Pages tagged "newsfeed2"

  • Hey! Where did the climate crisis go?

    A month ago, the airwaves were buzzing with energy and information about our planet’s climate crisis. From images of superglued cheeks on the M25 to the incongruous sight of indigenous Amazonians in the Glasgow rain, there was no getting away from it…the climate was centre stage, penetrating he consciousness of the nation.

    So, where is it now?

    How did this, the most serious issue mankind has faced in millennia, get pushed aside? It’s the pandemic of course! I hear you shout and …. Yes, Covid19 is justifiably taking up a lot of bandwidth but the long-term problem remains climate change.

    From a political point of view there are parallels between the two issues.

    I’ve always thought that we fall into six broad categories when it comes to the climate crisis

    • Climate deniers
    • Doomsayers
    • The overwhelmed ostriches
    • The committed but worried
    • The committed activists
    • The “extremists”

    It seems that this grouping has become very relevant to Covid also.

    Attitudes to costs and financing depend on which group you are in, as does willingness to accept government intervention on an unprecedented scale. To be effective against threats of this magnitude governments must be trusted to act globally on our behalf. They have to be trusted if we going to buy into taking lifestyle-changing personal action and incurring significant personal expenditure.

    Sadly, a very cruel serendipity has landed us with two problems at a time when trust in government is at an all time low. Both issues spotlight conflict between the concept of government responsibility and individual liberty. They have become textbook cases of the “big government” Vs personal freedom debate so beloved of the centre right and a golden thread running through the Leave campaign arguments in 2016. It seems that the idea that we should all work together, accepting hardship and making difficult changes for the common good, just doesn’t find traction in a population that has lost its trust in a Prime Minister who is a liar, and a parliament dominated by a party that will not take action to deal with him and his cronies.

    We will not return the future of our planet to the top of the agenda until we make fundamental changes to the way we are governed and restore faith in our political system. This will not be achieved by a progressive alliance of opposition parties; there’s an institutional complacency that affects almost everybody who parks their backside on those green benches. They become part of the problem and do not seem to be able to see beyond minor reform of the traditions of parliament. They will never see that they ARE the problem.

    This is a tragedy for those affected by Covid mismanagement and it is a catastrophe for the planet. We must make structural changes if we are going to get anywhere close to +2 degrees. How, for example, can we trust our government to oversee a complete overhaul of our financial system, enabling truly beneficial environmental investments when they have failed to set up a system to effectively monitor so-called ESG compliance. The expectation that financial institutions will do anything other than pay lip service without being compelled to do so and whilst being policed by failing institutions such as the FCA, is risible.

    We need change, if we don’t get it, and get it soon, we’ll be fighting climate wars and facing mass migration of climate refugees. So, let’s taken action now and return this issue to the top of the agenda where it belongs.

    Julie Girling, Renew Climate Spokesperson, former MEP & Member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

  • The UK’s broken politics

    There is a serious problem in Britain.  It is our broken political culture.  Tom Meek, former soldier and diplomat and now CEO of Renew explains:

    The public is disengaged with politics. Trust in politicians is at very low levels.  MPs living in the ‘Westminster Bubble’ appear out of touch and more interested in playing party politics than working together to solve the problems ordinary people are facing.  People care about making things better but don’t have faith in our politics to do this. 

    Politicians will have very different views.  For them politics rightly remains an adversarial battle.  Anything they can do to talk up their party’s policies and talk down the opposition’s is a job well done (and likely to curry favour with party management in terms of career progression).  But this is exactly what turns people off politics.  This behaviour tells voters that party matters more than country, and that career matters more than constituents.

    Done like this, our politics is stuck in a winner takes all mentality when the world has moved on to shared approaches to problem solving.  But party politics in the UK, whether or not that party is in power, is still about gathering all the controls and dictating outcomes.

