Friday, February 27, 2015


On May 7th, we, the people, will be expressing our will in a partially democratic  general election.

Democracy, as we all know, is a flawed system, but it is better than any of the alternatives.

Democracy is supremely important, and it is a tragedy that our system and our Parliament is held in such low esteem, and that turnout is so low.

It is sad too that voters have only a hazy idea about the realities of voting.

Many imagine that in General Elections they are choosing a Prime Minister.
They are not.
Under our archaic First Past The Post voting system, the vote stops at the constituency boundary, and the only votes that “count” are those that back the winning horse.

In Weston constituency, it is 99.9% certain that John Penrose will be re-elected.
He is a popular, decent MP, a nice man in a nasty party.
Ukip may reduce his majority over the LibDems a bit, but the bottom line will be that Tories hold Weston, and all non-Tory votes will be discounted, discarded and wasted.

Like it or not, that is how First Past The Post works.

The next government is chosen by swing voters in safe seats – a fraction of 1% of the electorate.

So what is the point of voting in Weston?

Many voters will answer "none", and will behave accordingly. 
Turnout is low in safe seats, as I have shown in my blog[1].

In our campaign, we will be trying to persuade doubters that voting Green is a better protest against corrupt politicians than not voting, just as speaking out is better than suffering in silence.

Some voters vote out of principle.
They know that people died in the campaign to get the vote.
They understand that voting is not an attempt to back the winning horse.
They want to vote for what is best for their family and for the country, now and in the future.
These voters look at the arguments, and make up their minds.

Some of the local issues that we face : Here are the headlines:
  1. Tropicana and Birnbeck Pier two linked Weston problems that need new energy. Literally, in the case of Birnbeck.
  2. Paint bridges and street furniture. If it doesn’t move – paint it
  3. Drug rehabilitation centres – let us make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do.
  4. Provide more cheap student accommodation
  5. Weston General Hospital – Pilot a big project to increase the health of the district, to increase education on helping people understand how to use health services, to increase funding and much more.
  6. Directly reduce unemployment in the district by facilitating new jobs in the Green sector of the local economy

We know from the website that more voters back Green policies than any other party, both nationally and in Weston constituency.

It is these voters that we hope to persuade to vote Green. Since there is no tactical pressure to change the MP, people can vote for what they believe in.

The Green vote is a vote for the Common Good, for Democracy, Equality and Sustainability. 

So how does that work out?

Everyone knows that Greens are good on the environment.
Everyone knows now that we are also big on equality and social justice.

What most people do not understand is that Greens also have the best understanding of economics

This is the point that I am going to focus on in our campaign.

I am going to argue that ecology and economy, in reality,  are sister disciplines.
I am going to argue that economists get it back to front by founding their discipline on money.

Money is a human artefact that is based, like the tooth fairy and Santa Claus, on belief and confidence.
Money is an abstraction. It is a useful abstraction, a helpful tool, but we have let money creep into the space that used to be occupied by God Almighty.
Money’s high priests, the bankers, have become baleful, dominant and irrational dictators of our world.

You need proof? The derivatives market is “valued” at ten times the size of all the global GDP.
The economist Minsky (one of the few who predicted the 2009 crash) described derivatives as a Ponzi Scheme.
We have a Ponzi scheme that is worth ten times more than all the real goods and services in the real economy of the real world.

An alien, or indeed, any averagely intelligent human, will see this as ludicrous and idiotic situation.

So what is the alternative?

Green Economics is founded on food, water, shelter, fuel, and waste disposal.
The second layer is manufacturing, transport and services  - and fun.
The third layer of the economy is administration.
And last of all, we come to financial services, which should exist to serve the preceding layers, not to dominate them.

This reality based view is the exact opposite of the construction that economists bring to the situation.

Government has created £375 billion pounds of QE and put it into the casino economy rather than into the real economy.
If even 10% of that QE money had been put into energy saving and renewable energy, we would be significantly better off in real terms.
Struggling families would be warmer, heating bills would be less, unemployment would be less, and our Balance of Payments would be better.

