30 July 2011

The World Shifts

By Mark Crutchley

Next week may mark a momentous event in the history of the global financial system with consequences far beyond national boundaries. If the Republicans in the US Congress and President Obama cannot agree on a package to reduce the US budget deficit, then a bill to increase the US debt ceiling may not be passed and the United States could be in technical default on its debts. We have been here before, but there has never before been such a strong possibility of default as the extreme right of the Republican Party pushes its anti-government agenda. The US is in this mess because President Bush took the balanced budget he was bequeathed by Bill Clinton and turned it into a massive annual deficit by cutting taxes for the richer Americans and funding a massive surge in military spending. Now his party want this to be paid for by cutting government spending programmes which will impact on the relatively poorer segments of society rather than by raising taxes on the wealthy.

The importance of this decision cannot be underestimated, because once the conventional thinking has been shown to be wrong, there is no telling what might happen. Let the genie out of the bottle so to speak, and all bets are off. We have seen this most recently in the case of the News International empire. For decades politicians and the media have courted Murdoch for the power his newspapers wield. Post the phone hacking scandal though things will never be the same again and many of those same politicians are queuing up to be seen to be taking a tough line with him. Meanwhile Channel 4 carried not one, but two documentaries this week, outlining the malicious influence of the media under his control. Already the bid to take over Sky, which had seemed a foregone conclusion, is dead in the water. Who is to say that the company might not ultimately have to divest its UK newspapers if the management are deemed not to be fitting people to own such a large portion of our press.

But to return to the financial world, if the US defaults, even on the most temporary of bases, then why shouldn’t other nations do so. Developing countries in particular are weighed down by heavy debts, often run up pursuing inappropriate grandiose projects foisted on them by the countries doing the lending; or the result of earlier dictators siphoning vast sums of money into their own accounts rather than using it for the benefit of the country. Why shouldn’t they just renounce their debts and use the interest payments saved to increase their health and education spending.

The same goes for individuals in this country. Lured by cheap credit and the ready availability of credit cards many have built up debts which they now struggle to pay the interest on, let alone have any hope of repaying the capital. If they have little in the way of assets, then it would be far better for those people to declare themselves bankrupt and start again. What is the penalty? Not being able to get a mortgage, credit card or any other form of debt for a few years. They wouldn’t be able to anyway from a position of deep debt. Of course it isn’t a course of action which people should enter into lightly, they should consult an organisation like the Citizens Advice Bureau and research the implications online at a site such as bankruptcy.org.uk. But often it’s only convention which stops people from following this course of action – one in which the only real losers are the banks and loan companies. Shame.

The Americans will ultimately have to reach a compromise solution and avoid a full-scale default. But just the idea that it could happen has shaken confidence and perhaps changed things forever. If they can consider the unthinkable, then perhaps others – countries and individuals – should think about it too. They, maybe you, might realise that there is an alternative to struggling under insupportable debts.

27 July 2011

ONE WORLD NEWS: Money makes the world go round (or does it?)

This week on the Wednesday column we're cross-posting two news items on the financial system, the launch of a Positive Money campaign and the work of Catalan activist, Robin Bank.

Some campaigns are easier sells than others. The easiest of them all has got to be animal shelters – “kittens in distress? Where do I sign?”

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ve got the campaign to end fractional reserve banking.

So spare a thought for the good folks at Positive Money. They’ve launched a campaign to end SOMETHING THAT MOST PEOPLE HAVE NEVER HEARD OF, fewer still understand, and even those who understand it don’t believe it

I know. I tried to explain fractional reserve banking to my wife, and her reaction was “that can’t possibly be true.”

Most of us have a certain concept of banking in mind, that people put their savings into them and the banks then lend that money out to others. It’s how we understand it as children and because it sounds like common sense, it sticks with us. But that’s not how banks work.

In fact, banks don’t lend out savings. That accounts for just 3% of the money banks lend as loans or mortgages. The other 97% is just made up. It is, quite literally, written into being out of nothing. Banks don’t so much lend money as create money. Because the bank doesn’t deliver your loan as a big box of bank notes, but a series of digits in a spreadsheet, it’s actually very easy to do. The right to create money without the deposits to back them up is fractional reserve banking. It’s easy to see why people don’t always believe it when it’s first explained, so here’s someone else saying it:

“The money for a bank loan does not exist until we, the customers, apply for credit” says Ann Pettifor. “Reserves are created to support lending.”

