Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Petition · Keep Fracking away from our College! · Change.org

Petition · Keep Fracking away from our College! · Change.org

Fracking Students

Sharing this OPEN LETTER from Lisa Bower who was at the helm of Blackpool & Fylde College - Students' Union until this year - in response to announcement today regarding new status as FRACKING COLLEGE:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Last year at Blackpool & the Fylde College SU, our focus was to create a Students’ Union that was relevant to our local area; addressing student concerns and promoting involvement within the community. We had a very successful year doing this through environmental and sustainable activities as well as charity work. Throughout the year, we also questioned the college about any involvement with Cuadrilla, the position taken on fracking and if any funds were received. The Students’ Union would not take a stance until it felt that the student body had all relevant information - a stance that left me open to a witch hunt for a short while.

We were assured that no stance for, or against fracking had been taken at that point. It was clearly a topical issue and it was expressed that the student body did not really understand all of the issues on either side and that many were fearful to express an opinion at all.

A fracking debate was then to be held at the college, arranged by the 14-19 Directorate, for students to attend. As I understand it, Cuadrilla refused to enter into the debate if Tina Rothery (local anti-fracking campaigner) was present. This was disconcerting, as Tina has represented the movement as an expert activist in the House of Lords and would therefore, along with relevant industry experts, have been ideal opposite Cuadrilla’s own industry experts. She agreed to stay away from the debate in order that it at least proceed. In the end, the debate never took place.

It is with this in mind, the news of B&FC becoming a “national fracking college” has disturbed me deeply and I feel the flux of emails that have already started to reach the Students’ Union is only the beginning. It beggars belief that whilst Fylde Council voted against Cuadrilla planning proposals for sites and Lancashire postponed decisions, requiring more information the College would not. The Councils are listening to the community outcries and responding, albeit slowly. To then transform the focus of a main educational establishment to a process that may hold risk for the local environment, without consulting communities or even the students and staff who have real future investment locally, is disgusting when you consider that the College is publicly funded and should firstly answer to the local public and not to the gilt purse strings waved in its direction.

The energy industry is important, and having a wide range of engineering skills that can support traditional fossil fuel processes as well as the development of renewable sources is central to that industry. But fracking is a questionable process at best - surely the fact that it threatens our most basic need, water, should be enough to pause any commitment to this industry while proper discussion takes place.

The College promotes partnership, an agreement between the institution and its students and because the new HE President isn’t currently in post, I feel the need to speak up. I want to ask B&FC a favour in the spirit of critical partnership and friendship: I feel I have the right after working voluntarily last year to ensure a genuine partnership was being established. I am begging the College to not forget its end of the deal. To not pursue this route any further until information has been freely shared and students and the local community have been able to participate in a dialogue. Please don't forget the reason you exist - it is to educate students to make positive contributions once they leave education. How positive will that contribution be if that education results in the poisoning of the local area, in illness caused by contamination of our water supplies and the degradation of our local geological infrastructures.

Lisa Kelly

Former B&FC Students' Union Higher Education President, 2013/14



Sunday, 2 November 2014

Murmurings...and changes

Life is about to undergo some pretty hefty changes... leave the job at the hotel at the end of November and headed towards 'hustings' to see if I might run as an MP for the Green Party. It's all a bit like free-falling as there are no clear signposts at this stage.. still, not like I haven't been here before (staying still is rare) so not overly vexed.

The other aspect of my life (activism) stays stable as long as the situation we live in, doesn't - so the seeking to prevent fracking and claw back democracy will remain the priority regardless.

Thinking I'll get back into the world of communications and hoping I can craft it to be freelance enough to feed me whilst providing enough flexibility and free time to fit in the activism and (perhaps) politics.

This week I was told a poem I had written had come second in the Pendle War Poetry 2014 competition and would be included in an Anthology - which is lovely, I get so little time for writing it at the moment. The entry was called Not in my Name and is at the end of this post. Which brings me to this that resulted from the competition...

 This link ...is to Murmurings - a little collection of poems I've written since 2004 that is available as a PDF download - although I have offered the opportunity for purchase (nourishing my dwindling income) - I am more than happy to provide it free. I bypassed go-between sites for publishing and selling and stubbornly found the ingredients to attach the thing to my Blog - which made me aware that I could do with some technical and graphics skills - it all took so long!! Expect imperfection and you won't be disappointed.


click here to order



NOT IN MY NAME...
Threats never uttered are whispered verbatim,
creating fear of a hypothetical invasion,
as media strings play methodical hype,
orchestrating the public, to conform to type.

Spoon fed with fear on news laden,
heaped with visual connotations,
of danger lurking at our doors,
of certain death for those who ignore,
the hypothesis laid down as fact,
the incessant chitter, incessant chat,
gets us addicted to leader's projection,
junkies now for his brand of protection.

