About KirstenForLondon

Green Party Candidate on the 2020 London Assembly List Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Holborn and St Pancras

Lords are a-leaping and Ladies are dancing

Lords are a-leaping and Ladies are dancing at the prospect of a free lunch for life. For our newly unelected peers, elevated to parliament by Boris Johnson, need not “Eat Out to Help Out” and get Rishi Sunak’s tenner off their pub grub. Their House of Lords dining experience is already half price, courtesy of us taxpayers.

Boris Johnson seems to be intensely relaxed about spaffing colossal wads of public cash up the wall for, what some would consider largely unproductive areas of our legislature. Shame the same degree of exuberant largesse does not apply to our kids’ school lunches. But then, kids can’t usefully benefit Johnson in return.

Never mind the ludicrousness of having an unelected body of influential decision makers in a modern democracy. If my maths tally, were all 830 House of Lords members to present themselves at the gate on a given day, pocketing their £300+ prize for turning up, the cost to the tax payer would be a cool quarter-of-a-million quid, just for that one day.

Of course, that would be silly, as only around 300 peers can actually fit onto the plush red benches in the House of Lords at any one time. But they do only have to sign in, they are then free to wander off to the lavish bars, lofty restaurants or posh libraries to while away a pleasant day with their chums. So no need for perching on each other’s laps in the chamber itself. Although that might actually add some pizzazz to the proceedings..

But I digress. Allowing for holidays, duvet days and just being generous, we are talking about a potential cost to the public purse of around £40 million a year, just for turning up and signing the register. Nice work if you can get it. Now add the aforementioned generous perks, subsidised bars, dining rooms and ancillary costs of polishing all those knobs and knockers.

What’s more, scores of these privileged many have rarely contributed anything of any use whatsoever, while claiming millions in return. Figures from 2018 showed that the average peer cost the taxpayer £83,000 with £67.9million paying for 814 members at that time.

And the good Lords and Ladies need not worry about being handed their P45 any time soon. They can’t be sacked. The job is for life. Yes really.

So kids, the moral of this story is – if you want lunch, strive towards the House of Lords.

Unless we have managed to abolish this excrutiatingly embarrassing institution it in the meantime, of course.

And all that said, we do get the government we deserve so don’t just sit there! Join the Electoral Reform Society, get stuck in, help clean up these ridiculously crony infested corners of Westminster and restore some dignity to our Parliament.

 

The Westminster Dating Game

On Monday the 11th of May 2020 Boris Johnson ruffled up his coiffure and with customary big arm movements made a major announcement.  Johnson cheerfully proclaimed that, in two months time, on Saturday the 4th of July to be exact, we could all go to the hairdressers again. To add a bit of froth, the pubs would open too. Had Johnson been visiting Mystic Meg or had he just peered into Dominic Cummings’ very own crystal ball?

The country was in the darkest hour of Covid lockdown, new coronavirus cases were exploding daily to above 32,000, deaths from Covid-19 were soaring to what then seemed a staggering 14,573. We were all clapping our carers on Thursdays and children would likely not be back in school till September. So what did he know that the scientists didn’t? What magic did Saturday the 4th of July hold, that would wash away our virus woes?

The answer, of course, is that Boris Johnson did not know and the 4th of July does not have any particular powers over global pandemics. What it does have, being the American Independence Day, is great recognition value. And that’s something Boris Johnson does understand – style over substance. Johnson could smartly sell this as the British Independence Day. Ironic really, given how the original July 4 came about – declaration of US independence from the rule of the British monarch.

So, this was purely a, now familiar, case of shipping out the science, and just picking another daft date with which to navigate the nation’s viral tsunami, never mind the fallout. Medics and scientists are nervous, to say the least, that, after three months of idle beer pumps, pubs are opening on a Saturday. “Can’t it at least wait till the quieter Monday?” they ask. No, Monday is the 6th of July and that sounds just a bit lame. No sound bite and oven-ready headline for Johnson to trumpet.

