Sunday, 18 June 2017

What Responsibility The Audience?

There’s just too much to feel right now
Overwhelmed by failings and fallings
Grief and foreboding
For those lost and the losses to come
That won’t be undone
Unless, unless, unless
What stands between now and reconciliation, realisation, restoration, reinvigoration of humanity FOR humanity …not crafted, shaped, styled to feed economies?
What stands between now and the joy of life lived in truth, awareness, acknowledgement, love, kindness for humanity… because humanity?
The answer simple, predictable, clich̩-able yet seemingly undoable Рyou, me, we, us.
We’re it. Because we’re the problem… all the problems.
We’re what allows the value of life to be measured by rank of Queen or child of Grenfell.
We’re what permits our sons and daughters to slaughter the sons and daughters of other mothers in a place called war.
We’re what accepts flawed, failed, fossilised ways of powering now and disempowering the future.
We’re what numbly tolerates systems of state unfit for human… kind.
Where is the place and way to put our rage, make a change, insist a way, stand united for a single thing like honour?
When is the time and what tick on the clock makes it too late?
Why am I here? Or you there? What point if simply joined to the decisions of ‘leaders’ in rooms unknown … decisions that lead to places I don’t want to go, harms in my name that disgust me, risks with our babies that haunt me… who the hell are those that make Grenfell, war, fracking, poverty, suffering… our intolerable reality?
We KNOW that profit won again in the race against caution and responsibility; when for the sake of mere money – the Grenfell children were sacrificed. Lady Luck was not enough to keep them safe.
We KNOW that profit seeks to win again in the race against caution and responsibility; when for the sake of mere money – the children of Lancashire are loaded into a game of chance in the search for gas at PNR.
We KNOW that what we witness is just the smallest tip of an ugly beast at the heart of our system of government – that unless expelled… WILL lead to more dead children in the name of profit.
Why are we here?
Are we only to be ‘The Audience’?

Friday, 9 June 2017

Dogs, Sticks & Politics...

It's late, I'm tired and not up for much sense in a blog... but I did have a memory that I think works as a bit of an analogy:
When my elderly Labrador was in her final years of life and only had 3 working legs. I moved to Mallorca.... she may not have been much at walking but she swam like a mermaid and loved the sea. Around this time an abandoned puppy (mostly Lhasa Apse-ish) came to be mine too. I'd throw two sticks into the sea for them... the Lab was instantly swimming out to get one whilst the newcomer sat at the shoreline and simply waited the Lab got to the sand... the little one would casually walk over and remove it from her mouth, to give it to me.
I'm delighted that fracking is a political issue at last - this is due ENTIRELY to the last 6 years of ridiculously hard work and dedication by individuals, NGOs like Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland Friends of the Earth Scotland & Greenpeace UK as well as (up until very recently, the ONLY political party fighting to stop fracking) the Green Party of England and Wales.

Now The Labour Party has made it a key part of their manifesto and I saw tonight that our local candidate got the anti-fracking vote added to his - using the same message others in the party have:
"Labour is the only party that can ban fracking".
Let's not forget though that the Green Party got us here, the Protectors got us here and workers at NGOs got us here... to the point where fracking is finally an issue to be banned.

...but don't get me wrong, I am literally ecstatic that I think this fight to stop gasfields in the UK may just about be over. The shareholders are looking worried and don't believe anything other than a strong Conservative majority will save them - so bloody YAY our lot

NO other party has shown up and done the work of the anti-fracking community in anywhere near the way we have needed them too - yet now the issue is in the manifestos, we really need to see positive and immediate actions by Labour and their local parties in licensed areas, to support the anti-fracking movement on the frontlines and bring this business to an end.

I hope we all win 'the stick' (vague reference back to that analogy lol) but never forget that the legwork was done by many who I have seen sacrifice so much to get it done x

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Fylde Voting & Fracking

Thanks to DeSmog UK for this - your questions were so on point... full piece below for those not clicking the link (here):
Tina Rothery is standing as the Green Party of England and Wales candidate in the Fylde, an area on the frontline of the UK's fledgling shale gas industry.

She is running against Conservatives Mark Menzies, who won the seat by around 13,000 votes in 2015.

But a vote for her and the Green party is not just a vote against Menzies, she told me over the phone. It's also a statement: that local opposition to fracking can't be ignored.

The following is an abbreviated transcript of our interview.

