused to share a platform with opponents of their activities)

  • publish articles in their own publications from scientists and economists on the broader issue of why this activity is necessary at all, and invite robust responses

Bill Rigby

Coordinator, Beverley FoE

Monday, 7 April 2014

Stop Fracking Tour of East Riding

Talk and film from both local and national campaigners against the Fracking Industry. Residents can find out how to stop the threat to the East Riding's water, air, soil and homes.

Monday 14th April, 7pm - Walkington Village Hall

Tuesday 15th April, 7pm - Hornsea Floral Hall

Thursday 17th April 7.15pm - Driffield - Cass Hall

Rathlin, a Canadian owned drilling company currently test-drilling sites near Withernwick and Walkington, have confirmed the possibility of fracking in the East Riding.
When the company was asked in writing, "Will they be seeking planning consent and/or permits in the future to carry out hydraulic fracturing?" they replied, "Possibly".
"Does your parent company, Connaught Oil and Gas, have any history in exploring or producing unconventional hydrocarbons?" They relied "Yes"
When it was put to Rathlin that, "45,000 shale gas wells have been drilled in the US. We know that an average shale gas well produces 1billion cubic feet of gas. Producing usable quantities of shale gas in the UK would require very large numbers of wells. Do you acknowledge this fact?" They relied, "Yes this is potentially correct. Shale gas within the UK is still in infant exploration phase so it is not possible to determine what will be required at this point in time."
The real reason for the explosion of fracking in the US is the passage of 2005 legislation, which exempts the fracking industry from any regulatory supervision under the Safe Drinking Water Act. It is the only industry allowed by the EPA to inject known hazardous materials – unchecked – directly into or adjacent to underground drinking water supplies.
Fracking uses between one and eight million gallons of water over the lifetime of each well. Entire farming regions of Pennsylvania and other states report that their well water sources have become so toxic as to be undrinkable. In some cases, fracked gas seeps into the home via the water taps.
Veteran petroleum geologist Arthur Berman, basing his analysis on actual well data in the US, concluded that shale gas wells decline in production volumes at an exponential rate and are liable to run out far faster than what is being hyped by the market.
The extremely rapid overall gas field declines require from 30 to 50 per cent of production to be replaced annually with more drilling – a nightmare scenario for UK residents.
Contact HEYFO

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Axe the Bedroom Tax rally, Hull | Christopher Alder Vigil

(Photos: Peter Pollard, with thanks)

Martin Deane, of Hull and East  Riding Green Party, spoke at the Bedroom Tax rally, Sat 5th April. also speaking were Dermot Rathbone (People's Assembly), Cllr Shelagh Finlay (Lab), and Cllr Gill Kennett (Labour, suspended for voting against the budget costing 400 Hull jobs).
"The figures surrounding the tax are staggering.  Despite the government's avowed intent to rehouse people more sensibly, only a tiny fraction have been able to move. A further staggering number involve disabled people, as if they didn't have enough to contend with!
"The figures exposed recently by BBC research show that only 6% of people affected by the bedroom tax have been able to move.
"We already know that 66% are in rent arrears, with 15% facing eviction. This is further evidence that the bedroom tax is causing widespread misery and suffering. That there are now hundreds of thousands of households trapped in unaffordable homes is an indictment of the bedroom tax policy, and this government.
"The bedroom tax is one further blow to disabled people in Britain, already hit hard by the deeply flawed and grossly unreasonable Work Capability Assessment administered by the dreadful Atos.
"We rejoice – briefly – at Atos caving in after recent national demonstrations, and requesting their government contract be ended early – but we know some other craven company will take their place.
"Two thirds of households affected by the bedroom tax have at least one disabled member. This unjust tax piles disadvantage on disadvantage. It expects children of the same gender to share bedrooms - yet we're expecting schools to improve results for the most disadvantaged pupils. Forcing those children to try to do their homework and study in overcrowded, stressful environments will not help.
"We currently have a government detached from reality with Iain Duncan Smith proclaiming "let them move house" when there are no homes to move to!  We need to back policies to ensure that people have a roof over the heads and enough to eat in the UK - one of the richest countries in the world."
"It is deeply concerning how grossly unfair it is that the poor are targeted by this tax - especially as the richest are benefiting from tax cuts. It's horrifying that such a high proportion of those affected are disabled.
"This abhorrent policy is pushing people who are already desperate, into homelessness or into the hands of pay day loan sharks.

"A government minister was recently asked, How much money has the Bedroom Tax saved? She said, It wasn't all about saving money...
"We need to see an end to this tax. We need an end to this government!"
Janet Alder is still seeking justice for her brother Christopher who died on the floor of Queen's Gardens Police Station, Hull. 16 years on, and despite an unlawful killing verdict, dozens of questions remain unanswered. There have been 6000 deaths in police custody since the year 2000. ( )
Adding insult to death, when Chris, a 37-year old ex-paratrooper, partner and father of two, was buried, the WRONG body was handed over for the funeral. A recent investigation shed no light on how this occurred beyond revealing Christopher's body had been transferred between 6 body bags.
It also refused to lay any blame or to find any criminal wrongdoing.
Of further worry is the revelation that 59 police officers attended the mortuary to view Christopher Alder's body. There is no explanation as to why.
Janet also revealed she had had no support from Labour (under who this killing happened), the Lib Dems or the Conservatives. The Green Party should formally support her and others of the 6000 dead seeking answers. It is time to end the paramilitary model of policing.