Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Legalise Cannabis: End Austerity


Former Thanet Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver, has called for a “grown up evidence based review” of laws prohibiting the production, sale and use of cannabis. His comments follow the release of statistics about cannabis crime in Kent after a freedom of information request to the Police (1).

According to the data, over 6,000 cautions and warnings were issued by Kent Police for possession of cannabis in the five years between 2010 and 2014. During the same period 2,413 penalty notices were issued and 3,565 people were charged for cannabis related offenses.

Medway topped the league of Police actions against cannabis with 1968 warnings, penalty notices and charges issued during the period 2010-14. Maidstone was second with 1,269, Thanet third with 1187 and Tonbridge and Malling fourth with 1173. Dover had the least recorded cannabis related crime with only 478 Police actions between 2010-14.

Said Driver “Between 2010-14 Kent police issued a total of 12,117 warning, penalty notices or charges related to cannabis possession or use.  That’s 7 incidents per day. Assuming the  average cost of dealing with a cannabis related incident, including officer time and associated overheads,  is about £300 then Kent Police have spent  £3.65 million between 2010-14 on policing cannabis use in the county. But that doesn’t take into account the cost of intelligence gathering, surveillance, forensics, planning and executing raids, preparing and submitting evidence to the courts which I estimate will bump up the total cost of policing cannabis in Kent to at least £12 million over the 5 year period”.
 
“Is this money well spent? Certainly not” argues Driver.  The 2014-15 Crime Survey of England and Wales estimates that 6.7%  of  16-59 years olds used cannabis at least once during this 12 month period (1). Applied to Kent, with an estimated population of 826,100 16-59 year olds (2),  at least 55,000 of the county’s residents would have used cannabis during  the last year. Yet during this period  Kent Police  issued just 1,928 warnings, penalty notices, and charges, often dealing with same person more than once.  This is a detection rate of less than 3% at a cost of more than  £2 million per year. “These figures demonstrate” said Driver, “that despite a massive investment of public money in fighting cannabis use in Kent, and throughout the rest of the country, the war against this drug has most definitely been lost”.

Driver, who was a recreational drug user, argues that the
legalisation of cannabis will raise hundreds of millions of pounds in taxation.  He cites the examples of US state Colorado, which in 2014 raised $52 million in taxes from the production and sale of cannabis for recreational use and the state of Washington which raised $25 million in cannabis related taxes during the same period (4) Cannabis taxation could be a new and important stream income which Driver claims “could eliminate the need for economic austerity and which could be invested in much needed improvements to the NHS, education and social housing.

The production and sale of cannabis through government regulated outlets would also, according to Driver, create thousands of jobs and business opportunities; drive out criminal gangs from the cannabis trade and ensure that the quality and strength of the drug is controlled. There would also be a massive saving in Police budgets which Driver says “could be used on catching real criminals rather than targeting people enjoying a spliff or two with their friends.”

Finally, world opinion is beginning to change about how society deals with cannabis and other illegal drugs. A growing number of senior politicians, police chiefs and policy analysts are coming to the conclusion that a more liberal approach needs to be taken towards laws relating to cannabis and other drugs.  In countries such as Portugal and Uruguay and the US states of Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska laws have already been introduced which either decriminalise or legalise the cultivation and use of cannabis. Here in the UK a Government E-petition calling for a parliamentary debate about the legalisation of cannabis cultivation and use has just passed the 200,000 (5) mark. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Drugs Policy Reform (6), made up of MPs and Lords from across the political spectrum, has recently published a report arguing for a more relaxed and flexible approach towards drugs laws.  Most importantly of all the United Nations begins work in September on review of its Drugs Conventions which could possibly lead to the development of a much more enlightened and evidenced  based approach towards this issue.
 

