Month: November 2019

Johnson threatens a democratic emergency: why haven’t the opposition parties risen to the occasion?

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I’ve frankly been depressed by the failure of the opposition parties to rise to the occasion.  We face the threat of a majority Boris Johnson government which will force through a hard Brexit, do a trade deal with Donald Trump which will compromise our NHS, environmental and food standards, continue its chronic underfunding of health and schools, and make mainly token gestures towards the climate emergency.

All this is being massaged by the most deceitful election campaign ever, as the Tories pump out lying propaganda on an industrial scale. Johnson himself can’t open his mouth without lying, and is clearly wholly unfit to be Prime Minister. Victory for this PM would represent a democratic emergency.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens all recognise the dangers of Johnson’s new hard-right Conservatives. They are all offering policies which are vastly superior to those of the Tories. They cooperated (together with the independent-minded Tories who were thrown out of their party) to curb Johnson’s worst excesses in the last Parliament.

Yet they are now fighting election campaigns as though we had a perfect Proportional Representation system, when in fact we have First-Past-the-Post which gives the Tories an overwhelming advantage if the opposition is divided between Lab/Lib/Greens.

  • Labour refuses to stand down anywhere, despite there being many seats where the LibDems, Independents or Greens can win. They got 6,000 in the East Devon constituency last time, compared to Independent Claire Wright’s 21,000 and the Tories’ 29,000. But will they back a candidate who can win and agrees with them on many issues, or do they want to push a hopeless case?
  • The Lib Dems are standing down in Exeter – to support the Greens who cannot win, but not in East Devon (where they got an even more miserable 1500 votes in 2017) for Claire Wright who shares many of their policies.
  • The Greens appear to be standing down in East Devon (well done!) but by pushing their challenge in Exeter with the help of the Lib Dems, threaten to help the Tories steal the seat from excellent Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw.

I’ve voted Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green at different elections over the last few years, when there hasn’t been a good Independent candidate. I’m supporting Claire’s campaign although I don’t live in her constituency.

In Tiverton & Honiton (which includes Seaton and Colyton), there are now candidates for Labour (Liz Pole), the Liberal Democrats (John Timperley) and the Green Party (Gillian Westcott). I will vote for one of them, but my enthusiasm is dimmed by their parties’ failure to treat this election as the democratic emergency which it is.

Seaton Environmental Action, SEA, set up at public meeting and is moving quickly to plant trees

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A meeting of residents decided on Wednesday to set up Seaton Environmental Action (SEA) to address the climate and environmental crisis. SEA is an independent group working closely with the Town Council’s climate emergency working group, who called the initial meeting in October which led to this week’s step.

The meeting drew up agendas for the council (including issues to take to EDDC and DCC), for local businesses, and for the community, and three groups will discuss separately during the next meeting of SEA on Wednesday 27th November at 7pm in Pebbles Coffee House (all welcome).

A trees sub-group was set up and has already been offered 400 native saplings! If any landowners would like to offer land for planting, please contact me and I will put you in touch with the sub-group.

Seaton climate follow-up meeting to organise local action, this coming Wednesday

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As agreed at the meeting on 16th October, we are meeting again next Wednesday, 6th November, at 7pm to discuss the next steps. The meeting will be in the same place, the Old Picture House, not in Marshlands as previously stated.
The agenda will be:
1. Setting up a campaign
2. Prioritising action points from the 5 areas which we discussed at the first meeting
3. Deciding how to organise this and what are the next steps.
All welcome on Wednesday and please let everyone who might be interested know about this meeting.

Devon Carbon Plan process is launched – residents called on to give their ideas

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The press release:

A top team of environmental experts, charged with ensuring that Devon reduces carbon emissions as quickly as possible, is calling on residents to submit their ideas on how to do it.

The Net-Zero Task Force has been appointed by the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group – made up of Devon’s councils, emergency services and business groups – to deliver the Devon Carbon Plan.

The Carbon Plan will lay out in stark terms what every resident, organisation and business has to do to reduce emissions and safeguard the planet for the next generation.

This Call for Evidence is open to everybody, and every submission will be reviewed by the Task Force.

Submissions will feed into the creation of the Carbon Plan, which includes a series of thematic hearings in November and December.

Each hearing will focus on the different parts of our society that produce most of the emissions, like transport for instance.

Recent data compiled by Exeter University show that homes and buildings, road transport, and farming account for 83% of all emissions in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.

The hearings will seek to understand what needs to happen to achieve rapid decarbonisation in Devon, and how it can be delivered.

The hearings will be divided into:

  • food, land and sea (including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and land use)
  • mobility and transport
  • the built environment
  • energy and waste

A draft of the Devon Carbon Plan will be created through a three-step process;  firstly, Task Force members and expert witnesses, all recognised in their respective fields, will discuss and then review the evidence.

Then the Task Force will present a series of ‘options’ to a Citizen’s Assembly, which will be convened from January.

Finally, the deliberations of the Citizen’s Assembly will lead to the Draft Devon Carbon Plan, which is due for publication next spring, 2020.

Chairman of the Net-Zero Taskforce, The University of Exeter’s Professor Patrick Devine-Wright, said:

“The challenge facing us all is how we can live and prosper in a carbon-neutral economy.

“This is the goal of Devon’s Carbon Plan, to set out a clear roadmap of what we all have to do to ensure that Devon becomes net-zero and continue to thrive.

“We want everyone to be involved, including schools, members of the public, businesses and public sector organisations – we all have a say and part to play.”

Dr Phil Norrey, the Chairman of the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group, said:

“The public submissions and the thematic hearings are the first stage in a process that will lead to a comprehensive carbon plan for Devon.

“Everyone in Devon has a stake in this process and I would like to thank the members of the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group and the Net-Zero Taskforce for their contributions and hard work.”

You can read further information and submit information on this website.