“No great escape: Tory scales bins and fence to exit climate hustings”

(stock image – not the actual woman!)

Well, at least she turned up! Our Tory candidate is refusing to even attend Sidmouth hustings, preferring to shop in Exmouth and Budleigh!

(not Jupp, stock image)

“It is a common dilemma for any hard-bitten politician faced with a hostile crowd: how best to make a sharp exit to avoid embarrassment?

For one 63-year-old Tory councillor confronted with a less than receptive audience during a climate crisis debate the answer was to clamber over some bins and scale a fence.

Nancy Bikson was a last-minute replacement for Conservative prospective MP Maria Caulfield, who was too “busy” to attend climate hustings for candidates in the key marginal seat of Lewes, East Sussex, at a school on Monday evening.

Explaining that she was afforded little time to prepare for the event organised by local groups, including a branch of Extinction Rebellion, Bikson said she would not be sticking around for questions after making a short speech. She attracted groans from the crowd, with one man heckling her before she even began speaking, asking: “Why don’t you go now?”

Bikson said she cared deeply about the environment and that she “did her bit” but concluded, to further groans: “It’s all about us, there is no such thing as government. Government is just people.”

Though she eventually attracted polite applause, Bikson left the stage after other candidates made speeches and the event was opened to questions from the audience.

However, when she left via the fire escape she found herself outside in a dead end as the school gates wwere locked. Rather than trudged back through the packed hall to get out, she pondered her predicament for up to 45 minutes before opting to climb over the fence.

Bikson’s great escape would have stayed secret were it not for a 13-year-old girl who saw the incident unfold at Priory school.

The teenager, who does not wish to be named, said: “I left about an hour early and about half an hour after she [Bikson] left the stage. I came outside and I was about to cycle off and she was behind the gate next to our school canteen which was locked and said: ‘Excuse me, can you help me?’ She sounded quite desperate. I said the only way back out is through the auditorium and that she said she didn’t want to go back through the auditorium because of everyone.

“She said: ‘They all despise me … and they don’t want me to go back in there.’”

Explaining she felt sorry for the stranded politician, the teenager added: “I went back into the canteen to try and open the door from the inside [allowing her a route of escape] but it was locked. Then I got a caretaker. I said a caretaker is coming but she said: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll just climb over the gate.’ And she got up on the school bins and climbed over the gate. She’d been out there for a while.”

After hearing the tale, the schoolgirl’s mother, who runs a business managing composers, brought the councillor’s ordeal to wider audience, posting on Facebook: “Lewes Tory MP Maria Caulfield failed to show for tonight’s climate hustings. Her last-minute replacement left the hall before the questions, having first explained that she knew nothing about climate or the environment.

“She was spotted by my daughter 45 minutes later still trying to find her way off the premises without having to go back through the hall. She ended up climbing the fence via the bins. Ignominious.”

Biksonapparently admitted her actions later, telling the Evening Standard on Tuesday “It was only because there wasn’t any other way and I didn’t want to disrupt everybody. It was either that or sit outside for a couple of hours.”

But when the Guardian rang to get her version of events she was tight-lipped, replying: “I can neither confirm nor deny, thank you.”

Lewes was previously held by former Liberal Democrat minister Norman Baker for nearly two decades before being won by Brexiter Caufield in 2015. But the Conservatives only have a majority just over 5,000, meaning the constituency, which narrowly voted remain during the EU referendum, is in danger of being won back by the Lib Dems this month.”


“Boris Johnson has threatened Channel 4 over his own absolute moral cowardice”

It seems a trip to Dart’s Farm (where he was today) was more important than the global climate emergency!

“We are too far down the rabbit hole now to even know if a line has been drawn. There are so many lines now it is as if all our little lives have been tapped out and cut up with Michael Gove’s bank card.

So we can only repeat, as a statement of fact, that today was the day when the prime minister began threatening to shut down actual TV channels for the crime of his own complete moral cowardice.

It is impossible to say whether we have already gone this far before. But this is where we are.