Q: What made you want to run in the general election? Why are you standing for the Green Party?
A: In the area we’re in, the Fylde, it’s a safe Conservative seat. It’s very far from a marginal and there’s always at least a 30 percent gap. And there are a lot of voters here, a lot of people coming to it for the first time, who aren’t necessarily going to vote for Labour. So as we can’t change the national picture, we still need to give them a way of saying ‘we don’t want fracking’.
Because a lot of people around here, whatever their political persuasion, are now suddenly finding that they’re going to be living in a gas field and that the industrialisation is going to impact their house price, their quality of life, the character of where they live, and ultimately the health and wellbeing of the people that live here. And you need to give people a way of saying that.
It’s a two horse race, and it’s the same two horses. They keep it a two horse race by not changing the system. So I think it’s essential that we give people a way of saying that democracy failed us when we submitted all our thousands of planning application rejections. And all of a sudden we find ourselves in a situation where we’ve been overruled by Westminster, we are powerless and voiceless. And I think it’s an important opportunity for people to make a statement.

Q: You’ve been at the forefront of the fracking movement in the Fylde. How has the issue featured in your general election campaign?
A: It’s quite amazing. It’s coming up as the most important topic every time.
What astounds me is that Labour and the Lib Dems are of course now on board. But if it wasn’t for the Green voice in parliament over the last six years, would this subject have made its way into the other parties’ manifestos?
Because the Green party thinks more than five years and a short-term cycle ahead. We’re constantly thinking about the future - how does this fit into that future, and are we kept safe? And certainly with fracking you can’t just look five years ahead, you have to be looking a lot further ahead.
We have someone like Caroline Lucas who actually makes an impact in parliament and keeps the subjects on the floor that really need to be discussed, and we need a lot more Carolines.
By running here, not only do we give people an ability to say we don’t want fracking. We run the chance of reducing a safe seat in a system that makes it so difficult to change parliament at all. And for me it’s a way of reminding people this isn’t just about going red or blue, it’s about diversity of representation in Westminster.
Cuadrilla has just erected its first rig at the Preston New Road site, albeit not for drilling; what does that mean from local people’s perspectives?
In 2015, when fracking first came up on the election agenda in the Fylde, there were three candidates who claimed they were running on an anti-fracking agenda. Labour wasn’t with us on the issue yet. And those candidates together equalled the Labour share of the vote.
It was a subject that mattered then when it wasn’t a live site. Now that it is a live site, it’s a conversation that everyone’s having. Because now it’s finally here, it can’t be ignored.
We’re always told by the pro-fracking people that there is a silent majority in favour. I can say from door-knocking that categorically ‘no’, that’s a lie. There is a huge majority just hoping that those of us on the frontline will win.
They don’t know how to fight, they’ve never had to do it before. They’re out of their depth. And when the government overruled [Lancashire County Council’s objections to Cuadrilla’s plans], it left people perplexed as to what tools are left. How do we defend our communities when something as blatantly dangerous as this is on its way, and yet it’s government sanctioned?
And all of the vehicles have a police wrap-around, so when you’re confronting them, you’re confronting authority.
A lot of the population here is elderly in Lytham and Wrea Green and places like that, and they maybe trusted the Conservatives all their lives. And they’re now looking for an outlet. They’re angry and they’re upset.

Q: Is fracking the only local green issue in the area? What other issues are you and your constituents concerned about?
A: I was helping register homeless voters with Streetlife, using the Streetlife address. And a lot of them are from *Europe (*I meant were born within a pre-referndum/Brexit Europe including UK), and they don’t want to not be in Europe. And they’re upset they don’t have a voice in that.
And they don’t know what Brexit means? Noone does, we’ve established that. What does Brexit actually look like? For young people that’s a key issue, because they want their freedom in Europe.
Young people are also concerned about the legalisation and decriminalisation of drugs, because they’re worried about the mental health of their friends who are taking even just marijuana and the various strong strains there are.
Here, it’s mainly about fracking, but also the infrastructure around it. People are worried fracking is going to decimate the quality of our roads, and one day the industry is going to leave and we’re going to pick up the tab in our taxes.
It’s very hard to switch off my local activist and switch into polite politics, because i’m sitting across from Labour or Conservatives who are saying ‘this time we;re going to do this, or this is wrong’ and i’m thinking ‘yeah but you two are the guys who make it wrong. You make it wrong every time. And you come back and tell us the last time was bad, we’re going to do it better’, and expect us to believe it.

Q: Theresa May refused to condemn Trump’s Paris Agreement withdrawal in any strong terms last week; what do you think this says about the state of climate change policy and politics in the UK at the moment?
A: I think it says we need a heck of a lot more Caroline Lucas’ in parliament. If we hadn’t been there, if you hadn’t had the Green party for all these decades constantly being a warning sign and putting up with the ridicule, then we wouldn’t even be as far as we are today.
We’re about to fall out of Europe, and if we fall out of Europe we lose our safeguards, we possibly fall into trade deals with people like Trump that have no respect, no concern, and are not forward-looking.

