Open Letter to Liz Truss on ‘Anti Growth’ – XR co-founder, Gail Bradbrook

Dear Liz Truss,

In your recent speech at the Conservative party conference you mentioned growth 29 times; said “I will not allow the anti-growth coalition to hold us back” and named Extinction Rebellion as part of this coalition.

Thank you for opening up this critical conversation. We appreciate the opportunity to share our understanding and we hope many others will join us for a grown up conversation in these urgent times. 

We know that members of your party understand our concerns, and are also worried about your economic ideology. When we met Michael Gove in 2019 he said:

“We have had an economic model for generations which has been extractive and exploitative, and in the same way as we’ve created debt fuelled economic growth that creates a burden for the next generation, so our approach towards natural resources has had to change and we’re wrestling as a government with how to do that, how to move towards a more circular economy. And also how to re think different parts of our economy, and again we may disagree over the imperative or the importance placed on growth, but certainly how we can achieve a greater degree of human flourishing and at the same time be more respectful to the limited resources that the earth has and critically also recognise that its not simply about drawing down resources, the earth is a system, our environment is a system of which we are a part and if we do violence to it then we are doing violence to ourselves, we are hacking at the tree of life.”  

There are many forms of growth that are beneficial. Specific sectors of our economy badly need to grow, for example homegrown sources of renewable energy. A sector that would do so much better if this supposed free market was not distorted by the vast subsidies the UK gives to fossil fuels.

However, the data is clear, growth for growth’s sake, without limits, without purpose, is destroying life on earth. When unfettered growth happens in a human body we call it cancer. Economic growth is only beneficial up to a certain point, beyond which it is harmful to people and planet. Economic growth is lucrative to those who are already wealthy (who unsurprisingly then insist on keeping it as the focus). Trickle down economics has failed us for a long time, everyone knows it’s just an out of date idea, not a realistic method that improves the lives of the general public. When we are measuring GDP we would best consider it a measure of the Gross Destruction of the Planet by the Greedy Death Project! 

Do you not agree when Margaret Thatcher said “We should always remember that free markets are a means to an end. They would defeat their object if by their output they did more damage to the quality of life through pollution than the well-being they achieve by the production of goods and services”

Extinction Rebellion are calling for a Well Being economy, which has a clear and measured purpose to maximise wellness and minimise harm; at home and across the world. There is no shortage of fantastic ideas about how to achieve that, including ideas to support circular uses of materials whilst staying within planetary and social boundaries. We love imaginative ideas, such as regenerative finance and mission based economics; where there could be a focus of our specific strengths on tackling major challenges together, making use of the innovation and delivery capabilities in business and markets, the organising capacities of our civil service, the intellect of our academics. We are a wealthy country, we could afford to pay for universal basic services and lead the world on tackling the climate and ecological crisis. And Extinction Rebellion champions assemblies of ordinary people, to think together with experts about how to make this vital transition.

Because it doesn’t matter how attached your Government is, Ms. Truss, to a specific form of free market ideology. Physics and ecology are ultimately in charge and the life support systems of the earth are starting to tip. Doubling down on the extraction of fossil fuels commits our children and grandchildren here and globally to lives where food production fails and civilisation  collapses. We charge that members of your Government, who are making decisions now, against the advice of scientists and international bodies, are committing crimes against humanity. 

We see truths shared from many quarters. King Charles has said “We need nothing short of a paradigm shift, one that inspires action at revolutionary levels and pace.” The Chief Executive of Shell Ben Van Beurden recently called for a windfall tax and  Philip Kotler, father of modern  marketing called for Degrowth (the academic term for an economy focussed on Wellbeing) In October 2018 the IPCC said that limiting global warming would require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. 

People will become increasingly desperate in this country as the consequences of years of terrible choices come home and impact us all. Choices to sell off our assets, to poison our food, air and water; while at the same time we failed to invest in homegrown renewables and insulate homes. We are left with little security and a cost of living scandal. Over 20,000 people in the UK already died unnecessarily this year since April. Those with the least responsibility for these crises are suffering in the millions, battered and uprooted by climate disasters, from the Horn of Africa, to Bangladesh, to Mozambique, to Pakistan.

We see the callousness and the corruption and the refusal to face reality. Those of us who have the capacity and the conscience will do all we can to stop this death machine. There are a growing number of people who just can’t pay the bills that are mounting and others who won’t work for poverty wages, unable to make ends meet despite their hard work (though I understand you, Liz Truss, think British workers “need more graft”). We will strike bill payments in solidarity and strength, and we will not let you frack the British countryside, poison the water and the people.

