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Posts by Susannah

Bees 1 – 0 eBay

April 1st, 2014 by

Fantastic news. The bee-killer pesticides are off eBay – AGAIN!

62,827 emails (!) from 38 Degrees members pushed eBay into taking action. They even told the 38 Degrees office that they had people in “making manual checks over the weekend” – which for a huge corporation based on fancy technology is extraordinary.

Here’s a statement from eBay:

“An open letter to 38 Degrees supporters: 

eBay is a marketplace, not a retailer.  We rely on our sellers and our community to help us, as well as our own monitoring system.  We are still improving our system to catch listings for this issue, and it will get better, but no system is perfect.  We will immediately take action against items reported to us. 

It is our experience that sellers want to comply with the regulations, but often don’t know them so we will educate sellers about the rules too.

Thank you for your passion in helping to keep eBay free of items of concern.

Last week it looked as though eBay had acted. 48 hours later the pesticides were back up on their site. But this time, it looks like eBay have actually done the work and fixed the problem. The staff team can’t find either of the banned bee-killers, imidacloprid or thiamothoxam, in pesticides for sale on eBay.co.uk right now – can you?

The charity Buglife, who first found the illegal pesticides on eBay, are now talking to eBay about their pesticide policies. Vanessa Amaral Rogers from Buglife started the original petition to eBay on Campaigns by You, a platform which lets anyone start their own campaign. [3] That’s how 38 Degrees members first got involved. Here’s what Vanessa has to say:

“After fantastic work from over 60,000 38 Degrees members, Buglife are extremely happy to report that neonicotinoid pesticides are no longer up for sale on eBay. We will be keeping a close eye on eBay to see whether they keep their promise and don’t allow the sale of these illegal bee-killing pesticides in the future – bees can breathe a sigh of relief for now.

Do you know of another corporate giant behaving badly? Is there something else you’d like to change? Click here to start your own campaign on Campaigns by You in minutes.

All this is not to say the banned pesticides will never go up for sale again. But eBay sound serious about fixing their systems – and now, eBay know that 38 Degrees members are watching.

So, some good news. But everyone keeping a watch out will help catch the illegal listings the next time they go up. Report anything you find – eBay want to hear it.

Until then, eBay!

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eBay: killing our bees AGAIN

March 28th, 2014 by

Update: statement from eBay!

An open letter to 38 Degrees supporters:

eBay is a marketplace, not a retailer.  We rely on our sellers and our community to help us, as well as our own monitoring system.  We are still improving our system to catch listings for this issue, and it will get better over the coming days as we make changes, but no system is perfect.  We will immediately take action against items reported to us though.

It is our experience that sellers want to comply with the regulations, but often don’t know them so from next week we will educate sellers about the rules too.

Thank you for your passion in helping to keep eBay free of items of concern.

So it looks like eBay are moving in the right direction – but three of the links below are still up on eBay.co.uk, and on Wednesday, eBay said something similar… but 48 hours later hadn’t taken every illegal listing down.

They’ve also said that they “have a team making manual checks over the weekend.”

These are positive steps, for sure. But is it as far as we want eBay to go? Please comment below!


Unbelievable – two days after eBay listened to 38 Degrees members and said they’d stopped selling illegal bee-killer pesticides, they’re back up on the site.

You can see the statements that eBay made on Wednesday here.

It’s a classic move: wait ’til the fuss has died down, then quietly get back to business as usual.

Click here to email eBay directly and tell them to:
1. stop selling the illegal pesticides!
2. fix their broken ‘we don’t sell illegal things’ policy

The staff at the charity Buglife are picking through eBay’s marketplace with a fine-tooth comb right now, and we’ll keep updating the list of the banned pesticides that are still up for sale. You can sign the Buglife-Campaigns by You petition to eBay here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/get-ebay-to-remove-toxic-illegal-chemicals-from-their-website

And here are the illegal listings. –UPDATE: some of these listings have now been taken down by eBay, and some are still live and up on the site. Watch this space as eBay respond to 12,112 emails from 38 Degrees (and counting!)–

If you have an eBay account, you can also report them individually to eBay.

