Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019

Home Forums Discussion Forum Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019 Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019

Kim Sanders-Fisher

BrianFujisan – You will find a lot of my posts focus on articles from progressive writers or sites that deserve extra attention, enjoy. You might be thinking, hasn’t she got better things to do over the festive holiday than make lengthy Forum comments? Yep, my life really is that bereft of colour, meaning and excitement right now. I certainly wasn’t ready to dutifly listen to the patronizing words of our ‘noble Queen’ as she broadcast to her subjugated throng on Christmas day. Confining herself to a modest celebration in her castle, she might look like a delightfully dignified old lady, but she is guaranteed the protection of her vast wealth. Meanwhile ordinary hard working families across the UK will not be spared extreme hardship as the Tories ‘Decimate Down’ on the destitute, homeless and desperately poor with harsh austerity under a deceptive new banner. That sympathy and understanding she seeks to exude doesn’t stretch to prioritizing the impoverished starving children of her realm over the expectation that, even during a time of national crisis, it was considered appropriate for her Tory Government to top-up the diminished income of her royal estates!

While my most terrifyingly stressful ordeal one Boxing Day was spent struggling for survival following a Christmas Day capsize, my all time happiest seasonal memory was also spent offshore. Sailing a Swan 65, on passage from Mallorca we caught a magnificent Dorado, a Christmas day treat consumed fresh within the hour with fair winds and following seas driving us at speed through the sun drenched Atlantic towards the Canaries. Spending so much of my working life at sea, so dependent and engrossed in the challenges of the natural world, I have always felt passionately about the green agenda to protect our planet. For the skeptical, yes, delivering sailing yachts offshore really is a job; it has its risks and its rewards. My fist major reality check over Brexit appeared so obvious, but has remained largely ignored: trade deals with places close to home require far less carbon heavy shipping by air and sea, so our post Brexit trade deals with countries on the other side of the world will drastically increase our carbon footprint.

I created a poster to graphically depict this myopically destructive thinking, a giant ‘Monty Python’ foot with the message, “There is No Green Brexit, Stomp on the Dirty Carbon Footprint of Global Trade,” and “Bin Brexit, Think Local – Think Green.” I was really surprised that this obvious Brexiteer discrepancy wasn’t picked up by the Extinction Rebellion protesters, if it was then I saw little evidence of this message. While I am relieved that the UK has not severed all ties with our closest trading partner, Brexiteers are still keen to access more distant markets in the relentless search for a better deal on cheap goods, environmental concerns will be ignored, where is the reality check? Back in September, former Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett contributed to the debate with a Left Foot Forward Article entitled “The Tory trade bill is bad for people and planet — we need to fight for sustainable trade,” She said that, “The major social and environmental costs of trade have been ignored for too long and a new approach is needed.”

Bennett reminded us at that time, “Next week, the House of Lords starts considering the Trade Bill (again). We will be hearing from most sides of the House an automatic paean to the “virtues” of trade, an assumption that more is better, a focus on creating rules to make it easier. As the Liberal Democrats told us in the Second Reading debate, trade is ‘the bedrock of our political movement’. For the Conservative Lord Astor of Hever, ‘trade is the best route to prosperity’. For Labour’s Lord Grantchester, trade will ‘secure growth and prosperity’. To point out the absurdity in praise of trade coming from the Brexit sides of the House is easy. What is also needed, however – in this age of climate emergency and nature crisis in a world gripped with inequality and poverty – is deeper questioning.”

Bennett explained a potential solution, saying, “A Zero Carbon Trade and Investment Toolkit being launched today makes that case. I’ll be at the event with the Green House thinktank and Green European Foundation. In the introduction to the Toolkit, Ellie Chowns, Green Party International Spokesperson, lays out how the ‘major social and environmental costs’ of trade have been ignored for too long.” She emphasized how, “The Toolkit highlights many absurdities,” and went on to list a few of the most glaring examples. Ironically it includes Scottish Salmon with a full twenty export lorries a day, with drivers now trapped at the port of Dover spending Christmas in their cabs.

• “Salmon accounts for 74% of our fish-trade carbon footprint. In 2019 we exported 125,000 tonnes of salmon, over half of which was flown to the USA and China. We imported almost as much from overseas: 101,000 tonnes. If we supplied domestic first and shifted exports from air to sea we could reduce transport emissions by 300-400,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions(CO2e).
• Four-fifths of UK scrap is exported. Were that to be remelted in the UK, in a regionally dispersed group of renewables-powered electric arc furnaces, our islands could be self-sufficient in steel, and local economies boosted.”

