Why I am a Green

With apologies to my regular readers, who do not come here for the politics!

I miss the days when newspapers would outline who they are supporting and why, instead of screaming ad hominem abuse at the party they don’t, with little regard to the truth, or whether this might be the reason nobody buys their dead trees any more. As blogging, if you want it to be, represents a part of how people get their news in this day and age, here is my own editorial, on why I shall be voting the way I am, and why I believe you should too.

I will try to be positive about the other parties involved. I am running as a council candidate for the Green Party, and in doing so have met various other candidates in my area, all of whom have been thoroughly decent people, and all of whom believe that their party has the best ways to provide real change for their constituents. However, where I feel our systems and methods are broken, I make no apology for my cynicism and loathing.

image

The 10:1 ratio

This is probably the one policy idea I like the most, but this has had very little airing, in spite of it being a real piece of common sense thinking.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “A rising tide lifts all ships”? Since the global economic crisis of 2008, has this felt even a tiny bit true? The very richest in our society have doubled their wealth since 2009, according to The Rich List in the Sunday Times this weekend (no link, because paywall), and now own the same wealth as the poorest 40% of the country. No other party appears to have a viable solution to this, but the Green Manifesto suggests regulating business pay, so that the highest paid member of any business can make only 10 times what their lowest paid member of staff makes. If you can afford to increase your own pay to £300,000 a year, your business must be doing well enough that the keyboard jockeys, cleaners and salespeople can be paid £30,000.

There is an argument that this would be anti-competitive, and would prevent us from hiring the best talent. However, this ‘talent’ of which we speak appears to be those executives that first created this mess, and again, it only spreads the success throughout the business, and encourages talent at all levels. When you look at the businesses that have remained successful over the past 7 years, businesses like John Le
wis stand out, where the staff have a genuine investment in the business, rather than an investment in their payslip.

image

The End of the ‘Whip’ system and our broken parliamentary system

This is probably one of the most broken things in our political system, and because of our drab two-and-a-half party system, it appears almost unavoidable unless progressive parties with a real will to change the system come in, it will ever remain so.

Currently, parties appoint organisers, known as ‘whips’ to ensure that their motions pass in the House of Commons. Their job, by fair means or foul, is to ensure that members of their party ‘toe the party line’, and don’t rebel based on their own, or their constituents ethics. Indeed, it has long been accepted that an act of rebellion against your party can get you removed from a committee you care about, or have your private transgressions leaked to the press.

image

Caroline Lucas, in her book, Honourable Friends?, writes at length about the ridiculousness of this system, and that MP’s are often shepherded through a vote without even knowing what they are voting for! Really, with a system like this, can we really view our parliament as a democracy at all, when nothing is discussed, and the opinions of the voters are worthless for all but five weeks every five years?

The Green Party believes in reforming this antiquated and undemocratic system, and in allowing it’s members to apply their own judgement, and the feelings of their constituents when voting. If a vote fails as a result, this means that the law needs more work, not that the party is weak.

The Party of the Poor

And by poor, I mean anybody outside of the top 2% of the UK’s richest. It amazes me that in this era of unprecedented austerity, you are 1800 times more likely to be prosecuted for £100 of benefit fraud than £100,000 of tax evasion by HMRC. That while cuts affecting the poor were passed night by night in Commons, that the champagne bill, subsidised by the taxpayer, rose to £35,000 from the previous year (do you even make that annually?). That it appears to be more acceptable to pass cuts that have led to disabled people dying, than it is to make 3% of our society pay tax on their inheritances?

The Green Party is the only party seeking to both raise taxes on the ultra rich, and close tax loopholes so that they can’t sneak out of paying them. They’re the only English party who are against austerity, as it is currently defined (“please eat less cake paupers, we important chaps at the top want more cake” works as a definition for me). They’re the only party that recognise that the majority of immigrants that come to our country raise taxes and work in the same proportion as any native citizen. They’re the only party speaking sense, in spite of a negative media, to try and apply common sense to solve emotive issues and remove vested interests.

image

The Obvious One

We have real policies that won’t just mitigate climate change, that boring but very real threat, but that will boost our economy while doing so. I’ve seen the very real positive effects on employment that a wind farm near my hometown has caused, after the largest employer in the area decided to relocate thousands of jobs.

Combine the extra jobs with the very boring word in a common phrase, renewable energy. It’s renewable. We don’t use up wind, or light, or tides. They just keep on coming. Over time, the laws of economies of scale, and supply and demand mean that this could have a genuine effect on those utility bills that we all love to hate.