Listings with the banned chemical imidacloprid:




(from a UK seller) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bayer-Provado-Ulimate-Bug-Killer-400Ml-/151252553018?pt=UK_Home_Garden_Garden_Plants_Weed_Pest_Control_CV&hash=item23375acd3a


(from a UK seller) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Aerosol-Strong-Bug-Killer-Bayer-Garden-Provado-Ultimate-Bug-Killer-400ml-/161206343835?pt=UK_Pet_Supplies_Reptiles_Spiders_Insects&hash=item2588a5989b








Listings with the banned chemical thiamothoxam:

(from a UK seller) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/200ML-RESOLVA-BUG-KILLER-CONCENTRATE-PLANT-POT-CONTAINER-INSECT-KILLER-/271418088283?pt=UK_Home_Garden_Garden_Plants_Weed_Pest_Control_CV&hash=item3f31c75b5b



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NHS England: Give us transparency

March 27th, 2014 by

Private companies are helping to decide the future of the NHS.

It’s come to light that a lobbying outfit working for some of the biggest drug companies was paid by NHS England to write an important report. It’s claimed that this report could help shape £12bn (!) of NHS spending over the next five years.

The NHS is owned by all of us. But NHS England – the body that runs the NHS here – doesn’t have to publish conflicts of interest like this, or details of the lobbyists they meet with. We may never have even found out this was going on.

If enough of us kick up a stink, we could force NHS England to come clean about who’s deciding the future of our NHS. Let’s show them that the taxpayers who fund them expect them to be transparent about who’s advising them, especially when these people might profit from the decisions.

Private companies getting involved in NHS decision-making is exactly what we all feared would happen when the government passed the Health and Social Care Act. As well as providing local services, private companies are now being ushered in at the top of the NHS.

There’s no reason why NHS England can’t publish potential conflicts of interest or meetings with lobbying firms. Government departments regularly do this.

NHS England is less than a year old. They’re not used to being on the receiving end of a big people-powered petition. Thousands and thousands of names on a petition, delivered to their offices, could embarrass them into coming clean about who’s influencing them.

38 Degrees members have voted time and time again to ensure that protecting our NHS is at the core of what we do. It’s moments like this where we can come together and take action. Let’s fight to protect our NHS from the vultures that are circling around it – or at least, to find out which vultures are circling.

Click here to join thousands of other 38 Degrees members in demanding that NHS England come clean about the revolving door between big business and the NHS.

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eBay: no longer killing our bees!

March 26th, 2014 by

Success! It took 3,380 emails from 38 Degrees members and a few hours to stop eBay selling bee-killing pesticides.

We took them by surprise, and it worked. The illegal pesticides are off the site. Unwitting gardeners won’t accidentally break the European ban that hundreds of thousands of 38 Degrees members campaigned for, and our bees are a little bit safer.

It’s easy to feel powerless when we’re up against corporate giants. But today we’ve proven that even the biggest opponents respond when thousands of us campaign together.

So – a good day!

Here’s what some other 38 Degrees members had to say on Facebook:

Dave: Brilliant! Well done everybody, and maybe a good word for eBay who took notice of us and didn’t procrastinate like other organisations do.

Sonia: Only 3500 made the difference. Okay let’s focus and get another few billion and shift this planet on!

And the obligatory bee pun:

Chris: 38 degrees caused quite a buzz.

Congrats all round!

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Poll results: March 22nd 2014

March 24th, 2014 by

Every week a random (but representative!) sample of 38 Degrees members vote on which issues our movement should prioritise and which campaigns to get behind. Here are the results for March 22nd 2014.

The blue represents people answering ‘a lot’ to the question of whether 38 Degrees members should spend time on each issue, the red represents people answering ‘a little’, and the green is ‘not at all’.

Protecting our NHS from privatisation has come top this week! See here for a campaign to uncover links between NHS England – the body in charge of privatisation contracts in the NHS in England – and big business.

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Cameron and climate change: full page ad in the Witney Gazette

March 20th, 2014 by

Remember the event in a local Witney bookshop, where constituents pressured their MP David Cameron to take tough decisions to tackle climate change?

Well – did you catch the ad in today’s Witney Gazette upping the pressure even further? Check it out below. Come on Mr Cameron – as the EU climate talks approach, lead the way on strong targets. No one liked the floods. We’ll like the climate even less in 50 years if you don’t act now.