Bennet also listed, “In 2019 over a million tonnes of fresh bananas came by sea, with a carbon footprint of 127,000 tonnes CO2e. We flew in 20,500 tonnes of mangoes, with a carbon footprint of 250,000 tonnes CO2e – 25 times more carbon-intensive than bananas. Bring that mango as dried, canned or juice, by sea, and emissions are slashed.” While I cannot see the Brits cutting down on Banana consumption or settling for ‘dried, canned’ or mango juice, we have the technology to consider a more creative alternative. The Eden project has simulated a vast area of tropical environment here in the UK; wouldn’t it be feasible to try growing some tropical produce here in combination with resort facilities to temp holiday makers away from jetting abroad to escape our dreary climate? The potential for Hydroponic and Aquaponic growing have yet to be really embraced by the Brits, but the time is now!

Bennet reports that, “The Toolkit sets out a new approach to trade, one that acknowledges it should be beneficial to all partners, and not damaging to people or planet. That’s very different to what we have today. Business as usual is ‘locking in harm’ – building infrastructure (like airports and sea ports) that will cause environmental damage and social destruction far into the future. We are “buying dirty”: the pollution, the exploitation of workers, the destruction of nature is invisible on the other side of the world as a product is presented to us, plastic-wrapped, pristine, in store. Business as usual is ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ – huge amounts of what is traded is poor quality, ‘cheap’, products that will very soon become waste. Much trade is pointless. As well as salmon, we’re also swapping roughly equal quantities of shellfish with the rest of the world, when we could eat our own.”

According to Bennett, “The Toolkit focuses particularly on carbon emissions: the climate emergency is pressing in on us, the damage is easily measurable. Yet even here, the British government is failing to even do the basics, the work that the Toolkit does for it. I hear endlessly the claim that the UK is world-leading in its 41% cut in national emissions since 1990, yet have to drag from the government admissions that emissions we import show far less of a drop. We are surely as responsible for the emissions in a washing machine we import, as for one made on our shores. But the Toolkit is not primarily about critiquing the current approach, which might be summed up as ‘yeah, trade, bring it on. Let’s all swap icecreams!’ It is suggesting a considered approach to what trade we want, and what we want to substitute with home production that will produce jobs, business opportunities and a chance for a real, sustainable ‘levelling up’ of the massive regional inequalities.” Oh please Natalie don’t say ‘levelling up’ it helps the Tories sell their lie!

Bennet says that, “What’s needed is government investment and direction, public money going into public goods rather than to boost private profits, and ensuring that products are made to last, not made for landfill. In next week’s debate I’ll be pointing UK lawmakers towards the report, and it is good to know that today we’ll be joined from their compatriots across Europe (the Toolkit is part of a broader project also involving partners from the Netherlands and Ireland). We’re right at the physical limits of this planet. We cannot continue with trade as usual, and there’s growing numbers of people and nations that recognise that fact. The UK needs to join them. Natalie Bennett is” described as “a contributing editor of Left Foot Forward, a former leader of the Green Party of England and Wales and a member of the House of Lords.” She is a strong progressive voice standing up to the growing influx of newly appointed Tory predators that Johnson has now stacked the second chamber with to ram through his toxic policy agenda.

In a more recent Left Foot Forward Article entitled, “To achieve zero carbon, Britain needs to rethink its trade policy,” Ed Sawyer elaborates on the importance of adopting a progressive environmentally friendly trade agenda. He points out that, “To achieve net-zero targets, the UK needs global trade to be smaller, shorter, and slower. As Brexit negotiations continue and the UK makes trade agreements with countries such as Vietnam, Japan and Singapore, it’s an important time to reflect on UK trade policy in the context of achieving zero carbon trade. There is no doubt that trade can be beneficial. It has, for one, helped lift many people out of immediate poverty. However, the social and environmental costs of trade are often overlooked.”

