Posts Tagged ‘Sewage’

Open Britain on the Significance of their Petition for a General Election against Liz Truss

October 14, 2022

I got this email yesterday from the pro-democracy group Open Britain on the significance of their petition demanding a general election following the undemocratic selection by the Tories of Liz Truss as the new Prime Minister. The British people weren’t a part of that process, which they should have been under simple democratic principles. Open Britain launched a petition to demand a general election. It reached 600,000 signatures and so, despite Tory attempts to ignore it, it is due to be debated on Monday. The email runs

‘Dear David,

A few months ago, I launched a petition on the UK government website calling for an immediate general election. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you why that’s necessary. Since the launch, it’s become increasingly obvious that this country is being forced in a direction it doesn’t want to take. 

The petition has now reached almost 600,000 signatures – and counting. That is more than seven times the number of Conservative Party members who voted to make Liz Truss Prime Minister!

With the way things are going, it’s hardly surprising that so many people feel cheated. The last PM resigned in disgrace, and his replacement is leading us through a time of unprecedented crisis with unpopular policies that were never in the party’s manifesto. Liz Truss is making huge decisions, with drastic implications for the country, that almost no one actually voted for. 

When a petition reaches the 10,000 signature mark, it’s entitled to a response from the government. Their response was predictable – they didn’t take us seriously at all. Because Britain is a democracy, they said, we can’t possibly put this new “growth” plan to a vote. No, they said, we are in fact so democratic that the Tories can go through as many PMs as they want with whatever new plans they please, manifesto commitments be damned. Don’t worry though: they reminded us of their pledge to ensure our “opportunity and prosperity”. They left it at that.  

At the 100,000 signature mark, the petition qualifies to be debated in Parliament. Next Monday, the 17th of October, at 4:30pm, MPs will debate it. Notably, they’ve given it three hours of discussion time, the maximum possible window for such a debate. I’ll be following along closely and I hope you will be too.

We can probably expect the same tired lines from the government. They’ll say it’s undemocratic to call an election now, that it would be breaking the rules because of Johnson’s election win in 2019. What they won’t acknowledge is that the rules have already been egregiously broken. The OB team and I are working to ensure opposition MPs make that clear.

There is no precedent for this situation. No party has ever been arrogant enough to cling to power this desperately while failing so horrifically not just on policy but on basic democratic norms. They’ll hide behind a failed system to prevent themselves from being held accountable to the public via a general election. 

Whatever happens in the debate on Monday, one thing is now crystal clear. There are well over half a million of us out there – at the least – who are sick and tired of not having a say in the rotten policies that are turning our lives upside down. People who have had enough of being ignored. People who would never vote for austerity, who didn’t vote to have their pensions trashed, who don’t want their rivers filled with sewage or the nation’s natural habitat concreted over.

600,000 signatures shows that the country is angry. But now we must turn that anger into action.

Open Britain’s petition draws a clear red line and promises action if it is crossed. It says to the Conservative party that we, the people, will not accept another Prime Minister without a general election. In signing that petition, I am pledging to stand up for democracy in our country. I hope the Conservative Party will see sense and call a general election but, if they don’t, I hope you will be standing with us to stop this affront to democracy.

All the very best,

Darrin Charlesworth

SUPPORT THE MOVEMENT

Your generous support makes this movement possible. Thank you!

Although the numbers demanding a general election are 600,000, this is probably only the tip of the iceberg of the number of Brits who are fed up with the Tories. The polls show that Labour has a 30 per cent lead, and if there was a general election tomorrow – which there won’t be – the Tories would be left with just three seats. Hence there are rumblings that the Tories want to replace her. And if they do, and there is no general election, this will truly show just how corrupt the British electoral system is.

38 Degrees Invite Water Company Heads to Fake Festival of Sewage

October 2, 2022

This is a highly amusing idea. In order to make the point that the sewage the water companies are allowing to get into the environment isn’t acceptable, 38 Degrees are asking their supporters to send the heads of their local water companies fake invitations to a festival of sewage. I go this email and invitation about it on Friday.

Coming to a river or beach near you David: SEWAGE FEST 2022!

