Category Archives: Candidates

David Kesteven – North East Derbyshire Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

David KestevenAs the Green Party candidate for North East Derbyshire, I think that the most important thing for the party is to field as many candidates as possible to give the public a chance to vote Green. Despite supporting Green Party values for as long as I can remember, I have never voted Green because I have never had a candidate to vote for.

I work as Head Gardener at Renishaw Hall.  Working outside I am keenly aware that climate change is actually happening. In the 12 years that I managed the vineyard at Renishaw, harvest dates came forward an average of one week, that is proper scary. My employer has also invested in renewable energy (three wind turbines and a biomass boiler). However, seeing the decision making process that led to this, I can assure you that ‘leaving it up to the market’ will not solve our energy problems.

In fact, it is the abject failure of free market capitalism to deliver anything worthwhile (apart from i pods) that has politicised me even more than imminent climate catastrophe. After all, unprecedented levels of CO2 in the atmosphere may not be that bad, the results from this experiment are not in yet. Also driving at speed down the M1 with your eyes shut may be safe, it’s something else I haven’t tried. But to expect the market to deliver fairness and a more equitable society is just plain silly.

I have read and completely agree with the Green Party manifesto 2010. Here are some bits I’m particularly passionate about:

• Re-nationalise the railways.

• Education: Get rid of SATS, league tables and, Ofsted, while you’re at it; Teachers are professionals who should be allowed to teach – ticking boxes should be reserved for pupils in multiple choice examinations. I also believe that there should be no tax relief for private schools.

• Health: I believe we should get rid of all markets within the NHS; give nurses and staff a decent pay rise then ask them what needs to be done to make the NHS better. Patients should also be fed proper food while in hospital.

• I also personally believe that it would be wise to nationalise the national grid and power generation.

I hope for your support. We have a lot to do.

Green Party candidate contact details

Dr Marianne Bamkin – South Derbyshire Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Mariane BamkinYou could describe me as a secret Green. I have lived my life according to good, Green, environmental principals since I was a teenager, therefore, for at least the last 40 years. I garden organically, at home and on my allotment; I have re-used, recycled and upcycled; I have installed solar panels in order to contribute to sustainable energy; basically, quietly doing my own bit towards a sustainable future. However, I have decided to come out of the closet and take direct political action so that voters in South Derbyshire are given the opportunity to vote for the Green Party.

I am a Doctor of Philosophy in Information Science as well as a qualified librarian, teacher and nursery manager. I am a passionate believer in Equality, Open Knowledge and Knowledge for All. I believe in a world where all people are allowed the same opportunities of health, work and education, despite differences in gender, race, or ability. I consider that humans are only a small part of our planet and we should tread gently amongst the multitude of other plant and animal species, doing no harm as we pass through this world. As a parent and grandparent, I feel the responsibility to teach our descendants to protect their environment, including scientific moral responsibility and scientific progress towards minimum environmental impact.

I have taken an active role in my local community and, here in Weston-on-Trent, I was a Parish Councillor for four years. I am and have been a committee member of several village organisations and been part of successful campaigns to extend the school and the village hall and to improve the recreational facilities for children and young people in Weston and Aston. More recently, I have been involved with national campaigns to prevent the closure of public libraries. I am a confident and experienced public speaker and able to frame logical argument.

I have become gradually more politicised over the past five years as I have realised that the current governmental coalition are seeking to disenfranchise the people of Britain and establish central governmental control by removing decision making powers from Local Government and erecting barriers to free and accessible sources of information. I believe that the economic theories being used to promote the concept of ‘Austerity’ are flawed and not well thought through, leading to a greater social divide between the rich and the common man. I feel that current major politicians are lacking in moral convictions and their shallow attempts at vote catching will not be translated into the public good.

I want to stand as a parliamentary candidate for the Green Party for the two following reasons. Firstly, I am a doer, a person of action and I want to change the current political situation. Secondly, the Green Party core principles and manifesto accord with my general views and convictions; and I believe that they are the right ones to reform politics in the UK.

Green Party candidate contact details

Matthew Genn – Chesterfield Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Matthew GennI am immensely honoured to be the Green Party candidate for my home town of Chesterfield having grown up  here for most of my life.  I feel proud of the fact that I can offer the people of Chesterfield the option of voting Green in May 2015.

For me, the Green Party is the only political party that is actively advocating both environmental sustainability and social fairness and equality.  I hope in being the Green Party candidate I can represent and espouse these ideals.

I see the role of the Green Party candidate being primarily to listen and help to act upon the concerns of local people in Chesterfield.  I am also presenting voters with  a credible alternative to the three main “business as usual” Westminster parties and UKIP.

With the surge in both the Green Party’s membership and polling figures in recent months, I feel that it is becoming increasingly possible to deliver on people’s desire for change.

In particular, I want to campaign against the Coalition’s austerity agenda and the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

In addition I would be a champion for young people, who often end up being disenfranchised by our current political system.  I want to give the young people of Chesterfield a voice; a voice in which they can believe.  I will endeavour to work hard to represent them and their needs.

I have long had an interest in the environment and nature.  From helping out on my parent’s allotment to studying about climate change at university, it has always been a passion of mine.  With a university background in the environment and having recently started working as an environmental consultant, I want to use my skills to bring about a positive change.

Through the Green Party, I believe this is possible.  So I am willing to roll up my sleeves and be the best Green representative that I can for the people of Chesterfield.

