Monthly Archives: May 2011

A thought – Community Economics, isn’t it time to revisit?


I’ve just finished re-reading the ‘The Theory and Practice of Community Economics’ by Bernard Greaves and David Boyle. With the Lib Dem’s in government and Party President Tim Farron recently writing about the way
forward for the Party being through ‘ …. competence, credibility and community politics…’ (http://www.libdemvoice.org/tim-farron-writes-enough-doom-and-gloom-we-have-the-greatest-opportunity-in-the-history-of-our-party-24229.html),
wouldn’t this be a good moment for the Party to look again at Greaves and Boyle’s arguments and construct a more detailed ‘theory and practice’ on which to go forward for the next four years? Or has this already been done?

Published by ALDC¹ in 2008 and sub-titled ‘Building on the ideology of community politics and extending its application into the field of economics’, it’s still available from http://www.aldc.org/shop/

 

ALDC¹ – Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors

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Filed under Liberal Politics, Politics

Nuclear Power No Thanks? – Have you talked to George Monbiot?


Austria is a country with strongly anti-nuclear sentiments. There are no nuclear power stations in the country. A referendum in 1978 came out narrowly against plans to build the country’s first Nuclear Plant in Zwentendorf, Lower Austria and I’m reasonable convinced that a similar popular vote today would be overwhelmingly opposed. In Austria it’s not just the Greens
who have anti-nuclear stickers, even the far right put their party label on the on the anti-nuclear logo.

Austrians have long had concerns, and campaigned about, the nuclear power plant across the border in the Czech Republic. This week sees reports of 204,000 people signing a petition organised by the Viennese Social Democrat Environment Councillor, Ulli Sima, against the expansion of a nuclear power plant in neighbouring Slovakia:

http://austrianindependent.com/news/Green_Austria/2009-12-08/120/Nuclear_plant_expansion_protest_backed_by_204%2C000_Viennese

On the European stage the Austrian Chancellor (for British readers – Prime Minister) Werner Faymann has called for a Europe with no nuclear power stations:

http://www.austriantimes.at/news/General_News/2011-05-10/33036/SP%D6_adamant_about_anti-nuclear_energy_course

Over recent months, I’ve been following with interest the energy debate in the UK and in particular the arguments aroused by George Monbiot, who has been taking a pro-nuclear stance from a green movement perspective. If you haven’t seen his articles on the subject I would definitely recommend you to take a look. I start from an anti-nuclear stance but an open mind. If you do read the article I’ve attached also read some of the comments posted below it and have a look at his previous contributions – not everyone pro or anti is exactly open minded, rational, or even just coherent when it comes to this debate.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2011/may/27/why-choose-nuclear-renewable-energy

George Monbiot is also well worth following on twitter -@GeorgeMonbiot

http://www.monbiot.com/

 

 

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Filed under Austrian Politics, Energy, Green, Politics, UK Politics

Summer in Vienna 2011 – Things I should really do (3)


I really need to buy a few books to read in the down time I’m going to have as I play chauffeur to my daughter and her friends. Amongst the growing list of places I seem to have promised to take them are:

The rather enjoyable water park in St. Gallen, Steiermark:

http://www.wasserspielpark.at/

A return trip to the excellent Carnuntum Roman Archaeological site:

http://www.carnuntum.co.at/

The Marchenpark, Neusiedlersee, Burgenland:

http://www.familypark.at/

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Filed under Holidays, Out and about in Burgenland, Out and about in Lower Austria, Out and about in Steiermark, Vienna Life

Students call for tuition fees!


Given all the debate in Britain about tuition fees I was interested to read that one group of students here in Austria were calling for their introduction.

Last week the Young Liberals gained seats in the Student Parliament on a platform that included the introduction of tuition fees. If I’ve got this right, they argue that the (right progressive) system (with loans) is more socially just than free education as the latter is funded by the general population most of whom does not go into higher education. Again if I’ve got this right, they also argue that it would increase opportunities for entry into higher education and give universities more freedom.

One day my German lessons may finally pay-off and I will be able to get a fuller picture of life here in Austria. In the meantime I will just have to struggle on with Google translate, secondary English language sources, and the few little grey cells I have left.

For those with a better understanding of German I include the link to the interview with Claudia Gamon the leader of the Young Liberals from der Standard:

http://derstandard.at/1304553050130/Wir-wuenschen-uns-eine-liberale-Partei-im-Nationalrat

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Filed under Austrian Politics, Liberal Politics, Politics, Universities, Vienna Life

Probably shouldn’t read this if you’re British


An Austrian friend and I got talking about public holidays the other day. The conversation was stimulated by the fact that in June we will have six days of public holiday. He started to complain that as some of the public holidays this year fall on weekends (Christmas for example) 2011 will in fact be a poor year for leisure time. Unlike the UK, holidays here follow the religious
calendar and are never moved.

I tried to be sympathetic to my friend’s frustrations but in Austria we have more holidays than the UK and an interesting Austrian quirk.  Take June, technically there are only three bank holidays which fall on Tuesday and Thursdays rather than as in England on the first Monday. The Austrian approach to this inconvenience is that if the holiday falls on the Thursday you have the Friday off, whilst if it falls on the Tuesday you have the Monday before off as well. A rather simple but elegant solution to the problem of holidays disrupting the week.

Ah yes my hard working British friends might say but what about the economy. Ah well yes, the Austrians do like their holiday time, weekend often start early on Fridays and shops are closed on Sunday. Oddly the Austrian GDP has generally been higher than the UK’s since the fifties and the economy is in better shape at the moment than Britain’s (though in part this has to do with the strong links with the German economy which is also doing well presently).

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Filed under Holidays, Vienna Life

Safe places to live?


The UN Global Peace Index (2011) places Austria sixth out of 153 countries on its list of safe places to live. Below is a useful map of the assessment and a report from the Austrian Independent:

http://chartsbin.com/view/1529

http://austrianindependent.com/news/Lifestyle/2011-05-27/7699/Austria_among_safest_states_in_the_world

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Filed under Living in Austria, Vienna Life

Young Liberals make comeback


Two years after losing their representation in the AustrianStudents Parliament, the Young Liberals yesterday secured three seats in the countrywide student elections. The OVP linked Action Community remained the largest group (30.8% down 2.47%), whilst the socialist grouping increased their share of the vote (up 2.66% to 17.48%) and the Green grouping saw a drop in
vote share (down 1.6% to 18.71%). Looking through the results by individual university, Vienna University of Economics produced the best result for the Young Liberal (12.24% compared with a national percentage of 4.32%).

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Filed under Austrian Politics, Liberal Politics, Politics