Ends
For more information contact Ian Driver 07866588766 or ianddriver@yahoo.co.uk

  1. https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cannabis_related_crime_2010_14
  2. Crime Survey of England and Wales https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/450181/drug-misuse-1415.pdf
  3. Kent population stats
http://www.kent.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/14725/Mid-year-population-estimates-age-and-gender-profile-bulletin.pdf

  1. Cannabis tax revenue income for Colorado State https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/1214%20Marijuana%20Tax%2C%20License%2C%20and%20Fees%20Report.pdf

Cannabis tax revenue for Washington State
http://dor.wa.gov/Content/AboutUs/StatisticsAndReports/stats_RMJTaxes.aspx

  1. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104349
  2. All Party Parliamentary Group for Drugs Policy Reform
http://www.drugpolicyreform.net/

Monday, 24 August 2015

£2.3million Compensation: Blood Money to Animal Abusers


Former Green Party Councillor, Ian Driver, has expressed “incredulity” at the scale of a £2.3 million compensation payment made by Thanet District Council  to companies exporting sheep for ritual slaughter in Europe via the municipally owned Port of Ramsgate (1). He said the compensation, plus a further £272,000 legal costs to the exporters(2),  amounted to the payment of  “blood money to  convicted  animal welfare abusers.
Live animal exports from the port of Ramsgate began in May 2011. They take place in the face of strong local opposition and regular port-gate demonstrations organised by local animal welfare campaigners including Driver. The campaign against what Driver describes as “a barbarically cruel medieval trade”, is supported by the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming.  
The compensation payment was ordered by the High Court in February 2013, after Thanet Council suspended sheep exports from Ramsgate.

The suspension followed injuries caused to many of the sheep during transport to the port on 12 September 2012. As a result 47 animals were destroyed on the quayside (3 ). The High Court ruled that,  by imposing the suspension, Thanet Council had acted in breach of section 35 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)  which states that “Quantitative restrictions on exports, and all measures having equivalent effect, shall be prohibited between Member States” (4 ).

After protracted negotiations a confidential compensation agreement was reached between the council and the exporters. The scale of the compensation payment  was only made public last week after  Driver used powers under the Audit Act 1998 to question the council about its spending during the  2014-15 financial year(5).

The company responsible for the transportation of the sheep to Ramsgate on the 12 September 2012 was Channel Livestock Limited. Its director is Thomas Lomas. At a hearing at Dover Magistrates Court on 13 February 2014, Lomas was handed down a six month suspended gaol sentence and ordered to pay £5,000 costs and his company was fined £4,000 and  ordered to pay £10,000 costs for breaches of animal welfare regulations(6).

Sheep destroyed at Ramsgate Port
The owner of the Latvian registered ferry, Joline, which is used to transport the sheep  from Ramsgate to Calais, Johannes Onderwater, a Dutch national,  also has a record of animal related criminality. He and his company, Onderwater Agneaux BV,  were convicted at Canterbury Crown Court on 10  August 2010 for smuggling  live animals via public  ferry services from Dover to Europe by deliberately mis-describing the contents of his lorries as seafood, frozen or boxed meat. The court handed down a fine of £6,000 and costs of £3,675 for these offences (7 ).

Said Driver, “I’m staggered that companies with convictions and fines for animal related criminality are able to claim £millions in compensation from a public authority which acted in good faith to protect the welfare of the animals passing through its port. I believe that the UK Government, UK Euro MPs, &  Commissioners along with the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming  should be lobbying hard to amend section 35 of the TFEU to allow member state opt outs from the article on the basis of animal welfare or other ethical  considerations. The article as it currently stands is a charter for industrial scale cruelty towards sentient beings which in the name of humanity and compassion must be ended.

