New #Vodafonefail

Vodafone admit to me here that they swallowed Mubarak’s line on national security justifying their phone blackout!:
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]

#Yes2AV letter of mine in PROSPECT

This letter has just been published, in the latest issue of PROSPECT magazine:
  To the Editor;
Peter Kellner’s piece (Jan. ’11) on how the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill badly underestimates the effect that AV will have on the composition of the Commons.
Because it puts an end to the main form of tactical voting and to the ‘wasted vote’ argument, AV changes the expressed first preferences of voters. For example, the rise of the Greens in Australia has been predicated on growing numbers of Aussies voting Green even if and where the Greens have little chance of winning; voters can affords to do this, because their second preferences etc will still count.
If the AV referendum goes through, expect much more substantial changes to British politics (than Kellner has woken up to) – including an accelerated rise for the Green Party.
C’llr. Rupert Read, one of 21 Norwich Green Councillors
NR2 3TT.

Eastern Region Green Party calls for MPs & govt to put pressure on #Mubarak to democratise now

Green Party members from all over the East of England met in London yesterday for a Regional gathering. The following statement was unanimously agreed:

“We are concerned about the de facto militarisation of the Egyptian government, when what is really needed is a swift and clear promise of _democratisation_. We praise the bravery of those protesting against the dictatorial Mubarak regime. We call on our MPs and our government to exert the strongest possible economic and diplomatic pressure on the Egyptian regime to refrain from treating protesters with violence and brutality, and to concede forthwith the free and fair elections that are their main demand.”

Stand with #Egypt! – The World in Action

I don’t often do this, but in the case of the #Jan25 revolution, its worth it. Indeed, it feels compulsory. …I’ve signed; I hope you will too:
Forwarded from the good people at Avaaz:

Brave Egyptian protesters will determine in the coming hours whether tyranny or democracy prevails in Egypt and across the region. They’ve appealed for international solidarity – let’s send them a massive response, and hold our governments accountable to stand with them too:

Sign the petition!

Millions of brave Egyptians are right now facing a fateful choice. Thousands have been jailed, injured or killed in the last few days. But if they press on in peaceful protest, they could end decades of tyranny.

The protesters have appealed for international solidarity, but the dictatorship knows the power of unity at a time like this – they’ve desperately tried to cut Egyptians off from the world and each other by completely shutting down the internet and mobile networks.

Satellite and radio networks can still break through the regime blackout — let’s flood those airwaves with a massive cry of solidarity showing Egyptians that we stand with them, and that we’ll hold our governments accountable to stand with them too. The situation is at a tipping point — every hour counts — click below to sign the solidarity message, and forward this email:

People power is sweeping the Middle East. In days, peaceful protesters brought down Tunisia’s 30-year dictatorship. Now the protests are spreading to Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and beyond. This could be the Arab world’s Berlin Wall moment. If tyranny falls in Egypt, a tidal wave of democracy could sweep the entire region.

Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak has tried to crush the rallies. But with incredible bravery and determination, the protesters keep coming.

There are moments when history is written not by the powerful, but by people. This is one of them. The actions of ordinary Egyptians in the coming hours will have a massive effect on their country, the region, and our world. Let’s cheer them on with our own pledge to stand with them in their struggle:

Mubarak’s family has left the country, but last night he ordered the military into the streets. He’s ominously promised 0 tolerance for what he calls ‘chaos’. Either way, history will be made in the next few days. Let’s make this the moment that shows every dictator on our planet that they cannot stand long against the courage of people united.

With hope and admiration for the Egyptian people,
Ricken, Rewan, Ben, Graziela, Alice, Kien and the rest of the Avaaz team

More Information:

Egypt unrest: Alert as mass protests loom  

Egyptian government shuts down the Internet

North Africa: Will dominoes fall in the region?

‘Beginning of the end’ for Egypt’s Mubarak as son and wife flee  

Amnesty International condemns the crackdown on demonstrations 

Regular updates are being posted by Egyptian activists here:

ACCESS campaign for digital freedom in Egypt:  

#Egypt: What I have just written to MPs

 Just a quick note to say – I hope you are urging the British govt today to tell the Egyptian govt today that a massacre tonight would be totally unacceptable. You need to threaten the cutting off of all aid, the imposition of sanctions, etc.
  It is so crucial that the British govt makes very clear to the Egyptian govt right now that the army attacks on the protesters that have now begun – I am watching live coverage on Al Jazeera, this minute – must stop…
   Egypt needs to be told that it will become a pariah state, facing sanctions, etc., if it does not allow these demonstrations to continue, and allow democratic reform in Egypt…
People’s lives – and the reputation of your govt – are in the balance, at present….
Do join me: Write to your MP now!

Egypt and Tunisia – an inspiration

Listen to the remarkable double interview in this morning’s The World Today
programme on the BBC World Service.

The interview, beginning at about 26’4″ into the programme, is with two young
people: Ahmed in Cairo (whose phone is intermittently jammed by the
dictatorship) and Sanay in Tunis.

They express mutual support and solidarity. Their revolution is one.

Near the end of the interview, at about 30’48’, the BBC guy asks Sanay: “Do you think history
is on your side?”

And without a milli-second hesitation, she delivers the right answer:

We are making history; people are making history!”

‘One World Column’ relaunched as blog for East Anglia’s progressive majority…

Today our six East Anglian writer-campaigners – Rupert Read, Mark Crutchley, Charlotte Du Cann, Marguerite Finn, David Seddon, & Trevor Phillips – launched the @OneWorldColumn blog an an online magazine, forum and news network for the region’s progressive organisations.

The One World Column was for six years a regular weekly feature in the Eastern Daily Press, commenting on issues including international development, poverty, globalisation, peacemaking, human rights, international relations and the environment. It also commented on local news from a global perspective. The column was written by a rotating team of six volunteer writers and also published on its own website. When the EDP terminated the weekly column, the writers decided to produce a blog and develop a partnership with progressive organisations with similar interests. Campaigning groups and charities will provide guest writers and news – and network the blog to their organisations’ supporters, creating a wide audience.

The blog was launched last night at a party at the East of England Production Innovation Centre (EPIC) in Norwich. The event was attended by forty guests from independent media, social enterprises, environment organisations, trades unions, charities and political campaigns.

One World Column blog will be:
– a focal point for news and comment on local events linked to global themes
– a link to progressive local NGOs and campaigns and their work – a fresh voice from East Anglia, completely independent of corporate media interests – a place where ideas and information are shared – a forum for guest writers on ‘one world’ themes, especially young writers
– a medium with audio-visual and other new elements, too.

…In a time of increasing global dangers and national political challenges it is important to bring local progressives into supportive partnerships. We want to establish a relationship with other independent media, like-minded writers, progressive campaigns, NGOs, artists and others throughout the region – to develop the One World Column as an asset for us all – reaching members and supporters of our organisations plus the wider public. Organisations can write to (explain how ) to be part of this venture.

David Fleming – a great man

I’m still reeling somewhat from the death of my friend David Fleming late last year. Here are a couple of great tributes I’ve picked up:
I’m pleased that the last time I saw David, in September of 2010, we had a great time together, and some superb chats (as one virtually always did with him). He will be sorely missed, but his influence lives on.