Henry Wimborne

Henry died this year.  He used to attend Barnet Green Party meetings with support from his family who thought that the interaction was good excercise for his brain during dementia.  His last meeting began with introductions and welcomes and was the meeting of Francesco's election as Barnet Greens' first Youth Officer.  Henry was a member of the Young Communist League in Hampstead.  He was told never to apply for a job with the British Government again.  He attended Oxford.  He then worked as headmaster of a school in Ghana.  And then, of course, inspired by the Green Vision of "nationalise everything" as he put it, he joined us.

Here is a quote from Noel's Blog on Henry
"I am honoured to speak of Noel Lynch’s suitability to take a seat in the London assembly.

I have known Noel as a friend for some twenty years and since I joined the party some three years ago, in his capacity as a leading member of the East Finchley Group. Should he be successful in obtaining election to the Assembly it will be to the benefit of all. He is able, courteous and trustworthy, dedicated to perform that which he promises.
Henry Wimborne M.A. Cantab Llb Hons Lond. Dip. Ed Oxon.
(A keen leafleter, at 94 Henry is the Green Party’s most senior activist)"

Burnout, campaign funds, and facebook - Some interesting web links (without mentioning Christmas)

I have long been inspired to tackle the challenge of activist burnout, and have tweeted this resource on the subject which I highly recommend you print and read if you are spending a lot of unstructured time saving the world.  The subject was top of the agenda amongst London Green Party movers and shakers especially after Ryan resigned from the party citing "risk" of burnout.  I bumped into him recently and thanked him for putting it on the agenda.  Many have pointed to how inspirational he is and his internal official work in the regional Green Party is also worth a mention.

At freshers week in UCL I cought up with Tom Youngman.  It turns out that his mom knows my mom!  Anyway Tom and our friend Greg recommend that if we need money for anything campaign related, go to O2 think big.  I have yet to check out this opportunity.  This month I was the key organiser of 2 events which raised about £300 for the Green Party (technical point: small donations add up!).
An other event, also involving my mom has been the fact that my family hosted a wedding feast!  Most people there had attended the wedding feast the day before.  The link above shows you the sort of event it was, quite fancy.  I played some of my favorite music on my laptop and used what apple call hot corners to make nice colours on the screen.  I also had the (male only) honour of saying one of the seven blessings, number 5, which I sung beautifully.  There was some controversy over Nelson Mandela, whether he was good for the Jews.  I think it was Clare Filder who proposed a toast to him "a friend of the South African Jewish Community".  There was some food waste at the do, but not as much at our house and most of the waste went in the new recycling bins we have.  My mom did a great veggie option and chicken soup, salmon to eat for weeks. (which reminds me to invite Adina over to help finish it off).

A word on "the left". I've been following Jim Jepps' facebook and such on the subject as well as a lot of active groups.  However I am wary of committing as "a Green" to concepts such as socialism, which I recently deleted from my twitter bio, because as much as I enjoy the left's backing, the Green Vision is about casting aside the old fashioned politics and becoming, as Natalie put it, Post-Watermelon.  I have invited the Green Party where I organise to commit to a strong anti-austerity platform for the next local elections.

I have been spending some time using facebook.  It brings together a lot of things, such as news feeds, making them quite easy to use.  Also I occasionally get a message on there and I guess my profile comes up quite high on Google.  Recently I attended twitter (cops off campus) and facebook training with the London Young Greens, which was attended by the very people who don't really need to sort out their online skills.  Sadly not everyone has the same native facebook skills as me and one of my challenges is laboriously helping when things go wrong with non native facebook users.  I have put the link to my blog to twitter, so less frequent, historical, and more wordy contributions will be available.

take a stand

How I stood for the Green Party in a local election
Standing in an election can be free, easy, and worthwhile.  In the last 2 local elections I have stood as a Green Party Candidates.  Different boroughs were a different experience.

Because I was quite keen and involved I offered to collect the nominations myself in West Hendon and 4 years before that in Nottingham.

The first time I didn't get the signatures in time because it was Arboretum Ward where most households are students and they went on holiday!  I should have left plenty of time.

The West Hendon, where my parents live, was quite easy.  The first few I got colleagues, and aquaintances to back my nomination to stand.  Then I just knocked on doors with a clipboard and green rosette and asked people.  It took some time because sometimes people were out or said no, but more often than not they would sign if I explained that I just needed signatures to be on the ballot paper and when they voted it is up to them who they support so no committment.

During the campaign I did not have to do anything because our main target was Brighton.  I went a few times to take part in organised action days with the Brighton & Hove Green Party and Young Greens.  Often other candidates would come from around the country and there was the famous soup and a pleasant atmosphere, much more friendly and engaging than meetings.

