09 February 2013

08 February 2013

My email to GWEB re Population Matters

Below is my email to the Green World Editorial Board and my Regional Council reps regarding GWEB's decision not to distribute a promotional leaflet from Population Matters.


Dear Green World Editorial Board (GWEB) and GPRC Reps,

I am writing in support of GWEB's decision not to distribute a Population Matters leaflet with the magazine.

Population Matters reflects the values of the old ecological movement - which placed environmental concerns above the welfare and freedom of poor and working-class people - not the 21st century Green Party.

Here are just a few reasons why:

- our current and imminent environmental crises are primarily a result of over-consumption incentivised by the capitalist system, not over-population;

- there is not necessarily a correlation between number and footprint. For instance, a childless couple in Britain driving a Range Rover and leaving their house lights on will almost certainly have a greater footprint than a large struggling family in a poorer nation;

- what use is a woman's right to choose if that right doesn't also extend to the right to choose when and how many?;

- the experience of countries such as Brazil (where fertility rates have dropped dramatically) show that increased urbanisation and improved socio-economic prospects for women have more success in decreasing fertility rates than direct government or NGO intervention;

- what right does a country like Britain - with an extensive and brutal history of imperialism - have to tell the people of other countries what to do with their bodies?;

- given the economic status and racial makeup of Population Matters' targets, there's an inevitable class and racial dimension to their campaign which is contrary to the Green Party's values;

- the Green Party's historic association with the "over-population movement" generates a great deal of suspicion from other left-wing activists, parties and groups - undermining attempts to attract new members and unite with such groups in fighting against austerity and in other campaigns.

Therefore, I hope that GWEB will stand by its decision not to grant precious promotional space to Population Matters. To do otherwise would inevitably be seen as a form of tacit endorsement.

Peace and solidarity,

Chris Appleby

Green World vs. Population Matters

Population Matters is kicking off because the Green World Editorial Board have correctly refused to distribute a Population Matters leaflet with the magazine. See the email below.

Population Matters attempts to place our environmental crisis at the feet of women in poorer nations and their private parts.

A child-less couple driving round in a Chelsea tractor in Hertfordshire will have a far greater footprint than a large struggling family in the developing world.

The issue is consumption, not population.


From: s****@gmail.com
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2013 16:33:14 +0000
Subject: Censorship at Green World magazine
To: s****@gmail.com

I append a statement by Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, responding to Matthew Butcher of the Green World editorial board (GWEB) and its decision to censor advertising from Population Matters. This decision follows a previous attempt to ban Population Matters from having a stall at conference. 

As Simon forcefully demonstrates, the GWEB position is completely mistaken about population pressures and human rights. It also breaks with the mainstream green tradition. As you probably know, the founding of our own parent party, the People Party, was partly encouraged by a magazine interview  with Paul Ehrlich, author of the seminal study The Population Bomb. Many leading green writers, not least Jonathan Porritt (Seeing Green), have stressed the importance of free contraception and birth control education both for overall ecological sustainability and the personal well-being of individual women.

This is the censored leaflet:
Anyone who sees anything 'ungreen' in it really "should have gone to Specsavers".

We would further note that there are serious constitutional issues raised by the actions of GWEB regarding openness, responsiveness and accountability. Serious principles about internal democracy are at stake. Green World is the magazine of the whole Green Party. We should not allow it to be used by any faction to foist its views, in this case badly mistaken ones, on the rest of the Party.

The GWEB has said that it will meet at conference, implying that the matter can be raised there. This is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Furthermore, it disenfranchises members like me who, for personal reasons, are unable to attend.

The GWEB decision is a pernicious act of censorship. I ask you to call for the decision to censor Population Matters to be reversed. Please write to:

the party leader, Natalie Bennett (****@greenparty.org.uk),
its deputy leader, Will Duckworth (****@gmail.com),
the chair of GPEX, Tim Dawes (***@********.co.uk) and to
the editorial board (***@greenworld.org.uk),
with a copies to your regional GRPC representatives.

I would be grateful if you could forward this letter to fellow party members. I have only a small list of contacts but think that this affair is sufficiently alarming for the membership at large to be alerted to what has been going on in their name.

Sandy Irvine 


Dear Matthew,
The statement, reproduced at the bottom of this response, setting out the reasons why the Green World Editorial Board did not accept the advertising insert from Population Matters attached to this email for the February issue of the magazine has been brought to my attention.
The reasons are false. 
The GWEB statement asserts that providing birth control to women in majority world countries contradicts the aim of empowering women to have control over their own bodies and contradicts Green values of equality.
In fact, providing ‘access to reproductive health services’ and ‘aid by developed countries for voluntary family planning programmes’ both empowers women to have control over their own bodies and promotes equality, both between women and men and between women in different countries and communities.  This seems pretty obvious with a moment’s thought. The leaflet also states that women’s empowerment and a convergence of living standards contribute to fertility reduction and thus argues directly for greater gender and social equality.
The GWEB statement further asserts that having an aim of reducing population through lower fertility for environmental reasons implies that responsibility for environmental problems lies with women’s fertility choices.   Firstly, the point is that women without access to modern family planning do not have fertility choices.  Women who do have the ability to make fertility choices almost invariably choose to reduce their family size for their own reasons.  Secondly, while growing human numbers unarguably contribute to environmental problems, the leaflet does not claim that this is the only cause or that fertility reduction is the only solution, and thus does not claim that ‘responsibility for tackling environmental problems lies with women's fertility choices’.   For example, the leaflet also calls for sustainable lifestyles and a more sustainable use of technology.
The statement further asserts that the leaflet divides people by gender and race.  In fact, the leaflet calls for women’s empowerment, which reduces the division between genders, and for universal access to reproductive health services, which reduces the division between races. By specifically referencing the need for better reproductive health in the UK, the leaflet demonstrates that it is not concerned solely with majority world countries, a phrase it does not use.
As you know, I have offered to speak to your Board about any concerns and to discuss alterations to the leaflet to address them but have received no response.  
If I do not receive a positive response to this email from you after the Spring conference, I will conclude that the Board’s decision is unreasonable and is motivated by political considerations which originate outwith the traditions of the Green Party and environmentalism.
Please circulate this response to other members of the Green World Editorial Board.
GWEB statement from Matthew Butcher
"Green World Editorial Board did not accept the advertising insert from Population Matters for the February issue of the magazine. This decision was made as it was felt by the majority of the board that the advertisement promotes a policy that directly contradicts Green values of equality. Specifically, it was felt that a policy of providing birth control to women in majority world countries with the explicit aim of reducing population implies that responsibility for tackling environmental problems lies with women's fertility choices, and that these women should have fewer children. This contradicts the aim of empowering women to have control over their own bodies, and divides people by gender and race in our responsibility to the planet.
The Green World Editorial Board will be meeting on the Sunday of this Spring's Green Party conference. As always this meeting will be public and we'd encourage those party members who'd like to talk to the board to come along. Look out for signs at conference so you know where to go."
If you are unable to come to conference and would like to let us know your thoughts on the issue please do send us an email using the details below. 
Members of the Green World Editorial Board: Matthew Butcher, Josiah Mortimer, Sam Hollick, Miriam Kennet.  

01 February 2013

Freedom Press have uploaded the picture below showing the damage to their bookshop. Please don't forget to consider sending them a donation.

Solidarity for Freedom Press

Last night, Freedom Press in Whitechapel was firebombed. Noone has yet claimed responsibility, but the shop is apparently in pretty bad shape.

Please show your support and solidarity for this venerable anarchist institution by helping out with their appeal. See their Twitter feed below for details.