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

 

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.

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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.

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Weedkiller glyphosate a ‘substantial’ cancer factor

Yet another US court finds the weedkiller glyphosate a ‘substantial’ cancer factor https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47633086 but Camden Council refuses to take action, ignoring my presentation of a 1000 signature petition to stop its use in the borough.

How many deaths will it take before Camden Council wakes up to the potential danger their staff and the public are exposed to?

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My bid to beat Brexit and become an MEP for London

190319 #MagidAndMe

“Kirsten would be an amazing MEP!

She’s totally committed to Europe and fights hard for what she believes in.”

Magid Magid, Lord Mayor of Sheffield

 

190323 BREXIT MARCH TOM & KDKParliament has been Brexit-browbeating the people for a thousand days. And so, fed-up we got up, and marched. Bloodied, but unbowed. I kept reminding myself that I am campaigning to become an MEP candidate for London, while at the same time taking to the streets of that very city, alongside over one million other Europeans, passionately trying to rescue the UK from crashing out of the EU.

All pretty unreal, to be sure.

Frankly, I am also ashamed that it had to get to the point where we now find ourselves staring wide-eyed and ashen-faced into the abyss, before I got off my **se and threw my hat into the ring as an MEP candidate.

 

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Past, present and future: Kirsten de Keyser for London Green European election candidate

Article from Bright Green 14 March 2019

190508 I LOVE EU I AM A EUROPEAN D6DACg4XkAEYpweSomewhere last week, someone said

“The UK could leave the EU without ever knowing what it was all about”.

And in the immortal words of Terry Pratchett:

“If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going.”

So to be a solid winner, our message for the 2019 Campaign for Europe must be delivered in three parts; The Past, The Present, The Future. Continue reading

…famous last words

Good evening Green Londoners!

There are 9 hours and 30 minutes left for you to stay up and select your shortlist of candidates for the GLA2020 elections. Tick-tock-tick-tock…

If you haven’t voted yet, and if you need a little help with making up your mind, here is my short opening statement at the London hustings – it starts at 1:10″


…and in case you’re gagging for more, here is my brief closing statement at the same hustings – it starts at 34:20″

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