Five very real risks to our environment from Brexit and how to tackle them

Inside track

Children on BeachThere has been little mention of the environment in the government’s Brexit priorities so far, so it may come as a surprise to hear that an estimated four fifths of all our environmental protections are covered by EU law. As the Westminster government heads towards triggering Article 50 this week, to be closely followed by the repeal bill which will transpose EU law into domestic law, what are the risks to our environmental protections?

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The US elections (and their aftermath), covered as we do African elections

Always good to take a different points of view.

mohamed el dahshan. economist, writer, speaker, compulsive traveller.

Had to be done (actually surprised it hasn’t already):

Writing about the latest US elections like US media writes about African countries.

eddie-murphy

**COUNTRY CRISIS WATCH** [insert CNN “breaking news” type of jingle]

The US of A, a nation located in the center of the North American continent, is shaken by its latest electoral results, which threaten the weak racial equilibrium the nation has painstakingly built since the abolition of racial segregation, a mere half a century ago, thus heralding a fresh round of racial tensions and social instability.

Donald Trump, a local TV star and known megalomaniac who has repeatably admitted to sexual assault and is known for exotic hairdos and inexplicably poor vocabulary, has risen to unlikely prominence on the back of a populist wave, which saw him make unattainable promises to the large swathes of the population reeling from economic difficulties, blaming them on local minorities and foreign trade…

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The need for Progressive Alliances & Proportional Representation

I hate living in Tory land. We have a Tory government, Tory local councils in Richmond and Kingston and up until Zac Goldsmith’s disastrous mayoral campaign, a Tory mayor. At least we can thank Zac for that – we now have a Labour mayor. Of course, I’d prefer a Green one, but better a left of centre one, than right-wing, anti-EU, pro-austerity Zac Goldsmith.

And, of course, I’d prefer to have Green MP in Richmond Park. I would have liked that to be me, but despite increasing our vote by 6% in 2015, we are not the party with the infrastructure or the funds to take Zac down. And, that’s what elections under our First Past the Post system are all about – who has the biggest backers and who has the biggest army. The Conservatives spent twice as much on the 2010 general election than Labour, that’s £12million to £6million. In the Witney by-election the LibDems gathered over 1,000 supporters to pound the streets for their candidate.

Currently, the Green Party can’t match the other parties for spending prowess or people power, but should this stop us from getting our message to the voter. I don’t think so. In the General Election I used to tell voters at hustings and on the door step to look at Voteforpolicies.org and see how their views matched the parties. The Green Party would routinely come out on top. When I talk to people about what we stand for they get it, when I speak at hustings people get us. People get the Green Party, but they just don’t get to vote for us in a meaningful way. When they do, you can see the results – our Mayoral candidate was placed third and as a party we came third. But we can’t even hope to replicate that result here in Richmond Park. Why, because here, under First Past the Post, it ends up being a race between the two front runners.

It has been like this for 15 years or more, in the Richmond Park constituency Labour and Green voters are disenfranchised. When I was pushing a Labour candidate on Friday last week not put themselves forward, they said: “but we must give our members someone to vote for”. Why? The reality for many people here is a choice between putting a cross next to what the commentators call the “holding your nose while you vote for someone you don’t believe in’ option to stop what I call the “please no, never in a million years” proposition.

So, if we’d stood, what would have happened. Chances are our vote would have been squeezed as people chose the supposedly independent Zac Goldsmith or the LibDem Sarah Olney. What impact would that have, minimal you might think. Well no, for our activists it would have been disheartening after the work we’d put in. To voters it would make us look like a party going nowhere. And looking towards the 2018 local council elections where we have greater chance of success, a poor result now would have had wider ramifications on the alliances we’ve already been working on.

And, that’s the crux of this matter for Greens in Richmond and Kingston. This election is not just about Heathrow, Brexit and a Conservative-UKIP candidate masquerading as an independent, it’s about our chance of winning council seats in 2018. We have already been talking with local parties in Richmond borough about how to end Tory domination of our council, so not standing a candidate now – which also gives all voters in this constituency a clearer path to getting rid of Zac – is part of those negotiations. And, when we spoke to the LibDems in Kingston about our decision to stand down, they immediately recognised the sacrifice we’d be making and offered to set up talks about ‘smart targeting’ for Kingston wards in 2018.

We have to do this to improve representation for residents. Our democracy shouldn’t be a binary choice. No one party truly reflects an individual’s views, and when the only way to get your voice heard it to pick between ‘worst and less worse’ or ‘best and next best’ (depending on your viewpoint) then we have an electoral system that’s failing its people.

And it seems to me that this failure is partly responsible for the referendum outcome. People voted against the EU in protest, people voted OUT because their voices hadn’t been heard for years, people voted to leave because they thought it didn’t matter how you voted for, things stayed the same. Yet, now, because of our ‘winner takes all democracy’ just over 1.2million votes have determined we leave the EU. Brexit, if it actually happens, is as close to a revolution as you can get. Fixing our country needs equally radical steps, and by not standing a candidate in Richmond Park, we are taking the first one.

We the Greens don’t want to consigned to being a protest party trapped by our unequal electoral system, we want to be on the right side of history and change our country for the better, for ourselves and for generations to come. I call on other parties across the country to follow our example and create progressive alliances across the country so that the day after the next General Election we still don’t wake up in Tory Land.

Labour, LibDems and the Greens, need to realise that no one opposition can win the next General Election. We need to co-operate, now, because the country is in a dire state – climate change, refugees, NHS, Brexit, Heathrow – and we need to fix it, not leave a divided, broken country for the next generation.

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.