Category Archives: Politics

Former Stroud College student, Sajid Javid MP appointed as Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Sport and Equalities

Sajid Javid, a former student at the FE Stroud College, has been appointed new Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Sport and Equalities after the controversial resignation of Maria Miller MP.

Javid has been widely hailed as a rising star within the Conservative Party and is the first of the 2010 in-take of MPs to hold such ministerial responsibilities.

Javid, unlike the majority of his now cabinet colleagues attended a comprehensive school before attending Stroud’s FE college. He went onto study Economics and Politics at Exeter University before moving straight into the banking industry.

In 2010 he was elected the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove.

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UKIP & Liberal Democrat MEPs vote against gender pay equality

Antony Hook – the Liberal Democrat MEP candidate for the South East of England this week tweeted this picture.


Rightly, he points out that UKIP MEPs were either absent or voted against a European Parliament motion calling for the equal pay of male and female workers. This motion received a massive 87% support from across the political spectrum but not from UKIP.

What Antony Hook might not have realised though is that his Liberal Democrat colleague George Lyon also voted against the motion alongside two other ALDE MEPs.

I look forward to his infographic highlighting this.

Shame on any MEP who voted against this motion…Lib Dem, UKIP or Tory (note no Labour or Green MEPs voted against the motion)!

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Why Maria Miller should resign as a MP

Press regulation deal
Maria Miller (still) MP has today resigned
, no not as a MP, but just as the Culture Secretary.

In case you missed it, Miller resigned because of the growing pressure on her after it was revealed she cheated the tax payer out of £45,000 (or £5,800 depending on whether you believe independent parliamentary commissioner or a collection of her fellow MPs).

The Prime Minister responded to her resignation letter saying he was ‘sad’ and that he hoped she would be able to return to cabinet ‘in due course’.

I’m sorry….what!?!

If these expenses on a second home (which all MPs are entitled to) were claimed my Maria Miller as a MP then why oh why has only resigned as the Culture Secretary and not as a MP?

In reality this is not Maria Miller resigning – this is more a shifting of her priorities within The House of Commons and taking a significant pay cut (backbench MPs like Maria Miller still get £67,060 a year).

As commentator Owen Jones noted:

This is why I fully support her fellow Conservative MP, Zac Goldsmith’s, call for introducing a right to recall for the electorate. In a Conservative Home blog he argued:

“If events cause a majority of constituents to lose confidence in their MP, they should have the right to remove that MP.”

I would argue that the events have cause Miller’s constituents to lose confidence.

Goldsmith concluded his blog by saying:

If anything good emerges from the Maria Miller affair, it will be a build-up of pressure on the political establishment to honour its early promise, to trust the people, and to adapt our democracy to the modern age.”

Maria Miller is still a MP because of a deficit of democracy. She is there because her electorate don’t have the power to kick her out.

The ever out of touch Prime Minister seems to think she has a future on the frontbench but I would suggest her constituents might think otherwise.

Until this deficit in our democracy is plugged though, we all need to be calling for MPs like Miller to actually resign, not just for her to take a frontbench sabbatical until the media storm clears.

Ask her to resign:


A great spot over at Labour List – In 2008 Maria Miller called for MPs caught fiddling expenses to face a ‘recall mechanism’… 

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UKIP – less popular but here to stay?

I have written before about why I thought that UKIP would, like other far-right groups, rise and fall in the polls. I expected the May 2014 elections to represent their high before starting to crumble before the 2015 elections.

However, a new FT/Populus poll today shows that most of those planning to vote UKIP in May are also planning on supporting the party in 2015. This could be bad news for both Labour and Conservatives in key marginal seats. The Lib Dems however would surely gain from a strong UKIP turnout in 2015 as they fight their marginal seats against divided votes.

As Lord Ashcroft pointed out last month, these findings also question the effectiveness of the proposed Tory ‘Vote UKIP get Labour’ messaging planned for the next general election. Most UKIP voters don’t care if they get Cameron or Miliband. It would appear that a ‘they’re as bad as each other’ feeling is permeating UKIP supporters.