You can probably see the problems with this already – after all, there are good reasons why it’s illegal to print your own banknotes. Nevertheless, banks created £266 billion in 2007. That was far more than was sensible, so in 2008 they created less than half that – and that’s why there was a ‘credit crunch’. Money was easy to borrow and then it wasn’t, and we’d all come to depend on easy credit.

That’s just the beginning of it. Consider for example, that you pay back your mortgage with interest. If that money belonged to someone, it would be fair that they were compensated for making it available to you. But since it was just made up, that’s all profit to the bank –the right to create money is a remarkable privilege. Now consider that you, through your taxes, propped up the banks when they abused this privilege. Time to end fractional reserve banking? Fractional reserve banking is a crazy foundation to build an economy on .

It guarantees ballooning debt and instability. It means money is infinitely available to those who already have lots of it, and hard to come by for those who need it most. It rewards risk taking and dis-incentivises caution. Because most of this invented money goes into property, it is the main driver behind the inexorably rising house prices that is slowly dividing society back into landed and landless classes. Unreformed despite its catastrophic failures in the last couple of years, it will let us down again.

There is no one solution to fractional reserve banking, but there are a whole bunch of measures we should take. We could start by separating investment banks from their high street services. We can create alternative currencies. The right to create money could be broadened, with more smaller or local banks, credit unions and business groups, or local government. Ultimately, if the banks can create money, so can you or I. It would take a whole post to explain why this isn’t a ridiculous suggestion, but genuinely – one day we this will be possible, and it will be so common sense that children will understand it. (See my review of Thomas Greco’s book The End of Money for a start).

In the meantime, check out the Positive Money website for lots more on fractional reserve banking, explained a little better than here. Sign up for their newsletter, and support a campaign that has a mammoth task ahead and no fluffy kittens to help them out.

Then again, since most people don’t know what fractional reserve banking is, perhaps it’s worth a try? Jeremy Wiliams

Robin Bank (AKA Enric Duran) is a Catalan activist who spent the two years to 2008 taking out loans totalling nearly half a million euros, and then donated all of the money to various social movements working to build alternatives to our unequal and suicidal economic-political system. His video message revealing what he had done and explaining his motives is posted above. I consider it one of the most inspiring stories of insight and resultant action that I have yet heard. Shaun Chamberlin (from My New Heroes on Dark Optimism)

20 July 2011

ONE WORLD EVENTS - regional gatherings for plants, people and pollinators

Welcome to our Wednesday column where this week we're highlighting two One World events happening in the Eastern region this weekend. The global industrial food business and the plight of the honeybee are two subjects our columnists have focussed on this year. Here are two ways you can engage in the fightback . . .

The Spuds Don't Work Rally - The Forum, Norwich

Following the successful GM Gathering Momentum conference held in London earlier this year an anti-GM rally will be taking place in Norwich on Saturday 23 July...

Over the past ten years British trials of Genetically Modified blight resistant potatoes have been failing to deliver. However, a conventionally bred variety of blight resistant potatoes has now been on the market for seven years. On Saturday 23rd July a coalition of ngo's, farmers and activists will be delivering a trailer load of this conventional variety to the doors of the Sainsbury laboratory outside Norwich. There'll be pedal powered tunes, fine organic chips and good cheer as we go and show them that we've found the potatoes they're looking for.

Emma Hockridge, the Soil Associations head of Policy, Pete Riley, chair of the GM Freeze campaign, Gerald Miles, potato farmer and others will be inviting the John Innes researchers to join them in debate. On Sunday 24th July a day long camp will plan the next stages of the campaign. Help build projects on everything from getting the GM oil out of takeaways to next years proposed GM wheat trials, from raising awareness of the new studies on human health effects to European public decontamination solidarity work.

Meet at the Forum in Norwich City Centre at 12 noon for free chips and fun. We will set off from there to the John Innes Research Centre by bike, tractor and coach at 1pm. Bring waterproofs and umbrellas! Camping spaces are available from Friday pm onwards. For practical details see www.stopgm.org.uk/gathering-momentum or ring 07595 506673. Download leaflet here. Original post from The Land

Bungay Beehive Day - Castle Meadow, Bungay

Bungay Community Bees is the first CSA (community Supported Apiculture) in the UK and part of the Transition initiative, Sustainable Bungay. Bungay Beehive Day showcases this project on Sunday 24 July . . .