And the Tories do have form when it comes to picking daft dates. Here are a few of their recent prize picks:

2019

01 April, April Fool: Day One after Brexit (it didn’t happen, fooled you?)

31 October, Halloween: Announcing a new Brexit date (Zombies?)

31 December, New Years Eve: Brexit – (again)

2020

04 July, US Independence Day: End of the (First?) Covid-19 lockdown

At least this daft-date map comes in handy for planning our own future diaries. We can at least guess which dates we can expect for more big headline announcements from the Government:

13 July, Battle of the Boyne (controversial)

31 August, Summer Bank Holiday (let’s send this virus packing! Again)

25 October, End of Daylight Saving (darkness falls…)

05 November, Guy Fawkes Day (could be a winner)

08 November, Remembrance Sunday (in case Guy Fawkes doesn’t work)

So there’s our Boris Johnson/Dominic Cummings event roadmap for the next six months. Forewarned is forearmed. Wear a mask, wash your hands, carry a tape measure. And your diary.

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London – A Never Ending Story

2017-10-03 18.30.29London is now the only English region where more people are leaving than arriving from other parts of the country – only immigration is keeping the population steady.

According to Wikipedia, city is a large human settlement. It can be defined as a permanent and densely settled place with administratively defined boundaries whose members work primarily on non-agricultural tasks. Cities generally have extensive systems for housing, transportation, sanitation, utilities, land use, and communication.

I have called many a great city my home over the years – Copenhagen, Rome, Madrid, Sydney, Los Angeles…Birmingham (not Alabama) and London. I have swung by countless other metropolises on the way but, in the end, I chose to hammer my tent pegs into the vibrant and verdant London turf.

Several decades, a nuclear family and much career action later, I look at London and wonder what the hell happened?! I can still sense the muffled echo of 70s music, the 24/7 crazy madness, the cool challenges, delicious opportunities, the daunting jeopardy.

But today all around me, instead of exciting curiosity, I detect an exhausted scowl on our collective face, leaving me to wonder if all the great London quotes we know so well, still hold true, fashioned as they were, by fabulous Londoners throughout this city’s illustrious history?

Did Samuel Johnson ever scowl at London life? “You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”. Certainly no regrets there for Johnson, having relocated south from his native Lichfield.

Yet more than a third of a million citizens got tired of London in 2018, the largest number since data collection began in 2012. Surely, they can’t all be tired of life? London is now the only English region where more people are leaving than arriving from other parts of the country – only immigration is keeping the population steady.

So let’s look for a better answer. Do we need to swap Samuel Johnson for Jane Austen? The truth is, that in London it is always a sickly season. Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.”

Our Jane penned those words a cool couple of hundred years ago, but she might as well have brought them into the world yesterday.

For London and we Londoners anno 2020 are in serious trouble, and not just due to the  Covid-19 pandemic. Far from bubbling along merrily, our city is slowly imploding but, in true Titanic style, the music keeps playing over at the Albert, while across in Hyde Park the deckchairs are being straightened meticulously.

Ever more gazillions of pounds are hoovered up by a shambolically delayed Crossrail project, while the existing London Underground is collapsing under the strain of five  million Londoners trying to get to work every morning, in order to create the wealth that pays for it all.

Gleaming apartment blocks, built for profit, not for people, stand empty while the numbers of homeless and poorly housed families go through the roof. Housing charity Shelter’s 2019 calculations estimate that 1 in every 52 people in London is homeless.  I know. Surely that can’t be right, you say? Go on, look it up. It is right.

How much more will it take before we get a grip?

Perhaps those 370,000 Londoners, who now leave town every year, just want their kids to be able to breathe some old fashioned fresh air? The kind of sweet fresh air we are breathing right now, courtesy of the Corona lockdown. That’s not too much to ask. Except that in London, in normal times, it is too much to ask. London typically reaches the legal air pollution limit for the whole year around the third week in January. Yes.

The Mayor of London’s figures show that more than two million Londoners live in areas exceeding legal air limits – including 400,000 children. Bizarrely, according to recent air quality measurements, one of Camden’s worst spots for air pollution is the leafy junction of swanky South Grove and Highgate West Hill. Here, the pollution level frequently reaches double the legal limit. And to think that I always imagined that once I got out of London and up to the top of Dick Whittington’s vantage point, I could start safely filling my lungs again.

