Thursday, 24 July 2014

Funding crisis threatens Kew

Globally important conservation and science are under threat at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew due to government cuts

Globally important conservation and science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, andWakehurst Place, its Sussex estate, are under threat because of a steep reduction in funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
More than 100,000 people across the globe have signed a petition calling on the UK government to urgently reverse existing, proposed and further cuts to Kew’s annual operating grant in aid.
Protesters deliver petition to Downing StreetKew’s most important global contribution is its plant science. It maintains the world’s premier plant and fungal collections, including 30,000 living plants, one billion seeds and the DNA of 20% of the world’s plant species. Without these collections and expertise, plant conservation stops.
In 1983, 90% of Kew’s funding came from the UK government as grant in aid. By 2014, this had fallen to below 40%. Funding was reduced by £0.9m in 2009-10, £1m in 2010-11, and by an extra £0.5m year-on-year thereafter.
Prospect wrote to the environment secretary Owen Paterson in June 2014 calling for:
  • additional interim funding for Kew
  • an assurance that Defra is opposed to Kew making any compulsory redundancies
  • a review of Kew’s funding arrangements to ensure long-term clarity and security.
The union said it was incongruous that the Department for Business, Innovation and Science is investing over £1bn in life sciences, yet one of the UK’s pre-eminent life science institutions is being irrevocably compromised by short-sighted cuts.
Kew has already lost approximately 50 posts, vacancies are not being filled and management is planning the loss of a further 50-70 posts. Most of the endangered jobs are in the areas of science and public engagement.
Cutting staff reduces Kew’s capacity to fulfil its statutory obligations, to carry out its leading science and conservation, and to generate its own revenue.
Successive independent reviews of Kew have praised the quality and value of its scientific work and recommended that its public funding be maintained or increased.
Broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough said: “Kew has an absolutely crucial role in looking after out botanical heritage and our botanical future. The important thing to remember is that it is the premiere botanical gardens in the world scientifically.
“People who think it is just a place to go to look at pretty flowers and flower beds are mistaking the importance of Kew Gardens”. He added that the Seed Bank is of world importance and should be supported by the government like a proper institution or university. 
  • The earth is losing one major drug plant every two years – yet we’ve researched less than 3% of tropical plants for new drugs.
  • 80% of the world relies on plants for medicine, yet 15,000 medicinal plants are threatened with extinction worldwide.
  • 70% of the top-selling pharmaceutical drugs are directly or indirectly derived from natural sources – primarily plants and fungi.
What you can do
Sign the petition:
Visit the campaign website:
Follow the campaign on Twitter: @KewCuts and Facebook: Stop Kew Cuts
Hashtag: #kewcuts

from Prospect website acknowledgements to Martin Francis

Green Party Calls For a Wealth Tax

Green Party Calls For a Wealth Tax

24 July 2014
THE Green Party, the only party committed to progressive policies that tackle Britain’s persistent inequality problem head on, is calling for a Wealth Tax on the top 1%, those with assets of more than £3million. 
The Green Party, which is already fighting for a Living Wage for all (1) and fairer company-wide pay ratios, says a tax on wealth would help to ensure that the richest 1% (300,000 people) pay their fair share back to society. 
The richest 1000 people have doubled their wealth in the last five years (2). Meanwhile, the number in poverty has risen (3) and the queues at food banks have lengthened (4). 
Policies that tackle the disparities in income do not necessarily address the problem of excessive wealth. That is why an annual wealth tax which taxes the assets of the wealthiest at a rate of 1% which would raise approximately £21billion is needed. 
Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, revealed the Party’s commitment to a Wealth Tax ahead of the General Election live on LBC’s Duncan Barkes Show. 
Bennett said:
“Our strong General election polling (5) and surge in membership (6) goes to show that the Green Party’s commitment to people over profits policies are really hitting home. The Green Party is prepared to take principled stands and an increasing number of voters recognise and value this. 
“Other political parties are offering business as usual, only minor changes to our failed economic system and policies that are helping the super-rich and making the poor pay for the economic crisis that they did not create.   
“A Wealth Tax is part of the Green Party’s policy programme that will deliver real change for the common good. It is this change that British politics and British society desperately needs.” 
For more information please contact or 07889 809 070 
2 Rich double their wealth in five years:

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The government has dropped its plans to privatise the student loan book

Fiona Edwards2:38pm Jul 22
The government has dropped its plans to privatise the student loan book in an announcement made by Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills yesterday.

