Marxism 2018: Martin Empson on Climate Change

My first post about Marxism 2018 – which has kicked off in fine style.

INTRODUCTION

The Marxism Festival is always one of the highlights of the year for me, and it got underway today. My train to London ran a bit late, but I was still at the venue in good time to do everything that I needed to before the first meeting. 

Double map, Kings CrossSt Pancras ISt Pancras IISt Pancras IIIRoundel

CLIMATE CHANGE: WHAT DOES THE ANTHROPOCENE MEAN FOR REVOLUTIONARY STRATEGY

Just before I get on to covering this excellent meeting I wish to deal briefly with a related matter: Jeremy Corbyn has been getting stick in certain circles for choosing to use Prime Minister’s Questions this week to tackle Theresa May on the state of buses in Britain. He was right to take her to task on this topic, and she floundered hopelessly as she usually does, unable to answer the questions. Here are a couple of charts from nomisweb.co.uk that between them make quite clear the rightness of Corbyn on this issue, which I found by way of the twitter feed of somebody called David Ottewell

and with car journeys added to the chart:

That vast number of people using the car as their main mode of transport outside of London is a major problem in many ways, and is caused in large part by the scandalous state of bus services outside the capital. As a concrete example, King’s Lynn is the third largest town in Norfolk while Fakenham is a market town in the middle of Norfolk. The last bus out from King’s Lynn to Fakenham leaves Lynn at 5:40PM, while the last bus back from Fakenham to King’s Lynn leaves Fakenham at 5:30PM – and this is still a better bus service than most of Norfolk can count on.

The meeting began with an explanation of the term Anthropocene, and then covered some details about recent heat records:

Display IDisplay II

3E before Martin Empson meeting
The room in which my first meeting was taking place.

Book Display

Martin at the ready
Martin Empson preparing himself.

No To FrackingTimetable FCTimetable BCCover slide

Speaker and chair just before the start
Speaker Martin and chair Jasmine just before the start.

Fracking plus WindrushDump Trump

The chair introduces the meeting
Jasmine introduces Martin
Heatwave slide I
The first of six record temperatures set in a very short space of time to be shiown here.

Heatwave slide IIYerevan record

Quriyat min temp
This means that there was whole 24-hour period in which the temperature was never at any point less than 42.6 celsius in this location.

Pakistan 5o degrees

Colorado
A heat record set in the country with a climate change denier as president.
Heatwave slide - final
The final slide showing all the records.

After this the speaker went on to talk about the inadequacy of the provisions made at an important meeting in Paris, the demonstration that occurred in Paris at the same time as that meeting and to end with a message:

Climate Change meetingCC protest

Gas Platform
This is the largest floating object ever built by humans – an offshore gas platform owned by Shell.
System Change Not Climate Change
The ultimate message of this meeting.

There then followed an excellent discussion as people asked questions and made contributions, before Martin came back to tie everything together. This meeting was an excellent start to my Marxism 2018.

Camilla contributes from the floor
This young woman was to be the main speaker at the second meeting I attended, and her contribution from the floor in this one was excellent.
Martin summing up the meeting
Martin Emspon summing up.

LGBT+ Liberation

Midweek Mixture

Some stuff I have seen recently on the internet, a little teaser of a problem and some photographs from today’s ‘ecotherapy’ session.

INTRODUCTION

I spent most of this morning indulging in ‘ecotherapy’ (i.e. getting out and about in the open air – my thanks to The Gentleman for the term), which also provide me with photographs which will end this post. In between times I will share various pieces that have caught my eye recently. 

NATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

I start this section with a petition that has been set up on thepetitionsite calling for Michael Gove to be replaced as Defra minister (see graphic below, which also functions as a link):

GOVE is bad for the environment. Demand new Defra Minister!

It is pretty much impossible for any replacement to be worse than the Downright Dishonourable Mr Gove, although while this dreadful government remains in office the right person for the job will not be selected. In the hope that Jeremy Corbyn, or someone who can influence him might see this I say, as I did when naming my fantasy cabinet a while back that the right person for this role is Caroline Lucas.

