Monday, 22 May 2017

This & That...

Had a strong sense yesterday of the ‘gloom’ in politics; I get to constantly contrast this world of political campaigning with the abundance of genuine concern I find in the anti-fracking campaign and some days, it is more stark. 

Compare & Contrast Arenas

In the anti-fracking movement 
…each person has walked away from their own lives to sacrifice time and so much more, to fight urgently and un-stoppably for what has to be done to safeguard the future for our children. That’s it – plain, clear, apparent and evident in every determined face and action. We do have our ups and downs but they always pass and we’re always still here and growing – no exit door from obligation.

In the election campaign
…I am encountering former or aspiring MPs from the various parties and more often than not, come away with more concerns than I started with. Despite the promises in manifestos and campaign material… there are few with the ACTUAL passion, determination, moral conviction or vision required to see them through to actual reality.

Within the anti-fracking movement we have cracks, fissures and eruptions – but we still shoot for the same goal together because it actually matters that we meet our obligation and responsibility to the children and the future. Not the same in the world of politics.


From fighting fracking alongside the ‘good people’ (the most inspirational, uplifting people to be amongst) and absorbing factual and clear reports and research …to running in the general election that brings with it the insincerity, lies, manipulation and recklessness that consumes much of what parades as politics – I’m more convinced than ever that we need to get the ‘good people’ into the other arenas.

Since 2011, the gates to fracking sites have been my stomping ground as well as the streets of cities and towns across the country; where we marched to be heard by a government that never listened. I’m committed by obligation as a grandmother to ensuring a safe future and it’s because of this (due to the absence of a duty of care in government) that my life has become that of an ‘Activist’.

In 2015 I took the opportunity offered by the Green Party, to stand against George Osborne in the election – a super-safe Conservative seat but this wasn’t about the challenge – it was for me, about meeting the man who was pivotal in bringing fracking to our shores and having two debates in which to confront him. Small gains you may think, for a commitment of months of my life but for me, it was worth it. I want to understand how the system works, how it is that clear threats to the health of our children, can actually be considered by politicians who have families too.

And it’s not just fracking – although it’s a good example of much that is wrong, all under one-subject heading – but I am deeply concerned about over-crowded, under-funded education, healthcare that is drained, exhausted, under-nourished and being nibbled away at by privatisation, what happens when we’re old and frail, whether ‘justice’ survives the current ‘justice system’ that excludes so many based on their financial situation, what trade deals we make and with who, how decisions to put our young people into wars without an honourable cause are agreed and how is it that so many politicians in positions of influence and power, can be deluded, corrupted, evil or just plain stupid on these matters.

Right now I am running in this election too. Poltics matters as an ‘arena’ to be in, as much as the entrance to a frack site, the unwanted, unwise runway of an airport or surrounding a cruel, inhumane detention centre etc. – arenas to be entered where the alarm needs to be raised and truths need to be given the opportunity to be heard above the manipulation and spin. The gain in this arena is the access to those who need to be held to account and to the industries that wield power over them.

There isn’t a living thing on the planet that isn’t under threat from the actions of governments across the world that put corporate greed above genuine need. Here in the UK we are facing a threat that is so close we can hear its foot on the accelerator – fracking - and that’s just the tip of a mighty iceberg that we realise exists; now that we see the system failing our children so blatantly and realise what it serves. It doesn’t serve the people of the country, it serves old industries and entrenched businesses to ensure they are sustained, supported and nurtured. Everything is measured against the benefits of their success in our economy – even the right to life of our children? Values and responsibilities are unheard and unheeded in the rigidity of growing in the same old direction, using the same old, time-worn tools.

There ARE better ways and such amazing futures on offer that would cause our economy, job industry and so much more to flourish – but like the threat to the establishment of truth in activist voices, the technologies and businesses that would bring better, also go unheard and unheeded. The localisation of power offered by renewables, the long-term jobs that come with renewables, the individual savings caused by renewables, the health benefits gifted by renewables - are seen as a threat to the grip on power of the existing fossilised, centralised industry and politics of the same-old…

Activism is sadly essential when a democracy fails to be one. We in the anti-fracking movement are acting in self-defence and we are unsupported.

In the political arena – we need to remain vigilant because the motives are not the same as they are for the ‘good people’ in activism. 

Who Sounds the Alarm?

Whether or not I was running in this election... I would write these words as an anti-fracking activist:

Since the very start, the ONLY party in Westminster that sounded the alarm and stood on the front lines to oppose this threat to our country... has been the Green Party of England and Wales.

NOW ...finally joined by the Liberal Democrats and under Jeremy CorbynThe Labour Party too in calling for a ban on fracking.

The Greens have lead the way with wisdom and honesty and although new leaders bring new promises - caution is essential. With a strong Green vote where it CAN matter most, we WILL have more Green MPs in Westminster.

More Green MPs to hold the other parties to account, to challenge their broken promises and history of harm and importantly, just as Caroline Lucas has done since day one... to continue to sound the alarms we NEED to hear.

Monday, 15 May 2017

The application of ‘implied inevitability’

I see it accepted that politicians lie, get away with fraud and are not subject to the laws that are used on citizens – their actions only lighty contested and any idea of success at stopping this, laughably ridiculed. We joke about ‘trusting a politician’ – wtf though, we put our money in the hands of government and in doing so have this contract in our heads that goes something like a conversation with a partner you entrust with the household budget when handing over our share:
“Right so make sure you’ve got enough in for meals, sorted the care arrangements for granddad, have enough change for kids’ bus fares to school, get the lock on the front door fixed, pay for your prescription, put some money aside for bills and  if there’s any change, pop in the ‘in case of emergency’ pot… hey and maybe we could use some of the change to get those solar panels we’ve talked about, will save us money."

