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Archive for the ‘38 Degrees Blog Posts’ Category

Blogs by the 38 Degrees team, volunteers and members.

David Davies MP and 38 Degrees members in Monmouth

March 28th, 2014 by

Earlier this month David T.C. Davies MP stood up in parliament – at an important debate about the future of NHS hospitals in England – to criticise 38 Degrees members.

He said that 38 Degrees members were a “completely unreliable group of left-wingers.” Then he said we masquerade as “happy-go-lucky students”. He said that MPs shouldn’t listen to us, all 2.5 million of us. And that they should “take dangerously large pinches of salt with anything that comes out of that organisation”.

Following these comments, hundreds of 38 Degrees members in David Davies’ constituency, Monmouth, filled out a poll – to decide how we should respond. Here are some of the results:

  • Members of 38 Degrees in Monmouth said they wanted to hold David Davies MP to account for his comments and tell him about 38 Degrees.
  • 38 Degrees members also voted overwhelmingly to hold a public meeting in Monmouth with Mr Davies MP, and to write to their local papers.

Here are what some 38 Degrees members have been saying:
“Try to make him understand and to say sorry. We are not all students and not all lefties.”

“I shall email him personally – I confess that I do not recognise myself in his description!!”

“He is taring us all with the same brush, I am middle of the road in my politics and I just want people like him to listen to our voice, as he should being a representative of our community.”

“Email all 6,000 38 Degrees members in Monmouthshire to find out ages, employment status, level of education etc etc and demonstrate that they are not all “unreliable left-wingers” and “happy-go-lucky students”, but serious and thoughtful voters. Policy should be made according to the arguments not according to the person.”

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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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24 hours to go: Help make renting better

March 27th, 2014 by

Lots of us know what it’s like to be under the thumb of a bad landlord, or have children and friends stuck in shocking rented properties. Now the government has put forward plans to improve renting, and we have 24 hours to make sure they follow through.

These plans would make sure all landlords do urgent repairs, proper safety checks, and are accountable if they illegally throw people out. Ultimately much more needs to be done, but this would be a good start.

The government’s consultation on their plans closes tomorrow. Together, 38 Degrees members have 24 hours to form a strong voice, standing up for renters against powerful landlords. If you’d like to write in, please click here.

There are lots of good landlords out there. But too many people are still stuck with bad landlords and dangerous properties. The homelessness charity Crisis found that many people are scared to report serious problems with their properties because they fear they might be evicted.

The government’s plans could be the first step towards bigger changes to renting in the UK. With house prices on the rise, fewer people see buying their own place as a realistic option. So it’s never been more important to make sure renting is a safe and secure option for everyone.

If you want to find out more about how bad private renting can be for vulnerable people read recent research by Crisis and Shelter here.

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Taking a break

March 27th, 2014 by

I wanted to let all 38 Degrees members know that you’re not likely to hear from me for the next three months. I’ve decided to take some time off – I’m worn out and I need a rest! I’ve been working flat out pretty much continuously since I started to work full-time on the project to launch 38 Degrees back in January 2009. I’ve loved every minute of it, but it’s left me a bit exhausted.

I realised I was in need of a rest towards the end of last year, during the gagging law campaign. But that obviously wasn’t the right time – it was all hands on deck. Now that’s calmed down a bit,  it  feels like a sensible time to take a break and recharge my batteries.

38 Degrees is going from strength to strength – recent campaign efforts like the win on care.data have convinced me of that, as has the determination and commitment of 38 Degrees members up and down the country in the face of setbacks like the gagging law. 38 Degrees’ campaigns directors, Blanche and Maddy, have both now been with the organisation for nearly a year and I trust them fully to take the reins in my absence. The rest of the staff team are all brilliant. And in any case, all the most important decisions are taken by the members.

I’m basically going on an extended holiday. I’m starting by visiting Costa Rica for a few weeks, to see if the New Economics Foundation is right in putting it at the top of their “Happy Planet Index”. Later I’m planning to walk the “GR 20”, a long distance hike across Corsica. In between I will probably spend some time at home in London, digging my garden and reading some books.

I need a rest, but I also know I’m seriously going to miss being part of the 38 Degrees staff team every day. I’m already looking forward to returning to 38 Degrees in the summer with loads of energy to put into campaigns.

In the meantime, if you’ve got any suggestions for books I should read or places I should visit, please let me know in the comments field below!