Bungay Beehive Day
is a celebration of the honeybee and other pollinating insects along with the plants they love. It’s a first-of-its-kind event organised by Bungay Community Bees (BCB) as part of the Bungay Festival and aims to promote awareness and enjoyment of the key relationship between people, plants and bees.

Although we’ll be celebrating “all things bee” our theme will centre on the importance of insect pollination and how everyone can grow and protect flowers to support bees and other insects in our local environment. Come and find out what our group is doing and what each of us can do in response to the worldwide honeybee crisis and to help restore balance in our overstretched environment.

Central to the day and the marquee will be an observation hive provided by Waveney Beekeepers, so everyone can see how honey bees work within a hive. There wil also be a display of our recent venture into top bar hives. A wide diversity of stalls will be busy giving both information all about bees and bee-friendly plants and everything you need to know about becoming a beekeeper and also selling plants and seeds, bee-related crafts and of course honey!

There will be an activities area for children from making
a bee swarm to to a flower mural and on the stage there will be a lively series of workshops and talks running through the day. So if you want to know how to make a bee hotel and beeswax candle, find out about natural beekeeping, bumblebees or how to plant a ‘patch in a pot’ of bees’ favourite wildflowers, this is where you need to be!

We’ll have guest speakers from both the innovative River of Flowers project talking about creating urban meadows in green corridors, pollination and bio-diversity, and the Natural Beekeeping Trust on beekeeping on an earth-friendly scale. On the Bee and Flower walk we’ll visit a variety of ‘green spaces’ in Bungay (including the burgeoning Library Courtyard Community Garden), on the lookout for the wild (and not so wild) flowers that the bees are visiting. There will also be a talk on the healing power of honey. And throughout the day you’ll be able to talk to Bungay Community Beekeepers about all our activities and even join the group if you haven’t yet subscribed.

Talks 11am Bee Guardians: Natural Beekeeping Trust 12 noon Bee and Flower Walk 1pm Bee corridors and biodiversity: River of Flowers 2pm Healing Power of Honey 3pm Bumblebees.

Workshops 11am-12.30pm Wildflowers for gardens and making bee Hotels. 2.30-4pm Wildflowers for allotments and vegetable gardens and making bug hotels. Ongoing making beeswax candles and beeframes; children’s activities: making puppets, mobiles, masks and bee and flower mural.

Honey cake competition: Bake and bring along a honey cake with the most delicious winning a £15 gift voucher. 3pm Judging Everyone is welcome. Refreshments are available.

Contact Gemma: enquiries@humblecake.co.uk or Mark: markintransition@hotmail.co.uk or Tel. 01502 722419. Original post from www.sustainablebungay.com

10 July 2011

Nuclear Roulette

By Marguerite Finn

I have been putting off writing anything about the Fukushima nuclear disaster since it happened in March because events there have been unfolding so rapidly and unpredictably. During all this time the damaged reactors have remained out of control. That concept has been difficult for me to come to terms with. It conjures up reactors in continual meltdown and leaking radiation about which apparently nothing can be done. So much for man’s technological prowess.

Every day since the tsunami, the nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has been battling to keep the reactors cool using tonnes of water. Now it is running out of space to store the highly radioactive water that has accumulated from its efforts. But we are told a solution is at hand. The French nuclear group Areva together with the US firm Kurion have come up with a new technological fix. They have created a magical system, which decontaminates water and then re-circulates the water to reduce reactor temperatures.

What do they do with the contaminants? As ever, it is the radioactive contaminants that are the problem but we are carefully not being told what will happen to them. Do they think we are idiots, or do they just not care?

That’s the bit of magic that we just cannot take on trust.

To process the estimated 250,000 tonnes of water that will have been contaminated by the time the crisis ends will cost over 50 billion yen ($600 million) – and here is the bit that really alarms me: Tokyo Electric says it “hopes the new system will help achieve its goal of bringing the plant to stability by next January”. Next January? That means that the nuclear reactors at Fukushima will remain in an unstable and uncontrolled state for another seven months at least – and that’s if everything goes as well as possible, which is by no means guaranteed.