(from the left) Lisa (engaged to Josiah on the right - congratulations!), Ash (Green councillor in Norwich), Simeon (Green councillor in Norwich), Caroline Lucas MP, Tom Williams, Benali Hamdache, Laura Shepherd, Sam Coates, Siobhan MacMahon, a young green, Adam,Ramsay, me, Natalie Swan (co-chair of the London Young Greens)

The only things I had to do was sign some papers, sign the other candidates nominations in my ward and in my parliamentary constituency, and go to a launch with everyone having photos, wearing a Green Party T-Shirt.  Photographed together, we all held up our oyster cards, and the photo is still up on the Barnet Green Party blog.  The day after the 2010 election the London party organised a victory party in an upstairs room in a pub in Westminster, and all my friends and colleagues from the campaign were there.

When I stood for county council in 2013 I was invited to the count in Hertsmere and Watford boroughs.  The Hertsmere count was quite late at night.  I invited my housemate who gave me a lift as well.  I had a chance to meet the local press and see all the other candidates and as I was the only Green Party member in the room I had a good mingle.  After the Watford count which was in the morning after 3 of us we went for a drink to strategise what next.  In Watford it's not traditional to have them all on stage and photographed.

With the Green Party you often lose but you take part so much more because without our members we would have very few people to actually stand as candidates, so you get much more involved and empowered.  It is quite nice having people tell you afterwards they saw you on the ballot and they voted for you.  It is also very different campaigning when you were a candidate because you start to think of your ward and the boundaries and your opponents.

In London's first 20 mph borough.

Spoiling the fun of it and rude words on the ballot paper

A few thoughts on adult content and sex as a public good 

A lot has been said about the negative effects of Porn.  But a friend's dissertation says that the concept of prostitution is not as black & white as the law makes out.
The law says that sex is a transaction and money is a transaction and the two should not go together.  But why is it so often the woman selling and the man buying?

An other friend in the conversation, who was attempting to defend the "Policies for a Sustainable Society", or PSS, pointed out that research he has read shows that outcomes for male sex workers… sorry, prostitutes, have better outcomes than female ones.  This I think shows a fundamental split in feminism.  The question for all "good" men to think about is can patriarchy still be an issue in an all-male scenario?  And how can we men use our position of privilege to work for the common good, rather than smash it?

Misfits is a show on Channel 4 where in previous episodes one of the characters has the power to buy and sell powers at a handshake.  The first episode of the new 5th series of Misfits illustrates this transaction perfectly with 2 sex scenes.  The first is a woman begging a man to have sex with him so he can cure her of some unfortunate superpower.  She explains that he has the power to **** other people's powers out of them.  The happy ending is when he has sex with a male friend to cure him of a power that makes him the devil's agent on Earth.

How does this match with our core principles?
Back to my first friend who did this for her degree:  We live in a market society.  We are increasingly mediating all our transactions with money, with disastrous consequences.  We in the Green Party invite people to think about resisting this by stopping certain public goods from being sold off.  Be this our basic needs of food (allotments) and water (hydraulic fissure cracking), a bit of spending money no questions asked, a free World-class health service that is the biggest employer in Europe, and our sex as a public good.  As long as it's consensual, it should be allowed, dare I say encouraged.  There was an interesting art project involving a guy losing his virginity in the paper today.  These things are non-negotiable and should never be for sale.

A good example that compares sex with health and presents prostitution as a trigger for a revolution is Victor Hugo's great work Les Miserables.  Fantine sells her hair, her teeth, before finally renting out her vagina.

See this, and understand what we stand for, and why everyone in Britain might wake up and vote Green on May 22nd 2014, and if Green Party does not appear on the ballot, write a rude word on the ballot paper.  Feminist.

Sam Coates joins Labour and Con-Dems in debate - "Coalition Government Has Failed"

London's debating society New Turn www.newturn.org.uk  whom I recommend you check out their programme, hosted a debate between the youth wings something Benali has been leading on for some time and seized the day with this one.  Also check out New Turn's facebook page with photos here.

I was disappointed not to see more of you London Young Greens at the debate but there was nevertheless a strong turnout of young up-and-coming people I can no longer keep tabs on.  Sadly it clashed with the final of the Great British Bake-off which is on iPlayer fyi.

The debate was live and un-amplified a 100-seater lecture theatre with New Turn live-tweeting but unfortunately Wifi was only for those with a KCL login.  It was an all-male panel due to the fact that the female co-chair Ash is busy in Norwich and the female chair of Liberal Youth (joint press release on fee hike) on the billing is down with tonsillitis. :-(

The Chair of the debate the president of KCL Politics society started off by pointing out it was a joint event with New Turn, Politics Society, Labour society, and Conservative society.

The first thing that struck me about the proposition's comments on what Labour would do is the focus on care for the elderly.  Spending thousands of pounds a day on bed-blocking makes no sense when the NHS budget and thousands of nurses are being cut.  Instead Gordon Brown would have merged social care and spend hundreds a day on residential care.

