Sunday, 20 October 2019

The Canning Town tube protest was probably the right thing to do. Here's why...

After initially condemning XR's tube protest at Canning Town where rebels were beaten up by commuters, I think I may be changing my mind.

XR is not a populist campaign. It isn't seeking widespread support in the same way that a campaign to 'save the whale' or 'find Madelaine' did. Its aims are to get government to act to stop climate change: "Tell the truth", "Act now" and "Beyond politics: crate a citizen's assembly".

According to the XR website: "We are promoting mass “above the ground” civil disobedience – in full public view. This means economic disruption to shake the current political system and civil disruption to raise awareness. We are deeply sorry for any inconvenience that this causes."

The actions we need to take to halt climate change are never going to get the kind of populist support that a tax cut for all would garner. Of course there would be many good things that come out of stopping climate change, better jobs, a future etc. but there will be things that are less popular, e.g. a significant reduction in flying, a significant reduction in privately owned cars, an so on.

We love our cars, our foreign holidays, our freedom, our wings. Our wings will need clipping though. Not an obvious vote winner...

The XR protests over two weeks made headline news during week one. Once again people were discussing climate change. There was disruption and the government got cross, culminating in an illegal fascist state style ban on the protests. But apart from the police ban on the protests there was little coverage in the second week until the tube protest. The XR action to stop the tube got people talking again.

They main arguments against stopping the tube at Canning Town that I've heard are that XR should be promoting public transport and supporting poorer people (Canning Town is a poorer area of London). So stopping a commuter tube taking poorer people to work has triggered calls of hypocrisy.

Also, the reaction of the commuters, i.e. the violent reaction, if anticipated, could be seen to break the NVDA stance of XR.

But...

  1. There will be no tube system once it floods as the sea level rises.
  2. Poorer people will be hit hardest as climate change increases its bite, yet XR is seen as a middle class movement.
  3. There will be violent clashes as people start to starve on the dying planet.
  4. There would have been only brief coverage and less discussion if the tube stoppage hadn't happened.

So the tube protest woke up more people. It made them angry, perhaps at the wrong group, but it also restarted the conversations.

I think there is a rationale to repeat this type of action in the future. Everyone needs to be part of the discussions. However, to change the government's discussions I also think that action to disrupt the financial sector in the city is more effective and should be the main focus next time.

No one said that climate change was going to be pretty.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

London's S14 is undemocratic, unlawful and murderous.

The Green Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone and the Weald and active member of Extinction Rebellion has called on government to overturn the Met Police's banning of XR protests in London and has labelled the Section 14 ban as an affront to democracy.

Stuart Jeffery, Green Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone and the Weald: "Our UK constitution contains a fundamental right to protest, a right that the Met Police seem to think they call ignore. Banning protests across the whole of London is an affront to democracy and must be overturned.

"When your house in on fire, you do not silence the smoke alarm to prevent your kids waking up. Our planet is on fire and those in charge are attempting to silence the alarm. There are just 10 years left to take action and to prevent the collapse of humanity. There are just 10 years left to ensure our children survive yet the government is ignoring the science and is refusing to take the actions needed.

"I have therefore written to Priti Patel calling on her to quash the undemocratic, unconstitutional and dangerous Section 14 order. I have also written to the Cressida Dick reminding her that we are doing this for the children of the police too."

Ends.

Notes:

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Greens select Maidstone and the Weald parliamentary candidate

Maidstone Greens have selected Stuart Jeffery as their Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone and the Weald in the likely General Election later this year.

Stuart, who is a well-known green activist in Maidstone and involved in Extinction Rebellion, will also be campaigning on social justice and for a final say on Brexit, a second referendum.

Stuart Jeffery: “I am delighted to have been selected to run for Parliament in Maidstone and the Weald. I have been thoroughly appalled by the actions of the Conservatives and Lib Dems over the past 9 years and their complete lack of interest in the environmental crisis that is unfolding around us.

“We have deadly air quality in Maidstone, ridiculous housing proposals on green spaces around the borough, a completely lax attitude towards the climate emergency and continued increase in inequalities that both Conservatives and Lib Dems have presided over, it is time for a fresh approach to tackle the most pressing issues of our time.

“I will also be campaigning for a second referendum. No one voted for a no deal Brexit or a return to the troubles in Northern Ireland. We are all far better informed than we were 3 years ago so it is time for a final say on what happens.”

Monday, 30 September 2019

We need a moratorium on building on farmland around Maidstone

2000 large houses to be built on farmland around Marden and now plans for 5000 on farmland outside Lenham. These are not the high density affordable homes, close to jobs and sustainable transport links that people need. No, these will mostly be large executive houses that the majority cannot afford and that nobody needs.

We Greens have fought building on 'greenfield' sites for many years. For greenfield, read farmland and woodland. Farmland and woodland are vital to our future. What is more important than food and oxygen? A five bed detached house with cinema room and hot tub? No...

We must concentrate our efforts to meet the true demand for homes. Our young people are struggling, they need flats and affordable houses with a bit of a garden, close to schools, shops and jobs. Why don't we build those?

Single people are struggling. They often need smaller flats with a bit of community. And people are getting older, they often need some form of supported living, i.e. just enough help to keep them out of a care home. Why don't we build these?

