Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TV DEBATES. Do you agree with Dave from Watford?



When I first saw on twitter that the Green Party had been excluded from the TV debates, I had to do a double take. I distinctly recall David Cameron favouring a 2-3-5 (2- Conservative/Labour, 3 -Conservative/Labour/LibDem and 5 - Conservative/Labour/LibDem/UKIP/Green) approach to the TV debates.

Spontaneously, petitions and suggestions of action were being circulated on social media. One of the first I read was to telephone OFCOM. I did this . I must have been one of the first because the agent didn't know about the proposal from BBC, ITV, SKYNews and Channel 4. He advised that he couldn't take the complaint for BBC but would send the complaint to the other three stations and the Contents and Standards Team will post on the OFCOM web site if there indeed is a breach of code.

There are possibly three reasons why the Greens are being excluded:

1) A combination of position in the polls, elected MPs and by-election results.
2) Conducting a debate with five candidates is not conducive to good TV or easily manageable*
3) "The powers that be do not want the Green Party message to be heard." Something that Dave from Watford thinks on the radio phone-in vid.

* Darren Johnson AM has suggested this format if he were in charge - which is fair:
Debate one - Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, UKIPDebate two - Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, Green.
Debate three - Conservative, Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru
Northern Ireland - given the choice of parties is entirely different here I'd also run an additional debate for Northern Ireland voters.


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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Truth serum definitely needs to go into the drinking water

Scanned from Croydon Citizen (Sept 2014 edition)

I have long felt that Croydon is being held back by the tribal nature of the political discourse in our borough. Through custom and habit, probably 3/4 of the electorate file outside their homes on election day to put an 'X' by their party for life. Policies are secondary. The adversarial style of our democracy cements the idea that you had better plump for the usual because the other lot could get in.

The only way to truly stop this from happening is to start afresh with a whole new set of political parties or to find a way to stop people voting in this tribal fashion. If the electorate somehow forgot who they had voted for in the past, maybe that would stop this tribalism. So, when I saw that Croydon Citizen were running a feature on how could Croydon be improved, I came up with the truth serum idea:

I would make Croydon better by...
I would make Croydon better by releasing a de-tribalising truth serum into the drinking water so that the Croydon electorate will forget who they continuously vote for, for no other reason than custom and habit. This will result in voters having to use websites like ‘Political Compass’ to guide them on who they should vote for. The outcome would be real change and real progress because the political parties and politicians elected would actually have a vision for a better Croydon, instead of business as usual.
By chance the following week my wife was sent a link to Vote for Policies via Facebook. A small number of web sites are offering what can loosely be described as tests to aid individuals on which party to vote for. Vote for Policies seems to be leading the way. Thankfully she didn't end up with UKIP.

I checked out the Vote for Policies web site today. Prominent Greens have been tweeting about the fact that 25 per cent of those completing the survey are advised they really support the Green Party. An additional feature gives you the results based on constituency. Naturally, I entered Croydon North:


From the Vote for Polices web site 

If selected for Croydon North, you can be sure I will be letting people know of this result wherever and whenever I can. Meanwhile, I am searching online pharmacies.
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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Rainy Bank Holiday Mondays



Monday 25th August was a washout but the hardy Greens involved in the stall at the Environmental Fair soldiered on in the rain, and actually raised quite a healthy sum of money for the cause. Tea/coffee and cake whatever the weather!

There were two stalls beside us that gave up halfway through the day: Labour Party and Socialist Party!

Memories from yesteryear of our stall can be found here.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Messing in Croydon

On 1st August, a steaming hot day during the heatwave, I received a knock on the front door. It was my neighbour.

"You're in the Green Party aren't you?"

After confirming my political colour of choice, she continued, "There's people dumping rubbish in the park."

I quickly didn't change into my Green Knight outfit and investigated.

I took a photo of the offending items in the park. I had a view to use the My Croydon smartphone App to report it.


I then walked up to a house which was seemingly emptying the contents of a garden into the park. The group of people before me consisted of:

Three men who were doing all the labouring.
At least two children between 8-10 years old.
A mother with a baby.

The three men looked like they were suffering from the hot conditions. They were using a hacksaw to cut branches into carryable pieces.