Dependent and needy,
craving, hungry, greedy.
Surrounded by blue teeth grinning barbarity,
sneering, seething images of vulgarity.

So our boys are pushed up to the wire,
shot with propoganda so they will not tire,
of protecting their families at home,
from evil doers looking to dethrone,
the powers that watch over us…
…the nervous dependent populous.

We must be saved from the supposed threat.
We must invade the terrorist nest.
We must kill the alien foe.
We must,
we must,
we must overthrow.

But first we must trust the source of the truths,
before we feed the war, any more youths.
Before the troops, lose one more brave soul.
Before the powers, reach any more goals.
Before Libya and Syria,
Iran and North Korea,
fall foul of our leaders' dictates of behaviour -
refuse to appreciate us as their savior.

Before we beat them into submission,
maybe we could establish just whose permission,
was granted before we shed so much blood,
before a trickle was blasted into a flood.

Before the next purple-tipped finger is crushed,
we must realise that "we the people" have been hushed,
for too long now, kept in our place,
as fellow humans are easily erased,
by bold leaders brandishing our names,
claiming we desired all of this shame.


Not in my name, not in my name, not in my name.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Press Release FROM: Occupy Democracy

The following is a press release put out today by Occupy Democracy - Parliament Square:

..............................................................................................................................................
Email:  occupylsx@gmail.com
Twitter: #occupydemocracy / @occupydemocracy / @occupylondon
Web: www.occupydemocracy.org.uk
NB. Photographs, videos and film available


#occupydemocracy New Movement for Real Democracy Discusses Solutions and Strategy as 9-day Occupation of Parliament Square Enters Final Weekend

  • Peaceful pro-democracy campaign continues to build despite over-policing and arrests
  • Great photo opportunities in front of the Houses of Parliament
  • Great speakers available for interview

The 9-day occupation of Parliament Square by peaceful pro-democracy protesters enters its final weekend with a packed two-day programme of speakers and discussions. The aim of the debates is to agree specific objectives and a strategy for escalating the campaign.

Numbers have grown over the course of the occupation despite up to 40 arrests and a massively disproportionate - and at times unnecessarily violent - policing operation for what, after all, is a peaceful pro-democracy protest.

Speakers this weekend include:
  • Michael Meacher MP (Labour Party) on "The State We Need"
  • Donnachadh McCarthy (whistle-blowing Liberal Democrat and author of newly published The Prostitute State) on "Why We Need A 21st Century Reform Act"
  • Sarah Allan (constitutional convention campaigner) on "Why we Need a People's Constitutional Convention" and 
  • Jolyon Rubinstein (presenter of BBC3's "The Revolution Will Be Televised") on "Why We Need a Magna Carter 2.0"

Occupier John Sinha said: "This weekend is dedicated to an open democratic process where we will decide what we want and how we move forward with our movement for real democracy. Our central message - that the authorities have tried to crush - is that our democracy is not working for the 99% and is in need of urgent radical reform."

The debates this week have attracted celebrities like Russell Brand, Ken Loach and Vivienne Westwood as well as speakers from many supporting civil society groups including Friends of the Earth, UK Uncut, World Development Movement, War on Want, Fuel Poverty Action, Disabled People Against the Cuts, Defend the Right to Protest, Stop the War, Left Unity, OurNHS, Stroud Against the Cuts, New Economics Foundation, Robin Hood Tax, Green New Deal Group, Save Lewisham Hospital and One Million Climate Jobs.

Occupier George Barda said:

"There are clear messages that unite this movement. First we need a Real Democracy, rather than the sham politics of powerful undemocratic economic interests that fund all the major parties. Second, there is an alternative. We need a massive ecological investment programme that revitalises local economies and restores vibrant communities. This will only happen if more of us remember our power as citizens, and organise to transform the national conversation, so we can elect real representatives that could offer real alternatives to the gush-up of money and political power, and an unstable unsustainable economy built on bubbles. Join us."

Quotes from speakers throughout the week:

Natalie Bennett (Green Party) noted that we haven't seen any improvement in democracy for 100 years:

"The last real reform was in 1918, which was women getting the vote. What we're calling for is a People's Constitutional Convention where people from across Britain draw up a new constitution for Britain."

John McDonnell MP (Labour Party) said: 

"People are waking up to the fact that we are not living in a democracy but a kleptocracy. Corporations and rich individuals use their power, their influence and the state to steal from us. Since 2008 people who are rich and the corporations have used the crisis not just to ensure that ordinary people pay for it, but also to shift wealth and power back into their own hands."

Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party) said that the attitude of MPs when it came to serious issues was sometimes "childish, ridiculous and irresponsible":

"We have a crisis in our democracy. The fact that serious issues like the climate crisis or alternatives to austerity aren't being debated over there [in Parliament] I think is a shame on the whole political system. We have an electoral system that is precisely designed to keep out alternative voices and to make sure that essentially the big parties have a cartel and a monopoly over poltical debate. We need a fairer voting system and a genuine system of recall for MPs."

Asad Rehman (Friends of the Earth) noted how David Cameron was representing the interests of corporations' interests rather than the public interest in the negotiations over the EU climate and energy package this week:

"They force people with disablilities to go through humiliating tests to decide if they can get benefits yet they have no problem handing out millions to big oil and fracking companies."

Melanie Strickland (Occupy Law) outlined how our legal system routinely gives more rights to corporations than to citizens: 

"Corporate interests are so embedded into the structure of law that private property interests routinely override fundamental rights, like the right to a healthy environment. The law  legitimises the exploitation of our planet and communities, and permits corporations to pollute our bodies. We cannot say no to fracking, no to GM food, no to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, no to NHS privatisation, or to other abuses. The State has no legitimate authority to permit others to carry out such abuses, nor itself to trade away our fundamental rights as citizens."

John Hilary (Executive Director, War on Want) argued that we must replace unrestrained capitalism with popular sovereignty, common ownership and social production:

"Popular sovereignty means reclaiming and restoring democracy at its roots. You can look to the examples of countries like Iceland or Tunisia or Equador or Bolivia, which have completely re-written constitutions in order to be able to give the people’s aspirations top billing. You can also see it in countries like Venezuala where they have local municipal committees, workplace committees, bringing people in to the democratic space and building from the grassroots. You can see it in the economic policies of restoring power to cooperatives and other collective engagements of people, so that they take control of the economic space as well as the political space."

Friday, 24 October 2014

#OccupyDemocracy

Was there for the first 30 hours ...and just spent the past 32 hours with inspiring people in Parliament Square - each and every one an honour to know.
‪#‎OccupyDemocracy‬ - a 9-day occupation opposite our Houses of Parliament, brought together determined people active on a range of issues. Due to laws/byLaws/indignant officials using the police as tools to tidy away dissent - banning tents, sleeping bags, sleeping equipment, tarpaulin, guitars, megaphones, dosing and any comforts - this was never going to be a replica of Occupy London in 2011 - this is no-frills Occupy where sleeping is only permitted if in maximum discomfort and no rule makes any sense or seems based on any reason.
We each choose to Occupy for our own reasons and they are as diverse as we are – BUT what unites us is the realisation that each and every reason is a ‘symptom’ of a diseased system of ‘democracy’ and so we stand together against the cause.
My reasons are many...
...to insist on access to our democratic process in order to be part of the decisions on whether our NHS remains public, on whether tax havens are good for our economy, on whether extreme energy techniques like fracking/CSG etc are what we want powering us and the future, on whether education should be free, if wars are the way to solve international issues, if it was ever prudent to bail-out banks and if there is such a thing as a 'the-people-bail-out", what benefit over the long-term is derived from privatisation of services and how can we ensure that the people who live in this country, are HEARD and responded to on issues - not just every-5-year-box-ticking (from a miniscule and unworthy list of choices).
It has been exhausting BUT very sobering too when you realise that for all the discomfort (and it is pretty extreme) - most of us knew we could come home to beds... and too many don't have that option; enduring this nightly on the streets. This too is a very tragic symptom of the sickness at the heart of our government. I don't know anyone who doesn't want others to be warm, safe and fed - yet our government (acting FOR us) is content to spend on any number of vile, self-serving, profit-driven, risky ventures - yet sees fit to claw back money from those most in need by making access to justice, financially impossible, removing benefits that might have afforded some dignity and peace-of-mind.
Peace of mind... we need this x


*To ALL the incredible Livestreamers keeping the independent coverage going when mainstream ignore us, the online sharers who propel awareness, the key minds and creators of the Occupy Democracy and very much to those who will not sleep well tonight at Parliament Square because they give a damn, thank you

Sunday, 12 October 2014

#OccupyDemocracy – Occupy Parliament Square

Event details here: Democracy Action – Occupy Parliament Square

This week... many of us who feel that this 'democracy' is not behaving remotely like one, will unite in London for Occupy Democracy- Parliament Square.
Like symptoms of a vile disease that eats fairness, the list of wrongs to oppose is growing dangerously long:

- fracking and other unconventional energy techniques that put us at risk
- the privatisation of our essential services like the NHS
- the injustice of huge bank bailouts that require austerity to cover them
- the powerful influence of lobbyists and corporate interest over OUR system of government
- the tolerance of tax avoidance when it's big business but absurd penalties and intolerance when it's small
- the blatantly obvious self-interest of those who hold public office but use it for private gain
- the market system that makes financial considerations paramount and tolerates effects like fuel poverty, as mere collateral damage
- the aggressive response to incidents that takes us to war, bypasses diplomacy and make us vulnerable to the reactions of those we attack
- the spin and manipulation of news about all of the above in order to make it so convoluted and confusing, that most are excluded from the truth...
...the disease is in the organ at the heart of our country and it has turned our democracy into a facade that is rotted on the inside. Time to let it know WE are the cure.

