Tuesday 29 August 2023

On New Municipalism


Written by Dr Paul Overend 

Across the world there has been a growing interest in the possibilities of New Municipalism in the 21st century, with a growing network of progressive ‘Fearless Cities’ (founded in Barcelona En ComĂș in 2017). 

This interest in New Municipalism emerges from reflections on how the city can evolve from being a place of protest and resistance against neoliberal capitalism, as was seen in the Occupymovement that followed the 2007-8 economic crash, to develop greater self-organization and resilience to market vulnerabilities. (See David Harvey, Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution (2012); Steve Rushton (Ed), Rebel Cities: Radical Municipalism (2018).) Informed and influenced by the work of a range of political and social theorists from Peter Kropotkin (Mutual Aid, 1902) to Murray Bookchin (Libertarian Municipalism, 1991), New Municipalism explores feminising politics, participatory democracy and participatory budgeting, while incorporating other progressive concerns, such as employment practices and environmentalism. 

In the UK there has been a desire to shift power from an overly-centralised state. In 1997, the UK government signed the, European Charter of Local Self Government (adopted by the Council of Europe in 1985, and in force from 1988) and the Local Government Act 2000   gave powers to local authorities to promote economic, social and environmental well-being within their boundaries, while extending the possibility of locally elected mayors. 

In Scotland, Green MSP Andy Wightman's 2014 report ‘Renewing Local Democracy’ explored revitalising local government in Scotland. And in 2022, a Labour Commission on the UK Future, chaired by Gordon Brown, produced a report ANew Britain: Renewing our Democracy and Rebuilding our Economy’ which commends further devolution in the UK (among other reforms, such as the House of Lords) incorporating a democratic principal of subsidiarity. If adopted by the next government, this will offer further opportunities for local politics. 

Municipal socialism is not new in the UK: It was variously seen in the Sheffield City Council led by David Blunkett in the 1980s, and the Greater London Council (GLC). (The treasurer of the GLC at one time was John McDonnell, later the Labour shadow chancellor of Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour). New Municipalism differs, in seeking greater democratic participation, for example, but with a wider range of community ownership explored, though not excluding in-house Council ownership. 

A good example of what can be achieved can be seen from the so called Preston Modelof Community Wealth Building. (See Matthew Brown and Rhian E. Jones, Paint Your Town Red (2021) and https://www.preston.gov.uk/communitywealthbuilding) Preston council draws on work on Community Wealth Building by The Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES). Community Wealth Building involves ideas of local and progressive procurement policies, including fair employment, support of co-operatives and social enterprises, and insourcing (with council ownership), for example, initially led by existing local Anchor Institutionsprocurement policies. 

The success in reinvesting into the local economy and improving employment opportunities and pay, and bringing about social benefits, shows what can be done by refiguring the local economy, rather than being dependent on inward investment, by economically extractivecompanies. Wales and Scotland have incorporated some ideas of community wealth building in national politics. And Jamie Driscoll, for example, seeks to incorporate such a model for his mayoral candidacy manifesto. 

The renewal of local government and increasing subsidiarity give cause for hope for a Green Left municipalist movement renewing politics and local economics from the grass roots. It is likely that the current Parliamentary Labour Party will still seek to retain centralised party control (so Jamie Driscoll has been blocked from being the Labour mayoral candidate, for example). The Green Party has been more successful in local politics, with the election of councillors more likely than the election of MPs, given the given current FPTP electoral system. 

But New Municipalism works by building consensual politics across the political parties, and with local institutions and social enterprises, and the local public and community interest groups. The Green Party might be well placed to leaverage political opinion in municipal councils and communities, working with other seeking to advance a green left approach.

Dr Paul Overend has been a priest and educator, most recently working in Lincoln. He is a member of the Green Party of England and Wales, and a new supporter of Green Left, as well as being a member of the Faithworkers Branch of Unite. Having moved to Norwich, he is currently seeking secular work.

Monday 10 July 2023

The Labour Party’s clean energy mission: greenwashing a high-carbon future


Written by Les Levidow

Hopes for decarbonising Britain have recently focused on the Labour Party’s plan for its next government.  In May it promised to issue no new licences for oil or gas exploration in the North Sea.  In June the Labour Party set out its ‘clean energy mission’ for the UK to expand renewable energy,  with ‘a clear road map to decarbonisation’, so that the entire economy can ‘accelerate to net zero’.  Is it really such a plan?

Its claims have several grounds for doubt, in particular: that the plan perpetuates fossil sources for the foreseeable future, depends on dubious techno-fixes, perpetuates obstacles to renewable energy substitution, greenwashes a high-carbon future, subordinates the labour movement to high-carbon capital, and so pre-empts a socially just, low-carbon transition.  These roles are played in several ways, as outlined here.