I explained to the group that they could contact the council to take this stuff. The main labourer asserted that the council had advised them to leave the vegetation and additional rubbish in the park, just by the entrance. I responded politely by questioning whether the council would do such a thing. I then offered to contact the council to collect it from outside the house and proceeded to look for the phone number on my smartphone. The main labourer responded by stating that I had made the children feel uncomfortable. A few poor excuses were being offered in my direction, and then one of the children started saying, "If I don't like someone I am going to say Boo!" She then repeatedly said Boo! The main labourer asked on more than one occasion if I was the owner of the park. Soon after the poor excuses turned into unpleasantries being fired in my direction.

Then in flash the mood completely turned when the main labourer threatened to cut me with his hacksaw if I didn't go away. Number 2 labourer chimed in with a volley of expletives. Number 3 labourer decided to play peacemaker and told me to walk away. Stunned by the mood change and unsure how to react, I pointed out that we all owned the park. 

Next, the main labourer rushed over to me with hacksaw in hand, which he was occasionally using even during our exchange, and grabbed my arm tightly and demanded to know where I lived.

"Show me which house is yours?" He prompted his question by waving the hacksaw in full view of my eyeballs.

His calculations proved correct because I was not in the mood to share my address with him, retreating was clearly now the sensible course of action. My heart was racing I was really unsure how this powderkeg of a man was going to turn next. His eyes were full of anger. 

He let go of my arm at which point number 3 labourer pulled me away. Before I turned around to walk home I shouted out, "You make me want to move away from this area." Main labourer responded in his broken accent in an unexpected way, "You should move to heaven" and pointed and looked up at the sky knowing my eyes were only fixed on him as he returned to using the hacksaw for its actual purpose.

Number 2 labourer then said in reference to me, "He's not even white."

When I arrived home, I was shaking, partly with anger and partly with fear. I felt that if the main labourer would behave in such an agressive manner then he must perceive to have very little at stake in society. 

I definitely was not going to call the police. Instead I decided to call Croydon North MP, Steve Reed's constituency office. I explained to Louise his assistant what had just happened. She sounded shocked and genuinely sympathetic. I asked her what I should do next. She understood that I didn't want to call the police. She then suggested I speak to Cllr Stuart Collins, Mr Clean Green cabinet member - the champion of the new council slogan against flytippers, 'Don't Mess With Croydon'. She said she was going to send him an email immediately. I had his number so I called him after putting the phone down. I got through to his voicemail. He called back straight away. Cllr Collins said that he wanted to call one of his enforcement officers. I emphatically replied, no. I did not want to risk continued intimidation.

The conversation concluded with the only thing left possible which was to get the offending vegetation and ancillaries to be collected on the morning of the next working day. Cllr Collins said he would see to it.

Yesterday (17th August). I took a photo of the flytipped vegetation. Some people who are not 'taking pride' are now dumping stuff on to it because it now looks like dumping point. 







Evidently, it is possible to mess with Croydon if you think you don't have anything to be proud about. 

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Friday, August 01, 2014

Letter on Emily Benn


From Croydon Guardian 30th July


Dear Editor,

A friend of mine who lives in East London has just text me, “24? What does a 24 year old know about anything?” He is referring to Emily Benn, granddaughter, to the late great Tony Benn. Ms Benn, aged 24, is to stand as Labour candidate in Croydon South at the May 2015 General Election. Tactically, it is good for Croydon Labour that she is standing because, on the surface, voters will assume her position on the political compass is similar to her grandfather. Scratch the surface and voters will find that she is a neoliberal investment banker, belonging to the fraternity that has caused this age of austerity.

However, Labour does need to somehow portray a progressive sheen to their persona because those who believe in social justice are deserting Labour and finding solace in the Greens. Croydon Labour from the outset has maintained it will continue the cuts programme started by the previous administration.

Labour in Croydon is now associated with a name that traditional Labour voters will warm to. This undoubtedly will help manage the obvious disappointment when the cuts programme takes effect.

Incidentally, I replied to my friend’s text with, “A 24yr old will be in tune with issues facing young people today, but having read her biog (grammar school followed by Oxford Uni & now graduate trainee at UBS) I could be wrong!”

