Friday, November 18, 2016

Did anyone think about light pollution??

Photo by Peter Alfrey

Stick light pollution to the list which already inludes noise, air and dust.
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Saturday, November 05, 2016

Result of the Kingswood and Burgh Heath By Election

Fifty five votes doesn't sound like much but on a 20.5 per cent turnout, in an ultra-safe Tory seat it represents 4.8 per cent, which in my humble opinion is creditable given we ran a very limited campaign. If the High Court judgement on BREXIT came out two weeks earlier, I would have expected UKIP to be nearer 20 per cent.

Conservative: 73.3% (+6.6%)
UKIP:             13.5% (-8.1%)
Labour:           8.4%   (-3.3%)
Green:             4:8%   (4.8%)

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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Is a Trump Khan double possible?

From Surrey Mirror web site
Local party site here.

Today, five days before the leading country in the *free world* elects a new president, there's the not insignificant matter of the Kingswood and Burgh Heath By-Election.

I put my name forward, and was chosen by the local party to stand. My personal statement has been published on the Surrey Mirror web site, along with the other three candidates (no LIB DEM standing).

It is a very safe Conservative seat. Given my usual patch is Thornton Heath in Croydon, it has been an interesting experience knocking on the doors in Kingswood, where some streets are fully gated and houses go for £2.5m.

One resident in Kingswood explained that this government and the last one have made a right mess of the country. He was referring to BREXIT. He pointed out that the people who lived in this gated community had predominately sourced their wealth in the City of London, which in turn is essential for the prosperity of the UK. Hence, in his eyes, David Cameron was foolish in calling the EU referendum and risking it all, and Theresa May is equally foolish now for embracing a 'hard Brexit line'.

However, the only election that matters in most peoples eyes takes place next Tuesday on the otherside of the Pond.

The world is watching and wondering if Donald Trump will become President of the USA.

My cousin lives in the US. He put it quite succintly in a message to me:

I think in the privacy of the voting booth (and mail-in) people will vote Trump. Because they are fucking stupid. "Bigly". Clinton isn't perfect and it makes it a not-so clear cut decision, but the choice between a pussy-grabbing, lying, misogynist, tantrum-prone, racist, multiple-bankruptcy burdened business failure with more than 3000 lawsuits, AND a lying shrewd politician tied to Wall Street excesses with email issues, shouldn't be that difficult. 

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Support local reporters in their strike action

Over the last couple of weeks, Jason Lemin, Maeve Tomlinson and I have visited the picket line opposite Quadrant House in Sutton which also happens to be the pick up/drop off point at Sutton Railway station. 

Newsquest (owned by US media giant Gannett) is the second largest publisher of regional and local newspapers in the UK. It has editions all over South London from Bexley to Richmond. The publisher has put its entire south London newsroom on notice of redundancy. Newsquest want 12 reporters and one content editor to produce 11 newspapers and their related websites. (see NUJ web site for more information)

I spoke at length to reporter Chris Caulfield when I visited the picket line. Incredibly, Newsquest aim to reduce the journalistic spend on each page of its publications to £50. Given it can make thousands of pounds through advertising per page, this smacks of overzealous profiteering. Admittedly, this might bump Gannet's share price or make Newsquest an attractive proposition for purchase BUT, this ignores the vital role local and regional newspapers play in holding councillors to account. Cutting reporters at our local papers is like cutting the oxygen of accountability that helps our local democracy breathe.   

In addition to these terrible job losses, and let's be clear striking is the last resort for all the newsdesk staff, I am really worried about how knowledge of any corrupt activity by Croydon, Sutton or Surrey council will find its way to the electorate.  

This whole episode reminds me of a twitter spat between Gareth Davies and his former bosses at the Croydon Advertiser (read Inside Croydon). Gareth Davies over the years, like Chris Caulfield, reported extensively on the incinerator. However, it was only when he had left the Croydon Advertiser (owned by Trinty Mirror), was he really able to let rip on his former bosses about the cutbacks and redundancies. 

I have emailed my MP to sign EDM 511 

I have also written to Newsquest boss Henry Faure Walker - who seemed to be answering incoming calls when I rang the newsdesk last week: 

Please reconsider the cutting strategy

Sat 22/10/2016 09:00 ;
Dear Henry,

I write to you today to reconsider Newsquest's corporate strategy of cutting the number of reporters and to put its entire south London newsroom on notice of redundancy.

Over the last 13 years I have got to know many of the reporters at the Croydon Guardian and Sutton Guardian. This is principally through my community activism. In 2013 I took the big step of challenging Sutton Council in the High Court to stop the commencement of construction of the South London incinerator. I can honestly say that without the coverage in Newsquests papers' I would have struggled to raise the funds to even get to the High Court.

Additionally, such was the complicated nature of the High Court challenge, I am concerned that a single reporter covering a whole edition would struggle to report on such a case. At the time your reporter, Chris Caulfield, was able to attend the trial to see and hear the arguments put before the judge at the Royal Courts of Justice first-hand.

