Housing. Why are there so few affordable houses to buy or rent?

This is a direct result of Conservative policy.

They first said that local councils must allow their tenants to buy their houses at a below market price. Note that this privilege was not extended to private tenants!

Further, local councils were not allowed to build any more houses to replace the ones they had been forced to sell. As an example, Ipswich had owned 14,000 houses, they have been forced to sell about 6,500.   Of these 6,500, about half are no longer occupied by the original tenants. They either died or sold and moved elsewhere. So these houses are now private to rent houses. Thus, within Ipswich about 3000 affordable houses to rent have disappeared even though the population has grown greatly in the last 20 years.   And the losses are still continuing.

And you have to remember that when big estates like Chantry were built they were 100% affordable houses.   Now when the like of Persimmon or Bloor build small estates they argue and get the percentage of ‘affordable ones’ reduced to around 5%. And remember that Persimmon made a £66,00 profit on each house they built in their last financial year.

Article by SCGP Membership Secretary Eric Walker

Read more about Green Party housing policy here

affordable homes

 

Why is the welfare state disappearing?

BootsNurses-1

Two main reasons.

A/ Taxation as a percentage of company profits has been steadily reduced over the last 20 years.

B/ Wealthy companies and super rich individuals with the aid of smart lawyers, have found ways to avoid tax by using tax havens. Companies in the news such as Amazon and Facebook get the headlines but they are not the only ones. That well known British company ‘Boots the Chemists’, when owned by British shareholders paid annual tax of about £100 million.   But since bought by a private equity firm, they have paid almost no tax.

According to John Ralfe, Boots’ former head of corporate finance, “the UK has lost about £100m a year in tax as result”.[23]

<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boots_UK#cite_note-Guardian-23>

 post by Eric Walker, SCGP Membership Secretary

Read more on the Green Party’s economic policy

tax

 

Farmers and the EU subsidy

Farming is a major industry in our region. U.K farmers currently receive £3.5 billion each year in E.U. subsidies £80 an acre they farm.

Gove proposes that when this subsidy stops as we leave the E.U. he will year by year reduce the amount the farmers receive until by 2028 the subsidy has vanished. He also proposes to remove the tariff that food importers have to pay on food from non E.U. countries. Brexiteers such as Jacob Rees-Mogg often extol the ‘cheap food’ that will result from leaving the E.U.   Jacob is not really interested in the fate of our farmers.

His considerable wealth comes from his investments which, routed via tax havens are his main source of income.

post by Eric Walker, SCGP Membership Secretary

agrireport-300x231

Clash of interests at NHS

The Health Secretary has just set up new NHS department called NHSX, a unit for “digital transformation in the NHS” which will “ combine the best talent from government, NHS and industry”.

This should set off alarm bells.

New Labour tried something similar, inviting tech companies into the NHS only to waste £12 billion. Clashes of interest need to be avoided. Current signs are not good. Last November they set up the ‘Healthtech Advisory Board’. Who is on it? Nicola Blackwood who was a Health Minister in government until she lost her seat in the 2017 election. Now she works as ‘senior adviser’ to several commercial companies in the health field all anxious to get or keep nice contracts with the NHS. In spite of this work for these companies she now gets appointed to a government body which is to advise on future direction in this field.

post by Eric Walker, SCGP Membership Secretary

 

Review: ‘Torn From Home’ for Holocaust Memorial Day at the University of Suffolk 25th January

Rwanda, 1994. Evariste Kanamugire was a child when he came home to be met by a neighbour. ‘You must leave now.’ All of his family had been massacred. Telling  this story on Holocaust Memorial Day, Evariste paused as he struggled to keep his composure. The trauma of his story and his quiet determination to tell it, especially given that he had for a long time been unable even to speak, left the audience silent and struggling to articulate a response.

‘Torn From Home’ was brilliantly put together by Northgate High School, Ipswich Faith and Community Forum and the University of Suffolk,  along with several other groups and individuals. The contribution from Northgate, in particular, was highly commended by Holocaust educator and speaker Mike Levy as ‘outstanding.’ Their presentation of dance and poetry was compelling and a wonderful coming together of the school’s different departments.

