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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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38 Degrees in parliament!

March 21st, 2014 by

Yesterday, David Babbs gave evidence in parliament to the influential Political and Constitutional Reform Committee about the state of politics in the UK.  He wasn’t alone though. He was armed with over 100,000 survey responses from 38 Degrees members, explaining the broad range of views we hold about how our political system is broken, and what can be done to fix it.

The survey responses were pulled together into a report for the Committee to consider. To have a look at the report, click here.

If you’d like to watch the video of David giving evidence, click here.

Do you think David did a good job of representing what 38 Degrees members believe and stand for? Was there anything in particular you thought he got spot on? Or something important he didn’t mention? Post a comment below to discuss the report and David’s appearance with other 38 Degrees members across the country.

 

Posted in Broken politics, Gagging law, Recall Your MP

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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Victory in Finchley

March 18th, 2014 by

More and more 38 Degrees members are setting up their own petitions on Campaigns by You. And more and more of those campaigns are winning! Last week, Alon Or-bach discovered what this felt like when Finchley council agreed to save his local pub, the Bohemia. Here’s the story of the campaign, in his words:

In August 2013, The Bohemia, a popular pub in North Finchley, was shut with no warning – just a piece of paper saying it was closed – days before a big event to celebrate its first birthday on our high street.

In its mere year of existence, The Bohemia attracted a massive following in the area, establishing itself as a real asset to our community, offering not just great drinks and food but also putting on great events and becoming a vibrant hub for groups to meet – from local campaigns through to the knitting club.

So when it was suddenly gone, we didn’t want to just accept it.

We launched a petition on  Campaigns by You, calling for The Bohemia to be registered as an Asset of Community Value, and began digging to find out why it had shut.

We quickly gathered hundreds of signatures, and made the front page of both our local papers!

And so, the #BringBackBohemia campaign was formed. We set out our aims: ensure that we retain the site as a local pub, and ideally one that serves the community like The Bohemia did in its year of existence.

With a lot of effort, we unpicked the tangled web of companies involved – the main leaseholder, their letting agents, the pub group they had let to that had gone into administration and the group that took on the lease who they had then kicked out.

As we were doing all this work, a group of squatters occupied the pub, but assured us they would not get in the way of our campaign to bring it back as a licensed pub. They ran it as a community centre, and showed some of the potential the site had.

Then came the great news – the council granted our application and The Bohemia was registered as an Asset of Community Value!

Encouraged, we decided to explore the possibility of establishing a co-operative to run the pub.

With the help of the Plunkett Foundation, we put together a survey, distributing it in the local area and running street stalls to get over 300 responses in a couple of weeks.

We learned a lot about what people wanted to see from the pub, and received great suggestions – like using the vast space in the back for a microbrewery – and many event ideas.

However, we realised that the work involved, especially raising funds without ownership of the building, would require a lot more time than we had.

Thankfully, we were tipped off that the London Brewing Company was interested in bidding for the site, and were excited to hear about their ideas to build on the community spirit that The Bohemia had developed.

For a while, the bidding process did not look promising, but last month (February 2014) they got in touch with the good news that they were in the final stages of securing the lease, and wanted to reach out to us once it was confirmed.

Our new publicans, Dan and Senan, have made clear their desire to get our input to help make The Bohemia even more ingrained in the community and said our campaign had shown them how much The Bohemia was valued as a space to meet as well as an attraction to our local area.

We are now using the valuable input we collected in our community survey, with great ideas on how to develop on what The Bohemia had to offer.

For the real ale drinkers, there’s already the exciting news that The London Brewing Company plan to have a mini-brewery on site!

Now that we have succeeded in our aim of bringing The Bohemia back, we are encouraging those who got involved to help make sure that it is a success – not only serving us good drinks but also by being a real asset for our community.

So keep in touch at BringBackBohemia@gmail.com, and do come along for a pint later this spring!

Alon Or-bach (on behalf of #BringBackBohemia)

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

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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NHS Hospital Closure clause: update

March 12th, 2014 by

Yesterday, MPs debated the hospital closure clause. Here’s a quick update:



Paul Burstow MP – the Lib Dem who tabled the amendment which 38 Degrees members got behind – decided to drop his amendment before it came to a vote. He said he was doing this because the government had promised changes which addressed his concerns.

At first glance it seems that the government did make some positive changes. The challenge is working out whether they go far enough. The office team has asked legal experts to look at them.

Firstly, the government pledged that people will be consulted before any changes are made to their local hospital. Secondly, the government agreed that local doctors who commission health services will have a say on any changes made in their area.



Paul Burstow MP has written an article explaining why he thinks 38 Degrees members should be pleased with what we’ve achieved, it’s pasted into the previous blog post.

 Jamie Reed MP, the Labour shadow minister who also signed Burstow’s amendment, thinks Burstow was wrong to withdraw it – he’s also going to write an article explaining why the government’s promises aren’t good enough.



So it’s a bit murky right now. It looks like we probably got some, but not all, of what we wanted. The question is how much – and how safe will that leave our local hospitals? 38 Degrees members will get the verdict from the legal experts as soon as it’s in.



Right now, though, there is one thing we can be certain of: the difference 38 Degrees members made to the debate. Our people-powered petition was referred to several times. Lots of MPs mentioned the many emails they’d received from constituents. And more than that, the amendment that Paul Burstow tabled was drafted by lawyers paid for by donations from 38 Degrees members.



The government probably wouldn’t have made any changes at all without 38 Degrees members, and the pressure we put on our MPs. 



It’s complicated stuff, but here’s a bit more detail about what the government said yesterday:


- they agreed that any plan to close a hospital has to have the agreement of all local doctors on clinical commissioning groups in any area affected.


- they confirmed that the procedure that allows the government to appoint a Trust Special Administrator (TSA) when NHS Trust gets into serious financial difficulty will only be used in extreme circumstances.


- they agreed that when these decisions are being made, the Trust Special Administrator will consult local communities, through Healthwatch, and consult with the local authority.


- they have appointed Paul Burstow MP to chair a committee of MPs and Lords to make sure that our concerns are properly addressed through guidance that explains how the law can be applied.

Please comment below with your thoughts.

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