Last weekend I travelled to France, visiting Paris and Marseille. Having lived and worked in France, I have a close affinity to the French people and their firm belief in ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’. Even arriving at the Gare de Marseille Saint Charles, there is a large sign depicting the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights.
Having followed reports of the rise of the Gilets Jaunes, I wanted to see first hand how this movement was gathering such momentum.
The Gilets Jaunes were born out of a protest against the Macron government’s plan to increase tax on fuel to aid the country’s transition to green energy. The protest was organised by ordinary working people through social media - there is no leader, political party or trade union attached to the Gilets Jaunes.
Since the 17th November, there have been roadblocks, barriers at roundabouts and blockades of fuel depots. These were peaceful protests by working class people; the price of fuel had become one of the major talking points in France.
Sadly, these initially peaceful protests became marred by some unfortunate accidents and incidents, fatally discrediting the movement.
I wanted to find out more about this, so on Sunday morning, I went for coffee in a local bar in a residential area of Marseille. The media was full of reports of the previous night’s violence. The customers taking their early morning coffee were not talking, but watching the news. I spoke to one of them, and he explained how they were angry that the Gilet Jaunes had been infiltrated by far right and far left organizations, and that public opinion was turning against them. The situation had been made worse by the death of an 80-year-old woman caught up in the demonstrations in Marseille the night before.
Why am I talking about this? Well, as Head of Operations at Renew, I firmly believe that the government's Brexit deal is bad for this country. But I am concerned by suggestions from some corners that the Remain movement should become more militant.
The marches and campaign for a People’s Vote have been honourable in their pacifism. They should stay that way.
On returning to London on the Eurostar Monday morning, I read of an impending meeting between the organisers of the Gilets Jaunes and the Macron government. They had been forced, due to the violence of the ultra-left and hard right, to meet and stop the action. In the end, Macron got away lightly, offering only a 6-month freeze, which the moderate leaders of the Gilets Jaunes had little choice but to accept.
The Remain campaign must stick to its principles and not resort to violence. We are getting the upper hand and we cannot allow extremists to infiltrate us. It is not the British way to force change through violence.
Join me outside Parliament on 11th December to protest against the Government's Brexit deal. Sign up here and give a small part of your time to voice your opinion against the Deal.
by David Britten
Head of Operations, Renew UK
It is not only British politics that has heated up in the past two years. 2018’s scorching summer was a due reminder of what is to come if we do not rapidly transition to clean energy and requisition carbon from the atmosphere.
It was in this context that Sir David Attenborough spoke at UN-sponsored climate talks in Poland this week. By taking the ‘People’s Seat’ at the conference, a national icon hopes to convey the urgency that people in Britain and around the world are starting to feel on the need to tackle climate change.
That urgency could not have been clearer on Saturday 24th November, when I travelled down to Westminster for Renew’s inaugural National Assembly.
This event symbolised a sea-change in British politics, as ordinary people from across the spectrum came together to celebrate the growth of a new force ready to discard ideology in favour of science and progress.
Meanwhile, just outside our venue of Westminster Central Hall in Parliament Square, protest group Extinction Rebellion were taking to the streets to combat climate change.
This was a different kind of congregation. Activists were holding up traffic, marching across bridges and generally being as loud as possible so that people might take notice of their cause.
Meanwhile, in Australia, school children feel the need to walk out from school on strike because they feel that their future is being out at risk. Closer to home, ordinary people must campaign against multi-national companies seeking to frack our precious countryside for gas at a time when clean energy is growing ever cheaper and has the potential to create more jobs.
I am Renew’s environmental advisor and run the environmental think-tank Carbon Tracker Initiative. I know as well as anybody the immense challenge of climate change, so I fully understand the frustrations that have led to the Extinction Rebellion’s tactics. The situation is really dire; we have left it so late that we have a limited window to act and we face huge disruption because of it. Around the World we are already seeing extreme weather events, such as wildfires in California, hurricanes and, closer to home, extreme heatwaves, flooding and storms.
So I get the reason for Extinction Rebellion. We really need to wake up and smell the coal.
The irony is that we have the clean technologies to tackle this and create high quality jobs, clean growth & prosperity for our country.
