27 Apr 2015

Rebecca for Hampstead and Kilburn

Rebecca Johnson is today' s featured candidate on the Green Party national website LINK
 I reproduce the post here: 

In the run up to the General Election we will be giving you the opportunity to get to know some of our candidates. Our key candidates and spokespeople can be found here.

This year we will be standing in over 90% of seats in England and Wales.

Our featured candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn: Rebecca Johnson 

Rebecca Johnson at Saturday's Save NHS Petition presentation

Why are you standing as a candidate?

I'm a feminist peace activist committed to participatory democracy. After joining the Greens I supported getting Caroline Lucas into Westminster and canvassed on behalf of other smart, committed Greens standing for local councils and the European Parliament. So when I was asked to put my name forward this time, how could I say no?

What are your top 3 priorities if elected?

1) Transforming British democracy. It makes me so sad to hear voters in Hampstead and Kilburn say after a hustings that they think I'd make the best MP, they love how I argue for the Green Party's joined-up policies across all issues, but they feel they have to vote for another candidate as it's a marginal seat and they don't want a Tory MP. British politics alienates more people than it engages, especially young people, because under the stale 'first-past-the-post' system, most of us feel that our votes don't count. So we need genuine proportional representation – constituency-based single transferable votes for the House of Commons. We should lower the voting age to 16, and of course replace the unelected House of Lords with a proportionally-elected and much more effective Second Chamber.

2) Tackling homelessness and poverty here, notably in parts of Kilburn. That means ending the scandal of empty houses, reforming Council tax banding and investing in genuinely affordable social housing, and bringing in legislation so that the private rental sector is better controlled to provide fair rents, better accommodation and more secure tenancies.

3) Scrapping Trident and putting the billions we would save into our real security needs, such as a truly world class NHS, lifelong education opportunities, and protecting our planet from the biggest security threat of all, humanity's pollution and climate change.

What made you want to get into politics?

I've been engaged in British and UN politics as a feminist peace activist for many years, promoting equality, social justice, disarmament and environmental responsibility. I lived for five years at the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp to get rid of one generation of nuclear weapons, and then for Greenpeace to ban nuclear testing. Successful in both, but we still have to scrap Trident and build security without nuclear weapons. I decided to join the Green Party in 2009, when I could no longer fool myself that Labour would transform itself into an effective socialist party with the courage to tackle climate change, nuclear disarmament, poverty and homelessness.

What are your favourite things about the constituency?

I love the community spirit here, from parishioners in South Kilburn and Queens Park determined to stop HS2 from destroying their homes and schools, to Belsize Park residents and shopkeepers campaigning to defend their local jobs and shops against Tesco and its identikit, low-pay, profit-first model. And I love cycling to Hampstead Heath and swimming in the women's pond... an oasis of bliss while busy london fades into the background!

Who is your political hero?

Sylvia Pankhurst – the socialist suffragette committed to practical activism on behalf of London's poor, especially hardworking women from British and immigrant communities in the East End. She was feminist, courageous in her commitment to peace, and worked closely with Keir Hardie, Labour's first MP, in breaking the Tory-Liberal two-party stranglehold. From Greenham onwards, I've worn the green, purple and white ribbons of the suffragettes. We must honour their struggle for the vote by refusing to throw our precious democracy away in "tactical" voting for the "least worst" of today's inadequate TweedleCon and TweedleLab parties and their short term political machines. Our votes can bring in the transformational policies this country and our planet need.

25 Apr 2015

Reject Labour scare tactics in Hampstead & Kilburn and stick by the Greens - Vote for What You Believe In

Green voters in Hampstead and Kilburn are being told on the doorstep by Labour  that the outcome is 'too close ro call' and that they should vote Labour to prevent a possible Tory victory.  Green candidate Rebecca Johnson has been well received by voters at hustings and on the street.

