Thursday, September 9, 2010

Keep Chilmington Green

On Saturday the 4th of September I joined several others in the town centre to campaign against the proposal to build between 3500 and 7000 dwellings on Chilmington Green. Chilmington Green is a green-belt area which is home to several species, including water voles, great crested newts, hares, snakes, badgers and bats. Destroying the habitat of these species would have a detrimental effect on the biodiversity of Ashford and its surrounding regions, thus contributing to a great loss of natural wealth.
There is more evidence that the proposal would be unsustainable, because: the houses would be built near a flood plain; the council admits that only 35% of the housing would be affordable; only between 600 and 1000 jobs would be provided for perhaps 14000 people; and there could potentially be an extra 10,000 cars on the road.
The council also seem to have no obligation to carry out the plans, since they were the plans of the defeated Labour government and under the coalition, there is no obligation to continue the plans to develop Ashford as a boom town, so the council seems to have little mandate to continue with this project, whilst the government is talking about cuts. Why should it be acceptable to cut frontline services but to go ahead with a billion pound investment which is entirely unsustainable and opposed by the local residents of Chilmington?
It’s a sad fact that neither the Labour, Liberal Democrat or Conservative (or UKIP) parties in Ashford are willing to oppose these plans.
However, Steve Campkin from Ashford Green Party has put his heart and soul into protesting against these plans and was the only person out of the political parties to respond to the requests of Max Frohnsdorff, the instigator of the campaign.
Paul Bartlett, the leader of Ashford Council, said ‘that too much work had been put into the scheme to call if off but he said he was happy to look at the "density, shape and number of houses".
Having taken part in petitioning, it is clear that this is not a clear cut case. A bricklayer, whom I spoke to, asked me whether I knew the real facts of this country, namely that the country needs four million new houses and that last year, only 100,000 were built. So, he is not getting enough work. Clearly, there is a need for better social housing and more widespread employment. However, on the one hand, I do not agree with the construction of the proposed houses for the reasons outlined above, and on the other hand, I oppose the plans because only 35% of the houses are supposed to be affordable and because I believe that such decisions should be made much more democratically, in consideration of those whom the decision will affect the most and within an ecological framework.
For me, this is an example of how working people are forced by those in power to carry out alienating jobs, which destroy the community and the environment, because they can find no other employment. Surely it must be possible to make sure that people have a decent standard of living, have a worthwhile occupation and are contributing through their actions to community building and sustainable development.
So, will the campaign succeed? Well, at the moment we have approximately 1200 signatures and need 10,000 for the council to have to take notice. However, luckily, committed activist Steve Campkin is involved and it looks like Keith Taylor, Green MEP, may be helping out too. At the very least, I hope that the landowner is paid a decent amount of money for his land, considering the amount of money put into the project. However, if all else fails, there is the possibility of direct action, of directly confronting the bulldozers, if they come to destroy the land.
I strongly believe that we must oppose this proposed development. So, if you want to get involved, please sign the petition and perhaps contact me at or Steve Campkin at at to get actively involved.
Think global act local. Protect the environment from needless development.
Keep Chilmington Green!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No nuclear

We are living in the perfect time to rid ourselves of nuclear weapons and nuclear power in general.
I am not an expert on such things and there is little point in me trying to present an argument, but I thought it was worth mentioning that a party political response already exists, which is all the more pertinent, considering that we are expected to swallow a bitter shock doctrine of austerity cuts and also because a new film has come out.
This is an incredibly important issue, which needs to be debated in public. There is too much implicit 'consensus' at the moment. So, whatever your opinion, please think about this incredibly important issue, an issue which could one day determine the very existence of life on earth.

Animal Rights

You may know that I am a vegetarian, but might not know why. Well, here's a summary of how I became one:

My parents at one point were vegetarian in the sense that they didn't eat any dead animal. After my mum gave birth to me, she craved fish, so I grew up in a 'pesco-vegetarian' family. I had never liked the idea of killing things, but it was only when I reached the age of about sixteen or seventeen, that I really thought about these things deeply. It was the same idea when I got interested in certain ideas, such as yoga and buddhism (I don't claim to be a Buddhist or to know anything about Yoga) and also when I joined the Green Party. After going to Climate Camp in Kingsnorth (admittedly only for one day), I saw a vision of peace and vegetarianism, which has attracted me ever since.

In the November after my seventeenth birthday, I became 'fully' (at least according to Western standards) vegetarian.

It was only very recently that I first took part in an animal rights' protest:

That was a very powerful and interesting experience and I hope to go to one again soon.

Incidentally there was one which happened very recently,
and there will be some more soon.

You might be asking me why I care about animal cruelty when so many terrible things happen to humans.

Well, in my opinion, caring about animals doesn't mean that I won't care about people too. Quite the opposite.
My ethics are based on the idea that all living things have the capacity to suffer, since we all come into being (perhaps by birth), live,and eventually die. In that sense, I am equal to a chicken. Just as I don't want to suffer myself, nor do I want any animal to suffer, and obviously not any human.

