The blues can never be green: why the pausing of UK fracking is an election ploy

After the calling of a general election for December 12th, British politics has taken yet another unpredictable and exciting turn. Already the major political parties have begun to outline their election strategies; from the repetition of Labour’s 2017 strategy that boasts all the optimism of a Manchester United fan’s opinion on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, to the Europhilic platform of the Liberal democrats that so nearly distracts from their voting record. 

With headlines dominated for so long by the haze of Brexit that it may now be the national sport of the United Kingdom, one might be forgiven for forgetting the very identities and positions of the mainstream parties outside of the European question. Thus, when the Conservative party announced the “suspension” of fracking operations in the United Kingdom, anyone who has taken an interest in the growing environmentalist movement worldwide would be forgiven for assuming this as the actions of a party that cares about the planet.

Fracking – one of the more contentious methods of extracting shale and natural gas – has received a large degree of public scrutiny in recent years. The potential for geological disruption, resulting in the increased chance of earthquakes and threat posed to local communities, is one of many ecological risks associated with the process, implemented at various sites nationwide. Andrea Leadsom, Business Secretary in the Johnson Government, argued that it was the right move for the Conservative government, who were “following the science… until the science changes”.

Leadsom — who infamously questioned on her first day as Theresa May’s Energy Secretary if climate change was real — seems here to justify the suspension of an environmentally damaging practice; until the point that the facts and circumstances change to allow the government to continue it again sans critique. Here we see the government enacting a temporary suspension of a profitable but ecologically destructive practice, until the science or circumstances change that justify them continuing with the destructive business.

Despite the Orwellian doublespeak of Leadsom, the move is nothing short of part of the election campaign launch of Johnson and the Conservative party. Forgetting for the moment the irony of a campaign centred around the idea of Britain deserving better than the brutal imposition of austerity and political buffoonery masterminded by the Conservatives themselves, Johnson’s political ethos focuses on the notion of “getting things done”. Let us get Brexit done, as the Conservatives cry, and we can focus on getting things done for the police force we have cut, the health service we have dogmatically hollowed, and on resolving the environmental crisis. Suspension of fracking, regardless of its motivations, is in the eyes of the Conservatives at least something they have actually got done in the past years of political weakness and ambiguity.

Indeed, one might be forgiven for forgetting what the political parties of the United Kingdom still stand for in these uncertain to-say-the-least times. The Conservatives can certainly be pointed to as the party of action when it comes to environmental considerations; they cannot be pointed to as the party of environmentalism. This is the party that abolished the department of Energy and Climate Change in 2016; the party that removed subsidisation of renewable energy construction and restricted the ability of renewable energy sources to develop in the United Kingdom; the party that ended the programme of sustainable home development due to a lack of profitability for investors. This is to say nothing of the continued support and subsidisation of Nuclear and non-renewable energy sources; many of which are not only unsustainable, but themselves not profitable. The fact that the Johnson Government has acted to temporarily halt fracking operations in the United Kingdom is simply a drop in the polluted ocean that Conservative policies and ideological profit-focus has helped to create.

This is hardly surprising. It is long documented that free market policies such as those championed by the Conservatives are wholly incompatible with ecological considerations; considerations which require the sacrifice of short term and individual self-interest in order to protect the common long-term good. Such profit-focus is integral to the continued dogmatic adherence to Neoliberalism that runs in the very blood of the Conservative party; an ideology that champions the free pursuit of self-interest for all, giving no consideration to considerations outside of capital and profit. Since the days of Thatcher’s gutting of regional communities, to the willing ignorance to the risks of the most profitable course that led to the Grenfell disaster, the Conservative party have long established themselves as the party that cares only for immediate economic success above any and all else. This perhaps explains why, before the enacting of such an election stunt, the party has been such a champion of fracking; almost a perfect metaphor for the extraction of short-term value with no regard for local communities or long-term sustainability.

