I was privileged to be on the panel of a hustings held by the Weston Chamber of Commerce yesterday evening, even though they knew that I was no longer a candidate. The MP John Penrose was on urgent Parliamentary business, so there were 4 male members on the panel - Mike Bell the LibDem contender, Dave Bradley, Labour (slogan - Vote Labour, Get the Tory in), Dr Steven Pearse Danker (UKIP), all chaired by a HTV journalist. There were 21 business persons in the audience, one third women.
I explained my withdrawal in terms of not wishing to be responsible for a Cameron victory, because the Conservative have no sense at all of what is and what is not a democratically sensitive electoral system. We need electoral reform as the first step in a cleansing of the Augean stables that is Westminster, since FPTP is associated with low turnout, high MP expenses claims, MP indolence and insensitivity, political stagnation, neglect of minority interests, inhibition of political innovation, necessitation of tactical voting and tactical standing, and so on. I laid into FPTP big time, and sensed that the audience was with me. People agree that FPTP has got to go.
I explained why a Green Party was necessary in terms of political philosophy, why economics and ecology are sister disciplines, about the Green New Deal and my personal advocacy of the Green Wage Subsidy.
On business, I mentioned that Green policy is for SMEs and against NICs. Bit scanty. I had printed out a collection of GP policies on business from the PSS (MfSS) but lost it somewhere on my desk before I left.
Milling around before the meeting, I challenged Stephen Pearse Danker on Climate Change (UKIP is officially in CC denial) and told the Labour candidate that he was helping to let the Tory in. He looked as if he did not care less, nor when I advised him of Colin Hine's perception that a Tory victory might lead to the final annihilation of the Labour Party.
The UKIP laid into the EC, making even less attempt to address the issue of local business than me.
The Lisbon Treaty gives the EU legal personality, with a Prosecutor and Chief of Police, EU law is supreme, the legislative judiciary and executive are not separate, the Lisbon Treaty is self amending, the commission (=civil service) is the only body to propose, draw up and approve legislation. In short, the EU means the end to civilisation and democracy as we know it.
Although UKIP is prone to falling into the pit of conspiracy theories, someone (not me, because I am allergic to reading legal/constitutional documents) should examine UKIP's critique, because if there is any truth in it, the Lisbon Treaty needs some serious amending.
My 2p worth is that the EU constitution should be put to us, the people, to decide on instead of being dropped on us from a great height.
Mike Bell was OK. He would make a good MP if he succeeds. He knows his stuff, and is a good listener.
I eschew personality politics, so will pass no comment on the presentational qualities of the UKIP or Labour candidates. The Labour man defended bonuses. How are the mighty fallen!
There were 2 good questions - one on Income and Reward structure, which cued me to expound on the Spirit Level breakthrough, (more income equality will cure all social diseases) which seemed to hold their attention. The other one was about the credit crunch, which caused me to go for a 7 point prescription for solving the financial crisis (split trad and investment banking, increase capital adequacy, German model of banking, audit banking in a systematic way, not on a case by case basis, make bonus recipients responsible for their failures, put QE money into the real economy, not just the banks, and above all, educate ourselves on where money comes from (No, it is not brought in by a stork and left under a bush).
Without boasting, I gave the fullest account of what to do about the financial crisis. The others all just wittered, frankly.
So, hustings. It was weird, me being on the platform despite being a non-candidate. I wish the same applied to a WWF led climate change hustings that is coming up, but no. Door closed. One UKIP member objected to me on a point of order, but was overruled. The real candidates had contacted 21 people, maybe influenced 100 by the audience passing on their impressions. Hundreds of thousands still not contacted. The local paper, the Weston Mercury has helpfully declared a moratorium on political discussion in its letters columns, though they have agreed to give me a right of reply to their editorial.
Tonight I have been invited to a politics session at a Taunton school, as a member of the audience with questioning privileges, to hear the esteemed Craig Murray and also the non-esteemed Alan Sked, founder of UKIP.
My questions will be:
To Craig Murray: The 75 Global Green Parties have put forward the Global Index of Human Rights, which means that the UN will publish annually a league table of all countries human rights records. This will exert a continuous, universal upwards pressure on humna rights performance, and will objectively identify the worst offenders, who would then be legally investigated. Would you be prepared to look at this proposal, with a view to endorsing it?
To Alan Sked: Your party is skeptical of climate change. In the end, this is not an academic debate, because we are part of the experiment.
The consensus among scientists (with a few exceptions, as is always the case in science) is that we should decarbonise our economy as a matter of urgency.
Politicians now have to make a choice. Every choice involves a degree of uncertainty.
Say we decarbonise our economy, and it turns out (unlikely as that may be) that IPCC view is wrong? We will have created hundreds of thousands of jobs in insulation and renewable energy manufacturing and taken thousands out of fuel poverty. We will also have reduced the shock of Peak Oil and Peak Gas, and reduced the acidification of the oceans. And addressed our energy security problems. And increased prosperity in hot countries. Not bad, not bad at all.
Say on the other hand, we go your way, and it turns out, as per all reasonable expectations, that you are wrong?
We will have problems with energy security, Peak Oil, Peak Gas, acidified oceans, acid rain, fuel poverty, unemployment, poverty, civil unrest and finally, massive, catastrophic climate disruption from droughts, floods, crop failures, disease, and war. With massive migration caused by environmental collapse.
Will you not admit that on the balance of probabilities, it is a safer bet to put our money into decarbonising the global economy?