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If you think all the big political parties are the same - you're right! The bosses have got three parties - isn't it about time we had one of our own?


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The old ways won't work

Weather of Mass Destruction needs a new political force to oppose it

On Saturday December 8th 2007, hundreds of thousands - perhaps millions - will demonstrate around the world demanding urgent action to stop the Weather of Mass Destruction which climate change is already bringing. 

Representatives from 169 countries, meeting at the UN summit in Indonesia, are trying to find a consensus to curb the escalation of greenhouse gases causing global warming. Many, however, will have as a prime aim to quietly preserve the interests of the rich and powerful countries, and the rich and powerful companies who stand in the shadows behind them. 

They won't be successful in finding a way of avoiding climate change.  Plans for a Kyoto mark II are too little, too late.

Old Data

Part of the reason for that is the determination of governments to seek solutions only within free-market economics, and another part of the reason is that major reports, such as those by the United Nations IPCC, produce a consensus based on old data.

For example, a new report within the last week, produced by the British Antarctic Survey and the University of East Anglia, has described the weakening of the Earth's ability to cope with greenhouse gases, with carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere having risen since 2000 35% faster than expected.  Much of that growth is due to the declining natural power of the land and seas to soak up industrial pollution in both the southern and northern hemispheres.  This jump in atmospheric CO2 was unexpected, and exceeds the predictions made in IPCC reports.

Another new report, produced by universities and research centres in America, found that the area on the globe described as tropical has moved, over the last 25 years, further north and south by about 2.5° of latitude, or about 172 miles in total in both directions.  That is greater than the previously predicted shift of 2° which wasn't expected until 2100 even under the "extreme scenario" envisaged by the IPCC.  An increase in the width of the tropics could bring an increase in the area affected by tropical storms, and also the area of subtropical dry belts reducing water supplies over vast areas of the Mediterranean, the southwestern United States, Northern Mexico, Southern Australia, Southern Africa and parts of South America.

Climate change is clearly already with us.  Temperatures are increasing, polar ice caps are melting, glaciers are retreating, sea levels are rising, biodiversity is being lost, food production is being threatened, water scarcity is spreading and extreme weather -- storms, floods, droughts and heat waves – is occurring more frequently.  There is no doubt it's going to cost a lot of money to put it right -- but who's going to pay?

Old Politics

All three main parties in Britain - Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrats - rely on essentially the same free-market solutions, where working people pay either through cuts in living standards or increases in so-called 'green taxes' .  Such policies are designed to insulate their corporate friends from the consequences of big businesses’ general disdain for anything which gets between it and its profits.  But why should we be surprised at that?  There is no fundamental disagreement over any main policy between the three big parties.  In fact it doesn't seem like we really have three separate parties in this country any more, it's more like one big party - artificially split three ways at election times to give the synthetic impression of difference.

Whilst demonstrations can be hugely symbolic, and demands on the government are important ways of mobilising public opinion, we can't rely on a New Labour government, which as recent days have so graphically shown us, is welded to its big business paymasters.  A new independent mass party of working people is needed to present a genuine alternative to the three parties of big business.  Protest needs to be directed to political change.

And whilst protests such as today are essential, protests alone cannot win with the breadth and speed we need.  Big as today's protest is, the government managed to ignore 2 million people demonstrating in February 2003 in London against the start of the Iraq war.  Demonstrations alone can be ignored because Labour knows that, at the moment, they can get away with almost anything because at election time working people have nowhere else to go.  There is, as yet, no national, viable, Left alternative that has the authority to challenge the big 3 parties, especially at election time.

New Politics to fight Climate Change

Working people, through their trade unions, need a strong alliance with anti-war, environmental, anti capitalist groups, especially the youth.  But that alliance should not just be limited to releasing balloons, organising cycling days or linking arms round a power station. 

Drax, in North Yorkshire, is the largest coal-fired power station in Britain and the biggest single source of global warming gasses in Europe.  In 2005 Drax made £239 million profit.  It cut its CO2 output by half a million tons by burning biomass fuel.  In 2006 it abandoned any pretence to environmentalism and virtually abandoned the biomass strategy "because there was insufficient (government) financial incentives to do so".  Its 2006 profits were £639 million and it's CO2 emissions rose by 1.7 million tons.  In those 2 years the company paid its shareholders dividends of £500 million.

Big companies like the owners of Drax are in business to maximise profits for their shareholders.  That will continue until Drax is taken out of private hands and, alongside all other forms of energy generation, is renationalised -- taken back into public ownership.  So that real public priorities, a clean and safe way of producing energy, can be rationally planned.

No major party stands for the renationalisation of energy, or transport, or the public ownership of the resources necessary for the building of low carbon producing houses -- that party has yet to be built.  Without the ability to direct the country's resources to tackle the urgent problems of climate change, solutions won't come from private industry.

The science is clear.  The threats are more frequent and intense.  The time for a major shift away from fossil fuels is now.  But protest without politics is like one hand being tied behind our backs.  The Establishment has three parties now at its beck and call - isn't it time working people had one of their own?

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