Green Party candidate contact details

For all you lovely contributors to the Derbyshire Crowdfunder…

 

Thank you for giving us a chance to change British politics!

And here you all are 🙂

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See y0u at the polling station!

 

 

How Secure is Britain’s Food Supply?

Written by Victoria Martindale, Parliamentary Candidate for Erewash

Victoria MartindaleAs part of British Science Week (13th to 22nd March 2015) I joined a panel of experts and politicians to discuss food security in Britain at Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

The UK faces a number of challenges to its food security, including long food supply chains, ‘food deserts’ in inner cities, wealth distribution imbalance, climate change and competition from abroad. These pose a real threat to the UK consumer; it is possible that food will become more expensive, choice limited or foods unavailable. Only this week we were warned that the cost of a new “Driver Certificate of Professional Competence” for transport haulers across the EU raises the prospect of ’empty shelves’.

In the 1980s the UK used to be about 80% self-sufficient in foods that can be grown here. This has now dropped to around 65%. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has recently raised concerns that this may be too low. As a nation, we increasingly rely on international markets to provide us with the huge range and affordability of food which we have grown accustomed to.

Questions put to the panel included:

• Is the UK in a vulnerable situation regarding its future food security?
• Following the horsemeat scandal in 2013 should consumers be concerned about the quality and security of their food?
• Are organic foods healthier and better for the environment? Is it fair to expect UK consumers to pay the price premium for these products?
• Are low food prices responsible for the incredible levels of food waste in households in the UK?
• What can be done concerning the incredibly low prices paid by supermarkets to UK dairy farmers forcing them out of business?
• Food banks are rising across the UK. Much of the burden has fallen on charities but is this really the Governments responsibility?

Panel – The chair was Professor Paul Lynch, Head of Natural Sciences at the University of Derby.

The speakers were:
Wyn Morgan, Food economist at the University of Nottingham;
Paul Paine, Garden Co-ordinator at Ecoworks;
Julia Davies, Head of Environmental Sciences at Nottingham Trent University;
Lucy Care, Liberal Democrat candidate for Derby North and
Victoria Martindale,  Derby Green Party Representative.

There was an informative and lively discussion on the night.  For space reasons, let me limit this blog to a few key messages.

I am sure many of you can remember the shocking headline news last autumn. Britain, we were informed, could be plunged into blackouts over the winter. We were warned of the risk of power cuts and electricity failures wrecking havoc over the winter for many households and businesses across the UK. But did we have any of these black outs? No we didn’t. Who was responsible for putting these stories out there? The big energy companies. Why? In response to new EU legislation that restricted their dependency on fossil fuels these massive profit churning companies wanted to legitimize their ongoing use of polluting fossil fuels and justify getting their dirty hands onto our shale gas and fracking up our country. They did so by spreading fear across the country.

This tendency to generate a state of fear, insecurity and panic among the British public and government is a ploy corporations often turn to in an attempt to justify their means to realise vast profits for themselves. It’s nothing more than scaremongering and their agenda is driven by nothing other than corporate greed.

IF_logo_banner_2_420x210The food security issue is similar to the energy security one. We are frequently warned that with a predicted extra 2 billion mouths to feed by 2050 we could be facing food shortages. We were scared with threats of ‘empty food shelves’ this time. Really? Will we all be struggling to find enough food to feed ourselves and will our children’s children be at risk of starving to death? Shock! Horror! However, just like in the energy debate, you need to stop a moment and look at who lays behind these sensationalist stories. In this case it was the NFU scaring us with empty food shelves.

The NFU is effectively the political arm of DEFRA. With its huge wealth comes huge power and influence over the UK’s agricultural policies. Its agenda is to maximise production, yields and exports in order to maximize the revenue and profits for its members, many of whom are already among the wealthiest of this country. It wants to drive an industrialised food production process which is heavily chemical dependent, savages the environment, and spits out poor quality mass produced food that is bad for our health and forces smaller scale farmers out of business.

CowsIt’s time we faced up to the powerful monolithic institutions like the NFU and put the food security issue into perspective. If we display one iota of honesty we are not in a food crisis and we are not by any means about to be confronted with a single empty food shelf. However, that’s very different from saying we don’t need to address how we feed everyone and look closely at our production and distribution processes. We do and we also need to face up to our responsibilities to those in developing countries who don’t have food security even in today’s modern world.

The other likely scaremongering suspects are the global high tech enterprises like Bayer Cropscience, Monsanto and Syngenta. They use food scares to legitimize their development of GM crops under the Panglossian guise it is the answer to all the world’s problems and is the only means to achieve food security for everyone. Yeh right.

The continued industry promises about the ability of GM crops to tackle the world’s growing social problems are pure myth. GM crops are linked to massive increases in herbicide use, increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the expansion of mono-cultural farming practices and increased costs all along the food chain which the already starving and poor of the world can’t afford. They require huge areas of forests and valuable natural habitats to be cleared.

This is ecologically devastating and overrides people’s rights to their native ancestral land, food, natural resources and traditions. GM crops are patented too with over two thirds of all patented food crops in the hands of the top ten companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Pioneer and Dow. This means they monopolise the market and it allows them to control the research, breeding and ultimately the entire food chain of GM crops which returns them profits of eye watering proportions.

Attempts to produce GM crops that are resistant to climate change, floods, drought tolerant, altered photosynthesis, and exacerbate intensive farming are all attempts by corporates to earn billions at huge cost to the environment, society and local communities, and our health rather than addressing the real challenges of sustainable food production like combating climate change in the first place.