SOLAR POWER IN AUSTRALIA

It makes perfect sense for Australia to be looking at solar power in a big way, just as here in Norfolk we should take advantage of our biggest renewable resource by building many more wind turbines. I am therefore delighted to share this story from the treehugger website titled “Australia will be home to world’s largest single-tower solar thermal power plant“, the feature graphic from which I produce below:

australia solar thermal tower

THE DEATH OF THE INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE

This is the title of a piece in The Economist. After 120 years of dominating the scene the internal combustion engine’s days are numbered, and the end for this pollution generating monstrosity cannot come soon enough. I include their feature graphic below.

A PLAN TO REVIVE AN EXTINCT SPECIES

This one comes from thewildlifeplanet.com and the species that may be being brought back from extinction is the Caspian tiger. The plan involves using DNA from the Siberian tiger, a rare but surviving species that is closely related to the Caspian tiger. A potential living area for the revived species has been identified in Kazakhstan. The map below shows the areas reckoned to have been inhabited by the common ancestor of these tiger species when it was around 10,000 years ago.

ANNA’S CHURCH

I end this section of the post with a nod to Anna and the brief post she put up yesterdya about her continuing fight to protect nature under the title “I went to my church“, one picture from which I reproduce below.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

I am going to present these links as a bulleted list, amplifying some of them a little:

  • Our government has recently reneged on promised rail electrification programs in Wales and in northern England (yes, largely due to privatisation and consequent neglect our railways are so backward that not all of them have yet been electrified, some services still being run by diesel locomotives). Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has put up a short post outlining how these electrifications could be funded.
  • The title of my next piece, from Buzzfeed, should be sufficient: “People Who Use Wheelchairs Are Being Forced To Crawl On To Trains And It’s 2017
  • The last piece in this section come from the skwawkbox. The first features a video from Double Down News which referring back to an incident from last year is utterly devastating for Virgin Trains, as it shows conclusively that Jeremy Corbyn was telling the truth when he described that train as ‘ram-packed’ and Virgin’s subseqnet denials, including one from the boss, Richard Branson, were lies. The most devastating footage comes about halfway through the video, which is embedded below, and shows the reserved seats filling (as one might expect) moments after Corbyn had walked past them. The skwawkbox piece is titled “DOUBLE DOWN VIDEO SCOOP PROVES WHAT WE TOLD YOU LAST YEAR: #TRAINGATE WAS FULL“.

ELECTORAL REFORM

Britain’s First Past the Post (FPTP) system of electing representatives has had its day. Those who support this system claim that it delivers stable majority governments, but it has failed to do this three times running (no majority in 2010, wafer-thin majority for Cameron in 2015, May running a minority government with the support of the vile DUP in 2017. I have three recent pieces dealing with this topic for your attention. 

  1. Setting the scene for the other two a post on theconversation.com titled “Wasted votes, hyper-marginals and disillusion: reform group issues damning report on election 2017
  2. The Electoral Reform Society’s introduction to their full report titled “June’s election was the third strike for Westminster’s voting system. It’s out” and…
  3. The full report itself, titled “The 2017 General Election: Volatile Voting, Random Results“.  

As well as the voting system needing reform, the results in Northern Ireland showed that it is time for the Labour Party to abandon its pact with the SDLP and field candidates of its own – the recent Stormont election successes of Gerry Carroll and Eamonn McCann have demonstrated that non-sectarian socialists standing as such can win in Northern Ireland.

A PROBLEM AND SOME PHOTOGRAPHS

I generally finish my posts by putting up some of my own photographs. Before getting to those I have a teaser for you:

coin tosses restricted

The above table shows two putative sets of coin toss records, each for one coin tossed thirty times. Which is more like to be genuine based on what you can see?

a) series one
b) series two

If you want to have a public stab at answering this feel free to use the comments, although I will say neither yea nor nay until I put my next post up, which will include an answer to this little teaser. 