Instead, we watch as our governments act like the reckless partner who on pay day nips out to the pub, has a pint too many, lends his most unreliable mate some cash (even though he knows this will not come back but he wants to look like the big boy), has another pint and decides the neighbours look shifty, staggers home, half-builds a big fence to keep them out and spends the rest on a gun (in my head I see George Bush & Tony Blair but there are many individuals and mate-pairings that would equally spring to mind in this scenario – Maggie & Ronald etc)…

Ok perhaps extreme but we bailed out banks ffs – we bailed out banks! We didn’t bail out the things that actually matter to people - healthcare, education, energy. Nope, we bailed out banks and then because the government used our taxes to do that – we were forced into austerity because it’s not good to be in debt and somehow we still owed lots of money …to banks?! The most sickening part of this is probably the deaths of unwell and disabled people for whom the cuts to benefits and services was the final straw. There are of course long-term costs too that will impact in stages as we experience the loss of services due to cuts: fewer fire stations, under-funded hospitals, fewer teachers leading to increased class sizes leading to children who are not given the best start in life, isolation and loss of community that comes with closure of libraries, post offices and bus services, increased tension and the need for bigger walls as our stance on defence looks threatening.

We get to vote to change the players and the parties – even sometimes to change the voting system for something equally undemocratic …but this is piece-meal and simply rearranging outdated, unsuitable, damaged goods over and over. Most rational adults I know (and even wiser children) don’t believe our system of government will stand up to the demands of corporate and industry backers even when what they insist on doing – actually risks harming our children. Writing that sentence, leaves me muted for a moment (never lasts long) That this system of government is not only tolerated but that there is even humour in the ‘never trust a politician’ line is I think based on an almost comforting familiarity – it’s always been this way.

John Ashton (in government roles for 30 years and hugely important voice for anti-fracking now) helped me to understand this reality when I was explaining that after every information event we did about fracking in towns across the country; by the end most of the room had recognised the clear risks to their families and went on to act in some way to find out more or to stop it. There was though in nearly every venue regardless of where in the country it was, a few who would come up at the end and say:
“You’re probably right but it’s going to happen anyway”.  

I couldn’t work out what it was that caused this reaction, this impotent response that showed easy defeat, a willingness to accept that governments play Russian roulette with our lives.

John smiled knowingly and said:
“Ahhh that’ll be the ‘implied inevitability’ – some believe that if the government has made its mind up, they can’t do anything to change it… and the government knows and relies on this.”

At a meeting, one older gentleman who said the “it’s going to happen anyway” line and smiled condescendingly at what he perceived as my futile efforts to prevent a provably dangerous industry from progressing further, caused me to want to shout “spineless coward” … but that’s unfair and judgemental; just caused by the deep worry I have about where this ends up if the ‘implied inevitability’ succeeds in eventually damping us all down to completely-ineffective.

Why rise up, why challenge, why strive for better – when you accept that you have no power, no voice, no chance to affect change?  Look at what happened at Lancashire County Council (LCC)… it couldn’t be a clearer example of the deliberate infusion of ‘implied inevitability’ into not just our region but all communities…

LCC spent 18 months, countless Councillor and staff hours and tens of thousands of £s during the period where they examined shale gas company Cuadrilla’s planning applications for Preston New Road and Roseacre. They concluded NO to planning and as a community – we rejoiced that our Councillors reflected what so many of us had hoped for. There was a scent of democracy in the air in the summer of 2015 on a road in Preston.

Then came the appeal by Cuadrilla at the Blackpool Football Club and despite four legal teams defending the LCC decision and just one clearly flawed team opposing… despite reams of testimony by experts, countless peer reviewed studies referenced and enough evidence to fill a wall of the appeal room as well as days of community testimonies, a decision was made in Westminster and announced by and MP from Kent that the government felt the issue of national importance and would make a new decision for us. Cuadrilla was given the go ahead and our Council’s NO to planning, overturned. There remains an overwhelming stench of dictatorship in the stifled air at a growing frack site on Preston New Road.

THAT’S how ‘implied inevitability’ works… now every council in our country upon receiving a planning application for shale gas sites will ask if there is any point in doing much more than waving it through. Councils are underfunded and impacted hugely by austerity (as we each are) and are vulnerable because they cannot afford to defend themselves if their decision is not what the government wants to hear. And so it seems ‘inevitable’ that Councils will have to wave through applications – because what point in spending all that time and money when you don’t really have any say at all in the end?

The government got drunk again and decided that our neighbours needed sorting out,  though we had frequently gone round to their house to eat, drink and enjoy what they have... we didn’t want them coming to take our food and drink and comfortable sun loungers… so all in our household were told lies – we were told that while the neighbours were visiting they cost us lots of money that we would definitely otherwise have spent on those solar panels afterall and we’ll be much happier and wealthier if we stop sharing… even though we won’t be shared with either anymore. 

A snazzy  ‘Brexit’ was sold to us on the side of lying buses and we were forced to make decisions based on incomplete information and out and out BS… just saying the words “But you decided so that’s that – it’s democracy” – does not make it so. If I was offered a choice of kettles A or B but later found out that they were actually toasters – I wouldn’t expect to hear: “But you chose kettle A and rejected kettle B – you made your choice now live with it”. I’m not asking for a re-run of the referendum – I just want a real one. The Green Party is calling for our participation in the ‘Brexit Deal’ when it comes – a chance to indeed have a say in whether we accept it or not and it is hoped this will be supported by others in parliament.

So we enter into this mad dash toward another box-ticking exercise of an election that ‘implied inevitability’ and historic fact tells us will end red or blue. We have this awful First Past the Post (FPtP) voting system that pretty much ensures a 2-horse race every time and although I find the leader of the red team better this time round – neither of the two major parties want to change the voting system so that it more accurately reflects the broader colours of a diverse country. I’d like Jeremy a whole lot more if he addressed this – because otherwise it just looks like the ability to be one of the horses in the 2-horse race, matters more than getting true representation and fairness into our system of government.

