Jeremy Corbyn could be the Labour leadership candidate of the left. Photo: Flickr/stopwar.org.uk
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Could Jeremy Corbyn MP be Labour's leadership candidate of the left?

A late alternative option has emerged for Labour's next leader: the ardent socialist, Jeremy Corbyn.

Most potential candidates declared their interest in running for the Labour leadership weeks ago, but there is now a new name in the mix: Jeremy Corbyn.

MP for Islington North since 1983, Corbyn is a well-known figure on the left of the party, an ardent socialist and serial rebel who has been involved in the CND, the Stop the War Coalition and writes for the Morning Star.

News of Corbyn's leadership intentions reached Twitter this week, with the New Statesman contributor and Daily Mirror associate editor tweeting the story:

Corbyn told the Islington Tribune:

This decision to stand is in response to an overwhelming call by Labour members who want to see a broader range of candidates and a thorough debate about the future of the party. I am standing to give Labour party members a voice in this debate.

I have yet to hear back from Corbyn for comment.

As Labour has come increasingly under fire from members and some MPs for failing to field a leftwing candidate, Corbyn would provide an alternative voice in the contest, for which Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Mary Creagh have declared. These figures have variously been accused of reheated Blairism or being too associated with Labour's time in government to provide a fresh answer to the party's problems.

The difficulty for Corbyn is that he has probably declared too late to pick up the 35 MPs' signatures required to make the ballot paper. Andy Burnham, the unions' favourite candidate, has already picked up over 50 names, some of whom may have backed Corbyn were he to have stated his intentions earlier in the race.

Corbyn would have a shot at being nominated were Burnham to lend some of his signatures, as David Miliband did for Diane Abbott in 2010, to broaden the contest. However, what with the unions and some ordinary Labour members lusting for a leftier candidate, this may be too much of a risk for Burnham's team to take. Compared to his rivals in the contest, he is the candidate of the left - it is unlikely he would want to dilute his leftwing support.

But the Morning Star's parliamentary correspondent suggests Corbyn's backers believe he can make the ballot:

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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The deafening killer - why noise will be the next great pollution scandal

A growing body of evidence shows that noise can have serious health impacts too. 

Our cities are being poisoned by a toxin that surrounds us day and night. It eats away at our brains, hurts our hearts, clutches at our sleep, and gnaws at the quality of our daily lives.

Hardly a silent killer, it gets short shrift compared to the well-publicised terrors of air pollution and sugars food. It is the dull, thumping, stultifying drum-beat of perpetual noise.

The score that accompanies city life is brutal and constant. It disrupts the everyday: The coffee break ruined by the screech of a line of double decker buses braking at the lights. The lawyer’s conference call broken by drilling as she makes her way to the office. The writer’s struggle to find a quiet corner to pen his latest article.

For city-dwellers, it’s all-consuming and impossible to avoid. Construction, traffic, the whirring of machinery, the neighbour’s stereo. Even at home, the beeps and buzzes made by washing machines, fridges, and phones all serve to distract and unsettle.

But the never-ending noisiness of city life is far more than a problem of aesthetics. A growing body of evidence shows that noise can have serious health impacts too. Recent studies have linked noise pollution to hearing loss, sleep deprivation, hypertension, heart disease, brain development, and even increased risk of dementia.

One research team compared families living on different stories of the same building in Manhattan to isolate the impact of noise on health and education. They found children in lower, noisier floors were worse at reading than their higher-up peers, an effect that was most pronounced for children who had lived in the building for longest.

Those studies have been replicated for the impact of aircraft noise with similar results. Not only does noise cause higher blood pressure and worsens quality of sleep, it also stymies pupils trying to concentrate in class.

As with many forms of pollution, the poorest are typically the hardest hit. The worst-off in any city often live by busy roads in poorly-insulated houses or flats, cheek by jowl with packed-in neighbours.

The US Department of Transport recently mapped road and aircraft noise across the United States. Predictably, the loudest areas overlapped with some of the country’s most deprived. Those included the south side of Atlanta and the lowest-income areas of LA and Seattle.

Yet as noise pollution grows in line with road and air traffic and rising urban density, public policy has turned a blind eye.

Council noise response services, formally a 24-hour defence against neighbourly disputes, have fallen victim to local government cuts. Decisions on airport expansion and road development pay scant regard to their audible impact. Political platforms remain silent on the loudest poison.

This is odd at a time when we have never had more tools at our disposal to deal with the issue. Electric Vehicles are practically noise-less, yet noise rarely features in the arguments for their adoption. Just replacing today’s bus fleet would transform city centres; doing the same for taxis and trucks would amount to a revolution.

Vehicles are just the start. Millions were spent on a programme of “Warm Homes”; what about “Quiet Homes”? How did we value the noise impact in the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow, and how do we compensate people now that it’s going ahead?

Construction is a major driver of decibels. Should builders compensate “noise victims” for over-drilling? Or could regulation push equipment manufacturers to find new ways to dampen the sound of their kit?

Of course, none of this addresses the noise pollution we impose on ourselves. The bars and clubs we choose to visit or the music we stick in our ears. Whether pumping dance tracks in spin classes or indie rock in trendy coffee shops, people’s desire to compensate for bad noise out there by playing louder noise in here is hard to control for.

The Clean Air Act of 1956 heralded a new era of city life, one where smog and grime gave way to clear skies and clearer lungs. That fight still goes on today.

But some day, we will turn our attention to our clogged-up airwaves. The decibels will fall. #Twitter will give way to twitter. And every now and again, as we step from our homes into city life, we may just hear the sweetest sound of all. Silence.

Adam Swersky is a councillor in Harrow and is cabinet member for finance. He writes in a personal capacity.