Climate Change Checklist

In a slightly different style to my usual posts, I wanted to share a list of ways in which you can ensure that you are doing your part to safeguard the planet for the near future.

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How Have You Destroyed The Planet Today?

Even before we wake up, each and every one of us is responsible for causing a little more environmental destruction each moment that passes. Whether it’s the heating system kicking on so you’re comfortable when you finally summon up that energy to roll back the duvet, the bacon that’s sitting in your fridge ready for breakfast, or even the phone sitting by your bed primed to ring that dreaded alarm so that you’re not late for work; everything that we do, or use, or create, has an impact on the environment that is rapidly killing this planet.

There is no magic cure, or perfect solution. Simply by living in our complex and advanced societies, we will affect the world around us; however the question is – what can we do to live sustainably?

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The Economics of Eating Healthy

In a slight deviation from all things Brexit related (partly because it’s impossible to perform any rational analysis of the current situation, but mostly because I simply can’t take it anymore) an Instagram post caught my attention recently, where a young photography graduate had published a project she had undertaken to open random lunchboxes in a school (presumably with permission) and photograph the contents. The purpose was to provide a cross section of the sorts of things that parents are sending their children to school with, and along with it, she provided a commentary indicating her view that it was far cheaper, in terms of calorific value, to buy unhealthy food than to provide healthy food choices.

This is a view I’ve often heard from people, referenced in the media, and even informing government policy. Efforts by the government to police our eating choices through the sugar tax, conversation on portion control in restaurants and other initiatives, seem to indicate that this is a mindset taken seriously at all levels within our institutions.

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Category: Food, Politics | Tags: , , ,

Airbnb: The Death of a City

Airbnb keysafes in Edinburgh

I write this post fully cognisant of my hypocrisy, having made use of the short term holiday letting platform Airbnb, among others, in the past. Indeed, Airbnb is not the only offender, but it is by far the largest and most successful, and therefore the most disruptive. Since I became more actively involved in local politics however, I have become acutely aware of the damage that the surge in popularity of Airbnb style lettings is doing to our inner cities; and the increasing social inequality that it is driving.

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Category: Airbnb | Tags: , , ,

Brexit: Endgame

As I write this there are fewer than 40 working days until the UK is scheduled to crash out of the EU; and the House of Commons has fewer than 32 days to meet and agree on the next steps.

It has been a long time since my previous blog post; mainly because – well: life – but also an overwhelming frustration with the state of politics in the UK and around the world and the sense of an inevitability about how this whole debacle will unfold.

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Referendum: A Poor Form of Democracy

The most prominent rebuke I receive on social media, when trying to persuade leave voters of the folly that we are taking the UK into, is “We had a democratic vote, respect democracy!”. I wouldn’t mind so much, if this were also supported by rational, thought out arguments giving the case for why they voted as they did, but this is rarely, if ever, the case.

My challenge to this most favoured of rebukes is two-fold. First, nothing is forever – most of all public opinion, which can change with the wind. Second, that referenda a fundamentally incompatible with British democratic process.

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Labour’s Regressive Momentum

I have this theory that collective society has a working memory of about 20 years – sometimes longer depending on the severity of what has come to pass. The rise of popular Corbynism, and the Momentum campaign movement supporting it (together with a, fringe, distinctively militant social media presence) demonstrates to me that we have forgotten why we moved away from the policies of the 60’s and 70’s and this is being presented to our young voters as something radical, progressive and new. The truth is that the manifesto that Labour published for the 2017 General Election is regressive, vastly increasing the role and power of the State, and stifling economic growth. The fact that the Institute of Fiscal Studies was unable to cost it highlights how the manifesto has been kept intentionally vague, so as not to reveal the full implications of delivering it.

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Citizen of Nowhere

Theresa May caused something of a storm of controversy when she announced to the annual Tory Party Conference in October last year that “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.” I’m happy to wear that as a badge of honour, for I do believe that I am a citizen of the world, and I am saddened by the surge of populism and narrow isolationism that has swept across the USA and the UK in recent years. As an inhabitant of this planet, I believe that we all have a responsibility to do our part to tackle climate change, social inequality, and generally care for our fellow human being. I too am going to go out on a limb and say something equally controversial, and that is that nationalism is a form of discrimination, and while may be followed with honest intentions, by its very definition it means the prioritisation of a group of people based solely on a label of nationhood.

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Flying South For The Winter

Faced with mounting public pressure (fuelled by biased hate-filled reporting from the likes of The Daily Mail, and The Sun) David Cameron pledged to cut net migration to the UK to “tens of thousands”, yet despite implementing a myriad of policy changes designed to make the UK a less attractive destination, migration to the UK continued unabated. As it turns out, all that was required was for the rest of the world to see the truth of the scale of an ugly, suppressed (or unconscious) bias of Britons against foreigners. The EU referendum campaign, with misleading pictures of refugees and countless depictions of migrants as “benefit tourists” taking advantage of the country, is considered to be the single most significant factor in determining why people would vote to leave.

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What If There Is No Cake?

As David Davis and his team return to Brussels to “get down to business on Brexit” for another week of negotiations, both the Conservative Government and the Labour opposition have been accused of wanting to “have their cake and eat it”. This being a reference to, frankly, deluded ambitions of what can be achieved in EU exit negotiations. Somewhat topically, Professor Tim Lang, of the Centre for Food Policy, has published a paper detailing the significant risks to UK food security following Brexit. The report sets out the stark, and frightening, reality of what Brexit could mean for the UK. Far from having our cake and eating it, we might not have our cake at all.

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