Eco-Council Housing: The Way Forward

(Guest post by David Carr)

With a building programme of 1 million new homes, half of which are to be council houses, among Jeremy Corbyn’s 10 pledges there has been much discussion as to what that ought to look like. The pledge resonates with those struggling to have a place of their own. It addresses an acute need across the country and also kick starts an economic revival – starting with the construction sector and cascading down through other supporting industries and businesses. But what caveats should there be on new builds in the 21st century?

In July, Sevenoaks Labour Party Executive adopted and put forward a Momentum Swanley proposal: “Labour’s proposed national house building programme should be based on eco council housing where all properties have solar panels and other green technologies.” It is fundamental that the environment is considered in a huge building programme, but it should also be embraced and positively exploited. Photovoltaic cells (aka solar panels) have become more commonplace on our homes and buildings, wind turbines and rainwater harvesting systems less so. There is a golden, and very necessary, opportunity sitting before us in the construction of these 1 million homes.

Future Energy

The Tory mantra of “shop around for the best energy deals” is a glib phrase when addressing energy prices. The stranglehold of the ‘Big 6’ energy suppliers has seen a rise in energy costs with shareholders seemingly more important than the bill paying public. With the spike in energy use over the past few decades showing no sign of diminishing, green energy and technologies need to be at the forefront of any new building programmes. The household bills can be reduced, widening fuel poverty lessened or eradicated plus excess green energy can be sold back into the National Grid and, in the case of council housing, paid into the local authority coffers.

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(Pic above: Roof mounted turbine)

Water Rates and Protection

Utilising rainwater harvesting systems more effectively along with flood prevention construction and landscaping measures will also help arrest the insurance premium hikes, make the new homes more robust to the challenges of climate change and reduce water rates too.

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(Pic above: Rainwater (underground) collection and distribution system)

Clean Green

The green think-tank – Environmentum – was established to encourage the Labour Party to adopt a mass eco council house building and refurbishment programme. When challenged on the costs of these additional green measures, Nick Southgate, a spokesman for them said: “The initial outlay is recognised as adding more financial cost at the beginning; however, some of this will be recovered and our environment right now – and in the future – should not bear the brunt of our excesses. Fossil fuel needs must be reduced and clean green technologies embraced. Some of the possible avenues for financing this housing revolution include a Land Tax, for those corporations and landlords strategically sitting on land (such as supermarkets blocking rival competition); removing the cap on National Insurance and making it progressive; a tax on companies that have failed to mitigate against pollution and continue to pollute our environment, a second home tax comparable with that used in Iceland.”

Find out more here: https://swanleydistrictlabourparty.org/eco-council-housing-program/

(Feature pic: Freiburg, German the green eco-housing development)

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Why Owen Smith Is The Disunity Candidate

If I hear Owen Smith referred to as ‘the unity candidate’ one more time, I’m going to have to bury my head under a pile of cushions to let out a long stress busting scream.
I just don’t get it you see. The majority of labour members and trade unions back Corbyn. Not only that, according to recent polls, the vast majority of labour voters do too. Only the PLP don’t. But somehow, if we make the 171 happy at the expense of literally millions of ordinary people, unity will follow.

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The 171 are basically taking us all for granted. That’s exactly the kind of thinking that cost us Scotland and once safe Labour constituencies in the North. This group of MPs, all doing the same job, earning the same income, often mixing in the same circles, of similar ages, and limited ethnic and cultural diversity, sharing political views a cigarette paper apart, have their finger on the pulse of the electorate to a much greater degree than millions of ordinary people.

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This eye watering arrogance beggars belief. It would be like everyone in my family wanting to go to Spain for our annual summer holiday, except me, who for the sake of ‘unity’ decided we should all go to France, my favoured destination. If I overruled everyone in that way, my family would call me out for my selfishness, and rightfully so. If my ego had inflated to such gargantuan proportions I believed my wishes now surpassed those of everyone else in my family, they’d soon prick it with a big figurative pin until it deflated to a normal healthy size. What they wouldn’t do is go along with my decision, thereby fuelling my grotesque sense of grandiosity.