Yes, we are uniting, because we believe in our shared humanity, we love our country, and this Earth, and we are willing to take responsibility, whether that comes at a cost to us, on behalf of our collective wellbeing. 

A key aspect of civil disobedience is a belief in the need to talk. I would welcome a dialogue with yourself or colleagues – please be in touch!

Sincerely,

Gail Bradbrook

Dr. Gail Bradbrook, Co-Founder Extinction Rebellion

Notes for Editors

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/23/uk-has-biggest-fossil-fuel-subsidies-in-the-eu-finds-commission
  2.  A systematic review of the evidence on decoupling of GDP, resource use and GHG emissions, part I: bibliometric and conceptual mapping https://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/159385/; Tim Parrique https://unevenearth.org/2020/06/decoupling/ Limits to Growth review https://www.vice.com/en/article/z3xw3x/new-research-vindicates-1972-mit-prediction-that-society-will-collapse-soon 
  3.  When countries have low GDP, economic growth brings a high marginal benefit. But, for developed countries with high GDP, the marginal benefit of economic growth is lower. There is a diminishing marginal utility of extra income and at higher levels, the problems of growth may outweigh the benefits. https://www.economicshelp.org/macroeconomics/economic-growth/benefits-growth/ 
  4.  The academic term is Degrowth – eg see Jason Hickel Less is More, https://weall.org/ etc
  5.  Circular Economy eg https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/topics/circular-economy-introduction/overview
  6.  Doughnut Economics https://doughnuteconomics.org/about-doughnut-economics
  7. Eg https://thefinanser.com/2022/10/what-is-regenerative-finance-refi-part-one 
  8.  Mariana Mazzucato https://ec.europa.eu/research-and-innovation/en/horizon-magazine/missions-could-make-europe-cool-again-prof-mariana-mazzucato 
  9.  UBS eg https://universalbasicservices.org/; Calls for UK to not drop its commitments : https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/03/cop27-host-egypt-warns-uk-not-backtrack-climate-agenda
  10. https://theconversation.com/climate-tipping-points-could-lock-in-unstoppable-changes-to-the-planet-how-close-are-they-191043
  11. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/oct/04/shell-chief-tax-energy-firms-ben-van-beurden-gas-electricity
  12. Philip Kotler, father of modern marketing, supports degrowth: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/ben-tolhurst_degrowth-the-case-for-constraining-consumption-activity-6982821869351510016-jRQb?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_ios
  13. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2335991-there-are-thousands-more-uk-deaths-than-usual-and-we-dont-know-why/
Continue ReadingOpen Letter to Liz Truss on ‘Anti Growth’ – XR co-founder, Gail Bradbrook

The game changers on climate

The game changers on climate

Earlier this month leading climate scientists issued their landmark report on climate solutions, directly to world governments, saying it’s “now or never” if we are to meet the Paris Agreement 1.5°C warming limit.

And the response?

Well, not what we need. Since the release, governments have announced or approved new oil and gas projects, despite the IPCC science saying we already have too many!

Climate scientists have had enough

A growing number of scientists have had enough, feeling obliged to step out of their labs and onto the streets to demand greater action. Following the release of the IPCC report, about 1000 scientists and academics in 25 countries took part in demonstrations, urging governments to act on the science. In the UK, a group of scientists glued scientific papers – and their own hands – to the windows of the government department responsible for energy, protesting the government plans for licensing of new oil and gas fields.

Continue ReadingThe game changers on climate

Earth Day 2022

It occurs to me that this could be a dangerous time for politicians and others failing to address the climate crisis. We have the most recent IPCC report identifying necessary action including an immediate stop to all new fossil fuel use and it’s ignored. Climate change is seen and experienced, it’s beyond controlling the narrative. The people that have warned of the growing crisis will be gaining power and influence, [ed: in a few years … ] we may well have laws that are applied retrospectively – and why shouldn’t they be? [ed: Why shouldn’t they be held responsible for their actions or – potentially recognised as criminal – neglect? Had the power to address severe climate destuction but chose not to …]

Climate Group Calls Biden’s Earth Day Order for Old-Growth Forests ‘Grossly Inadequate’

U.S. President Joe Biden’s reported plan to protect old-growth forests—which help combat global temperature rise by storing planet-heating carbon—is “grossly inadequate,” one climate advocacy group said Thursday.