Luckily, Renew is an example of the kind of radical thinking we need. It’s a chance to listen to the people and reboot politics in the age of global warming, setting our country on the road to clean growth and prosperity.
A party unbound by ideology or donor promises will not subsidise filthy fossil fuels. It’s much more likely to rapidly expand investment in offshore and onshore wind power - an economically sound decision as well as a clean one. And it’s much more likely to embrace modern technology like electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles since it sees opportunity in invention. This technology can provide alternative clean, cheap and effective transport for the people of this country.
By backing a party like Renew, we embrace the immense environmental challenges that face our nation and our species. If we continue to run from them, I’m afraid that a few blocked roads will be the least of our worries.
By Anthony Hobley, Renew Energy & Environment Advisor
The cost of subsidies for offshore wind farms have fallen by half since 2015, with prices per megawatt hour falling below new nuclear power and gas for the first time. 
In July 2017, the government awarded contracts - ‘contracts for a difference’ - to two firms at a record-low fixed price of £57.50 per MWh for 2022-23. Under the new subsidy programme, which is designed to support investment in renewables, schemes are paid a pre-determined fixed price per unit of energy produced, giving investors the guarantee of steady returns - if wholesale prices fall below the set rate, schemes are paid the difference. If prices rise above the set rate, they must pay back the difference. Most contracts issued under the CfD (contracts for difference) scheme last for 15 years. Initiatives of this nature are valuable as they help reduce the cost of borrowing, which ordinarily accounts for a significant proportion of total costs for low-carbon energy firms. 
This makes offshore wind one of the cheapest means of electricity generation in the UK, alongside onshore wind and solar power.  The industry is also moving towards being entirely subsidy free in Britain - the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has said it expects wholesale prices to fall to just £53 per MWh from 2023 to 2035,  meaning that today’s £57.50 per MWh contracts are less than £5 per MWh above these projected wholesale costs.  By comparison, the new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant receives subsidies of £92.50 per MWh.  Deployment at a rate of 4 GW per year in Europe is necessary to continue the downward trend in price. If this is maintained, offshore wind could be widely competitive with traditional power sources in just a few years. 
A 2017 report published by BVG Associates titled “Unleashing Europe’s Offshore Wind Potential” found that it would be possible for the UK to increase its offshore wind capacity by up to 5 times by 2030, and that the nation’s resources are among the most economically attractive in Europe. A total capacity of 25 GW could be installed along UK coastlines by the end of the next decade, via the use of larger offshore wind turbines, each with a capacity of 13MW - the largest in use are currently 8MW. This would be enough to power 20 million homes, or around 75% of all households in the UK. The report confirms that the dramatic cost reduction in offshore wind over the last few years can be translated into large quantities of clean, reliable and cost-effective energy for the UK. 
According to the Director of RenewableUK in response to the report’s findings, it is important for the government to continue holding ‘fiercely competitive auctions for financial support, as well as putting offshore wind at the heart of its upcoming Industrial Strategy’. It is hoped that a clear policy direction on the industry will attract billions of pounds of investment. 
The government has confirmed plans to hold competitive bi-annual auctions for offshore wind facilities, which it is hoped will provide firms with greater certainty regarding investment decisions. The next auction is currently set to be held in May 2019, and will also include onshore facilities in remote areas. £557m of additional funding will be made available in advance of this. Offshore wind currently accounts for around 6% UK power usage, though these plans are expected to double this to 12% over the next 10 years. 
As the North Sea oil field approaches depletion, the UK is becoming more and more reliant on imported energy; since 2004, the UK has been a net importer of energy, with just under 40% of all energy coming from imports in 2015. Renewables produced domestically provide an opportunity to reduce our reliance on imported energy, allowing for greater energy security and leaving us less vulnerable to geopolitical events and fluctuations in the global market.  Furthermore, a report by RenewableUK found that British companies already provide close to 50% of British offshore wind power, and investment in the industry is helping to support over 600 companies across the UK. A further £17.5bn investment is expected over the next four years, which it is hoped will help to reinvigorate local economies and grow the UK’s manufacturing sector. 