Over_Farm_produce_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1611242Research shows that we can feed a growing global population a nutritious diet without environmentally damaging factory farms and GM crops. This requires addressing the underlying difficult, but very important issues that currently affect food security and making fundamental changes to the way food is produced, distributed and consumed. The aim should be to provide healthy sustainable diets for all whilst living within environmental limits.

The Green Party believes that GM foods are not the answer to food security. Instead, it promotes a set of sustainable policies based upon local production and distribution, lower meat and dairy consumption, more seasonal produce and which protect livelihoods and biodiversity to provide everyone with healthy nutritious foods.

So, when asking about Britain’s food security, be careful who you ask.

Victoria Martindale
Green Shoots Editor

Alice Mason-Power – Candidate for Derby North Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Alice Mason PowerLike many Green Party members I was previously, at times, a member of both the Liberal Democrat and Labour Parties. However, after attending a Labour Party conference in 2014, I realised that on issues such as TTIP, Fracking, Syria, Europe, Immigration and Welfare my views were generally and, at times, diametrically opposed to theirs. After some research, I read up on Green Party policy and, with no hesitation, signed up as a member with in May 2014.

I am 27 years old and have been politically active since the age of 14. As a teenager I remember putting “Stop Esso” stickers onto lampposts, and I went on to study International Relations at university. I moved into working in Education in 2013 after 5 years spent working in recruitment, 2 years of which being in Derby.

I became increasingly dissatisfied with the way business is allowed to behave in Britain; allowed to hire and fire at will, whilst paying wages which cannot sustain an acceptable standard of living. While I am a fervent advocate of the welfare state and believe every citizen should be guaranteed a basic income, I do not believe that the state should need to ‘top-up’ wages. If a worker is giving their time and skills to a business, they should be paid a Living Wage accordingly. The onus needs to shift to business.

I am currently working towards Qualified Teacher Status as I believe every student is entitled to an expert, qualified teacher in every subject in every school. The growth of Private School style Academies, allowed to run for profit and employ unqualified teachers must be reversed.

I am deeply conscious that my generation must not repeat the mistake of our forebears. There is no ‘if’ regarding when fossil fuels run out; no ‘maybe’ regarding climate change; and, no ‘but’ regarding fracking. We need to develop the technologies necessary to deal with these problems today. Beginning to burn a different fossil fuel – is still burning a fossil fuel. We must not work for our own profit in terms of housing – the sale of council houses has had devastating results for my own generation and more social housing is needed for those who cannot afford to buy their own home.

I am unapologetic about my support for the European Union. While it is imperfect at present and reform is needed for the Union to return to its core values, it has been a driving force for peace across a continent which had warred for centuries. The key to reducing immigration is not border control, nor to allow people to drown off the coast of Italy. The solution can only lie in improving conditions globally so people feel comfortable in their own homes. We should treat every human being, and every species, with the decency they deserve.

I have been delighted and heartened to see the growth of the Green Party in the last few months. I believe every Green Party member and every supporter deserves the chance to vote Green. We need to seize this opportunity to build on our support and prepare for forthcoming challenges. I would be honoured to represent the Green Party in Derby North in 2015.

Green Party candidate contact details

Alice Mason-Power, Parliamentary Candidate for Derby North comments on the Budget

A few choice quotes from Gideon Osborne’s last Budget speech with thoughts by Alice Mason-Power, Parliamentary Candidate for Derby North

“A record number of people in work.
More women in work than ever before.
And the claimant count rate is at its lowest since 1975.”

Alice Mason PowerWork means something very different to that in 1975 – the number of people employed on zero contracts has increased by over 50,000 or 25% since 2010. Those people out of work are being stigmatised more than ever and are struggling to the point of resorting to food banks to feed their families – not a feature of a strong economy.

“This week we accept the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission that the National Minimum Wage should rise to £6.70 this autumn, on course for a minimum wage that will be over £8 by the end of the decade.”

Alice Mason PowerOn this minimum wage people would still need to claim benefits including housing and council tax benefit. People will still be in the cycle of poverty despite employment, raising the benefit bill yet further because of the failure to pay the Living Wage that both people and the economy need

“I am clear exactly how that £30 billion can be achieved.
£13 billion from government departments.
£12 billion from welfare savings.
£5 billion from tax avoidance, evasion and aggressive tax planning.”

Alice Mason PowerMore money to be reclaimed from those on the lowest incomes than from those with the highest incomes who can afford an advisor to cut their tax. This will affect many, many more people. Where will these welfare savings come from? the disabled? the unemployed? pensioners? Note that child poverty in Derby North stands at 19%, with no prospect of it being reduced.

“In two weeks’ time, we will cut corporation tax to 20%, one of the lowest rates of any major economy in the world.”

Alice Mason PowerThis should be higher – why are we cutting tax for corporations when cutting welfare? It’s obvious, big business is more important than us, the people, and no Mr Osborne, the wealth does not ‘trickle down’, it floods away into tax avoidance schemes and bonuses for the already excessively rich.

Overall – the budget does not address the stark issues this country faces. The rich get the extra help they don’t need. Those who are struggling have not been mentioned. They will have to struggle on. The Chancellor is banking on the hope that many of them won’t vote in the election and turn his Party out.

Also of course no mention of climate change or the rising cost of energy. The real issues once again ignored by this Business as Usual Government.