Boris Johnson refused to take part in Channel 4’s “leaders debate” on the climate emergency, just as he has refused to be interviewed by the BBC’s Andrew Neil, and also refused even to be interviewed about whether or not he has refused the BBC’s Andrew Neil.

Where his podium should have been, Channel 4 placed a melting ice sculpture. The Conservative party sent Michael Gove in his place.

There is some uncertainty over who refused to allow Michael Gove to take part. Was it Channel 4 themselves? Was it the other party leaders? Given the other party leaders have done interviews with Andrew Neil, and Boris Johnson is refusing, they can hardly be blamed for not being the enablers to Boris Johnson’s utter shamelessness for a second time.

Gove, naturally, has responded by telling Jeremy Corbyn he’s scared. A good time to remember Michael Gove, who is less a human being and more just the Oxford Union accidentally made flesh, also likes to claim that the referendum was all about making the UK more welcoming to immigrants.

Still, the actual grownups over at the Conservative Central Office have responded by launching a formal complaint with Ofcom, and threatening to have Channel 4’s public broadcasting licence revoked.

This is the country we are now.

Who knows, perhaps, once we’ve “taken back control of our own laws”, other people being sanctioned entirely for Boris Johnson’s own failings will be the standard run of things.

“Prime minister, we’ve had one of the mothers on the phone again. Says it’s your daughter’s birthday. You’ve forgotten. Again.”

“Whoops. Righto. What shall we give her? Custodial or will 100 hours’ community service do?”

Arguably, it was going this way three and a half years ago, when Dominic Cummings threatened ITV with legal action over including Nigel Farage in their EU referendum debate show, telling them there would be “consequences”.

There were, inevitably, no consequences for ITV. Dominic Cummings made a tit of himself, but see also proroguing parliament, the Supreme Court case, refusing to send the withdrawal letter – when a tit makes a tit of itself, there are no consequences either. It is already a tit.

By the time of the second advertising break, a puddle had begun to gather on the floor beneath the Boris Johnson ice sculpture. I am reliably informed the Boris Johnson ice sculpture has already prepared court documents to suppress the puddle’s existence.

By virtue of his own non-attendance, Boris Johnson had created quite literally the exact kind of mess he had himself shown incapable of clearing up from the floor of a flooded optician’s just three weeks ago.

So there you have it. Create a mess that you can’t clear up then blame someone else. Whatever else goes wrong, the metaphors can always be relied upon to write themselves.”


Boris Johnson visited East Devon today rather than be at climate change debate

That’s it.

Made poor jokes he’s made everywhere else, mentioned the name of his candidate a couple of times, checked off his keywords, made promises he won’t/can’t/has no intention to keep and left.

End of.

Next stop – repeat.

Owl asked someone what Jupp is like. “Empty vessel,” he said sadly, “empty vessel”!

British capitalism “too extreme” and doesn’t work

“The UK has one of the most extreme forms of capitalism in the world and we urgently need to rethink the role of business in society. That’s according to Prof Colin Mayer, author of a new report on the future of the corporation for the British Academy.

Prof Mayer says that global crises such as the environment and growing inequality are forcing a reassessment of what business is for.

“The corporation has failed to deliver benefit beyond shareholders, to its stakeholders and its wider community,” he said.

“At the moment, how we conceptualise business is, it’s there to make money. But instead, we should think about it as an incredibly powerful tool for solving our problems in the world.”

He said the ownership structure of companies had made the UK one of the worst examples of responsible capitalism.

“The UK has a particularly extreme form of capitalism and ownership,” he said.

“Most ownership in the UK is in the hands of a large number of institutional investors, none of which have a significant controlling shareholding in our largest companies. That is quite unlike virtually any other country in the world, including the United States.”

This heavily dispersed form of ownership means none of the owners is providing a genuinely long-term perspective on how to achieve goals while also making money.”


Johnson has hissy fit – refuses to debate climate change because one participant is a Leader, not an candidate

Johnson has previously refused to appear with Sturgeon – he really IS afraid of her! Sturgeon, although not a candidate IS the person who takes the big decisions in Scotland.

