Hull to Calais: Doing our bit for refugees

cal1It was a deep privilege to be the first from the Hull group to make it to Calais for the relief of refugees there. I went with the chair of the group, Maud, and a car packed to the gunwales with sleeping bags, tents, warm clothes, shoes, coats, and so on, all donated by people in Hull and area particularly in the light of the Syria crisis. The Syrian civil war has claimed over 220,000 lives and displaced some 11 million people, nearly half the population.


The vast majority are in countries neighbouring Syria such as Lebanon and Jordan, Turkey too. One Jordan camp has 80,000 in it. For those with the means and the courage, the countries of Europe are the goal. The camps in Calais are for the most part made up of the men, maybe 90%, and the remaining 10% women and children. Many of the women and children are in camps in Greece we were to learn.

About a third of those who have made it to Calais apply for refugee status in France, Others are determined to make it to Britain but have met even further obstacles despite their perilous journey so far. Cameron’s contribution has been to build even higher fences at enormous expense topped with barbed wire. These people won’t be among the 4000 a year he has pledged to take.


Here’s the Calais lighthouse. Over to the left is a church where 20 or so Syrian men had made camp and were sheltering in the porch. We asked them if they needed anything and they said no. Maybe the locals have been rallying around. However, the following Monday the police moved them all on, together with another 30 or so in a grassy area near the church, and another 30-ish by a warehouse loading bay – all into the giant “jongle” camp by the motorway.cal4

We delivered to a smaller camp that we found, and with the help of a French family also delivering that day, we handed out everything that we had brought – and went off to get some more with money that the group had raised and we had left to spend!

These men, women and children are as much victims of war as anyone in the conflict. And neither are Britain’s hands clean here either, where we are almost certainly involved in helping the civil war to kick off, and where we have major responsibility in setting the Middle East on fire with the most immoral war so far this century – Iraq.

Someone worked out that the number of Syrians destined for Hull, by ratio, would be about 9 or 16 or so per year. Hull has an ancient history of helping others fleeing war and persecution. We’ll be no different this time and already a good dozen people have offered rooms for refugees. Someone who gains refugee status, technically, is provided for through housing benefit etc. But there remain needy people who fall through the gaps and could end up destitute.

Now we have sent three vans to Calais. All the goods were well received, and the needs remain as great as ever as winter approaches. Meanwhile Syria, Assad, Isis, the refugees, all are political footballs, while major powers like America and Britain, as well as Russia, decide what to do. Not setting fire to countries would be a good start.


Socialism is about workers – not charging for roads!

Socialism is coming to mean ‘anything that firms can’t make a profit from’.

The term ‘Socialised medicine’ is a common US term to stand for such as the NHS, where healthcare is provided free when needed, and paid for by all through background taxation. In arch-capitalist America, it is usually as a slander term as their political class is dominated by corporate money looking for the last few vestiges of human life left to exploit.

That usage is beginning to happen over here. However, it’s a problem because it defines the discourse in terms of what big business wants, or doesn’t want. And that’s not what the focus of socialism is (or isn’t).

More precisely socialism is the workers’ control of the means of production. We can understand how a cooperative fulfills that definition. A mutual society is another example of where that can happen, eg a credit union. some of these have been going a long time now so it’s no great surprise that any number have been floated at which time they’re not owned by workers anymore, generally, but the 1% who own the vast majority of stocks and shares.

Most of the items below, for example, don’t apply because they’re infrastructure. Infrastructure is not the type of thing you are supposed to make money out of! It is obvious that they are the benefit of all and they are also usually prohibitively expensive so it makes sense for the state – on behalf of all – to foot the bill. When you start to look around at infrastructure to see how it can be privatised for corporate gain, that’s a good sign of corporate capture – that your politicians are being bought and paid for by capital, centralised evonomic power, also known as the wealthy.

So it’s in their interests to demonise socialism and describe it as in the way and to be annihilated. So socialism is coming to mean ‘anything that firms can’t make a profit from’.

But who, and what countries, would want private corporations to make tons of money off infrastructure!? Obviously involving business is going to push up costs! There’s no economies of scale, there’s shareholders to pay off, more expensive loans to service. That is, unless you can show, or claim by owning the media, that publicly provided goods and services are inefficient or overly expensive through unionised wage claims, or whatever.

It’s obviously going to cost more and grossly unfair on those who might suddenly have to pay for medical prescriptions or for road tolls, etc.

But it’s not unknown in the UK. Our very own health system, under Blair in particular, but predating him, invited and used corporate money to fund a large number of projects, called PFI, now thought to be going to cost the NHS some £300bn by the time it’s (planned to be) paid back.

Now you don’t have to be a country with a NHS to regard hospitals as infrastructure, but inviting corporations to have a slice of the action is the essence of corporatising infrastructure, which we’ve also seen with schools and other public-private schemes.

Bosses, as a class generally, already have control of the means of production, but control of infrastructure enables not only control of production but control of the means of a civilised life.

If socialism is reduced to who runs a service, and then demonised by big business, then the debate becomes, You don’t want to control roads, bridges and traffic lights, do you? And the answer becomes, Yes! Because then they can charge for them, like toll roads, or like corporations charge for each medication.

