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Is this the vow delivered? Have your say

January 23rd, 2015 by

Yesterday David Cameron visited Edinburgh to announce the plans to give Holyrood new powers. It was a big moment. These plans were only written because across Scotland, before, during and since the referendum, ordinary people demanded a fairer, more democratic country – and a government with new and better powers.

Tens of thousands of 38 Degrees members were part of the movement that pushed for these new powers.  So are they good enough? If we’re not happy with them, there’s a chance we could push for some serious changes.

Please click here for our quick poll where you can have your say on the proposals – and help us decide what 38 Degrees members across Scotland could do next.

Cameron also stated that the plans, which are the result of the Smith Commission, are the end of the road for Scottish devolution.  So are you happy with this ‘final resting place’ for the Scottish parliament?

There’s a lot going on in the new plans. They give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in Scottish elections. They give Holyrood new powers over Scotland’s railways and over income tax.

But full tax powers are not included in the proposals. The Scottish parliament would have the power to set income tax rates and thresholds, and receive the first 10% VAT raised. But all other aspects of income tax (e.g. personal allowance), and other taxes such as Corporation Tax, National Insurance and North Sea revenue, would remain with Westminster.

Some welfare powers such as Disability Living Allowance and aspects of Housing Benefit are to be devolved – but overall the Universal Credit programme would remain with Westminster. Charities and NGOs say they’re disappointed over the lack of welfare powers.

120,000 of us signed the petition to David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg in the wake of the referendum vote: together, 38 Degrees members told them to stick to their promises of new powers for Scotland. Now that we have the plans in front of us, let’s decide together: have they delivered?

Please click here to have your say

 

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Lancashire: What next for the fracking campaign?

January 20th, 2015 by

38 Degrees members in Lacashire have been voting to decide which tactics they want to use next in their campaign against fracking. The top actions people decided upon were attending council meetings and events – so 38 Degrees members will be going along to events organised at the council meetings by other anti-fracking groups. The other actions that polled highest were writing to local newspapers and sticking up posters in our windows.

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Don’t cut crucial funding

January 19th, 2015 by

Last week over 10,600 members of 38 Degrees wrote to the government to tell them not to cut crucial funding designed to help people in crisis. This vital safety net helps families heat their homes in emergencies and supports victims of domestic violence, so is crucial for people most in need.

Before Christmas thousands of 38 Degrees members signed the petition demanding Osborne protect this emergency fundingbut the government didn’t listen. They just passed the buck to councils, giving them less money than last year but advising them that £130m should be set aside for the fund.

But they left a small glimmer of hope by conducting a consultation.  They asked the public what to do about the emergency fund, so thousands of members wrote in and told them to save it, and increase the funding.

Councils have already had their budgets slashed. So unless the government finds additional funding to help people in hardship, then councils could be forced to cut vital services. And these cuts will hit people just when they need support the most.

From helping parents buy mattresses for their kids to sleep on to supporting families hit by floods, anyone can suddenly find themselves up against it. Knowing there is a safety net to catch us in hard times is part of what makes Britain great.

When thousands of us come together, we can change the government’s mind. We did it when the government scrapped its plans to privatise the Child Protection Services and we’re keeping everything crossed that together we can do it again this time. 

The government is due to feedback early next month – we’ll keep you updated.

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Your Decision: 19th Jan 2015

January 19th, 2015 by

Every week a group of 38 Degrees members vote on which issues our movement should prioritise and which campaigns to get behind. Here are the results for last week.

Protecting the NHS by stopping the government’s dangerous plans like privatisation and closing A&E departments has come top this week followed closely by campaigning against TTIP and cracking down on tax dodging.

The next biggest issues were: care for the elderly, climate change and education policies that enable every child to read their full potential.

You can see how 38 Degrees members voted on other issues on the graph below. The blue on the graph shows how many people answered ‘a lot’ in support of the campaigns listed, the red represents people answering ‘a little’, and the green is ‘not at all’.

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Good news: MPs want a say in TTIP

January 19th, 2015 by

Good news: yesterday, MPs voted to say they want power over what’s in TTIP.  Tens of thousands of us got in touch with our MPs this week asking them to do just that – and we won!