Elizabeth Sugarman of the Suffolk Liberal Jewish Community was the first speaker on the programme. Her relatives were Dutch Jews. 70% of the Jewish population in Holland were murdered by the Nazi regime, the single biggest loss in Western Europe. One of Elizabeth’s relatives was Nanette Blitz Konig, who was taken to Westerbork with her family, before being sent to Bergen-Belsen. There, she met an old school friend, one Anne Frank. Unlike Anne, Nanette survived and after recovering from typhus travelled to Eindhoven, England and then, finally, to Brazil. She is still alive, and survived by several children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The Northgate students next interviewed Frank Bright, whose family moved from Berlin to Prague, hoping it would be safer. But the family were sent to Theresienstadt getto. The people already there, he recalled, were not friendly but jealous of the extra time that new arrivals had spent outside. He would soon feel the same emotion. Frank and his family were transported to Auschwitz.  ‘We didn’t know what Auschwitz meant,’ he said.
Alone of his family, Frank survived. ‘Being liberated did not mean living happily ever after.’ He was 17, on his own, with no education. He compared what schooling he had received before being sent to the ghetto, to child minding – after all, why educate Jewish children?

Frank’s response to the promise of ‘never again’ was stark. It’s wishful thinking, he said. Study the subject yourself, he advised, and don’t rely on hearsay.

Mike Levy, a Holocaust educator, expanded on the increasing build up to the Holocaust. He described the awful events of Kristallnacht, reminding us that this took place in a country where Jewish people made up only 1% of the population when Hitler came to power.

The audience was shown a Pathe news reel of children arriving on the Kindertransport on 2nd December 1938. Over 200  children arrived on the boat from Hook of Holland to Harwich, and were bussed to Dovercourt, then a Warners holiday camp. Some would have been told that their parents would follow which, of course, they never did. That winter was the coldest of the century and their hot water bottles froze in the unheated chalets. While most of the country and media welcomed the children, some newspapers hoped no more would come to ‘steal their jobs.’

Elsewhere in Suffolk, evidence of the Jewish children remains visible: on a farm building at Lodge Farm in Saxtead, for example, shalom – Hebrew for peace – is written in white paint. And fifteen children, he told the Ipswich audience, found homes in the town.
Mike also invited up Ann Chadwick, who was two when 5-year-old Suzie Spitzer arrived from Prague as her new foster sister.

Martin Simmonds of Suffolk Refugee Support, which helps refugees from countries like Eritrea, Sudan and Syria, told us that there are some 68.5 million people displaced globally – more than the UK population. He read out quotes from refugees about how they felt on leaving their countries. No one wanted to leave their homes. It is as if, one person said, part of the soul remains behind.

And so we heard how Evariste, the final speaker, has slowly learned to talk again, is married and has children, and completed his studies to be a social worker. He sleeps now, something he was unable to do for several years. But he has nightmares. And although he has refugee status, he is waiting to officially become a British citizen to feel truly at  home.

A shared act of Reflection and Commitment, and an exit to the haunting sound of Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus  played by Nick Parry and Nigel Tuffs – and composed by Olivier Messiaen in a Nazi Prisoner of War camp – was a suitably contemplative end to the event.

 

Review by Libby Ruffle
Contrubtions are welcome from all Suffolk Coastal Green Party members

Deep Adaptation – facing climate breakdown

As we struggle to respond to the IPCC report, here’s a summary of one dynamic perspective.

Professor Jem Bendell‘s premise is that climate breakdown and its threat to humanity is a given. Even if all governments and individuals take immediate, radical action, our lives are about to change by processes which have already been set in motion and which can’t be reversed.

Bendell explores why this message of imminent climate catastrophe isn’t more widely spread and accepted e.g. a paternal attitude from some scientists that ‘we know best’; a fear that we would inevitably feel hopeless and become apathetic.

He explores the possible range of psychological and emotional reactions people might feel when confronted with this uncomfortable truism, including denial. It is indeed an unprecented challenge to overcome what he calls ‘semi-censorship’ about our possible extinction. We feel the same difficulties responding to death. But, at the same time, our priorities and outlooks can be drastically changed confronting those events (this resonates with me after my dad’s horrific terminal illness).

Bendell comes up with a ‘Deep Adaption Agenda’  a ‘map’ of resilience, relinquishment and resources.

Resilience: what are the human values we want to preserve?

