The West Wing – a spectrum of acceptable opinion.

The West Wing series is great, a fine example of intelligent, politically focused scripts which cover any number of political issues, at the same time drawing you in to often feel sympathetic towards the main characters. You don’t have to be a fan of Martin Sheen, US politics and the White House, to enjoy it, although a similar treatment of the Kremlin might possibly lack in appeal! And, we can’t say we’re not used to the genre!

I’m not a devotee, but in series 7, there’s an entire episode spent purely on a US presidential debate between the two candidates, Democrat and Republican. Surely this was ground-breaking for a series, outside of actual real debates themselves, although Alan Alda was always going to make it more palatable!?

A lot of truth on the American situation is spoken – one reason why it is so popular among a great many people, especially those interested in politics, aware of how it is fought over, and controlled, and also how important it is in covering health, education, war, welfare, and so on.

In series 7 a nuclear accident happens on the Californian coast. It gets lots of coverage and influences the fictional electoral outcome. That was a few years ago but in it, it previsioned Fukushima 2011, a nuclear accident (on a much greater scale) and which arguably affects Americans more than the fictional events affected the fictional population (who fled the area en masse).

Despite covering important themes in different ways, at all times it continues the myth of noble America:

  • The myth of the world’s remaining superpower, with US peacekeepers keeping a fragile peace in Israel-Palestine – instead of an America which arms Israel to the teeth occasionally selling Palestinians a dodgy roadmap.
  • Yet another full-scale invasion is portrayed as an intervention to prevent a Russian and Chinese standoff  instead of the reality of unjustifiable invasions like Iraq, killing 1.5 million people, or Vietnam killing 3-4 million locals (or 58,000 GIs if you were educated in the US), or any of 100 interventions, invasions, coups and destabilisations since World War II, all favouring power – but not people.
  • The myth of an honourable US military is challenged by the revelation of a secret military space shuttle, flagging up the militarisation of space, an important issue (undoubtedly much further advanced than we have ever been told to date) but not that it has been America leading the arms race for decades, and with such an immoral level of defence spending as if it’s designed to take on the rest of the world (which it is).
  • The myth of Democrats being for socialisation and Republicans about tax-cuts is well-played, but unaddressed is the real power of big business and finance which pays both their elections bills, expected to be over $1 billion each this year!

Some home myths are challenged strongly, that government healthcare, MediCare, is hugely expensive – is outed as having only 2% administration costs, that education should have a better-rewarded professional teaching workforce.

The series covers huge amounts of ground, as American politics does, wherever money is involved, in fact. But what it provides is the spectrum of acceptable opinion.

Which series will it be that challenges America’s subversive role in the world, or its major inequality at home while outing the roles of big business, which can get protective laws changed resulting in wrecking the global economy, resulting in new, patented, forms of life, improperly tested and with effects for generations to come, not just the current generation of small farmers lives and livelihoods being wrecked, which can make a killing out of a global flu scare which turns out to be hype, which can fabricate a war for oil?

For some things, it will take more than just a change of administration.

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The West Wing – a spectrum of acceptable opinion.

The West Wing series is great, a fine example of intelligent, politically focused scripts which cover any number of political issues, at the same time drawing you in to often feel sympathetic towards the main characters. You don’t have to be a fan of Martin Sheen, US politics and the White House, to enjoy it, although a similar treatment of the Kremlin might possibly lack in appeal! And, we can’t say we’re not used to the genre!

I’m not a devotee, but in series 7, there’s an entire episode spent purely on a US presidential debate between the two candidates, Democrat and Republican. Surely this was ground-breaking for a series, outside of actual real debates themselves, although Alan Alda was always going to make it more palatable!?

A lot of truth on the American situation is spoken – one reason why it is so popular among a great many people, especially those interested in politics, aware of how it is fought over, and controlled, and also how important it is in covering health, education, war, welfare, and so on.

In series 7 a nuclear accident happens on the Californian coast. It gets lots of coverage and influences the fictional electoral outcome. That was a few years ago but in it, it previsioned Fukushima 2011, a nuclear accident (on a much greater scale) and which arguably affects Americans more than the fictional events affected the fictional population (who fled the area en masse).