It may be worth a modicum of congratulations to the Conservative party. Since Johnson took over as leader of the party and the country, the suspension of fracking is perhaps the one true item that the government can, unlike parliamentary votes and PR visits to hospitals, say that it has achieved success in. Make no mistake, however, the suspension of fracking is in no way motivated by a desire to protect the environment or communities affected by fracking. It is nothing short of a rudimentary and basic election tactic and attempted evidence for its “get things done campaign”; a crumb of success that will be weaponised as a counter argument to the myriad of environmentalist criticisms. When the “Science Changes” in the event the Conservatives win majority in the next election, such a suspension will be quickly and quietly repealed, leading to the next inevitable story of a small community ravaged by fracking disaster. 

As far as Environmentalism is concerned, the Conservative party line is evident; that the planet and the people that rely upon it are an afterthought, until the next chance for Johnson, clad in an ill fitting sports top or hopefully at the top of another zip-wire, to weaponise it for his own party’s success.

A land value tax won’t save the amazon rainforest: Instead we should look to indigenous communities to lead the way

Recently, an article published on this site by one of my colleagues attempted to revive the concept of a land value tax (or Georgism) as the answer to environmental degradation, specifically the tragic and rapid destruction of the amazon rainforest.

This tax is supposedly an excellent counter to the “demonstrations and other forms of virtue signalling from the left”. Although I agree that demonstrations in the UK will do very little, I wholeheartedly disagree that free market reform policies, like a land value tax, will be either implementable or have any effect in combating what is essentially a market driven process. It’s neither pragmatic nor possible. Instead there is a far more practical and proven method to protect the rain-forest already at play and it lies in the inherent power of indigenous communities.

To address the proposal of a land value tax, which i will preface, is not an idea without merit in specific contexts, such as urban and suburban plots of land but in this context it has significant barriers to its implementation.

Firstly, the concepts of a land value tax and the eco-tax mentioned in the article are two fundamentally different financial tools and in order to implement them in concert you have to radically alter the idea of a land value tax from a 100% (or near 100% tax) to one that is adjustable depending on the land that is being taxed. The reason for this is that the tax relies on the market determining the “highest and best use which can be obtained” for the land itself, which contradicts the need to value land in the rainforest as inherently useful in it’s current “undeveloped” state, to prevent further deforestation. Deforestation which is done to clear land to meet market demand from developed, so called ‘western nations’, for meat, soy and other practices like mining. The system of a land value tax ultimately pushes for the development of open land and has the potential for the premature release of farmland for development.

Secondly, there have only been a few instances of land value taxes being implemented with varying degrees of success and often not in the true (Georgian) sense of the idea. Furthermore, these reforms in ‘developing’ nations have led to an “exacerbation of the concentration of wealth”. In addition to this, the method of using international sanctions to enforce this tax has the potential to harm those very communities who’s land has been taken in the first place.

It’s within these communities that a practical and implementable way in which to improve the situation in the amazon can be found. It revolves around recognising the inherent power held by the many diverse indigenous communities of the amazon rain-forest. These individuals have been resisting colonial and then imperialist forces for many generations. Instead of using a theoretical concept of a global common ownership of land which can then be used to levy taxes, instead the international community should directly demand and support indigenous claims to the right over the land they live on.

By listening to the leaders from the amazon itself, those individuals and communities who are and have always been at the front line of a battle with state-backed corporate land grabs, we can formulate the best way, as an international bloc, to support, bolster, and work with them in saving the rainforest.

Many lands that are mandated by the government for indigenous use are still legally owned by the government itself. This is where many of the illegal activities associated with agribusiness are occurring. Bolsonaro, the Brazilian President, has been targeting these very indigenous groups, freezing the demarcation of new indigenous land and stripping the national indigenous foundation, known as Funai, of its powers. This is exactly what must be stopped and soon. It’s widely held that supporting indigenous land rights is a key process in preventing deforestation and destruction. It has been show that in some cases it can reduce forest fire incidents by 16% compared to areas that are simply ‘protected’ without land rights. This makes sense because these communities have been successfully and actively managing the rain-forest for countless generations. Initial reports from the world bank state that: “it will cost far less to save carbon by recognising forest community rights rather than relying on the future money markets”. Furthermore, one report outlined that it would cost £2 per hectare to recognise indigenous land rights.