Relinquishment: what will we have to give up?

Resources: how can local communities, and governments, work together? (locally:  producing medicines, exchanging products and services; govt: wider support for increased movement of people, securing nuclear sites from collapse)

Could the three Rs be a useful model?

Faced with our demise, we might end up leaving our jobs; we’ll have to emark on our own research and learning. Accepting the inevitable breakdown while not falling into apathy is a powerful, albeit challenging, starting point as we come togther to fight climate breakdown.

Active Remembrance and Waging Peace Together

IMG_3462

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas gave this year’s Movement for the Abolition of War lecture at St John’s in Waterloo.

The theme was ‘Active Remembrance and Waging Peace Together.’

In this centenary of the WW1 Armistice, she reminded us of the importance of remembering actively and informing ourselves, rather than a passive remembrance. Passive remembrance, she warned us, can lead to an airbrushing of war’s realities, so that we become less likely to rise up and prevent it.

Europe and peace

Caroline’s focus for much of the talk was the part the European Union has played in maintaining peace in Europe since WW2, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. She did not gloss over its failures, like its hostility to refugees and supporting NGOs, and its punishment of Greece, also pointing out that Greece had itself forgiven Germany’s debts after the 39-45 war.

All this is true, she said, and yet…

While we mustn’t forget the negatives, we must never lost sight of  the positives. Caroline recalled her time working as an MEP, appreciating the courage, ambition and vision of the Parliament. Anything so ambitious, she said, will be imperfect. It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

So what we can do?

We need to strengthen our narrative of hope and reach out.

How many Remainers are reaching out to Leavers? She reminded us of the truth that climate breakdown, the refugee crisis and gross inequality are better solved together.

A takeaway action she gave us is to talk about these benefits of EU membership; talk about the People’s Vote; reach out to the Leavers. We can all, she said, be a better version of ourselves. No one is all good or all bad.

 Sharing

Sharing reality is something we need to do more of. Terrorism and repression feed off each other in a continuous cycle. As Remembrance Day approaches, Caroline’s comment that weapons can move freely and go anywhere, but that refugees are vilified, and compassion chased out of town, was particularly sobering.

We don’t have the moral high ground over, say, North Korea. 120 states support the nuclear ban treaty – the UK is not among them. Rather than more WMDs, we should focus instead on crime, terrorism, cyber warfare and endemics. Even the Pentagon recognises the threats of climate change and conflict.

But we can protest and mobilise to ask our government to get on board too. Remember what we have achieved. She reminded us of history’s positive moments: the aversion of full-scale war between India and Pakistan; Harold Wilson’s refusal to send troops to Vietnam; the banning of biological and chemical weapons and landmines.

Remember, learn, make a difference

Caroline pointed out that we are the first generation to know what we’re doing to the planet, and  the last to be able to do something about it. To feed our lifestyles, we’ve stolen from the future, and from other countries. Despite the IPCC special report, and the WWF species extinction warning, the government has gone ahead with fracking.

Even her resolve to find hope was tested, conceded Caroline.

But then she reminded us that Spain is going to close its coal mines and instead invest money into early retirement, training for the young and reskilling. In the past, the Lucas Plan made a similar transition.

The important thing is to unite our campaigns. The Stansted 15, food banks, fracking… at the heart of all these different groups is the question of how we live on our planet. We need to reflect on who we are and the world we want to build; we need to talk about sufficiency, not efficiency. A total and rapid reversal is needed.

In the 12 years we have, the global economy is set to triple. This calls for changing the logic: less disposable and more mendable consumerism; more sharing; usership not ownership. She talked about other principles, too, from contraction and convergence; ato a GCSE in Natural HistoryCould we, she asked, come up with our own Citizens’ National Security Strategy which addresses climate breakdown? Could we come up with a new Lucas Plan, with a conversation about energy at its heart?

We should not sacrifice our principles, but build on our strengths. She name checked pinoeers like Bruce Kent, in the audience, Paul Rodgers and Deborah Johnson.

Is hope naïve, or something strong? She quoted Rebecca Solnit: hope is not a lottery ticket you sit on the sofa and clutch, but a force that shoves you out of the door. To hope is to give yourself to the future.

IMG_3460

Article by Libby Ruffle