If I put this argument to an Owen Smith supporter I usually get the same response, ‘9 million people gave them their mandate.’ But this just fuels their grandiosity even more. Most people vote for a party, not an individual. And besides, as I previously mentioned, the majority of Labour supporters/potential voters back Corbyn for leader over Smith. This will probably surprise some of you because most poll related headlines screamed, ‘Voters think Smith would be a better leader than Corbyn!’ You had to dig deeper to discover the voters being referred to were Tory or Lib-Dem voters. The usual response to this inconvenient nugget of information is something along the lines of ‘but we have to win over Tory voters to win a GE.’ To which I fire back, ‘At the expense of Labour voters who prefer Corbyn?’

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Which brings us back to this ‘New Labour’ habit of taking existing Labour voters for granted. This is a grave mistake to make. For every Tory who’d switch to Labour simply because Smith was at the helm, another two might take their votes elsewhere. And the only reason Smith is getting a relatively easy ride from the media right now is because they favour him over Corbyn; a lifelong socialist who is seen as a real threat to the tax dodging millionaire press barons. Once the Corbyn threat has passed it will be business as usual, and Owen will be mocked and vilified just as Corbyn is now. As a result, those Tory voters will soon change their minds. But the Labour voters who are strongly for Corbyn, despite a year of press and PLP vilification, might well give up on Labour if Owen wins; particularly if he wins by a margin slimmer than the number of voters disenfranchised by the vote freeze and an over zealous purge.
Democracy would have to be seen to have been served if an Owen win was to stand any chance of winning over these Corbyn backers. But how can that be, with well over a hundred thousand voters disenfranchised, many of whom were likely to have voted Corbyn? A ‘unity candidate’ who only has the power to unify 171 MPs who are already nicely unified is not a unity candidate in my book, or many other’s books I don’t doubt.

Smith is the disunity candidate. A win for Smith has immense power to turn off hundreds of thousands of Labour members and several key unions, but potentially millions of Labour voters too. The message a Smith win sends those voters is ‘You don’t count! Only Tory voters count! You like Corbyn? Well too bad. You must be mad or bad to like him. Besides, we are sure when push comes to shove you’ll back us once Smith wins. It’s not as if we’ve had a mass exodus of Labour voters in the past…erm…apart from the five million who stopped voting Labour under Blair and Brown..cough…err…but that won’t happen this time, we are sure of it. And we are ALWAYS right.’

Except their arrogance would have dire consequences for our party, which is why we must work hard to deliver Corbyn a resounding mandate to make sure those consequences never come to pass.

But what about unifying the PLP if Corbyn wins? That is a fair question and one I grapple with all the time. The PLP may be small in number in relative terms, but they are big in power. In the short term there isn’t an easy answer. My family would be limited in their power to stop me screaming and shouting and making everyone’s life a misery if I didn’t get my way over France in the hypothetical scenario I described earlier. But does that mean they should let me get my way to avoid such unpleasantness? Of course not. Wrong is wrong, and it’s never wrong to stand up against it.

As someone once wisely said to me, sometimes all you can do is take the first right step, then trust the next right step will make itself clear.

Step forward comrades, and stay strong. ✊

 

Sadiq’s Owen Smith Email: My Response

Sadiq

Thank you for sending me your email in which you attempt to explain your changed position on the Leadership from adamantly neutral to pro-Smith.

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I’m glad you acknowledge the hard work that was done on your behalf which helped deliver your resounding victory, much of which was carried out by Corbyn supporting Labour members. I’m pleased you also say you felt humbled by your win, as you should do.

You say you didn’t play a part in this summers turmoil. On the face of it, this would make sense as you are no longer an active member of the PLP since becoming mayor. However I wonder how detached you managed to remain from a PLP of which you were once such an active member. We all knew you were very much a part of the old way of doing things, and that being the case probably supported Smith over Corbyn. But that only made us respect your neutrality all the more. Now that respect has gone. You have been lumped in with all the other MPs who have a vested interest in Corbyn failing. MPs who have made such a hoohah of the fact he cannot win with a socialist agenda they appear to have locked themselves into proving he can’t, which means sabotaging his leadership.

