Sunak’s ‘inhumane’ anti-refugee plans are a distraction from Tory failures, campaigners warn

Government to launch bill to stop people arriving on small boats from claiming asylum

CAMPAIGNERS and MPs have hit out at Rishi Sunak’s plans to make asylum claims for those who travel on small boats inadmissible, calling it “inhumane” and a distraction from government failures.

The Prime Minister is expected to set out his government plans tomorrow which will also see migrants removed to a third country such as Rwanda and banned from returning or claiming citizenship.

Mr Sunak previously said that “stopping the boats” is one of his five key priorities.

The government has made its hard-line approach on immigration known, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman last year describing the number of arrivals on the south coast as an “invasion” and that it was her “obsession” to see a deportation flight to Rwanda.

Former home secretary Diane Abbott said that the PM “must know that policy will not work.”

The Labour MP tweeted: “It is simply a disgraceful ‘core vote’ strategy — because he has nothing else to fight the next general election with.”

Continue ReadingSunak’s ‘inhumane’ anti-refugee plans are a distraction from Tory failures, campaigners warn

I’m a climate change scientist – and I’m campaigning for Labour this election

School climate strikes have encouraged some political parties to be more radical. SewCream / shutterstock

Simon Lewis, UCL

The 2019 UK general election matters because the climate emergency means that the next decade is critical for the future of humanity. Only a Labour government can really turn things around, not just in the UK, but globally. This may sound exaggerated, but it’s true. Let me explain.

While flooding has affected people in Yorkshire during the election period, look further afield and many millions are suffering the impacts of catastrophic floods in Central and East Africa. Fires have raged in Australia and things will get a lot worse until humans stabilise Earth’s rapidly changing climate. To do that means carbon emissions need to decline to zero. Fast.

Pursuing policies to limit warming to 1.5℃, as the Paris Agreement mandates, is a two part process. Stage one is to halve global emissions by 2030. Stage two is to eliminate the other half by 2050. Getting the world to zero emissions is extremely difficult as it means every sector of every country needs to get to zero. We can still pollute, but every tonne of carbon dioxide emitted will need to be immediately captured again, giving a net impact of zero emissions.

A serious plan

Finally, after 30-plus years of scientists explaining the problem, a major political party of a major economy has a serious plan for part one of the process. After wrangling between grassroots activists and trade unions, the Labour Manifesto pledges that the “substantial majority” of UK emissions will be eliminated by 2030. This isn’t bluster, as there is serious investment planned across electricity production (more wind and solar), buildings (retrofitting all UK houses to high efficiency standards), transport (investment in buses, only electric cars sales from 2030), and heavy industry (research and development into hydrogen and carbon capture technology), to name a few sectors.

Crucially, this would be driven by those who control the finances of the country. A new Sustainable Investment Board would bring together the chancellor, business secretary and Bank of England governor to oversee and co-ordinate these major investments. A National Investment Bank with £250 billion allocated for decarbonising the economy provides serious funds. And climate and environmental impacts will be included in the Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts, so that the cost of not acting will be factored into every government decision.

Labour are calling it a Green Industrial Revolution. And it would be. It is a far-reaching set of policies and investments befitting the scale of the problem.

Tory plan ‘lacks ambition’

By comparison the Conservative Party manifesto lacks ambition and seriousness. Capital spending on climate – broadly conceived – is just £20 billion. There is no overarching strategy to reach net zero. As the independent analysts, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said of the whole manifesto, “If a single Budget had contained all these tax and spending proposals we would have been calling it modest. As a blueprint for five years in government the lack of significant policy action is remarkable.”

While the Conservatives have a net zero target of 2050 and official UK emissions have dropped by 43% from 1990 levels, most of the reduction has come from the power sector, and the low-hanging fruit of switching from coal-fired electricity generation to gas and renewables. Beyond this, their record over the past decade in government has been poor – emissions from transport, buildings and agriculture have not declined over recent years.

Ditching coal power was a relatively easy win. Steve Allen / shutterstock

In 2019, the government’s own independent advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, said that only one of 25 policy recommendations had been delivered, and the UK is on track to miss its binding interim carbon budget for 2023 to 2027.

The stakes couldn’t be higher

Of course, UK emissions are just 1% of the world’s total, so does it matter what the UK does? It does. First, because every country needs to get to net zero emissions. Second, as the fifth largest economy in the world, large and sustained reductions in emissions across all sectors simultaneously would become a beacon to other countries to learn from the UK and reduce their emissions more quickly. Third, Labour would use £4 billion of new overseas development funds help countries leap-frog the fossil fuel age.

Finally, geopolitics matters. The world is gripped by right-wing populists who are often hostile to tackling climate change. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro abandoned hosting this years’ UN climate talks, while Donald Trump plans to pull out of the Paris Agreement. Fearful inward-looking nationalism means that the internationalism necessary to tackle climate change is being eroded.