Compared to a cut and paste tax requiring hoards of land valuers, this is a method that is both steeped in history and has already been implemented and measured. It’s ethical, anti-imperialist, and efficient. The World Resource Institute showed in their research that: “securing community forest tenure is a low-cost, high-benefit investment that benefits communities, countries, and global society”. However, this will not be the only way we can quickly and decisively stop the destruction of the rain forest. Perhaps an Eco-tax in some form and other international methods of pressure will be key in this collective endeavour, but this should always be fronted and led by those communities who live and resist within the amazon rain-forest itself.

For virtue signalling flag wavers, here are some ways you can help below:

Support the rainforest action network working directly with indigenous communities

Follow and support resistance on the ground and indigenous groups

Choose alternatives and pressure your own government

How Georgism can be the answer to environmental degradation

The Amazon rainforest has been burning for three weeks. This is devastating the lives of indigenous communities and the wildlife that inhabit this fundamental ecosystem of the earth. On Monday, the smoke covered the skies of Brazil’s biggest city, Sau Paulo, blocking out the sun of a city that is over 2700km (1700 miles) away. The Amazon is often referred to as the planet’s lungs, producing 20% of the oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere. The fact it has taken up to three weeks for the news of the fires to reach the West has been cause for concern to the public and many have taken to Twitter to express their sadness, anger, and disbelief, as seen below.

Indeed, it is important to identify the role of President Bolsonaro in enabling such catastrophic deforestation, which begun immediately after he took office in January with his assault on Amazon rainforest protections through the transference of regulations and creation of new indigenous reserves to the agriculture ministry. The agricultural ministry is controlled by the powerful agribusiness lobby and led indigenous spokespersons to highlight such an event as a symbolic concession to farming interests at a time when deforestation is rising again.

Such a statement has unfortunately been proven correct by data from the National Institute for Space Research, whom have reported the number of fires in Brazil this year is has increased by 84% than over the same period in 2018.

Nevertheless, it is time for more pragmatism in addressing environmental degradation. Calls to organise demonstrations and other forms of virtue signalling from the left simply aren’t good enough. Environmental disaster is here and now, calls to defeat capitalism are not. Capitalism is deeply ingrained into the global order, therefore to create a new global order takes time which we simply do not have at our disposal. Instead, I argue we must invoke the ideals of Georgism.

Georgist economic theory posits that whilst individuals should own the value they produce themselves, economic value derived from land should belong equally to all members of society because the resources of the land should be free for all to benefit from. Policy proposals that incorporate this are eco-taxes which tax polluters. This would include deforestation by farmers. In Georgist terms, this is a land-value tax which discourages waste. Therefore, for a land mass as large as the Amazon, which provides up to 20% of global oxygen, any attempts to deforest would see a huge financial burden placed on the individuals and businesses that seek to do so.

Although the majority of deforestation in the Amazon is illegal, the actions of President Bolsonaro in weakening the power of government agencies responsible for protecting the rainforest, implicate him as an enabler and as someone who doesn’t take climate concerns seriously. This is most recently evident in his dismissal of former head of agency and physicist Ricardo Magnus Osório Galvão, for releasing a report highlighting the alarming rate of Amazonian deforestation in Brazil.

However,  international sanctions on states which do not adhere to an international standard of land-value tax would demand much more action. This would make the continuity of such economically damaging activities politically nonviable. Therefore, this is a possible route to success in saving the environment from leaders such as Bolsonaro, whom seek to bypass the importance of protecting the environment in their pursuit of development.

If, and it’s a big if, the international community and world leaders can come together to implement a global, Georgist land-value tax, it would go a long way in beginning to reduce pollution and other damaging activities to our environment.