So I am calling for a moratorium on house building on farmland and woodland, our greenfield sites. I want the council to take a long hard look at the true needs for housing and to stand up to central government when it tries to impose unnecessary housing targets.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Page 27 for the climate strike in Maidstone


Letter to the Kent Messenger: letters@thekmgroup.co.uk

Dear Editor,

You would have thought that hundreds of young people on strike from school, protesting in the heart of Maidstone about the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced would have been given a higher prominence than a small article on page 27? These young people deserve our full support, please can you join us in giving that.

Kind regards

Stuart Jeffery
Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone and the Weald

Friday, 27 September 2019

Maidstone Borough Council's consultation on the ridiculous Local Plan

My responses to Maidstone Borough Council's consultation on the Local Plan:

OQ1 – What can the Local Plan Review do to make the growth we need ‘good growth’?

This is a biased question, you cannot frame the question in this way. We do not need 'growth'. The current quest for never ending growth is what is driving the sixth mass extinction. In medicine, the word growth has another meaning and for good reason. I urge the council to reject the notion of growth and aim for a de-growth of our economy and bring our town to a level that is sustainable in the long term.

OQ2 – What could the Local Plan Review do to help make our town and village centres fit for
the future?

Ensure that they are carbon neutral by 2025. Climate change in the biggest threat that we face and unless we tackle this as the emergency that it is then we face extinction. Moving to a fully sustainable economy is essential.

OQ3 – How can the Local Plan Review ensure community facilities and services are brought
forward in the right place and at the right time to support communities?

Facilities and services need to be placed where people live and where they can access them. They should not be in remote towns but in the heart of communities.

OQ4 – What overall benefits would you want to see as a result of growth?

See OQ1 - this is a biased question.

OQ5 - What infrastructure and services, including community services and facilities, do you
think are the most important for a successful new development?

Any new development must be based on true need rather than economic need or national policy. There is a need for a small number of high density / low cost  / social housing but this must be close to town centres, shops and transport links.

OQ6 – How can the Local Plan Review help support a thriving local economy, including the
rural economy?

Your definition of a 'thriving' economy will be one based on growth rather than sustainability. You need to re-examine the economy in terms of ecological sustainability.

OQ7 – How can the Local Plan Review ensure we have an environmentally attractive and
sustainable borough that takes a pro-active approach to climate change?

See questions above but first and foremost are carbon neutrality by 2025, ecological sustainability and economic de-growth

OQ8 – Are there any other themes, issues and considerations that you believe we should
address as part of this Local Plan Review?

How about the true impacts on the environment and future generations?

TQ1 – What do you think should be the end date for the Local Plan Review? Why?

Dec 2019 as the plan needs urgent revision.

TQ3 How do you think the council can achieve a consistent annual rate of housebuilding throughout the Local Plan Review period?

Ridiculous question, why would you want to do this unless you are wedded to the god of continuous growth?

TQ4 Have we identified all the possible types of housing sites?

Only brownfield sites should be considered. There should be no building on much needed farm land or other greenfield sites

TQ6 What approaches could we use to increase the number of new homes being built on brownfield sites and to make brownfield development more viable and attractive to developers?

How about banning building on greenfield sites? How about refusing to have them in the local plan?

TQ7 What factors should we take into account when considering minimum density standards elsewhere in the borough, beyond the town centre?

All new homes must be affordable for young people and people in need. They should all have access to some area of garden.

TQ9 What approaches could we use to identify sites in and at the edge of the town centre for future shopping and leisure needs?

Shrink the town centre as you shrink the economy. We need to make provision for non-polluting and lower polluting forms of economy, e.g. music and art.

TQ11 Which is your preferred option for the future pattern of growth (A, B. Bi or C) and why?

D... see above.

TQ12 For your preferred option, what infrastructure would you want to see brought forward as a priority?

Rapid rollout of electric trolley buses covering all areas of Maidstone and surrounding villages 24/7. Closure of lanes for cars and lorries to provide space for these. Rapid insulation of all homes and businesses. Rapid rollout of electric based heating.

Climate demonstrations in Maidstone

Last Friday around 100 young people striked outside County Hall in protest for action on climate change. Mandy Rossi and I were privileged to be asked to address them. Below is a copy of the brief speech that we gave:

I’m Stuart Jeffery the Green Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Maidstone and chair of Kent Greens

This is a fantastic turnout, huge thanks and huge thanks to all who are on strike today and who are fighting this emergency and we are symbolically holding hands with climate strikers around the world.

This is the most important issue facing humanity and the wider ecosystem

We are doing this for our future

When I was at school I was taught that CO2 levels in the air were around 300 ppm. Today they are well over 400. That is an incredible rise.

Very quick. This is an emergency. And it is symbolic to be outside KCC as councillors voted that 2050 was ok to take action by. It is not.

I keep hearing older people saying sorry and that it’s over to younger generation to sort out. But we must all work together.

What can we do? Three things that make a small difference as individuals but a big one collectively

1. Stop flying and eat far less meat.
2. Speak out: change the system, vote for a party that has the right solutions and ethos, call out the deniers, speak truth to power
3. Change our relationship with the world around us.

Once again a huge thank you from me and all of the Greens in Kent.