Ends.
1. See
http://thanet.gov.uk/the-thanet-magazine/news-articles/2015/august-2015/compensation-provision-in-statement-of-accounts/

2. Email from Ian Driver to Thanet Council Finance Officer  7 August 2015 -  please tell me … Any legal and associated costs related to item 1 above, including any payment towards the legal and related costs of the company (or companies) who conduct the export of live animals from the port of Ramsgate arising from the Council’s temporary suspension of that trade.
Response On point 2, £12,025 were TDC costs and the balance of £280,000 were the related costs. Regards Matt. Matthew Sanham, Corporate Finance Manager, Thanet District Council


4. See
and
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT&from=en

5. See
http://thanet.gov.uk/the-thanet-magazine/news-articles/2015/august-2015/compensation-provision-in-statement-of-accounts/

 6. See
http://www.smallholder.co.uk/news/11011135.Ramsgate_animal_exporter_Thomas_Lomas_gets_suspended_jail_sentence/

 7. See Hansard 1 December 2011 Statement by Minister of Food and Rural Affairs
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm111201/wmstext/111201m0001.htm
 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Ramsgate Live Exports Blamed for Manston Airport Retreat?

It might seem odd to link the campaign to end live animal exports from the Port of Ramsgate with the campaign to serve a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on Manston Airport. But the more I think about it the more likely I believe it to be that these two entirely separate matters will soon become intimately linked. Because, no matter how much they deny it, Thanet’s  political establishment have got themselves into an embarrassing  mess  over Manston Airport and desperately need a  scapegoat to take  the blame for their dodgy dealing. I believe this scapegoat will be the Ramsgate  anti-live  animals export campaign and the recent announcement that the exporters have been paid £2.3 million in compensation.

So let me explain why I think this is the case. Its only 4  months ago since UKIP, the Tories, and Labour were falling over themselves to win over the votes of Manston Airport campaigners with outlandish promises about how they would save the airfield.  But these were never  genuine promises. From the outset Thanet’s  political establishment never intended to save  the airport.  During the elections campaigners and councillors from UKIP, the Tories and Labour  made it clear to me that they didn’t believe there  was sufficient legal justification to successfully secure  CPO on the airport. Others said to me that even that even with an external partner the financial risk to the Council in securing a CPO was far too high. So having deceitfully misled the voters in May, Thanet’s politicians now need to extract themselves from a promise they never intended keep. And what better than to find someone else to blame.

And so they have. On the very last day of the public inspection period of its 2014-15 accounts, Thanet Council has announced that it has made  an eye-watering payment  of £2.3 million compensation to the companies responsible for the barbaric export of live farm animals from the port of Ramsgate. This payment was made on the order of the High Court  following TDCs temporary ban on live exports in 2013 after 47 sheep had to be destroyed at the port. The ban was judged to have been illegal and this is why the  compensation had to be paid.

The cost of this massive compensation bill will be paid for out of the Council reserves. These reserves are already depleted following Thanet’s loss of £3.4 million in its secret fee deferral agreement with TransEuropa Ferries 2 years ago.  I’m certain that when it comes to the crunch about the CPO, the Council will use its depleted reserves and the £2.3million live exports compensation as the  reason why it would be  extremely risky  to pursue the CPO. In fact Council Leader Chris Wells, in his column in the Thanet Gazette this week, is already making ominous references to the live exports compensation issue so as to prepare  in people’s minds fa target for a full blown blame game in a few weeks time.

But take my word for it, the live animal exports compensation issue is not the reason why TDC  might pull out of the CPO. What Chris Wells neglected to say is that there are much more significant financial risks in the 2015-16 council budget which might cause the council to decline the gamble of an Airport  CPO. First the Council is subject a major investigation by the Health and Safety Executive about a group of a dozen or more employees who have contracted the industrial disease – vibration white finger. Quite clearly  there had been a longstanding failure of health and safety at the Council for this awful situation to have arisen. An insider tells me that this situation is so serious that the Council will be prosecuted and punished with a very large fine and that there will be many claims for compensation from staff – all of which will amount several £millions. Second the cost of the Dreamland CPO has not yet been finalised and the former owners of the site are still contesting compensation. Rumour has it that another couple of £million will have to be found in this financial year to cover this cost as well.

So my message is don’t be taken be in by the Council. The hypocritical blame-apportionment game they will soon be playing  to get out of the Manston CPO, is nothing whatsoever to do with anti-live animal export campaigners, but the product of false promises, lies and a deceit made to the voters and years of financial mismanagement on TransEuropa Ferries, the health and safety of council staff and a bodged CPO on Dreamland.  