Biden will mark Earth Day in Seattle on Friday with an executive order on the issue, according to The Washington Post, which cited five unnamed sources briefed on the plan.

Responding in a statement, Food & Water Watch national organizing manager Thomas Meyer declared that “President Biden seems to think we’re celebrating the first Earth Day in 1970, rather than in [the] depths of the climate crisis in 2022.”

“Protecting forests without addressing the root cause of the climate crisis, namely the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels, will do very little to slow global warming,” he warned.

“The president has many effective tools at his disposal to address the climate and public health impacts of fossil fuels in a serious way,” Meyer added. “He should start by following through on his pledge to end fracking on public lands and stop offshore drilling, and directing his agencies to reject all new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

US Mobilization Planned to Demand ‘Livable, Just, and Healthy Planet for All

Over 20 advocacy organizations are planning a nationwide “Fight for Our Future” mobilization for Saturday to demand climate action from the Biden administration and Congress.

On the heels of Earth Day, demonstrators plan to gather in Washington, D.C., and communities across the United States to reiterate the necessity of pursuing bold policies to combat the fossil-fueled planetary emergency, citing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released earlier this month.

The organizing comes not only in the midst of the climate emergency but also as Russia’s war on Ukraine and price gouging by fossil fuel giants—in the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic—drive up the cost of gas.

Sierra Club president Ramon Cruz in a statement that “in this unprecedented moment of climate crisis, rising prices, energy insecurity, and racial and environmental injustice, it’s vital that our leaders fight to establish a livable, just, and healthy planet for all.”

“The latest IPCC report made clear that we not only have an imperative to address the climate crisis, but also the means to do so—doing so just requires the political will to make transformational investments at the scale and speed the crisis demands,” he added. “There’s a clear path forward for critical investments in climate, care, jobs, and justice, and Congress must seize this crucial opportunity to truly ensure the future we all deserve.”

Continue ReadingEarth Day 2022

Rebellious Climate Scientists Have Message for Humanity: ‘Mobilize, Mobilize, Mobilize’

Scientists in the Netherlands blocked an entrance to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy in The Hague on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Scientist Rebellion / @ScientistRebel1)

In face of the “escalating climate emergency,” the advocacy group Scientist Rebellion warns that IPCC summary to global policymakers remains “alarmingly reserved, docile, and conservative.”

Republished from Common Dreams under a Creative Commons licence (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

KENNY STANCILApril 6, 2022

Amid a weeklong global civil disobedience campaign to demand climate action commensurate with mounting evidence about the need for swift decarbonization, Scientist Rebellion is highlighting specific gaps between what experts say is necessary and what governments allowed to be published in the United Nations’ latest climate assessment.

“We need a billion climate activists…The time is now. We’ve waited far too long.”

The landmark report on mitigation by Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—part of the U.N.’s sixth comprehensive climate assessment since 1992 and possibly the last to be published with enough time to avert the most catastrophic consequences of the planetary crisis—was compiled by 278 researchers from 65 countries.

The authors, who synthesized thousands of peer-reviewed studies published in the past several years, make clear over the course of nearly 3,000 pages that “without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach.”

Meanwhile, a 64-page Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the report—a key reference point for governments—required the approval of all 195 member states of the IPCC and was edited with their input.

Following a contentious weekend of negotiations in which wealthy governments attempted to weaken statements about green financing for low-income nations and fossil fuel-producing countries objected to unequivocal language about the need to quickly eliminate coal, oil, and gas extraction, the IPCC document was published several hours later than expected on Monday.

“Despite the escalating climate emergency and the total absence of emissions cuts, the framing of the final version of the SPM is still alarmingly reserved, docile, and conservative,” Scientist Rebellion, an international alliance of academics who are advocating for systemic political and economic changes in line with scientific findings, said Tuesday in a statement.

“The science has never been clearer: to have any chance of retaining a habitable planet, greenhouse gas emissions must be cut radically now,” the group continued. “Limiting warming to 1.5°C and responding to the climate emergency requires an immediate transformation across all sectors and strata of society, a mobilization of historic proportions: a climate revolution.”

“The IPCC [has] avoided naming the major culprits for 30 years, which is one reason for the absence of real emissions cuts,” the group added. “Facts detailing the complicity of the world’s richest countries in fueling the climate crisis have been watered down by the IPCC’s political review process.”