Okay, so we’re not actually putting on a festival celebrating sewage pollution. I know, shocking. But today copies of this poster really did start appearing in Brighton, one of many beaches affected by sewage pollution this summer. [1] The message to water companies? Sort. It. Out.

The 38 Degrees community has a history of using fun and creative ideas to make a serious point – and this time is no different! With the Government asking water companies to develop better plans to tackle sewage pollution, it’s the perfect time to publicly shame them – and make sure they really do step up their game. [2]

So here’s the plan: Imagine thousands of us inviting water company bosses to ‘attend’ Sewage Fest 2022 by sharing VIP tickets with them over Twitter (after all, it just wouldn’t have been possible without them!). It’ll be massively embarrassing for them – as well as spreading the word about the campaign!

So David, will you tweet the CEO of your water company a ticket to Sewage Fest 2022 now – and publicly pressure them to clean up their act? The ticket design is below – we hope you like it!

I’LL TWEET A TICKET

So why now? Well, a few weeks ago the new Environment Secretary told water companies to produce more ambitious plans for tackling sewage pollution. [3]

It’s positive news – and only happened because of a huge amount of public pressure. [4] But with everything else going on in the world (and there’s a lot right now) we need to make sure water companies know we’re watching – and won’t accept watered down proposals!

Last week, thousands of us emailed water company CEOs demanding they make their plans as ambitious as possible. [5] But we can’t stop there. Just imagine those same CEOs being publicly invited to an ‘event’ of their own making – Sewage Fest 2022! VIP tickets too, what a treat. Together we can publicly embarrass them, making them feel the heat over their collective failure to tackle the issue.

So will you tweet the CEO of your water company – inviting them to Sewage Fest 2022 and hold them accountable for their disgusting mess? Just click below and you’ll be sent to a page where you can select your water company.

I’LL TWEET A TICKET

Thanks for all you do,

Simma, Matt, Megan, Angus and the 38 Degrees Team

NOTES:
[1] Our posters are all over Brighton – you can see examples herehere, and here!
The Telegraph (paywall): Sewage now pollutes every single beach between Brighton and Hastings
BBC News: Sussex beaches: People advised not to swim after sewage releases
The Independent: England’s most polluted rivers as sewage pumped into waterways for 2.6m hours
[2] Daily Mail: Water companies given two week deadline by government to show how they will stop sewage being pumped into rivers and beaches
Sky News: Water company bosses given 14 days to set out sewage dumping plans, new environment secretary says
[3] See note 2
[4] BBC News: Environment Bill passes following lengthy battle over sewage
38 Degrees: Stop dumping raw sewage into our seas and waterways
DEFRA: Storm overflows discharge reduction plan
The Rivers Trust: Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan still too little, too late
[5] 38 Degrees: Enough is enough: draw up ambitious plans to fix our outdated sewage system

We Own It on the Increasing Popularity of Nationalising the Utilities

August 20, 2022

I got this email from pro-nationalisation, pro-NHS organisation We Own It yesterday. It gives the polling figures for the proportion of the British public that wants the public utilities renationalised. It’s around two-thirds of the British public for industries like electricity, rail, and water, and rises to 78 per cent for the NHS. This figure, although healthy, does concern me, as I understood that previous polls put the figure at 85 per cent. This looks like a drop in popularity, possibly caused by the way the Tories have run it down combined with scumbags like Alex Belfield and Nana Akua on GB telling everyone how better these services would be if they were privatised. As for the Royal Mail, this was privatised by the Grinning Blair, against everybody’s wishes. I know working class Tories who actually voted Labour when the Tories were muttering about privatising it. They mistakenly believed that Labour wouldn’t sell it off. This is what happens with Blairite Labour: you get Hobson’s choice. The faces change, but the policies don’t, because Labour’s listening to the same corporate donors and the same newspaper barons, especially the voice of Mysterian Murdoch. But these figures together, and the chaos privatisation has caused, are a powerful argument for renationalisation. Here’s the email:

‘Dear David,

Everyone is talking about nationalisation, so we’ve been getting the word out in the press about how popular it is. A majority of the UK public support public ownership of key utilities like energy and water – including Conservative voters.