Here she gives her reaction to that 'advice':

22 Apr 2015

Green Party Trade Union Group sends its support to the parents, pupils and teachers of St Andrew and St Francis CofE Primary in Willesden

Parents of students at St Andrew and St Francis CofE Primary in Willesden are protesting against proposals to turn the school into an academy; they are demanding an independently overseen ballot on academisation with full information of the arguments for and against an academy.

They are supported by the teachers’ unions at the school who are preparing to take strike action if this simple and reasonable request is not met.

Green Party policy is against forcing schools to become academies and the  Green Party Trade Union Group sends its support to the parents, pupils and teachers involved in this resistance to railroading through marketised education without proper consultation.

19 Apr 2015

An Harlesden to Kilburn hustings report

Friday, 17 April 2015

An Harlesden to Kilburn hustings report

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug,(from )

Report on Harlesden to Kilburn Transition Town hustings

I felt it refreshing to act as 'fly on the wall' observer at an Hampstead & Kilburn constituency hustings outside my own geographic voting area. Tory and Ukip candidates did not turn up but I believe sent apologies to Queens Park for Harlesden to Kilburn Transition Town hustings on Thursday 16 April that was arranged very differently from whole panel conventional hustings. I thought it was perhaps a missed opportunity for those candidates who did not turn up and the audience alike;(2) but I know from a friend who is a parliamentary cnadidate in another constituency that 'the candidate trail' can be tiring and candidates can get ill.

Having three candidates instead of five made the event more streamlind and less gruelling for the audience than it might have been with five and the event had quite a high audience turnout despite the clash with the televised 'Leaders Debate' that excluded Conservative and Lib Dem party leaders.(3) Labour, Lib Dem and Green candidates had mini-meetings in a hall with rotating personalised audiences around them yet also a small time slot for whole hall addressing.

The mini-audiences lasting about 10 minutes consisted of candidate on seat on podium surrounded by semi-circle of about 20 packed audience seats plus standing audience members with a predominantly white and [probably] 6th Form audience from a school that had a hand in the organising and logistics facilitating in one of the most leafy areas of Hampstead & Kilburn constituency west of the Finchley Road or even the Kilburn High Road.

The min-sessions — incorporating candidate inputs from omnibus session that was about themselves and why they're standing for Hampstead & Kilburn constituency

Candidates chaired or facilitated their own mini-sessions.

Lib Dem candidate Maajid Nazaz (medium sized male) stood on podium looking down on his  audiences.

 Maajid Nawaz
  • Outlined his history as prisoner of conscience in Egypt leading through his release and political assylum to his working with youth in Brent with mental health problems.
  • Said that like most young people in the area he was forced to rent and would never be able to buy  when properties are priced at about £2m a house
    • answered a few questions, saying that Lib Dems and Nic Clegg its leader had been mistaken in their promises regarding student tuition fees in 2010 when the best Lib Dems could have hoped for was coalition involvment anyway; 
    • said that we have coalition government through interworking of polls anyway;
    •  delighted in prospect of online voting and votes for 16 year olds; and the options he gave his audiences for voting excluded by omission the option of voting Green Party.

Labour candidate Tulip Siddiq (very small female) sat on podium looking down on audience

Tulip Siddiq
  • Delighted in her long-term living in Kilburn and her Kilburn councillor past and human rights charity work while omitting mention of her privileged but tragedy-ridden background.(4)
  • Said that a lot of "single mothers have jobs on the side" — or was it that that is a popular misconception; and 
  • Responded to my 
    • "'For a more sustainable future while youth unemployment, student debt and unpaid internships upon unpaid internships for 16-23' are more the norm than the exception, the Dept for Work & Pensions should focus on modelling compassionate support.' Discuss" question 
    • by saying that the main problems are excessive sanctions and zero hours contracts, and Labour would abolish those.