Perpetuating fossil fuels alongside renewable energy

After the Labour Party announcement, relevant trade unions criticised its plan for ‘betraying workers’, especially for lacking a credible plan to provide substitute jobs.  Although this criticism is valid, it made the Labour Party promise look greener than in reality.

Campaigners protesting against the new oilfield in Dundee. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian, 29.06.2023

As eventually became clear, ‘no new gas or oil’ means no extra licences after the general election; this plan would allow the Rosebank and Cambo oil fields to go ahead.   As academics have written, large reserves of oil and gas are already covered by existing licenses; companies are deciding which ones to develop.  Once a company starts using a licence, it takes three decades to produce new fossil fuels, which may continue for several decades more.  Fossil fuel producers already have enough licences to generate enormous GHG emissions for the next half-century and beyond.

The big energy producers may extend a high-carbon future for several reasons.  The current regime has a basic objective to maximise the economic recovery of oil and gas.  Fossil fuels continue to enjoy state subsidy, and gas prices set the overall energy price.  So cheaper renewable sources accrue super-profits rather than undermine fossil fuels, especially within a profit-driven system. 

Moreover, total energy usage will predictably continue to rise.  This trend will be reinforced by the Labour Party’s promise for measures to increase ‘economic growth’, which generally entails more energy usage.  By default, renewable energy may largely continue to supplement fossil fuels rather than replace them, thus doing little to reduce GHG emissions.  

Alternatively, for a true decarbonisation plan, a government could limit some fossil fuel source which are already licensed, alongside new policies to reduce overall energy usage.  Likewise it could direct any economic growth at low-energy forms which incur lighter environmental burdens and bring greater societal benefit (probably with lower corporate profits).  Such alternatives have been promoted under various concepts such as a ‘well-being economy’ or ‘post-growth economy’.  This potential future is pre-empted by the Labour Party’s plan.

Accepting profit-driven energy distribution

Last year Keir Starmer undertook that the next Labour government would create Great British Energy (GBE), a publicly owned energy company. According to the Party’s energy mission, GBE would be ‘a new, publicly-owned clean generation company, that will harness the power of Britain’s sun, wind, and waves to cut energy bills and deliver energy security for our country’.  In early 2023 Ed Miliband floated a proposal for the government to establish its own assets for generating renewable energy and so supplying local energy distributors. 

Yet simply producing more renewable energy would be inadequate, for several reasons.  The national grid has lacked adequate investment to promptly incorporate new sources of renewable energy, so connections face delays of 15 years or more (according to a BBC report).  Even as such sources are connected, profit-maximising firms keep the super-profits from renewable energy rather than pass on the lower cost to consumers.

To realize all the societal benefits, it would be necessary to impose  an energy price cap geared to renewable energy, as well as to establish public-interest distribution companies, as advocated by a CommonWealth report.  Likewise Labour for a Green New Deal  promotes a conference motion which advocates ‘Democratic public ownership of the whole energy system, including: Nationalisation of energy transmission and distribution; energy supply; the UK operations and infrastructure of fossil fuel companies…

Such a policy would depend on mobilising mass support against capitalist interests in the energy sector.  Otherwise a profit-driven high-carbon system will continue, as in the current Labour Party policy.

Relying on dubious technofixes

When the Labour Party undertook to issue no more licences for gas or oil, there was a reassurance:  “But Labour would continue to use existing oil and gas wells over the coming decades and manage them sustainably as we transform the UK into a clean energy superpower.”

Credit: Cathy Wilcox

How could such a role be compatible with long-term fossil fuels?  It could not be, unless clean energy merely supplements fossil fuels (as explained above).  Or unless we indulge techno-optimistic fantasies for greenwashing fossil fuels (see CACCTU briefing).  Along those lines, the Labour Party mission would “Invest in carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen, and long-term energy storage to ensure that there is sufficient zero-emission back-up power and storage for extended periods without wind or sun, while maintaining a strategic reserve of backup gas power stations to guarantee security of supply.”

This grandiose mission implies that CCS eventually would decarbonise natural gas into hydrogen and so provide a ‘zero-emission’ fuel.   The hydrogen per se might be so at the point of use.  But the promotional language conceals routine methane leakages at the extraction stage, alongside energy inputs and other difficulties in capturing the carbon, in order to produce so-called ‘zero-carbon hydrogen’.    

Most CCS projects have failed, removing no carbon from the atmosphere. They have been most viable as CO-Enhanced Oil Recovery, i.e. injecting CO into partially depleted oilfields to force out more oil, thus undermining the climate objective.  Relative to CCS, biological methods are a more effective means to sequester carbon but are commercially less attractive, offering no pretext for perpetuating fossil fuels.

