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The Kingston and Surbiton CLP fully support the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the 21st March.

As the UN states “Every person is entitled to human rights without discrimination. The rights to equality and non-discrimination are cornerstones of human rights law. Yet in many parts of the world, discriminatory practices are still widespread, including racial, ethnic, religious and nationality based profiling, and incitement to hatred.”

That latter point takes on significant importance when you consider that, following the vote on the EU referendum last year, the police reported a 41% increase in hate crimes, either racially or religiously motivated. In a remarkably similar experience a number of media outlets in the United States reported increases in such events following the election of Donald Trump as President.

The date itself – 21st March - is chosen as it is the day upon which, in 1960, police killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville South Africa (The Sharpeville Massacre). Six years later the UN General Secretary called the day of the 21st March for the elimination of racial discrimination.

In the 51 years since that call was made, there have been many advances. As the UN states “Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries, and we have built an international framework for fighting racism, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Convention is now nearing universal ratification, yet still, in all regions, too many individuals, communities and societies suffer from the injustice and stigma that racism brings.”

In underlining that final point the events of the last 12 months are examples of a wider and worrying trend. Despite what has changed much work still remains to be done. The fact is that racial discrimination makes people live in fear and makes them feel like outsiders in society, leaving them economically poorer. That is why standing up to racism is so important.

Across Europe we have seen the rise of the far right with an increased vote in the recent Dutch General Election and far right candidates to the fore in elections due in France and Germany. 

The Labour and Trades Union movement has a long and proud tradition of fighting racism and discrimination and will continue to do so. The EC of Kingston and Surbiton Labour Party supports the International Day for the Elimination of Racism 2017.

Kingston and Surbiton CLP Executive Committee 

UN International Day Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The Kingston and Surbiton CLP fully support the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the 21st March.

March 8th. International Women’s Day. #BeBoldForChange.

Kingston and Surbiton Constituency Labour Party fully supports International Women's Day 2017 and in keeping with the theme for the day we're asking you to #BeBoldForChange

As the UN reports, International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the 20th century in North America and across Europe. Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.  Increasingly, International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

So, International Women’s Day 2017 is a call for all of us to help forge a better working world - a more inclusive, gender equal world.

That is why Sarah Champion the Labour MP for Rotherham, Rotherhams first female MP as it happens, laid out in a speech she gave yesterday, Labours position From cuts to tax credits to the crisis in social care budgets – it is women who have consistently been hit hardest, yet it is our voices that are continuously excluded” she said.

Adding “This year, the Spring Budget is on the same day as International Women’s Day – so the 8th March becomes a critical day both for women’s rights and for the economy. Labour are determined to ensure that we do not miss this opportunity to lay out our demands for women to be at the heart of economic decisions.”

She continued by stating how important it was “For women’s voices, perspectives and interests to be properly understood, considered and heard.”

By way of example she pointed out that “As of the last autumn statement, 86% of the net gains to the Treasury through tax and benefit changes since 2010 had come from women. That figure is up on the previous year’s autumn statement, in which the figure was 81%.”

Sarah emphasised the position that Labour is taking by stating “That is why, today, Labour are calling for a Spring Budget that works for women.”

As a constituency party we are pleased to be able to say that on Wednesday March 8th 2017, women worldwide will participate in events to mark International Women's Day. This global movement celebrates the social, political and economic achievements of women throughout history. As we highlight above the theme for 2017 is #BeBoldForChange again focusing on inspiring change and achieving a more inclusive gender equal world.

We should all be proud to celebrate International Women's Day which is also a period for reflection as internationally and domestically there are still major issues facing women. Tens of thousands are victims of sexual and domestic violence, sex trafficking, FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), and oppression on religious and political grounds.

As a movement we have a duty to protect and empower women. We should all campaign locally, nationally and internationally to ensure that a strong message of solidarity and support goes out to women around the world demonstrating that we care, and that we will lobby and campaign to expose abuses and promote their interests and well being.

Celebrate International Women’s Day whatever way you can and be proud to be part of a political movement that makes a change for the better in society.

Kingston and Surbiton Labon CLP Executive Committee

 

International's Women Day 2017

March 8th. International Women’s Day. #BeBoldForChange.

At the Kingston and Surbiton CLP Monthly Meeting on Thursday 16th February 2017, Mika Minio from the Labour Energy Forum (https://labourenergy.org/about/) lead a discussion on energy policy at the monthly meeting of all members.

This blog, from Kingston and Surbiton CLP Chair Laurie South, starts to discuss some of the issues.

  1. New energy suppliers.

We are all aware of the “Big 6” providers – owned for the most part by foreign companies -, but it is possible for new providers to come into the market. For example, Robin Hood Energy (https://robinhoodenergy.co.uk/) was created by Nottingham City Council to provide competitively low-cost energy. Similarly, Bristol City Council has developed Bristol Energy (https://bristol-energy.co.uk/).