Green Party candidate Rebecca Johnson (medium height) started with her chair on the podium but progressed to being seated off the podium, maybe even being sat on her haunces, looking up at her audience rather than down

Rebecca Johnson
  • Told the audience that she had lived in Kilburn in the past and been one of the Greenham Common women of the 1980s whose campaign managed successfully to remove American Cruise missiles from our shores and thus she had an heritage of 'Talking Truth to Power'. Returning to London for waged work after full-time study, she had moved to Hackney but still delighted in her Kilburn past and really wanted to serve the people of Hampstead & Kilburn constituency. 
  • Spent perhaps too long at first in her answer and voice projection to one question at one end of the semi-circle of chairs before getting more 'into the groove' of the 'speed dating' format of the event
  • Celebrated the interplay between the Green Party of England & Wales' stance of supporting a 'Yes' vote in the Scottish independence referrendum, the politicisation of young people both sides of the England-Scotlan border, and the upsurge of Green Party membership that had resulted.
  • Extolled Caroline Lucas' heritage as one pioneering Green Party MP building on common cause with members of other political parties in joint campaigns for the environment and human rights including rights of the most vulnerable in UK society.
  • Answered the usual 'wasted vote in a 1st past the post' electoral system question by affirming that if people exercise too much compromise in voting for what they believe in, they will never get it.
There was more to this event than reported here, both in terms of the content up to my early departure and what I missed entirely. Returning home five overgound stations away on a cold evening for which I was under-dressed, I reflected on my observation that perhaps the greatest obstacle to Rebecca Johnson's electoral promotion by the Green Party via door-to-door leaflets is that 'first past the post' polling has led the Green Party of England & Wales to 'target to win' prioritising as a means of allocating its much more limited resources, and I believe that such events help further the electoral promotion of Green Party candidates. Bring them on!(5)

For a fuller list of candidates standing for Hampstead & Kilburn constituency and how to contact them, see Candidates (PPCs) for Hampstead & Kilburn.(6)

See also

Questions for Readers

  1. Apart from matters of 'personal branding style' and 'pedagogy', what impact might Rebecca Johnson's coming off the podium have had on accessibility at an event where there were other dialogues going on concurrently?
  2. Might that 'unelevated seating position' have been rooted in her Greenham Common activist past?


(1) While the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group is non-party political, the author 'declares an interest' in that he has been a Green Party member since autumn 2005 and a Green Party voter even longer, after having been a Labour Party member 1980-84, Ecology Party member 1984-86, and Lib Dem member 1996-98.
(2)  It had earlier been revealed by member Arotina to the KUWG meeting that afternoon that after attending hustings that included Ukip candidates she had been struck by how their panacea for "how we're going to pay for all their bright ideas" had been, "Once we leave the EU, we will have far more money to spare as a country." Yet her eventual research into how much the UK hands over to the EU and how much it gets back, that the UK gets far more from the EU than it spends on the EU.
(3)  You can view the Leaders Debate on BBC iPlayer
(5) Kilburn Unemployed site search for hustings

17 Apr 2015

Hear Scott Bartle, Green candidate for Brent North, on his approach to politics

The packed hustings was held in a beautiful but dimly lit church so please excuse the quality of the picture. Scott Bartle, our candidate for Brent North, sets out his approach to politics.

BAR EVENTS in April & May

Queens Parade 3 Year Anniversary Event

The longest running Meanwhile project celebrates 3 years of enterprise and creativity.

Meanwhile Space and Queens Parade residents, Gurasu Crystal, Express Ed, Revelation, Brent Artists Resource, POP & DASH, A Pop-up Wonderland and Cycletastic are delighted to invite you to an evening packet with entertainment.

The event will also launch the short film of the story of Queens Parade.

An evening of inspiring stories, experimental art, live music, fantastic taste and great company!

For programme details visit the Facebook Event Page 

Invite: Preview of In Dialogue and BAR Members Salon

24th April – 22nd May
Preview Party: Thursday 23rd April  6pm-9pm

Please join us for the preview of our two new exciting exhibitions In Dialogue and BAR Members Salon

BAR has commissioned 15 selected artists to create work in dialogue with each other. The new pieces will be unveiled at the Queens Parade Anniversary Party. Alongside this there will be a members salon, where you will be able to discover a range of artists and new artworks, all of which will be for sale and affordably priced.

