Labour’s new policy reviews: announcement imminent – including in areas such as ‘Loneliness’

Major Policy Reviews will be announced today by Labour (see ) including in unconventional “areas” such as ‘Time-poorness’ and ‘Loneliness’. This is a dramatic development; it partly explains why Miliband’s team came out in favour of Cameron’s stuff about ‘quality of life’ the other day.
Labour’s tentative sidling away from its standard pro-growth agenda (see already here ) is an opportunity for the Green Party: For it speaks to ‘our’ issues; it puts us in a good position once again to show that we are the Party that has been ahead of the curve here (in terms of work-life balance, the well-being agenda, relocalising and so building community, etc), and that we are the Party to trust on this issue. It is good to see Labour starting finally to catch up with us a little bit on this…
 p.s. Did you see a few days ago, Rupert’s Readers, this poll that has Greens on 10% for next May, in our ‘target constituency’ in Wales?: More than enough to elect our first Assembly Member!: If we break through into Wales, then we will at least be represented in every nation of these islands – a distinction unmatched by any other political Party.

A ‘reprieve’ from dangerous climatechange?

I debated Mike Hulme last night, as part of the UEA Public Lectures on ‘Philosophy and the Environment’. It went well. But my fear is that some people like Mike’s work so much, because it appears to offer them a reprieve. Mike’s work suggests that it is somehow OK for us to disagree about manmade climate change. But the parameters within which it is OK are limited. If we go on disagreeing much longer, we’ll be arguing underwater…

Clegg: a true liberal

Clegg is the true face of liberalism, as Willetts was before him. It is high time that egalitarians admitted this, and ditched Rawls as their patron philosopher. Goodbye to the political philosophy of liberalism, which has acted as an apologia for the disaster triumphant of climate-chaos, financial metdown, rampant inequality, etc. . It is a new socialism (eco-socialism) that we need, not Rawls/Clegg.
Check out the interesting ongoing discussion here, about this:  .
Rupert Read
Green Party Councillor, Norwich.
[If you have an urgent email for me while I am away from a regular computer, you may wish to try contacting me instead on rupertread+mob AT]

Myself and Mr. Clarke in discussion

Culture of Countryside logos-2



The Countryside and Cultural Change


Conference, review and discussions

Sainsbury Centre,

Garden Restaurant

Friday 3rd December 2010


                                                Review of Culture of the Countryside, summary of its methods and findings:


5.30 – 6.30                           Keynote Lecture and discussion


The countryside and cultural change – from localism to  globalisation?

                                                Dr Sanna Inthorn, School of Political Social and International Studies

Discussion led by:

 Rt. Hon. Charles Clarke (Visiting Professor, School of Political Social and International Studies & former MP for Norwich South) &

 Dr Rupert Read, School of Philosophy & Green Norwich City Councillor.

“Not killing people pays” says UN… Woohoo!


Nice to see the UN ‘leading’ on this one… Sheesh

“Preventing deaths and destruction from disasters pays, if done right,” according to the 250-page report by 70 experts entitled “Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters.”


“Losses will triple primarily because you have economic growth and … more people and property located in richer areas. As people get richer they have more to lose,” lead author Apurva Sanghi told a telephone news conference.

[Doesn’t this rather support my general thinking — see e.g. my recent post about ‘ecosystem services’ — about the problem with putting everything into financial terms?]

What are the Labour Left for?

“The Labour left’s role is to establish connections, in periods of Labour opposition, with other ‘progressives’ – they always do it, and it invariably ends in recrimination and disappointment when the disciplines of Labourism are reasserted on return to power!” –
An important, provocative remark from Andy Pearmain, Norwich-based Gramscian historian, formely a Labour Councillor, now with us (the Greens)…

Environmental thinking: a digest of my recent pieces, in case you’ve missed ’em:

The change we need: To escape permanent crisis

If we are to avoid being in a permanent ecological crisis, breaching the limits to growth, there are two over-arching requirements that our political, economic, legal etc. systems must observe:

1) 11 1) They need to involve genuinely long-term thinking, long-term planning. (We need and feel to think the needs of the 7th generation, and beyond.)

2) 22 2) They need also to be able to be rapidly-responsive to swiftly-changing environmental conditions, when those arise; e.g. to potential ‘climate surprises’, and in general to the need to change systems fast which are fuelling ecological threats that we have very limited time-spans to avert.

As soon as one reflects honestly upon the nature of the systems that we do in fact have, one realises just how dire a situation we are in, and how dramatically we need to shift our energy in order to give ourselves a chance of bringing about the change that we need in order to escape the crises currently staring us in the face, and in order not to jump into the frying-pan of endlessly succeeding crises (e.g. those which would be caused by our having no solution to the huge nuclear waste problem, by our hoovering up the tar sands and oil shales, by the ever-lengthening supply-lines and ever-diminishing sense of community implicit in the project of globalisation, etc.).

For this is the nature of the actual systems that we have:

1) They are incredibly short-termist. We think largely in terms of ‘business-cycles’, electoral-cycles, etc., at best. These are far shorter than the time-scales with which nature works, and upon which our descendants are hanging, as by a thread.

2) And yet they are also remarkably slow to respond to swiftly-changing environmental conditions, when those arise: A huge inertia is built into our energy-infrastructure, into our business and ‘market’ systems, into our politics. Think for instance of how difficult it has been to get the hydrogen economy or electric cars take seriously. Let alone shifts (e.g. to a steady-state economy, or to permacultural methods of agriculture) which require more fundamental alterations to the status quo. Or think of how poor many of our ‘democratic’ / electoral systems (case in point: First past the post) are at making feasible rapid change in the fundamental political forces in a country (FPTP makes it almost impossible for any new Party to grow at anything other than a snail’s pace).

Think of how conservative so much of our mind-set tends to be: We look to make the minimum possible reforms, as slowly as possible, to keep our system(s) staggering along, thinking only of the short-term as we do so.

If we are as a civilisation going to survive this century, and to put ourselves on a long-term path toward survivability and a culture that will last as permanently as is humanly possible, then we need to change this.

This is going to be very hard: for the very reasons indicated here! Fundamental features of our political economy, perhaps of our very psychology, militate against it.

That just makes it all the more important that we set our minds firmly to it. For the alternative – failure to change (1) and (2) – is clear. And disastrous.

We need in effect a revolution, or a linked set of revolutions. The kinds of change that occurred when Copernicus displaced Ptolemy, when the British or the French overthrew their monarchies, when slavery was abolished. Perhaps the revolutions that we need are even greater in profundity than those. No matter: we must make them nevertheless, for on our doing so our futures and those of our children depend. We can have a world in permanent ecological crisis, or in a state of collapse: or we can have a world in which we flourish, through changing radically the systems within which we operate. Those are now the only realistic options.

Business as usual with a few light green bells and whistles to decorate it is no longer an option.