Scientist Rebellion proceeded to contrast the final version of the SPM—”the document that garners almost all attention”—to an early draft of a summary of the Working Group III report on mitigation that IPCC authors associated with the group leaked last August out of concern that their conclusions would be diluted by policymakers.

Peter Kalmus, a Los Angeles-based climate scientist and author who is participating in this week’s direct actions, told Common Dreams that the shortcomings of governments and policymakers have driven him to act.

Kalmus said he was willing to engage in civil disobedience and risk arrest this week, “because I’ve tried everything else I can think of over the past decade and nothing has worked. I see humanity heading directly toward climate disaster.”

With humanity “currently on track to lose everything we love,” he said, the scientific community must intensify its efforts.

“If we don’t rapidly end the fossil fuel industry and begin acting like Earth breakdown is an emergency, we risk civilizational collapse and potentially the death of billions, not to mention the loss of major critical ecosystems around the world,” said Kalmus. “This is so much bigger than me. Expect climate scientists to be taking such actions repeatedly in the future and in large numbers.”

On Wednesday, direct actions by scientists took place in Berlin, Germany; The Hague, Netherlands; Bogata, Colombia, and other cities.

In its Tuesday assessment, Scientist Rebellion documented how the political review process weakened or eliminated language about carbon inequality and the need for far-reaching socio-economic transformation to slash greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in the final SPM:

Example 1: Section B6 of the report originally stated that “institutional inertia and a social bias towards the status quo are leading to a risk of locking in future GHG emissions that may be costly or difficult to abate.” This has been replaced with “global GHG emissions in 2030 associated with the implementation of nationally determined contributions… would make it likely that warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century.” The final version also no longer mentions that “vested interests” and a focus on an “incremental rather than a systemic approach” are limiting factors to ambitious transformation.

Example 2: The leaked SPM stated that “within countries, inequalities increased for both income and GHG emissions between 1970 and 2016, with the top 1% accounting for 27% of income growth,” and that “top emitters dominate emissions in key sectors, for example the top 1% account for 50% of GHG emissions from aviation.” Neither statement appears in the final version.

“While the SPM—being approved line-by-line by all governments—is reserved, docile, and conservative, the situation is clear,” said Scientist Rebellion.

The group went on to quote U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who said Monday that “we are on a fast track to climate disaster.”

As Common Dreams reported Monday, more than 1,000 scientists in at least 25 countries on every continent in the world are expected to participate in strikes, occupations, and other actions this week to highlight “the urgency and injustice of the climate and ecological crisis,” and several demonstrations are already underway. 

Guterres, for his part, said Monday that “climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals, but the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.”

For his part, Kalmus acknowledged it was going to take much more than a series of direct actions by scientists to turn the tide against inaction.

“We need a billion climate activists,” Kalmus said. “I encourage everyone to consider where we’re heading as a species, and to engage in civil disobedience and other actions. The time is now. We’ve waited far too long.”

“Mobilize, mobilize, mobilize,” he said, “before we lose everything.”


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Continue ReadingRebellious Climate Scientists Have Message for Humanity: ‘Mobilize, Mobilize, Mobilize’

IPCC report calls for urgent action on climate

In summer, some polar bears do not make the transition from their winter residence on the Svalbard islands to the dense drift ice and pack ice of the high arctic where they would find a plethora of prey. This is due to global climate change which causes the ice around the islands to melt much earlier than previously. The bears need to adapt from their proper food to a diet of detritus, small animals, bird eggs and carcasses of marine animals. Very often they suffer starvation and are doomed to die. The number of these starving animals is sadly increasing.AWeith This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Endangered_arctic_-_starving_polar_bear.jpg

The most recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN body) report published today tells us that some impacts of climate change are now irreversible.

[A] liveable future remains within grasp – just. But the window of opportunity for action is “brief and rapidly closing”. The response from UN secretary-general António Guterres was stark: “Delay is death.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/28/what-at-stake-climate-crisis-report-everything

The IPCC report says that we must act now while world governments continue to pursue climate destroying policies. The point is this: We tolerate and suffer these governments and their super-rich masters that they pander to but we don’t have to. We can instead obstruct business as usual, refuse to tolerate and suffer these climate-destroying bastards. We need to act in unity putting away any other differences we might have. Our planet is getting killed, we must act for the sake of our children, young people and future generations. Delay is death.

