Recent Articles

Leave our kids alone – the case for banning ads targeted at children

by Rupert Read     April 12, 2013 at 11:01 am

Yesterday morning, a campaign was launched aimed at banning advertising directed at children. (BBC radio discusion after 7min)

Why do the remarkable range of signatories we got for this letter believe I that such a ban should be brought in? Simple: Kids of 4 or 5 years old have no defence against adverts.

It’s hard for parents to shield children from all the advertising directed in the home and virtually impossible elsewhere, so we need to be responsible enough to ban the ads in the first place.

That’s the point that is undeniable about our campaign: that it just cannot be right to let advertisers effectively brainwash tiny children.

The most common argument against our proposal that we’ve heard so far is that parents should be responsible enough to control their children and not just buy them whatever they get pestered to buy by the ad-men.

But this argument really won’t wash: it isn’t enough for YOU to be a responsible parent. Your kid will still be exposed to vast amounts of dangerous consumerist drivel – through peer pressure from other kids.

In any case, as I already implied earlier, good parenting alone isn’t ever going to be enough.

However good a parent you are, you can’t control the billboards your kids pass as they walk down the street, you can’t control what other parents’ kids flaunt or demand…

Moreover, even if it was working in its own terms, the current system would still be insufficient, because under it harm needs to be proven before action will be taken.

We ought rather to take precautionary attitude to our kids’ mental health and to protecting their mental environment.
If you agree, please back our proposal:

Why was my friend jailed over botched attempt to end his own life?

by Rupert Read     January 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm

My friend and former colleague Steven Altman has been thrown into jail – for attempting to kill himself.

When I heard the news, I was just gobsmacked. I could not believe it. I had thought we didn’t any longer punish people who were suffering from mental ill-health, for trying to kill themselves.

It appears that the recommendation of the probation service which advised that Steven shouldn’t go to prison has been ignored.
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A radical idea to elect ‘guardians’ to protect future generations

by Rupert Read     January 11, 2012 at 12:40 pm

When recycling was first promoted by the Green Party in the 1970s and 1980s, the concept was ridiculed. Now it is taken for granted.

I’m proposing another radical idea: that future generations be formally represented within our existing parliamentary democracy.

The idea is presented in a report entitled ‘Guardians of the Future: A Constitutional Case for representing and protecting Future People‘, launched yesterday at the House of Commons.
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Caroline Lucas launches new Green think-tank

by Rupert Read     July 21, 2011 at 11:05 am

Caroline Lucas MP launched a new Green think-tank, ‘Green House’ this morning.

I chaired the meeting, at which we launched our first two papers.

– Sustainability Citizenship by Prof Andrew Dobson, Keele University, urging politicians to involve people in decision making as morally acting citizens; and
– Mutual Security in a Sustainable Economy by Molly Scott Cato, Green Economist and Brian Heatley, a former senior civil servant. This paper sets out how we should redefine poverty, disconnect welfare from the labour market and reconsider the retirement age.

Both these papers are now available on our website:

The Green House Advisory Group, whose membership makes clear that this is far more than just a Green Party initiative.

It is also far more than just a metropolitan organisation. Our board so far includes:

» Michael Meacher MP, the former Labour Environment Minsister;
» Bea Campbell, the feminist, journalist, playwright and broadcaster;
» Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the university of Surrey and author of the influential book Prosperity without Growth;
» Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP;
» Victor Anderson, a former member of the London Assembly and green economist;
» Mary Mellor, leading eco-feminist;
» Jonathan Porritt, former chair of the Sustainable Development Commission;
» Geoff Tansey, a leading expert on creating a fair and sustainable food system; and
» Simon Thomas, former Plaid Cymru MP for Ceredigion, and member of the Welsh Assembly.

Green House expects to publish further papers this Autumn the food price crisis and the future of banking.

I hope that LC readers will welcome this new development.

Green House is interested in joint initiatives with progressives; contact me offline (or in the comments, below), if you have ideas.

Our website:

Could Clegg’s system of choice for Lords Reform kill it?

by Rupert Read     May 12, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I am delighted to see that Nick Clegg is proceeding with reform of the House of Lords. It is vital to our being (becoming) a democratic country.

But, Lords reform might be severely hampered if it is perceived to be bringing in a variation of the very system that the British electorate has just voted down. This makes AV-Plus or STV (which is simply AV in multi-member constituencies) extremely undesirable as potential methods for use in elections to the upper house.
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The ‘Yes to AV’ campaign: let the post-mortems begin

by Rupert Read     May 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm

We already know the result. Now we need learn the lessons and do it much better next time, when that may be.

Some obvious and crucial points first.. Clegg was of course an albatross.
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Aren’t Labourites against the Alternative Vote being hypocritical?

by Rupert Read     April 10, 2011 at 9:45 am

If AV is a good enough system with which to elect the Labour Leader (and Ed M. wouldn’t have become Lab Leader without it), isn’t it a good enough system with which to select our MPs?

Here’s a real challenge for Labour NO supporters: Put your money where your mouth is, and if you are so against AV, then propose that future Lab Leadership elections take place by FPTP.
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If Libyan rebels want it, why aren’t we calling for a no-fly-zone too?

by Rupert Read     March 10, 2011 at 8:50 am

Why are progressives not getting solidly behind the broadening call for a no-fly-zone to give the free Libyan forces the air-cover they need in order to defeat Gaddafi’s regime?

The most crucial argument in favour is that the free Libyans, at least as manifested in the Transitional National Council in Benghazi (the fledgling caretaker-government-in-waiting), have themselves called for.

I have just been talking with a Libyan friend of mine who is fresh back from Benghazi. He tells me that the people of eastern Libya are strongly united on two points:
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Two reasons why Libdems might not benefit from AV

by Rupert Read     February 18, 2011 at 12:42 pm

For everyone, from the BBC and Peter Kellner to Nick Clegg himself, there are assumptions that LibDems will benefit from the referendum in May.

And after all, haven’t the LibDems in the past suffered a good deal from the ‘wasted vote’ argument, which AV would put an end to?

But there are two good reasons why this might not happen.
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Alternative Vote contains FPTP within it

by Rupert Read     February 13, 2011 at 9:10 am

As a #Yes2AV supporter, I am sometimes asked this question: “Will there be an option, in AV, to just vote for one party when not wanting any of the others in at all?”

The answer is YES. Under AV, if you simply place a ‘1’ next to your favoured candidate (rather than a cross), then you are voting as if it is FPTP (the current system), and that is completely allowed.

In fact, there is a very important point here: It really is unnecessary for FPTP-lovers to oppose AV at all. FPTP is ‘contained within’ AV.
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