Now for those photographs…

featureimageTortoiseshell3flying butterfly

Mother and child
The junior duck in this picture is just developing her adult feathers, but continues to be chaperoned by her mother.

Moorhen2Moorhen1White butterfly3white butterfly2PollinatorTortoiseshell2Tortoiseshell1white butterflyCH2CHMini waterfall

 

 

Grab Bag

A variety of things that have come to my attention recently.

INTRODUCTION

This post is about a mixture of things from the last few days, hence the title.

CHAMPIONSHIPS AND CONTRIVANCES REVSITED

Some of you may remember that I put this post up on Thursday, with Somerset having secured an emphatic win in their game and Middlesex and Yorkshire going head to head in theirs. Sadly, when I checked what was going on on Friday afternoon, Lyth and Lees (the two opening batsmen, neither with any sort of status as bowlers) were purveying out-and-out filth for Yorkshire to help Middlesex set an agreed target. Yorkshire paid for accepting such an arrangement when their batting subsequently collapsed handing the title to Middlesex. Sadly, Somerset were innocent victims of this scam by Middlesex and Yorkshire, being robbed of would have been their first ever county championship not by good cricket but by dirty back room dealings.

BEES AND PARKS

This refers to two important issues that came up this weekend. Firstly, Greenpeace have exposed Bayer and Syngenta as having covered up evidence that their products were hugely damaging to bees. Greenpeace’s release can be viewed here, and here is a copy of their accompanying picture:

38-degrees-bees

The parks part of the title of this section refers to an effort by 38 Degrees to secure better protection for our parklands. Living in King’s Lynn at this time gives this a particular resonance for me, so:

Britain’s parks are at risk. There’s no legal responsibility to look after them and squeezed budgets mean our local green spaces – from playgrounds, to the park you relax in on your lunch break – don’t have the money they need. We could end up being forced to pay to use our parks – or lose them altogether. 

A group of MPs are looking into the crisis right now. They’re thinking of making protecting parks a legal requirement, and they’ll advise the government on what to do. A huge petition, signed by all of us, will prove how much we love our parks. It could convince the MPs to come up with a water-tight plan for protecting them. 

Can you sign the petition now and demand that looking after our parks is made a legal requirement by the government? It only takes 30 seconds to add your name:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/save-our-parks

Here are some pictures of my own, including a few from King’s Lynn’s own parkland areas:

dscn5619dscn5620dscn5624dscn5625dscn5723dscn5729dscn5730dscn5732dscn5733dscn5735dscn5736dscn5740dscn5743dscn5744dscn5754dscn5755dscn5756

LABOUR LEADERSHIP ELECTION 

I will let these beautiful infographics culled from twitter do the talking for me on this one:

jcwiijcwiii

SOME AUTISM RELATED STUFF

As NAS West Norfolk Branch Secretary and as someone who is #ActuallyAutistic I am always glad to share really excellent autism related content, and I have two absolute gems for you:

Finally to end this section, as regular readers will know one of the activities I am involved in via NAS West Norfolk is Musical Keys, and this is an advert they have recently produced:

mk

THE FINISHING TOUCHES

One of my favourite blogs is that of singer Charlotte Hoather, who has just started at the Royal College of Music in London. Her post about her first week there can be viewed here.

To end this post I give you a series of pictures starring a snail…

dscn5734
This is the original picture that I took.
snail-cropped
This is cropped but not otherwise edited.
snail-normal-edit
This is the snail after my normal editing routine.
snail-cb
This is a colour-boosted version.
snail-contrast-enhanced
This version has the contrast enhanced.
snail-the-works
Finally, this version has had the colour boosted and the contrast enhanced.

 

Pictures, Links and an Open Letter

A post prompted in part by Mike Sivier’s excellent open letter to Angela Eagle and in part by having a few other things to share – enjoy.