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Ramsgate Live Animal Exports £2.3 Million Blood Money

According to reports, Thanet Council has been ordered to pay £2.3million compensation to the companies involved in the export of live sheep from the Port of the Ramsgate for slaughter, often cruel and ritualistic, in Europe. I have been campaigning against this trade since it began at Ramsgate in May 2011. I have written and spoken extensively about the medieval  barbarity involved in transporting these animals long distances across land and sea to meet a grisly end.

Some of the companies and individuals involved in this trade have a history of criminality. Johannes Onderwater a Dutch national was convicted 5  or so years ago by Dover magistrate’s court of  secretly transporting live sheep through the port of Dover whilst describing the shipment as frozen meat. In the 1980s Thomas Lomas, a UK national, was gaoled for committing a lucrative criminal fraud involving the transportation of  farm animals. In early 2014 Lomas and his company, Channel Exports Ltd were convicted by Dover magistrate’s  court of breaches of animal welfare regulations which resulted in the destruction of 47 sheep at the Port of Ramsgate in September 2013. Lomas and his company were fined £10,000 and Lomas was handed down a 6 month suspended gaol sentence.
On the back of the death of the 47 sheep Thanet Council rightly suspended further live exports. After 6 weeks this suspension was overturned by the High Court. Today’s announcement sets the compensation for the 6 weeks of lost trade and the  inconvenience caused at £2.3 million plus an award of court costs to the exporters of approximately £300,000. So Thanet Council taxpayers will now have to find £2.6 million which is more than  10% of its annual budget! I have asked for a copy of the High Judgment which hopefully the Council will let me have and I may then be able to provide further details of why the High Court made this extraordinary decision.

One thing which concerns me is that it would have been virtually impossible for the exporters to have lost £2.3million during the six week period in which their activities were suspended. Until the suspension the exporters were only carrying out 2 shipments per week. They must have been  transporting very expensive sheep to justify this level of compensation, or perhaps there was another cargo we know nothing about?  Hopefully  the High Court papers will reveal the truth. Either way I think the Dutch and UK  tax authorities should be alerted  to this court case as it may reveal interesting information about the financial affairs of Onderwater and Lomas.
But what makes me furious is the perverse situation whereby convicted animal welfare abusers are massively compensated for having their cruel and barbaric trade suspended as a consequence of their own neglectful and cruel actions .  In my opinion, this is nothing less than the payment of Blood Money  to animal abusers. It’s a travesty of justice which makes  me so fucking angry. Having said that this ridiculous and totally unfair situation makes me more determined than ever before to fight through peaceful direct action and politically through the UK parliament and the EU to stop this evil and cruel trade once and for all. I hope that you will join me in this campaign.

 

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Ramsgate's Barbaric Live Animal Exports Trade

The export of sheep, often for cruel and medieval ritualistic,   slaughter in Europe has been taking place from the Port Ramsgate since May 2011. In that time several hundred thousand animals have passed through the port. They spend many hours travelling in cramped trailers with limited access to food and water to reach Ramsgate from various points in the UK. On arriving at Ramsgate they face a 4 hour journey across the English Channel in the ramshackle ex-Soviet Union  Red Army tank transporter the Joline. Once in Europe the terrible journey continues thorough  France, Italy , Spain and sometimes outside the EU. The long distance transportation of live farm animals in appalling conditions is a massive intolerable abuse of animal welfare which must be  ended. Ramsgate is the only port in the UK from where this barbaric trade operates.