Instead of responsible government Boris Johnson’s UK government is pursuing climate-harming policies and has stuffed his cabinet with climate-denying ministers. UK Tory MPs are campaigning against climate policies through the Net Zero Scrutiny Group. Legitimate government should be concerned with protecting it’s citizens while Boris Johnson’s UK government is doing the opposite.

IPCC issues ‘bleakest warning yet’ on impacts of climate breakdown

Rupert Murdoch doesn’t understand climate change basics, and that’s a problem

Climate change causing widespread and irreversible impacts, says IPCC

Constituents set up ‘Steve Baker Watch’ over MP’s climate stance

Continue ReadingIPCC report calls for urgent action on climate

‘What Betrayal Looks Like’: UN Report Says World on Track for 2.7°C of Warming by 2100

Dixie Fire in California

A home burns as flames from the Dixie Fire tear through the Indian Falls neighborhood of unincorporated Plumas County, California on July 24, 2021. (Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/09/17/what-betrayal-looks-un-report-says-world-track-27degc-warming-2100

“Whatever our so-called ‘leaders’ are doing,” said Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, “they are doing it wrong.”

JAKE JOHNSONSeptember 17, 2021

The United Nations warned Friday that the planet is barreling toward 2.7°C of warming by the end of the century, a nightmare scenario that can be averted only if policymakers take immediate and sweeping action to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Even if the 191 parties to the Paris climate accord meet their current commitments, global greenhouse gas emissions will still rise 16% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, according to a new report published by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“Failure to meet this goal will be measured in the massive loss of lives and livelihoods.”

The goal of the 2015 Paris agreement is to limit global warming to below 2°C—and preferably to 1.5°C—above pre-industrial levels. An analysis released earlier this week found that the climate targets and actions of just one country—The Gambia—are in line with the critical 1.5° goal.

“This is what betrayal looks like,” Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted in response to the latest U.N. findings. “Whatever our so-called ‘leaders’ are doing, they are doing it wrong.”

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of U.N. Climate Change,

said in a statement that the international community must “peak emissions as soon as possible before 2030 and support developing countries in building up climate resilience.”

“The 16% increase is a huge cause of concern,” said Espinosa. “It is in sharp contrast with the calls by science for rapid, sustained, and large-scale emission reductions to prevent the most severe climate consequences and suffering, especially of the most vulnerable, throughout the world.”

The U.N. analysis came as U.S. President Joe Biden met with world leaders and announced that the United States is partnering with the European Union in an effort to cut methane emissions—a powerful driver of global warming—by nearly 30% by the end of the decade.

In its landmark report last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasized that a “strong, rapid, and sustained” reduction in methane emissions is necessary to prevent the worst of the planetary crisis.

The IPCC also estimated that keeping global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would require a 45% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030—a mark that the international community is currently on track to miss badly, according to the new U.N. report.

António Guterres, the secretary-general of the U.N., said in a statement Friday that 2.7°C of planetary heating would be “catastrophic” and that world leaders are “rapidly running out of time” to act.

“This is breaking the promise made six years ago to pursue the 1.5°C goal of the Paris agreement,” said Guterres. “Failure to meet this goal will be measured in the massive loss of lives and livelihoods.”


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Continue Reading‘What Betrayal Looks Like’: UN Report Says World on Track for 2.7°C of Warming by 2100

Commentary on and analysis of recent political events

The big story today is the current UK coalition government’s attempts to hide the UK’s part in torture and rendition under the Tony Blair government. Despite repeated denials by liar Jack Straw at the time, evidence has surfaced that Tony Bliar’s government conducted illegal renditions. It is widely accepted that Blair’s government had little regard for the law, truth or justice.

Image of liars Jack Straw and Tony BlairUK inquiry on rendition and torture to be handed to ISC

The stalled official inquiry into the UK’s involvement in rendition and torture in the years after 9/11 is to be handed to the controversial intelligence and security committee (ISC), the government will announce on Thursday.

The decision follows years of assurances by ministers that the inquiry would be headed by a senior judge.

It is a move that will dismay human rights groups. The ISC is the oversight body that failed to report publicly on the bulk surveillance operations being conducted by the UK’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, and it has already conducted one inquiry into rendition, after which it cleared MI5 and MI6 of blame.

The extent to which the agencies were involved in the abuse of terrorism suspects may be outlined on Thursday with the publication of a redacted version of an interim report of the stalled inquiry that was led by Sir Peter Gibson, a retired appeal court judge.