This week we released our biggest ever poll with Survation which shows:

💧69% want publicly owned water

💡66% want publicly owned energy

🚌 65% want publicly owned buses

🚄67% want publicly owned rail

🏥78% want a publicly owned NHS

📮68% want a publicly owned Royal Mail

If you agree with public services for people not profit, you’re not alone – and you can help spread the word about how popular public ownership is:

Share the polling on Facebook

Share the polling on Twitter

Share the blog by email

Your energy bill is going up and up – in January bills are set to hit £500 a month and 100,000 people have committed not to pay.

Sewage flows into our rivers and seas, making people ill and killing fish, but water companies return billions in dividends to shareholders.

Other countries’ state owned railways profit from our privatised system, while the government plans to close ticket offices at the same time as talking about ‘Great British Railways’.

Privatisation has failed and we’re all feeling the consequences.

But you are fighting back!

THANK YOU to everyone who’s signed the petition to Nationalise Bulb. Thanks to your support, the campaign got covered in the Express! Sign and share the petition if you haven’t already. Let’s make our demand as big as possible ahead of the energy price cap rise next week…

THANK YOU to everyone who’s joining the ticket office protests this coming Tuesday 23rd August, whether in person or online.

Let’s get wins, let’s get the word out. The tide is turning, and you’re helping to make that happen.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew and Kate – the We Own It team’.

Tories Pumping Sewage in Rivers: We Were Warned

October 26, 2021

One of the major stories this week has been that the Conservatives have voted to allow the water companies to dump raw sewage into our rivers and seas. This is, as Mike has pointed out, threatening to bring back cholera, and no doubt many other lethal Victorian diseases. Mike and the good peeps on Twitter have put up a list of the various Tory thugs, who passed this noxious motion, and the excuses have started already. Mike’s local MP, Fay Jones, was telling everyone that the amendment would cost the taxpayer £600 billion or so to replace the Victorian sewage infrastructure. But it wouldn’t. It would cost the government that, who might have to raise taxes as a result. But it shouldn’t be raised from them. The cost would have to be borne by the privatised water companies. I remember when the water companies were privatised under Thatcher the head of the local company down here in Bristol, Hooper, was all in favour and declared that it would allow them to raise more money for investment. So if any expense is involved, it should come from their profits, shareholder dividends and customers, not the British taxpayer. Jones also complained that people attacking the government’s actions over sewage obscured the brilliant work they were already doing reducing discharge from storm overflows. But there’s precious little evidence of this, either. So once again, the Tories are lying.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/10/25/get-your-cholera-jab-booked-mps-wont-stop-pumping-raw-sewage-into-our-waters/

This was after David Davies started crying that he was being abused and subjected to online hate, because Catrin Maby had asked him an awkward question about allowing untreated effluent into our watercourses. It’s deeply distasteful coming after the murder of David Amess, a murder that seems to be an act of premeditated Islamist terror rather than caused by online hate. So once again, we have the Tories wrecking peoples’ health but claiming they are somehow the innocent victims, while presenting precisely no evidence to support their assertion.

But as nasty as all this is, we can’t say we weren’t warned.

When Brexit was first being mooted critics warned that once Britain was out of the EU and their environmental regulations no longer applied, the Tories would allow this and other abuses to happen. It was even shown in a short-lived cartoon strip in Private Eye. This was ‘The Ukippers’, and featured a fiercely patriotic couple who believed that everything would be absolutely brilliant once we have left the EU. One edition showed the two celebrating the new, higher environmental standards we were promised after Brexit by running into the sea for a swim. The two were undeterred by the fact that the water was foul and brown, and filled with what Billy Connolly used to describe as ‘jobbies’. Despite the foul state of the water around them, the pair were still convinced that it was much cleaner than it had been under the EU. It’s an attitude I’m afraid will probably come true at some point, as Tory voters repeat the lie that somehow it’s all cleaner, which I’m sure that Boris and his cronies will tell at some point.

In fact the Tories have a history of allowing pollution into the water. It started in the 1980s the moment Thatcher – or was John Major? – decided to privatise it. I can remember reading articles in Private Eye, once again, about how the Tories were passing legislation to strip the National Rivers Authority of its powers to prosecute the newly privatised water companies for pollution. I’ve got a feeling similar legislation to reduce its powers even further has also been passed. And there have also been a series of scandals, also covered by Private Eye, in which various water companies were caught violating environmental regulations with the dumping of sewage or chemicals into rivers.