Our Green Friend spoke emotively about the equality impact of the cuts and how they are economically illiterate. His fourth point is that worse than when Thatcher sent a lost generation to the JobCentre, this Government is sweeping the benefits away for this lost generation, forcing us to accept precarious jobs.  
As you see from the twitter, Sam Coates, current 2013 co-chair of the Young Greens and Oxfordshire Councillor said, "We haven't heard much about global climate change for a while."
"We now have less than 5 years to reduce global gas emissions"
(The opposition from Conservative Future claimed that they have reduced the rich-poor gap in 6th-forms.)
"The coalition has succeeded in making the rich richer "
"Thatcher recognised that when you put people out of work you need to compensate with macroeconomic policy. This hasn't happened "
"We're making the country meaner as a result of this coalition "
"We blame the unemployed, immigrants, etc when really its the policies of the government that have made us this way "
Sam also mentioned the .
Throughout Oliver made faces and muttered, and was forced to apologise "for distracting from the proposition's factually incorrect speech."
He faced LOLz from the left of the panel when he said "I am a conservative, I wish we had more opportunity to project our ... <ahem> values and power overseas but can't do that with deficit"

After the guest speakers (see  The hashtag for tonight's event  ) there were contributions from the audience.  The first came from the chair of Kings College London Labour society.  There was also a question about something Sam Coates  raised earlier.  It was quite clever and climaxed in "That's why I joined the Green Party".  It was evident that she was struggling with these issues as a KCL student so I'm glad I didn't add my 2-cents with my great big Vote Green t-shirt.  She spoke about the difference between exchange value and use value in a way I understood.  The question was what would the Green Party do in government?  As a member of the proposition, Richard had a chance to reply as well.

There was a vote at the end, which did not include some Conservatives who walked out after the questions to attend Parliament.

The parties then stood in different corners of the room for a catchup while Sam snuk out.  I had a chat with  (who now heads up LGBT Labour) about Brighton which he'd raised earlier.  I really think that there should be localism and unfortunately we're seeing cuts from Westminster.  I am proud that Brighton & Hove Greens will be holding a referendum on raising council tax from the rich, and if he really believes in freezing council tax he should join in coalition with the Tories.  (Represented rather well in this debate by the cold-hearted  CF and  from the Liberal Democrats)

I quite enjoyed the night...
(especially watching an all-male panel discuss the impact of the coalition's policies on women's lives)
The debate got me thinking about the Living Wage.  I will write something about this and "taking the poorest out of tax" next week.

Notes from Nick Stern

I attended a lecture by Nick Stern on 24/9/13 at the Royal Society.  I am not sure which one  I am most excited by but did get a photo of myself in front of a portrate of John Locke.

Nick is chair of a green economics centre called see sep (Centre for climate change economics and policy) and that is what he talked about.  All the name badges said they were sponsored by Munich RE, who I hope will give other progressive groups some funding too.

The lecture co-incided with the launch of a sister centre in New York.

In attendence were Ericha Thompson of LSE, Simon Dietz of LSE, LEonard Smith, Peter Hippe, Swenja Suminski, who had earlier held a workshop in the afternoon.

Also was Judith Rees of LSE who introduced the speaker.
l will not go into detail as to the lecture or powerpoint slides which are available on the CCCEP website.

Wuestions came from:
Bonfa - on data and international cooperative policy.
A young chap from The Environment Agency asked how fracking and renewable investment can coexist.  Apparently they can, says Stern, just use credit creation I suppose.  All the wrong answers I think.
Laura Mckenzie works for an MP.  She says leave the gas in the ground and put the tax breaks to desirable investments.  Nick agrees we need a good policy
 Amelia Womack asked about ecocide and laws.  Nick responded "I think it's very important that we talk about future generations."

Speaking of which I wonder how the Euro-list count went.

Other questions:
Where will climate change action come from?
John B. Leeds
Megan Evans from Australia asked what we can do about her new PM's aweful policy U turn against a carbon tax.
Sam Bickersteth from PwC who "works in the developing world" asked how it can contribute
Peter asked about different technologies.
Stern responded that since he published his report solar PV has become 5 times cheaper.

I have a nightmare!