Can School Strikes change government inaction on climate change?

Extinction Rebellion may be getting more headlines but another grassroots movement is challenging government and global inaction on climate change. The School Strike for Climate also known as Fridays for Future, Youth for Climate and Youth Strike for Climate is a growing movement of schoolchildren who go ‘on strike’ from school in protest against climate change.

They usually hold colourful demonstrations highlighting the impact that inaction over climate will have and ‘die ins’ when they pretend to be dead reflecting they argue the future of the human race without a radical change in our lifestyles including big reductions in fossil fuel usage.

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg was the inspiration for the movement refusing to attend high school until the Swedish general election in September 2018 due to heat waves and forest fires across Sweden. Thunberg protested outside the Riksdag the Swedish Parliament claiming that she would return every Friday until Sweden ratified the Paris climate change agreement.

Inspired by this at the 2018 climate change conference in Katowice, climate strikes took place in 270 cities around the world in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Switzerland and the UK. During the course of 2019, the protests have continued and spread to every continent except Antarctica which of course has no schools.

In the UK activists have received support from 224 academics giving their full support to the movement while they also received support from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and Brighton Pavilion Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. However perhaps predictably Theresa May said that the protests “increases teachers’ workload” and “wastes lesson time”.

British activists have formed the UK Student Climate Network a student-run climate activist group have been arguing for the voting age to be reduced to 16 reflecting the frustration some teenagers feel in not just having their views ignored but also that previous generations have failed to address the challenge of climate change. They also argue that the government should reform the education system so it teaches young people about the climate change emergency and that it should warn the public about the dangerous climate situation we face.

These demands are perhaps different perhaps even less militant than their adult counterparts in Extinction Rebellion, who are proposing very radical carbon emissions targets and the establishment of a Citizen’s Assembly to discuss the climate crisis. However, despite some differences in strategy Extinction Rebellion are strong supporters of the school climate strike movement.

Cyrus Jarvis a UK Student Climate Network activist argued that reaching one of the key goals of the school climate change movement zero carbon emissions by 2025 or 2030 will be difficult.

He said: “ We’ll have to cut production of oil and gas bringing in renewables. We will have to bring in an aviation tax and packaging would have to be cut.  There would have to be a lot of legislation brought in to make sure that we are bringing our carbon emissions to the lowest possible level. We would also need to bring in a green new deal.”

Jarvis explained that he was inspired by the school climate protests across the world to get involved and outlined the ambitious plans for the global school climate change movement:

“ After seeing other countries going on strike and seeing thousands and thousands of people taking part in countries like Switzerland, Belgium and Australia we thought are futures are being destroyed right now and we have to do something about it.

“ The strikes are going to continue globally and then in September we’re going to strike on the 20th and seven days later there will be a general strike and we will strike again with everyone else globally. There are unions who are pledging to strike already and hopefully it will be big.”

However, with politicians particularly from the Conservative Party so adept at ignoring the views of young people can the strikes be effective? Arguably they along with the high profile activities of Extinction Rebellion have already had an impact as Parliament has become the first in the world to declare a ‘climate change emergency’. Politically the Green Party has achieved its best ever results in May in the local and European elections. These strikes have shifted the debate dramatically and achieved a level of education for the public via the media. While this is no legislative progress it is the first steps in solving the problem.

Arguably public opinion on climate change is shifting in favour of action and political support is emerging as well. This was something that was demonstrated during Greta Thunberg’s recent visit to the UK when she met not just Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas but also Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable and the Westminster leaders of the SNP and Plaid Cymru Ian Blackford and Liz Saville Roberts. Even Climate secretary Michael Gove and Energy minister gave their support. However, as climate activists argue time is running out and it may not be enough.

George Monbiot’s Conversion to Anti-Capitalism is Welcome – But Why is he Against Ecosocialism?