Yours sincerely
Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party



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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

2014 election results: Time for naval gazing


                                      2004               2014
Barking and Dagenham 4.6 1.4
Barnet 7.4 8.3
Bexley 4.5 1.3
Brent 7.4 4.5
Bromley 5.9 5.3
Camden 14.8 15.7
Croydon 6.3 8.9
Ealing 8.6 3.8
Enfield 6.5 6.1
Greenwich 8.9 6.9
Hackney 16.7 20.5
Hammersmith and Fulham 10.3 2.5
Haringey 13.5 15.4
Harrow 5.8 1.2
Havering 4.8 1.7
Hillingdon 5.6 3.7
Hounslow 7.4 4.4
Islington 17.1 19.2
Kensington and Chelsea 8.8 1.4
Kingston upon Thames 7.5 6.9
Lambeth 13.9 15.5
Lewisham 12.8 16.3
Merton 8.7 1.8
Newham 5.8 0.6
Redbridge 6.0 2.0
Richmond upon Thames 10.2 6.0
Southwark 10.7 11.9
Sutton 5.2 3.0
Tower Hamlets 8.8 6.5
Waltham Forest 9.3 5.6
Wandsworth 10.7 6.1
Westminster 9.1 5.6

Table shows percentage vote share comparison

In 2004 I fought my first ever elections. I say elections because on the same day of the Mayor and London Assembly elections there was also a by-election in Bensham Manor ward. As constituency candidate for Croydon & Sutton, I polled just under 5 per cent.* It meant the deposit was not saved. I remember at the time my fellow candidate for Havering and Redbridge, Ashley Gunstock, who was later to run for leader, and I were the only candidates in London to lose our deposits. It was a big blow. Nothing can prepare for that feeling.

Fast forward to 2014, ten years later, take out the Green boroughs with a natural green demographic that have elected Green party councillors in the past and present: Lewisham, Hackney, Camden, Southwark and Lambeth and Islington; add in Haringey (which always comes close due to its demographic), and you are left with 24 boroughs. Incredibly, from languishing at the foot of the 'other boroughs', our percentage according to calculations on the London Green Party web site, puts us at the top of the remaining 24 boroughs. WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT!! In fact, under pure PR, the London Green Party article calculates we would have returned 6 councillors.

Picture taken during the 2004 GLA campaign
This change hasn't just happened organically. Croydon's overall demographic hasn't suddenly altered favourably. This has happened through hard work, and those of us that have put in the countless hours, should feel very proud. I am sure this direction of travelhas not gone unnoticed by Croydon Labour:

Exhibit One: Creating a new cabinet post called CLEAN GREEN Croydon!

*For convenience, the percentages are easier to copy and paste, I have taken the ASSEMBLY LIST results from 2004 instead of the constituency results when creating the table.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bensham Manor Community Association AGM



AGM outdoors

As trustee and secretary, I went along to the AGM for the Bensham Manor Community Association on Saturday. Whilst clouds had not busted we managed to run the AGM outdoors. The Queens Community Hall, our raison d'etre, is going really well. The empty shell was part of a section 106 agreement with the developer at the Queens Road estate. See its web site: http://queenscommunityhall.co.uk/

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thank you letter

Interesting choice of headline!

Dear Editor,
From Croydon Guardian 10.06.14
May I take this opportunity to thank all those who voted Green party on May 22nd.  Our 70 candidates polled 23,926 across the borough, resulting in an increase in our vote share.  Under a proportional representation electoral system this polling would have returned our first councillors, but under the aged first past the post system, Croydon remains a two party borough.
We should actually be grateful that we have at least two parties on the council.Residents in Barking &; Dagenham and Newham woke up on the 23rd May with no official opposition. Every councillor elected was Labour. This is terrible for democracy. For example, only opposition members can table a motion. This cannot be done now. Where will the scrutiny come from? Each side of the chamber backs the same party to win. I would even vote Conservative or Labour to avoid a similar outcome.
Similarly, Islington and Lewisham could have ended up a one-party council. Thankfully each elected one councillor other than Labour....a Green.
Yours sincerely
Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party Coordinator 


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FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR