Campaigns: September 2008 Archives

Second class response.

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shutletterbox.jpgSome three weeks ago Robin put down a motion here which invited the Nats to offer to bear the cost of loss-making post offices, and to recognise the essential social role they provide. Currently just one other MSP has signed it, and you won't be surprised to know it's Patrick.

Next time you find yourself listening to an MSP from any other party blathering on about saving their local post offices, ask them why they didn't sign up to the only proposal yet that would have saved the lot in one go. I'll tell you why, though. It's a dirty little secret.

These people actually love post office closures. At the Meadows Festival, it's all the Liberals wanted to talk about (although I insisted they talk about airport expansion). A threatened closure is a perfect campaign opportunity, a way to get local members motivated and to get into the local media. The printers here on the fourth floor whirr with little else.

The scandal is that they don't want to fix the problem, and one way to tell is that they only want to save the specific ones in their constituencies. I don't know about you, but I sometimes find myself in other parts of the country wishing there was a post office too.

Some are more hypocritical than others - and yes, Nigel Griffiths, I mean you, because you did vote for closures and then you campaigned to save them. But the same lack of an alternative applies to Liberal, Tory and SNP campaigners. As far as I know, anyway. Perhaps they've got a great plan - I know the Liberals considered privatisation, which would be one sure way to get as many closures as possible in the shortest time.

The bottom line is this. If they don't sign the motion, and they don't come up with an alternative of their own (which I would love to hear), you can tell they have no interest in fixing the problem, and just want to profit from the consequences. 

If they sign up, we could build a common campaign, and make post office closures a thing of the past. For instance, 43 closures were announced today, and Jamie Hepburn railed against them. Sign the motion, Mr Hepburn, start the ball rolling, then we'll know you're serious. 

How roads are built.

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closeupprotest.jpgOur friends at the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route Inquiry bring reports of yesterday's events. First, as discussed here, the Reporter decided to ignore his responsibilities under European law, thus exposing the taxpayer to the risk of judicial review should Ministers decide to build the road. 

Oh, wait, they've already decided.

Then the consultant from Jacobs took the stand. He first admitted that the road's objectives were changed to include traffic relief on the A90 after the route was selected. So you choose your route, then select your objectives? Sentence first, then trial!

He also confirmed that the route layout at Kingcausie was wrong because "of a simple mixup between East and West". These people are in charge of a massive bulldozer and are about to be let loose on the Aberdeenshire countryside. Reassured? Me too.

Despite supposedly being the lead consultants on the route, it also transpired they were told about the hybrid route which Tavish foisted on Aberdeenshire just 30 minutes before the press release went out. He will have loved the front page of yesterday's P&J - this headline, slating him, above a massive pic of protesters

Finally, many of the local community support a tunnel, some seeing it as a positive project and some on the basis that it would be less worse than the AWPR. Jacobs looked at the tunnel, and we'd always been told there was a report from them which it wasn't viable. 

Astonishingly, when pressed on the nature of this report, Galbraith admitted it was "more like a few chaps around a table with a sketch who took a look and said, 'I don't think that'll work'."

I leave a review of this extraordinary statement to "Bystander", one of our pals at the Inquiry.

"So there you have it; Jacobs' definition of a report. I hope all you people in industry and commerce are taking note. Were any other 'reports' from Jacobs like that? Were the few chaps on their second or third bottle? When you are next in a town-centre pub, have a close look at the beer mats- one of them may well have the 'report' of the Murtle tunnel on it."

gordonchimney.jpgHats off to Greenpeace - six of their activists just persuaded a jury to acquit them of criminal damage for the graffiti to the left, on the chimney of the coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth. 

The best bit about this is that the jury effectively said "this criminal damage was an attempt to stop a more serious crime, the criminal damage caused around the world, by coal plants like this, through climate change".

It's the same sort of defence we used in our anti-GM case, but we had to wait for the appeal to get off, not least because Kingsnorth was heard by a jury, but we just had a sheriff.

If Labour or the SNP press ahead with more coal plants, they know they will be on thin legal ice now, and the potential protesters know it too.

The witnesses for this case notably included NASA's Professor James Hansen, an absolute star of early climate change science, and more detail on his evidence, including his written statement, is available here.

Greenpeace planned to write "Gordon, bin it", but I actually prefer the shorter version. Like Dennis Potter christening his cancerous tumour Rupert, after Murdoch, they renamed a grossly polluting chimney Gordon, after Brown. It's not just the dirtiest form of power generation, aside from nuclear, it's actually criminal.

Absolute Worst Possible Route.

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Yesterday I had a lovely day out in Aberdeen with Greens and other activists, joining Aberdeenshire locals protesting outside the Inquiry into the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route.

There's little more rewarding in politics than supporting local community campaigners, although this campaign will be a hard one to win when the First Minister is prepared to bend the truth in the name of forcing a road through. Our protest pointed out that this is an Inquiry where the decision has been taken to build the road no matter what, where all discussion has been prevented about the AWPR's effectiveness on traffic reduction, its economic, social and environmental impact, and about the alternatives available.

Salmond then went on the radio urging everyone to take part, as people always find this kind of Inquiry worthwhile, neglecting to address the fact that no-one I've spoken to has ever seen an Inquiry where the answer was known in advance. It's pure window-dressing (see above).

After our protest, Road Sense's QC pointed out a flaw in the Inquiry under European law. Because of the protected nature of at least one of the environments under threat, the Inquiry has to look at all the options, including not building the road. The Reporter will rule on this today, but the road's supporters should be urging him to back this line of argument, for two reasons.

First, if your road can meet the usual tests, the same ones the M74 failed, then make the case in public. Second, if the Inquiry continues on the current path then it will be obvious how any final decision by Ministers can be judicially reviewed. Do you really want that?

Hopefully I'll be able to keep updates coming here from my friends on the inside. P&J coverage is here and here, along with an absurd editorial here. Scotsman here.

Thanks to all who turned out at such an ungodly hour, including Ben, Daniel, Lindsay, Sarah, Sarah and Tom, who also posted on this, as follows. Love the title.

Update: the Reporter's decision is out. They ignored the legal concerns. No surprise there.

Eight years and four months.

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coolingtower.jpgApparently this is a good timescale to make the changes we need on climate change. It is, of course, better known as 100 months. I'm not convinced by arbitrary deadines, and am not sure what is so vital about January 2017. 

Also, how do you sign people up halfway through? Will the domain name count down? And one final complaint: it's not clear who's behind the site, except by reading the linked-to Guardian site. 

The answer is NEF, incidentally, who I've been fond of in the past.

Having got all that snark off my chest, I did sign up, and will report back on what their monthly activity recommendations are. If they're something more substantial than urging us to turn the taps off when we brush our teeth, which surely they must be, I'll be ready to take it all back and encourage you all to sign up.

Rights, camera, action

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A friend and fellow green activistamnesty.gif has just gone to Kenya to film part of a documentary for Amnesty about poverty and human rights, and she's blogging about it

I'm delighted to see Amnesty broadening its work, much as the traditional anti-torture, pro-rule of law, pro-freedom of speech stuff remains depressingly vital. I just gave them a tenner, and you can do the same or better here.

Double your No2ID money.

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Thumbnail image for harvieIDcards.jpg
How often do I quote Liberal blogs favourably? Pretty rarely. Here's one, though.

NO2ID is an excellent grassroots political campaign, building knowledge about the ID cards and the database behind them, which quickly translates to opposition. I'm pretty sure they're going to win, too.

So, on with the quote.

From 1st September 2008, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd has generously agreed to match, pound for pound, any *new* income that NO2ID receives. 

Which means that for every pound you give from 1st September NO2ID will receive TWO pounds to spend campaigning against the ID scheme and database state.

Please send your donation by cheque to the NO2ID office (please mark your envelope 'JRRT'):

The NO2ID Campaign
Box 412
19-21 Crawford Street
London W1H 1PJ

Or you can donate by credit card or via PayPal using the 'Donate' button on their website.

Maybe next time the Liberals won't abstain on ID at Holyrood too. We can hope.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Campaigns category from September 2008.

Campaigns: August 2008 is the previous archive.

Campaigns: December 2008 is the next archive.