Even while the drama of Fukushima is being played out, other accidents are happening around the world – many of them due to extreme weather conditions triggered by climate change (the sort of things they say will never happen here). In Nebraska in the US, for instance, two nuclear power plants are threatened by the rising floodwaters of the Missouri River. A massi
ve melting snow pack and heavy rains have forced federal officials to release water at rates about double previous records from six reservoirs on the upper Missouri River from Montana through to South Dakota. And the threat is not over yet as these very high water release rates are expected to continue well into August.

Meanwhile, the nuclear laboratory at Los Alamos in New Mexico is threatened by a raging forest fire surrounding the plant which has forced thousands of people to flee the town of Los Alamos. Which plant will be at risk next? And where? Impossible to say, because we do not know what will happen in an era of climate change. Last time it happened, our ancestors were buffeted by it in the same way as the rest of the planet was. Yet this time we presume to control it when we cannot even control its effects on one of our more hubristic inventions!

Given the continuing uncertainty, it is not surprising that public support for nuclear power has declined around the world and that the governments of Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Thailand and Malaysia have cancelled their planned nuclear power stations in the wake of the accident. This is the precautionary principle in action and the people in those countries are to be praised for persuading their governments to abandon nuclear power. As Shakespeare said:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men,

which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
is bound in shallows and in miseries”.

Jared Diamond in his book “Collapse – How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive” showed that the societies that survive crises are those who take radical and challenging decisions that fundamentally change them. Those that can’t or won’t just disappear. Thus the Norse Greenland settlement collapsed in the 1400s and disappeared because the chiefs and the bishop insisted on retaining their prowess instead of facing the need to change, and retained in the end only the privilege of being the last to die. In Iceland, faced with a similar crisis of soil erosion and politics, the population cooperated to institute harsh agricultural changes, and has survived. In the Pacific, the Tikopia Islanders, faced by overcrowding and loss of soil in the 1950s, developed population control and intelligent gardening to survive. Easter Island’s communities were so besotted by their rituals and tribal rivalry that they didn’t change and fizzled out. Huge stone statues and nuclear reactors are eerily equivalent.

At TEPCO’s AGM on 28 June, institutional shareholders decided their shares would fare better if the company stayed with nuclear power, rejecting the challenge to diversify their electricity sources. Those pieces of paper won’t feed any of us or house us the next time Gaia strikes.

All that is very far from home but how can we, in this country, have any confidence that we will face the challenges we have created in our lust for endless electricity via nuclear power, when our government decided to bury the facts about Fukushima by an on-going concerted PR exercise as soon as the disaster began.

Again, do they think we are idiots or do they just not care?

6 July 2011

In Parliament, money talks more loudly than caution about bees

Giving evidence recently at the House of Commons to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology (APPGST), the spokesperson of the British Beekeeping Association (BBKA) said that “the BBKA did not support the precautionary principle”. I hope the MPs sat up and questioned that, but I rather doubt that many did.

Anything about bees is significant, as they are important pollinators of plants, and a new report out from the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) entitled “Global Honey Bee Disorders and Other Threats to Insect Pollinators” makes clear how serious are the problems for all life if plant pollinators go on suffering as they are at present.

At the same time, the precautionary principle is significant too. One of the primary foundations of the principle developed from the work of the Rio Conference on the Environment and Development, whose 20th anniversary will be celebrated, and its findings revisited, next year. So why did the BBKA stick its neck out at the House of Commons in disowning the precautionary principle? In the One World Column in January this year, Charlotte Du Cann suggested not everyone was happy with the BBKA throwing its weight about. What was it up to now?

The APPGST was hearing from the BBKA about the possible threat to bees, as well as to other pollinators, from a class of systemic insecticides called neonicotinoids, used as seed coatings in agriculture to protect developing crop plants from insect damage. The worry is that these insecticides may reach parts of the plant visited by pollinators, causing sub-lethal damage to the latter - difficult to identify, but maybe with serious effects in the long run. The UNEP report puts it like this: “Laboratory studies have shown that such chemicals can cause losses of sense of direction, impair memory and brain metabolism, and cause mortality. Others have found that some neonicotinoids, combined with certain fungicides, synergised to increase toxicity of the systemic insecticide over 1,000 times. However, results obtained in laboratory conditions are hard to compare to field conditions”.