Competitive auctions will allow the UK to remain a world leader in offshore wind power generation. For example, the UK was responsible for installing 53% of Europe’s net 3.15GW offshore wind capacity in 2017.  This provides a valuable opportunity to gain a share of the now $300bn global renewables industry , by exporting renewable energy as well as cutting-edge technology to other countries wishing to follow suit, among these being China, India, Taiwan and the USA.  A 2013 report from the IPPR stresses the importance of ensuring that a high proportion of related technology continues to be produced in the UK in order to strengthen and grow the local supply chain. Importing components manufactured in other areas significantly reduces the local value of the industry. The report also outlines the industry’s potential to help rebalance the UK economy by promoting industrial growth in the North. 
In light of recent findings regarding the cost and economic opportunities associated with offshore wind power, the government’s continued pursuit of nuclear development is becoming increasingly questionable. 
In the second instalment of a two-part article, Renew candidate Tim Fisher concludes the story of his Renew journey so far
Now, when movements like Renew start up, there will always be an element of railing against the establishment. Yet what seems to be different here is the message of hope twinned with a desire to do things differently. To be better.
This also isn’t a single-issue protest movement and it goes way beyond Brexit. For me, the vote to leave the EU is a symptom of a deeper malaise. I believe people feel unrepresented and unsupported. They feel that no one cares or is even interested in them and that is what prepared the ground for Brexit. The Leave campaign was then able to manipulate all of that despondency and downright hopelessness, ultimately stealing the referendum. Whether we leave the EU or not, that malaise will still be there festering until we do something about it.
If anything, tackling that head-on has become a question of national importance. Those who seem to think they have the inalienable right to be in charge have done nothing over the last thirty years to improve the situation. There are parts of the country that missed the Cool Britannia vibe of the Nineties, where people struggle to put food on the table. In a rich country like ours, that is simply unforgivable. Successive governments have not solved these problems; they have only applied sticking plasters which fell off immediately when tugged by austerity.
Listening to the speeches at Renew’s Inaugural Assembly, I not only heard sensible, honest people - people like me, talking with passion about how we can be better. I also spoke with people brimming with ideas about how we could achieve it.
It is early days and many of those ideas still need to be fleshed out, but the vision is there…and as any successful person will tell you, the vision needs to come first.
We are also going to do it the hard way, starting from scratch, because trying to drive change through the established parties clearly hasn’t worked. I don’t want to speak to people on doorsteps and be compromised from the start. It will be hard, but there needs to be a clean break – otherwise, we just end up perpetuating the things that aren’t working. We need to start anew, with integrity, hope and without the baggage of the past.
These are dark days for the country - there is no other way to put it. We run the risk of doing ourselves untold harm and the people charged with governing us appear to be the crux of the problem.
But for me – there is a glimmer of hope. A sliver of light in the darkness. While there are people who recognise things must change and are willing to put themselves out there to do it, I say there is hope for us all.
It’s time to reject the lies, take our country back and make it a better place for everyone. And if enough of us stand up and say “enough”, we will do just that.
It’s time to reboot Britain.
It’s time to Renew.
By Tim Fisher
In the first instalment of a two-part article, Renew UK candidate Tim Fisher sets out his motivation for getting involved
Like many people out there, the goings on in the country over the last couple of years have led me to really question the views I hold and why I have them. One of the things this period of introspection has unexpectedly thrown up is the stark realisation I’ve never actually been in favour of anything politically.
When I first voted in 1997, I voted Conservative and I’m not sure I was voting for anything the party said in particular. I suspect I was just voting against New Labour. That was probably only because I came from a pro-Conservative family, and, well, that’s how we always voted.
Even when David Cameron’s Tories first won enough seats to form the coalition with the Lib Dems in 2010…I wasn’t voting for them per se. I was just voting to get rid of a Labour government that I thought had run out of steam. There wasn’t a particular message to get behind and I certainly don’t remember any of the arguments during the campaign; just the horse-trading that formed the coalition and latterly killed off the Liberal Democrats as a meaningful force in British politics.