 The advantage of local authority energy supply schemes is that they are:

(i)            competitively priced as they do not have to pay shareholders and directors and able borrow investment capital at lower rates of interest as they present less risk of defaulting:

(ii)          democratically accountable

(iii)         able to invest surpluses or profits back into the community rather than into shareholder’s and director’s pockets

(iv)         able to encourage and invest in local energy producers, boosting the local economy

(v)          able to access new sources of capital such as pension funds

Those who are ideologically wedded to the nostrum that the private sector is always best, need to realise that Birmingham City Council very successfully pioneered gas supply in the early 20th century.

The Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is in the process of developing a pan-London energy supply scheme – potentially a huge supply scheme rivalling the Big 6.

2. Community Energy

We are all aware of the fact that excess energy, created through, for example, individually owned solar panels, can be sold back to the national grid, but we seem less aware of community energy schemes. Plymouth Energy Community (http://www.plymouthenergycommunity.com) was pump-prime funded by Plymouth City Council but was then given independent co-operative status. It was no longer a council run project but belonged to the community. It started by funding solar panels on public buildings like schools and has grown.

 A community hydro scheme in Ham was developed to harness the tidal waters of the Thames and provide cheap energy. It appears the scheme has been scuppered on planning objection grounds by The Lensbury hotel and spa complex sited just across the river. Despite a claimed commitment to reducing its own carbon footprint, it seems the Lensbury did not want a renewable scheme that might spoil the paying patron’s view of Teddington weir.

 But in Kingston there are clear opportunities for community renewable schemes in the Cambridge Road Estate Regeneration, but also in any of the developments taking place in Kingston. It would seem an obvious Council planning proviso that any development should contribute to a community energy scheme by building in solar panels.

3. Investment

It is a fact that part of our off-shore wind renewable energy is financed by Munich local authority – a land-locked city. But German cities are not the only foreign local authorities investing in British renewable energy.

Local government in the UK is in a strong position to find the investment for schemes through its local government superannuation schemes, and this has the support of trade unions. For example, Kingston Council’s superannuation scheme amounts to over £600 million with a large percentage (around 20 per cent it is believed) currently invested in fossil fuels. Switching the investment to community renewables would provide a long-term income to service pensions. How much more powerful if this was invested through a pan-London energy scheme!

4. Fuel poverty

Local schemes such as Robin Hood Energy have put a strong emphasis on reducing fuel poverty not just by keeping down costs but by providing advice, consultancy and help for those in poverty. Now, many of our lowest wage earners are in rented accommodation with energy tariffs that reflect the risk that may have difficulty paying – i.e. their tariffs are higher than those who are better remunerated: heartless, unfair and stupid, or what?

5. Nuclear and Gas

All projections seem to suggest that the UK needs gas fired energy for a further decade before renewables (which are developing their technological base at a rapid rate) can fill the gap. However, this Tory government is committed to private investment and no private investor will want to fund a gas project which will only last a decade.

Nuclear energy can help fill a gap but it is a slow build energy source with guarantees of high prices over several decades. Hardly the competition in the market driving prices down that is the promise and key selling point of private investment in utilities. The key to any nuclear energy is developing the UK skills base so that there are jobs for people in the UK, and the research and development benefits the UK. Currently, there are dangers that the UK is to become the testing ground for foreign companies developing the technology and skills on which they can profit elsewhere. Furthermore, the UK will be left with the clean-up bill for thousands of years to come.

6. Tidal energy

Converting tidal energy into power is still at an early stage of development, but tidal power has many advantages for the UK. We have a big coastline all of which is tidal. Critically tidal energy is predictable and occurs at different times in different places and so, potentially, evens out surges. We do not know what technology has in store but we will probably have to get over our obsession with untrammeled views of nature if we are to harness tide-power. We managed that with electricity pylons.

7. Nationalisation

In selling off the nationally run gas and electricity industries, the Tory government made it very difficult to bring these industries back into UK government control. The costs of doing so would be financially horrendous while a full-scale unremunerated nationalisation grab could have unintended consequences for trade relations.

One way might be to demand that the big energy companies:

(i)           Pay the clean-up costs of their technology

(ii)          Finance the urgent renewal of the crumbling Victorian infra-structure

(iii)         Re-skill the UK work-force

Currently we are allowing the Big 6 to do this over an extended period and pass on the costs to the consumers whilst making profits that are repatriated rather than re-invested. A more strident and aggressive regulator might force the hand of the big companies.

8. Conclusion

Renationalisation is an unlikely scenario, but the development of community providers and local authority schemes could have a large and beneficial impact on energy prices and the monopolistic ploys of the large private utilities. The opportunity for local government to invest in becoming a supplier and generator is now. Central government should be supporting and encouraging these developments. Failure by central government shows either a petty-minded obsession with keeping local government powerless and financially in hoc to central government, or a Tory Party more concerned with financial contributions to Tory coffers that the utilities offer. Commitment to a radical energy policy for communities in the UK by our current Tory government is sadly lacking.

Laurie South

The next CLP Monthly Meeting is on Thursday 16th March 2017 and is open to all local CLP members. 

March's meeting is the AGM and Julie Reay will speak about the NHS.

Further details here.

Energy Policy Discussion Notes

At the Kingston and Surbiton CLP Monthly Meeting on Thursday 16th February 2017, Mika Minio from the Labour Energy Forum (https://labourenergy.org/about/) lead a discussion on energy policy at the monthly...

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