Alice Mason-Power 18th March 2015

David Foster – Candidate for Derby South Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015:

David FosterI joined the Green Party back in 2008 after listening to Caroline Lucas discussing ecology and the Green Party on Radio Four. I have always been deeply concerned about environmental issues and animal welfare but, up to that point, I never realised that there was a political party that shared my views.

Since that time, I have been very involved with Derbyshire Green Party, holding various committee positions. I have been Chair and Co-ordinator of both Derbyshire and the East Midlands Regional Green Party. I have also contributed in other administrative roles including ERO (Electoral Returning Officer) and been the Editor of Greenshoots and Sunflower.

As Derbyshire Chair, I responded to a request for support from the Foston community when they were beginning to campaign against the proposed mega piggery in their area. I initiated the Green Party’s involvement in this campaign, organising videos and other publicity material to oppose the planning application. I am delighted that the Environment Agency has recently rejected the mega piggery proposal which means that it is likely that the project will not be able to proceed.

As East Midlands Chair and Co-ordinator, I was heavily involved in planning and organising the Euro Campaign and supporting the East Midlands Euro Candidate, Katharina Boettge. This demanded the ability to encourage and manage local party involvement across five counties, whilst offering personal support to the candidate.

I consider climate change to be the most serious problem facing the world today. The rapid rise in sea levels is going to displace millions of people who live in low lying areas. A much more volatile climate will produce violent storms which will not be good for either food production or clean drinking water. These changes also mean we are losing wildlife habitat and biodiversity at an alarming rate. I would campaign vigorously for us to take a positive decision at the climate talks in Paris later this year, and make meaningful changes to our energy policy taking us away from destructive fracking and burning fossil fuels, towards renewable energy and clean burn fuels.

I am a socialist by nature. I support a strong welfare system: one that would protect infirm and vulnerable members of our society. I do not believe the austerity cuts were either necessary or even advisable. We should be aiming for a sustainable economy as well as a sustainable ecology. We need to move away from the continued cycle of ‘boom and bust’ and we need to recognise that the concept of ‘growth’ is finite: after all, we only have the resources of one planet.

If I were elected for my constituency of Derby South, I would dedicate 100% of my time towards improving the welfare of my constituents. I would not be looking to make personal gain from funding by lobbyist groups and no matter what the financial incentive; I would not be dividing my time sitting on the committee of large companies. I believe that we need a new politics of honesty, transparency and integrity.

Green Party candidate contact details

One step closer to NO Foston Mega Pig Farm

David Foster, Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Derby South Constituency writes …

David 2As you are probably aware, the Derbyshire Green Party has put a lot of work into campaigning against the application to build a mega pig farm at Foston. The application is being closely watched by many would-be farming companies who would like to reduce their operating costs by turning meat production into an assembly line.

If this proposal goes ahead many more are likely to follow. It is therefore heartening to learn that in February of this year the Environmental Agency declined the application to build 14 pig houses with the capacity for up to 24,500 pigs.

DSC_0120Since submitting the original permit application in March 2011 the Environment Agency has received over 100 representations from the public. Many of these were from ourselves, others were from Foston residents and others came from animal welfare and environmental groups who submitted their own independently commissioned reports.

Jim Davies, of Foston Community Forum, said, “local residents, who have been almost unanimous in opposing the plan, were hugely relieved. After four years of public consultation the facts are now clear. The applicants (Midland Pig Producers) provided insufficient information and should now abandon this flawed scheme forever.”

David Foster, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Derby South said, “If we are to feed the world in coming years then the human race as a whole must turn to a more vegetarian diet. But if we do choose to eat meat then those animals should at least have had as natural a life as possible.”

With the Environment Agency rejecting the application it seems unlikely that Derbyshire County Council will be able to approve it. Nevertheless, it is still important for us to continue to oppose the proposal vigorously until the campaign has definitely been won.

We can expect that after the election, the developers, Midland Pig Producers, will appeal against any decisions that don’t go their way. It is important to get clear commitments from all the local candidates on this issue.

Hustings Event for Derby South and Derby North

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Wednesday 11 March, 2015

The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU

7.15 for 7.30 pm start

An opportunity to come and meet the potential Green Party candidates for the Derby South and Derby North Constituencies.

Please can we have our NHS back?

Charlotte Farrell, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for High Peak writes…

?????????????????????????????While I was walking home from work today, I was musing about the NHS and in particular wondering what evidence has there ever been to support the idea that ‘marketising’ the NHS would improve the services offered or even reduce costs and save it money? Furthermore what was actually so wrong with the old system?

I began working in the NHS in the late 1970s. I realise that as a nurse I probably wasn’t particularly aware of the management structure, even less the processes that went into providing patient care beyond the wards level. But on the other hand I also wasn’t aware of there ever being problems. Things seemed to run smoothly enough though.

In those days, as I remember, the hospitals were broadly controlled by District Health Authorities and above them the Regional Health Authorities. Then in the 1980s things began to change, the first glimmers of privatisation began, and competitive tendering was introduced for ancillary services.

We began to notice that the wards were suddenly not kept as clean as they used to be, the cleaners were rushing their work and things got overlooked. Hygiene suffered. It was not the cleaners fault though. The concept of tendering meant that the service providers would only secure the contract if they were “competitive” and that meant lower priced bids, which also meant cutting corners. There were fewer ward cleaners, working longer hours for less. By devaluing the staff in this way they also broke some of the public service ethos that had run through the NHS for so long. Interestingly the spread of contracting out cleaning services also coincided with a rise in infection rates including MRSA.

