Revolution isn't easy

Spanking, mascara and a range of other thorny topics

Dear Marina,

Thought I'd ask for your assistance on tackling what I am sure will be a thorny issue over the next few weeks, that is being accused of suffering from a traditional Conservative pastime, I am led to believe, of taking a spanking. I am assured that all the best schools still appreciate this form of 'social education', never did me any harm and all that, but I am worried that the younger generations today lack the stiff upper lipishness to take it without blubbing. What is your advice on dealing with this situation?

Chin up dear gal, we shall overcome.

Yours,

Wurzel Fortesque-Smythe, 3rd Earl of Little Snodgrass.

I too Lord Snodgrass have recently been tainted by this pastime so beloved of that Spliffing Toff and his lackeys.

Oh sir! The anguish, the guilt, the turmoil. There was nothing I could do to stop them. Over the knees I went, my skirt pulled up unceremoniously, exposing my pert bare cheeks to the vagaries of their strike. Thwack! Thwack! And Thwack again!

Believe me sir, I implored them to stop, I fought hard to escape, but my squeals of protestation fell on deaf ears and the more I struggled, the harder they spanked. I stand before you, scarred, sir but an innocent party to this cheek drubbing. Our seats didn’t stand a chance.

When I have recovered enough to sit down I promise you sir I shall have my revenge on these Tories for their sadistic perversion of the democratic process.

In short sir, they so spanked the wrong peach bottom.

Dear Marina,

I come from four generations of coal miners, my first memory is of mum singing The Internationale and I have spent most of my adult life in Riffley WMC. My problem is that I am seriously thinking about getting into politics, considering the local election results do you think I should try and become a Tory councillor?

On the fence, Riffley

Are you really suggesting that if you can’t beat them you should join them? People like me didn’t lay down our political lives so that people who should know better swap sides for the enemy.

Please, either contact your local Liberal Democrats or go lie down in a darkened room until common sense prevails.

Dear Marina,

I have never been a fan of my local MP Tony Blair, and was very active in the anti-war protests - even burning an effigy of the man. But when I watched him in Sedgefield last night, I have to admit to shedding a tear or two. Am I strange or do, like me, most middle aged housewives secretly just want to hug him?

Homemaker, Sedgefield

Pull yourself together woman. This is the man who brought the Labour party to its knees, our country to war and rendered the NHS unstable and critical. Among other things.

I missed most of his speech yesterday owing to a sudden need to vomit in a bucket I had foresightedly placed beside me for that very purpose. So I cannot comment on yesterday’s performance.

But hug Tony Blair? He’s not some wayward toddler in need of love and attention, he’s a grown man with an ego the size of Mars and the morals of a Babylonian whore.

Now get yourself along to your doctor and ask him to prescribe Bromide incase we have a snap General Election and you’re tempted to vote for him.

Dear Marina,

Why do women always have to put mascara on with their mouths open?

GB, Downing St

Because, Gordie, it would smudge under the eyes, otherwise. Please, I know you’re trying to appeal to women, but this isn’t working. Please don’t ask me another. Oh, and expect a demonstration when you get to Brighton on Sunday. In 1997 you pledged to never let houseprices spiral out of control. Here in Brighty the boom – or should that be bubble - adds £74.00 to the value of a home, EVERY DAY!

I’m delighted you listened to me regarding ID cards. Review by all means, but don’t forget to cancel the order once you’ve rounded up the paper work But you must also concentrate on housing needs, otherwise it won’t be a peaceful revolution and you’ll be the first up against the wall with David Cameron wielding the Cat-o-nine-tails!

Dear Marina,

After the local elections has Ming “the vase” shattered his chances of leading the party at the next

GE

Some critics might argue as to whether the vase is half full or half empty. Some might even mix their metaphors to ask: “Is it half baked?” I would suggest, as does God, I believe, in the bible, that we should concentrate on the empty vessels that make the most noise (Corinthians). Ming’s deafening silence during the run up to the local elections, therefore, could be construed as proof positive that the vase overfloweth – with flowers of the revolution perhaps.

It would be helpful if he could hang on a bit as my road to parliament – and leadership -has been blocked by an unwelcome landslide but I’m digging myself out as fast as I can. For as sure as Ming’s dynastic reign must come to an end, so surely must come the revolution. Viva Ming! Viva the revolution. Viva my parliamentary campaign which is already accepting donations to the usual address.

Dear Marina

This is just to say sorry about your election result last week. I'm in
the Green Party and I'm always surprised at your choice of party but we
need all the active original politicians we can get. Good courageous
stuff about the war too! Perhaps East Saltdean isn't the best place to
start the revolution but I hope you will find other ways to continue to
be active.

In solidarity,

Chris Smith, Lewes

Revolutions begin with like-minded individuals grouping together for strength and working together for change. Whether it’s a gradual change “in due course” or fast and radical, depends on the revolution.

I disagree that East Saltdean is an unsuitable locale for revolutionary zest. Let’s face it, if I can get my Tory voting neighbours to go green (small ‘g’ OBVIOUSLY!), through education and empowerment I sincerely believe our success could be replicated anywhere!

I can’t answer for our newly elected Conservative Councillors though. What a bunch of ….. No I promised myself to reclaim the ideology associated with that particular anatomical reference as a positive for womankind . . .

But as I’ve often said: if you’re blue and you want to go green, you need yellow. I still have my town council seat. I shall use this minute, almost homeopathic, dose of Liberal Democracy to heal my people of their moment of madness. I shall happily square up to the henchmen of the Spliffing Toff sitting across the council chamber. I shall work harder than ever to prepare my community for change.

Come the next General Election I will do all in my power to squeeze the shit out of the Conservative vote to ensure our constituents are protected from the prospect of a millionaire Tory from out of town being returned to parliament as our MP.

Regarding your surprise at my choice of political party, it really is a no brainer. As a practitioner of community politics I find Liberal Democrat policies practical to implement and highly effective, particularly in the area of crime reduction.

If I had my way I’d have the Greens absorbed into the Liberal Democrats. It wouldn’t necessarily enhance our green credentials, as we’re already doing that for ourselves. It would however stop you lot running round like anarchists standing for election wherever you fancy, splitting the vote and delivering the Conservatives to office.

Perhaps the Greens secretly hanker for a Tory government in the hopes that a dictatorial regime in the spirit of Thatcher might wave the flag for green fascism.

Thank you for supporting my anti-war protest, as did many old soldiers at the reunion dinner of the Royal Sussex Regiment to which I was invited as a guest and after dinner speaker. All I said was “as a future leader I pledge never to take this great army of ours into an illegal war.” I cannot apologise for the furore, as I never mentioned Iraq. But at least we know now that those soldiers present from the Princess of Wales regiment, who led the booing, recognise the invasion of Iraq as illegal. Now they and the press who turned against me, just need convincing that it is the Emperor who is naked and in need of a new outfit, not the “small boy” who is wrong and deserving of punishment.

No one said the revolution was going to be easy…

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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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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