George Monbiot’s piece in The Guardian, titled ‘Dare to declare capitalism dead – before it takes us all down with it’ last week, on the back of his interview on comedian Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, is another step on his journal away from green liberalism.

Monbiot writes:

‘For most of my adult life I’ve railed against “corporate capitalism”, “consumer capitalism” and “crony capitalism”. It took me a long time to see that the problem is not the adjective but the noun.’

Absolutely right, there should be no nuancing of different types of capitalism, in the end it is all the same, a system that favours those with capital, over those who have to sell their labour to survive. It leads inevitably to inequality, which you can see all around you if you care to look.

The starting point for Monbiot’s journey can be found in his 2003 book, ‘The Age of Consent.’ The marketing blurb for the book contains this quote:

“Our task is not to overthrow globalisation, but to capture it, and to use it as a vehicle for humanity’s first global democratic revolution.”

This sounds quite radical but the book goes onto suggest a sort of neo-Keynesian approach, and rather condescendingly dismisses socialism generally in a page and a half, in his book. He makes no mention of ecosocialism at all, although to be fair this theory of political economy but fairly new in 2003. Someone as intelligent Monbiot though, will have noticed ecosocialism, so I was perplexed by this omission.

Leaping forward to 2017, Monbiot wrote in another column for The Guardian, where he mentions a commons based ownership of production and stewardship of the land, and participatory democracy.

The commons is an extremely important concept in ecosocialism, and extends beyond the physical land based commons of old (and some that still exist), into areas like peer to peer data sharing and things like the Firefox web browser. Monbiot does say that commons are a ‘non-capitalist system’ but omits terming this as ecosocialism, which it is. Or to be exact, it is only a prefiguration of ecosocialism, and thus sadly open to abuse whilst the capitalist system survives.

Monbiot again attacks socialism in his latest column thus:

‘Soviet communism had more in common with capitalism than the advocates of either system would care to admit. Both systems are (or were) obsessed with generating economic growth. Both are willing to inflict astonishing levels of harm in pursuit of this and other ends.’

All true, but whereas he was in the past prepared to allow for nuancing of capitalism, his new outlook does not allow for any nuancing of socialism. Ecosocialists use the same criticism of twentieth century socialism as Monbiot, but crucially have an alternative theory, which avoids the mistakes of the USSR and its satellites. It is a plan to save the planet and liberate the people from the drudgery of capitalism.

Monbiot admits he does not know what should replace capitalism, but thrashes around a bit looking for an answer:

‘Part of it is provided by the ecological civilisation proposed by Jeremy Lent, one of the greatest thinkers of our age. Other elements come from Kate Raworth’s doughnut economics and the environmental thinking of Naomi Klein, Amitav Ghosh, Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Raj Patel and Bill McKibben.’ All liberal types really.

Of these only Klein and Raworth come close to advocating ecosocialism, but there is the suspicion that these writers, much as I like them, want to avoid replacing capitalism, and are looking for some sort of reformed system, rather than throwing it away and starting again from scratch.

Where is the mention of such great ecosocialist writers Joel Kovel, Michel Lowy, Daniel Tanuro, James O’Connor or Murray Bookchin? Truly radical thinkers who put the likes of Monbiot’s muddled thinking in its place.

So, yes Monbiot’s new change of emphasis is to be welcomed, as he now unequivocally says that the capitalist system is the root cause of our ecological ills, and much else that is undesirable about the system too. It must be replaced, but replaced by a thought out system like ecosocialism. It is the only chance we have and time is running out.  

Bring out your time machines – We’re talking about coal mining.

Cumbria County Council’s ‘Climate Catastrophe’.

In an age when we’re so aware of the threat that climate change poses to our very existence, we continue to make self-defeating decisions regarding our future. Take, for example, Cumbria’s county council unanimously approving the construction of a new deep coal mine. Blinking twice, I realised this wasn’t a dream; this wasn’t a headline from notable satirists such as the Onion. Indeed, I hadn’t hopped through a time vortex to the mid-2050s on my way home. This proposal is an all too real headline, in an era when we are supposed to be reducing our emissions.

