Green Queen v Greene King

Marina takes on a brewery and drinks them into defeat plus advice on keeping the Wolfowitz from the

Dear Marina,

I, like you, hold leadership aspirations. I am a much better future prime than that young Blairite from Eton. How can I maximise the promotion of my world class fiscal credentials on the back of this Wolfowitz saga?

GB, London

Gordie, if you with your fiscal fingers or that spliffing toff from the Dark Side are serious about leadership, gently close the door on the World Bank and walk away.

This unhealthy obsession with carting money around the globe hinders progress. At the unleashing of Transition Town Lewes this week, it became evident we need to localise cash flows, not globalise them.

As we ease gently into a low carbon economy – necessitated by post peak oil and global warming issues - communities must become more self reliant. That includes becoming self financing. What we don’t need right now is big banks telling us we can borrow money but only on conditions that favour the financial institution rather than the enterprises they purport to help.

Communities must issue their own currency that can only be spent locally. If you can’t work it out Gordie, step aside. The world needs ME right now, far more than it needs either of you two. Up the revolution!

Dear Marina

Great to see you in the Lewes Arms last night. How’s your head?
Up the revolution!

Andi, Transition Town Lewes

What do you think? So much to celebrate and we’re still six days off the culmination of Operation Destroy the Dark Side. Hangover aside, I am effervescing with the excitement of it all.

A once local brewery gets gobbled up by the international scene. Some plonker in an office somewhere makes an unfortunate decision. He removes the local grog, Harveys, from the tap because he thinks this will improve sales of the company’s non local own brand ale.

DOH! This being Lewes – epicentre of the burgeoning revolution – direct action was inevitable. Hence for months we’ve all been drinking elsewhere while the dedicated picketed the Lewes Arms.

Greene King apparently recognises the stirrings of a baying mob when confronted with it, and thus, eventually, it capitulated. Harveys is back on tap and it is once again possible to drink ethically while revolting.

Globalised capitalism nil, power to local people, one point. God, I love Lewes.

Dear Marina

I understand you are trying to organise new places to grow food in our community. I love gardening but I’m disabled and need raised beds. I couldn’t cope with an allotment. But I’d love to get involved with a shared community garden. Is that possible?

Sue, East Saltdean near Brighton

PS: I voted for you and the LibDem team and I made my dad vote LibDem as well. He normally votes Conservative

Thank you for voting for us. We will do you, your dad, our community and the world proud when we win on 3rd May.

With the collapse of Communism, that other revolutionary hotbed – Cuba – found itself without an oil supply. It was forced over night into a low carbon economy. The number one priority was to feed the people and so land, rooftops and open spaces were commandeered for food production.

A military parade ground, for instance had its paving slabs pulled up. These were used to create raised beds.

Need, in this case was the mother of invention. Here in Blighty, of course, hardly anyone has noticed a similar need hurtles towards us faster than a bolting Apocalyptic horse.

With just 20 years to save our selves - we will starve once we’ve run out of small oil rich nations to invade - now is the time to reclaim the land, start growing and pass on cultivation skills.

So yes, Sue. Together we will make this happen. But first we have to stop the Tories. For as you well know, should the Tories take over our town on 3rd May, there is, I fear, no hope for this world.

All offers of help, especially money, for Operation Destroy the Dark Side to 77 Oaklands Avenue East Saltdean Brighton BN2 8PB. Cheques made payable to Lewes LibDems. Or email votepepper@yahoo.com

Marina Pepper is a former glamour model turned journalist, author, eco-campaigner and Lib Dem politician. A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate, she lives near Brighton with her two children.
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Hannan Fodder: This week, Daniel Hannan gets his excuses in early

I didn't do it. 

Since Daniel Hannan, a formerly obscure MEP, has emerged as the anointed intellectual of the Brexit elite, The Staggers is charting his ascendancy...

When I started this column, there were some nay-sayers talking Britain down by doubting that I was seriously going to write about Daniel Hannan every week. Surely no one could be that obsessed with the activities of one obscure MEP? And surely no politician could say enough ludicrous things to be worthy of such an obsession?

They were wrong, on both counts. Daniel and I are as one on this: Leave and Remain, working hand in glove to deliver on our shared national mission. There’s a lesson there for my fellow Remoaners, I’m sure.