I’ve listened with interest to the reasons you give for opposing Corbyn’s leadership in your TV interviews, and all you offer is the old tired mantra about Jeremy being unelectable. But Jeremy has not been given a chance to prove his electability (aside from 4 by-election wins, 4 significant mayoralty wins and finishing ahead of the Tories in the local elections after being 6 points behind in May’s General Election). The British people have been denied the opportunity of fully appreciating the policies that will be on offer under our renewed and refreshed Labour Party due to the repetitive negative briefing against Jeremy’s leadership since he won. You state it’s time we stopped fighting eachother and started fighting the Tories, yet Jeremy has never had the benefit of having a fully supportive party behind him fighting the Tories, which was a disgusting position for the PLP to take. The way they have put their own self interests, pride and arrogance ahead of the ordinary struggling people of this country has been a betrayal of the worst kind, and it’s one I and many others will never forget.

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In fact you directly benefitted from the never ending threats and plots against Jeremy’s leadership. Many Corbyn supporting Labour members worked tirelessly on your campaign: yes, because they wanted to secure a Labour victory, and yes, because they were disgusted by Goldsmith’s dog whistle rhetoric, but also to secure Jeremy’s position as leader against a coup which your loss would have undoubtedly triggered. Now you reward them by spitting on them, albeit figuratively.

As a member of at least twelve pro-Corbyn Facebook groups the response to your endorsement of Smith has been unanimous. Let me share a few examples that best sum it up. “Plummeted in my estimation.” “Just another liar.” “Why has he entered into this? The job of mayor is to remain neutral and support the people of his city.” “I will remember that Khan isn’t to be trusted.”

Based on these and hundreds of reactions like it, your intervention won’t have changed many minds. But I’m sure you know that. This is about weakening Jeremy Corbyn’s position as leader after he wins, for its becoming increasingly clear you and your friends are planning to set up your own party within our party. Why? To ensure a Labour defeat at the next General Election of course. Anything to make sure Jeremy Corbyn never becomes prime minister. You won’t succeed however, for we are many and you are few and our determination outweighs yours a thousand fold. Working toward a better world for everyone tends to do that to people.

Regards

Chelley Ryan

P.S. I’d like to suggest a name for the new party within the party:  ‘Corporate Labour.’ The party that works hard to maintain a status quo that suits big business at the expense of the rest of us.

Reclaiming Socialism – guest post by Rick Evans

I have admired Jeremy Corbyn for many many years. But there’s much more to it than that as to why I will be voting for him in the Labour Leadership Election. Let me explain. We need to look at the big picture and a big vision. It is repeatedly said that Corbyn’s success is a cult of personality. I don’t buy that. He isn’t perfect and not surprisingly he has made mistakes. But what some in the party don’t seem to get is it’s not really about Jeremy, it’s about what he stands for. He has a positive vision. It’s the politics of hope. As Jeremy himself said “I think it’s called Socialism”.

There I’ve said it – the dreaded S word. In the last 20-25 years the S word has become like a swear word. If you were in the Labour Party you weren’t supposed to mention it. To some it was like a portal to a nightmare world, long gone. To say it was like admitting you were a dinosaur. You were either patted on the head and told you will think differently when your older. Or alternatively you would be told ‘oh yes i agree with a lot of that, but of course it can never happen’, based on that age old assumption that somehow humans can’t cooperate together because the world is purely dog eat dog.

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Except humans are capable of lots of different things – from great love to intense hate, from amazing generosity to enormous greed and all things in between. Everybody has good and bad in them. We can be complicated creatures. But does that mean we can’t have a different type of society? That we are forever to live with the politics of the last 30-40 years? That greed is good, the markets are wonderful and somehow the wealth will trickle down from the top to the bottom? Well to me and increasing numbers of people, the evidence suggests something different. In that time Britain has become more unequal. Simply put, the rich have got richer and the poor poorer. Deliberately so. Just think about that. Is that progress? How have we fallen for it?

However things are always changing; nothing can stand still. So what has happened this last year – with Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour Leadership – is a reaction against the last 30 years. Things have gone too far and now people are angry and want change. Where’s there’s a cause there will be an effect.

So back to that S word; Socialism. What is it? It probably means different things to different people. At it’s most basic level it means a more equal, more fair society to live in. Nothing extreme about that is there? But I would argue it’s more than that. It’s about how you can achieve these aims.

On the back of our Labour Party Membership card it says, “for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few”. To me Socialism is about redistributing wealth. It’s about getting the best healthcare whatever your income, it’s about getting the best education whatever your income, it’s about giving more say to ordinary people, it’s about running Public Services for the good of communities not private shareholders, it’s about giving workers more power in the workplace and indeed in how workplaces are run, it’s about a fairer progressive Tax System, it’s about getting a fair day’s pay at work, it’s about looking after our planet and and having a long term plan instead of looking at a short term profit motive as the number one priority, it’s about putting people first. Most of all it’s about looking after each other in our society.

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Those are some of my ideas of what Socialism is. Does it sound extreme or unattainable? Not to me. Jeremy Corbyn speaks of some of these ideas and has done for a long time. Of course the problem has been that for the last 30-40 years the whole agenda, and so debate, has been successfully shifted rightwards. We have constantly been told there is no alternative. There are always alternatives but the establishment have never wanted ordinary people to know about them. Well now younger people are finding out there is an alternative, which is why so many are attracted to what Corbyn has to say.

So I think it’s time we reclaimed the word Socialism. The demonisation of it has gone on for far too long. It’s time to say it with pride again. To shout it from the roof tops, to say this is what we believe in and we can going to try to make it happen. I am proud to be a socialist. The world has changed immensely over the last 100 years, but good ideas don’t go, they don’t die – they live on. Some people say we aren’t a Socialist Country – it will never catch on. But let’s remember the most Socialist thing a Labour Government has ever done was create the NHS which has also been the most popular. Socialism can be popular. Labour can win with a Socialist Manifesto. But no one is pretending that will be easy.

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As I said earlier, people have been attracted to Corbyn because of his hopeful message – that things can change for the better for everyone. When I was a child growing up in the 70’s and early 80’s I remember being told that things are a bit better for every generation. That way progress is made. Our Children would be better off than us. At School, in a Geography lesson, I remember being taught that in the future people would be working less hours. Well in the last 30-35 years this has not only not happened, but has gone into reverse. The hope has slowly gone. But why should we accept this? Our children deserve better than we had, not less.

Every trick in the book will be used to discredit Corbyn. For some people for him to get elected Prime Minister would be their worst nightmare. But society has grown more polarised, more unfair. A lot of people think things will never change. Our role is to convince them it can and must. We cannot carry on for the next 30 years like we have the last, with more disasters for ordinary people while the fat cats get fatter.

Thatcher thought she had destroyed Socialism as a credible idea in this country. She said there was no such thing as society. But there is another way to run society and that’s Democratic Socialism. So when someone tells you it will never happen just smile and say yes it will – it has to.

But only when enough people demand it.

To Anti-Corbyn Labour MPs From Female Victims Of Abuse And Violence:

 

As women who both support Jeremy Corbyn, and who have at some point in our lives been victims of violence, harassment, misogyny and abuse, we call upon Labour MPs who oppose Jeremy Corbyn, to cease their generalised smearing of Corbyn supporters as abusive misogynists, with the sole aim of smearing Jeremy Corbyn as someone who somehow attracts them.

Jeremy Corbyn is a man who abhors violence and misogyny. As women who have been victims of both, we could not support him otherwise. To extrapolate incidence of abuse and violence (particularly when the perpetrators claim to support a man who condemns such behaviour and attitudes) with Jeremy Corbyn supporters in general, is like extrapolating fathers who sexually abuse their children with all fathers, or children who bully their peers with all children.

Abuse and violence which we know from our own experiences, can shatter lives and leave both physical and psychological scars, should not be exploited by those with a wider political agenda. Instead Labour MPs need to focus on the fact that misogynistic attitudes are rife in all walks of life.

One only needs to look to a disturbing TUC survey, which reveals how two thirds of women have been victims of sexual harassment in the work place, to appreciate the scale of the problem.

To single out Jeremy Corbyn supporters the way you repeatedly do, reveals your true motives, which is not to raise a society wide issue that affects the majority of women, but to tarnish the image of a decent man and his supporters, which include women who have been victims of abuse and violence.

By all means call out the individuals who engage in abuse, harassment and misogyny, for that is what they are, individuals. And please join us in the battle for a world in which no woman lives in fear or anxiety because of the actions of men with sexist attitudes.

But please stop smearing Jeremy Corbyn supporters like ourselves for your own political ends.

 

Signatories:

Chelley Ryan

Shelley Hutchings

Laura Clarke

Morag Davies

Coilla Drake

Judith Reynolds

Maureen Liston

Elaine Rigby

Imogen Harris

Elizabeth Greener

Eileen Kersey

Karen Broady

Sarah H Tyrer

Linda Foord

Beverly Bryan

Fran Yeldham

Reba Bur

Annie Singh

Rachel Littlewood

Anne Ward

Dominique Payne

Sandra Nicol

Jane Basham

Emily Jones

Dinah Mulholland

Linda Lomax

Sandra Ferguson

Janice Finn

Valerie Pedrick

Joanne Rogers

Kate Gibson

Clarissa Minns

Mary Mc Veagh

Linda Shepperd

Jeannette Marshall

Cari Spokes

Tracy Bytheway

Maureen Dickens

Paula Bartram

Christine Mooney

Jaci Quennell

Amanda Collingridge

Sally Churchwood

Sue Brock

Lucia Mack

Julia de la Harpe

Janette Murphy

Juliette Emery

Barbara Cairns

Amanda Toone

Kelly Therese Ludlow

Lee Dickenson

Colette Riley

Sheila Scoular

Geraldine Howlette

Julie Dean

Elisabeth Makin

Joan Rudderham

Daina Gregory

Linda Webb-Thornton

Fiona Ranson

Liz Wilkins

Helen Brown

Zoe Blackmore

Sarah Morgan

Clare McDermott

Debbie Litchfield

Fran Springfield

Kayleigh Graveson

Lesley Spillard

Clare Farrall

Bonnie Craven

Hazel Eastmond

Celeste R West

Dana Rodericks

Bethany Hunt

Janet Willicott

Roseanna Walker

Sandra Roberts

Hazel Salisbury

Fenella Roberts

Madaam McGonagal

Marsha Lowe

Alice Faith Murray

Anissa Jabbar

Lea Bentley

Abigail E. Ottley Wyatt

Carol Buller

Chloë Meredith

Susie Jewell

Ellie Hilton

Billie Dale Wakefield

M S Carruthers

Jane Menguy

Julia Mountain

Marion Pergande

Zoe Zeero

Holly Fletcher

Kim Roper

Evelyn Emery

Jane Davies

Amanda Hunter

Eve Hooper

Monica Zocca

K Southeby

Annie Carlin

Jen Wood

Peggy Robertson

Eleanor Buffam

Pascale Gillett

Geraldine Moore

Celia Villa-Landa

Gill Kennard

Gill Connell

Betty Farruggia

Anya-Nicola Darr

Cathy Murphy

Vicki Lackenby

Anne-Marie Roberts

Hilary Coombes

Samantha Lealman

Hilary Temple

MLouise Bath

Holly Sutherland

Krista James

Christine Davies

Elaine Halliday

Maisie Carter

Liza Simon

Linda Ann Stoker

Daveena Daley

Catherine Powell

Michele Rowell

Nikki Scambler