 Here on the ground though there is a sweet aroma of co-operation and hope… agreement that the one thing we need is for the country not to go blue this time, is permeating amongst the many...
only 24% of voting-age citizens actually chose blue last time – that’s how warped this system is… 76% said NO to Conservative government but there they are, milling about and inflicting their harms on us anyway

In 27 seats, the Green Party has stood aside to achieve the unseating of Conservative MPs, Liberal Democrats and Independents too have done the same. In many places where the red team historically has no hope of winning… then other shades can challenge and use the platform to bring different views and ways. There are ‘issue candidates’ like the doctor standing against Conservative Jeremy Hunt (health secretary who made lots of people sick) and I am standing against a weak MP who claims to care about the risks of fracking but helps bring it to our doorstep anyway. For us it isn’t just one issue though – it’s the system and party that makes the issues reality.  A vote for a doctor or an anti-fracking campaigner is a clear signal of what a vote means.

‘Inevitably’ because the FPtP voting system doesn’t represent the many, the best we can hope for is to wake on 9 June 2018 and have got rid of the blue team… which means a Labour government and that would have been almost as bad under former Leaders – but there is Jeremy Corbyn and his small team of what sounds like wise voices. The blues have only a tiny minority so I am hopeful – but what matters here too is the bigger picture and in areas where no red has ever or will ever win, please vote for what will either unseat the blue or introduce another colour.

I’d like to see MPs from other parties making it through so we can begin to dilute the harsh red/blue hues and see little changes that could make big differences. Caroline Lucas is admired by people for finally getting major issues into parliament and respected by people from all parties for her skills as a politician (her key skills I think are in adding humanity and sense to the role and showing no clear bias to anything other than making choices that prevent the worst and aim for better for the way we live our lives and the way our environment supports us) – we need more of this.
Why vote for me? 

I find the question uncomfortable as it requires what feels like bragging – it’s not me I want you to vote for as a person, it’s me the Green Party way, it’s me the frustrated and determined anti-fracker that wants your vote. It is NOT inevitable that a ‘vote for Greens is wasted’ – Caroline is testimony to that along with exemplary Green Councillors (Gina Dowding must be the hardest working and most dedicated I have ever met) who just increased their numbers in local elections. Young people need more Green Party representatives because they’ll be around a lot longer to experience whatever the next governments throw at us. 

The Green Party has since its start – stood firm about our guardianship of the environment for generations to come and (amidst ridicule) insisted that the trees actually do matter, that air and water cannot be risked, that decent farming techniques that nurture the growing land and quality of the food we eat – are not to be trifled with and that above all, people and the natural resources that literally keep our species alive – come above and beyond money. There’s a whole lot more wisdom here in this party I am so honoured to be a part of – from the way our conferences actually give me a say in policies, to the kindness of policies that actually care for how our healthcare is supported, our schools fully funded and in these policies is sound economic sense – a healthy, educated population is worth so much more than money but does improve the economy and not drain it.

When I first joined in 2013 – I deliberately thought out my own policies before reading what was offered in the manifesto… in each case, the Green Party echoed my own insistences and the 10 principles is a good way to sum them up:

The Green Party isn't just another political party. Green politics is a new and radical kind of politics guided by these ten core principles:

  1. The Green Party is a party of social and environmental justice, which supports a radical transformation of society for the benefit of all, and for the planet as a whole. We understand that the threats to economic, social and environmental wellbeing are part of the same problem, and recognise that solving one of these crises cannot be achieved without solving the others.
  2. Humankind depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence. We do not believe that other species are expendable.
  3. The Earth's physical resources are finite. We threaten our future if we try to live beyond those means, so we must build a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term future.
  4. Every person, in this and future generations, should be entitled to basic material security as of right.
  5. Our actions should take account of the well-being of other nations, other species, and future generations. We should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of theirs.
  6. A healthy society is based on voluntary co-operation between empowered individuals in a democratic society, free from discrimination whether based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice.
  7. We emphasise democratic participation and accountability by ensuring that decisions are taken at the closest practical level to those affected by them.
  8. We look for non-violent solutions to conflict situations, which take into account the interests of minorities and future generations in order to achieve lasting settlements.
  9. The success of a society cannot be measured by narrow economic indicators, but should take account of factors affecting the quality of life for all people: personal freedom, social equity, health, happiness and human fulfilment.
  10. Electoral politics is not the only way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods, including lifestyle changes, to help effect progress, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.
Maybe my catch-phrase should be:

“Vote Tina for Fylde because I genuinely give a damn and won't give up or give in”


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

More to life than fracking...

I have been asked in messages, what it was I stood for, apart from anti-fracking and why I am with Green Party of England and Wales... what I replied is below:

What appealed to me about the Green Party was a line I read in some literature in 2013 that said:
"We don't seek power for power's sake, we seek power in order to change the system"

Although fracking is a single issue, it is representative of much that is amiss in our democracy. Lobbyists for industry are heard and aided, to the detriment of citizens... that in itself is a huge warning that something is very wrong. I sense that this attitude permeates all sectors; our NHS has been underfunded to the point of collapse that makes it and us vulnerable to privatisation. Already parts of the service are in private hands - a stealth approach that is ugly and immoral. Healthy citizens, like educated citizens aid society and are an asset; I believe (and thankfully so does the Green Party) that neither knowledge or health should be linked to financial consideration and should be accessible to all. This stuff pays for itself in ways that can't always be measured in cash terms.

I don't believe wars solve anything and I believe the art of diplomacy is not applied as strongly as necessary to maintain good relations. Clearly I care about the environment in which our families grow up and strive for renewables to be producing our energy in order to ensure a healthier environment and jobs that last as long as the resource.

Our governments have bailed out banks and enforced austerity - never considering bailing out healthcare, bailing out education... bailing out Britain. I see services cut in rural areas, leaving residents isolated with poor transportation, no libraries, no post office and often no pubs and our 'care for the elderly' no longer fits as a description for what many go through. Our lives are not enriched by government, they are burdened.

That was lengthy I know.. but you are the first to have phrased the question as you did and it helped order my thoughts, thank you :)

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Day 83 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 83 in the Cuadrilla house… and the good people wondered and amused ourselves with ‘Deal or No Deal’ references as under blue skies and sunshine, we enjoyed the sight of great big yellow boxes flanked by members of a glorious, red-hatted Greenpeace team… all somehow locked together in a ‘box-them-in-lock-on’. It was the finest of days. Day 82 achieved a successful dent on access to the site also but was sadly far more traumatic to all involved, due to a tragic accident on the M55 that added to traffic issues and led some to blame good Protectors. To set the record straight – Day 82’s lock on did block the road but was only intended to do so briefly – it was the police that allowed it to go on for nearly 4 hours more than required. The Protectors had explained to police that the pulling out of site fencing… across our footpath and to the road, inhibited our articles 10 & 11 rights to protest and that the lock-on would not be blocking the road IF it was possible to use the public space to block just the site. Eventually the lock-ons were allowed to reclaim the public space at the site entrance… no chaos was needed, just sharper decisions that put our rights up there with the ones the police afford Cuadrilla.

So stock prices are wobbling again for Cuadrilla’s parent company AJ Lucas, the drill is not yet here and the timetable remains over 2-months behind schedule – that’s the good bits. The bad bits include police over-policing on a massive scale with 100+ police active each day on this protest and despite claims of neutrality, appear to be runners for trucks and enablers of this industry. They push and shove us into ‘kettles’ – surrounding us with a police-officer-wrap-rounds that hold us in place to, as they say:

“Keep you safe”

Question then on Day 83 to the police: IF this is about holding us away from danger, why then despite the lock-on did they allow a convoy of trucks to use the small amount of site entrance-way available and access/leave the site? How is this putting safety as the consideration? If you’ve seen footage from the many livestreams of vehicle movements in and out of the site on most days, we are kept as far from vehicles as possible – yesterday they brought the vehicles close to people who couldn’t move by virtue of their peaceful, non-violent action! Who are they keeping safe? Actually …perhaps that question is answered if we change the first word from ‘who’ to ‘what’. It is too obvious to ignore the fact that the bias goes to keeping the industry safe. Who dictates this? What does a morning briefing at Police HQ sound like? What are their aims laid out as?

Another thing about our actions and police behaviour around them that is worth noting – they hide us. There IS a beauty in protest and on Day 83, it was colourful, calm and lovely to behold …but the police vans added to the blockade by lining all their vehicles unnecessarily in front of the line of Protectors. The action was on the footpath at the entrance to the site and did not encroach onto the road – the police vehicles hiding it did though. They could say they were avoiding distracting passing motorists – but police activity drew more attention than we would have done!

Yesterday I linked to an article that summarised concerns of medical professional in British Columbia who, like their counterparts in New York – have called for a moratorium on fracking due to strong concerns for public health. The article is worth your time because it draws in lots of different links and references to reputable, peer-reviewed work that shows reasons for alarm.

From yesterday I shared:

What the hell are we doing - wasting the precious days of our lives in endless moments of confrontation and frustration? Why can't we just stop and get back to a regular life with regular priorities and regular joys......because we have no choice; once you know of an impending risk that means danger to the children, you are obliged to act to prevent harm. It's what good people do.

Medical professionals know and share our stance... if police who witness our strange lives each day, read our things here, I hope they understand this and realise we act for their children too. Saying no to fracking is caused by peer-reviewed independent research, first-hand accounts and evidence/ Saying yes to fracking is caused by commercial vested interests. Full stop.

From the link:
[Technological developments in the fracking industry have outpaced health and environmental research. We are only now starting to get studies that tell us about the health impacts associated with fracking. The information is still preliminary, but overwhelmingly raises red flags for health. One study, which looked at all the health-oriented research on fracking, found that 80% of all studies had been done between 2013 and 2015. Of the ones that looked at public health outcomes, 84% identified potential problems.

Preliminary studies on the human health effects of fracking have identified concerns with the hormone-disrupting properties of fracking fluids and their potential for reproductive and developmental toxicity, increased asthma rates, and congenital heart disease with greater proximity to natural gas development.
Very few studies have examined longer-term health outcomes with longer latency periods such as cancer or developmental outcomes. To quote a review of the literature: “This is a clear gap in the scientific knowledge that requires urgent attention.”
...the best approach is to act in accordance with the precautionary principle. As stated by the World Health Organization: “in the case of serious or irreversible threats to the health of humans or the ecosystem, acknowledged scientific uncertainty should not be used as a reason to postpone preventive measures.” CAPE Doctors in B.C. believe that this approach should be applied to fracking in B.C.]

Times are busy and there is much to come and much more to be done but we have the support and commitment of our Protectors here at the roadside of Preston New Road Rolling Roadside ProtestGreenpeace UKFriends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland and coming soon …much more from the wonderful Reclaim The Power who plan a summer of actions. Councillors, potential politicians, some existing politicians of all parties who r ealisethe risks of fracking are fighting too… activism in ALL arenas is what will stop not just THIS threat but others to come; from profit led industries that do not value us. We can all impact somehow, from where we are. See you tomorrow?


About the picture:

*Author Sue Hampton has dedicated her book 'Woken' to those who do what we do… Nanas are honoured to be in the company of Water Protectors everywhere, thank you <3 span="">

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Tina for Fylde...

The Fylde may not be considered a marginal seat but it presents a huge opportunity to reach people who may not yet be engaged in the fight to empower local democracy and stop fracking decimating our air and water quality, community health, agricultural land, roads and most importantly... our children's health. Currently, Mark Menzies MP Fylde is helping to ensure his Conservative Party are unchallenged and it is through your support that we can make a dent in his 'safe seat'.

Please help support my campaign if you can: FUNDRAISING HERE

Fylde voters have much to consider at this crucial time. Fracking is a current and urgent major threat to our rural area; major industrialisation could put both our farming and tourism industries at risk which will negatively impact jobs and the very way our lives are lived.