However, the FT/Populus poll also shows support for UKIP for the May 2014 elections at a relative low of 25%. Significantly 2 percent behind the Conservatives and 6 percent behind Labour. This is a far cry from UKIP’s aim of topping the polls in May 2014.

The FT/Populus poll also spells bad news for The Green Party giving them just a 3% share of the national vote (about half the lowest vote share they secured anywhere in England and Wales in 2009)!

You can see the detailed results here.

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Having depression in public life

mind_logoWill Sandry, a Liberal Democrat Cllr on Bath and North East Somerset, has announced that he is taking a minimum of 3 month leave to give himself time to address what he describes as his “depressive illness”.

Will has had the deeply difficult situation of having what is essentially a personal and private issue forced into the public light. The silver lining is that people have, so far at least, responded with empathy and support even in the usually rancid comments section of the local paper.

Will’s honesty about his illness will no doubt make a small difference to people in and around Bath. It will help raise awareness of the nature and severity of depression (about one in ten of us will be affected by clinical depression at some point in our lives although the symptoms of this can vary massively – statistically that is around 8,000 of Bath’s 80,000 residents).

My heart goes out to Will because I have seen the impact depression can have on people’s lives and I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it must be to then have to air your own depression publicly for people to pick over and worry about.

I often feel a twinge of unease when private matters such as a divorce are mulled over in public. This feeling is somehow amplified when the private matter is a condition the person has no control over and which leaves them feeling vulnerable and out of sorts anyway.

In light of this I have no idea how Will is feeling at the moment but I send him my heartfelt best wishes for the coming months.

More information:

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WATCH: The Green Party EU political broadcast here

Have a sneak preview of The Green Party political broadcast.

It’s nice, but once again…it is missing the three simple things I was hoping to see from The Green Party:

  • Talking about issues that matter to people (economy, immigration, unemployment etc)
  • Getting across a ‘feeling’  of what The Green Party stand for (they even used the acronym TTIP!!!)
  • Leaving the electorate clear on what their position is on the EU.

As a result I cannot see it shifting significant numbers of voters.

Anyway, it’s quirky so enjoy:


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A vote for UKIP in Stroud is a vote against science

My local paper, The Stroud News and Journal, this week published a letter from the UKIP perspective parliamentary candidate, Caroline Stephens. In the article Ms Stephens argues ‘that the climate has always been changing’ and that the local Greens should leave poor old Mr Patterson (the current climate change sceptic Tory Environment Minister) alone.

For those of you who are not familiar with the environmentalist epicentre which is Stroud, this move is akin to turning up to the WOMAD music festival to argue why you thought, not that you just didn’t like world music, but that it didn’t actually exist.

The reaction she received in the SNJ was comparable to a very verbal booing off stage. It was a splendid mixture of disbelief, outrage and bewildered humour.

But for every Stroudie who commented on the article, there are probably hundreds more who were taken in by her half-truths.

And so, once again, I feel honour bound, for the sake of anyone who is even considering lending her a vote, to highlight the pure idiocy of what she (and many other UKIPpers) actually thinks:

Point 1 – She writes:

If climate had never changed, the world would still be in say the Jurassic period maybe. If climate didn’t vary from one place to another sun seekers would not likely prefer southern Spain to the north of Scotland for their sun bathing holidays.

The first sentence is about as idiotic axiomatic and a non-sentence as me saying ‘if the Sun wasn’t there then there would be no life on this planet’.

I look forward to her speculation about where we would be without gravity.

Her second sentence shows a misunderstanding (or purposeful confusion?) of the fact that when we talk about global warming, we are talking about the globe, not what the weather is like in Spain.

Up to this point she is slightly odd but nothing too harmful.

Point 2 – She writes:

Currently there has been no statistically significant global warming for around 17 years (depending on which dataset is used).

I love the proviso here… “depending on which data set you use”. Perfect.

