Dear Hillary: How Very Dare You!

Really pleased to read this analysis as I’ve never understood the general dislike for Hilary.

Social Justice For All

HillaryLet me be as candid and transparent as possible: I was a very strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, and until the past four weeks, held out great hope that he would become our next President. Over the course of the past month, I have had to do a great deal of reflecting and ask myself where does this seemingly irrational antipathy for Hillary Clinton come from? Why have I participated in it? After doing some research and looking hard at systemic misogyny, I have had to confront myself with the truth that I bought into a narrative about Hillary Clinton that has been produced, packaged, and perpetuated by mostly the GOP with the help of many democrats and independents.

This narrative is a 30-year-old vilification of a woman who is bright, independent, wealthy, and powerful — a woman who asks for what she wants and needs. How very dare you…

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A fight for the soul of the UK

Is today the day we throw off the shackles of our imperial past and yearning for the yesteryear of our so-called glorious colonies? Will we finally turn our back on 20th century-style politics that blames the immigrant, the Jew, the Muslim, the black, the Asian, the OTHER for our problems?

I truly hope so. I want today to be the day we forge a new future, where the UK is a willing and enthusiastic member of the group of European nations who have come together to make the world better. It is impossible to isolationist. It is possible to be inclusionist. As Jo Cox said: “whilst we celebrate our diversity, the thing that surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us”.

Change ‘constituency’ for ‘Europe’ or the ‘World’ and the same is true. People want peace. They need security. We want to provide shelter and food for our families and loved ones. It’s that simple.

And the best way to provide that is when we work together. Humans are social animals that need to come together in groups to achieve the best solutions for everyone. When we put our individual needs over and above anyone else’s – whether as people or nations – that’s when we come unstuck. Fighting for the common good, not each other, will achieve a country and a world that helps everyone. We should embrace our role in Europe and the EU, not reject it.

Poverty is the problem, not the EU 

It’s not often I really put fingers to the typepad to record my thoughts. All too many times they stay in my head swirling around without being given order and coherence by the discipline of writing them out. Why? Fear of ridicule and criticism. Awareness that my ideas do not have the cogency that other greater brains offer. Worry that my writing abilities are not sufficiently honed.

Others, it seems are less concerned and consequently have greater purchase on the national conscience than I. One such person is Nigel Farage, who has no qualms about writing autobiographical tomes and holding forth on his least favourite subject – the EU. As leader of a right-wing party with few elected representatives, I would have expected him to be ignored as an extremist and hypocrite. He’s an MEP who wants to take the UK out of the EU. He’s funded by the very organisation he loathes. It seems an extreme way to get a job in the House of Commons – bring down the institution that pays you. Instead he’s given air time, reams of print and pages and pages of web stories. Why? 

This loner with-off-the-wall views should have been laughed out of court and sent back to the Brussels to do his job properly, ie represent the best interests of the UK. This megalomaniac is just what the Union of European nations was designed to ensure can never hold sway again. This egotist is exactly what democracy is meant to quell. And yet, the right-wing of the Tory party, the dispossessed of England and the racists have given his chummy rhetoric credence and substance, so here we are – being forced into a referendum which most sensible people realise they do not have enough knowledge about to make an informed decision.

What I have really found hard to put into words is why I want to say in the EU. In some ways, it’s as simple as: we’re part of the European continent, island or no, so we should be part of the EU. In others, it’s more of a philosophical concept about being part of the group and being involved with those we live next to. In an Guardian article, Rupert Bache, an ex-pat (not immigrant!) in France for 27 years, put it perfectly: “I’ve always thought neighbouring countries working together positively was just … sensible. Neighbouring countries not working together is what killed the men – former pupils – whose names were all along the corridor at school.”

There are plenty of problems in the UK, but immigration and our relationship with the EU are not the cause of them. Inequality and poor life chances are just two of the fundamental problems facing this country, and they will NOT be improved by leaving the EU and stopping immigration. They will only be changed when UK governments tackle them through bringing up deprived areas, improving education for all, progressive taxes on big business and the top 1%, a mass homebuilding programme, and investment in infrastructure in areas with poor connectivity. 

Sadly, since the turn of the century, successive governments have been unable or uwilling to take on these challenges so the poorest of our country have been left behind, and in many cases made poorer, as the rise of food banks show. When people despair they look for someone and something to blame. Immigrants – as ever was – are the easiest target and the EU its partner in crime. In this they have been aided by a press that seemingly revels in stirring up discontent and finger-pointing, and led by a mean-spirited, ego-maniac with a fine line in oratory.

I hope against hope that on Friday 24th June we will wake up to still being part of the EU and the community of our neighbours. When that happens, I trust Nigel Farage will do the honourable thing – and move to Germany with his wife and leave us all alone.

Taking Action on Air Pollution

Very similar to my own views. I thought the Plan was very thin overall.

Kingston Cycling Campaign

By Jon Fray for the Kingston Cycling Campaign

At the beginning of January the Kingston Cycling Campaign (KCC) responded to Kingston Council’s ten page draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), pointing out a number of concerns and omissions. The Plan correctly identified that most of the air pollution is caused by road traffic and acknowledged that domestic and industrial boilers and other sources also contribute to high levels of oxides of nitrogen and particulates. Maps in the Plan show that those pollutants were concentrated on busy roads, especially along the route of the A3 and the Kingston Town Centre, which won’t be a surprise to anyone.

Bike Parking - CopyRoad space reallocation: 10 bikes can be parked in the space taken by one kerbside car

We found the Plan to be lacking in ambition in that it did not seem to address the issues of high levels of traffic but settled for actions such…

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Blitzkrieg! Sink Estates and Starter Homes

So much information and analysis here on the issue of social housing, starter homes, right-to-buy sell-offs and estate reneration here.

architectsforsocialhousing

1. Sink Estates

Since its regeneration following the 1985 riots, Broadwater Farm has had one of the lowest crime rates of any urban area in the world. In an independent 2003 survey of all the estate’s residents, only 2% said they considered the area unsafe, the lowest number for any area in London. The estate also has the lowest rent arrears of any part of the borough. With £33 million investment, a community centre, neighbourhood office, children’s nursery and health centre have been built, social projects, sports clubs and youth programs have been funded, concierges introduced, raised walkways removed, murals painted, communal gardens planted, transport links improved, shops and amenities made accessible, a more representative Tenants and Residents Association installed, and an estate isolated out on a flood plain of the River Moselle has been turned around and integrated into the Tottenham community. And yet 30 years later, David Cameron has described…

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When is the government going to get real about flooding and climate change?

Rational and sensible solutions.

Turning Calderdale Green

The Pitt Review on flooding, commissioned by the Labour Government, was published in 2008 after the floods of 2007. It goes without saying that much of the Review has been ignored by governments of all parties since then. For instance, the recommendations against building in high risk flood areas and against putting sandbags in doorways have been widely disregarded.

Just when is the Government going to get real about flooding and Climate Change?

There is a number of things local government in Calderdale should be doing or pressing for.

  1. An immediate halt to further building on floodplains. The construction of 149 houses and commercial property down on Sterne Mills, Copley must be halted now due to the threat to human life and property downstream that it poses.
  2. Water needs to be held back in the uplands and not allowed to drain quickly into the valley bottoms. Traditional methods of natural…

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