4 May 2010

We haven't grasped the scale of the challenges

It is more than a little concerning that the scale of the issues we face are so much vaster than anything the three main parties are suggesting. In the next five years the challenges are enormous - this blog has covered them before - but reading even Green party leaflets (including mine!) I find there is not so much about the challenges but at least there is talk of the solutions. Focusing on the problems doesn't seem to motivate and empower - people respond better to the solutions - Greens have in the past focused on the negative too much and haven't shown there are ways forward....well we need to do a bit of both...

First here is a brief summary of those challenges:

1. Peak Oil - earlier this month I blogged about the fact that even the US military are concerned that it could lead to serious global instability by 2015. Yet so little is being done....

2. Financial crisis - commentators are warning that the debt crisis could throw the UK and other economies into a chaos deeper than the financial crisis of 2008. We have Greece, Portugal and Spain in difficulties - somewhere I heard said: "Two years ago, we were bailing out banks – today, we’re bailing out countries."

We have propped up the banks yet saw bank bosses handing out giant bonuses to themselves - a whacking £6bn in total - with the wholly taxpayer-owned RBS handing out £1bn in 'reward' bonuses. But far far worse is the national debt - some £900 billion - 10% of all taxation will go just to financing the national debt. It is estimated that means that each household owes some £30,000 - add to that money owed in PFI schemes and pensions and we are up to £65,000! Add to that borrowing and other stuff and we are getting way high - see here.

International credit agencies like Standard & Poors are warning that the UK's triple-A credit rating is under review (i.e. the perceived likelihood of the UK being able to repay its debts). If they do downgrade the credit rating it's likely to trigger a capital flight from the UK and serious serious problems.

3. Cuts in public services – this will be a certainty from the three main parties - yet they argue about “efficiency savings”. Talking to folk in Gloucestershire there are fears of 30% cuts across many areas of spending. Other local authorities face similar threats. Such cuts can only be experienced painfully by the public - failures to spell this out can only increase mistrust with politicians - and the social unrest when the cuts start to bite. See here my recent letter re preventative services that may face cuts in Gloucestershire.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) thinktank, whose widely accepted number-crunching usually forms the basis of government policy and opposition attack alike, said none of the big three parties has gone anywhere near identifying what needs to be done - see here.

Update addition 14.30 on 4th May: See also here a comparison of three main parties and how they fall short - Money.co just sent me the link - but a pity they haven't included the Green party.

4. Climate Change - well the problems aren't just the carbon - the nitrogen cycle, ozone depletion, ocean acidification, species loss and more - see my blog post here - we have already passed threshold limits on some and the impacts are not understood. How can we address these issues....

All this is rather bleak - I am not suggesting we are heading into immediate social collapse - but we are underestimating the threat. We need to get serious.

If elected again on the District Council, I will be joining the other Green party councillors in urging and planning actions - the measures I recently helped get passed by Cabinet are only a tiny (but important) step - we need significant bold moves now. There are opportunities as this blog has noted before - but we must sieze them.

Similarly Greens are hoping to make that all important breakthrough at Westminister. We need more Green voices to push Green answers - for more info read our manifesto here - see also 'The Cuts Won't Work' - part two of the Green New Deal. I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago - it is good stuff - and as it says in the intro: "...the UK is currently missing a historic opportunity...to tackle public debt, create thousands of new green jobs and kick-start the transformation to a low-carbon economy."

But hey I'm running out of time to finish this blog piece - I will return to this issue soon.....

1 comment:

Philip Booth said...

Worth a look - Youtube clip of Jonathon Porritt speaking recently at a Stop Hinkley public meeting in Taunton re nuclear.