The antidote to the rising right-wing populism that Brexit and Boris Johnson are part of, is a Labour government with a Green Industrial Revolution at its heart. And just as Brexit spurred the Trump campaign, a win for Labour would increase the chances of the Democrats in the US reaching office and pursuing a similar Green New Deal. The tide would be turning towards deploying the tools of the state to reshape the economy to seriously tackle climate change.

Scientists working on climate often say some form of transformation of society is needed to tackle climate change. Here’s a rare chance to lever serious resources to do just that. Of course, supporting any political party is a major compromise, especially with our voting system.

When it comes to the environment, you can’t beat the Greens, but they can’t form the next government. The big prize is to grasp the chance to turn things around. So, I won’t just be voting this election. I’ll be out knocking on doors to canvas for Labour. It’s the least I can do. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Click here to subscribe to our newsletter if you believe this election should be all about the facts.

Simon Lewis, Professor of Global Change Science at University of Leeds and, UCL

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Continue ReadingI’m a climate change scientist – and I’m campaigning for Labour this election

How to campaign in a general election

This post discusses traditional campaigning methods in a general election i.e. those followed by political parties, for those that want to participate. It’s not strictly necessary to be associated with a political party to participate in elections although I would suggest that you operate in an open and honest manner e.g. by behaving honestly based on established, verifiable facts and disclosing your group’s contact details on leaflets and when asked. I have postponed this posting since I was worried that it may assist the opposition. Then I realised and appreciated that we are many …

General elections are about electing a candidate to represent their constituency as a Member of Parliament (MP). Under the UK’s first past the post electoral system, it’s all about securing more votes than any other candidate. Because there is more to achieve than available resources – usually voluntary workers – there is a concern to be as effective as possible. Being effective means persuading as many people as possible to vote for your candidate or not voting for a likely close opposing candidate for the effort that you expend. Politics can turn nasty or abusive because less votes for your nearest opponent has the same effect as more votes for your side, because people often have deeply-help political views and because people involved in politics are often insane.

It’s a long time since I’ve done this but political parties depend on 4 main methods to campaign: the election communication, leaflets, canvassing and turning out the vote. They also use a copy of the Electoral Register which is a list of all the people who can vote. There may be newer ways to campaign online today but I would expect that most people you reach that way are probably already committed (or should be ;). [13/11/19 I am not qualified to comment on online campaigning since I avoid social media. I’m going to be more creative;]

The electoral communication is a letter that each political party gets delivered for free by the post office [ed: Royal Mail]. Political parties often ask for help stuffing envelopes so that’s what’s going on there.

Leaflets are often ignored and never read. If you go for leaflets, I would suggest a simple graphic and short message perhaps with a url to follow up. Leaflets can also double as posters to display in a window. It’s worth considering having different simple leaflets and delivering them not to every home, perhaps one to so many homes. I suggest that you should identify your group on the leaflet with a shortened address e.g. p&p by group name, house number, postcode.

Canvassing is knocking on doors and engaging people in conversation. This is often not done by political parties since it is so labour-intensive. This is probably the most effective way of campaigning since you reach the highest proportion of the electorate this way and you can present your case in person. What to expect: If you’re polite and well presented, most people will engage with you. Many people will be very poorly informed, some people will be rude, some people will be mad. How to do it: Prepare beforehand so that you have e.g. a leaflet to leave behind if they have no time for you “Can I just leave this for you to look at?”, ask if they’ll be free later, do it with a partner until you get comfortable with it, if a pair do opposite sides of a street you can call your mate over for help. If you’re doing it informally yourself just do however many houses you choose on your own street and meet your neighbours ;)

Turning out the vote is about making sure that those who have said that they will support your candidate actually vote on election day. You can ring them if you have their number, knock on their door or turn up in a car to give them a lift. Political parties make notes while canvassing. There may be some data protection issues involved in making records (especially electronic records) without registering and having people’s consent.

You can – of course – approach a political party and volunteer to campaign for them. If you’re devising a campaign independent of political parties, I suggest that you should be realistic in your assessment and expectations (unlike some political party). Elections are well documented so that you can research what to expect online. I have been successful gambling on general elections: we’ve had general elections in 2015 and 2017 as a guide. If you gamble, I suggest that you hedge (gambling term is dutch or dutching) your bets. [8/11/19 Gamblers can benefit from odds that are often skewed on general elections due to inexperienced gamblers having unrealistic expectations. There are also many different bets offered. I personally don’t gamble other than on politics – you’ve got to be in it to lose.]

ed 17.30

Mitigating and adapting to climate change while honoring the diversity of humans entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems. We are encouraged by a recent surge of concern. Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations. Schoolchildren are striking. Ecocide lawsuits are proceeding in the courts. Grassroots citizen movements are demanding change, and many countries, states and provinces, cities, and businesses are responding.

As the Alliance of World Scientists, we stand ready to assist decision-makers in a just transition to a sustainable and equitable future. We urge widespread use of vital signs, which will better allow policymakers, the private sector, and the public to understand the magnitude of this crisis, track progress, and realign priorities for alleviating climate change. The good news is that such transformative change, with social and economic justice for all, promises far greater human well-being than does business as usual. We believe that the prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home.

Continue ReadingHow to campaign in a general election