“Boris Johnson is refusing to take part in the first ever election leader’s debate focusing on the climate crisis, with Channel 4 threatening to leave an empty chair if the prime minister does not attend.

The broadcaster said Mr Johnson had yet to respond to a request to attend the hour-long Emergency On Planet Earth debate on Thursday.

It came hours after the UN published a report warning that countries would need to increase their carbon-cutting efforts five fold to avoid climate chaos.

Channel 4 has invited six party leaders to its climate debate, but so far only the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Scottish First Minister National party leader Nicola Sturgeon, the Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson, and the co-leader of the Green party Sian Berry, have agreed to take part.

It is understood that the prime minister is not willing to debate with Ms Sturgeon because she is not a candidate at the election, and it is not clear if a replacement will be sent.”


National Grid prefers to invest profits in USA

Underinvestment in the UK was blamed for recent blackouts …

“National Grid has ploughed a record of almost £2bn into its booming US-based business this year as increasing political pressure raises questions over the multinational’s future in the UK.

The energy network provider spent nearly £1.6bn growing its regulated US business over the first six months of the year, and also invested £200m into its US-based renewables company Geronimo.

Over the same period, National Grid spent less than £650m running the gas and electricity networks in the UK, where policymakers are squeezing energy company profits and proposals to renationalise utilities have won public support.

The London-listed company has built its US presence in recent years amid growing calls for UK utilities to be renationalised. It distributes gas and electricity to businesses and homes in New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

John Pettigrew, National Grid’s chief executive, said the record spending was in response to strong demand from north-eastern US states to transform their energy system to run on renewables. There was also healthy investor appetite for infrastructure projects, he said.

The US business helped drive National Grid’s underlying operating profits to £1.3bn for the first half of the year. In the UK, profits from its electricity networks rose by 5% to £583m, while profits from its gas grid business fell by more than a quarter to £66m. In the US, underlying operating profits rose 16% from the year before to £525m. …”


“Climate Emergency debate with candidates for Tiverton & Honiton constituency, 7 pm 28th November, Honiton Community College”

Climate Emergency debate with candidates for Tiverton & Honiton constituency, 7 pm 28th November, Honiton Community College.

Climate Emergency debate with candidates for Tiverton & Honiton constituency, 7 pm 28th November, Honiton Community College

Maybe not a good idea to build on flood plains …

“Poor management of the rural landscape along with global heating and building on floodplains are the main factors that led to the floods that have engulfed towns in northern England, according to experts.

Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster are among the places flooded, 12 years after they were badly hit when the River Don burst its banks in 2007. Many affected areas, including Meadowhall shopping centre, where customers were stranded overnight, lie within the river’s floodplain – low-lying land next to the river that naturally floods during high flow.

“This is only a problem if you develop floodplains by building houses, businesses and factories on them, which is obviously what we have done over the years, so to some degree it’s a problem of our own making,” said Roy Mosley, the head of conservation and land management at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.

The risk faced by floodplain communities is exacerbated by the management of land upstream of the city. Intensive animal grazing leads to short grass and compacted soil, which is less able to absorb and hold water. There are no longer enough trees and plants to absorb rain and stop it from running straight into the river, Mosley said.”


“Tory MPs five times more likely to vote against climate action”

Neil Parish scored 17%: was present for 12 votes and voted positively in 2

Hugo Swire scored 25%: Swire was present for 12 votes and voted positively in 3

Boris Johnson score 0% (yes, that’s right zero), Jacob Rees-Mogg scored 17%, Jeremy Corbyn 92%, Caroline Lucas 92%, Exeter’s Ben Bradshaw 75%, Jo Swinson 50%, Oliver Letwin 17%.

MORAL OF THIS TALE: If you believe in climate change and want to see something done about it, don’t vote Tory, be wary of Lib Dems and vote Labour or Green (or Independent in East Devon)!

“Conservative MPs are almost five times more likely to vote against climate action than legislators from other parties, a Guardian analysis of 16 indicative parliamentary divisions over the past decade has revealed.