I think she is referring to the disparity between surface temperature and ocean temperature. If so, our friends over at Skeptical Science (who have devoted quite a lot of time to myth busting) write:

“Records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there is no sign of it slowing any time soon (Figure 1).  More than 90% of global warming heat goes into warming the oceans, while less than 3% goes into increasing the surface air temperature.”

So that explains the surface temperature recordings to which I assume she refers (but this is hard to tell when her myths are written with no sources to support them).

You can read more about why the earth has been getting warmer in the last 17 years here.

Point 3 – She then references Prof John Cristy:

Yes, her only real half reference is the same John Cristy profiled here. Lol.

Point 4 – One has to ask how there were so many storms and floods going back to the nineteenth century and before. No one had even thought of blaming humankind for the weather then although the alarmists of the day did blame so called witches for ‘cooking’ the weather? Weather (rain) not climate change has been the cause of floods which have been exacerbated by the European Union’s discouraging dredging of waterways in the name of creating wetland wildlife habitats.

Just wow…of course, it is the EU’s fault!

Right, let’s keep this simple. Rain (weather) is different to climate. But the climate can impact on extreme weather events (this was the very basic point that Green Cllr Sarah Lunnon was making that sparked this bizarre response from Ms Stephens).

If you want to know exactly how climate change might impact on extreme weather events you can read this 2012 IPCC report.

A slightly more credible source than her…oh wait…none existing source.

Point 5 – (I skip a bit here as it all relates to extreme weather and frankly, I’m getting a bit bored). But towards the end she writes:

Thank goodness there are a few climate rationalists left in the Coalition to try to defend our way of life.

Sigh. “Climate rationalist”. She is of course referring to Owen Patterson who I think broke a record a few months back with the most number of climate change myths spouted on national radio.

Read this blog on his (would be comic if it wasn’t so depressing) appearance on the BBC’s Any Questions.

The Greens have my absolute backing when they call for the sacking of this man who seems to be able to ignore basic climate science.

In short, the whole letter consisted of half-truths, misinformation and vague unsupported ideas that I felt needed to be tackled .

But I look forward to Ms Stephen’s (fully referenced with peer reviewed science) response.

Until this happens though I hope the good people of Stroud will back a candidate/party that actually uses science to base their views (and policies on).

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Filed under Climate Change, EU politics, Far-right politics, Gloucestershire, Media, Politics

5 points to look out for in the Labour Party political broadcast tonight

The Labour Party Political Broadcast was today launched and will be hitting your TV screens later this evening.

You can also watch it here:

Here are 5 interesting points to look out for as you watch it:

  • The first point is to note how many times they use the phrase ‘under David Cameron’ opposed to their more traditional ‘Under this Tory government’. There is a very obvious reason for this. Since coming to power in 2010, David Cameron’s personal approval rating has fallen from 57% satisfied/26% dissatisfied to 37% satisfied/56% dissatisfied. In short, Cameron has become a liability at the polls and Labour are looking to play on that.
    2010 Cameron ratings
    2014 Cameron ratings
  • The second point to note is that the whole broadcast is talking about one thing – the economy! As I wrote yesterday, the economy remains top of the list of voter concerns. This makes sense then for the Labour Party to hammer home a message that we are experiencing a cost of living crisis. The question though, that might make or break the 2015 election, is whether or not the economy remains on top of the voter concerns list as the government continues to push its message of a recovering economy. Already we can see a big drop in the last year:
  • With such focus being placed on the economy, one wonders if UKIP and/or the Conservatives will focus on immigration (that consistently remains high on voter concerns). If so, we could see a bigger than expected shift to UKIP from former Labour voters. This in itself might make or break the Euopean Parliament elections in May 2014.
  • They have audacity, but they know the electorate have short memories. At 1:25 into the broadcast they attack the Liberal Democrats (note attack on the party rather than Clegg) for breaking their tuition fees pledge…. They mention student debt but not that Labour introduced tuition fees and then swiftly tripled them. It is this assumption, that has so often been proved to be right, that the electorate have short term memories, which leads me to believe the Liberal Democrats will make a near to full return to strength between 2015 and 2020.
  • Lastly, and I had to re-watch the video a few times to check this, did you notice that every single person who is in focus is white and, let’s be honest, quite middle-class looking? Could this be reverse Thatcherism? Trying to convince the squeezed middle classes that they are in fact working class? Need further convincing…check out the butter dish in the kitchen at the start, who owns (and uses) a butter dish?