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Cameron, climate change and Witney

March 14th, 2014 by

Last night in the Oxfam Bookshop on Witney High St: more than a dozen 38 Degrees members, alongside Oxfam, Greenpeace and CAFOD supporters and a couple of local councillors, launched an open letter to their MP David Cameron asking him to start taking some tough action on climate change.

Since the recent catastrophic flooding in Oxfordshire and elsewhere in the country, David Cameron has started making the link between global climate change and local disasters – but in the words of Phil Ball, an Arctic 30 member and Witney constituent who spoke last night, joining those dots isn’t enough. He needs to act, too.

In less than two weeks Cameron will be at the EU climate summit, and in September at a global leaders’ summit – and he needs to make the choice now to go in hard and push for strong international climate change policy.

It can be hard sometimes in the fog that is international legislation on climate change to feel individual power and ownership over the process, but as Witney constituents proved last night: before David Cameron is a leader on the world stage, he is an MP for Witney, with responsibility for his constituents’ and their views.

38 Degrees members walked out of the bookshop with plans to book into his surgery, deliver the A0 print out of the open letter to his office, and to cut out any press on the event and send it to him. We’re coming, Mr Cameron.

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38 Degrees members in Witney tell David Cameron to act on climate change

March 11th, 2014 by

Over 300 38 Degrees members in Witney have signed an open letter to their MP, a certain Mr David Cameron, calling on him to take hard decisions and push for real policy changes on climate change.

Oxfordshire’s just had some of its worst flooding in decades. David Cameron’s gone as far as to connect it to global climate change… but we need strong policy action from him, too.

In two weeks’ time, Cameron will be at the EU climate summit in Brussels. Either he’ll push for the strong climate change policy we need – or he won’t.

Cameron might be Prime Minister, but he’s not immune to what his constituents think. Greenpeace, Oxfam and Stop Climate Chaos Coalition supporters in Witney are signing this open letter to Cameron asking him to show strong leadership at the EU summit – and now hundreds of 38 Degrees members have joined them.

Here’s the open letter they’re signing:

Dear Mr Cameron,

Over the past month West Oxfordshire has seen some of its worst flooding in over 50 years. Before 2007 such flooding was rare, yet this is the third time in five years that crops across the area have been destroyed, travel disrupted and property damage commonplace. As your constituents, we were pleased to hear our concerns being voiced when you pointed out the link between climate change and the increasing occurrence of extreme weather events – both in the UK and abroad.

However, we are keen to see that statements like these translate into policy decisions which might help avert the worst effects of climate change. We are writing to urge you to play a leading role in the coming weeks to ensure the EU takes on its fair share of the global effort to keep temperature rise well below 2 degrees, beyond which scientists have predicted catastrophic climate change.

We hope that you will demonstrate strong leadership at the EU climate summit by urging it to adopt far-reaching, legally binding targets to curb greenhouse gases and stimulate energy efficiency and renewable energy. The impact of the flooding on our economy and wellbeing, and the devastation caused by more extreme examples such as Typhoon Haiyan, demonstrates how necessary it is to be taking ambitious action to tackle climate change. Now is the time for action.

The EU summit at the end of March will set the stage for a global summit in September. Changing climate change policy is a long game – but the UK’s position in two weeks’ time really matters.

If Cameron goes in hard now and pushes for strong emissions targets, there’s a good chance that the opportunities on the table in September will be more ambitious. And if they’re ambitious, 2014 could be the year that we start turning the tide on climate change.

38 Degrees members are getting the ball rolling by signing up in their hundreds to the open letter. If you live in Witney and you’d like to sign up too, here’s a link where you can add your name: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/cameron-climate-change

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Gagging law: it’s over, for now.

January 29th, 2014 by

Yesterday, the gagging law, more formally known as the Transparency of Lobbying Bill, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill (now Act), cleared its final hurdle in Parliament. It’s now on its way to getting royal assent and becoming law.

This is a message sent from 38 Degrees Executive Director David Babbs to every single 38 Degrees member, immediately after the final two votes (on the range of activity counted towards a spending cap in any single constituency, and on whether staff costs count towards total spend) were lost in the House of Lords:

I wanted to let you know straight away. I’m afraid we lost the gagging law vote in the House of Lords this evening. That’s it – it’s going to become law.

It couldn’t have been closer. On the final vote, 245 Lords voted in favour and 245 against. Unfortunately the rules mean that in the case of a tie, the government gets its way.