Most importantly, the world’s future climate would be better.

It is a no-brainer. But the money went to the banksters.

That is the core of our argument: Economists have got things back to front. Two words to George Osborne and all the other so-called economists braying in the political paddock: Get Real.

In my election campaign, I will be addressing some gnarly themes.
I am going to address the deficit. We are not deficit deniers. 
I am going to deal with the haemorrhage of wealth from the economy through tax evasion and avoidance.
I will condemn corruption, both the corrupt relationship between international corporations and political parties, the HSBC scandal and the Telegraph, and also the corruption that hides the 10-20 VIP child abusers in Westminster from justice.
I am going to deal with the economics of Basic Income.
I am going to show how a green economy means full employment, even when the necessity to get away from “growth” is taken into account.
And I am going to put forward many other facts and arguments to show that a different economic political world is possible.

In voting Green in Weston, people will be telling the world that they understand that Green politics and economics is a revolution of thought, a new way of looking at the world. Green politics is visionary, but also realistic and practical.
Green voters here will be telling the world that they have seen through the corrupt, rotten mess that is Business as Usual.

Richard Lawson


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Savile, Milgram and the Green manifesto

Savile abused 50 people. When victims complained to hospital staff, they dismissed the complaints. This is consistent with the findings of the Milgram Experiment, where subjects obeyed orders from an authority, even when it seemed that harm was being done to others.

We need to ask ourselves, should we believe the authorities who are commanding us to accept austerity, unemployment and inequality as an inescapable condition of our economy? And if not, what plan do we need to follow to create an alternative?

The forthcoming Green Party manifesto will be a step on the way towards forming up this plan.

To dismiss the Green manifesto and the values behind it is to be like the staff who dismissed complaints about Savile.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why the Child Abuse Inquiry is an Election Issue

In my election literature I promise that I will do everything possible to root out the corruption at the heart of Westminster that protects VIP child abusers from justice, and protects super-rich tax evaders.

Usually corruption is seen as abuse of public office for private monetary gain, but child abuse by
VIPs is a form of corruption, using position for personal sexual gain.

I made a start on financial corruption recently

Now, let us look at the corruption that protects VIP child abusers from justice. 

Note the present tense. It has been suggested that I should put it in the past tense, as if it is all "historical" and over with. This is not a safe assumption. Active child abuse by VIPs may or may not have stopped or been reduced by the active safeguarding measures now in place, but we can be sure that the Establishment will do all it can to prevent its own VIP child abusers facing justice; it will try to keep the truth hidden until the perpetrators are dead. Savile and Cyril Smith are two examples of this process.  Peter McKelvie, a retired child protection officer, believes that there are 10 or more VIP abusers still alive, one or two still in office.

Labour, LibDems and Conservatives all have suspects in their ranks. Therefore they very much want to sell the line that there is now an Inquiry into historical child abuse up and running - with a Chair in place even - and we should leave the Inquiry to get on with its job. LibLabCon do not want child abuse by VIPs to be an election issue.

It is an election issue. Our democratic state is being captured by powerful vested interests, - corporations, media, politicians, police, secret services and abusers all have their reasons to hide various embarrassing truths - and Greens are going to challenge this, to show that we are opposed to a rotten Establishment, we are not just going through the motions of a political pretence, a sham election that will deliver business as usual.

It is also a political issue because there are two very specific policy changes that make the Inquiry itself an election issue.

First, the investigating officers in Fernbridge, Fairbank and the other inquiries that are taking place find that some of their witnesses - police and civil servants - are unable to share information because they have signed the Official Secrets Act (OSA). They want to tell the investigators what they know, but they could be in breach of the Act if they do.
Therefore the Government needs to issue a derogation to release these witnesses from the OSA.

Second,  the police need power and support to direct their inquiries to finding the powerful figures who caused the 60 incidents of cover-ups.