For six years I've been campaigning to strengthen local democracy and to stop the shale gas industry. The Green Party of England and Wales is the only party that matches my hopes and intent for a future where renewable energy is pivotal not only to the way we get energy but to the jobs it will bring, the community power it will generate and the ways in which our community and family health will improve.

Lobbyists for industry have for too long had a louder voice in government than the people of the UK and it is imperative that we change this before more harm is done; the Green Party seeks to 'hack the system' to change it in ways that benefit people as well as business. Voting reform is a priority too as our First Past the Post system means we can have a government like this one that was only supported by 24% of the eligible voting population.

Our legacy to our children is at stake and we can't take that lightly - it is our greatest obligation.

Any funds raised will be used for our local Green Party campaign costs: deposit, printing, mailing etc. and supporting our activities here.

Monday, 1 May 2017

I want the Fylde to win...

There are so many issues to tackle on both a local and national level but there is no denying that here on the Fylde… if fracking gets the go-ahead, it will impact all parts of our life from increased pressure on our healthcare, change of land use impacting community life and property values, increased traffic leading to degradation of our roads, the loss of local decision-making powers, industrialisation impacting tourism and agriculture (cross party study proved for every 10 jobs in fracking we lose 18 in agriculture)… this isn’t a single issue, it is the harbinger of many issues to come if it is allowed to continue, so it matters hugely.

When our Blackpool & Fylde Green Party nominated me to stand in the General Election, I was torn because I fear a split vote leading to the worst outcome nationally, a Conservative win. I checked and no other candidates had declared and Labour’s candidate from 2015 had not said he would run. Having a candidate who clearly opposes fracking, is essential to many of us and so I decided to run. There was also a dictate from the national Labour Party making clear that if the previous candidate was not running then the choice of candidate would be made at national level. This Labour stance was covered in the press:
It is with the greatest regret that local party members will not be able to select parliamentary candidates. This process is necessary and it is only due to the exceptional snap general election circumstances and will not set any precedent for future elections. Under emergency measures, all Labour MPs who wish to carry on will be readopted and unsuccessful candidates from the 2015 election will be asked to seek selection again in England, with one party source saying a third had agreed, a third were considering it and a third refused. A senior party source at the meeting said for retirement seats, candidates would be selected by a panel formed from the NEC officers. 

This Conservative government has worked hard to take control of decisions here and left us little power; proving that even a strong local decision to reject planning for the fracking site at Preston New Road, can be overturned by Westminster. Despite an appeal that we should have easily succeeded in (but didn’t), as was clear to all who read the transcripts or attended and two legal challenges that were also rejected and so we have watched and protested daily as the fracking site in Little Plumpton has been being built; since 5th January 2017. This neutering of our local government should be a huge concern even to those not looking at the plans for fracking.

So what to do now that the Labour candidate has decided he will run? IF both of us stand on key issues and with fracking a particular focus due to its huge significance here, then the sitting MP Mark Menzies who gets about half the votes, will almost certainly win, by us splitting the other half… and we haven’t yet heard from other parties with potential candidates. We can all see this but the unrepresentative (24% of UK vote) Conservative party is in a field of its own – and all the rest of us are divided into smaller pockets and that’s how they expect to win again. A party that was chosen by such a small percentage of eligible voters can never represent the wishes of the majority. Our voting system needs to be challenged and as long as we have a Tory government, it won’t be.

I have struggled hard with the revelation that the Labour candidate has changed his mind and what to do to ensure the best potential outcome. I’ve taken much inspiration from the stance taken by The Green Party with Caroline Lucas quoted in media as saying:
On election day we’ll be urging people to vote for us because ours is the only policy platform that offers the bold changes so desperately needed to transform this country for the better. But to beat the Tories, and to increase the chances of mending our broken politics, we need to be realistic about what’s needed to form a progressive government. That’s why, in just a handful of places, if we see reciprocal action from the other parties, our members will consider brave decisions for the common good. Jeremy, Tim, over to you.

In areas where the Green Party could help to ensure the Conservatives do not take a seat or hold one because of a marginal minority – we have worked with the non-Tory party tactically (just one crucial example here. In the Fylde constituency, the chance of any, other than Conservatives winning is zero to very slim… but IF we could agree to lessening the field of candidates and with strong local support for an anti-fracking choice, we stand a chance of making the clear statement that has been ignored by Westminster and the courts. I like the Labour candidate but I don’t know him very well and have not seen him publicly working on the major issue of fracking. I am not claiming to be the best choice, just one that if the votes came… would make it clear how we feel about the health and wellbeing of our community that is at risk if fracking goes ahead.

I want the Fylde to win. 

I want fracking to be stopped and all the problems that come with it, to not come into existence; enabling us then to fund and work on improving healthcare, transport infrastructure, community wellbeing, social care and education – rather than repairing them. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has said they will include fracking in their manifesto and when a clear bold statement comes on this issue, I want to know that even if for any reason it is not Jeremy at the helm, that it would be abided by… my concern being that before Jeremy, the Labour Party was not making a stand against fracking.

Perhaps then the next steps here in the Fylde as we enter 5 weeks of campaigning before the General Election on Thursday 8th June, is to be clear about what each candidate and our Parties stand for, how we will tackle local issues and if a fight for a fracking ban is key in our party manifestos and crucially, local candidate intentions. As the election date gets closer, perhaps too the candidates opposing the sitting Conservative Mark Menzies, could have a hustings to allow potential voters to challenge us and encourage us to not split the vote? At this stage with so much to come on Tory election fraud, manifesto promises and more, there is too much unknown to make rash decisions yet.

Unity is a hard thing in a diverse world but here in the Fylde, we know we are threatened, our children’s health and future are at risk and the very character of our beautiful area at stake if fracking goes ahead… THIS should unite us and I hope we can find a way to use that to challenge the Conservative MP. It will be impossible for any of us to ‘win’ if we don’t co-operate but the opportunity to make the anti-fracking statement clear is something that WILL happen, if the votes go to a candidate clearly opposing the industry - something I have been completely dedicated to for 6 years. 