The preview party for the BAR Members Salon and In Dialogue will take place together at the Queens Parade 3rd Anniversary party.

Painting & Movement Workshops at BAR Gallery

Drawing Course at BAR Gallery

Yoga Classes at BAR Gallery

John Blandy Exhibition 


16 Apr 2015


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Friday 17th April 2015 (tomorrow night!)
At BAR Gallery

It's another great line up and possibly your only chance to see a graffiti artist and church organist showing their skills at a wooden bus stop!

Stan Grant and Joel Whybrew’s Bus Stop is back by popular demand. Providing a new space within the gallery for people to gather and share their experiences of the local area,  Bus Stop recreates a familiar and unassuming setting for all of us. Stan and Joel will transform the gallery with another ambitious sculpture and invite you to come along on 17th April for one night of live music, art and poetry from a fleet of first class local performers. Please feel free to bring a drawing, sculpture, song about your favourite travel memory, or just turn up, drink wine, meet the other passengers and enjoy the ride!

Check out the facebook event for more details! 

Read the Green Party Election Manifesto here

The Green Party have now published their election manifesto.  You can read the short. mini-manifesto here and if this whets your appetite the detailed version is below:

14 Apr 2015

Green Manifesto: Austerity has failed, we need a peaceful revolutuion to get rid of it

The Green Party today launched ‘For the Common Good’, the Party’s 2015 General Election Manifesto, which sets out a bold, ambitious plan for a fairer society and safer planet.

The manifesto focuses on the Greens’ commitment to restoring and extending public services and tackling climate change.

Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time and only the Greens are determined to tackle it by taking serious action to limit our emissions at home and fighting for a fair global deal that secures humanity’s shared future. The Green Party will invest up to £80billion over the next Parliament in renewable generation and energy efficiency.

Real action on climate change will create jobs, reduce energy bills and make life better for ordinary people.
The Green Party stands for a fair economy that works for all and will end austerity and restore the public sector, creating over one million good jobs that pay the Living Wage.  The Green Party will introduce a Wealth Tax on the top 1%, a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on the banks and crack down on tax dodging to raise £75billion a year by 2019.

The Green Party will take back our health service by reversing the creeping privatisation of our NHS and increasing health spending by £12billion a year. Healthcare must be publicly funded and free at the point of use.

The manifesto was launched by Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader of England and Wales, and Caroline Lucas, who was elected as MP for Brighton Pavilion in 2010.

Bennett said:
Austerity has failed and we need a peaceful political revolution to get rid of it.
Our manifesto is an unashamedly bold plan to create a more equal, more democratic society while healing the planet from the effects of an unstable, unsustainable economy.

This manifesto presents the Green Party’s genuine alternative to our tired, business-as-usual politics. We desperately need a more equal society and the policies we announce today pave the way towards a brighter, fairer future for all.
Lucas said:
We urgently need real leadership when it comes to tackling climate change - and that's what our manifesto delivers.

From ending the scandal of cold homes to investing in a public transport system that puts the public first, our plans will make a positive difference to people's lives, create new jobs and help protect our environment.

We have put investing in a greener future at the heart of our manifesto and only Green MPs will demand Parliament delivers change that reflects the scale of the climate problem.

10 Apr 2015

Tory Barnet and Labour Brent outsourcing: similarities and differences as Barnet Unison votes to strike

Friday, 10 April 2015

Barnet Tory  'Easy Council' is facing industrial action over its outsourcing of 
services to private -companies. 87% of Unison council workers have voted for 
strike action over the five commissioning projects that were agreed at the 
March 5th Full Council meeting.  