But not to be off put by this, both Labour and Conservative have pressed ahead with the total reorganisation of the NHS into something that Aneurin Bevan would hardly recognise. The idea that the NHS should replicate the private sector has taken root: the private sector knows best and market forces will deliver better care.

Labour introduced PFI funded hospitals, saddling the NHS with debt for years to come with the benefit going to the private funders. It developed foundation trust hospitals so that hospitals could be run as businesses, even to the extent that they could become bankrupt! It introduced the “choose and book” system which opened the door to private hospitals working “alongside” the NHS. Hospitals now had chief executives in control, people often drawn from the private sector on salaries to match. The ethos of public service was further degraded.

The NHS was continually being criticised, waiting list times, poor levels of nursing care, treatments not being provided etc etc (mostly all due to being too underfunded to provide the kind of service people had come to expect, rather than an inherent problem with the staff) – paving the way for the Health and Social Care Act 2011 which promised to make the service more efficient and fit for the 21st century. But all that has been achieved is to change from a system which operated relatively straightforwardly, to one which has become almost Byzantine in complexity.

I don’t know for certain whether this is assertion is true but I would have thought it is not inconceivable that the more layers of management involved, the more labyrinthine the purchasing processes, the more individual transactions involved in providing care and the less affection the providers have for the system, the more costly the service is likely to be.

The NHS Reinstatement Bill aims to rid the NHS of the marketisation, and put it back to how it was conceived. I fully support it.

For further information you can find out more about the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 on http://www.nhsbill2015.org/  There is also a link to contact your parliamentary candidates in the run up to the election.

Greens Respond to Badger Cull

Charlotte Farrell, Green Party Candidate for High Peak

?????????????????????????????If the Conservatives are re-elected the Badger Cull will soon enter its third yearand Derbyshire is likely to be amongst those areas where it takes place. The Green Party has opposed the cull since its inception and last weekend I took part in a scheme that the Badger Trust and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) have initiated in response to the cull.

There are an estimated 250,000 badgers in Britain, not a huge figure and indeed in recognition of this they are protected by legislation. The Badger Act 1992 consolidated previous legislation and makes it illegal to kill a badger, except of course for the purposes of the Government’s flawed cull.

Of course I don’t want to underestimate the effect of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) on cattle and the farmers who rely on them for their livelihood, but it seems illogical as well as cruel to continue with a cull which has cost millions to date without producing any evidence in support. This year, despite the goal posts being moved by the government, there is still no evidence that it is working in terms of effectiveness in controlling bTB. Furthermore, there remain very grave concerns that it is not meeting the minimum standard of humaneness which the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) agreed at the outset as a requisite of the cull.

The IEP said at the outset that to be considered “humane” fewer than 5% of badgers killed by targeted shooting should take more than 5 minutes to die. After the first year the IEP found that it was likely that between 7.4% and 22.8% of badgers took longer than 5 minutes to die, which indicated that throughout this time they would have been experiencing marked pain. The IEP recommended that the standard of humaneness be improved in the second year if the cull was to continue. In response the government removed the IEP and used its own agencies to monitor humaneness. However, even they did not manage to improve upon the figures in the second year; and the level of inhumanness and ineffectiveness of the process remains such a concern that there are calls for the British Veterinary Association to withdraw its support from the cull.

KCC2008Wildwood161In contrast, though a scheme in Wales, badger vaccination and improved biosecurity of cattle has seen a 40% drop in Bovine TB. We clearly need to introduce similar measures in this country if we are serious about protecting farmers.

Working towards such a goal, DWT in conjunction with the Badger Trust have been pioneering a scheme to vaccinate badgers in the county from bTB, and raised over £50,000 from members to enable them to do this. Nevertheless the scheme relies on volunteers and so DWT have been training interested people up to assist with the vaccination. It was for this reason that I spent last Saturday at the first of this year’s training sessions.

The cull is designed to stop the spread of bTB which has been blamed on badgers, despite there being little evidence to show for it. The aim of vaccination is to ring bTB hotspots with ‘clean’ wildlife areas to stop reinfection of cattle from the wild. Vaccination of the badgers would therefore ensure the clean areas, and a range of measures would then be applied to the areas of bovine infection including improved biosecurity and more regular cattle testing.

Unfortunately vaccinating a badger is not quite as easy as vaccinating a person. The badger has to be trapped in a cage to be injected with the vaccine. The badger is then marked to make sure it does not get a second dose later. However getting a badger to enter a cage willingly takes time and patience and this is what most of the training was about. We had to learn to think like a badger!

The morning was spent learning how to look for badgers and how to get them to enter the cages, and then in the afternoon, we got the opportunity to put into practice what we had learned. Unfortunately it was without any actual badgers. They were presumably snuggled deep in their setts away from the bitter cold. We were not so lucky as it was a cold and snowy February afternoon! However despite the weather it was well worth it. I’m full of admiration for the people who have already given so much time and energy into protecting these animals; and now I can’t wait to join them when the programme starts later in the year.

Tax Dodging, is costing us £70 Billion a year, we need action not words

Sue MacFarlane Parliamentary Candidate for Mid Derbyshire writes…

Sue MacFarlane cropI have received a number of messages in the last few days from electors expressing concern about the latest tax scandals involving HSBC. Like all my correspondents I find these revelations shocking and, as a Green Party Parliamentary candidate, I pledge to do everything I can to highlight that tax avoidance is wrong, cheating us all, and demand that the new Government in May takes effective action to put a stop to it.