It was this difficulty in applying lab. work to field practise that was exercising the APPGST. Ought the precautionary principle be applied in the UK, as some European countries have done, to prevent the use of these pesticides until the position is clearer? One can understand the anxiety of the big agribusiness companies to be able to use the chemicals freely in this country without delay; but how strange that the BBKA, supposedly the guardians of honeybees so reluctant to see them run any risks, should itself come out so strongly on the side of agribusiness as to reject the precautionary principle.

Not so strange to some British beekeepers who for years have disapproved of their parent organisation’s closeness to agribusiness. For some time now the BBKA has benefited financially from an arrangement with agricultural conglomerates in which it gives its name to promote products as “bee-friendly” in advertisements and in educational materials widely put into schools. The administration of the BBKA would not want to see this milch cow dry up. So the BBKA was telling the APPGST it wanted the chemicals assessed on the existing facts, inconclusive though they were, and to hell with the precautionary principle. In other words it was arguing that “absence of evidence” of harm to bees in the field was “evidence of absence” of any harm. That’s a facile mistake that may be forgiven in the first year of a degree course, but not from the BBKA’s Director of Public Affairs to a Commons Committee.

A formal complaint to the BBKA’s Chairman from a member has so far produced the excuse that in the House of Commons the words “did not support the precautionary principle” were followed by “in this case”, and that the BBKA supported the principle in other cases. Weasel words indeed, especially since the bad science apparently still stands. If you object to this ignorant and mercenary arrogance on the part of the BBKA, you may tell them so on http://www.bbka.org.uk/contact/ or tell your MP what rubbish the BBKA has been serving out to the APPGST.

One sultry gloaming recently, my partner and I hived a swarm of bees we had collected from a garden in Salhouse, a rural village near the Broads. Carrying out that timeless and holy ritual, we prayed that the new inhabitants would enjoy their home and not decamp, for we left the doorway open to ventilate them as much as we could. If some of them have impaired brain memory and brain metabolism from agricultural spraying, neither prayers nor ventilation are going to help much

Our local farmers are friendly and cooperative, ringing us in advance when they must spray so we may shut up the bees the night before and let them out only when the spraying is over. Yet in France the effects of neonicotinoids have been found to last in soil and plants for years, and farmers, like beekeepers, can only be as good as the evidence allows them to be, using common sense when hard science is lacking.

Perhaps I ought to have known! A while ago I heard Professor Robert Pickard, the Chairman of the new Committee on Radioactive Waste Management – appointed by government because the old Committee hadn’t provided the desired answers –, conclude a seminar on deep disposal of nuclear waste with a surprising statement. He said something to the effect that a wind of change was blowing through science and technology; that it was no longer the best possible environmental option that would count; it was the “good enough” option. Not only is the professor an eminent neurobiologist, he is also an international authority on honeybees.

He’s old and retired now, like me. Maybe it’s all good enough for him, but will it be good enough for our grandchildren – the loss of pollinators (and the buried nuclear waste)? The BBKA will say they use the money they get from agribusiness to educate beekeepers to help the honeybee, but I doubt whether such unprincipled argument can really benefit anyone. It looks likely to me that humans have been bad news for honeybees since we first began to commodify wax and honey, so we ought to struggle even harder to cherish principles to guide our behaviour, now bees are in such dire trouble. Peter Lanyon

This week's Wednesday columnist, Peter Lanyon, taught biology in the UK and in Central and East Africa. He has "kept" bees for forty years.

Photo of new Queen and workers by Mike Southern from Bungay Community Bees top bar hive.

2 July 2011

With the Indignados of Norfolk - and Thessaloniki

by Trevor Phillips

The hundreds of local people attending a demonstration in Norwich on Thursday, in defence of public service pensions, were good humoured and enthusiastic. They heard excellent speeches from local trade unionists and campaigners.

Many similar UK demos will have heard similar messages: the Con-Dem government’s attack on public sector pensions - as on public services such as the NHS – is simply based on Tory dogma, not practicality; public sector pensions are mostly not in a drastic state - and if they were the government should first collect the billions of pounds of high-earner and corporate tax which is evaded or avoided; this is all really a plan to shrink the British state, diminish democracy and open the door to privatisation and easy corporate profits.