The Labour Party mission also promises ambitious targets for ‘green hydrogen’, i.e. electrolysing water into its hydrogen and oxygen components.  As an energy medium, this lacks credibility for at least two reasons: The conversion would be much more expensive and energy-intensive than directly using the renewable electricity necessary to produce it.  And the available renewable electricity will have competing priorities within an overall electrification of energy usage.   

All those technologies remain unproven at scale.  They provide a deceptive basis to reconcile fossil fuels with decarbonisation and thus to justify delay in real climate action.  Nevertheless such technofixes have been promoted by a long-time cross-class alliance between the ‘Energy Unions’ and the fossil fuel industry. 

Credit: ‘Trade unions bosses back UK hydrogen jobs boom’, 2020,

The Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign flies the Union Jack, patriotically allying the ‘Energy Unions’ with energy bosses 

Many workers in the industry remain unconvinced that such fixes can address their employment needs, according to a 2023 report by Platform and FoE Scotland. This scepticism indicates the potential for political alliances to organize around truly low-carbon alternative futures.

Reinforcing energy bosses’ leadership

The Labour Party mission invokes an imperative for the UK to compete more effectively in a global race towards decarbonisation.   Keir Starmer has warned that some nation…”is going to lead the world”, that “competition is fierce”, that it’s “a race we have to win”.  Trade union leaders have reinforced this narrative in fossil fuel sectors. 

As the Greener Jobs Alliance has cautioned us, this nationalistic narrative sets up an ‘us vs them’ rivalry with other countries.  It obscures the need for international cooperation to share, improve and supply renewable energy, especially to replace fossil fuels.  Likewise the narrative pre-empts workers’ solidarity across countries.

The nationalistic narrative is worse than simply a mistake.  Fossil energy companies and trade union leaders have been jointly promoting dubious decarbonisation technologies, subordinating workers to their bosses.  The Labour Party reinforces this cross-class political alliance. The Party’s mission undertakes to stimulate private investment, perhaps through public-private partnerships, thus extending the neoliberal model.  In parallel the Starmer regime has silenced or eliminated Left-wing voices in the Labour Party, thus demonstrating its loyalty to capitalist interests.   

As a superficial reassurance, the Labour Party mission undertakes to facilitate ‘a green just transition’.  It aims to ‘Ensure a just transition that addresses regional imbalances and ensures that no workers or communities are left behind’.  It claims to draw on the “vast experience from across the labour movement and beyond”. 

Yet the Labour Party mission pre-empts means for the labour movement to shape its own future.  Such alternatives have been promoted globally by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED), such as its programme for a public-interest, low-carbon energy future.  The Labour Party has promised ‘a green just transition’, yet this accommodates high-carbon capital. 

Analogous inconsistencies have arisen around the Labour Party’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan, as shown by Simon Pirani.  The Mayor describes himself as a ‘climate activist’, setting targets to reduce London’s GHG emissions, yet his actions have accommodated high-carbon business interests.  His last election manifesto promised to establish “a not-for-profit company providing a comprehensive range of energy services”, which could have displaced fossil fuels; yet this promise became reduced to a partnership with Octopus Energy. 

He has abandoned the congestion charge for evening travel.   He has accepted high-carbon developments such as the Silvertown Tunnel.  Moreover, his surveillance agents have spied on environmental activists and excluded them from public consultation events, thus demonstrating his true role as a climate anti-activist.


Tory politicians and Right-wing newspapers have derided the Labour Party policy as ‘a Just Stop Oil plan’, again making it look greener than the reality.  As shown here, its ‘clean energy mission’ is deceptive in several ways: it perpetuates fossil sources for the foreseeable future, depends on dubious techno-fixes, perpetuates obstacles to renewable energy substitution, greenwashes a high-carbon future, subordinates the labour movement to high-carbon capital, and so pre-empts a socially just, low-carbon transition.  Among other policies, these will generate mass opposition to the next Labour government. 

'We need a green deal right now', demand climate protesters as they disrupt a major education speech by Sir Keir Starmer, Credit: ITV News, 6 July 2023

No worries: The Labour Party leadership has denounced climate protests that might be effective and has endorsed strong criminal penalties. Its next government will retain the Tories’ legislative powers for deterring, repressing and criminalizing protest.  No surprise there: Keir Starmer has been loyally serving the UK security state since long before he became Labour Party leader.  He has been justifiably called ‘a cop in an expensive suit’, thus an elite role model for his Shadow Cabinet members and London’s Mayor.  

Alongside significant differences between the main political parties, they share a long-term commitment to perpetuate fossil fuels and to protect them through political repression.  With this realistic account of the Labour Party,  we can better discredit its ‘clean energy’ plan, prepare protest against its next government, and create alliances for an alternative future. 

