General election will probably be announced shortly?

I realise that a general election will probably be announced shortly, but the Conservative party’s recent, crude propaganda is really galling. It is treating the electorate of Torridge and North Devon as if we are all simple minded, and suffering from collective amnesia.

Geoffrey Cox MP is quoted as saying: “Peter Heaton-Jones has been working flat out with my help to get a new hospital built in Barnstaple in the next ten years.”

Flat-out usually suggests an all-out effort to secure an outcome to the exclusion of other work.

Do they both think we have all forgotten about the closure of our cottage hospitals and other health care facilities, just at a time when the population of the area has been expanding rapidly?

And now, surprise surprise, according to Geoffrey Cox, no less than Boris Johnson is keen to see Appledore shipyard re-opened.

Nothing like an election to get the magic money tree producing a bumper crop.

And that’s just in our area.

The conservatives are also promising 20,000 more policemen (having cut a similar number), a £10+ an hour living wage in five years (which was already in the pipe line), billions more to be spent on education, and in order to keep us at the very top of the prisoner incarceration table – longer prison sentences so that younger felons can learn more sophisticated way’s of getting away with breaking the law.

The only promises missing, which really disappointed me, was a policy to eradicate sin by the end of the next parliament, and a postcard to all electors wishing them a Happy Brexit.

Boris Johnson’s baa-ing flock.

If ‘this parliament is dead’ as our MP, the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox proclaimed last Wednesday, it certainly didn’t seem like it from the rowdy debate which followed his Conservative Government’s defeat in the UK Supreme Court.

The crux of the court’s decision was whether or not we as voters continue to be represented by an elected parliament or by a CEO and his chosen executives. Boris Johnson’s baa-ing flock, however much they desire brexit, should challenge themselves with this vital question.

What I find so worrying, is that increasing numbers of people seem to be opting for the latter, and are prepared to seemingly obey any directive their leader hands down to them. This, as we know from history, is how democracy morphs into tyranny.

Meanwhile, the sea levels are rising, the forests are burning, the weather getting more extreme and insect, bird, fish, animal and plant life are in steep decline. But hey! lets ignore this wholesale destruction of nature, pretend we are not reliant on her, and get back to watching Downton Abbey and Love Island while trusting Boris and his fellow world leaders to sort it all out for us: after all, we are only the ignorant electorate.

Yours sincerely.
Jeremy Bell

The world is a very different place today from the 1950’s

At the very time when the terrible effects of climate change – rising sea levels, extreme weather and mass animal and plant extinction are accelerating rapidly, there are millions of people here in the UK and throughout the world who are in mental retreat i.e. they believe their own small nation can prosper on its own while still maintaining influence in the American and EU trading blocks and other International Organisations.

The world is a very different place today from the 1950’s. We now live in a global village of instant communication and supply chains, dominated by transnational corporations such as the International Banking Industry, Oil Cartels, Big Pharma, Amazon, Google etc let alone anonymous private equity owned companies and vulture funds – all of which ‘command the tillers’ of every nation on earth, and which have no patriotism and pay little tax.

After hundreds of years of bloody inter-tribal conflict in Europe which culminated in 2 World Wars, the nations of Europe , led by France and Germany formed the European Economic Community in an attempt to make sure such carnage could never happen again. None other than Winston Churchill was an early advocate.

The EU is now the largest trading bloc in the world, and for all its faults, has huge influence in creating policies that may be able to bring pressure to bear  on how the rest of the world responds to the global climate emergency.

The whole Brexit debacle is nothing compared to what every single one of us is being forced to face. Our young people can sense it, and want action NOW . How are we older ones responding?

If we refuse to face the fact that we are endangering the lives of our own children by choosing not to listen to their fears of global devastation and consequent social breakdown, what sort of small minded selfish people are we?

We all need to wake up and face up, otherwise we face a frightening future of fascism and fundamentalism on a ruined planet.    

Yours sincerely.
Jeremy Bell

Racism

Imagine you were facing two or three drunken thugs who were threatening you and your wife. There are two other people nearby – you know one of them, a week, cowardly, thieving white guy, and a solid Muslim black man who plays in a local football team. Who would you call on to help you? It’s a no brainer .