The county council, headed by the chair of the meeting, Liberal Democrat councillor Geoffrey Cook, concluded that a short term boost to jobs in the area held greater importance than the adverse effects that this may have on the climate. That’s right, a short-term gain that, ultimately, the long-term loss our planet faces.

But sure. No big deal. It’s not as if the literal fate of our planet hangs in the balance. Why not open more coal mines. Hack down every tree in Cumbria to sell for timber while you’re at it! As long as it doesn’t affect those in power, why bother trying to kerb the processes which are harming the environment?

Why have they approved the plan and what should they have done?

On a serious note, this is an extremely disappointing development. As a Cumbrian myself, I’m disenchanted but not surprised to see the council approve this.

While there is no doubt that Copeland and the surrounding area are in dire need of extra jobs, there are surely more environmentally friendly methods than coal mining? While it is, arguably, positive that the coal generated in the mines won’t be going to burn in factories – rather fund the UK’s dying embers of the steel industry – there is no denying that the council could have considered a more progressive, greener alternative. Indeed, it was calculated by Living Witness that the mine would generate 1.24Mt Co2e, an unholy amount of pollution.

A wind farm, for example, could generate green energy for the surrounding area whilst also generating employment for the local economy. Seeing as how badly Cumbria has been recently plagued by natural disasters (namely floods) you’d think the council would have seen sense and voted against a mine that will undoubtedly exacerbate the issue. But asking a politician to actually put the interests of the people and the environment on which they depend seems a tall order.

What can be done to prevent other such proposals going ahead?

The infuriating blindness of politicians has fuelled the Youth Strikes for Climate and explains why they are gaining momentum. Our world leaders are acting like children, while our world’s children are acting like leaders.

The next “strike” falls in the Easter holidays, so more a protest than a strike, but an important message none the less. Indeed, the actions of Extinction Rebellion reaffirm the urgency required by our leaders to address the climate crisis.

Climate change won’t just, as defence minister Gavin Williamson once remarked about Russia “shut up and go away”, it is a very real threat, and we most definitely have the great minds and the technology to fight back, but, most of all, we just need the right people in power to help us achieve this.

Fighting for the future: Youth climate strikes and the opportunity for change

On the 15th of March more than 1.4 million young people, according to environmental campaigners, took part in the international school strikes for climate change. The protests were inspired by the now famous 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who refused to attend school in order to camp outside the Swedish parliament until they met her demands. Riding on this wave of solo protest, school children and young people across an estimated 128 countries have taken to the streets as part of the Fridays for future movement.

Some, like the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison have expressed annoyance, stating that “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools“, a sentiment later echoed by Theresa May. But should we expect anything less from the prime ministers that govern countries which rank among the top ten for emissions per capita? No, of course not, these politicians are wedded to the industries and practices that cause climate breakdown. The youth realise this and they are trying to speak truth to power.

Despite the top news stories frequently published in major newspapers and on major news sites, Brexit will not cause the end of the human race, what will do that is climate breakdown but climate breakdown isn’t just global warming and it isn’t simply about reducing fossil fuel emissions it is a war on multiple fronts. It’s armies include: mass extinction, soil degradation, desertification, global warming, more and stronger hurricanes, sea level rise, an ice-free arctic and huge migrations of climate refugees.

Perhaps, we should take the demands of the school strikers more seriously because they are not the only movement challenging the inactive governments of the world. Multiple indigenous activist groups have exposed the hypocrisy of supposedly liberal politicians like Justin Trudeau and their vested interested (Transcanada pipeline protests).

