Monthly Archives: May 2014

Regional campaigners challenge European Election candidates

North East CALL TO ACTION (NE-CAP) , the regional global poverty and climate change campaign, sent a set of straightforward questions to candidates for the European Parliament. Replies were received, with sincere thanks, from Green, Labour, LibDem and UKIP candidates.

One agreeable surprise was the strength and extent of support for the
positions championed by the campaign relating to the role of transparency in
international financial dealings – to promote tax justice, so that giant
corporations pay poor country governments the tax that is their due; to
publish what companies pay to governments; and shine a light on the origins
of the debts of poor countries. Perhaps candidates for Europe have more
latitude and can more fully express their convictions than their Westminster
colleagues?

However, David Golding chided Labour for its tepid support for debt audits,
and stated that the reputation of the Liberal Democrat party has been
seriously damaged by the refusal of Vince Cable, the relevant minister, to
institute an audit of debts owed to Britain – a stance which flies in the face of the party’s previous, explicit statement on the matter.

The UKIP candidate stood out by introducing the subject of, and making
clear his opposition to, international aid. He cited examples of poor
practice, but ignored the immense the good it’s doing – in helping to
reduce childhood mortality since 1990 by nearly a half, for example.

One question related to climate change and quoted Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, a leading scientist, stating that “the clear message of
the science” is “the need for substantial emission reductions”.
The Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates all made it clear that
they accepted this message and would work for its fulfilment.

Jonathan Arnott, the lead UKIP candidate, speaking in a personal capacity,
was unable to endorse this position, as would be expected given the climate
scepticism of his party. For NE-CAP, David Golding says: “Unhappily, UKIP
seems to be taking the equivalent of the ‘Thabo Mbeki option’ in relation to
climate change. The former president of South Africa thought he knew better
than all the world’s medical experts and refused to believe that AIDS is
caused by a virus, HIV. His failure to make treatment available resulted in
the needless deaths of over 300,000 people. Similarly, I believe that UKIP
has forfeited the right to occupy any position of power or influence by its
obdurate rejection of the science of climate change, a far more serious
issue.” He commends to anyone not ‘wilfully blind’ the recent joint
publication on climate change by the Royal Society and US National Academy of Sciences, entitled “Climate Change: Evidence and Causes”.

The unedited text of the responses by the candidates, and a ‘Commentary’ on them by David Golding, have been sent to NE-CAP supporters throughout the region, who have been encouraged to get out and vote! [They can be accessed at www.ne-calltoaction.org.uk/blog/?p=115]

Contact: David W. Golding CBE PhD DSc DCL

d.w.golding[at]ncl.ac.uk

Associate, Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability, and Honorary Chaplain, Newcastle University;

Development Coordinator, North East CALL TO ACTION on global poverty and climate change.

Notes for Editors:

Questions for Candidates in the European Elections, 2014

CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change is already wreaking havoc in the poorest countries and,
according to Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of Working Party III
(“Mitigation of Climate Change”) of the IPCC,

“Climate policies in line with the two degree Celsius goal need to aim for
substantial emission reductions.This is the clear message of the science.”

Our question: “Do you accept this ‘clear message’, and will support such
‘climate policies’?”

GLOBAL POVERTY & TRANSPARENCY

‘Tax Justice’

Our question: “If elected, will you supporting greater transparency in the
accounts and ownership of multinational companies, so that all governments
can make sure they are receiving the tax they are owed?”

‘Publish What You Pay’

On 12th June 2013, the European Parliament voted in new laws requiring oil,
gas and mining companies to publish what they pay to foreign governments.

Our question: “Will you support the rapid implementation of this
legislation, without any watering down, and will you support the EU in
pressing for the adoption of such laws by other countries?”

‘Audit the Debts’

Our question: “Will you support the impartial audit of debts owed by
developing countries to the EU and its members – just as Norway is already
doing, and as the SNP is promising to do if Scotland becomes independent?”

Posted in What's on | Comments Off on Regional campaigners challenge European Election candidates

European Elections – Candidates’ responses to NE-CAP

NE-CAP sent a set of straightforward ‘Questions for candidates’ to those
standing for election to the European Parliament, hoping that the responses
would help our supporters bear in mind ‘the greatest number, in the greatest
need’ when casting their votes. The candidates’ unedited responses are
available to read.

COMMENTARY by Dr David Golding CBE, on behalf of NE-CAP, to the responses of candidates. [Note that David is not politically affiliated, but tries to judge policies on their merits.]