Biographical note:  Les Levidow is a member of the Green Left within the Green Party of England and Wales. This article draws on general points from his new book, Beyond Climate Fixes: From Public Controversy to System Change, https://bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/beyond-climate-fixes

Some points from the book are summarized in this short article:
“Technofixes or solidaristic commoning? Our climate strategy must combat the 'technofixes-plus-markets' fraud”, The Ecologist, March 2023,

Friday 23 June 2023

Nuclear Fusion: Eternal Energy = Eternal Damnation

Written by Don Fitz and Stan Cox

Like a third rate zombie movie on Netflix, delusions of nuclear fusion repeatedly rise from the dead.  The cover story in the June 2023 issue of Scientific American by Philip Ball, “Star Power: Does Fusion Have a Future After All?” recycles the corporate line which was broadcast on December 13, 2022.  The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced that the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory had reached a “breakthrough” in developing an alternative to fission.

As Joshua Frank described the hype over nuclear fusion …

“… there’s no toxic mining involved, nor do thousands of gallons of cold water have to be pumped in to cool overheated reactors, nor will there be radioactive waste byproducts lasting hundreds of thousands of years. And not a risk of a nuclear meltdown in sight! Fusion, so the cheery news went, is safe, effective, and efficient!”

After six months of the announcement’s being debunked, the Scientific American article admitted some of the inherent faults with fusion, repeated some of the original misstatements, and went on with detailed descriptions of technical tweaks necessary to make the technology viable in the second half of the century. Unfortunately,  most of those who criticized fusion missed one of its most serious dangers – that discovering a source of limitless cheap energy would doom humanity’s future rather than enhance it. 

The Terror 

In order to interpret the spin of the military-industrial-pseudo-scientific (MIPS) complex, we need to appreciate the primary obstacle to expanding nuclear power.  MIPS must overcome the intense terror of nukes.

The terror began with images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.  Photos of burnt bodies are burned into the minds of their viewers.  MIPS seeks to discount the images with the myth that Japan had to be nuked, even though it was ready to surrender.  The mythology continued with the “Atoms for Peace” false pretense that there could be a disconnect between nuclear power and nuclear bombs. 

A few decades went by and on March 28, 1979 Three-Mile Island melted down.  A good part of its infamy stemmed from repeated government lies that the event was not so serious and would have few long-lasting effects.  Americans would never be convinced that nukes would only be dangerous if the Soviets or Japanese built them.

Then there was Chernobyl on April 26, 1986.  In 2009 the New York Academy of Science published a detailed analysis estimating the total death count to be around 900,000 and the MIPS spewed forth venomous claims that it was not actually so bad, but was merely the worst human-caused catastrophe in history.

This was followed on March 11, 2011 with the Fukushima Daiichi apocalypse when 3 of 6 nuclear reactors melted down, spreading radioactivity into the neighboring Pacific Ocean and poisoning unknown quantities of aquatic life.  So, each generation from World War II through today, has memories of horrendous nuclear events which MIPS has been totally unsuccessful at erasing.

But credit should be given where it is due, and there is an area where MIPS has done quite well in its plugola efforts.  Those efforts have been to keep everyday leakage of nuclear material and “smaller” catastrophes either out of or reduced to short paragraphs in the corporate press.  Few know that “100 significant accidents happened in world’s nuclear power plants from mid-1950s to 2010.”  The world’s press has given scant attention to how people were used as guinea pigs in testing sites such as the Marshall Islands.  Souma Dutta notes such events:

“… in the Soviet nuclear test sites of Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan, Novaya Zemlya and others, the French nuclear test sites of Reggane & Akker in Algeria and the Mururoa Atoll in the Pacific, the British test sites in the Australian territories of Monte Bello, Maralinga, Emu Field, and the Chinese test site of Lop Nur." 

Denial Non-Stop 

The Scientific American article lets us know which dangers of nuclear fusion that MIPS continues to deny six months after the NIF “breakthrough.”  Despite a good amount of evidence to contrary the article claims that nuclear fusion would (a) produce “near zero carbon emissions” but (b) “without creating the dangerous radioactive waste.” 

Though significant carbon emissions may not be produced during the immediate process of creating energy either through fission or fusion, considerable emissions are associated with producing and transporting the very large amount of equipment used in the life cycle of nukes.  Additionally, Stan carefully documents that, despite the myth that increases in solar, wind and nuclear power results in a decrease of fossil fuel use, “History and research tell us that a buildup of new energy capacity won’t flush oil and fossil gas out of the system.” 

That is hardly likely to change because solar power is nowhere close to “reproducing itself.”  According to T. Vijayendra …

“… the first ton of coal was extracted using human and animal muscle power. But soon, machines driven by coal energy were producing the capital equipment necessary to extract coal. This is not the case with solar energy. All the necessary equipment, including solar collectors, are produced through processes based on sources of energy other than the sun (coal, oil, uranium etc.).” 