It was a symbolic vote, and only a handful of MPs turned up. But now that MPs have said they think they should have a say on what’s in TTIP, ordinary people could have more power over the final deal.

Why? Because if a real vote happens, we can put pressure on our MPs to do the right thing. It’s an election year, so they’re worrying about what their voters think.

So – a step in the right direction!

And that isn’t the only good news on TTIP this week. On Tuesday, the EU Commission was forced to admit that 97% of people who responded to a TTIP consultation were against the bit of the deal that could let private companies sue our government.

38 Degrees members flooded that consultation in our tens of thousands – a third (!) of all responses across Europe came from Britain.

The EU has decided to ‘suspend’ negotiations on this controversial part of the deal. Maybe they’re hoping this will make the fuss die down. They might try and put it back on the table when they think we’re not looking.

But we know we won’t stop until the interests of ordinary people are put above the interests of big business. We’re turning the tide. Let’s keep going.

PS: TTIP – and 38 Degrees members! – made it on to the radio this week. If you’d like to listen, it starts at 35:00.

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Fracking: Don’t drill under our homes

January 12th, 2015 by

The government is trying to change the law so big energy firms can drill for gas under our homes – without asking us.

But together we can stop these plans in their tracks. To change the law, they need MPs to vote for it in parliament. And the vote’s in just a few weeks. Let’s make it clear that backing dirty energy companies over constituents would be a toxic move.

A huge people-powered petition against the plans – which we can hand-in to our MPs – will make sure all MPs know to the way they need to vote. Will you stand up for your home – and everyone elses? Click here to sign the petition.

The plans – simple changes to existing trespass law – could mean your home surrounded by noisy machines, and your local park turned into a gas field. All without your permission. The process – known as fracking – could also poison our water and produce toxic waste. And it’s known to cause earthquakes.

All over the country, people and local councils have been refusing planning permission to dirty energy companies for fracking. But this change in the law takes away our power to say no to it happening under our homes.

When we work together, we’re stronger. And we’re not alone, thousands of grassroots groups all over the UK are standing hand-in-hand to stop these plans, for each other’s homes. It’s a truly people-powered effort.

 

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General Election 2015: member poll

January 8th, 2015 by

Our A&E departments are in crisis. It looks like we’re now feeling the impact of the NHS shake up that no-one voted for. And the politicians who did it are blaming anyone but themselves. [1]

The A&E crisis is just one example of how MPs’ decisions affect the lives of all of us. We only get to vote for our MPs and our government once every five years. This year, in May, we get that chance.

So what should 38 Degrees members push for at this election? What do you want to change about the UK, or about UK politics? What’s important to you right now?

Please can you take a few minutes to help decide what 38 Degrees could do during the 2015 election by taking the poll.

Politicians and their spin doctors think they set the election agenda. But 38 Degrees is independent and people powered – if enough of us work together, we can turn politics-as-usual on its head.

Together we could make sure the things we care about, like protecting our NHS or cracking down on tax dodgers, are front and centre in the race for votes.

Please help decide what 38 Degrees should stand up for during the election by voting in the poll.

During the last election in 2010, 38 Degrees members voted together to decide the plan. The key priority then was exposing candidates with links to the corporate lobbying industry.

Five years on, 38 Degrees has grown. There are now millions of us – so this time we can be more ambitious. So, what should we do together in 2015?

The decision about what 38 Degrees does during the election is a big one. As well as this survey there’ll be chances for 38 Degrees members to meet up and discuss these plans. You’ll get more details about those events in the next few days.

[1] The government isn’t talking about the real reasons for the crisis – it’s blaming people for going to A&E when they don’t need to, and pointing the finger at our ageing population. But this isn’t the whole story. Cuts to social care mean older and disabled people can’t leave hospital because they can’t get care at home. And replacing NHS Direct with a privatised 111 service run by unqualified staff has landed many in A&E who don’t need to be there.