Anyway. It’s week three, and just as I was worrying what I might write this week, Dan has ridden to the rescue by writing not one but two columns making the same argument – using, indeed, many of the exact same phrases (“not a club, but a protection racket”). Like all the most effective political campaigns, Dan has a message of the week.

First up, on Monday, there was this headline, in the conservative American journal, the Washington Examiner:

“Why Brexit should work out for everyone”

And yesterday, there was his column on Conservative Home:

“We will get a good deal – because rational self-interest will overcome the Eurocrats’ fury”

The message of the two columns is straightforward: cooler heads will prevail. Britain wants an amicable separation. The EU needs Britain’s military strength and budget contributions, and both sides want to keep the single market intact.

The Con Home piece makes the further argument that it’s only the Eurocrats who want to be hardline about this. National governments – who have to answer to actual electorates – will be more willing to negotiate.

And so, for all the bluster now, Theresa May and Donald Tusk will be skipping through a meadow, arm in arm, before the year is out.

Before we go any further, I have a confession: I found myself nodding along with some of this. Yes, of course it’s in nobody’s interests to create unnecessary enmity between Britain and the continent. Of course no one will want to crash the economy. Of course.

I’ve been told by friends on the centre-right that Hannan has a compelling, faintly hypnotic quality when he speaks and, in retrospect, this brief moment of finding myself half-agreeing with him scares the living shit out of me. So from this point on, I’d like everyone to keep an eye on me in case I start going weird, and to give me a sharp whack round the back of the head if you ever catch me starting a tweet with the word, “Friends-”.

Anyway. Shortly after reading things, reality began to dawn for me in a way it apparently hasn’t for Daniel Hannan, and I began cataloguing the ways in which his argument is stupid.

Problem number one: Remarkably for a man who’s been in the European Parliament for nearly two decades, he’s misunderstood the EU. He notes that “deeper integration can be more like a religious dogma than a political creed”, but entirely misses the reason for this. For many Europeans, especially those from countries which didn’t have as much fun in the Second World War as Britain did, the EU, for all its myriad flaws, is something to which they feel an emotional attachment: not their country, but not something entirely separate from it either.

Consequently, it’s neither a club, nor a “protection racket”: it’s more akin to a family. A rational and sensible Brexit will be difficult for the exact same reasons that so few divorcing couples rationally agree not to bother wasting money on lawyers: because the very act of leaving feels like a betrayal.

Or, to put it more concisely, courtesy of Buzzfeed’s Marie Le Conte:

Problem number two: even if everyone was to negotiate purely in terms of rational interest, our interests are not the same. The over-riding goal of German policy for decades has been to hold the EU together, even if that creates other problems. (Exhibit A: Greece.) So there’s at least a chance that the German leadership will genuinely see deterring more departures as more important than mutual prosperity or a good relationship with Britain.

And France, whose presidential candidates are lining up to give Britain a kicking, is mysteriously not mentioned anywhere in either of Daniel’s columns, presumably because doing so would undermine his argument.

So – the list of priorities Hannan describes may look rational from a British perspective. Unfortunately, though, the people on the other side of the negotiating table won’t have a British perspective.

Problem number three is this line from the Con Home piece:

“Might it truly be more interested in deterring states from leaving than in promoting the welfare of its peoples? If so, there surely can be no further doubt that we were right to opt out.”

If there any rhetorical technique more skin-crawlingly horrible, than, “Your response to my behaviour justifies my behaviour”?

I could go on, about how there’s no reason to think that Daniel’s relatively gentle vision of Brexit is shared by Nigel Farage, UKIP, or a significant number of those who voted Leave. Or about the polls which show that, far from the EU’s response to the referendum pushing more European nations towards the door, support for the union has actually spiked since the referendum – that Britain has become not a beacon of hope but a cautionary tale.

But I’m running out of words, and there’ll be other chances to explore such things. So instead I’m going to end on this:

Hannan’s argument – that only an irrational Europe would not deliver a good Brexit – is remarkably, parodically self-serving. It allows him to believe that, if Brexit goes horribly wrong, well, it must all be the fault of those inflexible Eurocrats, mustn’t it? It can’t possibly be because Brexit was a bad idea in the first place, or because liberal Leavers used nasty, populist ones to achieve their goals.

Read today, there are elements of Hannan’s columns that are compelling, even persuasive. From the perspective of 2020, I fear, they might simply read like one long explanation of why nothing that has happened since will have been his fault.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.