CONSERVATIVE PARTY

I have been disappointed to receive no response from Conservative
candidates, despite my sending a reminder in good time.

However, it seems only right that I should at this time make mention of the
extraordinary support given to our ‘Jubilee for Justice’ initiative by Guy
Opperman, Conservative MP for Hexham.

GREEN PARTY

The response is positive, unambiguous and emphatic. You couldn’t put a
needle between their stance on these issues and ours.

LABOUR PARTY

Candidates “broadly agree with each question”, which sounds encouraging! The past record of Labour MEPs on most of these issues is excellent and I have no reason to doubt that new members will continue along those lines.

They seem hesitant about audits for debts and this is disappointing to
NE-CAP, as a founder member of Jubilee Debt Campaign. Quite honestly, I
would have thought that such a procedure would, in principle, have been
‘motherhood and apple pie’ to the Labour Party.

[Audits are hardly ‘rocket science’! They involve scrutiny of debts to
determine which of them are legitimate and they have been carried out, for
example, by Norway and Ecuador.]

LIBERAL DEMOCRAT PARTY

First, we acknowledge what a wonderful MEP we’ve had in Fiona Hall, who
piloted the ‘Publish what you pay’ transparency bill through the European
Parliament – our great success story last year – and for other reasons!
NE-CAP wishes her well in her post-MEP life.

The LibDems have an exemplary record in their response to climate change, as their (lengthy!) response shows. Similarly, we have no reason to doubt the strength and sincerity of the new candidates in their commitment to tax
justice and ‘publish what you pay’.

Unhappily, the party has seriously damaged its reputation with us with the
refusal of Vince Cable, the relevant minister, to institute an audit of
debts owed to Britain – a distressing stance which flies in the face of the
party’s previous, explicit statement on the matter. Is this the reason for
the ambiguity of Angelika’s statement in this connection? She says they
support the impartial audit of debts, but then cites a policy position on
aid transparency, which is rather different. [We have no reason to believe
that Mr Cable’s decision has been forced on him by his coalition partners.]

If the party wishes to restore its reputation for integrity, it should at
the very least include a commitment to debt audits in its next election
manifesto, as the SNP has done.

UNITED KINGDOM INDEPENDENCE PARTY (UKIP)

Oh help, where shall I start?!

Perhaps by acknowledging the courtesy and good will of Jonathan Arnott, UKIP North East’s lead candidate. Despite his party’s “standard policy… not to complete surveys”, he put in a lot of effort, at a time when he must be
under great pressure of work, to give us a detailed personal statement.

Unhappily, UKIP seems to be taking the equivalent of the ‘Thabo Mbeki
option’ in relation to climate change. The former president of South Africa
thought he knew better than all the world’s medical authorities and refused
to believe that AIDS is caused by a virus, HIV. His failure to make
treatment available resulted in the needless deaths of over 300,000 people –
a crime for which he has never been held to account.

Similarly, I believe that UKIP has forfeited the right to occupy any
position of power or influence by its obdurate rejection of the science of
climate change, a far more serious issue. “Never have we faced a graver
threat”, stated Lord Robert May, as President of the Royal Society; “Only a
willful blindness worse than any proverbial ostrich’s head in the sand can
ignore the facts of environmental destruction. To be unconcerned about it is
to be either desperately ignorant or irresponsibly callous”, says the
theologian, Dr Chris Wright.

I commend to anyone not ‘willfully blind’ the recent joint publication on
climate change of the Royal Society and US National Academy of Sciences,
entitled “Climate Change: Evidence and Causes”.

As for details, briefly:

China: of course we can’t solve this problem by ourselves, but having
pioneered the industrial, fossil-fuelled, Industrial Revolution, we can and
should give a lead. And remember, we are still producing far more carbon
dioxide per head than the Chinese.

Wind turbines: if it’s calm in one place, it’s often blowing a gale
somewhere else! And if it isn’t, solar panels may be actively generating! In
the future, we hope biomass, tidal and wave power will contribute. Yes, we
will continue to need gas as a back-up in the short term, but this in no way
undermines the contribution of wind energy to reduce pollution as much as
possible.

Cost: As Chris Hulne has said, “Onshore wind is one of the two great
renewable successes – the other being solar panels – where the EU’s support
has caused dramatic falls in cost. It is a triumphant example of successful
industrial strategy creating cheap alternatives to fossil fuels. The
government. believes this will be the only renewable technology that may be
cheaper than natural gas in 2020.” [Google, “The Conservatives’ onshore wind sums are all at sea”] And nuclear power, which Mr Arnott favours, is also very expensive.

