With Christmas and New Year long gone, the campaigning season is well under way. This has been a busy and varied week:
On Tuesday, I attended the latest in a series of Manchester Climate Forum events. This covered both the global (Dr. Victoria Johnson described her experiences at the Poznan Climate Change talks late last year) and the local (current Manchester City Council Executive member for the Environment Richard Cowell giving his defence of the City Council's 'Call to Action' (more on this later)), to a bemused and disappointed audience.
Wind forward a day and the focus shifts to the Manchester University student sit-in on Gaza, one of a whole series of sit-ins by students around the country. I have to say this is music to my ears, as someone who remembers the summer of 68; for too long most students have come across as Thatcher's children, without a radical bone in their body. Maybe now the economy has collapsed, they have nothing to lose. As well as support for Gaza students are calling for disinvestment from the arms trade and Manchester Green Party have written to the Vice-Chancellor expressing our support for the students (letter here). However The Uni have a lot of interests connected with armaments and are proving more stubborn than many universities.
On to Thursday and a meeting of Manchester Green Party was treated to a summary of a short book written by local member Michael Prior ('Beyond Feelbad Britain' about the current financial crisis and possible solutions. More on this topic in a future blog I suspect.
Friday saw a return to Palestinian matters, as the convoy for Gaza drives through the streets of Manchester in the late afternoon, near the start of its long journey through Europe and North Africa. I and many others cheer it on its way as it passes the BBC.
Saturday saw the launch of a response to the City Council's vacuous 'Call to Action'. This is a 'Call to Real Action' by a collection of green activists (a number of whom I am proud to say are Green Party members), who are determined to produce an alternative set of proposals for the City which far exceed those of the City Council and their multi-thousand pound consultants from The South who go by the name of 'Beyond Green'. A lively and focused meeting promises much over the coming weeks. Website launched - here
Finally today (Sunday) - A fitting climax to the last few days in the shape of two hours on the BBC Radio Manchester midday 'What the Papers say' slot with Andy Crane. As someone who never buys a Sunday paper, not even the Observer or Indie on Sunday, my exposure to the horrors of the gutter press live on air gave me some trepidation. Expecting a formal studio I was surprised to see the programme recorded in the foyer of the Lowry Centre with Joe and Jane Public walking by. Two hours passed surprisingly quickly with half the programme taken up with music (including the live and entertaining Louis Barabbas , who stepped in at short notice so I'm giving him a plug). It emphasised the gap between the news as seen by Greens (climate change, war, resource depletion) and that seen by much of the country's population (celebrities, teenage pregnancy etc). It was the first time a Green had been on the show in the politician slot; hopefully given our 8.5 - 9% vote in City Council elections over the last four years it will not be the last.