Please remember that the goal of corporations is profit.  That requires expanding production by increasing the amount of energy used to the maximum.  If fusion were added to the energy mix, there would continue be little to no decrease in fossil fuel use. 

Equally fallacious is the claim that nuclear fusion would not result in deadly waste.  Essential for the fusion process is tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen.  Its isotopes can permeate metals and pass through the tiniest spaces in enclosures.  Since tritium can enter virtually any part of the human body, it can lead to a variety of cancers

Nuclear fusion would be even more inefficient at water use than would fission reactors.  Though not exactly a “waste product,” this wastage would seriously drain water supplies at a time when they are increasingly being exhausted. 

Dirty Little Secrets Creep into the Open 

Philip Ball’s article slyly admits the accuracy of several of the most frequent criticisms of the December 2022 “breakthrough” announcement.  They appear as a hint to the MIPS complex that, in order to manufacture consent on the grandeur of nuclear fusion, its acolytes should modify some of their more outlandish claims if they are to be taken seriously.

First, nuclear fusion is far, far too expensive to provide energy “too cheap to meter” during upcoming decades.  Not only is tritium (costing $30,000 per gram) necessary to start the initial reaction, reactors must be lined with expensive lithium.  Equipment to make the tiny event happen is enormous, requiring space equal to three football fields.  The complexity of the system requires twice as many employees – 1000 for fusion vs. 500 for a fission reactor.  This helps explain why original cost projections of $6.3 billion mushroomed to DOE’s current estimate of $65 billion.

Second, closely linked to cost is the contrast between the minuscule amount of electricity squeezed out with the use of 192 lasers in December 2022 and the gargantuan amount that would be needed to feed the grid. According to Brian Tokar, the Livermore blast lasted for one ten-billionth of a second.  Nowhere close to powering a major city for a year, or a month or even an hour.

Third, the cost for such a frivolous amount of energy means that no one seriously suggests that fusion reactors will power homes in the foreseeable future.  Many proponents now openly admit that claiming that the technology will be used to improve people’s lives is a hoax.  Ball quotes an industry spokesperson bluntly stating that “There is not today a single project underway to build a fusion power plant that will produce energy.”

Fourth, the real reason for the race to fusion is actually to allow the stockpiling of nuclear weapons that are even more dreadful than present ones.  Currently, a major difficulty in manufacturing nuclear bombs is “the need for highly enriched uranium or plutonium” to initiate the reaction.  Research with nuclear fusion could provide an alternative path to accomplish the ignition. 

Dr. M.V Ramana explains the search for “neutrons with the very short pulse widths characteristic of low-yield nuclear intercepts that can be used to establish lethal criteria for chemical/biological agents and nuclear warhead targets.”  Thus, if experimentation with nuclear fusion were to be successful, it could further shorten the Doomsday Clock, increasing the probability of human annihilation. 

To Dream the Impossible Dream  

Critiquing fusion on the basis that “It won’t work” has the subtle but ominous implication that, it might be okay if it did work.  This logic comes perilously close to Ball’s view that “The world is increasingly desperate for an abundant source of clean energy that can mitigate the climate crisis.”  The view that we must replace “bad” energy with “good” energy is omnipresent.  Placing limits on energy growth does not even fit into the corporate equation.

Let’s strip away the “bads” from nuclear fusion for a moment and ask “What would it be like to have alternative energy that was not excessively costly, did not damage the health of humans or other species, had zero carbon emissions throughout its production life cycle, could produce as much energy as we would ever want, and was not a con game for nuclear war?”

Such a quest for limitless energy is a journey into oblivion.  To dream the impossible energy dream is to hallucinate the most hideous nightmare.  Richard Heinberg warns of the dangers of ignoring limits, noting that if nuke fusion were to remove limits on energy production, corporations would expand production to endlessly deplete soil and destroy species habitat.

Searching for infinite energy other than fossil fuels would present dangers as ominous as nuclear war.  Christopher Ketcham summarizes:

“mainstream environmentalists have siloed climate change as a phenomenon apart from the broad human ecological footprint, separate from deforestation, overgrazing of livestock, megafauna kill-off, collapsing fisheries, desertification, depleted freshwater, soil degradation, oceanic garbage gyres, toxification of rainfall with microplastics, and on and on — the myriad biospheric effects of breakneck growth.” 

The attitude that “nothing is as threatening as climate change” has lured many into the abyss of ignoring (or minimizing) the humongous dangers of “alternative” energy (AltE).  Stan explains how AltE contributes to ongoing threats, writing that the total quantity of “human-made mass” – which is everything made by people – has now exceeded the “the total weight of all living plant, animal, and microbial biomass on Earth.”  This material mass is doubling every 20 years, it contributing to the “breakdown of of entire ecosystems” as well as climate change.