Sadly there is nothing we can do, apart from protest, to stop this happening. EU free trade directives mean that authorities in the UK are powerless to stop it. Thanet District Council did place a temporary ban on the trade following the death of 47 sheep at Ramsgate in 2013. The exporters took Thanet Council to the High Court, who ordered the immediate resumption of the trade. Thanet  Council has paid out £292,000 in legal fees related to this incident and I have been informed by reliable sources that at least £2million in compensation will/ has been paid to the exporters for the unlawful disruption to their trade. These are the very same exporters who in 2014 were found guilty of animal welfare offences at Dover Magistrates Court. They were fined and forced to pay cost of £20,000 and the owner of one of the exporting companies, Channel Livestock, was given a 6 month suspended gaol sentence. So there you have it -you can be convicted of serious breaches of animal welfare law and at the same time be compensated to the tune of £2million because somebody tried to restrain your trade  precisely because you are cruel animal abusing criminal fucker  This is unbelievably perverse.
Now some people will say what is all the fuss about. The welfare of these  animals is  protected by EU legislation and UK regulations. Yes that’s technically true . The grand sounding Welfare of Animals in Transportation Regulations  is the key document which exporters must adhere to. But do they? Do they fuck. The enforcement of these regulations by the Government’s specialist team – Animal Health – is virtually non-existent. What checking does go on is  crude and rudimentary. The inspectors are not qualified  in animal health issues and work from tick sheets and in my opinion they are more focused on the interests of the exporters than the conditions the animals travel in. Most of us involved in this protest regard Animal Health and its inspectors as a fucking joke.

So the solution to this  industrial scale cruelty lies in Europe and all of those  compassionate men and women involved in this worthy movement must now look to brining influence to bear on Euro MPs, Commissioners and Ministers to change to the rules to allow member states to opt out of trade arrangements  they regard to be unethical or cruel. Maybe David Cameron,  who is in the process re-negotiating our EU membership terms, might raise it. I doubt it very much. Our only chance of success is for many more people join us at the demonstrations, and through peaceful direct action block the lorries from entering the port and is so doing turn Ramsgate’s dirty little secret into a national issue which politicians will have no choice by to act on.
 
 

Friday, 14 August 2015

Kick Out The Jams MotherF***ers. Vote For Corbyn

On the day that ballot papers are being despatched, I call on Labour’s 600,000 members to follow the advice of Michigan's MC5 to  "kick out the jams motherfuckers" by  voting massively  for Jeremy Corbyn as their new leader. You may ask why, as a member of the Green Party and a candidate for election to its national executive, I am trying to influence the internal affairs of another political organisation. The answer is simple.  Corbyn’s vision and ideas are broadly similar to those of the Green Party. To suggest that not being a member of the Labour Party excludes me, or other Greens, from actively supporting, encouraging or commenting on Corbyn’s promotion of ideas we already support is utter bollox. Although I do agree that nobody should deceive the Labour Party in order to vote for him.  

But apart from becoming Corbyn cheerleaders there’s a much more serious issue emerging from Labour’s increasingly bitter election contest which, I believe, obligates the Green Party and other progressive left-of-centre organisations and individuals to pay more than a passing interest in Labour’s internal affairs. Because the coming together of Neil Kinnock, Tony Blair, Allan Johnson, Jack Straw, David Milliband, Alastair Campbell  and Corbyn’s  election opponents into  a nasty,  highly personal get Corbyn campaign, is  fast  transforming itself into  a once in a generation  struggle for the  future of progressive politics in this country.
No one, least of all Corbyn, could have imagined that his campaign would spark such massive public interest in fundamental questions about social justice, equality, democracy, the environment and anti-austerity. These are issues which transcend the Labour Party and which are deeply rooted in the DNA of the many progressive organisations and individuals who are not, and do not intend to, affiliate to or join the Labour party in its current manifestation. And whether Labour likes it or not, these organisations and individuals will use their influence and voices to ensure that Corbyn kicks the arses of the war criminals, self-serving careerist, corrupt lobby industry pimp fodder, and other assorted ill-famed fuckers who masquerade as Labour politicians and who are now arraigned against him.

