Where is Labour on Nightingales?

By Noel Reynolds (Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Noel Reynolds (Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
There is a local issue of national importance in next week’s Rochester and Strood by election: nature protection. Will masses of Nightingales disappear under masses of concrete?  Lodge Hill, Chattenden Woods is the only SSSI in the country specifically notified for its Nightingales – it’s an important site. A very important site.

Mark Reckless used to be a Tory and was in favour of concrete over Nightingales, but now he is a UKIP candidate in favour of Nightingales.

Tory candidate, Kelly Tolhurst , is in favour of Nightingales too – even though Tory councillors voted for the concrete. Or maybe she is against a development without enough concrete-pouring (or infrastructure)

The Green Party candidate is in favour of Nightingales – no surprise there.

The Labour Party candidate, Naushabah Khan, is strangely quiet, as best I can tell, on this subject. Does anyone, perhaps a local, know what the position is?  Labour is quite an urban party but presumably the route to electoral victory is not to concrete over all the countryside?

photoPeople like myself (is there anyone?) who are Labour supporters who care about nature and wildlife, as well as about people, will remember if Labour appear to put concrete before, and on top of, Nightingales.  It will eat away at our confidence in the party and our support for it. So, Labour, Nightingales or concrete? Which do you want?

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17 Replies to “Where is Labour on Nightingales?”

  1. Well said Mark, it is good that almost all the Rochester candidates are in favour of nightingales and not concrete. I really do wonder sometimes where the Labour party stands pubically on helpng Nature and especially in this case. While there are probably not enough (but just may be) green votes to affect the balance of the parties at the general election, nevertheless my feeling is that there are a lot of green and nature supporting votes around at the moment, which the Labour Party, at least publically, are not embracing. It would be good if Ed Milliband spoke out strongly for Nature for example, but he does not do it.

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  2. When Labour do know what they want, with regards to the environment, there will a parade, with bunting and marching bands ... Until then I will put my faith in those who care clearly for both the environment and people. Just need to clone Caroline Lucas, a lot.

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    1. Labour rarely fails to disappoint on matters of nature. Most Labour ministers from 1997 to 2010 basically made the right noises but failed to pursue any clear agenda. Some (Beckett) were basically disinterested. There's always a tendency to support soft nature - access, landscape etc., at the expense of more difficult isssues - tough decisions over biodiversity and the need for landscape scale action. But disappointing or not, you at least felt policy was evidence-based rather than the opposite, Patersonian, approach.

      At least they didn't throw planning controls to the 4 winds like the current lot have.

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  3. Mark - though I love Nightingales, there is a great deal more nature at Lodge Hill than these 84 pairs of one species of bird. The site supports a number of threatened, protected and priority species of plants and invertebrates as well as a very large area of wildlife-rich grassland. Lodge Hill also has nationally significant historic features associated with the First World War. You can read about it here. https://anewnatureblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/save-lodge-hill-for-its-scrub-and-its-magazines/

    Naushabah Khan is in favour of the Lodge Hill development, supporting her Medway Labour Councillors who also all support it and whose planning committee members all voted in favour.

    She has been mistakenly informed that the site is 80% brownfield (it's not), so thinks that is the main point of the debate; it isn't of course. Khan also criticised Tolworth in the recent TV debate, pointing out that Tolworth had been part of the Medway Cabinet who supported the development all the way through, and as Education member would have been very involved in negotiations over the building of 3 schools in the Lodge Hill New Town.

