Wednesday, 8 September 2010

LDP: Will the Council ignore residents again ?

I just came across the news that Cardiff Council is to hold lots of public meetings between now and the end of the process of creating the new Local Development Plan, a hugely important policy document that guides the future development of the city for years to come.

Peter Cox from the Civic Society rightly points out that this does not automatically mean the Council will listen. In fact Cardiff has a terrible history of deciding exactly what will happen before engaging in tokenistic 'consultation' where the Council tries to convince everyone else that their plans are the right thing to do.

I just got back from Oxford where some friends who also happen to be anti-cuts campaigners attended a 'consultation' meeting run by Tory controlled Oxfordshire county Council about local service cuts. One asked whether, as it was a public meeting, they would be able to vote to save the local economy. I don't yet know what the answer was, but I'm sure the Council's attempt at tokenistic consultation may have backfired somewhat!

Everyone who wants to influence the LDP should have the means to do so, which begins with a conversation about where we want the city to go in the next few decades, not a lecture from one side. Councils need to empower people, not to take power away from them.

And this is exactly what Norwich Greens will be doing if they take over their Council tomorrow, the first time Greens will have been in this position in the UK. They are talking about communities themselves making decisions about where funding goes, asking people what services should be most protected from cuts, and taking outsourced local services back in house so they can be democratically accountable one again.

Check them out at

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Inspired Youth

I've come back from a long week and a half of Glastonbury festival and the fabulous People and Planet network's Summer Gathering just outside Oxford. I'm very glad I did both, since they ended up complimenting each other perfectly in a way I've only just realised.

So working with the Workers Beer Company (an excellent organisation that treated us all well) I was walking around at Glasto even more than a normal punter, so I struggled to see everyone I wanted to since my feet could only take so much for a week.

I managed to see The Magic Numbers, Hot Chip, The Cribs, First Aid Kit, Imogen Heap, Coheed and Cambria, MGMT, The Drums, Dirty Projectors and a few more. But what I really took away from the experience was Billy Bragg's performance. I thought it'd be interesting since it was right in the aftermath of the Emergency Budget, and naturally he might have something to say about it.

I have to say I'm not too familiar with his backcatalogue although there's some that really touch me like "Never cross a picket line" and "world turned upside down", but it was more what he said than what he sung that has stayed with me.

Of course he mentioned the budget in passing, saying that we will all need to be ready to defend the nurses and teachers and other public sector workers whose livelihoods are under threat. These times will be like the 1980s, he said, but rising to the challenge to defend our public services and jobs will be harder than before since the answer is less clear cut, we don't have Marxism anymore to look to.

I didn't quite go along with that, since I don't think we need an all embracing-framework to argue against the cuts that are being forced through. The British left could never unite at the moment on those specifics. But we all agree that we want to defend jobs and resist the cuts that will send us into depression. We all know that cuts are not necessary, and we need the exact opposite right now.
What he did say though was that to him, socialism was not about books or doctrines, it was the basic idea of 'organised compassion', that ensures everyone has access to good education, healthcare and affordable housing. I've been looking for such a basic way to explain how I feel, and he hit it right on the head there.

But what was most important was when said that we have one enemy more dangerous than unfettered capitalism, our own cynicism that we can't change things and fight for the justice I've just mentioned. Being from Barking, he went on and on about how happy he was to have smashed the BNP at the last election and how this was an example of believing that people on the grassroots can bring about change. What he loved more than anything was the new, young generation of anti-fascists getting out in Barking to carry the torch.

So we need to do the same thing to defend our public services, and what some call our 'cynical generation' of young people need to believe, once we've got that, we can achieve anything.

And now how this perfectly came onto Summer Gathering, straight from the train from Glasto. These student activists from around the country are truly inspirational and have campaigned and won huge victories on their campuses and further afield. Whether it's ethical investment, kicking RBS off campus or smashing sweatshops, they get it done.

The most striking example at the event was when we heard that a whole campaign, targetting RBS for its investments in tar sands and fossil fuel extraction, was no longer going to be supported by a paid intern. The guys there didn't grieve, they discussed how the network of activists was going to run it voluntarily, and even more, they got excited about this change! I came away feeling that this campaign had only just begun and gave me so many ideas for my role as Ethical and Environmental Officer at my Student Union next term.