During the Scottish independence referendum, I didn’t get to vote as I live in England, but I was fully caught up in it as my family all live in Scotland. While I’m all for the Union, again, there wasn’t nearly enough of a positive message there. In my mind, independence clearly wouldn’t work without much unnecessary hardship for those least able to cope with it. That the nationalists appeared happy to spout any old lies to achieve their ultimate goal was deeply distasteful and set an unfortunate precedent for the future. I sided with the current state of play because the alternative was, in theory, utterly unpalatable. The argument for leaving the UK wasn’t made sufficiently well to justify any change to the status quo and most Scots agreed.
And again…during 2016’s EU referendum, I wasn’t so much in favour of staying in the European Union, I was just against leaving. And look how that panned out.
By the time Theresa May called her somewhat abortive snap election in 2017, I’d lost the will to live a little bit… and found myself voting against the two major parties because neither of them had anything useful to say. The Conservatives were trying to shore up a weak position to sort out a mess they had created, and Labour, frankly, is ultimately a hard-left protest movement, standing against things rather than having a positive message of their own. Unfortunate really, as my MP seemed to be actually be one of the good ones.
It is wearing to always be against things and never for them, to be continually negative and critical or simply observing those playing the game to win rather than achieving anything useful. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion this is part of the reason that political discourse in the country has reached the base level it has and why we have the representatives we do.
Against this backdrop, it is unsurprising many people find themselves politically homeless, despairing of those who are supposed to govern us for the common good. Finding themselves continually complaining about how politicians are dishonest, lazy, self-serving, incompetent and never get anything done. At this point, I will say it is probably a little unreasonable to level this accusation at all the individuals in public life as there are always exceptions to the rule. But I’m telling you how I feel; I’m not saying it’s fair.
Luckily, despite all this, I found Renew.
A positive message appeared on my Twitter feed one day, about some people who wanted things to change. Normal people who had just had enough. I looked into it. I went to a couple of meetings and listened to what they had to say. And for the first time, I thought here is something I can support...
By Tim Fisher
Channel 4 News filmed our first National Assembly, where we came of age one year on from our birth. It was brilliant to see so many candidates and supporters in attendance.
Annabel Mullin, our leader, set out our mission and vision;
"We will make a good life the new normal. With public services rejuvenated, productivity invigorated and our political system reformed, we can reboot our country. Remember: we are not living through an era of change. We’re living through a change of era. Real change only comes when courageous individuals come together and demand it."
Saturday 24th November, 2018: The only credible new party to enter British politics, Renew UK, held its inaugural National Assembly at Westminster Central Hall. This was the first time Renew UK’s initial 115 candidates, along with hundreds of members and supporters, got together in one place. Their mission: to Reject the Lies, Reform Politics and Reboot Britain.
It’s clear that the current two-party system is burnt out, failing voters and leaving them politically homeless. It is time to renew Westminster with fresh faces from outside politics.
The party’s leadership team of Annabel Mullin, James Torrance and James Clarke delivered speeches setting out Renew UK’s values: fairness, enterprise, aspiration and equality. The leaders delivered a message of hope, putting pragmatic solutions above ideology.
Leader Annabel Mullin said:
“Renew UK was created to challenge complacency at the heart of British politics, and today’s Assembly shows that we are doing just that. Politicians across the world have had no problem telling their citizens lies to protect their own interests. That changes now.”
Renew UK’s ‘Policy Blueprint’ - viewable on the party’s website - follows on from their 2018 nationwide ‘Listen to Britain Tour’ and represents the start of the conversation to find answers to the country’s most pressing social problems. The document outlines how Renew UK intends to deliver a new politics fit for the 21st century.
The Assembly was a great success, with candidates ins[ired and energised at the prospect of representing their communities in parliament. The hard graft of street campaigning has paid off and this new force stands ready to challenge incumbents in seats all across the country.
This event sent a clear warning signal to the UK’s complacent institutional parties that their seats are not safe. Composed of an array of people from across society, Renew UK is ready to provide a radical alternative to the old ways.
Renew UK: a party of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, creating the change that matters.