But climate breakdown isn’t an isolated case, it sits comfortably in a world where fascism seems to be raising its ugly head, privatisation is unrelenting and loneliness plagues many. We have a system that is failing us, a system that needs overhauling. But do we start with the individual, as many have been led to believe? Use less plastic, take less flights, eat less meat? Actually, yes, but that alone won’t solve the existential crisis, when just 90 companies have contributed to 50% of emissions since the industrial revolution, and the world’s richest 1% own 82% of global wealth, the issue is with the system and it is precisely there we should aim our straightest arrow, at capitalism. A system that relies on unlimited growth in a world of finite resources, boom and bust cycles and disproportionate distribution of wealth. The youth that strike are the very same youth that are now discovering and backing socialism over capitalism and no wonder, when productivity has increased rapidly but wages have stagnated and millennials now face worse job prospects than their parents, despite being better trained. It seems that at some point somebody was sold a false dream.

If we have identified the cause as capitalism, the arbiters as inactive and vested politicians, wedded to climate destroying corporations, what then is the cure? Is it socialism, as the youth now seem to favour? or is something new, something more adaptive and relevant to our modern afflictions?

There have been those like Murray Bookchin, who have attempted to build on socialist and anarchist principles , outlining a more democratic, collaborative system, based on ecological concepts, something being enacted now in northern Syria. Others have taken the principles and cultures of their indigenous ancestors and forcibly reclaimed their common land for the people who till it, like las zapatistas. Even one issue movements like the extinction rebellion have a community based ethic and are promoting large democratic citizens assemblies.

However, as the school strike protests have shown, whatever system emerges to combat climate breakdown and emancipate the people from the cage of capitalism, it must be: youth-led (because they will be the ones who inherit the earth), international (because capitalism and climate breakdown recognise no borders), democratic (because all people must participate), and most of all hopeful. It must claim a vision for the planet and the human race, a way to solve the crisis, but also a means by which we, as people, can exist together and achieve a better, greater destiny for humanity

Climate breakdown is a threat and an attack but it is also an opportunity for change, an opportunity to construct a new world. Rosa Luxemburg once gave the choice of socialism or barbarism, today we face the choice of hope or despair, make your choice.

Jeremy Corbyn: Independent Splitters Have ‘No Problems With Austerity’

Jeremy Corbyn attended a Labour rally in Anna Soubry’s East-Midlands constituency of Broxtowe this morning. The Labour-Leader made a campaign-esque speech in-front of thousands of Labour voters and members. The constituency of Broxtowe is a marginal one, with a fiery and passionate Labour party hoping to capitalise on Anna Soubry’s split from the Tory party.

Corbyn hit out at the newly formed Independent Group and openly criticised Soubry and his ex-colleagues. He said he was sad some of his MP’s had left the party, but he wouldn’t be changing policy to suit them. Restating his current policies many times.

“I’m disappointed that a small number of Labour MPs have decided to leave our party and join forces with disaffected Tories, who say they have no problem with austerity that has plunged thousands into desperate poverty and insecurity,” he said.

“Our programme for change won huge support in the general election because we offered hope, instead of the same old establishment demand for cuts, privatisation and austerity. That’s why we now back public ownership of the utilities and railways, why we now oppose tuition fees and corporate giveaways, and why we’re no longer afraid to ask the rich to pay their fair share of tax.”

He then went on to discuss the nationwide youth climate strikes,

“They were condemned by Tory ministers because they said they should have been studying … they should be working, they shouldn’t be doing all that,” he said. “All I simply say to them is ‘thank you for educating all of us that day.”

Corbyn was joined at the rally by John McDonnel and Emily Thornberry, among others.

When talking about the antisemitism issues within the party, Corbyn said: “I’m proud to lead a party that was the first ever to introduce race relations legislation and also to pass the equality act and the human rights act into the statute book. Antisemitism is unacceptable in any form and in any way whatsoever, and anywhere in our society.”

He went on to heavily criticise the voting records of Anna Soubry and Chris Leslie, the later defecting from Labour to form The Independent Group. Labour’s candidate for the Broxtowe, Greg Marshall, called for a by-election, claiming Corbyn was in Broxtowe more often than Soubry, she holds a slim majority of 863 votes.