    This means that voters haven’t really had a choice at the ballot box for a long time.  And parties clearly aren’t feeling any pressure to change.  This has echoes of the expenses scandal of 2009.  Not for the misuse of public money - outrageous though that was - but for the contempt it shows for voters.  Politicians aren’t trying to clean up our political culture or bring our political system into the 21st century because the current system is working quite well enough for them, thank you very much.

    And this is another echo from the expenses scandal.  The main feature then was the drawn out attempts to keep all of the mess in-house and hidden.  And let’s not forget, more recently, investigations into workplace bullying and harassment in the House of Commons and Home Office.  Not much has changed.  In all these cases MPs still very much prefer to be left to police themselves, resisting efforts to bring much needed transparency and accountability, or even standards of behaviour that might encourage people to trust politicians again.

    This matters.  If voters lose faith in their politicians, they’ll lose interest in politics.  This is already happening.  And if they lose interest in politics, politicians will end up just talking and arguing with each other, which will only lead to a more divisive, shoutier and antagonistic politics.


    But it’s worse than that.  The answer most can come up with is to double down on the existing system, the current party system.  They argue that the problems are just because the people in charge are the people in charge but things could be different with someone else in charge.  And that’s the real problem.  We will keep getting the same people in charge if we keep depending on the same system.

    This is the point at which we need a complete overhaul, a Renewed politics that revitalises our shared political life.  Renew has such a manifesto and will launch this new approach on October 9th.

  • Can London Become The Next Silicon Valley?

    Renew Party's candidate for Mayor of London, Kam Balayev, wants to accelerate London's digital economy by championing the fintech sector, and capitalising on opportunities inadvertently offered by the Covid-19 pandemic. We talk to him about how a London of the future might look:

    How has the Covid-19 pandemic changed us digitally?

    Digital technology is now second nature. From people in older age groups embracing Zoom to the ubiquity of smartphones, content streaming, websites and apps, digital tech is deeply embedded into our daily lives. The coronavirus pandemic has speeded up this process.

    Which are the digital sectors this pandemic has inadvertently aided?

    It sped up the digital transformation of the health and education sectors.

    Online consultations have helped keep GP surgeries safe and ensured access to treatment for vulnerable people. Home learning for school children and university students has gone from being a marginal practice to completely commonplace. The potential for these two vital sectors to embrace digital solutions is huge, and London's expanding tech sector can help facilitate this shift further.

    Which other key sectors should we be using more tech in?

    A key component in any city offer to new investors is safety. Rising crime, particularly violent crime, is a huge concern for Londoners. In fact it's the issue of most concern to residents after healthcare.

    By using the latest digital technologies, divisive stop and search techniques can be replaced, while still ensuring that knives are taken off our streets. What works in London can then be exported to other UK cities and across the world.

    And what about the struggling businesses - what's your advice to them?

    Of course, many industries have suffered badly. In particular, the last few months have provided a reality check for those who have been reluctant to embrace the digital economy. With so much uncertainty, it's digitally agile businesses and countries that will be better placed to prosper.

    So how important is London in this digital shift?

    London is at the forefront of the UK's digital economy. For example, it has played a pioneering role in cyber-law. And the English language is a key advantage - overwhelmingly the language of choice for global tech companies. The city also contains huge numbers of highly skilled and ambitious bilingual people. London has the potential to become a global hub where ambitious tech entrepreneurs want to be based. But the competition from other cities is fierce.

    How do you think London can achieve these bold ambitions?

    There's a gap in the market.

    Silicon Valley is a place for ambitious start-ups, but thanks to tech giants like Google and Facebook, the market has grown more insular. It can be difficult for start-ups to find a foothold, as small and medium-sized businesses are priced out. That's where London comes in: a new 'silicon centre' that incubates the tech giants of the future. Innovative, exciting start-ups, growing businesses and emerging giants could flock to the city if it creates an attractive environment, with the right infrastructure in place to support them.

    There's been much controversy surrounding tech and politics. Can tech actually change democracy for the better?

    A forward-looking, digitally pioneering country needs and deserves an electoral system that works. Participatory budgets, e-petitions and citizen assemblies would all hand real power to citizens.