This latest attack on the British environment was predicted, because the Tories have been doing it for decades.

AJ+ Video on the Bedouin Village the Israelis Wish to Demolish

November 24, 2018

This is a video that the Blairites, the Israel lobby, the Tories and the lamestream media really don’t want you to see. It’s the kind of video that would have Marlon Solomon, Maggie Cousins and the entire Board of Deputies of British Jews screaming ‘anti-Semitism!’ Not because it is – it isn’t – but simply because it shows the reality of what’s happening in Israel to the indigenous people. They’re having their homes demolished.

The video’s just less than five minutes long, and features host Dena Takruri walking through the Bedouin village of al-Zarnoug in the Negev desert, talking to one of its people, Basma Abo Qwedir. The village has existed since before Israel was founded in 1948, but the Israeli authorities don’t consider that it legitimately exists, and so have attempted to demolish it and forcibly relocate its people many times. And although its people are considered Israeli citizens, Abo Qwedir makes it very clear that she doesn’t believe this is remotely true. If she’s an Israeli, she says, then she’s a second- or third class one. The country doesn’t treat her as other citizens, such as Jews, for example.

The video states that al-Zarnoug is one of 35 unrecognized Arab villages in the desert with a total population of 70,000 people. They’ve been under threat of eviction since the Nakba of Palestine’s destruction through the foundation of Israel in 1948. In 2013 a bill was proposed for the villages’ demolition and the removal of its people to government-built townships. In some cases, the villages would be replaced by Jewish settlements. The Israeli authorities said they would shelve the plan after widespread protests, but the home demolitions have continued, including in al-Zarnoug.

As shown, it appears to be a village of grim, breeze-block and concrete housing. If the residents need to build new buildings, they have to be hidden behind corrugated iron sheeting, because if they go to the authorities for a building permit, it won’t be issued. The roads and thoroughfares are simply the bare soil. And before AJ+ visited the village, the Israelis demolished houses in the nearby village of El Araqid for the 90th time. Abo Qwedir explains that as the village doesn’t officially exist, it means that they don’t have electricity, infracture, playgrounds, sewage and roads as they should. She shows Takruri how the villagers get electricity from solar panels on their houses, which they can move to follow the sun. But in winter and rainy days when there is no sun, they have to rely on batteries.

Takruri states that Israel regards the development of the Negev desert as one of its most important goals, and the ministry of foreign affairs says that the country seeks to integrate villagers into its development plans. But residents like Ab Qwedir read between the lines that the government wishes to replacement them with Jews, because Arabs, Palestinians, ‘are not welcome here’.

The video concludes with Abo Qwedir saying that simply staying there is a form of resistance against the Israeli state. Everyone does it, she says. ‘Sometimes it’s against the wind, other times it’s against the state.’

The demolition of Arab homes has been a major issue for decades now, and many Israelis support the Arabs in the determination to stay in their homes. Jews, including rabbis, have campaigned against the house demolitions. From what I’ve read, the Israeli colonization of the Negev presents the Israeli state with a problem. As it stands at the moment, the desert’s very largely Arab in population, so that some Israelis have said that they feel the territory is ‘lost’. For Israel to settle the region with Jews, it will have to withdraw or abandon some Jewish settlements elsewhere, such as the Occupied Territories. Which will enrage the settlers there, who believe that as part of Eretz Israel, the West Bank should be firmly part of Israel and its indigenous people cleansed.

And this is probably part of the explanation why Israel is so keen to tell western Diaspora Jews that they’re not safe in Europe and America, and exploit every terrorist outrage, like the Pittsburgh shooting two weeks ago, to spread fear and encourage Jewish Americans and Europeans to move to Israel for their own safety. In Britain this led to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism making the absurd and odious claim that Jews were facing the biggest rise in anti-Semitism since the 1930s. Hardly. This statement was so obviously wrong, that even one of the Jewish papers or organisations had to step in to show that it was utterly false.