In my opinion, Newsquest are risking its position as brand leader in South London because there are already community based news sites like Inside Croydon providing excellent investigative reporting, and dumbing down the quality of its publications will only affect Newsquests footing and eventually its advertising revenue.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan
Green Party

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Viridor on edge during Open Days

I went along with my daughter to one of the two Open Days organised by Viridor on Beddington Farmlands. I hadn't the slightest thought to disrupt proceedings but Viridor employees, Dan Cooke (Director of Communications), Andrew Turner and a bloke who remember as Ed were certainly watchful of me.

It was a baking hot day and we were advised to wear PPE for the tour as we were walking through the landfill site. The advice regarding the PPE was given during a powerpoint presentation at the start. It was mentioned within a short health and safety briefing, and it was at that point the visiting group were advised that any "disrupted behaviour" wouldn't be tolerated and those involved would be "escorted of site".

It made sense given, Cllr Nick Mattey's threat of chaining himself to the incinerator .

Throughout the tour the three Viridor employees were ever so charming and unsurprisingly attentive towards my daughter and me. We talked about football, politics, and family life. Andrew Turner even revealed he was a member of the Conservative party.

I could honestly say these Viridor guys would be good fun to go for a drink with!

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Tom Watson MP spotted playing Pokemon Go

While sitting on a bench at Victoria Place, last Wednesday, I noticed a familiar face walk past. I couldn't be certain but it looked a lot like the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

I thought to myself, oh well we'll never know.

However, moments after I took this photo (above) as some sort of snap memento, the figure stopped and held out his mobile phone and stared at its screen. I assumed he was checking social media. He paused for such a long time that I thought here's my chance to satisfy my curiosity. So, I walked up to him and said, "Mr Watson?"

"Hi," he replied, "I was just playing Pokemon Go. My kids have really got me into it."

I had a look at the screen on his phone and for the first time I saw what the  Pokemon Go game looked like.

We had a chat about politics and leadership elections. I confessed I was in the Green party and we talked about Caroline Lucas MP, and I explained that she was standing with Jonathan Bartley. Mr Watson said he had just come from Labour party HQ, and joked about whether a Corbyn/Smith job share could work in his party!

Given that Brexit is now done, the chattering classes are all talking about the state of the Labour party; the populace are talking about Pokemon Go and occasionally the two worlds collide.

Mr Watson has got form for being down with the kids. Some of the media slated him for going to Glastonbury but he seems like likable bloke who evidently has interests outside of politics!

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Latest demo outside Viridor's incinerator

Thanks to Maeve Tomlinson an excellent demonstration was held outside the incinerator construction site. We received some excellent coverage in the Sutton Guardian, Croydon Advertiser, Inside Croydon and even Radio Jackie!

Croydon Advertiser
Some videos of the event are here:

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

EU or not to EU by the sons of immigrants.

Pubs in North Croydon offer assistance!

I haven't had a chance to blog for a while but with the looming EU referendum, now just 2 days away, I felt I had to put a different perspective on what is billed as the 'once in generation vote.'

I remember vividly the first time I heard an Asian gentleman call up a radio station (LBC), during a phone in, to moan about immigrants coming in. It was all the more bizarre because he had a fairly strong accent. The presenter responded by quoting the lifting of drawbridge adage but that didn't seem to matter to the caller.

I have had many conversations about the EU vote with friends. The most fascinating conversations are with my Black and Minority Ethnic friends. We are all Londoners in our mid-40s, sons of immigrants, but also of an age to notice the relatively sudden change in the population demographics around us.

Anyway, I thought I would collate their thoughts in this blog:

Mr Saleh - REMAIN

Mr Saleh is voting REMAIN. When we last spoke about the vote, around a month ago, he was convinced that LEAVE wouldn't have a chance. His logic was that people in this country wouldn't vote for a self-imposed economic crash.

Mr Saleh returned to the UK this year after living and working in Dubai for around 17 years, although he has been back to visit on a number of occasions because his mum and dad are still living in London. He told me about walking down Oxford Street recently, and how he didn't hear a single English voice. Everyone was speaking in a foreign tongue. Everyone working in the shops and cafes didn't speak English as a first language. I noticed Mr Saleh posted the meme below on his FB timeline.

We talked about the impact of immigration and how the job market had become very competitive. It was clear to Mr Saleh that we were on the edge of another economic crash. He understood the global economy to be fragile and the repercussions of a BREXIT would make things a lot worse. I played devils advocate, and pointed out we were the the world's 5th largest economy. He replied that we were the 5th largest economy because we were in the EU.


I think during one conversation with Mr Nu I gleaned that he was very much a global citizen and as such the free movement of workers from the EU was limiting opportunities for Commonwealth citizens.