Despite covering important themes in different ways, at all times it continues the myth of noble America:

  • The myth of the world’s remaining superpower, with US peacekeepers keeping a fragile peace in Israel-Palestine – instead of an America which arms Israel to the teeth occasionally selling Palestinians a dodgy roadmap.
  • Yet another full-scale invasion is portrayed as an intervention to prevent a Russian and Chinese standoff  instead of the reality of unjustifiable invasions like Iraq, killing 1.5 million people, or Vietnam killing 3-4 million locals (or 58,000 GIs if you were educated in the US), or any of 100 interventions, invasions, coups and destabilisations since World War II, all favouring power – but not people.
  • The myth of an honourable US military is challenged by the revelation of a secret military space shuttle, flagging up the militarisation of space, an important issue (undoubtedly much further advanced than we have ever been told to date) but not that it has been America leading the arms race for decades, and with such an immoral level of defence spending as if it’s designed to take on the rest of the world (which it is).
  • The myth of Democrats being for socialisation and Republicans about tax-cuts is well-played, but unaddressed is the real power of big business and finance which pays both their elections bills, expected to be over $1 billion EACH this year!

Some home myths are challenged strongly, that government healthcare insurance for over-65s, MediCare, is hugely expensive – is outed as having only 2% administration costs (although 6% may be truer taking in  advantages of government), and progressive campaigns pushed such as education should have a better-rewarded professional teaching workforce.

The series covers huge amounts of ground, as American politics does, wherever money is involved, in fact. But what it provides is the spectrum of acceptable opinion.

Yet, it comes across in such a polished and personal manner that such good people in the White House couldn’t possibly miss out the little things like 21% of kids in poverty or the US of A being at world number 38 for life expectancy! Or the astounding 1 in 100 figure for those in the prison system, in the Land of the Free…

Which series will it be that challenges America’s subversive role in the world, or its major inequality at home while outing the roles of big business, which can get protective laws changed resulting in wrecking the global economy, resulting in new, patented, forms of life, improperly tested and with effects for generations to come, not just the current generation of small farmers lives and livelihoods being wrecked, which can make a killing out of a global flu scare, which turns out to be hype, which can fabricate a war for oil?

For some things, it will take more than just a change of administration ans American politics shouldn’t be judged by its effective portrayals by Hollywood.

1642: the Green vote and all that

A whopping 673 people voted Green in Avenue ward (12%). That really is brilliant, thank you very much. Please don’t be backward in coming forward! I’ll be pleased to meet you all!

This local vote almost matched my first MP stand in 2005 (858). And we beat the Tories into 4th place! Always nice!  The turnout was a creditable 60% and  the general election basically doubled the local vote!

With a poor Green vote of 478 for MP (1.4%) many green supporters from 2005 (858 votes) clearly felt they had to vote Lib Dem to oust atrociously NuLabourite Diana Johnson. And you nearly did it too!! Just 641 votes in it slashing her previous 7146 lead. Btw, if we have another general election soon I shall think twice about standing.

Now that we have the Lib Dems as power brokers, can we hope they do the right thing?

Green candidate results:

Avenue (673)

Myton (165)

Bransholme West (243)

Bransholme East (72)

Bricknell (261)

Drypool (228)

A fine result for James in Bricknell, a high score for Greens there, 261 (3.3%) and where 2 were elected. Once again, if only we knew all our supporters! A fantastic start too for Zoe in Drypool with 228 (4.8%). She really garnered lots of support in a short space of time. Normally you could expect about 60 votes for a first stand with no history and there she is in triple figures.

Same too for Mark in Bransholme West. Coming out of nowhere (not that King’s Park is nowhere!) to pick up 243 (5.2%). The double vote for two councillors will have helped, but so too did a platform full of policies to fight inequality in society.

Lilly gained a respectable first 72 votes in Bransholme East, always going to be tough territory with people proud of their existing two independent candidates.

Susan once again took a reliable 165 votes (4.2%) in Myton from the Labour stronghold.

All this gave us a memorable total of 1642 Green votes for Hull all told.

Memorable for being the year that Hull helped start the Civil War!

All Hull results

Do we really want another Labservative government?

It didn’t start with the workers’ memorial but it was compounded by the clap on the back from the Labour Hull East candidate.

The memorial was for a friend, Ray Jessop, who died on Dec 7th. He fell from a tall ladder on subcontracted work for Hull City Council. Had he still worked for the council he’d probably be alive: health and safety would have dictated scaffolding for the 30’ job. A victim of privatisation.

At any other time of year it strikes me as unlikely that that the two Labour MP candidates (and likely winners, the bookies tell us) would have turned out for this. Ray, given the choice, wouldn’t have had them there (but he did have a soft spot for Caroline Lucas!) Afterwards one of the candidate-barristers went out of her way to introduce me to a London reporter and the other candidate-barrister assumed he and I were on the same side… Now, encouraging me, of course, does no harm, especially if my 1 or 2 thousand votes come from Lib Dem supporters and not Labour ones. And indeed the Lib Dems have targeted Hull North and are putting up a great orangey-diamondy type show.