Fukushima emergency update

(from http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/20-1)
There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focused on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4.
Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.
Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima.
The one thing certain about this crisis is that Tepco does not have the scientific, engineering or financial resources to handle it. Nor does the Japanese government. The situation demands a coordinated worldwide effort of the best scientists and engineers our species can muster.
Why is this so serious?
We already know that thousands of tons of heavily contaminated water are pouring through the Fukushima site, carrying a devil’s brew of long-lived poisonous isotopes into the Pacific. Tuna irradiated with fallout traceable to Fukushima have already been caught off the coast of California. We can expect far worse.
Tepco continues to pour more water onto the proximate site of three melted reactor cores it must somehow keep cool. Steam plumes indicate fission may still be going on somewhere underground. But nobody knows exactly where those cores actually are.
Much of that irradiated water now sits in roughly a thousand huge but fragile tanks that have been quickly assembled and strewn around the site. Many are already leaking. All could shatter in the next earthquake, releasing thousands of tons of permanent poisons into the Pacific. (Note: A relatively small earthquake struck Fukushima prefecture on Thursday, an indication of the inevitable occurrence of larger future ones in the area.)
The water flowing through the site is also undermining the remnant structures at Fukushima, including the one supporting the fuel pool at Unit Four.
More than 6,000 fuel assemblies now sit in a common pool just 50 meters from Unit Four. Some contain plutonium. The pool has no containment over it. It’s vulnerable to loss of coolant, the collapse of a nearby building, another earthquake, another tsunami and more.
Overall, more than 11,000 fuel assemblies are scattered around the Fukushima site. According to long-time expert and former Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, there is more than 85 times as much lethal cesium on site as was released at Chernobyl.
Radioactive hot spots continue to be found around Japan. There are indications of heightened rates of thyroid damage among local children.
The immediate bottom line is that those fuel rods must somehow come safely out of the Unit Four fuel pool as soon as possible.
Just prior to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that shattered the Fukushima site, the core of Unit Four was removed for routine maintenance and refueling. Like some two dozen reactors in the US and too many more around the world, the General Electric-designed pool into which that core now sits is 100 feet in the air.
Spent fuel must somehow be kept under water. It’s clad in zirconium alloy which will spontaneously ignite when exposed to air. Long used in flash bulbs for cameras, zirconium burns with an extremely bright hot flame.
Each uncovered rod emits enough radiation to kill someone standing nearby in a matter of minutes. A conflagration could force all personnel to flee the site and render electronic machinery unworkable.
According to Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with forty years in an industry for which he once manufactured fuel rods, the ones in the Unit 4 core are bent, damaged and embrittled to the point of crumbling. Cameras have shown troubling quantities of debris in the fuel pool, which itself is damaged.
The engineering and scientific barriers to emptying the Unit Four fuel pool are unique and daunting, says Gundersen. But it must be done to 100% perfection.
Should the attempt fail, the rods could be exposed to air and catch fire, releasing horrific quantities of radiation into the atmosphere. The pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and possibly explode. The resulting radioactive cloud would threaten the health and safety of all us.
Chernobyl’s first 1986 fallout reached California within ten days. Fukushima’s in 2011 arrived in less than a week. A new fuel fire at Unit 4 would pour out a continuous stream of lethal radioactive poisons for centuries.
Former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata says full-scale releases from Fukushima “would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.”
Neither Tokyo Electric nor the government of Japan can go this alone. There is no excuse for deploying anything less than a coordinated team of the planet’s best scientists and engineers.
We have two months or less to act.
For now, we are petitioning the United Nations and President Obama to mobilize the global scientific and engineering community to take charge at Fukushima and the job of moving these fuel rods to safety.
If you have a better idea, please follow it. But do something and do it now.
The clock is ticking. The hand of global nuclear disaster is painfully close to midnight.

a political weekend

If you're not into politics maybe you want to look away now.  This weekend I have had the parental home to myself as my parents were abroad.  I celebrate the Jewish Sabbath when I can but sadly I was too late on Friday to attend a service welcoming the Sabbath. I cycled all the way to the civic centre to drop age tin my expenses form as election agent for Hertsmere Green Party branch.  I woke early on Saturday and went to the action day in my borough where all the regulars helped. I brought a printed Green Activist for one who doesn't get email. I also printed a resource from Chris Williams workshop at Conference on target to win, to give to our election agent. Then the Chair and I did a doorknock of Puller Road. I got chatting with an interesting guy at the end, and Francesco woke up at the time it finished. So then I went to lunch in West Hendon and made Kiddush, the holy prayer over wine for the Sabbath. we discussed gardens, wildlife, and the London cycling campaign.
Sunday after doing the Garden and seeing off my house guest Martin Colins (with whom I discussed the Manifesto's origins before internet) to his meeting, I went to Brighton following an appeal to help. I am not sure I would describe today as full steam ahead. I attended a workshop by Hanover Action training Frackoff activists in direct action skills. I looked at the letter David Gibson sent out to the ward, wandered the ward wearing a vote green (or the planet gets it) and went straight home by train. There is an interesting piece in the Observer about "don't lose the plot" and the Watford development threat to the farm allotments.


I'm on the tube, looking at the plan in the London Evening Standard for Crossrail 2.  It basically forms the shape of a banana north of the Thames, joining Crossrail at Tottenham Court road.  An alternative would be to avoid Camden and improve river bus services to the City.