This government u-turn represents a major victory for the student movement. If the student loan book had have been sold off to private debt collectors there is no doubt that in a bid to maximise profits interest rates on repayments would have soared. To put it bluntly, privatising student loans would have been a retrospective hike in tuition fees.

But students and graduates have shown that we won’t tolerate being burdened with even more debt without a fight.

The Student Assembly Against Austerity (the student wing of the People’s Assembly) has been at the forefront of the campaign to #StopTheSellOff. Alongside hundreds of student activists across the country, we have organised national days and weeks of action involving more than 50 campuses which has resulted in over 76 MPs signing our Early Day Motion against the privatisation of student debt.

With the General Election just around the corner and the student movement on the rise it is no surprise that the Lib Dems have decided to back off on their assault on students.

Well done and congratulations to everyone who took part – all the banner drops, occupations, mass petitioning, stunts, protesting and lobbying together made a huge difference and proves once again that campaigning works!

There are, however, many more fights ahead.

There will be those who will want to revisit plans to privatise student loans in the future – we need to make sure they never succeed.

As a result of the trebling of tuition fees, higher education in the UK is the most expensive in the whole of Europe and student debt is rocketing as a result. At the same time the slashing of EMA and savage cuts to education are hitting students hard.

With a General Election just months away, now is the time for the student movement to step up our campaigning efforts and loudly raise our demands for free education - against all fees, cuts and debt.

That is why The Student Assembly Against Austerity is joining a coalition of groups to organise a national student demonstration this autumn onWednesday 19 November.

Join the fight back – get active with the Student Assembly!

If you would like to get involved in organising the national demonstration or would like to set up a
Student Assembly on your campus get in touch with us today

Read the story on our website here:

TUC march and rally in london on 18 October 2014,

Britain Needs A Pay Rise
Let's increase Britain's pay packet, and see it shared more fairly.
Join us for a march and rally in london on 18 October 2014, to help call for an economic recovery that works for all Britons, not just those right at the top. Britain needs a payrise!
We want:
  • A properly enforced minimum wage.
  • Higher wages from employers who can afford to pay.
  • Increased commitment to the living wage.
  • A crackdown on excessive executive pay.
This march and rally has been called by the TUC, but coach places need to be booked direct with those organising them. Check what’s in your area and get in touch with the listed contact.

Monday, 21 July 2014

STW: GAZA demo London 26/7/2014

National demonstration: Stop the Massacre in Gaza - Free Palestine!

Gaza End the SiegeAs if the people of Gaza have not suffered enough, Israel has escalated its brutal assault on Gaza in the last 24 hours.

Last Saturday a fantastic 100,000 marched to the Israeli embassy - this Saturday's demonstration is even more important.

Over the weekend more than 150 Palestinians have been killed, 67 in one attack alone last night including 17 children and 14 women. The media continues to accept the rhetoric of 'limiting casualty levels' and 'targeting militants' and the politicians refuse to condemn Israel and call their action what it is, a massacre of innocents.

Why? Because Israel remains the West's main ally in the Middle East.

That is why we have called a national demonstration this Saturday starting at the Israeli Embassy and marching to Parliament. Last week 100,000 of us descended on the Israeli Embassy, this Saturday we are taking our anger to the centre of political power in Britain.

National demonstrations are the best way to show the government that the majority in Britain oppose their disgraceful support for the Israeli assault.

We are asking all our supporters around the country to organise transport to get the maximum numbers to London next Saturday.

Check for details as they emerge on the Stop the War web site. We will email further details later in the week.