This is as good adefinition of the economic centre ground as any. It’s also a mark of how far to the right the UK has been pushed, since Thatcher, to look at how many utilities and services have been privatised, train companies too, and the interminable slicing up of the NHS to get privatisation by stealth ,despite every claim to the contrary.

For socialism, the question is what do the workers want, not what do the bosses want! The disadvantage is that we have daily media telling the workers precisely what they should think! I suppose this is one price we pay in an arch-capitalist nation, but discovering what workers really do want, not a hard thing in a highly polled society, will be a step forward.


The problem’s not refugees! It’s greed.

I wrote a blog piece once, looking at food in Britain, how much we could grow, and whether we were food dependent.

We were ok! We grow a lot, we could grow a lot more. We could also say Britain is food inter-dependent, as we trade a lot. Food in, food out, and as the planet’s 6th richest country, we can always buy ourselves out of trouble.

In other places, many people naturally want to escape famine, or drought, let alone war, or even just poverty in general. Not everyone does. Not everyone can.

The most interesting thing is that global food production has always outstripped population growth. So Malthus was onto a loser. However, humans have many more impacts. We may not be able to outrun the overall chaos we create – nuclear weapons, continuing major power wars, climate change, pollution – and most of these in pursuit of even greater inequality.

The saddest thing is that, with all our achievements, we think that’s acceptable, capitalism’s ‘collateral damage’. (Not necessarily picking on capitalism, just that we’re told it’s ‘won’ and it’s the ‘end of history’. I don’t think that’s true. It would be depressingly sad if humanity can’t come up with a better balance).

There are tragic consequences to accepting this. Indeed, some aren’t able to outrun these things as we speak – the 21,000 who starve to death a day, the 30,000 a day who die from simple diseases. A large number of them children.

And in the pursuit of profit, we miss out on all the other ‘life-game’ factors that humanity must consider: how should resources be used: limited fossil fuels, highly oil dependent agriculture and transport, potable water.

Then there’s the life-game factors we don’t consider: for many people it’s climate change, or the never-far prospects for nuclear war, or losing your job, or savings, or the next (predictable) economic downturn, let alone the sort of species die-off we’re seeing in the industrial age and the implications this has for us as we cut our own throats, oblivious.


Things we need to do well:

  • Ensure the food safety of countries around the world. This is to our advantage. As Henry Ford might say, poorer countries can’t afford our stuff, but if they become a bit richer they can. We develop new markets.
  • Eradicate simple diseases. All the medications are there. We can fund it internationally. Healthier, wealthier populations have fewer children (because their children live! They become adults with prospects)!
  • Treaty for peace: draw down to extinction the world’s nuclear arsenals, diversify the companies involved, wind turbines, sea barrages, new safe energy.
  • Replace the drive for profit with a drive for fair trade. Deal increasingly fairly with other/poorer countries, otherwise we just continue the negative spiral of exploitation and impoverishment.

None of this is beyond us! Even global population:  we could fit the whole human world into Texas, with the density of New York. (But who’d want either the climate of Texas or the density of New York?)

Yet, intuitively we know it could be done, there’s no particular limit to how big a city can grow (though we probably ought to think of some!)

If we don’t being to think differently, we will simply hit multiple brick walls this century: fossil fuel depletion, species extinction, marine life collapse, industrial agriculture expense, climate effects – let alone things like the banking crisis, totally of our own making!

A friend of mine coined the term ‘overdeveloped’ countries back in the 90s.

The world is suffering most, not from war-torn countries or from refugees, but from the overdeveloped countries.

The Green Party welcomes Siemens.

Diana Johnson asked in House of Commons yesterday: “Is the Secretary of State aware that the UK Independence party opposes that investment and those jobs coming to Hull, and that the Greens are calling for a boycott of Siemens locally as well?”

My Twitter reply –

– “Greens are calling for a boycott of Siemens locally” – No, we’re not. We never have. We haven’t even discussed it.

– As I informed you explicitly before when you first pushed this 2 months ago.

Our full response: –

The Green Party will welcome Siemens to Hull, its commitment to renewable energy and the 700 jobs it will bring.

Frequently mentioned are 10,000 knock-on jobs from this but we challenge those interested to come up with figures, otherwise it’s just wishful thinking.
700 jobs will be most welcome in an area with high unemployment such as Hull. But 700 jobs hardly matches the 2000 jobs cut by the Labour council and the Lib Dem council before that, promoting the government’s austerity.
hull-cuts-2ndNevertheless, Siemens is a huge multinational, and as such, not the Greens first port of call as we would prefer creating a smaller scale energy-generating democracy – such as Green Party councillors in West Yorkshire are already delivering with solar panels and free electricity for 4000 tenants.
Figures show Hull is going to be the second worst affected council by cuts this year across the whole country.
So after years of delay landing a contract, we look forward to the Siemens jobs actually starting.
Martin Deane
Hull and East Riding Green Party

Say NO to Hull fluoridation


Here’s Dr Paul Connett on the truth about Fluoridation. (Author of 50 Reasons against Fluoridation)

c.5m: Makes point of how tiny the fraction of fluoride is in mother’s milk.

c.20m: Amount of fluoride isn’t relevant to dental health in an area. The wealth of the citizens is a much better indicator.

c.55m: Use of fluoride is topical. You don’t stick it in the water.