“Only divorce or death is more stressful,” is the unhelpful advice you often get when you’re moving home. This is understandable given the hassle involved: dealing with oleaginous estate agents, the mountains of cardboard boxes, and the numerous (and expensive) pitfalls of conveyancing. Then there’s the financial risk and anxiety - property is often a family’s single biggest asset. Most of us simply can’t afford for it to go wrong.
But it’s probably not the practical aspects of upping sticks that makes it so stressful. It’s the emotional part that’s the wrench. As the cliché goes, a house is not just a house; it’s a home - the seat of our emotional lives: the place we’ve loved, and played, and argued, and hung our artwork, and marked the door jam with pencil lines as the kids grew taller. It’s also where most of us get inculcated with our politics. It’s sermons over the dinner table. It’s arguments in front of the TV. Indeed moving home and changing party are parallel experiences. It’s something most of us keep to a minimum because we can’t bare to cut the emotional ties, or deal with the question it raises about who we are and where we come from.
But as someone who’s recently moved house and changed party at the same time, I wonder whether we’ve in fact got ‘moving home’ all wrong. Seen the right way, both moving home and changing party is actually a joy, not a trauma. In my new home, I’ve met the neighbours, explored the coffee shops, attended a meeting of the gardening society, a group of people intent on cheering up the area by planting the sad corners the council has abandoned. Every day is a mini adventure that confirms I made the right choice. It’s made me see that I had lingered in my old home way too long after it had ceased to meet my needs.
And my brief time with Renew has been a similar experience. I’ve met new people full of energy and commitment to building a better country. It’s made me see just how outmoded my old party is, and how unfit for purpose our political system is. It’s like moving into a very good new-build and bringing with you only the furniture you love — embracing innovative policy ideas that are novel expressions of long-held values.
Most fun of all has been the way my new politics now disarms ‘headbangers’ when I meet them at parties. At first, they try to discern whether Renew is really made up of closet Tories or Blairites. Once you’ve reassured them it’s actually made up of people from outside politics, they often drop their guard. It’s then easy to point out how wedded they are to dusty, old ideas without them instantly discounting you because you’re ‘red’, ‘blue’, or ‘yellow’. The conversation becomes constructive, rather than a ding-dong of the deaf.
So maybe it’s time to bust the myth that moving home is monumentally stressful. I’ve done a little research and found that there is even some proof to back my case. According to the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, which surveys the stressfulness of 43 life events every year since it was developed by psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe in 1967, ‘moving home’ doesn’t feature on the list at all. The closest to it is ‘a change in living conditions for the worse’ at 28. The gain seems to put the pain to bed.
It seems the time is right to reboot our ideas about changing party. If anything, moving political home is a chance to chuck out the ideological chintz, spruce up your ideas, and embark on a life-affirming adventure full of new prospects and friends.
And what could be a better new address than a new party with the instant ‘curb appeal’ of Renew?
Knock on the door and come in.
By Ed Woodcock
OK, I admit it. I voted ‘LEAVE’. And now I’ve joined Renew - a party committed to staying in the E.U., if possible through a second referendum.
So why did I do it? Simply because I am profoundly, desperately disappointed by the mess this Conservative government has made of the negotiations.
I voted ‘Leave’, after a great deal of thought, because I disliked the movement of the European Union towards greater political union. I had been in Brussels the year before and saw a large banner decorating the E.U. Headquarters which said: ‘#TEAM JUNCKER’. I had no desire to be part of ‘Team Juncker’.
Yet not only has Theresa May failed to create a deal that unites the country; the current Withdrawal Agreement contains the fatal flaw of placing an E.U. veto on the U.K. being able to withdraw from a temporary - temporary - customs union. What a mess!
Angry at the bungling Conservatives and impatient with the totally impractical solutions of the Labour Party - where can anyone who cares for this country place their support? Surely the Liberal Democrats could offer me a home? The Liberal Who, I hear you say?
I realised a new solution was needed. I have been here before. In 1981 I was a founding member of the Council for Social Democracy, campaigning for a new start in British politics. Now, in 2018, I believe the country needs this new start again. People are fed up, disillusioned and dispirited. Faith in the existing parties is vanishing fast and, in the vacuum, voters are moving to the extremes.