But CO2 and especially the really nasty, but nimble NO2 don’t quite work like that. It’s all to do with the appliance of science, molecular weight and air currents. Apparently.

Nevertheless, we North Londoners who salute the old adage A bad day in London is still better than a good day anywhere else” are so lucky to have scores of Green residents, who care deeply about our environment and the welfare of our fellow citizens.

And there never was a better time for rolling up our civic sleeves and start setting to work fixing our great city. Campaigners in the civic societies, the neighbourhood forums, the Transition Towns groups, the tenants’ and residents’ associations and the army of truly amazing unsung legends, all, in their own way, shine a light into the murky corridors of power, asking tough questions wherever decisions are made.

For “It is not the walls that make the city, but the people who live within them”, Wikipedia never mentioned the people. George VI did!

So, to all you community spirited people: Please don’t stop doing what you’re doing! London is a never ending story.

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Waterlow Park, Highgate

Election 2019: In conversation with Kirsten de Keyser, Green Party

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https://beaveronline.co.uk/election-2019-in-conversation-with-kirsten-de-keyser-green-party/

Why do London’s Greens oppose HS2?

I recently met up with Sam Willis from OnLondon. He wanted to know what I think of HS2. Read his full article HERE 

Meanwhile, here’s a taster:

It is perhaps unsurprising that someone of De Keyser’s political background might lack trust in the good intentions of the government. But her stance also reflects her peculiar position as a Green parliamentary candidate in one of the safest Labour seats in the country. “I’m the one-person awkward squad,” she says. “Where you have these big safe seats it’s really important that you have an alternative voice, otherwise no debate is ever had.” As she sees it, in safe seats the incumbent party gets complacent: “Their own people don’t ask them the awkward questions.”

Thanks to Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg, environmental issues have been pushed to the foreground of political debate. This might help the Greens  – oppositional, mistrustful of government and sceptical about development – to pick up voters and send a message to the Big Two parties. In the meantime, the battle over HS2 continues.

Why do London’s Greens oppose HS2?

Your Green Candidate for Holborn and St Pancras in the December 12 2019 General Election

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I am standing as the Green Party Parliamentary Candidate in Holborn & St Pancras, a rock solid Labour seat. Sir Keir Starmer (Lab) has a 30,500 majority.

Why on earth am I doing that?
Because the bigger a political majority, the more essential a strong opposition. Big majorities kill debate.

Who am I anyway?
An active Green Party member for five years, I was born in Denmark and came to live in Britain in my twenties. I have two grown up children, a background in television production and a PPE degree. I sit on the Council of the Electoral Reform Society and I represent the Kentish Town Health Centre on the NHS Camden Clinical Commissioning Group. I have an overwhelming sense of fairness and equality, and we don’t have enough of either.
I want to change that.

When will this happen?
Now. It’s time to act. Time to ramp up our climate programme, time to get the homeless off our streets and time to give our kids well funded, happy schools. All of them. Time to fix our employment laws, so we can work to live, not live to work, and time for decent retirement for our parents. Time for universal free education and time for affordable homes for all.

Why vote for me?
A vote for me means new energy, new ideas, no political baggage. Our politicians have failed and we can’t solve our problems with the same thinking that created them. We need new heads to create new solutions.

You know what to do!

In Holborn & St Pancras the Labour majority is so large that we have the luxury of being able to vote for what we believe in, without risking unintended consequences! So vote with your heart for once, and together we’ll make our world a better place. We can do this.

The Camden Green Party is 100% funded by small individual donations.
Help give Camden voters a chance to vote Green! 
Please support our Crowdfunder HERE 
Thank you and have a lovely day!