The proposals would mean outsourcing the majority of the Council workforce 

into one of five  'alternative delivery models':

1. Education Skills and School Meals services 
2. Library Service
3. Early Years: Children’s Centres
4. Adult Social Care
5. Street Scene Services

In a press release Unison said the Education & Skills and School Meals
services is already in Competitive Dialogue discussions with the following

· Capita Business Services Ltd

· EC Harris LLP

· Mott MacDonald Ltd, trading as Cambridge Education

Looking at Capita’s track record LINK   in bidding and winning contracts it is 
highly likely they will win this contract making it the third big contract they will 
have won with Barnet Council.

Unison Branch Secretary John Burgess said:

"The vote was never in doubt. The workforce in Barnet is amazing and 
resilient. The vote confirms that our members have had enough of the
ideological obsession with outsourcing. The Council does not value the
workforce which can be seen when unpaid overtime and long hours are
never recognised when putting together bids for outsourcing projects. 
The fact that the Council refuses to run in-house comparators has made
it clear to our members that their future employment with the
Council is threatened."

So where does this leave Brent Labour 'Increasingly uneasy' Council and
 their own  'alternative  models'?

 Using the Brent equivalents of the five Barnet services:

1. Brent Council's School Improvement Service has been run down and

 provides a  core service only with  many functions handed over to the 
 Brent Schools Partnership  and schools buying in other services from a 
 variety of providers,  School meals have  been out-sourced for a long time.
 In addition the Brent Cabinet on April 14th will be  deciding on future 
 provision of Additional Resources Provision and English as an 
 Additional Language  to pupils through a variety of contracts with 
 Academies and  Independent schools LINK

2. Brent Council proposed transferring the management  of the library 
services to an established trust or a new model with similar features.

3. Early Years: Children's Centres - Brent Council has agreed to a 

partnership arrangement with the voluntary  sector or charities.

4. Adult Social Care: There is a proposal going forward to the Brent Cabinet

 on April 14th for Extra Care to  be provided via Direct Payments and a
 contract with Plexus/Mears LINK 

5. Street Scene Services (parks refuse etc) Brent has already outsourced 
street cleaning, recycling, waste collection, parks maintenance, and 
cemeteries to a sole contractor, Veolia. The Cabinet will also be discussing 
extending the contract with Gristwood and Toms for Arboricultural  services
(dealing with trees beyond what Veolia do as part of the parks maintenance

An additional item at the April 14th Brent Cabinet is a proposal to pay 

Penoyre and Prasad LLP £831,250  for work on a hybrid planning application
for the Peel Site on the South Kilburn estate. LINK

I will leave readers to judge the similarities and differences between the

approaches of the two council - one Conservative and the other Labour. 
You may also want to consider why Unison's reaction appears to be different
in the two councils and whether as a result of the Coalition's cuts to local 
government that outsourcing is inevitable...


7 Apr 2015

The 3rd anniversary of the suicide of Nygell Firminger

Tuesday 7 April from about 09:30 for 09:45, Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group will be commemorating the 3rd anniversary of the suicide of Nygell Firminger who lived at 32a Cambridge Avenue, NW6 and was JSA sanctioned by the jobcentre in the same road. After being sanctioned Nygell fell into the hands of loan sharks and then behind with his rent, accruing volumes of correspondence with Genesis Housing Association to attempt to negotiate the paying back of his rent arrears.

After being evicted, Nygell broke back into the flat that he was evicted from and committed suicide the day before he was due to face a bullying 'group session' at Kilburn Jobcentre in early April 2012 -- the same week that the Welfare Reform Act became law.

On 10 July 2013 the North London Coroner ruled that Nygell's suicide had been brought on by the mental stress caused by eviction, and that December it was announced that Genesis Housing had sold Nygell's flat for £375,000. A later BBC Radio 4 'File on Four' programme tells a little of the background to 'social landlords' doing all they can to get dodgy money in order to fulfil the home building obligations coalition government has thrust upon them, but is far too kind to Genesis Housing and 'welfare reform' in what it reports of the coroner's verdict.

I have a sceanned copy of the Coroner's 'Rule 43' that i could send upon request to whoever wants a copy.

Alan Wheatley

See also