Just a few examples.  Each wind turbine requires more than 60 pounds of metal – and their numbers are growing exponentially.  Electric vehicles swallow “hundreds of millions of tons of lithium-ion batteries for power storage.”  If the world economy is to continue growing, while it converts to run fully on electricity from AltE sources later this century, the quantity of metals that will have to be extracted and processed during the next 15 years will exceed the amount produced for the last 5,000 years.  This will ignite an explosion in the number of mines and devastate entire ecosystems.  It is an open question of whether uncontrolled economic growth, climate change or nuclear war will trigger the demise of human civilization.  The quest for eternal energy is the basis of eternal growth which becomes the alter of eternal damnation.

The good news is that it does not have to be like this.  We now have the knowledge and ability to provide good lives for people throughout the world if we have the sense to distinguish what humanity needs vs. what corporations are greedy for.

Do we really need to build rocket ships to Mars?  Is the quality of our lives improved by having products that fall apart sooner and sooner?  Must there be a car for every adult on Earth instead of having communities where people get 80% of what they use by walking or cycling? 

Are Americans really safer by having over 700 military bases and the ability to exterminate every human many times over.  Don’s book on Cuban Health Care documents how that country’s medical system produces less infant mortality and a longer life expectancy than the US while spending less than 10% of what the US spends per person annually. 

Contrary to widespread propaganda, humanity does not desperately need more energy.  We desperately need to live better with less energy. 

Don Fitz (fitzdon@aol.com) is on the Editorial Board of Green Social Thought, where a version of this article originally appeared. He was the 2016 candidate of the Missouri Green Party for Governor.  His book, Cuban Health Care: The Ongoing Revolution, has been available since June 2020.  

Stan Cox (@CoxStan) is the author of The Path to a Livable Future and The Green New Deal & Beyond, both published by City Lights Books. He is starting the second year of writing the ‘In Real Time’ series for City Lights.

Sunday 12 March 2023

Ecosocialist Alliance - Gearing Up For ‘THE BIG ONE’!

Ecosocialist Alliance has released a statement, reproduced below. 

The Ecosocialist Alliance is a campaigning group which promotes ecosocialist and ecofeminist solutions to our ecological and social ills. We are internationalist and stand firmly with the global south in seeking ecological and social justice.  

We reject ‘green' capitalist ‘solutions' which - because of capitalism's constant drive for infinite growth and accumulation - are incompatible with creating an ecologically sustainable planet and a socially-just world.  Thus, we support climate movements and actions which help move us to an ecosocialist future. 

The Ecosocialist Alliance in England and Wales supports Extinction Rebellion’s call for a mass protest in London beginning 21st April. 


Currently, the award-winning film ‘Finite: The Climate of Change’ is touring the country.

After each showing of the film, there will be a Q & A panel discussion - with representatives from local XR groups, as well as the film’s director. This has become part of a nationwide tour to build numbers for XR’s April protest.  

In addition, local XR groups are carrying out various outreach events - on the streets and in meetings - in order to sign-up people for going down to London. 

As a result, Extinction Rebellion are planning for at least 100,000 people to arrive outside Parliament on Friday 21 April - and/or on the following three days - in what’s being called a “multi-day show of strength of citizens which will be impossible to ignore.”   

This protest has one central demand: for the government to end all new fossil fuel licences and funding.  In addition, XR is also calling for those who deliberately hid and/or undermined climate science - simply to continuing making profits - to be made to pay reparations. 

Taken with XR’s recent actions in reaching out to the trade union movement and joining picket lines, and the formation of the Just Stop Oil Coalition, the signs are there that the UK’s climate movement is moving in a more radical direction as regards ‘System Change.’ 

This is something ecosocialists should welcome, support and help develop. 

With XR having temporarily paused disruptive protests, the April climate event will be one where there is no risk of arrest, which - given that climate protesters have recently experienced unfair trials and draconian punishments - should encourage a big turnout for that weekend. 

 As XR says: “Everyone is needed. Groups and movements must unite to survive, to transform together, address inequality and restore the living world.” 

So…now’s the time to #ChooseYourFuture: Will you be there?

Ecosocialist Alliance is organised by Green Left, Left Unity and Anti-Capitalist Resistance, in England and Wales. 

Contact Ecosocialist Alliance: eco-socialist-action@protonmail.com

Saturday 18 February 2023

Is it time for the Labour Left to Support the Greens?


Written by James Dickins

The Labour Party has returned to the politics of blaming the victims and rewarding the bankers and super-rich who have got Britain into its current catastrophe. In his speech on Wednesday this week, Keir Starmer, the Labour party leader’s message to the Labour left was, “If you don’t like the changes we’ve made,” “the door is open, and you can leave.”