Email Kirsten: kirsten.dekeyser@camden.greenparty.org.uk

Find Kirsten on Facebook

Follow Kirsten on Twitter

 

Five years is a very long time to wait for a bus service review

 
180801 TOY LONDON BUS 7The London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that the review of bus services in outer London will take five years to complete. The review for inner London, where bus use is falling, is already done and dusted, so this news is yet another example of how City Hall is failing miserably when it comes to London’s greener boroughs.
 
We managed to fight an entire World War in five years, so taking half a decade to run the numbers on a bus service, which already has ample computerised documentation available, with a myriad of time tables, measured ticketing information and closely recorded employee activity, is a scandal that must be challenged.
 
City Hall and Transport for London will have to learn to work smart to meet the ever increasing public transport demand in boroughs like Barnet. Communal transport is the future and private taxi companies are already ahead of the game with their ‘Share & Ride’ services.
 
180801 TOY LONDON BUS 5To combat the wastefulness of large buses carrying few passengers, apart from during crush-hour, we need more, smaller Hopper style buses, even mini buses that whizz about where and when people need and want them.
 
For those, who are happy to pay a small fare uplift, Hail & Ride services are ideal in quiet backwater neighbourhoods, where regular large scale communal transport is not viable. Such services have already been running successfully in many cities – including parts of London, for years.
 
Coupled with a London wide flat fare system, this would be twice as fair, and would also cause such increased uptake in passengers, that it would practically pay for itself.
 
Taking five years to get this going is nothing short of an admission of either incompetence or complacency. Whatever it is, we expect better for our hard earned tax money.
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So, What Do You Think Of The Show So Far?

RUBBISH!

190109-orange-rubbish-cu-1.jpgOnce upon a time when rubbish was rubbish, life was simple. You bought stuff and whatever you didn’t consume in some fashion, you threw in the bin. The Council sent it to landfill or to the incinerator. There was nothing more to know.

That was then and this is now. Today, our rubbish has become a thing. A topic for conversation: “What can I recycle in which bin? I’m totally confused”. “Recycling is a load of rubbish, I bet they just chuck it all in the incinerator anyway”. “Someone told me that it still goes to landfill, so why do we bother?” Good question…

LONDON 2012 ORBIT BCUIf you want the answer – and if you happen to be in London, just take a 20 minute tube ride from Tottenham Ct Rd to Bromley by Bow. You’re now in Olympic Park territory. Anish Kapoor’s bright red Orbit Helter Skelter sticks up above the trees, you pass a futuristic looking school with exciting murals emblazoned on the walls. You realise that you don’t actually know much about Bromley by Bow.

This is about as far from rubbish as you can get. Except that it isn’t. Proceed through a leafy glade and you find yourself right next to a massive gleaming light grey aircraft hangar. Except that it isn’t. This is a common-or-garden rubbish dump. Except that there are no smells? No smells at all, in fact. And no noise. Continue reading

Telling tales from the European election in Brexit land

Tellers, say Wikipedia, help their parties identify supporters who have not yet voted, so that they can be contacted and encouraged to vote, and offered assistance—such as transport to the polling station—if necessary. In as far as this increases turn-out, it can be said to be “good” for the democratic process, since a higher voter turnout is generally considered desirable.

190523 POLLING CHAIRSIn my time I have sat on wobbly plastic chairs / stood in soggy puddles / leaned on rough brick walls for hours-on-end in a multitude of polling stations across the land, at a variety of elections for all manner of Councils and Governments, as a teller, collecting voter numbers on behalf of a pick-n-mix bag of political parties.

And I can now confirm that the Friday 23 May UK election for the European Parliament was nothing like any other election I have been a part of. From the outset it was clear that voters considered this to be a second Brexit vote, not the General Election for the European Parliament, which it actually was.

Continue reading

A European election message from Kirsten and what you can do!

190429 EU GREEN Logo_greens-efaAs I write, Extinction Rebellion are hosting their final meeting in Berkley Square, to celebrate the return of the nightingale. Down the road, parliament are still at sixes and sevens about Brexit – yes, funny old world we live in.

But together, we can do something about it. Amid the turmoil, we have a real chance to offer voters, fed up with indecision on the things that really matter, a new alternative.

Continue reading

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