Because a victory for Corbyn will undoubtedly rid the Labour Party of many of these unprincipled scum bags. It will also transform Labour both politically and organisationally into a much more dynamic campaigning organisation which will have a very different relationship with the voters and communities in which it operates. It will also forge much more co-operative relations with the Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru. Indeed a Corbyn victory could lead to a fundamental re-alignment of progressive left of centre politics in this country  ultimately leading  to new, more modern, approaches to doing politics which might  do away altogether with the old fashioned tribalistic concept of party.

But a defeat for Corbyn, or a coup against him will not be a total disaster. The thousands of people, young and old, who have been energised by Corbyn and his vision are unlikely to remain members of a party led by Burnham, Cooper or Kendall.  Many of these people, including Corbyn I hope, will  in the event of defeat or coup leave Labour and work with the Greens and other organisation to develop a new broad-based political force which promotes progressive social change, justice, equality, democracy including fair voting, anti-austerity and sensible joined-up  environmental policy.

This is why the Greens, the SNP and  Plaid Cymru should not only be cheerleading for a Corbyn election, but also be talking to Corbyn and his team right now. Because win or lose working with Corbyn and the movement he has started in the Labour Party is the key to developing a modern left of centre progressive political force in this country which will promote the issues we are all passionately concerned about and which will enable us  to take power in our town halls and ultimately at Westminster.  
My support for Corbyn in no way means that my commitment to the Green Party is diminishing. On the contrary working with Corbyn will strengthen the Green Party and its ideas immeasurably. We can’t sit this one out!



Disclaimer - This article is published and promoted by Ian Driver as party of my election campaign for the Green Party Executive. I am standing for the post of Local Party Co-ordinator. This is not an official publication of the Green Party of England and Wales.

Contact Details –  Phone 07866588766 Email ianddriver@yahoo.co.uk Twitter @IanDDriver
Blogsite http://thanetgreencouncillor.blogspot.co.uk/
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Saturday, 8 August 2015

Migrant Tragedy: I'm Depressed and Angry

I'm  depressed and fucking well angry at the inhuman reaction towards migrants which has been stoked up by nasty self-serving politicians courting popularity on the backs of  lost lives. 2 days ago an estimated 200 migrants drowned in the Med, bringing the total drowning's to almost 3,000 this year. On top this we have a massive body count of migrants dying  in the deserts and hostile terrain they  have to cross to reach the Med and Europe, or who falling victim to murderous robbers they encounter on their way. Even after reaching Europe death still stalks these unfortunate people. In Calais at least 10 people have died in the past 2 months trying to reach the UK. And if the high probability of death was not bad  enough, migrants are forced to live in unimaginably squalid conditions for months on end before their applications for asylum are processed. Just today the United Nations Commission for Refugees published reports condemning the utterly dreadful  conditions and lack of humanitarian support migrants face when they come ashore in Greece, or at Calais in the  modern day slum called the Jungle. For fuck's sake Europe is a wealthy continent and asylum seeking migrants should not be forced to have to live in medieval conditions.

These are some of the most desperate people on our planet. They are fleeing war, persecution, torture, rape, murder and famine. They are prepared to take any risk imaginable to get to a safe heaven and yet we treat them as sub-human. Instead of being compassionate David Cameron has decided to spend £7million, (on top of the millions already being spent on security) on erecting more fencing, employing more security guards, and fitting more CCTV at Calais Channel Tunnel. And if that wasn't enough the Government plans to withdraw the already pitifully low financial support provided to migrants coming to the UK and to end their right to housing, if their asylum applications are unsuccessful. So what's going to happen to the  4 out of 10 failed asylum applicants  who win their cases on appeal? Are they going  to be forced to live on the streets and beg to survive  until their cases are heard?  And don't forget when compared to other EU countries we take in a shamefully low number of migrants.

