Category Archives: Politics

Exploring System Change

Me with my placard, ‘Change Politics not the Climate’

Exploring ‘System Change’ with Richard Priestley. Starting on Thursday 14th September at 7.00pm, St John’s Methodist Church Hall (East St entrance) a monthly series of evenings discussing concepts around creating system change.

The first session will be an envisioning exercise. If extractive, consumer-driven capitalism is destroying the world, then what is the best kind of society that would meet human needs while allowing nature to recover? How does system change occur: what role for protest, innovation and living ethical lifestyles? If we had a lot of money, how could we invest it to solve multiple problems simultaneously?

My plan is for these discussion evenings to be on the 2nd Thursday of the month, starting on Thursday 14th September, then 12th October and 9th November. We may well continue in the New Year if people want to. The idea is that the questions we investigate, and what balance we make between me giving a talk and a more general open discussion, will in large part be determined by how the participants want these sessions to evolve.

Subsequent sessions might focus on themes such as:

What kind of economy (and politics) makes sense, given the realities of the global crisis (climate/biodiversity/inequality)?

Can we feed 8 billion people, while also restoring biodiversity” The answer to this is an emphatic Yes! (With a few very big IF’s and BUT’s)

From ‘The Fossil-Fuel Age’ to ‘The Solar Age’.” This is an exploration about how we move to 100% renewable energy for the whole world, for all uses, from electricity to transport, heating and cooling to industrial processes. (Progress on this front is happening much faster than most people understand.)

 These sessions are supported by Herefordshire Friends of the Earth.

For background see my book ‘System Change Now!’ or explore this blog. If you’ve questions e-mail

Green Party Growth Continues

Last week we had local elections in England. As the above graph shows, the Green Party made impressive gains, as it has done at every round of local elections since 2019. Before that electoral victories were very much smaller in number, and focused on a limited number of councils. One of the dramatic changes has been how the Greens are now winning in seats all across the country, and sometimes not just adding one or two new councillors, but lots at a time. The Greens now have an absolute majority on Mid-Suffolk District Council, and are the largest party in Babergh, East Hertfordshire, East Suffolk, Folkestone and Hythe, Forest of Dean, Lewes and Warwick. Their biggest gains were in Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Kent, and Sussex, but they also won multiple seats in many northern places, including Lancaster, the Wirral, Knowsley, Darlington, Derbyshire Dales, Amber Valley, Ribble Valley, South Tyneside and Trafford.

In England and Wales the Green Party now has 744 councillors, according to the Green Party themselves, or 766 according to Wikipedia. (This is on district, county and metropolitan councils, but does not count parish councillors.) Whatever the precise figure is, it is of course still less than the Conservatives, Labour or LibDems. If, and it is a big if, current rates of collapse of the Tories continue, and the growth of the Greens, and LibDems, continues, then in a few years it may be that Britain does start to become a multi-party democracy, and that the decades of dominance by the Labour and Tories will be a thing of the past. That is our best hope of getting proportional representation, better democracy, and actually tackling the real problems facing us, from climate change to poverty.

Sometime in the next year to eighteen months the UK will have a general election. On the evidence of last weeks’ local election results I would expect the Conservative vote, especially in rural southern England, to collapse. LibDems and Greens will be the main beneficiaries of this collapse. Labour will probably form the next government. Some commentators expect them to win a large majority, others, such as myself, are hoping for a hung parliament, with Greens and LibDems having some input into a Labour led administration.

Russia: A Crumbling Empire?

Protest in Tbilisi, against the Georgian government, and for a more democratic and European future.

I welcome the news that the International Criminal Court in The Hague has issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova. This initial charge is for the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. More charges ought to follow: for the unprovoked invasion of a peaceful country, for genocide and crimes against humanity. Many more Russian people are responsible for these horrors and need to face trail. It will no doubt take months or years for all this to unfold. Russia has not signed the Rome Statute so is not a member of the International Criminal Court, nor incidentally is USA, but the majority of countries in the World are. Any country claiming to be democratic and responsibly governed ought to be a member, but that is for another blog.

Today I want to focus on Russia. Rafael Behr wrote an interesting article in the Guardian about the situation in Russia. He stated ‘When the repressive state’s demand for ideological uniformity meets the human capacity for free thought, the result is terror but also absurdity. As the gap between official versions of the truth and reality widens, the central power insists on ever more grotesque levels of acquiescence. Passive obedience is no longer sufficient. Citizens must abase themselves with displays of loyalty.’  He continues: ‘The tone of some of the punditry on Kremlin propaganda channels is explicitly genocidal. This is a second front of the war, waged against the Russian conscience – an all-out assault on facts, evidence, reality.’ Most of the Russian population support the party line, as did most Germans in Nazi Germany. Opposition is mainly hidden, as people are cowered, in Russia now just as in Nazi Germany.

What we think of as Russia is a vast and diverse place. Away from the ethnic Russian heartlands of Muscovy resistance is brewing. Russia has always been an extremely centralized state, under Tsars, Bolsheviks, or Putin, the Imperial nature of the county has many continuities. As money and men are sucked out of these peripheral regions resentment is growing. In my book ‘System Change Now!’ I cited Kamil Galeev who predicts ‘National Divorce’, as Russia crumbles into a patchwork of very much smaller states. Sergej Sumlenny has just published a very interesting article reviewing some separatist movements within Russia itself, and Botakoz Kassymbekova writes about the importance of Russia acknowledging its past crimes in Chechnya.

It is in the independent countries that were once part of the USSR, which Putin still sees as part of his longed-for revival of the Russian Tsarist/Communist empire, that opposition to Russia is growing most openly. The photo at the top of this blog is of pro EU protestors in Tbilisi demonstrating against their government’s too close relations with Russia. Kazakhstan, Georgia, Moldova and many other countries of Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe are all showing more resistance to Russian domination, and are in various ways inspired by the spirit of Ukrainian resistance and the prospect of eventual membership of the EU and the prosperity, opportunities and democratic rights that membership confers. Perhaps Russia, or some of its constituent parts, may eventually join the EU, just as the UK, or some of its constituent parts, might.