In the wake of the HSBC, Swiss Leaks and Lux Leaks tax avoidance scandals, the Green Party has pledged to introduce a Tax Dodging Bill in the first 100 days after the election. The campaign for such a Bill is being widely supported by a network of NGOs, cooperatives, faith groups, MPs and Unions. During the election campaign, all Green Party candidates will attempt to get the other candidates to pledge to support such a measure, or explain to their electors why they don’t find tax avoidance wrong.

The Green Party has long championed firm action on tax avoidance as an alternative to austerity and fully backs the Bill which calls for new rules to make the UK tax regime more transparent and tougher on tax dodging. Green Party policy is to crack down heavily on tax havens and other methods of tax evasion and avoidance, and press for a transparent country-by-country reporting so that company profits can be located and taxed.

Green Party finance speaker, Molly Scott Cato MEP, who is a member of the European Parliament’s tax working group, said:
“In the wake of repeated tax avoidance scandals, it is now all the more vital that we put in place legislation to ensure corporations and wealthy individuals pay the taxes that treasuries need to invest in public services and infrastructure. Greens have been pushing hard in the European Parliament for a full inquiry into the Lux Leaks scandal but unfortunately, despite the rhetoric from both Tories and Labour on the issue, they have refused to back such an inquiry.”

Four years ago, in 2011 Green MP Caroline Lucas launched the Tax and Financial Transparency Bill in the House of Commons. She exposed the fact that HMRC was failing to prevent serious tax evasion, totaling £billion’s of lost tax each year. Despite two attempts at getting the Bill passed, it failed to gain enough Parliamentary support.

Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, has said “Tax avoidance has cost this country tens of billions of pounds over the course of this Parliament, at a time when public services are being slashed. If the Government’s political priorities had been clamping down on tax avoidance, rather than dismantling our welfare state and public services, then we’d be in a far fairer, more humane, and more economically stable Britain. We need new laws to make the UK tax regime tougher on those who wish to avoid contributing to our society.”

This Coalition Government is telling us that Austerity is necessary because the country cannot afford a social welfare programme to help the most needy, or a health and education service that fairly serves all. If the Government took the necessary measures to collect the tax that is legally due to it, taxes that have been agreed by our democratically elected parliament, then I believe that there would be no case for the failed policies of Austerity.

Figures from the Tax Justice Network show that each year the Treasury looses £70 Billion to the tax dodgers. Figures from the last budget state that the cuts to Governmental departmental spending since 2010 have been £25 billion. The pain, suffering and damage to the economy caused by those cuts was unnecessary and caused by the Government’s failure to collect what is due to it.

First published on the Green Party East Midlands Blog on 18th February, 2015

Green Party Meeting in Derby

Thursday 19th February

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If you want to find out more about the Green Party in Derby come along to the Brunswick Inn this Thursday 19 February and meet other members and supporters.

What are the major local issues for Derby City that Greens should be campaigning on?  Bring along your ideas and opinions

Time: 6.30 pm
Venue: Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU (near Railway Station)
Contact: Phillip Hood – philiphood51@talktalk.net

 

Private money in the health service is repellent … literally

Ian Wood, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Derbyshire Dales writes …

Ian WoodI am writing on a morning when the prime minister is reported to have appealed to employers to pay their workers more. As the election approaches, neo-liberal commentators who normally laud the free market are saying what a ‘shame’ it is (Allister Heath in the Daily Telegraph) that employees are not yet getting the benefit of our famously delayed economic recovery.

It’s remarkable that the free market still places such a high premium on neo-liberal notions – they have failed more than they have succeeded, most clearly in the public realm, from directory inquiries (what exactly was wrong with the old 192?) to the water and energy industries (in my freezing flat in Newcastle in 1981 I had the heating on all the time and I was paying £90 over three winter months). Nowhere is this failure more glaring than in the National Health Service.

It is a failure that has been known about for decades. Our own health service has been so good that we have been protected for years from the tragically hilarious efforts in healthcare contracting that have been afflicting other parts of the world. From ambulance chasing in America to incompetent private caterers in Bombay hospitals to contractors sucking in the resources of an entire province to keep one hospital running in Zimbabwe, privatisation in public health provision has failed the patient.

But privatisation in the NHS was largely resisted by Mrs Thatcher and afflicted mainly opticians and dentists. However organisational changes made in the 1980’s paved the way for the later reforms that arrived under John Major. On it went under Tony Blair, a nip here and a tuck there, his frankly right-wing ministers (Alan Milburn, John Hutton, and others who pocketed their rewards later from bodies serving the private health industry) doing their best to bring in private capital in the interests of ‘efficiency’ and ‘value for money’. Their efforts were huge and the results persistently disastrous.

CarolineLucasandGreensatSaveNHSdemo2.11.2013webThis was entirely predictable, in my view, because discrete pools of private capital looking for profit, conflict with a public health service focused on need. They can succeed only by causingdamage. This ‘private-public partnership’ reminds me of those hybrid animals you used to see in world zoos – the liger, for example, a sadly doomed mixture of a lion and a tiger, unable to live alongside any other naturally occurring animal, yet dangerous to them all.