Maybe for these honourable people, it’s time to embrace a new kind of politics which prioritises ordinary people and common decency instead. Despite maybe it being imperfect, should left Labour voters send a message to Labour, and back the Greens at the next General Election?

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor – 'dog whistle’ politics

In 2013, Reeves said that Labour would be “tougher than the Tories” in slashing benefit payments.

In 2020, Reeves led a campaign to erect a statue of notorious Nazi sympathiser, Lady Astor, who once described Hitler as a potential “solution” to the “world problems” of Jews and communism, and said “there must be something of the Jews themselves which had brought them persecution throughout all the ages. Was it not therefore, in the final analysis, their responsibility?”

In 2022, Reeves falsely claimed that “the Government are not deporting people today even when their [asylum] claims have failed.”

The Green guarantee:

We will never engage in ‘dog whistle’ politics – which targets the vulnerable and minorities in search of cheap votes.

Rachel is a banker

Between 2006 and 2010, Reeves worked for Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), which was centrally involved in the 2008 financial crash. In 2017, two former senior HBOS officials were sentenced to 11 and 4 years respectively in prison for fraud in the period leading up to the financial crisis. Reeves is currently Labour’s Shadow Chancellor. The bankers got Britain into its financial crisis. Now Labour is now proposing to use them to get us out of it!

The Green guarantee:

We will never allow special interest groups to make national policy – particularly when these groups have themselves caused our problems in the first place.

And Starmer is a liar

In 2019, Keir Starmer made 10 pledges to Labour members to get himself elected Party leader – all of which he has now broken. The Green Party supports all the policies abandoned by Starmer in an attempt to appease powerful interests. We will work tirelessly to carry them through.

What Starmer Promised  

Pledge 1 - Economic Justice:

“Increase income tax for the top 5% of earners, reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax and clamp down on tax avoidance, particularly of large corporations.”

Pledge 2 - Social Justice:

“… Stand up for universal services and defend our NHS. Support the abolition of tuition fees ...”

Pledge 3 - Climate Justice:

“Put the Green New Deal at the heart of everything we do …”

Pledge 4 - Promote peace and human rights

No more illegal wars. Introduce a Prevention of Military Intervention Act and put human rights at the heart of foreign policy. Review all UK arms sales and make us a force for international peace and justice.

Pledge 5 - Common ownership

Public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water; end outsourcing in our NHS, local government and justice system.

Pledge 6 - Defend migrants’ rights

“Full voting rights for EU nationals. Defend free movement as we leave the EU. An immigration system based on compassion and dignity. End indefinite detention and call for the closure of centres such as Yarl’s Wood.”

Pledge 7 - Strengthen workers’ rights and trade unions

Work shoulder to shoulder with trade unions to stand up for working people, tackle insecure work and low pay. Repeal the Trade Union Act. Oppose Tory attacks on the right to take industrial action and the weakening of workplace rights.

Pledge 8 - Radical devolution of power, wealth and opportunity

Push power, wealth and opportunity away from Whitehall. A federal system to devolve powers – including through regional investment banks and control over regional industrial strategy. Abolish the House of Lords – replace it with an elected chamber of regions and nations.

Pledge 9 - Equality

Pull down obstacles that limit opportunities and talent. We are the party of the Equal Pay Act, Sure Start, BAME representation and the abolition of Section 28 – we must build on that for a new decade.

Pledge 10 - Effective opposition to the Tories

Forensic, effective opposition to the Tories in Parliament – linked up to our mass membership and a professional election operation. Never lose sight of the votes ‘lent’ to the Tories in 2019. Unite our party, promote pluralism and improve our culture. Robust action to eradicate the scourge of antisemitism. Maintain our collective links with the unions.

What Starmer Did

Pledge 1 - Starmer has abandoned all of these policies. He also took £50,000 (only declared after he was elected) to fund his Labour leadership bid from wealthy businessman Trevor Chinn, who has defended low income-tax rates and the loopholes used by the wealthy to avoid paying tax. Chinn is also a major donor to Rachel Reeves.

Pledge 2 - Labour has now abandoned universal services, in favour a contributions-based system – meaning the poorest and most vulnerable will get less under Labour. Labour’s Health Minister Wes Streeting has said Labour will further privatise NHS services. Streeting has taken £15,000 from John Armitage (who has also donated over £3 million to the Tories) who has huge investments in private health-care firms. Armitage will no doubt be expecting a ‘return’ from his ‘investment’ in Starmer’s Labour Party. Labour no longer supports the abolition of tuition fees.