The Tories also registered many more donations, shares, salaries, gifts and tickets to sporting events from fossil fuel companies, petrostates, aviation companies and climate sceptics, according to declarations made in the parliamentary record of MPs’ interests between 2008 and 2019.

The Guardian, in collaboration with the investigative environmental journalism group DeSmog UK, rated MPs from 0% to 100% based on 16 parliamentary votes since 2008. The selection sought to cover a range of measures that would affect the UK’s carbon emissions, with an emphasis on votes where MPs were willing to break ranks and put the climate before their party.

The analysis shows that although most politicians publicly express support for ambitious long-term climate targets, when it comes to short-term measures to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint, those in power are less likely to make this a priority.

The scores are not intended to be a definitive evaluation of an MP’s green credentials – both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrat parties complained they had been hard done by.

But experts said the scores were an important tool for voters to make a choice through a climate prism with a potential general election looming. …”


“Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions”

“The Guardian today reveals the 20 fossil fuel companies whose relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era.

New data from world-renowned researchers reveals how this cohort of state-owned and multinational firms are driving the climate emergency that threatens the future of humanity, and details how they have continued to expand their operations despite being aware of the industry’s devastating impact on the planet….”


“Boris Johnson Ridicules Extinction Rebellion Protestors As ‘Hemp-Smelling Crusties’ “

To all those, old and young, who are doing so much to highlight the enviromnmental crises upon us, Owl can only apologise for the stupid, stupid, stupid remarks by our so-called Prime Minister.

To those who disagree with him: use your general election vote wisely and, if you have not yet registered to vote – do it NOW!


“Boris Johnson has ridiculed Extinction Rebellion protestors as annoying “nose-ringed”, “hemp-smelling” “crusties”.

In a broadside at the demonstrators who started a fortnight of disruption in central London, the prime minister used a speech praising Margaret Thatcher to make plain his disdain for the group’s tactics.

Johnson told an event hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank that Thatcher was an environmentalist “long before Greta Thunberg”, taking action on greenhouse gases.

More than 100 people were arrested on Westminster Bridge and near the Houses of Parliament as Extinction Rebellion vowed to to blockade “every single road” in Westminster “to make sure no traffic can get through to the central area of the government and the executive”.

The protests – which the group said would be “five times” the size of its April rebellion – will also include a three-day sit-in at City Airport.

Johnson was surrounded by heavy security as he made his way across Whitehall to an event to praise the latest biography of Thatcher by former Telegraph and Spectator editor Charles Moore.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute just yards from Downing Street, he revealed: “I am afraid that the security people didn’t want me to come along tonight because they said the road was full of uncooperative crusties and protestors all kinds littering the road.” …”


Friends of the Earth climate emergency local authority league table

Highest: Wiltshire 92%
Lowest Spelthorne, Pendle, Ribble Valley 42%

Exeter 80%
Dorset 80%
East Devon 72%
Mid-Devon 72%
Torridge 68%

“This league table provides a perfomance score for every local authority in England and Wales (see notes on methodology at end of document).

All local authorities, even the best performing, need to do much more if climate catastrophe is to be averted. The government needs to provide them with the powers and resources to do so, and it needs to do much more itself. All local authorities should adopt an ambitious local climate action plan . And they should join with Friends of the Earth and others in urging more government action. Each local authority should declare a climate emergency as a sign of political intent.”

Click to access League_table_England_Wales.pdf

“Best places for a car-free commute in Britain: from Bristol to Liverpool, Newcastle and Nottingham”

Can you ride your bike SAFELY from Exmouth or Cranbrook to Exeter? And whatever happened to that National Cycle Route From Seaton to … somewhere that can’t even take you to Axminster!

And whatever happened (we know what happened) to the dedicated cycle officer at Devon County Council?

Warm words butter no parsnips, as they say!

“Congested roads and environmental concerns are leading many of us to get on our bikes — or the buses. Tim Palmer reveals the best spots in Britain for a car-free commute

Today is World Car-Free Day, that annual reminder of how much we would gain if we all spent a bit less time in those metal boxes on wheels.