And of course, despite his denials, it was a Labour health secretary, Andy Burnham, who left office in 2010 with a competition of three private providers (one in partnership with a trust) competing to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital. The franchise was won by Circle. The hospital then had 310 acute beds, and now has only 223. The hospital, went bust in 2007 when it had to borrow £27m to keep going. It is ‘buster’ than ever now. Private contracting has failed Hinchingbrooke Hospital. Circle has renounced its ten-year contract because the trust was about to go into special measures after it was rated ‘inadequate’, and because it was losing too much money. Fiona Allinson, head of the hospital inspection team, said after seeing the state of the hospital that she ‘wanted to drive back again with my nurse’s uniform on to sort it out.’

Private companies build hospitals, supply drugs, and supply nurses and doctors. General practitioners have been small private businesses for decades. It is when private money operates as a market in the core business of a public entity, that exists to serve need rather than the shareholder, that risks emerge. And many people think the risks are too great and too real.

Circle’s reaction to financial difficulty was illuminating in that it demonstrated how a private company will never try to correct the mistakes it may have made; it will abandon the NHS and save itself. Private companies acting through insurance will ask their customers to pay a contribution towards the private treatment they need. These co-payments are in opposition to a health service free at the point of delivery. They will cause public money to leak from the system into insurance.

Private companies are secretive when it suits them, and achieving transparency is difficult. But the overwhelming objection to private capital in the health service is that it is a giant leech. It trains none of the professionals it uses, and pays nothing towards the equipment it needs, bought with the proceeds of fun runs, charity days, sponsored skydives and the generosity of spirit found in the wider community. Victorian doctors took ages to realise leeches did not help their patients. Neo-liberal parties, like the Conservative and Labour Parties, can’t see that the leech of private capital does not help the health service.

The coalition government passed the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which allowed NHS hospitals to raise up to half their income from private patients, created widespread conflict of interest, and raised fears for the integrity of the commissioning process for some important contracts.

Astonishingly, family doctors can now award lucrative contracts to companies providing out-of-hours services in which they themselves have a shareholding.
In East Anglia an NHS mental health trust that is cutting services and staff has spent £1.2m in a single year on a private hospital where one of its senior consultants is a director.
Around 600 stoma nurses work in the health service – 450 are sponsored by companies that provide the products they ask to use.
Islington’s £300m budget has been queried after twenty doctors on the clinical commissioning group were shown to be involved with companies that the borough could be dealing with.
Patients in York have been told NHS doctors would no longer carry out certain procedures, which however would still be available on payment of a fee.

The Conservatives will carry all this to a more malignant and advanced stage in the next parliament. Labour says it will repeal the 2012 Act but will carry on with austerity. Both parties will stick to the failed neo-liberal economics of a late capitalist society. Their overwhelming priority is to keep bond yields low and affordable, and so state spending must remain low. They both know that tax revenues will not be going up for a long time because wages are staying low. When David Cameron encourages employers to pay higher wages, it is difficult not to laugh.

CarolineLucasandGreensatSaveNHSdemo2.11.2013webThe Green Party will bring the NHS back into full public ownership. We would make the NHS truly free at the point of need. This would cost money, but would save more money than a lot of people would expect. We would sweep aside private capital, which is proven to be repellent on many levels. In particular it is repellent of social solidarity, fairness, affordability, and the nobility that comes with public service.

Everyone Needs a Home

John Devine, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Amber Valley writes …

GP2014_John-Devine-002Everyone needs a home – somewhere they feel safe and can call their own. The Green Party sees this as a fundamental right of every citizen of this country: to have somewhere safe to live, affordable, warm and secure.

We live on a small island where land is limited. But demand for houses is rising, this is because our population continues to rise and also because traditional households are splitting up, there are a growing number of single person households. As a result there is more pressure to build on greenfield sites and those that once would have been uneconomic, or left for wildlife and recreation. But concreting over the countryside is not the solution and will deprive all of us of our precious open spaces and other species of their habitats.

There is a housing crisis and somehow the government has sold us the idea that the big developers and the multinational building companies will solve it, if we just leave them to get on with it. This is nonsense. These companies exist primarily to create profits for their shareholders and executives. Consider the following:

• Developers make more profit from building large houses in luxury developments.
• Building on greenfield sites is cheaper.
• Developers don’t need to be concerned with whether there are good transport links to work, shop and leisure from their new homes.
• Making new homes energy-efficient reduces developers’ profits.

Developers can’t be blamed for doing what they do, they build houses to make profit, but they alone can’t solve the housing crisis. Local Authorities are now instructed by central Government how many homes they have to provide, which puts even more pressure on their finances and makes a nonsense of their planning.

The Green Party believes that decisions and control over housing supply and development belongs in the hands of the Local Authority having the responsibility of discovering what the community needs. New housing should be planned for on the basis of independent housing needs surveys; commercial house builders and their representatives should not be involved in the process of identifying potential sites or assessing housing needs on behalf of the local community.

Planning laws should be there for all of us, not just the developers – they should be there to allow Local Authorities to make projections about the services they need to provide, based on the needs of people. They should be there to protect our greenbelt and open spaces.

Are there enough homes for our current population? No. What is the solution? The Green Party would start with the many thousands of properties standing empty up and down the country. There are 1,000 in Amber Valley alone. Bringing back into use such empty properties should be a priority.

The Green Party believes that the responsibility for social and affordable housing should be returned to Local Authorities, who are best placed to understand the needs of their communities. If house building was under the control of the Local Authority it is more likely that local trades people would be used. The wealth generated would then circulate in the local economy rather than being sucked up by big corporation shareholders and executives.