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Stephen Dorrell Petition hand in

January 8th, 2015 by

On 17th December 2014, 38 Degrees went to Downing Street to hand in the Stephen Dorrell petition, signed by a whopping 167,000 of us. In it, a clear message: stop Dorrell’s conflict of interest.

Here’s a pic of the petition being delivered to Cameron along with a new jacket for Stephen Dorrell to wear in Parliament until he quits one of his jobs:

Stephen Dorrell - Downing Street Hand In 2.JPG

Together, 38 Degrees members asked David Cameron to force Dorrell to choose between representing the people who voted him into Parliament and KPMG’s six-figure salary. The PM can sack him from the party if he refuses to leave. But at the moment Dorrelll is happy to carry on as a part-time MP for this final five months.

Our massive petition made the last few weeks very embarrassing for Stephen Dorrell. And it also reminded MPs that 38 Degrees members are ready to pull out all the stops to challenge politicians who try to bend the rules.

The ball’s now in Cameron’s court.

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No TTIP artwork at the Bearpit, Bristol

December 22nd, 2014 by

The local 38 Degrees group in Bristol have been hard at work getting NO TTIP artwork up in the city! It’s at the Bear Pit which is an artist’s space within St James Barton roundabout.

If you live near by, or are passing through, make sure you check it out (and send the office team more pictures!) Big credit goes to Alison and Sangeeta for organising!

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TTIP: 38 Degrees members meet Bill Cash MP

December 22nd, 2014 by

Here’s a blog by 38 Degrees member Linden Kaniewski, who lives in Stone constituency

Following on from the European Day of Action on TTIP, 38 Degrees members from Stone, Staffordshire organised a meeting with Bill Cash MP. We got about 15 minutes to pop some questions and to make our concerns known.

We got the ball rolling by handing Bill a report by the Austrian Foundation for Development Research which challenges the findings of the CEPR report commissioned by the EU. It argues that the potential economic benefits are very uncertain and rely upon assumptions such as continued full employment. Bill did not challenge the suggestion that the economic effect could be ten billion pounds either way.

He was, however, very keen to reassure us that he was concerned about TTIP and that he was fully aware of the issues involved. In fact he went to great lengths to explain to us how he was working closely with Lord Livingston, the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, who is taking part in the Lord’s Inquiry into TTIP. Apparently, Lord Livingston also has reservations but we were not told what these are.

On the topic of Investor State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) he agreed with 38 Degrees members that the ability of foreign investors to be able to sue governments in secret courts was an “undeniable” threat to UK sovereignty. It’s interesting to note that Bill’s website has a section entitled ‘The accountability and sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament’. This is where Bill became passionate. He was unsure who he was accountable to in the ‘chain of command’ and was uncomfortable with the ‘behind closed doors’ negotiations that he said had already been scuppered by the leaked document, making a mockery of the argument for secret talks.

38 degrees members were also concerned that the EU was being pressurized by powerful corporations in the agriculture sector to bring standards into ‘harmonization’ with the US. Bill baulked at the idea of hormone treated beef but was less clear on how he proposed to ensure that standards were harmonized without the EU lowering theirs. It is worth noting that the U.S. government lodged complaints with the World Trade Organization targeting EU restrictions on GMOs and growth hormones and that the U.S. hopes to push for changes to labelling laws.

Our time was up rather quickly so we didn’t get chance to ask Bill whether the taxpayer may end up compensating corporations for loss of future profits. Nor did Bill get a chance to say what he thought about the nuclear company Vattenfall demanding 4.7 billion euros from the German government for predicted loss of profits after it decided to phase out nuclear power. It would have been interesting to discuss the case of gold mining firm Occidental suing the government of Ecuador for $1.77 billion after the latter changed its mind about mining in the rainforest. Or what about the Philip Norris tobacco company suing Australia over a change in its packaging laws? We didn’t even touch on the NHS and its inclusion or not in the Investor State Dispute Settlement clause.

U.S. Rep. for Florida, Alan Grayson, was allowed to see a copy of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an equivalent of TTIP, after mounting public pressure. He concluded that “This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests”. We just hope that Bill will discover all he needs to know via the Lord’s Inquiry just in case he isn’t allowed a peek at TTIP.

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