The Hull East barrister and I conversed about the Greenpeace action, last time round, when activists climbed Prescott Towers to hold it to ransom: we’ll go away if you let us put £10,000 worth of solar panels on your roof! Needless to say Prezza wasn’t going to bow to such eco-terrorism. Anyway, the subject of supporting Labour came up so I made it clear I didn’t. And the barrister said: “So you’d prefer a Conservative government? I see.” I said I probably would and didn’t think they (Lab) deserved another term.

But the arrogance of the safe Labour seat prompted me to write 10 good reasons to ditch Labour and vote Green.

But clever isn’t it? How our system backs us into a corner to choose one or another false positive, especially after the betrayal of society by Labour in the 90s where now we have our own Pepsi or Coke candidates to choose from.

But Ray had no time for them. Ray stood against war. Ray stood against Trident. Ray was sometimes the only person who came up with me to Menwith Hill to protest the American spybase, commended for its service during America’s wars, calling Blair a poodle, wearing his outrageous colours and T-shirts, far-removed from the charcoal suits of the politicians (or the police force). Ray wouldn’t bow down to them or play their silly games of who to vote for.

But he did want a different society; one which looked after those who need it; one where riches were spread through the community; one in harmony with the earth; one where even the lowliest animals were respected and, in his case, never eaten; one which never went to war and certainly would not lie itself into one; one where countries looked after their citizens first and even looked out for each other’s citizens; a just world, a sustainable world where we learned where the boundaries were, where we made our own energy and not take other people’s. He could never see it happening though because he knew how wealth, greed and power subvert people.

But he never really gave up hope.

And neither do we.

Martin Deane
Green Party
Hull

Green Policy #5 – the EU right or wrong?

A lot of people are concerned at the EU, some over corruption, some over the amount Britain gives but doesn’t seem to get back, others over the number of laws and apparent attack on British sovereignty. I share these concerns, but rather than run a mile from the EU, I still value battling away for the things Greens really stand for, both here and there.

Europe isn’t, primarily, one of those values. Yes, Greens are an internationalist party and, yes, we’re also represented across the EU but the things the the European Green Party fights for are very similar to the things we find ourselves fighting for in our nation states: greater equality, of wealth, of gender, of different lifestyles, fewer wars and a lessening of the arms trade, a refusal to accept Israel’s persecution of Palestinians and the way the EU (and a number of member states, foremostly the UK) help keep that apartheid going, fairness of EU trade rules viz. the rest of the world, much of whom we collectively (and singly as the UK) exploit.

The number of laws is an interesting question. I’ve heard 70% of our laws originating in the EU before but I don’t know how this is calculated. And, of course, it matters what these laws are about rather than the number of them. By the same token there have been cases that have gone to the EU where a better decision has been obtained (from a Green POV) compared to the ruling from British courts. I’m thinking of human rights cases in particular. I tend to appreciate the health and safety rules, for example, although there are still too many deaths and injuries in the British workplace.

There is an extent to which the EU has an improving effect on aspects of British life. However, I don’t appreciate the possible minutiae of control such as the postal directive of 1997 which appears to be behind the “bringing into harmony” of the EU states’ postal services and, as we’ve seen, the privatisation and closure of many post offices.
Many of our politicians are ignorant of the extent of the directives or of EU laws, or of British laws for that matter. Blair is often credited with bringing in 3000 new laws – most of which none of us would be able to name, and most of which probably weren’t read by the politicians who voted for them!

I don’t want a Parliament of functionaries rubber stamping government decisions – or of MEPs doing the same with laws presented in Strasbourg.

Also Britain is both close to the EU and close to America. Given the ease with which Blair maintained murderous sanctions on Iraq and then went to war I remain grateful to various EU member states who fought against that, and regard them as closer to my position – for good reasons – than my own government was or is.
However, we also believe in the principle of subsidiarity – where decisions, and law, is made at the lowest possible levels. Why on earth do laws on post offices, or any number of other things, have to be made across the EU?? And as for the Lisbon Treaty, rejected in a number of countries, and going untried in many more, surely it shows that the rule of the people, even within a more democratic EU, is only a flag of convenience.

But the EU is no more “evil” than Britain is. In fact, given the greater Green-left representation in the EU there’s probably more chance of calling the EU to account than of people here calling the British government to account, over the war, over sanctions, over inequality across Britain, over throwing tax money at the banks, over human rights issues, over working conditions.

However, won’t we also see what we have left of democracy here – when the Labservatives get in, yet again, in May?
And what say do we the people have in our laws here either? It’s all very well banging on about sovereignty, but if we have bureaucrats making laws here that are unaccountable, let alone unasked for, why is that any better than having them made in Brussels? Surely it’s the quality of whichever laws that matters – and how much they reflect the aspirations of the people.

Both these types of government are unacceptable to me.

But perhaps two chances at democracy are better than one.