The police have a massive and stressful job to do if they have to move from the available evidence to the low level perpetrators - boys' home workers and others.

Paradoxically, their work is relatively simple if they are allowed to work their way up to the high level perpetrators and their allies.

Detective investigators could fairly easily identify the senior policemen and senior managers who set up the culture of denial and obfuscation.

Identification of these VIP abusers and their friends is not technically difficult.
It just requires the detective to ask these questions of a front line worker,
"Who gave the order that this abuse story was to be set aside and ignored?"
"Who did you hand the lost file to?"
and even simply "Who was your superior officer?"
The detectives can then move up the chain of command until they find the source of the order.

This process is simple and effective. The problem is not complexity; the problem is political and psychological. It means that junior officers will be closing in on their own superiors - or their own superiors' recent predecessors. In doing this, juniors will need courage, integrity, and support. The support will have to come from politicians, journalists and social media, who similarly will need courage and integrity.

This is why the Inquiry is an election issue. If Green candidates - and candidates from other parties who care about integrity and justice - raise these two questions, we bring about change and make sure that the Inquiry is effective.

There are ten other slightly less salient policy changes that are required.

If we are to tackle the infection of child abuse in the body politic of our nation, it is imperative that we identify and remove from office the powerful child abusers and their friends who are able to pull strings from their positions of power.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The economics of building 500,000 units of social housing.

O dear.

I have just heard Natalie Bennett's interview with Nick Ferrari on the Green Party's housing programme. I feel for Natalie. It is not easy, but I wish someone would brief her before these interviews, and I wish the guys doing the costings would hurry up and bring them out.

Anyway, I have to face the Press this Friday and they're bound to ask me about it.

OK, here goes.

500,000 social housing units to be built over 5 years.

That's 100,000 units a year.

Let's say they cost only £100,000 each because they are on brownfield sites, often on land belonging to Local Authorities, can be converted from empty properties using Empty Property Use Orders, and built of new highly insulated and inexpensive materials such as Structural Insulated Panels.

So the programme will cost £10bn a year for 5 years. £50 bn in all.

If each house lasts 100 years the programme provides 50 million HRYs.

HRY is a concept I created in my book Bills of Health, and it stands for Household Roof Years.
One HRY provides 1 household with living space for 1 year.

So each HRY costs £1,000 in this house-building programme.

Now the current way for us to provide for these families is in Temporary Accommodation (TA).

When I last looked at this problem back in 1996, the cost of putting 1 family in TA was £10,000 a year. In 1996 it was a conservative estimate, and I imagine that the costs have gone up a bit over the last 19 years, but let us stick with the £10,000 figure for the sake of being conservative, to cover house maintenance costs, and also for ease of calculation. I am not allowing for discount rate because it is a dodgy concept.

For each £1billion spent on social housing, the country saves £9 billion over the coming century.

Therefore the full  £50 billion will bring savings of £450 billion overall, over the century.
£4.5bn of savings a year.

We get an 11 year payback, and a total profit of £400bn on an outlay of £50bn.

Not a bad deal for the nation. Let's do it.

So that just leaves us with the little matter of where we find the money.

We could of course borrow it from the banks, the same banks that we bailed out with £375 billion worth of QE, but they would charge us interest, and why should we pay them interest when we have just saved their sorry assets?

It would be far better to pay for it with a £50 billion of QE.

We could get it from a tax on private landlords, although that would diminish in time because private landlords wouldn't be getting as much from TA.

Or we could cancel Trident replacement which would bring in £15 bn over the 5 year term.

Or we could have a partnership with private investment.

In whichever way we find the money, the gains are so good for the country, not just in terms of direct TA savings but in terms of health and social service costs foregone (households in TA are not happy and healthy), that the spending, wherever it comes from can be seen as an investment - which is defined as money used in a way that may earn you more money.

It can be done. If it is physically possible and socially advantageous, the money can be found.