These are young activists who believe, campaign, and win. We've shone a light on fossil fuel funding, achieved big change in how universities tackle their environmental impact and more. They are going to head top NGOs, become MPs and be running the country in not too many years.

Billy said have hope. These guys do, and are getting stuff done.

While risking sounding like Obama, hope, action and dedication are all we need to succeed. So let's get out there to fight the cuts and win the fight against climate change.

Looking forward to 2011

When I read the news and saw the first YouGov poll for the Assembly elections next year I decided to look up the data in more detail to see the Regional List results.
And I'm glad I did, because it had Greens on 9% in South Wales Central, our target region where we have best chance of electing our first AM next year. This figure is more than enough - between 7-8% would usually be enough to get a Green into the Senedd. Last time there was an election using proportional representation we got 6.4% in the region, showing we're on the way and can do it.

So now we have this data to show to people and say that Greens can get elected next year, we just need to convince people that there are good reasons to vote Green on the list - to oppose the ConDem's ideological and economically illiterate spending cuts and to argue for investment in green jobs to set us onto the path for a low-carbon future, and to get us out of recession in a way the right-wing ideas of slash and burn won't.

Monday, 31 May 2010

My email to Hague, Clegg and Jenny Willott

Dear Mr Hague, Mr Clegg and Ms Willot,

I am appalled to learn that the Israeli armed forces have killed up to 10 people on board a ship carrying aid to Gaza. Israel continues an illegal siege on Gaza by starving Palestinians of essential resources, and now is killing people who try to address this injustice by bringing aid to the region. I have heard that there are also British citizens on board these ships.

I urge you to take all necessary action in light of these events, including a full and unequivocal condemnation, the immediate ending of all arms exports to Israel and reviewing of the EU-Israeli trade agreement which requires that Israel respect human rights in return for trading with the Eurozone.

I do sincerely hope you take all required action and take this opportunity to draw a line under the UK's historic complicity in Israeli human rights abuses.


Sam Coates

My complaint to the BBC over its reporting of Israel's massacre

This is a copy of my complaint to the BBC regarding this morning's coverage of what has happened in Gaza


Dear both,

I was shocked this morning to see the BBC running an full statement from the Israeli government, littered with half-truths and distortions as well as out-right lies, without any critical analysis or opportunity for the other side to comment. This bias is very worrying given the BBC claims to be a neutral reporter of the news and is basically reporting the incident exactly as the Israeli Government would hope. I can barely think of another country that would get such uncritical reporting.

I urge to immediately address this imbalance and conduct an enquiry into the BBC's reporting of Israel and the Middle East conflict, beginning with the shocking coverage of last year's assault on Gaza.


Sam Coates

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

English Defence League Protest in Cardiff - June

I'm very concerned to learn about the planned demo by the English Defence League in Cardiff in a couple of months. The past has shown in places like Bolton that thugs are bussed in across the country to intimidate local people.

Like in Swansea and Newport we need to show that racists are not welcome in Cardiff and we need to mobilise the local community even more than at these 2 demos in Wales.

The protest has been planned for the 5th June at 3pm outside Central Station, which clearly suggests EDL from outside are preparing to come and back up whatever locals may be involved.

There is an organising meeting of Wales Unite Against Fascism tomorrow (Thursday) night at Transport House, Cathedral Road at 7PM

Facebook event:!/event.php?eid=112975682046644&ref=ts

Friends of the Earth Pledge

Having been contacted today I am commiting to the following policies if elected -

Policy 1: A local carbon budget for every local authority: that caps CO2 in the local area in line with the scientific demands for emissions cuts and local circumstances; and enough money and technical support to enable councils to do their bit to tackle climate change.

Policy 2: Sufficient investment in switching to a low carbon economy to: achieve a reduction in UK greenhouse gas emission of 42 per cent by 2020; create jobs and boost the recovery; and eliminate fuel poverty.

Policy 3: An international deal on cutting emissions where those responsible make the deepest cuts first, and developing countries are supported to grow in a low carbon way.

Policy 4: A new law which will tackle the major greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation caused by the UK’s dependence on imported feeds for livestock - and which will support better UK farming and domestic feed production.