Sawyer explains the, “Climate hit,” saying that, “While domestic emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have fallen in some EU countries (including the UK), global emissions due to industrial processes, transport and manufacturing and construction have increased by 174% – 71% and 55% respectively. Additionally, roughly one-third of global emissions are embodied in goods and services that are traded internationally. Transport associated with trade equates to 36 million tonnes of carbon emissions, and UK exports are twice as likely to be air freighted compared to Germany. Shockingly, Ireland is the only country in the EU which exports a higher percentage via air. It is not difficult to realise that trade agreements with countries further afield, outside of the EU, will contain more ‘embedded’ emissions through longer journeys.”

Sawyer reports that, “The UK’s overall trade carbon footprint is estimated at 20 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year for imports and 10.6 million tonnes for exports. This figure is far more significant with the rest of the world than with the European Union.” He is cynical about what he calls the PM’s, “Jet zero delusions,” saying that, “While Boris Johnson’s race to “jet zero,” zero carbon flights, would have huge implications on the UK’s trade carbon footprint, experts have called jet zero “severely underfunded” and long-haul electric or hydrogen planes are unlikely before the middle of the century, which will be too late. Despite the direct impact of trade on carbon dioxide emissions, it is excluded from negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is not included in the Paris Agreement.”

Sawyer reinforces the positive proposal raised by Bennett, “Highlighting the issue, the Green House Think Tank has proposed a Zero Carbon Trade and Investment Toolkit which suggests three trade policy interventions to achieve zero carbon: reducing the scale of trade and material consumption; localising supply chains; and, when possible, shipping goods rather than airfreighting.” I have yet to read through the Toolkit, but I would be surprised if it failed to mention our future options with regard to a return to sailing vessels. While we will not see the return of the impressive, but labour intensive, tea clippers except as training ships, the new age of sail is high tech. There are vessels being designed and built to be driven with enhanced fuel efficiency provided by giant foil sails. A futuristic cruise ship design EOSEAS by STXEurope caught my attention. Thinking of a growing number of elderly who have traded the retirement village for shipboard life, I envisaged a highly efficient floating care facility sailing at a slow pace…

Sawyer also focuses his attention on, “Eliminating ‘pointless trade,” and the need to start by addressing this issue, describing the, “like-for-like trade” that, “does little for wellbeing – which is bereft of environmental considerations. The tendency to ‘buy low, sell high’ in exports and imports is driven by a consistent trade deficit. As it stands, the UK exports more scrap steel to Turkey than it re-melts each year. Evidence suggests that the UK would likely meet its steel demand from domestic scrap. If blast furnaces were replaced by regional electric arc furnaces, the UK could be self-sufficient in steel which would decarbonise one of the UK’s largest polluters. Similarly, 125,000 tonnes of salmon were exported last year compared to 101,000 tonnes which were imported. This made up some 74% of the UK’s fish-trade carbon footprint. If Britain could supply domestic markets first and move exports from air to sea, we could reduce transport emissions by 300-400 thousand tonnes for salmon alone.” This seems like the most glaring folly.

Sawyer points out that by, “Eliminating pointless trade and ending the airfreight of fish would reduce our fish-trade carbon footprint by 90%. By the same token, the UK imported over 430,000 more tonnes of apples and pears than it exported in 2019, despite having a perfectly capable climate for growth.” He says that, “To reach zero carbon in the food sector we must stop airfreighting fruit and vegetables by changing the types of products we import or import them as juice, dried or canned so they can be shipped.” However, as stated before I think we can retain fresh options by employing novel technologies for growing that offer commercially viable, exciting new possibilities to avoid being trapped by the vagaries of our climate and its limitations; we just need to think outside the box and start embracing new technological solutions. Places like Singapore, cramped for space are experimenting with vertical farms and roof gardens are ‘cropping up’ in cities like New York reducing transport costs to almost zero.

Sawyer targets, “Reforming clothing trade,” saying, “The UK’s clothing’s trade footprint is another area that needs to be looked at. Sourcing textiles for disposable fashion is incompatible with a zero-carbon world. We must therefore encourage fewer, higher quality garments produced locally or imported by shipping. As such, clothing should be designed to modify, repair and adapt which could be achieved by introducing mandatory five, ten, or 15-year guarantees or introducing a ‘Right to Repair’ with manufacturers obligated to repair. If we are to be successful in tackling climate change, we must also stop constructing things which will burn fossil fuels, such as gas power stations or gas heating systems. This could be achieved by only approving planning applications which are zero-carbon compatible, offering state support for a transition of workers and retrofitting high carbon assets.”