The late Tony Benn had five questions of power:

1. What power do you have?
2. Where did you get it from?
3. To whom are you accountable?
4. In whose interest do you exercise it?
5. How can we get rid of you?

Together we are powerful






Videos:


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Law vs Justice

For the past three years I have often been made to feel like I am a criminal; made to feel that my actions cause fear and that I am not entitled to justice because I made the decision to stop being taken through life according to some warped agenda I have no agreement with... and got active about it.

Because I care about the health and well-being of children, I would not choose energy techniques that take risks with the essentials for their lives - air and water. Therefore I protest and along with lots of others, work really hard to raise awareness about dangerous industries like unconventional energy, in order that we protect the things that matter.

That regular, everyday residents are having to do this 
...is ludicrous in itself. 

There don't appear to be genuine safeguards - just lobbyists with power/influence/money and a compliant system designed to let them have their way for the sake of 'the economy'. What about the sake of 'the community'? Who in office is genuinely looking out for our well-being as human beings?

Tomorrow the Nanas will be in court for part 2 of an action being taken against us and others who occupied a field. We did this primarily to alert the local community of their proximity to the proposed shale gas site and to raise awareness of the processes and risks involved. For the sake of proceedings, the case names me as the Defendant (a name was needed for the case to proceed WITH our involvement) and the landowner - with a lot of help, financing and encouragement from fracking company Cuadrilla - as the Claimant.

I have never been in this situation before and for a while, I have been a bit scared really; courts and law are serious matters and so much about the process is far beyond my knowledge and understanding. I am having to rely on a legal team I barely know (although their record is good and they seem to have good intent) and more than anything - the warm support by those glorious others also striving to stop fracking from proceeding in the UK.

I say 'have been' scared and I suppose I'm still a bit uncomfortable - but as time is passing and the time is drawing near, I am more determined and angry now. How dare this situation even exist - that a grandmother fulfilling her obligation to care for the generations she has produced, has had to battle her government, the energy industry, Councillors, police, heavily-financed PR/Marketing campaigns and all other manner of obstacles - simply because I have deep concerns about the safety of the air my granddaughter breathes and the water she drinks.

Wading through swathes of manipulated words in witness statements by Cuadrilla-financed individuals who know exactly what they are doing and how to take 'justice' and apply it for profit and example... I conclude that I can't play this game. I don't want to negotiate my way out of anything, I don't care to get off with the least harm and I will not say things just to make it so.

So what's the worst that can happen in court anyway... is it as bad as undrinkable water and air that harms your health? Can it possibly be as bad as a community suffering under the onslaught of this loud, smelly, lit-up, dangerous, intensive industry that is fracking?

No.

They just want to stop residents showing opposition to fracking by making it clear that they have more money, more power and more influence and will use it to sue for tens of thousands I don't have. But money is not a drinkable, breathable thing I can bequeath to future generations - they can have everything I haven't got and then some - I'm saving a future not an income.

“We hope the court will extend the interim injunction against illegal trespass on local farmland. We hope that this action will prevent any recurrence.” Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s CEO


They also want to stop residents acting to stop the industry from drilling into our communities by making it clear that they have more money, more power and more influence and will use it to have injunctions put in place that prevent anyone acting to prevent their progress. But sites where fracking is planned are places that are part of where we live, our community - and protecting the environment we live in matters more than a ruling that pretends justice - but really only gives it to the few and applies limitations to the many.

The coach starts its journey in Fleetwood at 7:30am tomorrow, picking up here at 8 and then on to Manchester - all seats will be occupied by people I admire, respect and love - so the journey as honourable Nanas will be a joy. Others from this amazing community of activists from all over the place will be at the court too and this means so much more than anyone can imagine... time is the most precious thing we have and it is not easy to make space in an anti-fracking diary! Online too has been so very uplifting as people share the event, post words of support, reveal their understanding and I know... are thinking of us during the case.

Whatever the outcome tomorrow - it can't possibly stop those who know the risks of fracking, from continuing to do everything in their power to ensure it doesn't happen in ANY back yard.

Whatever the outcome tomorrow - it can't possibly take anything from the beautiful unity, determination and optimism we've been gifted in our roles as Nanas, Protectors, Activists, Residents...

Whatever the outcome tomorrow - I'm going home on a coach full of loveliness and that's a joy I wouldn't have any other way.