All this week BBC Radio Kent has hosted phone ins about migration and the Dover/ Calais situation. Some of the nasty, vitriolic comments made have astounded me. I simply cant believe that there are so many ignorant bigots in Kent. Even our local MP for South Thanet, Craig McInlay has been stirring the pot of hatred say that tens of millions of asylum seekers will head to our country if we don't adopt a tough stance. And as for the Labour Party, all of the leadership candidates, with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn, have remained silent on immigration despite the continuing deaths and the comments of the United Nations. I thought Labour was supposed to be the fucking opposition! And just to demonstrate how nasty and hateful people can be about the migrants, just last week I attended a demonstration at Folkestone Channel Tunnel Terminal in support of the migrants with 30 or so compassionate people. Our peaceful humanitarian demo was charged and attacked by thugs from Britain First and the English Defence League.


But the fact is that fortress Europe and a Calais lock-down will never solve this problem. As long as we, and other western countries, through out foreign policy,  continue to politically and physically destabilise vulnerable countries and exploit the natural resources; and as long as we continue to pursue policies which  lead to global warming;  migration will continue and it will grow.  What we are seeing now is only the beginning of what is likely  become a massive international crisis of an  unimaginable scale. We need to act urgently to tackle the root causes of mass migration rather than erecting fences and employing more security guards. Lets start by spending money at Calais on a modern  reception centre where migrants can live in decent conditions and be processed quickly. Instead of screwing Greece for £billions in repayments lets write of its debt and allow it to invest some of this money in providing proper facilities of the tens of thousands of refugees who come ashore from the Med. My hope is that instead of focusing on the death TV celebrities or sporting success, our political leaders will begin to focus on and show sympathy towards  the humanitarian crisis of tens of thousands of people perishing whilst fleeing horrors that most  of us will thankfully never have to experience.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Solidarity With Migrants Demo Folkestone Today


I was proud to attend to the demonstration at the Folkestone Channel Tunnel Terminal to show solidarity with migrants today. The turnout was disappointing, but having said that the demo was organised at short notice and the organisers did a great job. It was great to see Green Party colleagues at the demo standing up what for what is morally right  – defending  the migrants against the media and political onslaught. Don’t forget that the overwhelming majority of migrants have been forced to flee their countries because of the consequences of the foreign policy of the UK, Europe and the USA. We should therefore do the  honourable thing and take our fair share of the men, women and children fleeing  for their lives, instead of building more fences and deploying more security.We have a moral and humanitarian responsibility to help.
Although I am glad that I went my only disappointment was that  for the first time in a long time, the right wing counter demonstration was larger than the progressive gathering. I suspect that the nasty, bigoted anti-immigrant outcry being fuelled by the media and the Tories may have put a few people off attending.
Talking of  anti-immigrant rhetoric I was surprised to find myself agreeing with the acting Leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman when she criticised Prime Minster, David Cameron, for describing immigrants travelling through Europe to the UK as  “swarms” .  Apparently she said that immigrants were people – not insects – and that to describe them in such a way is inflammatory.  She was right. But hang on wasn’t it Harriet  Harman who less than 12 weeks ago was quite happy to support the sale of Control Immigration mugs for £5.00 to raise money for Labour’s ill-fated general election campaign.  And talking about elections I’ve noticed, with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn, all of the Labour Leadership hopefuls are keeping quite about immigration. I suspect they fear that uttering anything remotely compassionate about the plight of these desperate and abused people might  undermine their self-serving ambition. This is especially true of  Yvette Cooper who in her role as  Shadow Foreign Secretary remained silent for an embarrassingly long time about the thousands of refugees who were drowning in the Mediterranean  following the withdrawal of EU funding to the Italian Navy for its humanitarian rescue patrols. In fact out  of
all the Labour Leadership hopefuls, only Jeremy Corbyn was honourable enough to sign a Parliamentary Early Day Motion condemning the cuts to EU funding for the Italian rescue mission. This pitiful hypocrisy makes me feel sick and even though I hope Corbyn wins  the Labour  leadership, I can’t ever imagine Labour  becoming a party of social progress as long as it allows unprincipled, careerist hypocrites to join its ranks.