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3 simple things the Green Party can do before the next election

The Green Party has a list of progressive policies that have been shown to be the most popular with the electorate. Despite this they have consistently failed to perform well elections.

Here are 3 simple things The Green Party could do to increase their chance of success in the up-coming May 2014 European elections:

1) Talk about issues that important to the electorate

This doesn’t mean selling out on core principles of social justice and environmentalism but simply relating them to ordinary people’s concerns and hopes.

At the top of this list (at the moment at least) has to be the economy but issues around immigration, unemployment and the NHS should all be regular features of their messaging.


Note: The environment does not appear in the top 10.

2) Start thinking in terms of ‘voter’s feelings’ rather than policy outcomes

As I have argued elsewhere, UKIP have been soaring in the recent polls exactly because they have been able to install a general feeling amongst the electorate (despite having next to no coherent policies) about ‘standing up for Britain’.

The Green Party stands in complete contrast to UKIP in this sense – great policies but no one really knows what they stand for.

Over the coming couple of months then I hope to hear Greens talking, not about policies such ‘The Financial Transaction Tax’ or even the ‘Robin Hood Tax’, but instead about ‘principles’ such as ‘standing up for a fairer economy that puts people before big business.

3) Be bold, be seen as pro-EU

The Green Party has traditionally held quite a complex position on the EU. They opposed the UK joining the euro for example but support membership of the EU. They want an in/out referendum but are broadly an internationalist party.

In this election though The Green Party need to simplify their message to just ‘Yes to Europe, Yes to a referendum’. (this is one yes less than their current messaging). Why?

Well, for the first time in a long-time it looks like those who want to stay in the EU roughly match those who want to leave. The only difference is electorally if you pitch for the broadly pro-EU voters you only have the Lib Dems to compete against (opposed to the much better branded ‘No’ to EU UKIP).

There is a reason why the Lib Dems are branding themselves as the party of IN and that is because there are a lot of uncontested voters who strongly want the UK to stay part of the EU.

EU referendum
Oh and of course it doesn’t hurt to be seen to be trusting the electorate to make their own decisions (something which Labour have ruled out by all but ruling out a referendum)

Of course none of this replaces the basics in campaigning, the building up local parties, delivering leaflets etc etc. All it does is offer a few tips for what direction The Green Party need to be moving in. 


Filed under EU politics, Politics

A Green Party lesson in how not produce a political poster

Today the Green Party Campaigns team tweeted out this poster.


This is a master class in how not to produce a political poster.


Let’s start by comparing it to perhaps the best political poster in recent times:


Can you spot the difference?

One is hugely positive, the other wallowing in its own doomsday imagery.

One has a clear and consistent message, the other is, at best, unclear.

One uses language that we can all appeal to, the other uses political and environmental jargon.

One serves as a mirror to the individual voter’s dreams and aspirations, the other appeals to a minority who are concerned about environmentalism.

I write this blog simply out of frustration and to reiterate what I have written elsewhere: That the Green Party have a list of science-based progressive policies that I honestly believe could transform communities and, significantly, have been shown to be the most popular with the electorate. And yet this popularity is rarely reflected at election time.


Because like it or not, their communications strategy has failed to communicate with the electorate a positive image of what they are working for.

This latest poster does nothing to rectify that.

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The headline no UK newspaper ran on today’s front pages – ‘Climate Change: “The worst is yet come”’

The New York Times yesterday reported on a new Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report stating:

“Ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct. The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth…Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting, allowing it to decay into greenhouse gases that will cause further warming, the scientists said.”