We also don’t have to source them from Russia or Saudi Arabia, where our reliance creates very wealthy people, who are buying up all of Central London, leaving it boring, and also, let’s be honest, funding terrorism, whether state sponsored or otherwise.

Unfortunately, this is neither interesting or exciting enough to win votes. It’s a long term plan that could just be the most important dull thing we manage as a society.

image

So that’s it. They are the main reasons I feel I must vote Green, and be a member of this party. I hope that I have managed to convince you too. But even more than this, if you are planning to vote for a minority party this election, but are scared you’ll let in the party you don’t want, don’t. a greater worry is that by tactically voting for one of these, you will continue to give these parties legitimacy by not voting for what you want, which is the purpose of our democracy. You’re not wrong. The system is.

And if you happen to live in the Cradley Heath and Old Hill ward, you’ll make me really happy!

If you are interested, you can join, volunteer, or just hear more about the Green Party here

Advertisements

Now That’s What I Call Music 30

220px-Now_30

Released-  10th April 1995

Music History

Richey Edwards disappears, Bill Berry leaves REM, Eazy-E leaves this mortal coil (the conceptual term for life, not the band). Tupac becomes the first artist to have a number one album while in prison, and gets married there too. I’m sure that will last a long while…

Me History

I’m in my last months of primary school. I’m a table leader in the canteen bitches! I am also now obsessed with buying C-90 blank cassettes and recording the charts, and Smash Hits magazine. I own a PJ and Duncan album and a Shampoo album. I’m that cool.

If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were to be held back a year, and we just lose touch, y’know, that track would be…  more difficult than ever! Between The Boo Radleys, Massive Attack, Oasis, Freak Power, R Kelly, N-Trance and East 17, this album keeps winning! By a whisker…

Track by Track Breakdown

Freak Power“Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out”

Hunter S Thompson referencing, George Clinton sounding low slung soul. Possibly the sextet track on a Now album so far. Welcome back Norman Cook, now on your 4th different name so far.

Janet Jackson – “Whoops Now”

Relentlessly cheery, summery track that after 20 years, still makes me unreasonably angry. Kill it immediately. Please.

Boyzone – “Love Me for a Reason”

Cover of one of those Osmonds songs which isn’t Crazy Horses and is therefore garbage. Likeable enough, but sadly, introduced us to such atrocities as Louis Walsh, and Shane Lynch stupid shaved eyebrow bit.

Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry with Eric Clapton –  “Love Can Build a Bridge”

3 great female artists whose voices really don’t blend, and a guitarist who supported Enoch Powell, and got so wasted once he let his kid die, then made a shitload of money off the resultant song team up for charity. Worthwhile cause, shit song.

East 17 – “Stay Another Day”

I think I mentioned before that there is one good slow song by East 17. This is it. Transcendently brilliant classic. People still seem to think it’s a Christmas song, because they wore coats in the video. Fools.

Continue reading Now That’s What I Call Music 30

Catalan Chicken and Escalivada

Another week, another reason to treat myself to a new cook book!

61clkYqZdYL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

If I had to pick a favourite place in the world, I’m not sure if I could, but I know that Catalonia would be up there. It’s the North East region of Spain, taking in Barcelona, Lloret, Girona, and my favourite town in Spain, Tossa de Mar (mentioned in a prior post).

Much like the divisions between England and Scotland, to an outsider, we may seem fairly similar, but when it comes to food, there are little quirks that make us different, and I think these little differences make Catalan cuisine superior to it’s Southern cousin.

It is slightly more frugal, and less showy than Spanish cuisine, and has an unfair reputation for being ‘brown food’. But what it lacks in presentational flair, it more than makes up for in depth of flavour, and being distinctly different from anything else Spanish food presents.

The chicken is warm and spicy, and shows some of the Moorish influence prevalent in Spanish food, and escalivada is a delicious side, served hot or cold- I make way more than I need and dip into it all week. But I could totally eat as much as this recipe makes in one sitting!

Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 2 Chicken breasts
  • 1tbsp cinnamon
  • A handful of roughly chopped parsley
  • Olive oil
  • c. 150ml good Spanish Brandy (I wholeheartedly recommend Soberano for two reasons. Firstly, it has a warm fire and earthy taste to it, and secondly, those cads in Spain have put the word sober in there, something I have never been once open a bottle of the stuff)
  • 4 Aubergines
  • 2 Roquito Peppers
  • 1 Yellow pepper
  • Onion (optional)
  • Garlic oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 plastic supermarket bags (but for God’s sake don’t eat the things)

Method

Start by preparing the escalivada. Halve and deseed all the peppers, and quarter the aubergines, removing the seedy middle.. Feel free to add some wedges of onion at this point too. Place them all in a large roasting dish, and give them a good rub down with a mix of equal parts olive and garlic oil. Put this in the oven for about 40 minutes at 190c.