Nothing is laid in stone, much will happen and I hope we can all work together at the very least, to share the message ‘Don’t vote Conservative’ and importantly, to get new voters registered. 

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Old- media being irrelevant...

Never rains but it pours... et tu Mail on Sunday!

This article just out after the journalists chased about in order to create a mammoth storm in a tiny teacup... its about a video using a clip from Schindler's List dubbed over with John Tootill and my voices... neither John nor I were aware of our voices being used but the recordings are in the public domain so anyone is able to do this or have it done to them... not much to be done about that.

The Mail on Sunday has decided to write lots and lots of misleading text concerning the video's setting in history and how it offends etc. and referencing me as if I was involved - before finally getting to the bloody point where I am finally given the chance to tell the truth and have the film maker confirm it:

[Ms Rothery, who stood as the Green candidate against former Chancellor George Osborne in Tatton for the 2015 General Election, confirmed yesterday that a recording of her voice had been used. But the campaigner, whose supporters include actress Emma Thompson and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, said she had not been aware of the film until it appeared on the Frack- Free York Facebook page and had nothing to do with making it.

The 54-year-old grandmother, who is standing for the Greens in Fylde, refused to criticise those behind the film, but said: ‘It is not something I would do in a million years. I wouldn’t refer to something as important in our history as the events of the Holocaust in the light of anything else.

‘I think that there are no comparisons to what happened there. I respect that the police have a job to play in society. What I don’t respect is the role they are being forced to play in Lancashire where they are being used to escort trucks into a community that has said no to fracking.’

Dave Marris, who commented on the social media site: ‘I made this because I am disgusted with the police tactics being used against the peaceful people trying to protest at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site.’]

Friday, 28 April 2017

Prospective Parliamentary Candidate #Fylde

Honoured this evening to have accepted our local Blackpool & Fylde Green Party party nomination to run in the election for the Fylde constituency... challenging the current Conservative MP Mark Menzies who has let down our community and left us vulnerable not only to fracking but is a compliant member of this government that as Caroline Lucas pointed out in The Guardian yesterday:

" a government hellbent on some of the most extreme policies in a generation: a crumbling NHS, a jilted generation of young people being let down and the pursuit of a hardline extreme Brexit. For us, proportional representation must be central to this project, because our hugely undemocratic electoral system is so stacked in the establishment’s favour that the Tories can win a majority on just 24% of the eligible vote. It’s abundantly clear that to crack open our politics we must hack the system – and respect the fact that no single party has a monopoly on wisdom."

We stand a strong chance in Fylde of presenting a good challenge to Menzies who won with 22,000 votes in 2015 - but a further 21,000 votes were cast for all the other candidates; so IF the choices of those running against Menzies are limited by other parties *not running or agreeing to work toward shared goals... then this could be the change the Fylde urgently needs. (*some parties are focusing attention on key winnable seats and not wasting energy and money where there is little chance of success or where it would split the vote and guarantee Tory victory).

This government is dangerous and reckless and needs to be out of office or we will be stuck for a further five years and the damage will be immeasurable. With this key requirement in mind, we will be looking to ensure that this election meets the express message of our party:

[On election day we’ll be urging people to vote for us because ours is the only policy platform that offers the bold changes so desperately needed to transform this country for the better. But to beat the Tories, and to increase the chances of mending our broken politics, we need to be realistic about what’s needed to form a progressive government. That’s why, in just a handful of places, if we see reciprocal action from the other parties, our members will consider brave decisions for the common good.

Greens will be standing for election across this country and putting across our unique vision. Where we disagree with any party we will not hold back in making our feelings known. We’ll never sign up to the Lib Dems’ laissez-faire attitude on our economy, nor forgive some of their decisions in the coalition, neither do we back Labour’s attitude(s) to Europe or its commitment to Trident, Heathrow and Hinkley.]

I'll make some changes to the Green Party candidate 2015: Tina Louise Rothery page to reflect the new situation and update there. Busy times ahead but every reason to seize the opportunity and do the best we can to ensure that we do not have to suffer at the hands of an undemocratic Conservative Party after 8 June 2017.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Day 75 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 75 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people were in short supply, unlike (as we’ve come to expect) the policing which comes packaged tightly in multiple dark vehicles that litter Preston New Road – fly-tipped from the over-reactive mind of someone, somewhere ‘higher up’ who has fears beyond the reality. One of the dark vehicles hurtled at speed under blue lights today, making a fuss… for all of a few yards; seems drama is a key ingredient to policing this road. Certainly there was no cause as a single lane was (yet again) closed in order to enable a convoy of seemingly precious trucks to thunder into the frack site; ample dozens of glowing police had already herded the pensioners, disabled, peaceful few Protectors into a cosy huddle and NOTHING looked remotely threatening. Today was different as all days are different but the one thing that is currently to be relied on for predictability – is that the policing is massive, over-reactive and ill-informed about what’s really going on. Lots of trucks in on this day where we were light on Protectors but impossible now to keep tallies as the pattern of days has changed.

So when my sister and I left to get back to grandma duties this afternoon, it happened to be at the time of another truck arrival – causing more wild panic on the road with the on-edge policing. Another dark carrier raced to catch us up (we were pretty slow as pulling a PA system and carrying signs and other paraphernalia) …as the door of the vehicle opened, out poured a good 9+ officers – sort of laughably for a minute looking like parachuters do before they jump. They dramatically forced a line between us two grandmas who were walking away quietly – and an oncoming truck on the other side of the road. Well, words fail me (which is pretty rare). I said we were clearly headed home and asked what on earth they thought we were going to do. An officer said “well you never know do you, people lie” – this is apparently one of my tender points as it set off a roar in me. We’re treated every day as if we’re vicious criminals (NO violence EVER comes from Protectors – only police) and now he judges me as a potential liar too. I raged and it was pointless of course, but it cleared my anger at least for a moment.