Personally I feel pretty devastated about this. I’m worried about what it means for the future of 38 Degrees. More importantly, I’m worried about what it means for the future of democracy, and what it tells us about the state of British politics.

But I also feel proud of everything 38 Degrees members did together to fight this. I hope you do too.

There will be a lot of thinking and discussion to be done in the coming days. 38 Degrees members will need to pull together to think about how to fight this terrible law. And we’ll need to work out how we can keep standing up for all we believe in – despite the restrictions the government is trying to impose.

But right now, I feel sure of one thing. We won’t give up.

Sorry I’m not emailing with better news, and thank you for everything you’ve done,


PS: 38 Degrees members are discussing the outcome on Facebook. You can join in at https://www.facebook.com/peoplepowerchange

Here’s some of the comments so far:

Peter: I am Spartacus. Who’s with me?

Zoë: sad news, let’s keep fighting to change it

Kirsty: The government shouldn’t even be allowed to vote on something like this…. it should be a vote left to the general public. Of course the government want us mute so this is no surprise

Peter: I strongly believe there should now be a coordinated campaign of civil disobedience. During the election campaign, all those organisations that stood against this atrocious and illiberal legislation should simply ignore it and campaign as usual. Maybe with a campaign fund set up to help defend the smaller organisations.

Liz: Gradually democracy is being eroded. The arrogance of this government is beyond belief.

Today is a difficult day. After a wonderful, uplifting, broad-based, people-powered campaign lasting six months, characterized by one of the broadest coalitions of civil society ever to work together in the UK, today the Bill is law.

But once the dust has settled, hopefully there will be as much pride as there is anger and sadness. Together, 38 Degrees members and hundreds of organisations supported by hundreds of thousands of people, made a catastrophic law better. It’s still a bad law, but here are the fixes we won:

  1. We changed potentially ruinous joint spending rules for organisations working in coalition to exclude small-spending organisations (Amd. 39)
  2. We got some costs excluded from spending that counts towards the new spending caps:
    • translation into Welsh (Amd. 44)
    • disability access (Amd. 44)
    • safety and security measures (Amd. 43)
    • NI parades (Amd. 42)
    • Volunteer costs (Amd. 44)
  3. We raised the minimum spend threshold, after which you have to register with the Electoral Commission and take on a whole lot more red tape, to £20,000 from £10,000 in England, and to £10,000 from £5,000 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Amd. 46)
  4. We raised the overall spending limit in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by £20,000 each, bringing the new caps there to: (Amd. 47)
    • Scotland: £55,000 (from proposed £35,000)
    • Wales: £44,000 (from proposed £24,000)
    • NI: £31,000 (from proposed £11,000)
  5. Reduced the period for which the law is applicable before the 2015 General Election from 1 year to 7.5 months (Amd. 30-35)
  6. Won a review of all the rules that apply to organisations campaiging during elections, due to happen after the 2015 General Election (Amd. 118)
  7. Got rid of proposed spending caps in individual constituencies for the time period between Parliament dissolves and the General Election happens (Amd. 53)
  8. Got rid of some of the worst new proposed red tape and reporting requirements for organisations registering with the Electoral Commission – these would have been particularly hard for small organisations with limited budgets and staff to comply with (Amd. 50 & Amd. 5)

That’s truly something to be proud of.

The exact implications of the Act on campaigning organisations and local groups across the country (and on 38 Degrees!) won’t be known until the Electoral Commission produces its guidance on how it should be implemented and enforced. There are some marshalled case studies of projected implications for organisations here.

And here’s a wonderful video of 38 Degrees members across the country meeting MPs (some of whom then switched their votes!) throughout the course of the campaign. Watch it. I defy you not to feel pride and hope.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts, Gagging law


We’re in the papers!

January 28th, 2014 by

Full page ads are running in The Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian and the i today. They ask MPs and Lords to fix the worst bits of the gagging law – and they look great!

Together, the papers have a circulation of over 1 million – and copies of all of them will be lying in tea rooms and offices all over Parliament today.

The number of organisations behind these ads means they’re uniquely powerful. How often do we see that many logos together?

Thousands of 38 Degrees members chipped in to make these ads possible. It’s another reminder of what we can accomplish together.

If you’d like to share the ads on Facebook or Twitter, click here:

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Posted in Gagging law

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