It’s all in the name: Renew. It’s time to offer that new start. That’s why I joined. No other reason. Just – to RENEW.
by Richard Langridge
"As a police officer we used to allow homeless individuals to sleep in the cells because it gave them a roof over their head. The act was good, the fact that it happened was an indictment on society. We all benefit if those who are vulnerable are supported and can thrive. We need new approaches to tackle the root causes of homelessness."
- Annabel Mullin, Renew Party Leader
Homelessness in the UK
- In 2017-18, 7,500 people slept rough on the streets of London. 
- 57,7303 homeless people were owed housing by councils in England in 2015-16.
- Crisis estimates that there are approximately 3.52m homeless adults currently ‘concealed’ in other households in the UK. 
- In 2017, there were around 4,751 people sleeping rough across England per night in 2017 - a 15% increase compared to the previous year, and more than double the amount in 2010. 
- The number of homeless people dying on the streets or in temporary accommodation in the UK has more than doubled over the past five years to more than one per week.
- The average life expectancy of those sleeping rough is just 43. 
The charity Crisis cites those leaving the army, prison, care or fleeing violent relationships as especially vulnerable to homelessness. Relationship breakdown and substance abuse are important contributing factors.  Homelessness carries both physical and mental health risks, including respiratory conditions, depression, anxiety, injury and excess winter mortality. 
As numbers of homeless in the UK continue to rise, it is increasingly important to look beyond personal circumstances and turn to wider government policy as a reason for homelessness. Social democratic policy during the 20th century led to a clear reduction in poverty and income inequality, and a subsequent drop in numbers of homeless. This number rose sharply under Thatcher’s neoliberal welfare retrenchment.  There is an undeniable correlation between homelessness and a lack of investment in welfarism - indeed, numbers of homeless in the UK have soared since the introduction of austerity by around 134%.  According to the BMJ, spiralling homelessness is a product of welfare reform and the housing market, which are responsible for many families losing their privately rented housing. Rising housing costs combined with a reduced availability of affordable and social housing and reduced housing support benefit to vulnerable people (cut by 59% in real terms since 2010). 
As homelessness has continued to rise in the UK, it has fallen by 35% in Finland over the same time period. This comes after the Finnish government rolled out their pilot ‘housing first’ scheme, which provides homes for the homeless on an unconditional basis. This differs from the UK system under which homes are only provided on the basis of engaging with social and treatment services. The evidence from Finland, as well as other similar schemes around the world, is remarkable - a housing first approach not only reduces homelessness but improves engagement in treatment services and produces an addiction recovery rate similar to that of a ‘treatment first’ approach. Further still, the scheme has resulted in overall government savings as the use of emergency health services, police and criminal justice systems have fallen. 
In August 2018, the UK government revealed plans for an ‘extra £100m’ to be invested into solving the problem of homelessness and rough sleeping. However, it was quickly revealed that half of this has already been committed and the other half was money set to be re-prioritised from other existing budgets. Of the money allocated, around £30m will be spent on treatment for mental health issues and substance abuse among the homeless population, including training for staff on how to treat those affected by the synthetic drug Spice. £50m will be put towards building homes outside London for those ready to move on from refuges or hostels.  The new strategy also acknowledges the added barriers faced by migrants when trying to access existing support networks and sets out to provide funding for localities working with non-UK nationals, and create a rough sleeping support team mandated to help resolve the immigration status of homeless migrants. 
Though arguably a step in the right direction, the policy has been criticised for its ‘lack of urgency’, and its failure to address the root causes of homelessness. The government has promised to conduct a wider review of relevant legislation, as well as a study to assess the impacts of government legislation on all forms of homelessness, including welfare and housing policy. However, experts argue that these measures will not go far enough; in order to tackle the worst forms of homelessness government strategy must focus on significantly increasing the supply of social housing, and ensuring that the real cost of renting is covered by the housing system. 
A report by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee suggests that housing benefit claimants should have the option to paying rent directly to landlords to reduce their debt vulnerability and incentivise landlords to rent to those at risk of becoming homeless. Those who have lost their jobs should be given a grace period of one or two months before losing the housing element of universal credit. The annual cap on benefit payments to one family of £20,000 (and £23,000 in London) could worsen the problem.