I agree with this view and a few weeks ago I recounted it to hundreds of citizens of Thessaloniki, the second city of Greece, when I visited the camp of indignant, anti-austerity campaigners - 'Indignados' - near the city's famous White Tower.

Each evening, many hundreds of people attend an open-microphone session to share solidarity and ideas.

I managed only a brief description of the UK disease and ran out of time to describe UK anti-cuts responses: trade union and national , Norfolk’s contribution and the imaginative and popular UKUncut

The White Tower events were inspiring, with many young people involved, but lacked ideas for coherent alternatives to the government’s vicious austerity plans. As someone said, the big question remains: if the Greeks resist and reject the oppressive 'rescue' deals: what happens when public servants don't get paid? Nobody, it seemed, knew how to deal with this. But even this may not stop the Greek people from rejecting the impoverishing deal struck with the EU, IMF and European Central Bank. There is a widespread mood of anger, proud resistance and a desire for independence, alongside a sense of betrayal. And for some the certainty of forthcoming suffering has overcome their fear of its unknown detail.

On another evening I stumbled upon a massive procession along Egnatia street (the ancient Via Egnatia from Istanbul to Rome). It was 10pm and many thousands of people were parading against the austerity programme. There were virtually no banners, no party symbols, placards or signs of political allegiance. But many knew the slogans and songs. It really was The Masses: ordinary families, many with children on shoulders. They passed grannies banging cooking pots. One woman stopped to kiss and hug a tiny elderly lady, thanking her for her noisy expression of solidarity. It was very moving to be amongst it. It felt totally honest and proud and defiant and even hopeful.

When I asked who the organisers were, I was firmly told this was not led by any political group and the implication was that nobody trusted such forces. I didn't have enough conversations or experiences to grasp a fuller picture, but there is certainly enormous anger and a massive willingness to resist the rotten deal being cooked up to protect banks at the expense of the Greek people. People are uncertain about what to do except to express their opposition. But they would probably do more if a coherent leadership amongst this resistance could describe a strategy.

To some young idealists, this lack of leadership is refreshing and a chance to experiment with their fantasies of a world without states and politicians or the filters of political management, which - in Greece and elsewhere - somehow reduce the finest intentions of social democrats to the role of bouncers outside capitalism's casinos. One young activist asked me what I thought of Direct Democracy? This idea, intended to circumvent politicians and the failures of representative organisations, is enthusiastically promoted by some younger elements. I said I thought it had some local applications worth exploring but was not on its own a solution for running a complex economy and a nation of millions. I am not sure if his resulting expression was of disappointment or pity.

The anti-austerity resistance movement in Greece surely needs to link the energy and imagination of the young optimists and the millions of concerned families with the experience and networks of established left groups and unions. But the latter need to win back lost trust and it’s hard to see any future progressive role for the governing, social-democratic (Labour-like) PASOK party, now it has pushed through the new austerity deal. And to succeed, resistance cannot just happen in Greece, though Greece may yet create momentum for a broader response. This is surely what is feared by national and EU political leaders and the big business interests they represent.

Why are the governments of Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain not discussing a joint response to their collective punishment? As the old adage says: ‘If you owe the bank a thousand pounds you have a problem. If you owe the bank a million pounds, the bank has a problem’. Sadly, most or all of these governments favour the market ideology being rammed through by the EU. The IMF and EU are therefore able to impose ‘rescue deals’ on a country-by- country basis rather than within a European Recovery Plan. Would a collective solution anyway be permitted by those who profit from division – and who even bring down elected governments by conducting or threatening ‘capital strikes’ ?

Yes in Greece, the UK and elsewhere – the biggest strikes are not currently by workers but by capital. Finance capitalism is on strike – refusing to fund recovery until it is guaranteed the interest terms it demands to secure its customary usurious margins.

In the absence of a response to this process by their own governments, the people of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland - and the UK - must try to organise their own resistance, including strikes of labour with popular support. After the Arab Spring, this is no longer a ridiculous idea.

So it was immensely satisfying to be outside the Forum in Norwich, cheering the disability groups, ‘Defend the NHS’ campaigners, teachers, civil servants and students. And to see that amongst these ‘Norfolk Indignados’, some unions are playing a significant role and commanding respect. It is not yet the Via Egnatia, but it is certainly the route to somewhere better.

See also