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.
Why not e-mail your problems to askmarina@newstatesman.co.uk?
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"We repealed, then forgot": the long shadow of Section 28 homophobia

Why are deeply conservative views about the "promotion" of homosexuality still being reiterated to Scottish school pupils? 

Grim stories of LGBTI children being bullied in school are all too common. But one which emerged over the weekend garnered particular attention - because of the echoes of the infamous Section 28, nearly two decades after it was scrapped.

A 16-year-old pupil of a West Lothian school, who does not wish to be named, told Pink News that staff asked him to remove his small rainbow pride badge because, though they had "no problem" with his sexuality, it was not appropriate to "promote it" in school. It's a blast from the past - the rules against "promoting" homosexuality were repealed in 2000 in Scotland, but the long legacy of Section 28 seems hard to shake off. 

The local authority responsible said in a statement that non-school related badges are not permitted on uniforms, and says it is "committed to equal rights for LGBT people". 

The small badge depicted a rainbow-striped heart, which the pupil said he had brought back from the Edinburgh Pride march the previous weekend. He reportedly "no longer feels comfortable going to school", and said homophobia from staff members felt "much more scar[y] than when I encountered the same from other pupils". 

At a time when four Scottish party leaders are gay, and the new Westminster parliament included a record number of LGBTQ MPs, the political world is making progress in promoting equality. But education, it seems, has not kept up. According to research from LGBT rights campaigners Stonewall, 40 per cent of LGBT pupils across the UK reported being taught nothing about LGBT issues at school. Among trans students, 44 per cent said school staff didn’t know what "trans" even means.

The need for teacher training and curriculum reform is at the top of campaigners' agendas. "We're disappointed but not surprised by this example," says Jordan Daly, the co-founder of Time for Inclusive Education [TIE]. His grassroots campaign focuses on making politicians and wider society aware of the reality LGBTI school students in Scotland face. "We're in schools on a monthly basis, so we know this is by no means an isolated incident." 

Studies have repeatedly shown a startling level of self-harm and mental illness reported by LGBTI school students. Trans students are particularly at risk. In 2015, Daly and colleagues began a tour of schools. Shocking stories included one in which a teacher singled out a trans pupils for ridicule in front of the class. More commonly, though, staff told them the same story: we just don't know what we're allowed to say about gay relationships. 

This is the point, according to Daly - retraining, or rather the lack of it. For some of those teachers trained during the 1980s and 1990s, when Section 28 prevented local authorities from "promoting homosexuality", confusion still reigns about what they can and cannot teach - or even mention in front of their pupils. 

The infamous clause was specific in its homophobia: the "acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship" could not be mentioned in schools. But it's been 17 years since the clause was repealed in Scotland - indeed, it was one of the very first acts of the new Scottish Parliament (the rest of the UK followed suit three years later). Why are we still hearing this archaic language? 

"We repealed, we clapped and cheered, and then we just forgot," Daly says. After the bitter campaign in Scotland, in which an alliance of churches led by millionaire businessman Brian Souter poured money into "Keeping the Clause", the government was pleased with its victory, which seemed to establish Holyrood as a progressive political space early on in the life of the parliament. But without updating the curriculum or retraining teaching staff, Daly argues, it left a "massive vacuum" of uncertainty. 

The Stonewall research suggests a similar confusion is likely across the UK. Daly doesn't believe the situation in Scotland is notably worse than in England, and disputes the oft-cited allegation that the issue is somehow worse in Scotland's denominational schools. Homophobia may be "wrapped up in the language of religious belief" in certain schools, he says, but it's "just as much of a problem elsewhere. The TIE campaign doesn't have different strategies for different schools." 

After initial disappointments - their thousands-strong petition to change the curriculum was thrown out by parliament in 2016 - the campaign has won the support of leaders such as Nicola Sturgeon and Kezia Dugdale, and recently, the backing of a majority of MSPs. The Scottish government has set up a working group, and promised a national strategy. 

But for Daly, who himself struggled at a young age with his sexuality and society's failure to accept it, the matter remains an urgent one.  At just 21, he can reel off countless painful stories of young LGBTI students - some of which end in tragedy. One of the saddest elements of the story from St Kentigern's is that the pupil claimed his school was the safest place he had to express his identity, because he was not out at home. Perhaps for a gay pupil in ten years time, that will be a guarantee. 

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