What ARE they briefed before they come on duty? To expect what? Rabid, raging animals ffs?! We are deeply concerned UK residents seeking to protect ourselves, families, communities from a real and provable threat to our health along with the quality of the essentials to ALL life – air and water. Yet we find ourselves here on the seemingly ‘wrong side of the law’ each day.

I did this word-cloud (my first) from my ongoing (though terribly unreliable now) blog about PNR… the image doesn’t surprise me – all those words and thoughts that rush around as in this height of dilemma – answers are sought. It’s so sad though isn’t it? I know I’m not the only one stuck in a reel of thoughts and constant seeking that has evicted all the former thoughts… hard to recall what I filled my head with before this but I bet it would have been a prettier word cloud with more frivolity, joy and hope. Such a ridiculous way for humans to spend our days. That we have to do this in the absence of a responsible government, speaks volumes about what our ‘democracy’ and systems of checks and balances has come to.

I wonder what the police think is going to happen? They keep claiming to seek only the safety of all and yet despite the complete non-violence of all Protectors – each day violence is applied to us; they man-handle us far more brutally than this situation could possibly warrant. We are in the way, we are trying to be disruptive and we are angered… the police want us to peacefully co-operate and we want to have an impact and there lies the crux of the problem.

We claim articles 10 & 11 of the Human Rights Act is what empowers our actions to protest this industry. Slow walking has been recognised as acceptable use of right to protest – yet the police tell us it just can’t be done on this road as it’s too fast. Advisory notices to reduce speed are in place and should soon become compulsory – so surely then we ask, it would be our right to slow-walk. They are evasive on this. They can’t imagine surely that waving banners and getting road user support – is what protest looks like? We KNOW this industry brings harm to our children and will work to stall, delay, stop this site being allowed to develop to production. Pretty soon we’re all going to have to work out what this is heading to and what we can do for or about the various potential outcomes. Thankfully PNR isn’t the only arena where fracking is being challenges… Pop up Protests at suppliers, work in political circles, Councillors, NGOs, environmental groups and more are all part of the mix too and although the roadside can be upsetting, the supplier pull outs have been uplifting – it’s swings and roundabouts.

In the end, this will not be stopped by direct action at the roadside alone – and there are many working in all sorts of places to help. Numbers though make a difference and your presence is always very much valued if you can make it. Despite the policing, it is safe enough (what a crazy sentence to type) and there is always the best of company to get you through. See you at the roadside?♥

Sunday, 16 April 2017

A New Occupation...

At Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest, like so many other protest sites in the past 6 years... people come fresh to activism each day and it's bittersweet to be part of. Each time we are forced to act 'against' the state/industry, we're slow-walking away from the life that each once had. Becoming an 'Activist' may turn out to be an essential decision in the long run - but in the immediate aftermath, it's about pain and loss.

The pain of seeing stark truths that show the lies of this 'system of democracy', the 'integrity of academia', the 'impartiality of media', the confusing purpose of things.,, and pain at the realisation that you can't let yourself be soothed by imagining things will be OK anymore; in opening your eyes to one wrong - so many more wrongs become apparent by clear association and collusion.

And the loss... of normality, familiarity, comfort once derived from lies of state/industry... loss of former hopes and dreams, loss of friends who don't yet 'get it' (no fault of theirs - we are so misled and it takes a bit to get to truth and the day before any of us was an activist... we weren't too) and loss of faith in solutions by any formally trusted bodies.

I feel overjoyed that we grow but so sad that we have to - especially when I see the stress, sadness, pain and loss in the faces of more recent Activists. It doesn't get easier but it does get more familiar and the company for the most part... is inspiring. Other humans who found their inner-Activist too and can't go home anymore to the same type of life. We sometimes have what feels like huge ups and downs in this intensely diverse tribe of Activists... but these are nothing in the face of what comes if industry/state go unopposed and unchallenged. So we plough through the bad bits, knowing there's no way out anyway.

Normality for me ceased the day I literally got an Occupation; 15 Oct 2011 outside the London Stock Exchange. Was just reading back over the testimonies of those who were part of Occupy London and realising how many I still encounter - because they're still here too. The link below goes to a site where the reasons and impacts of our Occupation are explored:
[I recognised the struggle within my own interpretation of the world I was living in; the one where education and health were seen to be market commodities rather that logically beneficial and essential; the one where too many in government, entertained lobbyists from industry and later ended up on their boards of directors and we were supposed to pretend that no favours were done; the one where bailing out bankers went hand in hand with cutting disability benefits; the one where the arms trade emanating out of my own country, meant that from my taxes, I paid to kill people and in none of the wars we started or armed, was there an ounce of honourable purpose… and then there was the deadly foolishness of keeping alive industries that should long ago have died but were clinging to us in a death spiral of fossilised pollution and waste that was overflowing into the bodies of our young,

Those tools Occupy gave me meant that rather than tell anyone how to do their activism, we delivered what I call ‘The Unwelcome Gift of Truth’ to communities and then asked only that they please act individually and together to find out more and respond. I didn’t want to say ‘save the planet’, that was too big an ask, nor did I want to tell them that along the way, all their original beliefs would come crashing down and that before it got clear and the self-empowerment kicked in – it would be a bit awful, isolating and crushingly real. There was no need to say though because I knew that once they started tackling this ONE issue, they would discover that the media lies (and come to ask themselves, what was ever true?), their MPs serve their party not the people, their Councillors are ill-informed and mostly powerless, lobbyists from industries as big as the energy sector, have the power to change our politics and laws and that THIS is NOT what democracy looks like.]

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Day 71 in the Cuadrilla House...