While the veggies roast, put a nice dusting of cinnamon, salt and pepper on each of the chicken breasts, and throw these into a frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes each side to seal them- this will keep the meat lovely and moist. Set aside.

image

When the vegetables are ready, remove them from the oven (leave it on, you’ll need it in a few minutes), and place the peppers into one plastic bag, and the aubergines in the other. Tie them off immediately, and leave them to steam themselves further for 15 minutes.

Put the chicken breasts into the smallest ovenproof dish you have that will hold them, and pour over the brandy. It should mostly cover the chicken. Put this in the oven for 20 minutes, or as usual, till the juices run clear.

When the time is up on steaming the vegetables, remove them from the bag. The skins should just fall off, with little effort on your own part, so remove these, then cut the peppers and aubergines into long ribbons, about 5mm wide, and stir them all together, so that they tangle in and out of each other.

Remove the chicken from the oven, and plate up. Pour over a little of the reduced brandy because wasting good booze is a sin.

image

Enjoy!

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

Monday Mixtape- Cheer Up Morrissey!

Good morning. I’ve been away from mixtapeing for a few weeks, and so apologies for that. Between a new job, quitting smoking and the election I have been short on time.

Anyway, today’s theme is songs that cheer you up when you’re feeling low. I think a lot of them might be silly.

So first is Twisted Sister and We’re Not Gonna Take It, because defiance is a perfectly reasonable response to adversity. Like I said, quitting smoking.

The second is because I’m reviewing Now That’s What I Call Music 30 at the moment, and I’d forgotten how much this song can cure Mondays.

And some Billy Joel, because arson and American history is always a mood enhancer. Bonus points if you make up the lyrics as you go…

Continue reading Monday Mixtape- Cheer Up Morrissey!

Look At That Girl

Back with another classic number one here!

I try not to be too much of a cynic, but sadly, while I liked She Wears Red Feathers, this track was a bit too basic. Happy and fun, nonetheless.

Talk About Pop Music

I have a playlist that contains every UK number one song since charts began in 1952. Thanks to EveryHit, this is a fairly simple process. Let’s remind ourselves of these songs.

View original post 63 more words

9 reasons why tactical voters can vote Green in Bristol West

I’m reblogging this, as I am both a newly minted Green, and in spite of the fact I don’t write about it very much, deeply into politics.

Let’s hope (and vote) for some real change this time, not another 5 years of the same old rubbish.

PsychoPolitico

In every ward in Bristol West, Bristol Green Party canvassers are hearing the same thing: “I want to vote Green, but I don’t want the Tories to get in, so I might vote Labour”. Needless to say, Labour love this line of reasoning, and the Greens do not.

If Bristol West was a Labour/Tory marginal, I would probably vote Labour to keep the Tories out, and stay Green for the local elections. But Bristol West is not a Labour/Tory marginal, and it frustrates me to see Labour win votes they don’t deserve by playing on people’s fears.

In an attempt to remedy this situation, I have pulled together in one handy blog post, all the reasons I think it is tactically safe to vote Green in Bristol West. When they are all brought together like this, I hope you’ll agree it makes a compelling case!

1. Ed Miliband is 69%…

View original post 2,016 more words

Now That’s What I Call Music 90

Now_90_UK_Cover

Released-  27th March 2015

Music History

Hmm. Yeezy is on a worldwide tour saying odd things and getting press for it. Madonna is appropriating world leaders to promote her new album, and offering caution on autoerotic asphyxiation. And if you haven’t checked out the new Modest Mouse and Heems records, you’re missing out.

Me History

I’m 31. As is Now! I am running as a councillor for the Green Party, and I’m full of anticipation for the future of my country (happy St Georges Day by the way, he’s my favourite Middle Eastern saint). I’m writing a blog entry at the moment…

If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were to be garotted by their enormous showy cape, that track would be…  Heartbeat Song by Kelly Clarkson. She’s brilliant and it’s just so damn infectious. The whole thing is hook.

Track by Track Breakdown

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”

If Marvin Gaye’s greedy family got £9 million from Robin Thicke for Blurred Lines, I expect The Gap Band will shortly be buying an Eastern European nation with the settlement from this track! Still, never anything wrong with The Gap Band.

Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”

Makes me feel old. I just can’t see what sets him apart from any other mopey open mic night pleb, save for an engorged marketing budget.

Years & Years – “King”

There are some really good Years & Years tracks, but despite some nice filters and touches, this never really gets beyond decent.

Maroon 5 –  “Sugar”

I’ll wait for the Maroon 6 to come out. This one’s clearly faulty and out of date.

James Bay – “Hold Back the River”

Nice, unremarkable Radio 2 rock ballad. Unfortunately he seems like one of those irritants who feels a hat is adequate in lieu of a personality.

Sam Smith – “Like I Can”

Amusingly, having stolen Tom Petty’s melody before, he’s now nicked the guitar line from the same song here. I think Sam Smith may be Tom Petty’s pension. The song is pretty good to be fair.

Continue reading Now That’s What I Call Music 90

Tarragon Chicken

I haven’t posted for a good week or so, as I have been back in my hometown, trying to quit smoking and seeing my parents. I was never much of a cook growing up, so I think (hope) they found it pleasant having a few meals cooked for them while I was down! This was one of them, and they certainly said they liked it, though they may have just been trying to spare my feelings!

The recipe for the chicken is largely taken from Nigel Slater’s latest, Eat, a sequel of sorts to the wonderful Real Fast Food. You can always rely on him to create a really comforting home cooked meal, and this was no exception. I served mine with green beans, and quinoa with some sliced roasted pepper running through it, and a little lemon.

Microrecipe

Roast two sweet red peppers in the oven, at around 190c, for 40 minutes. Peel off the slightly blackened skin and cut into 2 inch long ribbons, about 1/4 inch wide. Cook the quinoa as per the packet instructions. Stir through the peppers and the juice of half a lemon and serve.

And back. Tarragon and chicken pair together perfectly, and I reckon you’ll enjoy this.

Ingredients

  • Chicken breast, bone in
  • Olive oil
  • A handful of tarragon, roughly chopped
  • A knob of butter
  • 4 slices pancetta, torn up
  • Crème Fraiche

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large pan at a low to medium heat. Add the chicken breasts, and turn them every two minutes or so, until the juices run clear when stabbed at the deepest point. Depending on the size of the breasts, this will take between 15 and 25 minutes.

Transfer the breasts to a plate, leaving the juices and pan mess on the heat. Add the butter to this, and allow it to melt and add the pancetta, and make sure you scrape up all those beautiful brown bits of flavour from the pan’s surface, then add the tarragon. Once this starts to smell AMAZING, add enough crème fraiche to make an unctuous looking sauce.

Re add the chicken, and stir it all up so the chicken gets a nice coating, and allow it to cook on a low heat for a further 5 minutes.

image

Serve, pouring over the remaining sauce. Enjoy.

Biscuits

Ahhh, the title says it all really. This is a simple recipe for biscuits. I used gluten, yeast and dairy free ingredients, because IBS and stuff, but really, just substitute in all the gluten yeast and dairy you like if that’s not an issue for you, there’s no judgement here, and real butter is tasty as heck.

Also, make up your own fillings. Be original. I reckon a sprinkling of the little black seeds from a cardamom pod could be nice on these. Or just fudge, lots of fudge mixed in.

Ingredients

Makes 10-12 biccies

  • 75g butter or dairy free spread
  • 125g soft brown or light muscavado sugar
  • 150g plain flour (or Doves Farm free from flour)
  • 80g self raising flour (same as above for free from)

Method

Preheat your oven to 170c.

Cream together the butter and sugar to make a lovely tasting, even mix. Maybe make a spoonful more than you have to. Maybe eat that spoonful. Maybe get carried away and have to put a little more butter and sugar back in because you’re greedy and it tastes good!

Seive in the two flours, stirring in constantly, then bring the mixture together with your hands, into one big ball of fairly firm dough. If you’re going to add extra flavours, now would be a good time. Some chopped up dark chocolate, a couple of spoons of peanut butter, cinnamon, dried fruit, whatever takes your fancy. Or just have them as is.

image

Line a baking sheet or tray with greaseproof paper (or if like me you’re disorganised and have run out, a greased up piece of tin foil). Pull off a golf ball sized piece of dough and roll it into a ball, and place it on the baking tray. Repeat until you run out of dough. Then, squish them down into biscuit shapes, about 1cm deep, with your hand or the back of a fork.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on how soft you like the middles to be.

image

Enjoy. Dipped into ceylon tea. You can buy Dilmah in some shops in the UK now. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Best thing to come out of Sri Lanka since the similarly named cricketer, Dilshan!