And then comes the bombshell…

“And the worst is yet to come, the scientists said…”

The report goes onto highlight how climate change will impact on every single one of us. It drew out the example of food security as just one way that our changing climate will impact on us all.

With such clear and frankly terrifying predictions coming from the most authoritative source in the world on climate change, one would have hoped the editors of the main UK newspapers would hev cleared whatever they had lined up on their front pages.

It appears not…

If we browse through today’s front page we can see that no paper has chosen to cover these new revelations with the exception of one paper…The Guardian.

Worse still was listening to The Today Programme on BBC radio 4 who managed (I’m sure in the name of ‘BBC balance’) to find someone who once again wanted to cast doubt on the growing consensus of man-made climate change (If you’re still not sure if there is a scientific consensus around global warming then please click here).

As Gary Dunion quipped on twitter:

I understand that doomsday predictions don’t sell papers (unless it reinforces an existing belief system as with the case of many Guardian readers) but this is too serious for people and papers to ignore.

We desperately need action and for that to come about we desperately need a better educated public on the risks that climate change poses.

Can this happen though for as long as the main sources of new are driven by financial gain rather than public good?

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Scotland: No to independence campaign lumbered with George Galloway

George Galloway, March 2008
If ever there was a way to sway an undecided voter in the up-coming Scottish independence vote, it would be to place George Galloway, in all his odious rape apologizing, Assad excusing, conspiracy theory believing self, on the opposite side of the debate. 

It must have been with great cheer then within the Yes to Independence campaign that The Guardian today highlighted Mr Galloway’s previously little noticed “Just say ‘naw’” campaign - his months of campaigning for a no vote to independence. 

Already those supporting the no vote have responded with dismay:

He is a laughing stock to most, but to the ‘better together’ campaign, he is a walking liability. 

In such a tightly contested vote, could Galloway be what weights the scales towards a yes vote? 

Think I am overplaying this? Well…remember when he described North Korea as a ‘Cohesive, pristine, innocent culture’

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MEPs to perform rap battle to try and win over youth vote

rap battle
Go on…re-read that title. I shit you not!

Earlier today Brussels based journo Andy Carling tweeted a link out to his New Europe article highlighting a planned MEP rap battle that will try and win over young voters. My first thought was, ‘this has to be a spoof’…doesn’t it?’.

It seems it doesn’t.

A little bit of Googling seems to suggest that this is a real thing.

MEPs are actually going to enter, and be filmed, performing in a rap-battle in the belief that they are helping to win over the youth vote.

At this stage are you, like me, wondering which MEP in his/her right mind would agree to this?

Luckily for us, EU40 have already set up this events page which names and shames some potential MEPs. It names:

For the EPP (conservatives): Radvile Morkunaitè & Lara Comi

For the  S&D (socialists): Ismail Ertug & Sandra Petrovic Jakovina

For the ALDE (liberals): Vice-President Alexander Alvaro & Marietje Schaake

For the Greens: Ska Keller (both tbc)

Boy oh boy…do these MEPs employ Press Officers?

I mean…this is up there with the time Lempit Opik tried his hand at wrestling.

The event is on the 9th April in the Yehudi Menuin Room at the European Parliament with an after party at at Coco, Place Luxembourg. The event starts at 18:30!

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First tweets from The Green Party and their elected officials…

To celebrate 8 years, twitter has released this cool little website, The website allows you to look up the very first tweet from any twitter account.

One wonders why it has taken 8 years for this be released.

Anyway, I thought I would take a look back The Green Party and their elected official’s first tweets:

The official Green Party account was the first to join on the 22nd July 2008 with this touch of inspirational political rhetoric:

Soon after, the leader of Brighton and Hove Council, Jason Kitcat, joined on the 4th August 2008:

Hot on his heels, the now elected leader of The Green Party, Natalie Bennett, joined on the 4th October 2008 with this bit of inner reflection:

Next up comes London Assembly Member (AM), Darren Johnson who joined at 7:45 am on the 30th September 2009. Darren’s first tweet just oozes with enthusiasm:

Just 5 minutes later, Jenny Jones (aka Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb) also an AM, joined with a rare example of supporting Boris Johnson:

Caroline Lucas, The Green Party’s only MP and then leader, joined on the 9th November 2009 with this critic of nuclear power…good to see she started as she intended to go on!

