Environment policy didn’t break the surface during the UK election campaign. How will it fare in a coalition of parties at opposite ends of the political spectrum?
Amongst the many surprises was the near absence of environment from the parties’ campaigns and the first ever prime-ministerial debates. Does it mean the British care less about the environment than in previous years? Apparently not: the share of the green vote held up and the Green party won its first ever seat in the British Parliament (Caroline Lucas, Leader of the party and long time Member of the European Parliament, taking Brighton from Labour).
Britain’s ‘creative industries’ generate £67bn of revenue and are growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy. But as well as their economic muscle, these industries have a vital role to play in delivering a sustainable future.
Formally defined as the performing arts, arts & antiques, crafts, architecture, design, fashion, advertising, radio & TV, film & video, music, publishing, video games and software, the UK’s creative industries’ innovation and energy will be key in addressing the great challenges of our time – resource scarcity, climate change, waste, pollution, a growing population and poverty.
Careful what you say in anger on twitter. It might get you arrested for sending a “menacing electronic communication” under the Terrorism Act. Wow, that act really does allow the police to stray into 'thought crime' territory.
A 26 yr old accountant sent a message to his 600 followers expressing frustration that Robin Hood Airport was closed and said they should get their act together or he would blow it up. The msg was picked up randomly by a member of staff at the airport who passed it on to security. Despite security at the Airport classifying it as 'not credible' the police decided to arrest Paul Chambers.
On being arrested Mr Chambers "had to explain Twitter to them in its entirety because they'd never heard of it." (oh good grief)
Interesting article in the Observer at the weekend about how the use of the English language is evolving. "English is used, in some form, by approximately 4 billion people, one-third of the planet, and outnumbered only by the speakers of Chinese, approximately 350 million of whom also speak some kind of English."
An interesting if slightly scary observation from John Taplin, who argues that the 1000 point drop in the Dow Jones yesterday was an example of how our systems have become so complex and interconnected that we can suffer from 'fatal complexity'.
The theory builds on Tainter's 'The Collapse of Complex Societies' and other writers like Jared Diamond, who suggest that at a certain point scaling up begins to deliver diminishing returns.
Complexity "often leads to tragedy as well. Just as in the forward operating base in Afghanistan or on the floating drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico".
We noticed a while back that a new generation of consumers are less keen on the idea of car ownership. Car manufacturers have taken notice of the fact that young people often value mobile phones more than cars - a shift from older generations - and are trying to experiment with different models of car ownership.
The Financial Times says that "PSA Peugeot Citroën and Daimler are both piloting programmes allowing consumers to pay for individual trips either ahead of time or at the end of the month. The schemes mix car sharing with partial ownership in some cases and repackaging old-fashioned short-term rental deals through the car companies themselves."
As the negotiations continue to form our next government, what are we to make of an election process where nothing was what it seemed – except that the exit polls were pretty accurate and correctly forecast the first Green Party seat in Westminster?
The message the electorate sent to the body politic, and to the mindlessly partisan media, was ‘we deserve better’. Better system, better choice of candidates, better commentariat to help us think through the choices that really matter – e.g. defending the (still) defenceless economy from the barbarian hoards of currency speculators, and working out how to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions in a way that increases rather than slashes and burns the resilience and conviviality of our communities.
So it’s happened: the Green Party has its first MP.
The look on Caroline Lucas’s face as her result in Brighton Pavilion was announced pretty much said it all: elation, exhaustion and huge relief all rolled into one. She’d been talking during the count of feeling “sick and nervous with the weight of so many people’s expectation on me”.
For me, it’s just the elation without the exhaustion. Thirty-one years after I first stood as a Green Party (or Ecology Party, as it then was!) candidate, the near-insurmountable barrier of our first past the post electoral system has been shoved aside by a wonderful, utterly dedicated and very inspiring politician.
I am a leftie, and more than that, I am an extreme leftie. So far left I am nearly off the spectrum. So what does that mean? Do I have pictures of Lenin hanging on my bedroom walls? NO! Do I want the state to control everything? NO! Do I carry a little red book with me at all times? NO! Because my declaration of leftism has nothing to do with my political persuasion, and it is in no way an indicator of how I voted at the general election, rather, my penchant for the left is indicative of the type of leader I am - at least that’s what I was told at the Leadership Trust last week.
Today just has to be the day when the Green Party breakthrough the UK’s wretched first-past-the-post electoral system.
There are four possible candidates who might be able to do that: Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion; Adrian Ramsay in Norwich South; Darren Johnson in Lewisham; and, as an extreme outsider, Tony Juniper in Cambridge. Realistically, however, I think it’s Caroline whose got the best chance of achieving that breakthrough.
The Forum for the Future is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Registered office: Overseas House, 19-23 Ironmonger Row, London, EC1V 3QN, UK. Registered charity no. GB 1040519. Company no. 2959712. VAT registration no.162347319