Yet, in these Brexit, increasingly nationalistic times, we are witnessing a rise in racist hate crime and insult, particularly on social media, where anonymous ‘brave’ trolls vilify anyone not deemed to be British.

Anyone with any understanding of their own genealogy will know that we British are all mongrels with bits of Italian, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Jewish, Polish, Asian and African ancestry etc.

And anyone with any understanding of their own history will know that we would have lost the 1st World War were it not for the 1.5 million Asian and African troops – let alone the vast numbers of ‘foreigners’ who came to our aid in the 2nd World War.

Now whatever our colour, race or religion, we are facing a climate emergency – and it is an emergency. Yet some are still arguing over what colour the deckchairs should be painted, and whether the white ones should be on the upper deck!

The blood flowing in all our veins is the same colour. It’s not just an inhabitable planet that is at stake – it’s whether it will be inhabited by human (e) beings.        

 

Yours sincerely.
Jeremy Bell

Making connections.

So, onward to the ‘sunlit uplands and a new Golden Age for Britain’ – to quote our new prime minister. What will it look like?.

Well, we know Boris can dream of bridges as he’s already floated the idea of one connecting Northern Ireland and Scotland, and even one connecting England and France – just when we are cutting our ties to the rest of the continent! Perhaps he will resurrect the idea of a more modest garden bridge across the Thames; after all, we tax payers have already paid £47 million to designers and consultants for that proposal.

Talking of making connections, will he be laying down in front of the bulldozers to prevent the new runway at Heathrow being built, or will he now come out in favour of it? Will he continue with HS2 (current estimated costs of £50 billion plus) which will cut 20 minutes off the journey time from London to Birmingham?

Will he spend further billions helping subsidise the building of new nuclear power stations? Being and optimist, I am sure he will be able to overcome the problems of their faulty designs, and prevent rising sea levels inundating them thus, gifting us our very own British Fukushima.

And surely he will find a little more money to subsidise some more food banks? But, silly me, maybe we won’t need them any more, once we become vassals of American corporate government who will insist on supplying us with cheap, chlorinated chicken and genetically modified food.

The point is, if we are serious about building a more economically richer and happier Britain, we must all work harder, become more productive to increase GDP – otherwise we might slip back to those grim times that our unhappy parents and grandparents had to endure when GDP was much lower.

But, hey! when we are all linked up to the latest 5G broadband Boris is going to roll out across the country, we will finally all be happily connected in this new Golden Age, and loneliness and isolation will disappear.

President Clinton got it wrong when he said ‘it’s the economy stupid’. No – ‘It’s the environment and our relationship to it – stupid’.

Yours sincerely.
Jeremy Bell

Dear Dean Greener.

We met on the cathedral green last Friday morning. (I was the person dressed in sackcloth with the display board, and two sculptures.)

My feelings regarding that brief meeting were firstly shock, then anger, and afterwards, a deep sadness; you didn’t even bother to look at the display boards or contemplate the meaning of the sculptures.

Unlike your clerical colleagues at St Paul’s Cathedral, who understood that the people gathered there were, like Jesus Himself, decrying the rule and enslavement of Mammon, and its effects on our relationships and our one and only planet,  your only concern was the defence, and ordering of your cathedral green.

The two friends accompanying me were dismayed, disappointed and disgusted. Neither of them are committed Christians, but one in particular had grown to admire the stance of the church after the St Pauls gathering – as indeed did many of the people protesting there.

You appear to have no practical theology of creation,  and thus of the real meaning of incarnation. If you had, you would feel the absolute urgency of the need to awaken people to the devastating effects of climate change, which is rapidly bringing an end to civilization as we know it.

If the church does not engage with this eschatology. It will leave the stage to fundamentalists and fascists, and will have failed in its mission.

 

Yours sincerely.

Would you continue to listen to me if?

Supposing I were to advocate the use of a form of energy that would contribute approx 30% of the UK’s electrical generation – but it would cost about 3 times more than other types of energy (research and development, building and running costs etc) – would you continue to listen to me?

Further, if I said that the power stations producing this energy should be constructed on the coasts of Britain where they would be at risk of being inundated by tidal surges at some point, would only operate for about 25 years, and would cost about 130 billion pounds to decommission, and I had little or no idea of what to do with the radioactive waste they produced, which would need to be stored safely for thousands of years – I think you might shake your head and walk away.