He sent me a message via Facebook last week:

"The economy seems to have flat-lined or be in stagnation. Young people in Italy, Portugal, Greece and Spain are coming to the UK as the EU project has not created employment opportunities. Where there is economic growth in developed economies, the companies are able to shelter their profits through tax shelters and thus the public purse does not increase, hence we have had economic growth without the treasury being able to pay off the public debt.

It strikes me that this model of economics, supported by the IMF, World Bank and major Central Banks is not working. The impact on the rest of the world is dire with most developing countries unable to make any development as they cannot invest in their infrastructure and the creation of a functioning state  as their income goes on debt repayments at staggering rates of interest (or stolen by corrupt regimes).

It strikes me that whether we stay in or out of the EU is not actually the issue. The issue is can anyone change economic policy which creates economic growth, which isn't squirreled away by large companies, to enable politicians to build more robust states. We saw Greece propose this, by voting in a party which would take them out of the Euro to enable them to print their own money and democracy was suspended in that country."

Mr Anenden - LEAVE

Mr Anenden and I spoke about the EU a few days after Green Party peer Jenny Jones appeared on Question Time. She self-described herself as a rebel within the Green party when explaining she was in favour of BREXIT. She made it clear that immigration was not a consideration when arriving at her decision. Instead the simple fact that the EU is unreformable has brought her to the gates of BREXIT. 

This is why Mr Anenden intends to vote LEAVE. He pointed out that if he wanted to vote out the government of the day in the UK he actually could do this. However, with the EU, he has no chance of voting out someone or some group if they decided to impose a policy he disliked. 

Mr Anenden posted on Facebook, "Yes I am voting BREXIT, howvever, I am fully aware of how poisonous the debate has been especially about immigrants. Luckily I am educated enough to discard that bullshit. Growing up in the 70s and 80s I was abused verbally and physically for being a Paki (even though my parents came from Mauritius)."

Mr Srinivason - REMAIN

Mr Srinivason has already voted REMAIN by postal vote. He pointed out to me in an email that, "the arguments put forward by the BREXIT camp just do not make sense to me and are not as persuasive or as rigorous as the case for staying in."

The economic arguments for staying in are important to Mr Srinivason but personalities are also playing a part for many when coming to their decision.

In his email Mr Srinivason said:

"One of the leading campaigners of the 'Out' campaign is Boris Johnson. On a purely personal level I cannot stand him and do not think he has any political intelligence. His persona of a 'harmless, lovable rogue' maybe enough to get him votes among some people but it doesn't work with me. Anything Boris puts his support is very, very unlikely to get my vote."

In addition, he points out, "I think we need to move away from an island nation mentality that people in the UK traditionally have. Many people still believe in British sovereignty  and that we are at battle with the Germans and French. I personally think we need to embrace Europe and have stronger links with them."

Mr Macey - REMAIN

A few months ago when I spoke to Mr Macey about the referendum, like Mr Saleh, he said BREXIT wasn't going to happen. When I saw him again last week, he reminded me that I told him not to presume it was a foregone conclusion. Quite crudely, if you add half the Conservative vote to the UKIP vote, and a third of the Labour vote - then you've already got 40 per cent. What is more, this 40 per cent is definitely voting on 23rd June. 

When we recently met, Mr Macey told me:

"I think there is a discussion to be had on whether the EU is beneficial. Unfortunately, the context of this referendum is one which will see us led out of Europe by extreme right wing ideology. These are people who would create more wealth for the already wealthy, who won't take care of those who need it, and who won't connect to people who really don't have a stake in their future."

My own view - REMAIN

with Jean Lambert MEP in 2006
Back in 2006, whilst on a trip to Belgium I was lucky enough to be shown around the European Parliament by long serving Green party MEP for London, Jean Lambert. A couple of years later I stood for the European Parliament. It would be a bit rich to stand for parliament that I didn't want, although this doesn't seem to bother the elected UKIP MEPs. 

My reasons for remaining have been succinctly given by my friends. My lingering doubts about the EU have also been captured by my friends.  I don't consider myself enthusiastic about remaining. I did the Crowdpac test and scored 62 per cent in favour of remaining - which feels about right.

It is human nature to recall some halcyon time when housing was affordable, jobs were available and commuting was navigable without congestion or frustration. This halcyon time is somewhere in between the UK being labelled the 'sick man of Europe' in the 1970s and Gordon Brown's continued pronouncements of 'no return to the boom-bust economy' in the 2000s.

Successful economies attract migrants and need migrants to sustain their success when ailing. Government policy needs to meet the demands of continued migration. However, Mr Nu explains why this is not happening. The result of this inequality, lack of housing and public service provision combined with a right wing media keen to distract from its own wealth directs focus on the immigrant community. My friends/contributors and I have all experienced the prejudice that results.

Flag of Esperanto [credit Grundin]

One final thought, when states at different points of the economic cycle try and unify, it is undoubtedly easier if they have a common language. USA, Germany (twice), Italy and even the United Kingdom come to mind. Maybe its time to introduce Esperanto in all schools!

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