The Green Party MEP for South East England, Mr Keith Taylor, joined twitter on the 9th July 2011 highlighting some of the issues he was working on in the EU:

Keith’s partner in crime, Green MEP for London Jean Lambert, then joined twitter on the 30th September 2011 with this ever practical commitment to get out in her constituency:

How things have moved on in just a few years…Caroline Lucas is now one of the most followed MPs on twitter with nearly 75,000 followers.

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You would not believe how easy it is to make a [palliative care] message go viral

This week I wrote for ehospice about how to make your campaigning message ‘go viral’. The article was written for a palliative care audience but most of the advice is applicable to others. 



Yesterday APCA ran a little experiment. As part of the ehospice series on ‘raising awareness of palliative care’ we wrote an article about why using digital media is important. We then asked people over our social media channels to share this story and tell us where in the world they were reading it.

The response was great. From Nairobi to London, the article spread quickly. But we know that despite reaching a much larger audience than usual the reach of this article was limited. Why?

Because the article was just an informative block of text. Why would anyone be inspired to share it?

But, we still had a few tricks up our sleeves. After lunch I asked Maria from our finance department to pose for a photo with a sign that said, “How far can digital media take our palliative care message?” and again, sent this out on social media.

The theory here is that the attention span of the average web surfer is getting shorter and shorter, so you have a better chance of catching the eyes of people with a bold photo or a great GIF rather than with a big block of text.

The results of this addition speak for themselves. Yesterday, this one photo gained over 35 shares and reached over 15 times the number of people an average APCA Facebook status does.

But using a catchy photo is just one trick to make something go viral.

At the heart of the theory is a basic golden rule: posts go viral not because people click on them but because people also want to share them.

Why would someone want to share what you have to say? Well, Maria Konnikova writing in the New Yorker points out that this theory is hardly new. Aristotle spent a good time wondering what would make his arguments persuasive and be passed on from person to person. His answer was simple – three principles: ethos, pathos, and logos. Content should have an ethical appeal, an emotional appeal, or a logical appeal.

These exact same principles apply today to helping content ‘go viral’. In the palliative care community we are lucky that we have all three in abundance. It is just a matter of packaging our stories and messaging in the right way.

Jack Shepherd, from the website Buzzfeeds (which gets over 130 million unique views a month), recently wrote in the Guardian saying, “Sharing something about yourself is often a statement about what you believe in, what causes or values you align yourself with, and what, in particular, you love and identify with.”

A good way of checking to see if your content sparks an emotional response is to ask yourself the basic question: If this story came up on my newsfeed would I share it?

Finally, it is worth considering current trends and writing and sharing material related to that trend. If the news agenda is talking about the Arab Spring, why not write an article looking at palliative care provision in the Maghreb? If women’s rights in Nigeria is making news, why not write an article on gender and palliative care in Nigeria?

There are many more tips online on how to make content shareable – many of which will be applicable to the palliative care community. It is never an exact science so have a go and see what happens.

Oh and of course, don’t forget a catchy headline that arouses curiosity.

As we said, ‘You will not believe how easy it is to make a palliative care message go viral’.

UPDATE: 48 hours after posting the photo on facebook it has had over 50 shares and over 25 times the number of views an average APCA posts receives.

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Stroud MP makes national news…for the wrong reasons

Stroud’s Conservative MP, Neil Carmichael, isn’t famed for his media profile. And so it was with a little surprise that I saw that he featured in Hugh Muir’s Guardian Diary.

They say any publicity is good publicity…for Mr Carmichael’s sake I hope that’s true.