We’d have more time — drivers in London spend 227 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, according to a survey by the data analyst Inrix — and money. A report by Kwik Fit found that the average motorist spends nearly £400 a month on their car.

We might be happier and healthier, too, according to Xavier Brice, chief executive of the charity Sustrans, which runs the National Cycle Network: “It sounds silly, but some of the biggest crises facing the country — climate change, air quality, obesity, mental health, loneliness — could be eased if we were less dependent on our cars.”

Nagging people isn’t the answer, he adds. Instead, the key is to make it easier for people to do the right thing and harder to do the wrong thing. The reason Cambridge is the most popular place in the UK for cyclists — more than half of adults there get on their bike every week — is that its narrow one-way streets are simpler to negotiate on two wheels than on four.

Yet ditching the car is easier said than done. Try going to the supermarket without one, taking the kids to football practice or, if you live in the country, going anywhere at all.

The long-term solution, Brice says, is to stop building cul-de-sacs miles from anywhere. Instead, we need to create “20-minute neighbourhoods”, where everything you need is within walking distance. For now, though, the simplest answer is to get on your bike. In some places that means taking your life in your hands, especially in London (despite that, 15% of commuters in Hackney still cycle to work), but if you look carefully, you should be able to find somewhere to live where getting around is easy.

For drivers, Bristol can be a pain — it’s the fifth most congested city in the UK — but it is Britain’s first official “cycling city”. Four National Cycle Routes converge here, at providing easy access to suburbs and satellite towns such as Easton and Portishead. The star attraction is the traffic-free Bristol & Bath Railway Path, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year. A 13-mile route used by more than 2.5m people every year, it’s a big draw for househunters.

Sara Ladkani-Knowles and her husband, Leif, spent a long time looking for the perfect base when they left London two years ago. They picked the suburb of Staple Hill because of its proximity to the path. “Leif uses it every day,” Sara says. “He can get from home to work at the university, in the city centre, in 30 minutes. On the bus, it would take him an hour. He loves it and it puts him in a good mood when he gets there — although it probably helps that it’s mostly downhill.”

They still have a car for longer trips, but Sara, 36, an environmental tutor, doesn’t drive. She uses the cycle path nearly every day, usually with their 16-month-old daughter, Noula, in tow. “It’s an amazing place to take her, because it’s away from busy roads and she’s not breathing in polluted air. There are three supermarkets on the route, so it’s really handy when I need to buy food. I don’t even have to see a car.”

Other places well served by traffic-free cycle paths include the up-and-coming Manchester suburb of Levenshulme, which has easy links to the rest of the city via the Fallowfield Loop bike path, good buses, a six-minute train service to Piccadilly station and affordable houses: three-bedroom terraces start at £150,000.

Glasgow has 36 miles of traffic-free cycle path to go with its excellent public transport — buses, local trains and the “Clockwork Orange” underground — as well as 400 public bikes for hire through its Nextbike scheme.

About 196,000 cyclists a year use the Nidderdale Greenway, in Harrogate, to get to work, the shops and the beautiful Yorkshire Dales countryside. In Wales, the Aberystwyth-Llanilar route provides an easy two-wheeled route between the lively seaside town and the surrounding villages. There’s a public bicycle repair station near the university in case of any mishaps.

Staying in Wales, Cardiff is setting an example to the UK’s other capital cities. The number of people commuting to work by bike more than doubled between 2005 and 2015, to 9.2%. It has a Nextbike hire scheme and a good network of cycle paths, including a route to Castell Coch that follows the River Taff and links neatly with Cardiff Central, Cardiff Bay and Radyr stations.

The trainee accountant Christopher Freestone, 24, pedals along the riverbank every day to get to work from his home in the city centre. “Cycling is the quickest, cheapest, easiest and most environmentally friendly way to get around,” he says. “And you don’t need all the gear — I never wear Lycra and my bike is worth about £80.”