I also believe that humans have a flawed relationship with the planet, an essentially exploitative relationship and that to remedy many of the problems on earth, this relationship must be changed.

Whether or not you believe in animal rights, the fact that, for example,

"in December, Bell & Evans will open a $25 million plant to replace its current plant, which processes 800,000 chickens a week. The new plant is a third larger and will boost production to 1 million chickens a week, according to the company."

must be a cause for concern. When perhaps before, although cruel, animal exploitation was chiefly for survival, this appears to be an addiction, a disorder, an illness.

As is the utter disgrace that one million chickens, members of an exploited species, which lose their dignity and integrity for the sake of human desire, were left to die in a heat wave
Now some party politics. The U.K. has a Prime minister, who, according to this article, written before he came to power, is totally in favour of hunting,

His argument is,
"I always thought that the ban was a mistake because I think it is very difficult to enforce."

Surely it is harder to enforce, for instance, the 'war on drugs'in Afghanistan.

If you support animal rights, or simply want this craziness to end, I recommend that you at least support, if not get involved in 'Animal Rights in Kent' and at least consider the Green Party in future elections.

For more information written by much more experienced people, visit:

Animal Rights in Kent

and blogs such as:


All views expressed in this blogpost are simply my own views. If I make a mistake, whether factual, grammatical or stylistic, I am the one to blame

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oppose the cuts

I haven't written here for a while, but since I believe that we are living in a crucial moment in human and natural history, and that the actions of the current goverment in the UK could be very signficant in determining whether we will take the path of social justice and environmental sustainability, or whether we will crusade into the chasm of climate chaos whilst losing our jobs, our welfare state, our education and our democracy.

I don't claim to be an economist at all, but it is clear that the government is launching a vicious onslaught of cuts and privatisation
As a member of the Green Party (of England and Wales) I agree with Caroline Lucas, when she says,

'"Cuts are not an economic inevitability. They are an ideological choice. Politicians of all parties are now sharpening their axes to slash public spending, forcing those on lower incomes, who depend on public services the most, to pay the highest price for the recent excesses of the bankers"

In my humble opinion, if these cuts go through, it will be an absolute disaster, with the class system becoming even more entrenched, the poorest and most vulnerable suffering the most and the most well off, the 'capitalists' profiting from everyone else's loss.

If this goes through, I think that there will be disastrous environmental and social effects. For example, if more people are competing for fewer jobs, this can cause negative emotions, such as racism, sexism, homophobia etc. I remember that in Durham, at a particularly harsh time when there were perhaps five or six big issue sellers, one seller who was in a very bad situation was 'explaining' to me that the reason why he couldn't sell anything was because of the Romanians, who came in, took the jobs and took over the big issue (despite the fact that the Romanian seller was in a similarly vulnerable situation). My point is, that these measures have the effect of crushing peoples' spirit, and creating false divides, which can cause negative emotions, since it is much easier to scapegoat someone you know than to blame something more abstract or hidden. in this sort of situation, we are pitted against one another and lose all collective democratic power and also lose the ability to criticise authorities and think beyond the media-produced stereotypes.

My point here is not to explain what has happened, or what will happen, but to appeal for people to take action.

Whatever reasons you have, whatever political position you come from, I am sure that there are many of you who oppose the cuts. However, there is a world of a difference between disliking something and challenging something.

As illustrated in the quotation by Caroline Lucas earlier on, I hope that you agree that they aren't inevitable. Unfortunately, we are often asked to moan a bit, but basically accept them I totally oppose this point of view.

To some extent we live in a democracy and the government is supposed to represent us.
As Henry David Thoreau said, 'The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to ... is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed.'
Equally, (considering that the 'shock doctrine' of cuts, privatisation and increased VAT will affect the poorest, the most vulnerable, the 'working class') I think it is worth considering what Marx said, '
the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves'.

I am not interested in arguing for any of these philosophies here, but my point is that on one hand, the government needs some form of consent to implement the neoliberal onslaught of cuts and privatisation, and that, on the other hand, opposition to this cannot simply rest in the mind. Simply moaning to a couple of people won't do anything. We need to make clear our opposition.
There are many forms of opposition: protest marches; writing letters; withholding labour; civil disobedience etc, but for me, the point is that something is done and that a lot of people do it. I don't know what the best thing to do is, but there are many options.

Whether or not the opposition is coordinated to literally bring down the goverment, whether it will be a more decentralised mixture of strikes, protests, letter writing, etc, if enough people are opposed to the governments' plans, the effect would at least be that the government would lose the moral authority to impose the budget on a non-consenting population.

If we fail at this, many jobs will be lost, the market will control our health and education even more strongly through the cruel weapon of privatisation, we will have missed another chance to solve climate chaos and we will essentially sell our right to oppose an unjust government and to determine ourselves democratically.

I don't care who you voted for, what your religion, philosophy or politics are, but, if you oppose the cuts, if they will lose you a job, crush your soul, I call on you to