Consider the history of Britain since Stonehenge was constructed about 4400 years ago. Since that time these Islands have known tribal warfare, conquest by Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans etc, attempted invasions by French, Spanish and Germans, rebellions, civil wars, the Black Death that killed about 1/3 of the population, and in the last 100 years, 2 World Wars in which the country was subjected to widespread bombing.

Is anyone so naive and arrogant to believe that our British Isles will not experience any of the above catastrophes ever again, and that we can somehow escape the effects of climate change, rising sea levels and extreme weather (in 1607, about 2000+ people were killed along the Bristol Channel by a huge storm surge. (If something like this were to happen again, Hinkley Point would become our very own Fukushima, and make the area uninhabitable.)

I make no apologies for this Jeremiad. Please write to the editor and explain why, what I have written can be ignored, or mitigated, because we are now so scientifically sophisticated that we can overcome these problems. Be sure to explain how we can be certain that we will always have the trained scientists and technicians to monitor and make safe these deadly nuclear wastes for at least the next 4400 years.

Jeremy Bell

Encouraged  hundreds more houses.

‘And that will be N. Devon gone
It will linger on in heritage centres
But all that will be left
Will be concrete and tyres’
(After Philip Larkin)

I was astounded to read in the Gazette (27/02) the comments made by N.D.C. leader Des Brailey and Cllr P Watson, the Torridge District Council lead member for development, that their councils had encouraged  hundreds more houses to be built in Northern Devon than the numbers actually required by the conservative government ! They, and their conservative colleagues, are clearly not living on the same planet as their constituents.

So once again, lets spell out the implications of this for us all, and for our unique environment

  1. More houses = more people = more cars = more pressure on diminishing health and social services = more discharging of sewerage into Bideford Bay (in 2008 S. West water said “There was insufficient capacity in the public sewerage network”) = more traffic congestion (widening the N. Devon link road only speeds increasing traffic from one pinch-point to the next) = more deadly pollution.

Only a tiny proportion of these houses have been designated for young families who actually live in the area, and who cannot afford to put down an average deposit of £38,000!

  1. More houses, more people, more cars = more pressure on the North Devon Biosphere (one of only approx 70 UN designated sites in the world) and on our Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and on our Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Cllrs Brailey and Watson may be happy to grant planning permission to developers on flood plains in eg Braunton and Westward Ho!, but clearly they are in denial about the rapidity of climate change, extreme weather and rising sea levels. (take a walk around Northam Burrows).

There are too many local councilors who seem unable to take on board the above.  They continue to believe that there are no limits to growth, and in the myth of ever increasing production and consumption on a finite planet.

A word to the young people of our area – some of us older ones are still fighting for your future and the fertility of the common ground of our only planet.

See website www.torridgecommonground.org.uk

Jeremy Bell

Loneliness and social media

In rural areas of the developing world, despite appalling poverty, the one thing you seldom encounter is loneliness and mental isolation-the very things that effect so many people, particularly the young, in the UK today – despite living in one of the richest nations in the world.

I would argue, that until the advent of computers, smartphone’s etc, most communication between people and their environment was not through the medium of technology- it was direct.

Consider – until sometime after the war, if you were travelling on a bus or train, it was quite normal to chat to people who you had never met, ask them where they were going etc. Hitchhiking was also common.

Today, if you were to even catch someone’s eye, if raised momentarily from their smartphone/laptop – many people would regard you as strange, or not possibly threatening.

Young children learn about themselves, others and their environment by direct inter-reaction,  experiencing the sounds and colours of nature, and absorbing the emotions of others. D.H Laurence commenting on this said something like – A child asks- ‘why is the grass green?’ And we begin to prate about chlorophyll; but the child is revelling in the greenness, and cannot understand why we don’t join him in the experience.

We call this the ‘Age Of Communication’ : it is not-it is the ‘Age Of Information Exchange’. Consider the words COMMUNICATION, COMMUNITY, COMMUNION, the last of which is what lovers and poets do best “with sighs too deep for words” You can’t make love by email

Enough of smartphone’s, busy screens
And shadow life T.Vs
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That’s open to receive. (Update of Wordsworth)

Jeremy Bell


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