Q: What’s your main message for the people of the Fylde? Why should they vote for you?
A: Because I genuinely give a damn what happens to the Fylde and have fought relentlessly for six years.
I’m not a typical politician, I actually do stand up for the community. And i’m really honoured by the people i’ve stood beside within this community. And I think we need to strengthen ourselves.
And I see this election of making a statement that the red guys and the blue guys have messed us about.
It was Labour who issued the license for the fracking site in 2008, it’s the Conservatives who are pushing it through and driving it through like a steamroller through our community. We are the only party that has always had our best interest at heart.
Vote and make that statement. That’s important.

Monday, 5 June 2017

3 Days to go! #GE2017

Just 3 days to go and more to do... coming up:
-all Fylde candidates will be in Lytham Square from 4pm today for a BBC interview

-this evening, I'll be on BBC Lancashire live at 7pm for a North West hustings with representatives of all 5 parties

-on Wednesday morning Fylde candiates will be at at Lytham St Annes High Technology College

,,,we're hoping for a Wednesday evening opportunity for residents to have another hustings in Fylde but not confirmed yet.

In the meanwhile, there is still a need to cover costs of additional campaign costs and I hope you can help... any amount is much appreciated. Payment can be direct through PayPal here:
or if you would rather use direct bank transfer, please do message me for details. 

Thank you x

Friday, 2 June 2017

About Jeremy, Fracking, Fylde & Votes #GE2017

This past few weeks have been contrast, contradiction and finally, conclusions… one of which is that time really is precious and too limited. Mine has been split between standing up with our community to prevent the worst harms coming from the fracking industry… and standing up as a candidate in this election in order to seize the opportunity to get our voices heard in Westminster. 

Both activities have brought the opportunity to better gauge public opinion here in the Fylde… the conclusion I reach is that we are indeed a very diverse population but that the many, are stubbornly opposed to having our local democracy undermined or gasfield development on our doorstep (or anywhere). From the gates of the site on Preston New Road where residents gather to do what they can to stop the growing threat …to the towns when canvassing, I’ve been relieved to hear the strength of opposition and determination not to give in or give up. 

Many of our older residents particularly are fearful for what this industrialisation brings and although they do not feel able to physically protest, are just as firmly opposed to fracking and express gratitude to those who literally put their bodies on the line at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest

Although I take the reasons for my activism to the political campaigning I’m now doing, I don’t brandish my political preference when campaigning against fracking... politics as we can currently see, is divisive and in a movement as diverse as the anti-fracking one, that’s the last thing we ever need. We share *ONE aim and that’s our glue… stop fracking in the UK. That’s it. All the other matters are for other arenas where they will not harm our unity. With that in mind, the following is the political bit – so turn away now if you’re anti-fracking and we don’t share the same politics lol! 

*Although I think we could safely say that the anti-fracking movement does also agree that we need to get the Conservative party out of power urgently as they are the only party supporting this industry :)


About the election:

FIRST and foremost - we need to see an end to this dangerous, reckless Conservative government.

Where it has mattered in this election and where we could help ensure the change of government, the Green Party has worked in alliances to ensure that votes in close-run marginal seats - are not split. The Liberal Democrats and some Independents too have done the same. 

What doesn't seem to be as well understood is that where there is little to no-chance of Labour getting in (because it is a clear 'safe seat') there are other gains to be had that dent Tory power. 

Denying votes to the Conservatives is the best outcome in a safe seat like ours... 

Here in the Fylde, UKIP has pulled out which will likely see their vote share going to the sitting Conservative Mark Menzies MP Fylde - increasing his usual easy majority. Ever since voting here began in the 1800s, the MP has ALWAYS been a Conservative - the runner-up, by a very wide margin, is mostly Labour (although they've also fallen to 3rd place). 

The clear certainty here in the Fylde is that Labour don't win - they never have and are at a worse disadvantage now UKIP aren't splitting the vote on the right. Last election in 2015, the anti-fracking candidates combined, nearly matched the Labour share of the vote and this was the first time they'd run on that message. This time, we have a site in development and the threat is literally breathing down our necks… more people are aware and worried.

During canvassing, many TOry voters have seen the unfolding developments on Preston New Road and are angry with their MP for letting this happen - for putting them and their families at risk and changing the character of where they live. These voters will not go to Labour but are looking for an alternative that the Green Party can provide.

Last night I watched the political debate on BBC 1 and Caroline Lucas spoke of the issues and concerns I fully share; her wisdom and priorities were as obvious as her professional yet humane capacity as a politician. We need more ‘Carolines’ because it is only with more diverse representation in Westminster, that concerns beyond those of just red and blue, are raised. 

A vote for me makes clear that you are not happy with what has always been, that you seek change and that in this absurd voting system – you can still make a stand for what matters most urgently to the Fylde.


About the Labour Party:

It's complicated but I feel I need to clarfiy how I feel about the Labour Party. 