It’s for sticking up for the people of Palestine against the destruction of their homes and their treatment as second-class citizens, that decent people like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni, Ken Livingstone and Mike, as well as Jeremy Corbyn himself, have been vilified as anti-Semites and worse by the Blairites, the Israel lobby and a corrupt, Tory media.

It’s because they’re afraid of a genuinely socialist Labour party getting into power, which really does support racial equality and dignity. As against the Blairites, the Neocons, and the Tories, who stand for imperialism, colonialism and war without end to promote Israel, western and Saudi oil interests, and the seizure of other nations’ state enterprises and oil reserves, for the benefit of the multinationals.

RT’s Afshin Rattansi Talking to Gaza Health Minister Dr Basem Naim

May 18, 2018

This was posted on May 14th, a day before the Israeli’s massacred 60 Gaza Palestinians for trying to break through the fence into Israel, and it adds some very relevant pieces of back ground detail.

It’s from RT’s ‘Going Underground’ show, where Rattansi interviews various guests. This year is the 70th anniversary of the birth of Israel, called by Palestinians the Nakba, or ‘Catastrophe’, because it led to the destruction of their country and its communities. 400 Arab villages were razed by the Israelis in 1948, and countless villagers massacred up and down the country by Israeli troopers, even those bringing them rice as a peace overture, or seeking refuge in mosques.

To mark this, the Palestinians had organised a ‘March for Return’, which has been going on since April 30th. This is clearly part of the demand that the Palestinians should be allowed to move out of their refugee camps, and, presumably, return from their exile abroad to their old homes in what is now Israel. Israel definitely does not want to do this, as it has been pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing since the first Zionist settlers arrived in the early 20th century. It refuses to let Palestinian exiles return because this would upset the demographic character of Israel as the Jewish state.

He also attacks Trump’s decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, pointing out that it is a contested city, and should be the Palestinian capital. He also describes the squalid conditions in Gaza itself, which is deliberately starved of water and electricity by Israel, and indeed the water supplies have been fouled by Israel consumption and water projects. The beach is also heavily polluted – up to 97 per cent if covered with sewage, again from Israel. There economy is also deliberately stifled by Israel. And naturally, he is firmly opposed to the visit to Israel scheduled for later by Prince William.

Rattansi tries to tackle him on Syria, trying to get him to admit that Hamas forces there have been fighting against ISIS and al-Qaeda. Basem refuses to admit this, and just repeats the line that Palestinians are peaceful people dedicated to cooperation.

This adds a bit more information to explain the powerful reaction by the Palestinians to Trump’s movement of the embassy. This was always going to be intensely controversial to a persecuted and exiled people, who look on the Holy City as their own. But the fact that this occurred in what they remember as the anniversary of their country’s destruction and their persecuting, ethnic cleansing and massacre, which they were commemorating with a march demanding their return to their homes, also explains why so many massed at the fence between Gaza and Israel.

As for Palestinians being a peaceful people, the PLO has carried out terrorist atrocities. Israel has regularly denounced Hamas, the governing faction in Gaza, as a terrorist organisation, but I’ve read others claim that Israeli policy has left them no choice. The Israeli state ignores Palestinian moderates, and does not seem to respond except through the threat of violence. When this occurs, they refuse to concede to Palestinian demands because they don’t talk to terrorists. I’ve also come across conspiracy theories, which consider that Hamas is itself a creation of the Israelis.

As for Hamas fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda in Palestine, I’m actually with them on that one. Hamas are also Islamists, but ISIS and al-Qaeda are terrorists. Daesh are responsible for the destruction of antiquities and priceless ancient artifacts and monuments, including mosques and other Islamic buildings, all over the Middle East and North Africa. They have also murdered moderate Muslims, Sufis, Shi’a, and other forms of Islam that don’t conform to their own twisted ideas. And this is quite apart from their persecution of non-Muslims, like Christians and Yezidis, and their re-imposition of sex-slavery for the Yezidi women they have captured. They are an affront to human civilisation, and it is an abomination that the Americans have been backing them as part of the proxy war against Assad in Syria. Daesh should be fought against and the movement wiped from the Earth.