INTRODUCTION

This post is a bit of a pot-pourri, although one of the links and the open letter are related.

THE OPEN LETTER AND RELATED LINK

The author of this open letter is Mike Sivier of Vox Political, on whose blog I found it. Here is the open letter in full, followed by a link to the blog post in which I found it:

Dear Ms Eagle,

As a Labour voter of many years’ standing, and a member of the party for the last six, I am writing to express my outrage at your comments following the vandalism of the Wallasey party office.

We can agree that the damage to the window – like any crime – is unacceptable. However:

How dare you claim that it was carried out by a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, “in his name”? Do you have any evidence? Do the police already know who did it? I think not – otherwise we would no doubt have heard about it.

In fact, Mr Corbyn has made it abundantly clear – many times over the past few weeks, that he finds such behaviour abhorrent and wants members of the party to discuss their differences in a cordial manner. This leads me to my second point:

How dare you try to pontificate to the rest of the party about “bullying”, after the behaviour you have forced Mr Corbyn to endure, together with the other 170+ PLP rebels?

Look at the behaviour that has occurred in YOUR name:

Months of secret plotting against Mr Corbyn after he won the Labour leadership last year;

The intention to mislead the public into thinking the Labour ‘coup’ was prompted by Mr Corbyn’s performance in the EU referendum when it had been pre-planned over many months;

The co-ordinated, on-the-hour resignations of shadow cabinet members throughout June 26 in an effort to BULLY Mr Corbyn out of the Labour leadership;

The purchase of a web domain entitled ‘Angela4Leader’ the day before those resignations;

The hasty and unconstitutional calling and passing of a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Mr Corbyn in another attempt to BULLY him out of office;

(It has been implied that some, or indeed many, Labour MPs were BULLIED into supporting that vote)

The attempted BULLYING of Mr Corbyn himself at a Parliamentary Labour Party meeting;

The many letters by your fellow Labour MPs, trying to BULLY Mr Corbyn into resigning; and

The fabricated smear stories intended to undermine Mr Corbyn’s support among members and, again, BULLY him into resigning – including your claim today about this broken office window.

If you are serious in your claim that bullying “has absolutely no place in politics in the UK and it needs to end”, then perhaps the best way to start would be by ending your own challenge to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, submitting yourself to the mercy of your constituents who are holding a ‘no confidence’ vote on your conduct later this month, and considering your own future in politics.

With kind regards,

Mike Sivier

Link: Vox Political

A NEW POST ON WWW.LONDONTU.BE

I have just put up a new post on my London Transport themed website centred on the Institute of Education.

IOE Close Up

SOME NEW PHOTOS

Just a few photos that I have not previously shared:

DSCN7508
A work colleague who knows of my interest in railwayana gave me this badge. By the way, this union was one of those amalgamated to form the Rail and Maritime Transport workers union (RMT).
DSCN7509
Moorhen with two chicks, upper Purfleet, King’s Lynn
DSCN7510
I saw this near Lynn Sport on Sunday

Summer is Here and Other Stuff

A mention of politics, cricket and summer being here. Some good photographs as well.

INTRODUCTION

I have various things to cover, and of course pictures to share. I will work up to the pictures, covering everything else first…

LOCAL AND REGIONAL ELECTIONS

The only vote I was able to take part in was for Norfolk Police & Crime Commissioner, and although disappointed that it went the way of the Tory (by a small margin from Labour) I was pleased to see the incumbent, Mr Bett, finish a humiliating fourth.

THE LONDON MAYORAL ELECTIONS

The news from these was nearly all good. Sadiq Khan won with a record vote for any candidate in any London Mayoral election. This has probably had the added beneficial effect of ensuring that no further campaigns will be conducted under the malign influence of Sir Lizard of Oz (yes, even as the latest effort to be besmirched by his dirty pawprints was unravelling in spectacular fashion Mr Cameron was orchestrating a knighthood for him) aka Linton Crosby. Sian Berry was rewarded for the excellence of her own campaign with third place, a record vote for a Green candidate and election to the Greater London Assembly along with Caroline Russell, while Shahrar Ali just missed out on becoming a third Green GLA member.