National Demonstration: Saturday 26th July.
Meet 12 noon at Israeli Embassy. Nearest tube: High Street Kensington. March to Parliament.
Organised by Stop the War, PSC, Friends of Al-Aqsa, CND, BMI, MAB and Palestine Forum in Britain.
  • Please share and invite your friends to the Facebook event. Let's make it go viral!
  • E-mail your lists and share with your organizations and unions
  • Organise leafleting in your area. Call 020 7561 4830 to order flyers.
  • Let us know your transport details by e-mailing

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Wool against Weapons action against nuclear weapons.

Re: Wool against Weapons action against nuclear weapons.

Dear All,

There is a big event planned for Nagasaki Day on Saturday 9th August
between the nuclear bomb factories at Aldermaston  and Burghfield in Berkshire to protest against the existence and upgrading of nuclear weapons, and in particular Trident.

A huge scarf is going to be unfurled between the two factories which hundreds of people have been knitting for. 

*Coach tickets need to be bought before July 28th to get the cheaper tickets 

Green CND along with Green Party women  will be making their way to the Green Milestone.

Please bring Green Party Placards/Green Party T shirts etc.
Musical instruments welcome. 

Details of Coaches: London:
There will be two coaches leaving from London:
Coach one: 7.10am  pick up passengers at CND, 162 Holloway Road, N7 8DQ
Coach two: 7.30am  pick up passengers at Cardington Street, along west side of Euston station
8.00am  further pick-up by Acton Town station

Cost of seats (return): £22 waged/£11 unwaged, if payment received by July 28th after that
tickets will be £26 waged/£13 unwaged.

To book tickets: send a cheque or postal-order made out to “LRCND”. Please include a
covering letter with name(s) of the people requesting tickets plus contact details (both postal and e-mail addresses) to: London Region CND, 162 Holloway Road, London N7 8DQ. Your tickets will be posted to you. For further info contact London Region CND at 020 7607 2302 or

I hope lots of London Green Party members will take this opportunity to say No to Trident!
and No to nuclear weapons!
Any Queries -get in touch
Charlie Kiss for Green CND

07808 932 618/020 7697 9640
Twitter @charliekiss

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Arrangements for the CACCTU national conference to launch the new edition of the One Million Climate Jobs booklet

Conference details

Time and date12.00 - 5.30 pm Saturday 20 September
Please put the date in your diary and forward to interested parties.

Venue: Tower Building, London Metropolitan University, Holloway Road
This is directly across the road from Holloway Road tube station and accessible from all London terminuses.

Themes: Primary theme - the international fight for climate jobs
The conference is timed to coincide with the People's Climate March taking place that weekend in New York with support from American trade unions and involving British trade unionists. This is prior to the UN climate talks in NY from 23 September. The conference will involve international speakers and contributions via skype from the march organisers and British and American trade unionists on the march. We also aim to encourage climate jobs groups in other countries to hold their own meetings and conferences at this time which we can link up with.
Secondary theme - hope, not despair.

Conference title: "For a future that doesn't cost the earth".


12.00 - 1.00  Registration
1.00 - 2.30 Opening plenary: "The International Fight for Climate Jobs" - as described above with an additional contribution on the updated One Million Climate Jobs pamphlet.
2.30 - 2.45 Break
2.45 - 4.15 Workshops:
Two lead speakers per workshop with additional invited contributors in the audience.
a) "Unpacking Climate Jobs" - looks closely at specific climate jobs and how they can be created. Main focus on energy and transport.
b) "Building a Better Future by Campaigning for Climate Jobs" - reaches from examples of successful campaign initiatives to the broader social benefits of building for a sustainable future
c) "Students, Environment, and Climate jobs" - deals mostly with jobs for graduates but also allows discussion of the curriculum and increasing student involvement in the environmental movement.
4.15 - 4.45 Networking
4.45 - 5.30 Closing Plenary: "Time to Act on Climate Change" - speakers from the "Time to Act" campaign and the protest campaign for the Paris COP talks. Followed by Q & A.