Gibson is said to be calling for further investigation into the UK’s involvement in the rendition of two Libyan opposition leaders and their families to Tripoli in 2004, and the role played by Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time. Straw was not available for comment but has previously denied any wrongdoing. MI6 is reported to have confronted him with documentary evidence that he personally authorised the agency’s involvement in the rendition operations.

NHS sign

Poorest areas to get extra NHS money to tackle ill health

The poorest parts of England are to receive extra money to tackle ill health after NHS bosses rejected plans to divert resources from there to wealthy areas.

NHS England’s decision means that scores of GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in deprived areas will no longer see their budgets cut from April. Its board has defied the Department of Health by throwing out its plans to make the age of the local population, not the level of deprivation, a key factor in the allocation of NHS funding.

Labour MPs had claimed that such a move would lead to almost £1bn being shifted from poor areas which have low life expectancy to wealthier places where residents live longer.

Instead NHS England has opted to give all 211 CCGs rises of at least the rate of inflation both next year and in 2015-16, and give those serving the most deprived places extra money to help cope with the demand caused by ingrained health problems. It was obliged to do that to help meet its legal duty to reduce health inequalities and differences in life expectancy between rich and poor areas, said chief financial officer Paul Baumann….

For the Sake of Humanity Society Must Unleash War on the Tories

The campaign of hate being waged by this government of rich, privileged, and privately educated sociopaths against the poor, the unemployed, and those who dare try to claim the benefits to which they are entitled is unparalleled in modern history. Even Thatcher in her pomp was not as malicious in her treatment of the aforementioned demographic. This was not because she didn’t wish to be more malicious than she was, it was because when she came to power we still had trade unions capable and willing to resist such an onslaught, meaning that the cost involved in even attempting to rip up the foundations of the welfare state and the collective ethos which lies at its heart would have been too damaging to her government and party to make worthwhile.

Three decades on and the fruits of Thatcherism – with the corresponding neutering of the unions and other forms of working class solidarity – have culminated in a new normal of demonisation and the near criminalisation of poverty in Britain. Austerity has been sold to the country as a policy of necessity in response to years of Labour profligacy and a bloated public sector. It is a lie so bold and barefaced that even Joseph Goebbels would blush while repeating it.

Prisoners serving less than a year should be allowed to vote, says Parliamentary committee

Prisoners serving sentences of 12 months or less should be given the vote, the Government is today told by an all-party parliamentary committee.

It also called for all inmates who are within six months of release to be entitled to take part in elections.

The recommendations will not be welcome in Downing Street as David Cameron has said he would feel “physically sick” if prisoners were allowed to vote.

Britain is locked in an eight-year battle with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which has ruled that the blanket ban on prisoner voting is incompatible with European law.

Government to make 40 per cent of Britain available for fracking

The vast disruption that could be caused across the country by fracking has been laid bare, with the Government announcing it would make 40 per cent of Britain available to companies to explore for oil and gas next year.

Local communities could be subjected to thousands of wells being dug every year in the search for fossil fuels – requiring billions of litres of water, with dozens of lorries passing by every day – after the Coalition said it would put oil and gas licences covering 100,000 square kilometres up for auction next summer.

The auction, which would give the licence-winners exclusive rights to explore an area for oil and gas, but would require additional permits for fracking, would add to the 19,000 square kilometres of licences that have already been sold to hydrocarbon producers.

Ian Watkins abuse: police forces to be investigated by IPCC

Investigations are under way to find out if three police forces should have done more to pursue allegations of sex abuse, dating back to 2008, against Ian Watkins.

Watkins, the 36-year-old former Lostprophets lead singer, is to be sentenced on Wednesday for a string of offences including the attempted rape of a baby.

Before his sentencing, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it was investigating police forces in South Wales, where Watkins lived, but also South Yorkshire and Bedfordshire. One line of inquiry is whether officers failed to look properly into Watkins’s activities because of his celebrity status.

The IPCC’s commissioner Jan Williams said: “No one can fail to be shocked by the vile details of Ian Watkins’s offending that emerged in court last month.

“Questions are now rightly being asked as to whether Ian Watkins could have been brought to justice sooner, what steps were taken by police in response to allegations made against him as far back as 2008 and whether his celebrity status had any impact on the investigation.” He added, however, that the investigation was complex and would take time.

Continue ReadingCommentary on and analysis of recent political events