 

 

Friday, 31 July 2015

I'm Proud to Support Migrants: Demo Saturday Folkestone


I’ve just been interviewed by BBC Radio Kent about the demonstration in solidarity with migrants at the Euro Tunnel Terminal Folkestone on Saturday. Listening to the programme I was astounded and sickened by the level of hostility and bigotry towards the migrants.  This is a humanitarian crisis. The migrants are some of the most desperate men, women and children  on our planet. They  are feeling war, torture, rape and famine to have a better safer life. They are taking incredible risks to make their journeys to safety and many die on the way. And don’t forget, that the situations these people are fleeing from are largely the result of foreign policy pursued by the UK, Europe and the USA. We have a moral responsibility to help these people as we are partly the cause of their suffering. And even if this was not true, we have a duty of compassion towards fellow human beings  in serious trouble to lend a helping hand. Yet far too many people are responding to the crisis with hatred and unbelievable nastiness. The fact is, our country is taking fewer migrants than most others in Europe and instead of demonising them I believe we should be welcoming them.  And finally instead of blaming  the immigrants for having the audacity to flee  from the terrors we have partly created, we
should be developing polices to allow the countries we have destabilised to rebuild and become prosperous. This is why I am proud to be attending the gathering in Folkestone  tomorrow. This is why I am  proud to demonstrate my solidarity with the migrants. If you want to show your solidarity assemble 11am at the Euro Tunnel Service station Ashford Road, Folkestone, CT18 8XX. I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Me Retired? For Fox Sake No!!

Outside Margate Magistrates Court
Sorry for the absence.  I decided to take some time out after the elections to spend with my family. They were incredibly supportive and never complained about the hours I spent at meetings, leafleting, campaigning, drafting press releases, writing speeches and doing case work. So I owe them big time and have spent the past few weeks doing lots of family  things which has been brilliant. And now that the school holidays are almost here I intend to be relaxing (?) with Mrs D and the girls for the next 6 weeks. 

But I haven't retired from politics. Far from it. I'm slowly easing myself back into things. A couple of weeks ago I had an appointment with the District Judge at Margate Magistrates Court to answer charges of unlawful entry into the port of Ramsgate and assault on  a security office
 during an anti-live animal exports demo over a year. In my opinion the case should never have come to court. It was a waste of public money. I got the impression that the judge felt that too, because he awarded me the lowest possible penalty - a 12 month conditional discharge plus costs of £500.
Just last week I joined  friends old and new at a demo outside our new South Thanet MP, Craig McInlay's,  office in Broadstairs , to protest about his support for watering down anti-fox hunting laws.  Thankfully our new animal welfare friendly government decided to withdraw their plans when it became clear they would lose the vote.

Talking of live animal exports, next week sees a sailing of the ship of death Joline from Ramsgate which will be transporting thousands of hapless creatures to their deaths in Europe.  I will be down at the port  to protest and bear witness to this cruel and barbaric trade.

I'm also becoming very  angry about the Labour Party's response to the Governments massive cuts to welfare benefits. I am gobsmacked that 80% of their MPs abstained from voting on this massively important issue. What a bunch of spineless fuckers they are. But credit to the 48 Labour MPs who broke the whip and voted against these ghastly proposals. They are clearly in the wrong party and should join me in the Greens come on guys you know it makes it sense. More on this later.

 
Also some of you know I love my Freedom of Information requests. In fact,  I kid you not,  someone once submitted a freedom of information request to Thanet Council asking hoe many FOIs I had submitted and how much they cost. The request was rejected which is a shame because I would liked to have the had the answer too. But seriously though  I'm worried about Government plans to emasculate freedom of information. regulations and severely restrict what people can find out about the public bodies they pay for. This is serious stuff so expect more from me on that.

Finally swearing. Like tens of millions I've always sworn and I always will. I do mind my Ps and Qs in certain circumstances. But since leaving he council I have decided that in expressing my views about the world around me I will be more free in the use of expletives. Its part of the language  and culture I was brought up in. Most of the  people I socialise with swear. So from the time to expect the odd fucker, wanker, arsehole, bollox  and shit to appear on these pages and elsewhere.

best wishes Ian