Aid: As usual, the ‘lies’ they tell are the truths about which they remain
silent! For example, in 2012, approximately 6.6 million children worldwide –
18,000 children per day – died before reaching their fifth birthday, but
this is roughly half the number of under-fives who died in 1990, when 12.6
million children died. Nothing to compare with this has ever happened in
human history!

The aid system is not ‘fundamentally broken’, but it is badly flawed, and Mr
Arnott is right to highlight the importance of trade. Remember, our platform
for ‘Make Poverty History’ in 2005 was “trade justice, drop the debt, and
more and better aid” – note the priority. Unhappily, our leaders have
completely failed to fulfil their promises on the first of these. Nevertheless, aid is making a valuable contribution in the fight against
global poverty.

Pesticides and malaria: I think the point being made here has been refuted
by the science historian, Professor Naomi Oreskes, in “Merchants of Doubt”
(Bloomsbury, 2010) – compulsory reading for anyone wanting to know how we got into our present mess!

Contact David Golding: david.golding[at]ncl.ac.uk

Posted in What's on | Comments Off on European Elections – Candidates’ responses to NE-CAP

Questions for Candidates in the European Elections 2014

April 2014

Dear Candidates,

I write on behalf of North East CALL TO ACTION, to our knowledge the only region-wide grouping of its kind in the UK, to ask whether you would be so kind as to outline your stance on global poverty and climate change, by answering the questions listed below.

It is our hope that your response will be such that we can make them known to our many supporters, so that they can include such considerations when deciding how to vote. We intend to urge them to exercise their democratic right in this election.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for being willing to stand in the election!

With best wishes,

Dr David Golding CBE (sgd)
david.golding[at]ncl.ac.uk
Development Coordinator, North East CALL TO ACTION

 Questions for Candidates in the European Elections, 2014

 CLIMATE CHANGE

 Climate change is already wreaking havoc in the poorest countries and, according to Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of Working Party III (“Mitigation of Climate Change”) of the IPCC,

“Climate policies in line with the two degree Celsius goal need to aim for substantial emission reductions…This is the clear message of the science.”

 Our question: “Do you accept this ‘clear message’, and will support such ‘climate policies’?”

GLOBAL POVERTY & TRANSPARENCY

 ‘Tax Justice’

Our question: “If elected, will you supporting greater transparency in the accounts and ownership of multinational companies, so that all governments can make sure they are receiving the tax they are owed?”

‘Publish What You Pay’

On 12th June 2013, the European Parliament voted in new laws requiring oil, gas and mining companies to publish what they pay to foreign governments.

Our question: “Will you support the rapid implementation of this legislation, without any watering down, and will you support the EU in pressing for the adoption of such laws by other countries?”

‘Audit the Debts’

Our question: “Will you support the impartial audit of debts owed by developing countries to the EU and its members – just as Norway is already doing, and as the SNP is promising to do if Scotland becomes independent?”

Notes

Climate Change: Representatives of all the world’s governments “met in Berlin from 7th-12th April 2014. They approved the ‘Summary for Policymakers’ of Working Group III of the IPCC… and accepted the underlying scientific assessment”. [Source, www.mitigation2014.org]

Tax Justice: According to Angel Gurrier, Secretary General of the OECD, “Developing countries are estimated to lose to tax havens almost three times what they get from developed countries in aid. If taxes on assets hidden by tax dodgers were collected, billions of dollars could become available for financing development” (27th November, 2008).

Publish What You Pay: The developing world lost nearly $1 trillion due to illicit financial flows in 2011. These capital outflows stem from crime, tax evasion and other illicit activity. [Source: Global Financial Integrity Report (December 2013)]  It’s hard to tell where Africa’s wealth goes when there’s a lack of accountability and public scrutiny – and corruption is shrouded in secrecy. That’s why the best way of tackling it is to maximise transparency.” (Bishop Munga, Christian Council of Tanzania)

Audit the Debts: The British public responded with great generosity to the devastation in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan, donating over £50 million. Yet the shocking truth is that the country’s massive debt burden means that twice this amount leaves the country each and every week to pay off debts – many inherited from the corrupt dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1980s, who ruled by martial law. This is only one example of the need for fair and transparent audits, by internationally recognised criteria, to determine whether debts are legitimate and payable.

Download pdf version of this text here: EuropeanElec2014_Lettertocandidates

Posted in What's on | Comments Off on Questions for Candidates in the European Elections 2014