About yesterday... a little late but hey ho. Headed up to Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest shortly <3 span="">

Day 71 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people got the worst news, that the judicial reviews had failed to get this site development stopped. One honourable Protector had been atop a delivery truck for 18 hours when the news came – he’d said he wasn’t releasing the vehicle until the ruling came. As the ruling was clearly wrong (really, do read the piece on Drill Or Drop? to see the strength of our points of law – and Judge Dove’s absurd excuses for refusing to accept their validity) … he did not come down. Later at the 24 hour mark, he would be delivered by police, along with the truck right into the Cuadrilla site (more on that later). The mood of us all was impossible to define as it went from rage, upset and jaded... to defiant, determined and resolute. What NO-ONE thought was “Oh well that’s it then”.
So it’s been a rollercoaster of a ride at the roadside these too many days, with deep lows and massive highs depending on the moments… I remember reading somewhere once that because usual everyday life is usually full of common sights and routines… that much of what we think we are seeing, is actually just like the ‘cache’ on a computer – where the ‘usual’ things are sort-of assumed by our minds to save re-looking too much at the stuff that’s always there; like the pattern on wall-paper or words on office doors etc. (maybe why we notice the slightest slight fringe trim on a familiar face sort of thing?) Every day of activism defies this fact… every moment of every day we are experiencing a new thing that can’t be predicted or presumed… or really steered either. We are a tribe by virtue of our shared locations and aim (stop fracking) – but without deep knowledge of each other – so everything including ourselves is impossible to predict. We’re a movement that looks a lot like a murmuration of birds – we surge, cluster, separate and act independently… together. My head hurts trying to figure how we take the mass of us and apply it to the truth of the problem… the system of government that yesterday forced the risks of fracking, onto the children of Lancashire.

These blogs I try to maintain when time, mind and clarity permit… started out as a way of noting number of deliveries, mood of Protectors, breeches of planning etc. but this became impossible as the wonderful PuPs (Pop up Protests) meant there were more fronts to report on and the actions at the roadside itself, spread to different parts of Preston New Road. My view will only ever be a fragment seen from one spot; there are so many other places to stand and things to see. Livestreams from a variety of Protectors are coming into their own for fuller views but mostly only on Facebook Live which can limit our reach to those not using the platform… and considering the nature and rapidity of change that can happen one moment to the next – a full clear view is not likely! Which makes me ponder longer at the way any news story is covered and which aspects of a ‘story’ old media chooses to shine a light on and how they choose what to exclude… but that’s for another blog.

Thankfully Miranda Cox has added her perspective on the day to follow my bit – so for now I’ll update on what happened that I was witness to that appalled me… the delivery of a Protector, to the very place he is working against and where the people we oppose, are gathered in number. My sister and I arrived at PNR around 10am just after hearing the outcome of the judicial reviews and at this point the Protector was atop the truck outside Maple Farm (just down from the site on PNR) and had been there 18 hours. Some local media was milling about at this point. Later in the day when time atop truck reached 24 hours … I was nearby when I heard screams. We’d previously been spending time with others up at the land owner’s area, site and various points along the road – when we got to where the truck had been, it was just moving off with three helmeted police on the back and on top of the Protector (this was a gravel truck full of sharp stone). A police officer was driving.

The truck went at quite a pace and we got the car to head up and see where they were taking him. We reached the fracking site entrance and saw that the truck, the helmeted police and the Protector had been delivered right INTO the site and the gates closed behind. Quite simply WTF?! I asked police what on earth was happening, why the Protector had not been taken to a police station and what they thought he would be going through being delivered into the place we’ve stood and opposed for 70 days. He went off to find an excuse that would do and was told to say:
There was nowhere the truck could go that was suitable and the police station in Kirkham could not accommodate an HGV… the site was the ‘safe’ alternative. (*safe for who??)

I challenged that it was the least safe for the Protector and that there were huge carparks nearby that would easily have sufficed. I should have recalled the HGV testing station but didn’t – surprised the police didn’t think of it either as it is just down the road from their station in Kirkham! My Facebook Livestreams are public and the exchange is here:

Lots else happened… but it always does. You really need to be here :)Much planning is happening but early stages as we’d tried to hold out hope that further actions might not be needed if justice had its way … sadly justice too has been ignored by government and now just lives in our hearts as a forlorn hope rather than in the law books. o back to the roadside but everything is different again and moreso – now we KNOW there is nothing for us to call on from this ‘democracy’ or the legal system. We KNOW we the people are working separate and in opposition from the government and that changes our mindset… but we’re not going home. We can’t. See you at the roadside?

View from Miranda:
[Bloody angry about today...I'm actually fizzing. We have one planet. This has been my main thought all day. We have no back up plan. We have our land, we have each other, we have our air and our water. We can look after our planet or we can destroy it. It's that simple. While world Governments pursue wealth for the few over quality of life for all, while they continue to push economy over the environment, they are not protecting humanity. We are reaching a tipping point, socially and environmentally. Its now time for us to push for change, to demand environmental agendas instead, to protect the planet rather than business.

The news that the two separate appeals had failed did not come as a huge surprise, but it did feel like the knock out blow at the end of a huge fight. There's that feeling of disempowerment, and abandonment which takes the air from your lungs and leaves you clenching and unclenching jaw muscles. Then there's the rise of anger, that feeling if you shout loudly things will be different. This was then followed by a desperate need to reach out to fellow protectors. Arriving on PNR I was struck by the calmness, the sense of resilience from everyone. The solidarity in knowledge that yes we had received a blow, but nothing had changed. We will not go away or be silent. Our obligation is too great.

We were appalled to witness removal of a protector in a way that was unsafe and intimidatory. We are getting used to this, but it doesn't mean we accept it or deserve it. Years of government peddling the idea that protest is illegitimate, that those who stand up are outsiders has rendered many people fearful of taking a stand. While populations are neutered big business will take advantage. All I could think about today was if our lawmakers, law enforcers and regulatory authorities cannot or will not protect us, the only choice is we do it.
They may try and alienate us, divide us and hurt us, but if anyone, including those perpetrating environmental destruction have any future we have to stand up.]