Before Jeremy Corbyn came along, it wouldn't have been complicated at all: 

-they were key in getting us into wars we continue to be entangled in at huge cost to human life as well as the implications on the economy and refugee crisis

- they moved so far from the left, they nearly met the Conservative party with their attitude and policies; removing any genuine opposition when their time in power ended

-we had one shot at stopping fracking during the infrastructure bill - that they did not seize, instead offering (as yet to be met) conditions to make it safer (impossible). The infrastructure Bill became law because they were weak and did not fight to keep us safe

- License for PEDL 165 Fylde – given to Cuadrilla (fracking company) under a Labour government in 2008

- License for PEDL 244 Balcombe – also given to Cuadrilla under a Labour government in 2008

- the banks were ‘bailed out’ under a Labour government and are at the heart of why we are experiencing austerity and all the pain that comes with that

…I had no faith at all in Labour in 2010 for the reasons above and so many more. Yes they’ve changed now and seem to be striving to again connect from a more people-centred place but my concern is the repetition – we get red and drive it out to end up with blue… blue does more damage and we drive them out to end up with red again…rinse and repeat for evermore?

I would easily have known how I felt about Labour before Jeremy came and spoke words that made more sense. His wisest policies, appear to be taken straight from our Green Party of England and Wales manifesto... either by sensible choice or simply a coming of age and the wisdom to realise we have been correct all along.

So along comes this snap election before Jeremy has had time to bed-in and take proper control or reveal realistic direction, OF COURSE we need the 2017 election to see the back of the Conservative government that so clearly serves industry and profit, above people, health and well-being and because we have an unfair voting system …that means we always end up with a two-horse race (nearly always the same horses) - then a Jeremy led Labour Party is the better of the only two options we ever seem to have.


Here in the Fylde, because it isn’t a marginal seat… you are encouraged to make your vote stand for what you believe in. 

Caroline Lucas said last night that where you are able to vote for what you believe in, then a vote for a Green MP will make more of a difference than for MPs from other parties. Our country stands at a crossroads – the direction you take will make clear if you want to keep going left and right in repetitive patterns – or boldly stride in the direction of change.

I do want your vote on 8 June in Fylde - because I would genuinely value it and what it represents.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

General Election tour of Lancashire - Fylde

Day 101 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 101 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people are feeling the change in the air, the apprehension and the longing for an end to this fight to save ourselves and others from enduring lives in gasfields. Talk of the impending arrival of the drill, brings fear and necessitates planning… and talk of the impending election. brings a daring to hope that if we get the only PRO-fracking party out, our work here at the roadside will finally be over. Right now though, everything is about keeping watch, spotting movement, paying attention to changes on the site and straining to hear a distant ignition that will mean the start of the journey for the drill. Focus is less broad at this time and this is no bad thing… as our priorities too have adjusted to the urgency and there's a developing cohesion as working groups form and communication flows with less hindrance. We have never been more determined to bring this to an end and we are united in this goal.

So as we pass the 100th working day on this site that arrived on a cold damp January 5th… we’re wearing less wool, sunglasses are needed and we’re looking like people who have normal lives where holidays would be responsible for the golden tans we’re sporting. The better weather has made things easier and as work still seems oddly sluggish on site, there has been less brutality and confrontation at the gates. On the days where the trucks thunder through in convoys of 8+ …we can’t get close due to the wrap-round policing that comes with them, the sealing off of the road that the trucks require to make the turn and the sheer numbers in uniform that hold us back. It’s a learning curve and all sides of this are feeling our way. Cops over-policing, over-reacting and over-costing… site staff often fraught, temperamental, torn between ‘just doing the job’ and for some, the gradual realisation of what that job is doing to our community… and us, the Protectors trying to find what works because we can’t go home till we get this right. We have and will only seek non-violent means – we harm no-one; our work involves delaying by using our bodies and creativity.

Please keep an eye on us as we’re going to need you soon if things don’t work out and that drill starts its journey. There are communication networks setting up that will ensure an early alert to call for help to join at various places: from drill departure point (to be confirmed) and all along its way to Preston New Road – everyone who can is asked to be a part of this by increasing our visibility, bearing witness and considering non-violent actions …your local branch of anti-fracking group, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace etc are worth connecting with and asking to be updated.

In the meanwhile there is Billinghurst where a drill is now doing its worst 24 hours a day (see KEEP BILLINGSHURST FRACK FREE) and licenses in counties across the country that are raring to go that also need your support… whatever role you can play, please play it.

Here at Preston New Road in the early morning, Friends of the Earth are coming with a lovely contingent of 60 visitors from Europe who will join us for a nice Nana breakfast before visiting the site and on Friday… fancy dress is becoming the new normal. See you at the roadside? x

*Great thing to do: if you still haven't seen The Bentley Effect please check the The Bentley Effect UK Tour Plans page and if you can, go see it and relish in the inspiration <3 span="">

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="">