Muir writes on Mr Carmichael’s rather strange question in the Commons:

“There are neighbourhood plans in Chalford, Dursley, Eastington and nearly a dozen other areas in my constituency,” boasted Stroud MP Neil Carmichael. “Does the minister agree that a good neighbourhood plan is an appropriate protector against inappropriate developments?” And Boles did agree – but how can there be a dozen plans in Stroud when there are only a handful in existence, voted through by referendums, in England and Wales? “There actually aren’t any,” one puzzled constituent said. “It was a puff question to support the coalition’s planning policy.” Can that be so, we asked Carmichael. “None have had the vote yet, but some are close,” he said. “I should have corrected it at the time. I should have said there are neighbourhood plans under way.” Indeed. No one wants the House misled.

Not exactly the sort of national press coverage Mr Carmichael would have been hoping for.

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Tony Benn dies aged 88 and twitter pays tribute

This morning I have awoken to the news that Tony Benn, the long-standing Labour politician, has died aged 88.

Tony Benn was, and remains, an inspiration for me in many ways. His commitment to radical grass-roots politics inspired much of what I believe today. It is this belief, that was instilled into me by Tony Benn, that still pumps through me.

But, on hearing the news of his death, it wasn’t his politics that jumped to mind. My first thought on hearing the news of his death was how on earth are commentators going to find the words that will do justice to a man who was perhaps the ultimate orator.

His turn of phrase, his wit, and his charisma remain unmatched in politics.

His words will live on and will remain as a testimony to his life.

I will, the Labour movement will, and many more from across the political spectrum will dearly miss him.

May he rest in peace.


Some great tributes are coming through on twitter:


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Do you know what The Green Party position is on an EU referendum?

The Green Party has a really good policy on whether or not we should have a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. In short it says ‘Three Yeses’: Yes to a referendum, yes to major EU reform, and yes to staying in a reformed Europe.

This position is progressive, democratic and most importantly in line with a large chunk of public opinion.

Of course, the problem is that nobody knows this.

Try it out now, turn to whoever you’re nearest to and ask, ‘Do you know what the Green’s position on the EU is’?

You can post photos of the blank faces in the comments section below.

Why might this be?

Well, below is a screenshot of Google News with a search set for the last week for the term ‘Green Party EU referendum’. Surprise surprise, not one relevant article appears (click on the image to enlarge).

Now, change the search to ‘Labour EU referendum’ and you get something very different (again, click on the image to enlarge):

Labour EU
Here we have articles from the BBC, Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent etc etc…

This at least partly explains why no one knows what The Green Party position is…it just doesn’t feature in the press.

Now, normally at this point in a blog I would start blaming the editors of the mainstream papers for not showing an interest in Green Party policy, but in this case, that just doesn’t explain it.

Over the last week, while Labour have ensured the issue of an EU referendum has been on every editors thoughts, The Green Party has stayed silent.

No press release, no social media campaign, no slogans. I have watched on as my disproportionately Green twitter feed has ticked over without a single mention of The Green Party’s ’3 yeses’ policy.

While Labour are saying no to an EU referendum (unless the UK was being asked to transfer more powers to Brussels), The Green Party are offering a progressive, democratic and internationalist alternative. Something that is so clearly missing from the UKIP driven EU debate.

I simply don’t understand why every Green is not shouting about this from the rooftops.

With just over 2 months though until the European elections I am not sure how many more media opportunities The Green Party can afford to miss like this. They need just a 1.6% swing in the vote to triple their number of MEPs but to get that, people need to know what they stand for. 

More information:

  • Read the BBC summary of what Miliband and Labour are offering here.
  • Read The Green Party ’3 yeses’ policy launch here.
  • Read the full Green Party policy on the EU here.


Keith Taylor MEP for South East England has just released this press release: Green MEP calls on pro-EU politicians to have the ‘guts’ to promise a referendum.

Good on him! Let’s hope the press are listening! 


Filed under EU politics, Politics

An open letter to the FA and the Football League on problem gambling

Sky bet
Dear the Football Association (FA) and Football League,

How’s it going? I was wondering if you fancied making a small bet? My proposal, should you wish to gamble, is that your willingness to let betting companies slowly infiltrate the beautiful game will have helped destroy football fans lives up and down the country?