On Jan 15, it was announced that Hull City Council is to pursue the fluoridation of the city’s water supply.

We object to this on the following grounds:

  • most of the world’s countries show marked improvements in dental health with or without fluoridation (Image search: WHO fluoride)
  • fluoridation is mass medication with no control of dosage and without informed consent.
  • Germany, Denmark and the UK enjoy the lowest dental decay in the EU, however only the UK partly fluoridates.
  • Most of the world does not fluoridate – but still shows marked dental health improvement. Only 11% of the UK population is fluoridated.
  • Fluoride is the only chemical added to water for medical treatment.
  • There are easy alternatives – eg, brushing puts fluoride onto the place affected where there is some evidence it helps protect teeth, parents can obtain fluoride tablets should they wish.
  • The health warning on fluoridated toothpastes says not to swallow and to seek medical advice if ingested, precisely because fluoride has long been known to be toxic.
  • recent studies implicate fluoride in a number of ailments including the hardening of arteries and therefore heart disease, the lowering of IQ, an increase in tumours and cancers, and number of other serious complaints.

Please see –

And Harvard have recently published a meta-study showing that fluoride lowers IQ in children

Is the Green Party anti-science?


The Green Movement owes a great deal to science, but is sometimes portrayed as anti-science. This is primarily in connection with the opposition of many in the Green Movement to genetically modified food and nuclear power. However this opposition is not an opposition to science, but to these particular technologies. (More)

But a few articles want to weigh in to try to discredit Greens. Here’s one.  

The article implies we wouldn’t treat cancer properly. Not so . However, chemical and radiation treatment is particularly aggressive, and there is more to say, without having to watch the entire series of Breaking Bad!  One example, the placebo effect is a well-honoured effect in medicine, and often a tribute to the power of the human mind as well as the body. What a number of alternative therapies do is seek to harness that and strengthen it. No-one in the Green Party is talking about an aromatherapy cure for cancer, for example! I’m not aware of any CLAIMS for alternative medicine that Greens are backing.

That article is distinctly pro-GM which, in the single form of high fructose corn syrup is America’s biggest health problem, in my opinion (we don’t have it here, nor GMOs generally). The Green Party regards GM as a major environmental problem, polluting natural genes (there have been a number of legal cases). The economic warfare in GM agriculture is marked too, with famers having to adopt a system, often deliberately bred into the seed, and farmers in poorer countries being prevent ed from keeping seed for the next generation.  

The author may be confusing the descriptor “anti-science” with the phrase “anti-huge economic benefits for the various multinationals concerned.” To which we would put our hands up.

Our health policy is here. Read it,. See what you think.

Stem cell –  the author, back in 2009 (the article), also attacks Greens for being anti-stem cell. I had to look it up but here it is:

“The Green Party acknowledges the existing and potential future benefits to humans and other animals from stem cell technologies, using both adult and embryonic cellular material. These benefits include direct medical advances, improved non-animal testing methods for new medical treatments, and the advancement of knowledge. However, we also emphasize the importance of continuing ethical regulation, adequate government funding, and transparency of research in the areas of embryonic and adult stem cell technologies, to protect donors and the public health.”

Not unreasonable.

Martin Deane


Austerity – it’s not on the Green Party agenda.

council-pressures Cuts to hit Hull City Council are expected to be the biggest in the country next year, bar Knowsley in Liverpool, as the table shows.

This is not unknown.

Governments in power will seek to weaken and marginalise the opposition groups within their own communities. Hence the two worst hit councils are Labour councils – whilst the better off councils will be, as if by magic, Tory ones.

But Hull has been hit hard enough, by first a Lib Dem administration and then a Labour council. Due to the decision by these ruling parties, Hull has lost about 2000 jobs to cuts so far.

But austerity is not on the Green Party’s agenda. What Hull needs is Green Party councillors to fight for budgets we can live with  – rather than the likely hundreds, maybe thousands, of job losses to come.

But there’s another problem.

Across the region, when Green Party councillors have presented their own budget motions designed to save valuable jobs and essential services, they have been stonewalled and voted down by other councillors whether Labour or Conservative or combined.

This isn’t logical; it’s vindictive. It’s deliberately not giving perfectly good suggestions and ideas a chance.

The cure is obvious – elect MORE Green Party councillors – in Sheffield, in Leeds, in Kirklees – and help get those budget alternatives through.

This is desperately needed in Hull too – before Hull’s public sector jobs and services become a thing of the past – as the national Labour Party seems committed to with their wholehearted adoption of austerity.

The people want well-functioning services, elderly to be looked after, people with disability to have a chance, social housing that’s secure, social work that does the job not increasingly rushed and pressurised, cultural assets like museums, well-staffed and open for the people, and the thousand other things a well-functioning council must do.

While the wealth of the 1% is rocketing, the obvious and necessary solution is better taxation. Austerity – it’s not on the people’s agenda either.