Should Britain follow its promise on nuclear weapons?

Green Policy #9: Scrap Trident and British nuclear weapons.

40 years ago Britain  undertook to halt, reduce and eliminate our nuclear capability when we signed the NPT or Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Labour-proposed renewal of Trident, after Blair’s vote in 2007, is hardly that. Labour apologists say renewing Trident is completely within the terms of the NPT and doesn’t count as an escalation. They argue that the actual number of warheads is decreased – and this may even be true!  However, the NPT commission doesn’t see it that way and regards the proposed renewal as an escalation of capability and therefore may be in breach of the Treaty.

Scrapping Trident is part of our 8 point plan on Peace and Security as per latest draft manifesto.

No replacement of Trident .  We cannot conceive of any circumstances in which we could or would use these expensive and immoral weapons, and would de-commission the existing system and not renew it.

There are various figures given for costs. The most frequent is a £76 bn lifetime cost. But the the total cost could be as high as £130 bn (Guardian). And we have plenty of plans for that level of expenditure!

The reasons the LibDems give (Nick Clegg, last June) are that it’s too expensive and not fit for our security needs. They still believe in and want a nuclear deterrent just not that one.

In 2007 when Blair put Trident renewal to a vote, some 72% of people polled against it and nearly 100 Lab MPs revolted over it.

In the Green Party we do not want these weapons. We do not want a replacement. Nor do we do not want a nuclear deterrent. A significant majority of the British people agree with us (58% to 35% in last September’s poll) . Nuclear deterrence is a highly dangerous outcome of the Cold War.

It is necessary and vital to think differently in the 21st century – especially on how we use dwindling resources, and how we foster international cooperation and development.

We cannot conceive of any use these weapons have: they cannot be used, that would be the ultimate failure. Nor is Trident actually an independent but relies on American missiles, know-how and say-so – they don’t help our security, they keep us tied to US policy.

Rebecca Johnson, NPT Review Conference 2010

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Green policy #17 – The Citizen’s Income

(Want to play Policy Bingo? Just leave a comment or drop me a line: martinjdeane@gmail.com)

Thanks to Delia (at ImagineDPM) for asking about this one! – No.17  – The Citizen’s Income.

Green Policy #17 is – as luck would have it –  the Citizens Income! This is a basic income where everyone is given a weekly income by the state! Sound crazy? Think about it. It used to be called Unemployment Benefit, often called the dole, and now Income Support – which has its own message that you should be ‘out there’ earning money.  What if we turn it on its head and pay a basic income to EVERYONE.

What’s  that message? It’s one of respect, trust, valuing and equality.

This is the Green Party plan and it costs… about the same! It’s not means tested which will save a lot of money and the bureaucracy behind it. This largely pays for it. Job interviews, job centres, etc, all become optional and could be slimmed down in areas. A citizen can choose to do “formal” work on top, or not. At a certain level of income, ie. the better off, pay it back through tax codes.

Policy #17 is set at about £120 per week, all costed, and I can send you the spreadsheet if you like. In addition, we are exploring ways of factoring in housing allowance to this too since a place to live should also be guaranteed to its citizens by the state.

I like the Citizens Income because it changes the relationship of individual to the state – especially the mentality. It says explicitly: “We value you just for you being a citizen within society.” And in monetary terms too. And that that citizenship isn’t dependent on whether you have a formal job, 9 to 5 or whatever. Nor is it dole any more, with you having to be ‘available for work’ or to clock up so many interviews.

Instead of welfare, to stop you going under in a dog eat dog society,  it becomes a basic income giving you more freedom to live your own life, make your own choices and think about what calls to you as to how you spend your time or define your career. It gives independence rather than the paternalism of “We’ll look after you cos you’re skint”, etc.  It’s a real mark of trust in people and their decisions. And… it solves the problem of unemployment, doesn’t it?

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Green Party Policy #57: the Robin Hood Tax

The Green Party formally adopted the Robin Hood Tax into policy at Conference in February. This is long overdue, as we have seen the banks bankrupt the world. Our aim would be a proper Tobin Tax to curtail casino-type trading.

(DISCLAIMER: the idea that I hold Alistair Darling either dear or a darling should not be inferred from the following).

Alistair Darling (HM Treasury)

Dear Mr Darling,

Like many of the tens of thousands of supporters of the Robin Hood Tax I will be looking closely at your budget.  I hope you are not planning any measures that would mean people like me will again have to bear the brunt of paying down the deficit.

I strongly believe a tiny tax on major financial transactions is the fairest way to address the economic challenges we face. You could start on March 24th by putting a small tax on sterling currency transactions. This would hit multi-million pound trades by banks, not people’s holiday money.  It could raise at least £3 billion every year to deal with the budget deficit, and provide extra money to address poverty and climate change. The UK’s leadership would also pave the way for other Robin Hood taxes at a global level.

The Treasury’s response at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/global_tax_campaign_information.htm demonstrates that you are taking my views seriously. I am encouraged. To be clear: what I urge you to consider here is a unilateral sterling currency transaction tax in the Budget ahead of further international negotiation. I am not discussing an “insurance levy” in this instance.