What do you think….want to take the bet?

You see, I’m willing to bet that when you accepted Sky Bet as the official sponsor for the Football League and William Hill as an ‘Official Supporter’ for the England team and ‘Official Betting Partner’ for the FA Cup, no one sought out gambling addiction specialists to access how these sponsorship deals might affect the ordinary football fan.

I might be wrong…but I reckon it’s worth a punt.

Of late my facebook page has been slowly filling up with Sky Bet spam posted by the League 2 club that I support – Cheltenham Town. This got me thinking.

It is estimated that there are 450,000 “problem gamblers” in the UK (according to the most recent British Gambling Prevalence Survey). So out of a population of 63.23 million (2012) that makes approximately 1 in 140 us “problem gambler”.

If we assume that the average football fan is no more or less likely to develop a gambling addiction, this would suggest that there about 21 gambling addicts at every Cheltenham Town home match (a rough attendance is about 3,000).  If you replicate the maths for say an average Arsenal home game (60,000) you have about 430 addicts in the stadium alone.

The actual reach of English football though, as the betting companies know all too well, goes well into the millions. In short, statistically through these sponsorship deals Sky Bet and William Hill will be reaching thousands of problem gamblers.

Do you think it’s problematic that in return for a few million pounds (the Sky Bet deal was reported to be worth £5-6 million a year) you place adverts for companies that profiteer off others addictions?

You see this is something that affects my generation more than yours (I am making an assumption about the average age of an employee in the FA) as most people my age have smart phones.

With the advancement of ‘in-play betting’ (often with half time adverts around the stadiums and on TV adverts) accessed by smart-phones the chances of problem gambling increases massively. Long-gone are the days of placing just one bet before a match.

In addition to your sponsorship deals we also have Stoke, Fulham and Aston Villa who all play in shirts sponsored by gambling companies.

Is it possible any longer for a football fan to go a match without being exposed to betting adverts?

As far as I can see, one of the following three scenarios has to be true:

  • You didn’t work out what impact these sponsorship deals will have on fans who are, or soon will be, problem gamblers.
  • You knew full well what the impact would be but thought fuck it, these guys are offering us millions of pounds…and then started cackling.
  • You have done a proper social assessment on the impact of betting companies sponsorship deals on football that has been endorsed as being fair and balanced (not a re-hash of the industry statistics).

I am hoping the latter is true, in which case I look forward to seeing it (I couldn’t find it on either of your web-sites). I would also love to know where in this assessment you drew the line between financial gain and possible risk – how many football fans would have to develop problematic gambling habits for you to worry about accepting millions of pounds?).

If either of the former are true you’re either incompetent or heartless or both.

I look forward to your response on this one. Although, I am willing to take a bet that I won’t hear back from you on this one.

With love for the beautiful game and my fellow football fans,

Steve Hynd

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Molly Scott-Cato: “Make banks work for the common good, not in the interests of shareholders”

Molly Scott-Cato, the lead Green Party candidate for the South West of England in the up-coming European Parliament elections (and of course a Stroud District Cllr) today posted this video of her recent speech at the Green Party national conference.

She posted it on facebook with the simple message:

“Making banks work for the common good, not in the interests of shareholders: my speech to Green Party conference last week.”

I have interviewed Molly before (you can read it here) and have a lot of respect for her. She is almost unique in politics because she is an economist who dares to think outside of the neo-liberal status quo and offer radical alternatives.

Think of it this way…can you think of any other politician who has a chance of being elected to office who A) Is offering an alternative to the neo-liberal economic status quo and B) holds a strong grasp of economics and how we might move from where we are towards a fairer and more sustainable economic system?

Even if you can, you will hopefully accept my point that they are few and far between.

It is because of this that I hope the good people of the South West of England give her their vote in May’s elections.

More information:

  • You can follow Molly on Twitter by clicking here.
  • You can read The Green Party’s economics policy by clicking here.
  • You can see the 2009 election results (and how close the Greens were to securing an MEP) by clicking here.

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