Sawyer highlights the need to, “Replace GDP with wellbeing.” He says that, “In addition to transforming business, the government must change the rules of the game by replacing GDP with wellbeing, reforming the UK Treasury’s Green Book to compare greenhouse gas implications and cost, and require businesses with a turnover above £1m to have a carbon audit and ‘Road to Carbon Zero Plan’. Lastly, government subsidies to aviation must be phased out and emissions taxed to discourage consumers and incentivise manufacturers to offer low-carbon alternatives. The current global economic, trading and material system strengthens the inertia of ‘business as usual’. However, to achieve net-zero we must advocate a shift to smaller, slower and shorter global trade.” Left Foot Forward describe Ed Sawyer as, “a campaign and communications professional, podcast editor and part-time MSc student in Public Policy.”

There is far too much emphasis in this country on profits that benefit the obscenely wealthy while the poor are abandoned to suffer and die in a crisis. Some might think me unpatriotic for not tuning in for the Queen’s speech; I consider myself a “Peaceful Patriot of the Planet” and I did not approve of ‘Betty’s bailout’ announced back in September. In the Independent Article entitled, “Queen to receive government ‘bailout’ to top up income after Crown Estate hit by economic slump,” they commented that, “This royal bailout will be tough to stomach for people who love the Queen but have lost their jobs,’ says Tax Justice UK.” They said that, “Boris Johnson’s government has confirmed it will top up the Queen’s income following a significant slump in the Crown Estate’s revenue during the coronavirus crisis. The royal family takes in rental receipts from shops in London’s Regent Street, alongside malls and retail parks around the country – but the value of its portfolio has fallen by more than £500m since the pandemic hit.”

“The Treasury said it would provide the estate with extra money to meet any shortfall in profits and make sure the Queen’s sovereign grant remains at its current level. ‘In the event of a reduction in the Crown Estate’s profits, the sovereign grant is set at the same level as the previous year,’ a spokesperson told The Independent. ‘The revenue from the Crown Estate helps pay for our vital public services – over the last 10 years it has returned a total of £2.8bn to the Exchequer. The sovereign grant funds the official business of the monarchy, and does not provide a private income to any member of the royal family.’ More details on the next sovereign grant are expected to be set out on Friday – but legislation governing the formula prevents the overall amount given to the Queen from ever being allowed to fall. Graham Smith, of the anti-monarchy campaign group Republic, described it as a ‘golden ratchet’, adding: ‘Once the grant goes up it can never come down, and the taxpayer loses out’.”

Andrew Adonis Tweeted: “On the fall in royal income this year under the Sovereign Grant paid from the Crown Estate, it is important to note that those same arrangements led to a big profit for the monarchy every previous year in the last decade. There is no case for a bailout this year.” The Independent report that, “Any profits made by the Crown Estate are passed to the Treasury which, in turn, hands 25 per cent of the profits back to the Queen through the sovereign grant. However, the Crown Estate announced last week a fall in the value of its rental portfolio by £55m to £13.4bn – a drop of 1.2 per cent. An agreement with the Treasury means the estate has begun making ‘staggered’ revenue payments to the government. Dan Labbad, the Crown Estate’s chief executive, said: ‘The current economic and market disruption has led us to take the precaution, with the agreement of the Treasury, of implementing a staged process for the payment of the whole of our net revenue profit’.” I’ll fetch my violin!

For this Tory Government, despite her vast residual wealth, bailing out the Queen during this time of national crisis was prioritized while hungry children were left to starve. Food for thought as you tune in to watch that speech: there’s good reason her majesty has made it to the ripe old age of 94, she hasn’t had to suffer the grinding poverty experienced by an ever growing number of her ‘subjects.’ Life expectancy in deprived areas of the UK is considerably lower than for our privileged monarch, but rough sleeper’s die at less than half her age. Bail-out for the Queen, rent arrears and foodbanks for the masses; when are the British people going to demand an end to this obscene inequality? The Brexit shambles spells more disaster, ‘lev…up’ I will not utter that vile lie. The shockingly corrupt use of public funds is enough to demand prompt removal of this Tory Government from office, even without an Investigation to expose the fraud of the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. Covid has exacerbated cruel extremes so we must reset our priorities: Get The Tories Out! DO NOT MOVE ON!