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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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eBay: killing our bees

March 26th, 2014 by

eBay sell shoes, blenders, headphones, handbags, t-shirts – and right now, they also sell illegal pesticides which kill bees.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of 38 Degrees members worked with a coalition of other organisations to get these pesticides banned in Europe. But eBay UK haven’t caught up. Any unwitting gardener in the UK can buy them easily from sellers in America – all it takes is a few clicks. And there’s no mention of the fact that they’re illegal to use in Europe.

The staff team ordered a pesticide containing the banned chemicals from an American seller on eBay.co.uk just to see how easy it was (we’ll return it!). Turns out it’s easy.

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, pesticides officer at the charity Buglife, says:

“The banned pesticides, neonicotinoids, are related to nicotine and work by destroying the nervous system of insects. Last year Europe banned these chemicals after finding they were deadly to bees in even small doses but the traders selling these products are from America where they haven’t been banned. Some of the pesticides have never been allowed to be used in the UK!”

eBay might be international – but they should respect European laws. Together, we can protect our bees – and make sure that UK gardeners don’t accidentally break the law!

Click here to join thousands of other 38 Degrees members in writing to eBay to tell them to stop selling the illegal pesticide.

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Zero hours: Update

March 26th, 2014 by

Brilliant news! The huge response by 38 Degrees members to the zero hours consultation has made a massive impact. Last week in parliament Jenny Willott MP said:

“We had more than 36,000 responses to the zero-hours contracts consultation [...] so people clearly feel very strongly about the issue. We are looking at the responses to the consultation and will publish our response very shortly.”

35,000 of those responses were from 38 Degrees members, so thanks. A few weeks ago we flooded Vince Cable’s office with emails, telling the government exactly how these contracts should be improved. And explaining why using them to exploit staff is simply wrong.

This mention in parliament proves what a clear message we’ve sent to government. Together we’ve made them sit up and pay attention to the concerns of thousands of ordinary people.

For some, working on a zero hours contract means not knowing whether they have work from one week to the next. It can make it impossible to plan paying rent and bills, and a lack of sick pay can be devastating.

The government has promised to publish its response soon and they now know we’ll be watching. No one should be exploited at work, so let’s keep up the pressure to make sure soon, no one has to be.

Moreover, 38 Degrees member Zahera now has a court date for her legal fight against Sports Direct and their use of zero hours contracts. It’s in November and we’ll keep you updated on the progress of her case, paid for by over 10,000 38 Degrees members.

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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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Our influence

March 21st, 2014 by

“Do you recognise how much influence you as an organisation have on the way people think about politics and politicians?”

That’s what a Conservative MP said to me yesterday about 38 Degrees members. I was speaking in front of a committee of MPs looking into why people choose not to vote or get involved with the political process. I wanted to speak for as many of us as possible – so thank you to all 110,000 members who filled in the survey this week. 

It really felt like some of the MPs were listening. Some of them were clearly rattled after hearing our home truths. But they all recognised that we’re a hugely influential movement – and that’s because our strength comes from the way we work together.

In his closing remarks, the committee chair, Graham Allen MP even said:

“You are not just you, sitting at the table as an ordinary person. You come as an enormous 800 pound gorilla with 2 million members at your back. You’re a very powerful and influential person, I would like to use that influence to get from you and your members a serious, positive package of things… We all know where we are and it’s not a good place. How do we get to that place and improve voter engagement?”

I’ve never been called a gorilla before. But putting that aside, if I’d had the opportunity to respond, I would have said that our power comes from all 2.5 million of us standing together. To watch the evidence session click here.

Click here to watch the evidence session

Reading through your responses to the survey, what stood out above all else was a very real crisis of confidence, in politicians and the political system over all. I did my best to represent your views and hopefully I did a good job. [2] But it was hard not to get angry on behalf of us all.

One of the Conservative MPs in the committee, Christopher Chope, chipped in at the beginning to say that this survey wasn’t representative of the public at large. And then left 10 minutes into the session. Another MP wouldn’t let me get a word in edgeways, it seemed he just wanted to shout at me, not listen.

I know lots of us are sceptical about what happens next. But, together, we need to push for our democracy to work better for all of us. It’s too important to leave to politicians alone. What’s clear is that our movement proves that we deserve better – and together we’ll continue to work to achieve this.

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