THE OVERALL PICTURE

In the first set of elections since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader his party won 47% of the council seats contested while also succeeding in in two mayoral elections (Bristol as well as London) and two by-elections. For comparison during the first set of elections contested after the election as leader of Anthony B Liar Labout won 46% of the council seats contested, while in those days there were no mayoral elections.

CRICKET

The English cricket season is well under way, with some heavy scoring going on all over the country. May 9th 1895 was the day on which W G Grace played his first first class innings of that season, and just 21 days later he reached 1,000 runs for the season, the first time that feat had been achieved in May (the strict 1,000 in May has since been emulated only by Wally Hammond and Charlie Hallows, although Tom Hayward, Don Bradman (twice), Bill Edrich, Glenn Turner and Graeme Hick all reached 1,000 for the English season before June, having played some innings in April).

SUMMER IS HERE

After a somewhat patchy spring, summer appears to have started early. For the second straight day I am in shorts and t-shirt. Here are some summery photographs to end the post (in tiled mosic form – click on an individual to view at full size)…

Liberal Democrat Party Divorce From Reality

An account of developments in Lib-Dem world since I published my “Open Letter To Tim Farron”

INTRODUCTION

This can be thought of as a follow-up to my “Open Letter to Tim Farron”. Yesterday and today have seen some further developments that I believe warrant commenting on.

THE WIDENING REALITY GAP

Both Tim Farron and Sir Vince Cable have spoken of large scale defections from Labour to the Liberal Democrats. Meanwhile, IRL the first defection has happened – Councillor Jennifer Churchill switching allegiance from the Liberal Democrats to Labour. I have two versions of the story for you to check out:

  1. The original story in the Richmond & Twickenham Times
  2. This, courtesy of Huffington Post

Meanwhile, also IRL, the number of people who have joined the Labour Party since the result of their leadership election was confirmed now exceeds the total membership of the Liberal Democrats. For more on this and other numbers associated with the Labour leadership election check out this piece from labourlist.

I also note, courtesy of Politics Home, that Mr Farron, who previously awarded the Liberal Democrats 2 out of 10 for their performance in the coalition (a mark that to me seemed generous) has backtracked on that. I also note, courtesy of The Guardian, that Mr Farron would apparently go back into coalition with the Tories in 2020 should that possibility arise. This latter practically beggars belief given that being in coalition with them from 2010-15 well-nigh destroyed the Liberal democrats as a party. In the 2015 General Election people who actually wanted Tory policies voted for the real thing rather than a poor imitation, and people who did not want Tory policies were not going to trust the Liberal Democrats, so voted for other parties. To even be considering another Con-Dem coalition as a possibility in these circumstances seems to me to allow only two possibilities:

  1. Mr Farron has taken leave of his senses.
  2. Mr Farron is in actuality a saboteur trying to complete the job of destroying the Liberal Democrat party that five years of being handmaidens to the Tories started.

What is emerging from the Liberal Democrat conference is proof positive, from the horses mouth, that they cannot be considered in any sense of the word to represent any sort of opposition to the Tories. For that people must look elsewhere.

AN IMPORTANT PETITION

Jeremy Corbyn has been under constant fire from the right, including supposed party colleagues of his for some time. It is time that the media, and more especially right-wing Labour politicians recognised the triumph of a man who garnered more than three times as many votes as any of their chosen candidates could muster and stopped seeking to do him down. Please sign and share the petition.

I conclude thIS part of this post by sharing this, just in from politicalsift.

PHOTOGRAPHS

For those who have read this post through, here are some pictures from the last couple of days to enjoy…

DSCN5849 DSCN5908 DSCN5894 DSCN5897 DSCN5899 DSCN5900 DSCN5901 DSCN5903 DSCN5905 DSCN5907 Squirrel - sharpened