    Here's my latest update on Lodge Hill. http://anewnatureblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/rochester-byelection-both-ukip-and-tory-candidates-convert-to-defence-of-lodge-hill/

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  4. Hello Mark,
    as a card carrying old "lefty" I despair at the Labour party sometimes. It seems to be afraid of making a (as in this case a much needed) stand on conservation matters such as Lodge Hill.
    Your previous post on who to vote for in the Rochester and Strood by election will probably result in Labour party members voting for The Green Party over this issue as " the game is up" for everybody there apart from UKIP. The question is when that vote is lost once ( and cast for a real left of centre party) will they ever get those voters back?
    John

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  5. Mark, I'd be interested in what reply you get from the Labour candidate as I'm interested in comparing her response with the 'build, build, build' attitude of Labour where I live. Development proposals in Oxford are promoted (included on the green belt) without full consideration of environmental (including flood) impact or, for that matter, consideration that an urgent review is needed of what we actually need to build (i.e why do we need to 'build' more jobs when we can't house existing workers). Too much lip service is paid to nature by traditional parties who are obsessed with over development for apparent economic good - social and environmental justice is what we actually need!

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  6. I think we have to accept the fact that Labour are an increasingly irrelevant party. They emerged to address the injustices of capitalism and protect the working class but we are now in a post industrial society and Labour are simply Tory lite. A new relevant movement needs to emerge to replace socialism and take on capitalism and it's anti environmental agenda. The green movement is the only alternative to the neo liberal capitalist model, it seems to me. That doesn't mean that there can be only one green party, there will also be differences of approach within the green movement (for example over nuclear power) but the agreement that the natural world is not only essential to our material well being but also our psychological well being, as well as being important for it's own sake, needs to be at the heart of all political thinking. The message needs to be driven home that a fair and just society is dependent upon the natural environment which is both our home and provider.

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  7. this is a quote from Labour MSP Sarah Boyack's Scottish leadership campaign email:

    "Environmental justice involves tackling fuel poverty. We should be doing this by freezing energy bills and kick-starting a wave of investment in energy efficiency. We should also be investing in our infrastructure, this would not only benefit our environment it would also create jobs."

    This is the only part of the email that mentions the environment. If all labour politicians have as deep an insight into environmental issues as her, then we're f*cked...

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    1. We Sarah was one of the most informed ministers of the environment that we have had...she had heard of the natural heritage and in academic life she had studied how poorly it was protected by the planning system. But the late Sam Galbraith was the best.

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  8. With apologies to Martin Niemoller...

    First they came for the badgers, and I did
    Not speak out -
    Because the badgers moved the goalposts.

    Then they came for the birds of prey, and I did
    Not speak out -
    Because raptors eat the birds I like to shoot.

    Then they came for the bees, and I did
    Not speak out -
    Because I use pesticides to farm intensively.

    Then they came for the nightingales, and I did
    Not speak out -
    Because we need more houses and a growing economy don't we?

    Then they came for the gas locked in the ground beneath me, and I did
    Not speak out -
    Because I like central heating and I'll be dead before the ice caps melt.

    Then I went for a walk, and the birds didn't sing and the bees didn't buzz,
    So I booked a safari to Ghana -
    Because I like to look at wildlife sometimes.

    But those treacherous foreigners had killed all their lovely lions
    - if we don't watch out and make them act responsibly
    Soon there will be no game left at all. Disgraceful!

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  9. Well said Mark and I agree. I am desperately waiting for Labour to talk about Nightingales, Hen Harriers, Beavers, Badgers, Foxes, Boar. The environment. ?

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  10. "Many individuals are doing what they can. But real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and in our economics and in our politics"
    That's from Sir David Attenborough.

    I can't say better!

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  11. Mark is spot on again. It would be useful if today's blog and the comments which have followed it can be drawn to the attention of as many Labour MPs/candidates as possible. I am currently in correspondence with the prospective Labour candidate for my constituency over their lack of environmental intentions and I have just sent her a brief email with the link to Mark's excellent blog to hopefully make her aware of how so many of us are thinking.

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    1. I too have asked for a response to be made to Mark's blog, as I would hope many other readers will have as well.

      If the recipients of requests get together then there might be one made ....

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  12. Leaving aside the Greens, I fear that none of the parties are actually 'for Nightingales' as such. Their position on the issue seems to be solely dictated by what they think will best garner them votes and/or put their opponents in a difficult position.

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  13. Everyone will be in favour of nightingales ....the day before an election..its what they do when elected that counts...My.. the promises we got up her in Scotland before the Referendum!!

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