Vox Political on Yvette Cooper Condemning Renationalisation

February 23, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political also has a piece from the Independent about Yvette Cooper. Apparently, she is set to make a speech attacking the nationalisation of industry as an old, discredited idea. It will not help modern workers, according to her, or those trying to ‘build an app’. Mike therefore asks if she’s deliberately trying to mislead people about the issue in defending ‘wasteful’ privatisation. See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/23/is-yvette-cooper-deliberately-misleading-people-about-nationalisation/.

Now I agree with Mike that privatisation is wasteful. It also led, paradoxically, to a massive increase in bureaucracy. This expanded massively when the utility companies, including that for water, sewage and the environment, were sold off and separate regulatory bodies had to be set up. In order to try and keep to their promise that selling off Britain’s family silver would reduce bureaucracy, they had to cut down on the regulatory bodies so that they wouldn’t have so much power, and wouldn’t represent the interests of the consumers. And there was also the usual revolving doors between the civil service and the privatised utility companies, where the mandarins who were supposed to be watching them in the public interest did no such thing, and later got a job with them after they left Whitehall. I can remember reading report after report on this, fortnight after fortnight, in Private Eye in the ’90s. It was all part of the sleaze surrounding John Major’s administration.

I’ve also heard that, despite the impression given by privatisation that all aspects of energy generation, and its supply, and that of water and gas, the actual infrastructure remains the concern of the state. The private utility companies get to cream off the profits, but the actual maintenance of the national grid, pipes and so on remain the duty of the state, which bears the financial burden. Now I’ll have to check on this, but if it’s true, then privatisation really has been just a scam with minimal benefit to the consumers. Quite beyond the very obvious profiteering we’ve seen by the energy companies themselves.

Now let’s come to the example of the information technology industry she used. It won’t help workers developing an app, according to Cooper. Now, the free marketeers just love the computing and information technology. Look, they say, at the way a group of private individuals in the 1970s – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others, built a whole industry from sheer private enterprise, all in the garages or spare time or whatever. The Financial Times had a go at this myth, as did Adam Curtis in his documentary, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace. The Financial Times pointed out that the kids, who were able to create the modern computing industry, were able to do so not because of the free market, or because their part of California had excellent schools, or indeed any of that. They were able to get ahead and develop it because they were all already very wealthy, and could afford to develop their creations. And Adam Curtis in his documentary went and showed that the mathematical basis behind the suggestion that private enterprise gives better results through allowing people to co-operate independently and form a coherent strategy without a central planner was also baloney.

And if you want a real counter-example, then try France. The French computer industry was created in the 1970s through the efforts of the French state. And the French have been very successful in their efforts. So central planning, nationalisation and state investment can help create jobs in the high technology sector. Even in America, my guess is that much of the technology sector is supported by generous state subsidies, regardless of what Cooper believes or think she knows about the benefits of laissez faire industry.

Now I have to say, I think Cooper genuinely believes that private enterprise is superior to nationalised and state-owned industry. It’s a basic item of faith of the New Labour clique. And she also has a point about nationalisation not necessarily benefiting workers. Harry Gosling, the founder of the T&GWU with Ernest Bevin, made a speech in Bristol stating that nationalisation wouldn’t do so unless it involved a degree of worker’s control. And proper representation of the workforce in the workplace is what trade unions are for. It’s also what the Labour party was set up to do. Unfortunately, Blair, Broon and New Labour decided that they didn’t. Just before one of the two left office – I can’t remember which one – they passed a whole tranche of legislation actually weakening the unions. Moreover, on the government website telling you what rights you had under the law as a worker, there was also a secret section for employers that told them how they could circumvent all this. So there’s an element of hypocrisy there. Cooper’s against nationalisation, because it wouldn’t help the workers. But Blair wasn’t keen on organised Labour either. I can remember how he threatened to cut the ties between the unions and the Labour party.

And there’s more, much more to be said about this. I’ll blog about the foundation of the nationalised industries some other time. But for now, the opposite of what Cooper said is true: privatisation is discredited, and the privatisers of New Labour have also shown themselves unwilling to act for the poor or the working class either. It’s why UKIP took off so spectacularly. And while their leadership are privatisers on steroids, most of the grassroots members actually want the utilities nationalised. The Angry Yorkshireman wrote several pieces about this, all of which are worth reading.