Not everyone can get on a bike, though, which means relying on public transport. According to the Campaign for Better Transport, the best cities for this are Liverpool, thanks to the Tube-style Merseyrail network; Newcastle, which has the Metro system and good bus services; and, leading the pack, Nottingham.

Forty per cent of journeys here are by public transport, the highest figure outside London. The East Midlands city has a 20-mile tram network and fast and reliable buses, both of which have good links to rail services at the revamped station, paid for by the UK’s first workplace parking charge, levied on companies that provide parking spaces for their staff. It has raised £61m since 2012.

“Transport here is getting slicker and slicker,” says Emily Haslam-Jones, a yoga teacher who lives in Carrington, a suburb north of the city centre, with her husband, David, and their two young children. “There’s no need to look at a timetable — buses and trams are so frequent, you don’t have to plan anything.

David cycles to work, and she uses the buses and trams to get out and about. “It’s not a big city, and you can get around it easily. The children love travelling by bus and tram, and it means you get to meet other people who live locally, which you wouldn’t if you were travelling by car.”

Electric car hotspots

Sunderland, Orkney, Newcastle and Milton Keynes are all well stocked with charging points for electric cars, but if you don’t want to risk running out of juice, consider moving to Dundee. We picked the vibrant, creative city as our Best Place to Live in Scotland this year, and it has just invested £3m in pop-up electric chargers — vital if you don’t have a driveway — and a network of petrol station-style “charging hubs”.

Dundee is also pioneering a 350-strong sharing scheme for electric bikes to encourage people to cycle in an area where the topography is unforgiving.”

Source: Sunday Times (pay wall)

“Extreme sea level events ‘will hit once a year by 2050’ “

“Extreme sea level events that used to occur once a century will strike every year on many coasts by 2050, no matter whether climate heating emissions are curbed or not, according to a landmark report by the world’s scientists.

The stark assessment of the climate crisis in the world’s oceans and ice caps concludes that many serious impacts are already inevitable, from more intense storms to melting permafrost and dwindling marine life.

But far worse impacts will hit without urgent action to cut fossil fuel emissions, including eventual sea level rise of more than 4 metres in the worst case, an outcome that would redraw the map of the world and harm billions of people.

The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and approved by its 193 member nations, says that “all people on Earth depend directly or indirectly on the ocean” and ice caps and glaciers to regulate the climate and provide water and oxygen. But it finds unprecedented and dangerous changes being driven by global heating.

Sea level rise is accelerating as losses from Greenland and Antarctica increase, and the ocean is getting hotter, more acidic and less oxygenated. All these trends will continue to the end of the century, the IPCC report said.

Half the world’s megacities, and almost 2 billion people, live on coasts. Even if heating is restricted to just 2C, scientists expect the impact of sea level rise to cause several trillion dollars of damage a year, and result in many millions of migrants.

“The future for low-lying coastal communities looks extremely bleak,” said Prof Jonathan Bamber at Bristol University in the UK, who is not one of the report’s authors. “But the consequences will be felt by all of us. There is plenty to be concerned about for the future of humanity and social order from the headlines in this report.”


Archant (Exmouth Journal) goes all hysterical again!

Really, Archant “journalists” need remedial training (a course on reporting rather than sensationalising)!

Their article on yesterday’s Global Climate Strike in Exeter is headed:

“Thousands storm County Hall as part of global strike action on climate change”


Were County Hall security staff trampled on?
Was the Leader’s chair ripped from the council chamber?
Was the city silver plate plundered?

No, something over 3,000 people, including many families with very young children, played in the parkland around County Hall, danced to a samba band and did no damage at all!

Shame on you Archant! Anyone might think you are climate change deniers putting out “fake news”!

Exeter’s Global Strike climate crisis march barely mentioned in local press

Somewhat more coverage on DevonLive Facebook page – with scores of mostly insulting and derogatory comments.

More than 2,000 people, young and old, marching from central Exeter to County Hall to join more protesters there.

Minimal coverage by DevonLive with a couple of pictures only.

Currently sketchy coverage of Plymouth march on BBC Devon web page.

Conspiracy? Owl couldn’t possibly comment!