Pledge 3 - Starmer has abandoned the Green New Deal, now saying that Labour will only match the Tories’ commitment to go ‘carbon-neutral’ by 2050. By then, it will be too late to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Pledge 4 – This remains to be seen, if Labour wins the next General Election, but Blair’s Labour said the same thing, and look where that led.  

Pledge 5 - Starmer has abandoned the public ownership of mail, energy and water. Labour now supports further outsourcing (privatisation) of the NHS. When Reeves was asked in 2021 if she supports renationalising the railways, she just laughed.

Pledge 6 - Instead of ‘compassion and dignity’, we get Rachel Reeves’ dogwhistle lie, “the Government are not deporting people today.”

Pledge 7 - Starmer’s  Labour Party has time and again refused to back striking workers, even those on the lowest wages. Asked whether he supported the strike by British Airways check-in over management’s refusal to reverse a 10% pay cut, Shadow Cabinet member, David Lammy said: “No, I don’t. It’s a no. It’s a categorical no.”

Lammy was paid £140,000 over three years as a Labour MP, for after-dinner speeches he gave to international banks, and other corporations, like Citicorps, Deloitte and Novartits – firms that will certainly be wanting to see a ‘return’ on their investment should Labour ever get into power.

Pledge 8 - Starmer’s  Labour has no intention of redistributing wealth from the rich to ordinary people; it is too tucked up in bed with the banks and powerful commercial interests. Under New Labour, the rich actually got richer and the poor poorer, as the meticulous research of  Prof. Danny Dorling (University of Oxford) has shown.

Pledge 9 - While  Labour may be “the party of the Equal Pay Act, Sure Start, BAME representation and the abolition of Section 28”, they are also the party, which under Blair and Brown made Britain more unequal by 2010 than it had been when Blair was first elected in 1997.

Under Keir Starmer, racism has been allowed to flourish in the Labour Party. “They don’t value us,” one Black councillor told me. “As a community, we are politically lost” (Independent, Mar. 1, 2021).

Pledge 10 - Far from offering ‘forensic opposition’ to the Tories, Starmer’s Labour Party hardly offers any opposition at all.

Former Tory mega-donor, Gareth Quarry, who recently defected to Labour, giving it £100,000, commented “Under Starmer, it is not a dramatic change.”

What The Greens Will Do

Pledge 1 - We will do all this – and more – to build a genuinely fair Britain, where the rich, who have benefitted massively from the ‘neoliberal’ Tory and Labour policies of the past 40 years, are made to pay more to support hardworking ordinary people.

Pledge 2 - The Greens absolutely support universal services, and oppose the further privatisation of the NHS. We will abolish student tuition fees.

Pledge 3 - The Greens will implement Labour’s abandoned Green New Deal – and more – by 2030. Unlike Labour, we believe in giving our children, our children’s children – and the world, a viable future in a world not destroyed by climate change.

Pledge 4 - The Greens will continue to be a force for global peace. This is why, in the Middle East, we oppose Israel’s apartheid against the Palestinians (through the peaceful civil-rights-based Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements, we oppose Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s war on Yemen (through a ban on weapons sales to both these countries), we oppose the Iranian regime’s suppression of its ethnic and religious minorities.

We similarly oppose Russia’s war on Ukraine, China’s oppression of the Uyghurs  and Tibetans, and Modi’s anti-Muslim Hinduvista. Unlike Labour and the Tories, Greens know that peace has to be built through international solidarity, rather than waiting until a war breaks out.

Pledge 5 - The Greens absolutely support renationalisation of rail, mail, energy and water, and a fully public NHS – public services for the public good.

Pledge 6 - The Greens recognise that immigrants – from doctors and nurses, to agricultural workers, IT specialists and professional carers – have made, and continue to make, a massive contribution to Britain’s economy and society. We absolutely reject Labour’s anti-immigrant dog-whistle politics.

Pledge 7 - The Greens support a national ‘social contract’, under which all workers will get fairly and decently rewarded for the work they do.

Pledge 8 - The Greens are committed to a fairer, more equal, as well as greener society. Unlike Labour, we do not take funding from powerful business interests, and we will not bow to these interests at the expense of ordinary people.

Pledge 9 - The Greens stand for genuine equality and social justice – unlike the empty rhetoric of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party.

Pledge 10 - The Greens offer real, principled opposition to the Tory policy of making the rich richer, and the poor poorer – and to Labour’s feeble, watered-down version of this. Britain deserves better than Keir Starmer, and his corporate-backed Labour Party.

Keir Starmer lied to get himself elected as Labour leader. How could we possibly trust him to do what he said he will, if he was leader of the country?

The Green guarantee:

Unlike Labour, we will stick by our commitments. We will never allow wealthy and powerful interest groups to dictate national policy – particularly when these groups have themselves caused our problems in the first place.  

James Dickins is a member of Leeds Green Party and a Green Left supporter.