Last year we all bailed out the banks and for many of them the worst has passed. But for people in the UK and around the world, the financial crisis is far from over.  It’s time for those who caused the crisis to take greater responsibility in putting our public finances right.  I hope your budget will reflect this and that you will introduce the first Robin Hood Tax, on sterling.

A copy of this message has also been sent to the prospective parliamentary candidates in my constituency.

You may be interested to see how other MPs and candidates are engaging with us at http://robinhoodtax.org.uk/your-action/

Yours sincerely,

Martin Deane

Should Greens support any old windfarm??

Well, that was interesting. I’ve just done a piece on the couple in Deeping, Lincs, taking wind developers to the Hight Court over turbine noise. The BBC presenter asked me the same question about 5 times. My first reply was that I don’t know the facts of this case but we all have to consider as communities, cities, and as a state, how we are going to keep the lights on in the future. He was after a stronger answer he said at one stage, quoting ‘soundbite city’. Of course, I have no idea how my answers will be edited.
But there are a few problems here: It’s not up to the Green Party to fight the side of wind developers. Our role is to promote renewables as an energy policy, but not for any particular windfarm or business. Nor is it up to us to say to individuals or communities: you have to pay this price so that we can have energy. UK energy policy is effectively saying exactly that in Colombia where a huge open cast pit supplying Yorkshire with thousands of tons of coal has thrown hundreds of farming families off land they have farmed for generations. So our coal, our energy, is not fairtrade in this instance.
Rather we would want installations to be community decisions and where the community directly benefits from production – they get the energy free.
Is this happening? As it turns out, this couple in their 50s find their sleep regularly disturbed and have had to move out on a number of occasions. The 8 x 100m turbines are less than 1 km from their home. There is no reason to believe they were consulted when this energy plant went up nor that they get free energy from the turbines. Now their lives are disturbed and their future uncertain as they had no prior plans to move.
Greens respect communities and localities more than this. So, in the light of oil decline, peak fuels, wars, exploitation, and the actual and hidden costs of nuclear, what we ask of communities is that they consider how they would like their energy provision for the future and how much renewable energy would they factor in.

HEN hustings, Hull Truck

Thursday’s hustings were ok… Good to have, and not enough of them. I made points about peak oil, the change it will mean, the drastic effects on agriculture, industry and business as we know it.

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SME’s are our business focus in the Green Party. We’re not particularly friends of the big banks, or the big corporations – and we receive no donations from them.

I commented on the banking scam, though not quite getting the opportunity to call it the biggest theft in human history – which it very probably  is, especially when the leading parties are promising all of us will be paying the price for years to come.

My comment on scrapping Trident was met by “As if that’s going to happen” from Graham Stuart MP (Con, Beverley). Stuart was completely unfull of surprises and typified the smug Tory class of rich and privileged that he belongs to and is more than happy to serve.

He was also more than happy to defend Chris Chope who sank the anti-Vulture Fund bill just by saying “I object”, this to the dismay of Oxfam, WDM , and even his frontbench (it appears…). His defence: the bill was insufficiently debated. I suspect the real principle is about keeping life simple for friends in the City.  Thousands more are likely to die from that one act.

The Lab and LibDem candidates were better. But I had to challenge them all:  they simply do not have the vision to take on major issues like oil decline.

As if to prove my point, at the end Karl Turner (Lab, Hull East) and Denis Healy (LD, Hull North) were debating something heatedly. I walked over.  Denis lives outside Hull North and Karl was arguing he should move in.

How does this help over  oil decline, topsoil degradation, oil-dependent agriculture, freshwater consumption, GM – let alone city issues like education (which won’t be solved by BS for the Future), unemployment, the effects of cuts, health, etc, etc.

I joined in:  “Come on guys, this is trivial!” and left them to it. Well Done HEN for organising.

My next one is Wyke 6th Form next Friday.

Why make animals pay the price?

The Green Party’s policies are the most progressive of any major party on animal welfare issues.

This might not make much of a difference in Hull North  but a lot of people would understand why we  are opposed to all blood sports and would ban hunting, shooting and snaring.

On animal farming, we are against all forms of intensive and battery farming, including zero grazing regimes. Greens seek to prohibit live exports and abolish the ‘piece rate’ system in abattoirs (where workers earn more money the more animals they kill). Greens also want to phase out fish farming.

None of this necessarily would cost more as long as animal welfare standards are universally observed. But neither is it acceptable to have higher standards  in this country and then import large quantities of, say, pork, reared with poorer standards abroad. This happens at the moment and discriminates against British farmers. This can be solved by a trade tariff to bring cheaper, less humane meat up to our farm prices, or a ban on such imports, or an EU-wide adoption of such policies.

The Green Party does not currently have specific policies on the culling of wildlife but we do oppose badger culling – unlike the Conservatives or Lib Dems. Greens also seek to end the use of animals in circuses and oppose the use of the whip in horse racing.

The Green Party is opposed, on scientific and ethical grounds, to the harmful use of animals in research and would ban all research which harms animals, including harmful procedures to obtain animal derived materials.

We want to transfer government funds from animal tests to superior non-animal technologies and would make issues such as diet and lifestyle central to health policies.

Martin Deane

Safer Medicines Campaign –
http://www.safermedicines.org/safetyofmedicines/index.shtml

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