We need well constructed, insulated and energy efficient homes, fitting into their communities, where needed and when needed. We need affordable homes in which people can feel safe and secure and in communities in which they can take pride. We don’t need more big executive estates on greenfield sites.

Had Amber Valley Borough Council been permitted to develop their housing strategy along Green Party lines, much of the outrage felt by the local communities at the prospect of having large, luxury, developments forced on to them would not have come about. Residents would not now be voicing their outrage at the loss of their green fields and open spaces to luxury housing for which they believe there is little need in Amber Valley. The residents of Amber Valley feel that their needs have taken second place to profit and that their voice has been ignored.

First posted on East Midlands GP blog 4 Feb 2015

Austerity is not working – well for most of us …

Sue MacFarlane, Green Party Candidate for Mid Derbyshire has this to say about Austerity.

Sue MacFarlane cropI’ve been watching what is happening in Greece with interest. The people there have had enough of the austerity measures imposed by Europe that clearly aren’t working. The left wing Syriza party’s recent victory was unthinkable when their share of the vote was 5.6% in the 2007 election. Think about that, from 5.6% of the vote in 2007, to 36% of the vote in 2015.

Yesterday in Spain, tens of thousands of people marched in Madrid – they too are looking for change. The ‘Podemos’ (meaning ‘We Can’) party is also ploughing ahead in the opinion polls, and is talking about writing off Spain’s debt if it comes to power. Their leader, Pablo Iglesias, has said that a ‘wind of change’ is starting blowing through Europe. I agree.

Who are the people that think austerity is working? The bankers? The politicians? The 1%? The media? Ask almost anybody you know if they think that austerity is working, and they will say that it isn’t. So why are we persevering with it? Could it be because the bankers, the politicians, the 1% and the media have something to gain from the widening gap between rich and poor?

Let’s take the bankers. Our government (well, it was actually our money) started to bail out the banks. Yes, that’s right, the government gave our money to the banks saying ‘We will never appreciate how close we came to a collapse of the banking system’ (Paul Myners, City minister 2008-10) You’d think, given how strapped for cash the banks were, they would have instigated austerity measures of their own, wouldn’t you? You know, stopped paying obscene bonuses and such. I don’t need to tell you how this all worked out…

The politicians? In 2010, when the current government was formed, 23 of the 29 members of the new cabinet were millionaires – and over half of them were multi-millionaires. Do you really think these people could possibly understand our lives? With the best will in the world, these people have no idea what it’s like for the poorer people in our society. They talk about ‘the poor’ like this is an unchanging demographic instead of a situation that should be temporary. They do this because, under their government, it has become harder and harder to escape the ‘poverty trap’.

The 1%? The people who own as much of the world’s wealth as the poorest 50%? Whilst the rest of us are suffering under the austerity cuts, the luxury goods market has doubled every year since the measures were put in place. Why wouldn’t they think austerity is working – it IS working for them! They are getting richer!

The media? Don’t even get me started on the media! The cosy relationship between the media and the government is well documented, so no need to go into it here. Suffice to say that Andy Coulson was working in Downing Street as the Conservative Party’s Director of Communications when he had to resign due to the phone hacking scandal. There are some people in the media who can report honestly on what is happening – Owen Jones is one of these – but there aren’t many.

A report published by Oxfam last year (http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/the-perfect-storm-economic-stagnation-the-rising-cost-of-living-public-spending-228591) showed that the austerity measures here in the UK are causing substantial hardship to people living in poverty. The gap between rich and poor is widening, and is obscene. Apart from that, as Greece is finding out, it is not good for anyone – and not something that people will stand for any longer.

Apart from anything else, this austerity and inequality is just not necessary for the recovery of our economy. The National Audit Office said that we spent £850 billion on the bank crises in 2009 – that equated to £26,562 per taxpayer in the UK. Imagine if the government had given this money to you and me, to every adult in the country, to spend into the economy. Imagine the boost this would have had to the economy – and the people of this country who provided the money in the first place. We are still bailing the banks out – and they are still paying bonuses.

Finally, I’ll finish by saying that I think that the widening gap between rich and poor is not an accident – it is a strategy of power. It is a tool being used to keep people ‘in their place’. It hasn’t worked in Greece, and I don’t think it’s going to work here in the UK for much longer. As Frederick Douglass once said ‘ Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe’.

(First published 8th Feb on the Green Party East Midlands Blog)

Please help drive our bit of the #GreenSurge!

You really can make this happen!!

We are just over halfway through our crowdfunder project, and we are almost half the way there.  This is great news, and we are so very grateful to all the people who have pledged so far.

We need to keep up the momentum.  If we don’t reach our target, none of the money will come to us – and our opportunity to give the people in these constituencies a chance to vote for a Green candidate will be lost.

Really important – Please do whatever you can to promote our crowdfunder to your family and friends and to share it, share it, share it  on every kind of social media – especially if you have made a pledge.

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-derbyshire-greens-in-2015/

Again, many thanks to everyone who is helping with this – you are part of the change you want to see in the world 🙂

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Belper Greens and local residents take town council to task!

The following press release was issued today:

Mid Derbyshire Green Party has helped overturn plans by the chairman of Belper Town Council’s finance working party to spend two thirds of their £350,000 reserves by not charging any council tax precept for Belper this year.

At a meeting of the council on Tuesday evening (20th Jan), strong concerns were voiced by councillors that the decision to recommend refunding £243,125 to the townspeople via their tax bills was made at a working party meeting – attended only by Cllr Alan Cox and his wife Cllr Jackie Cox – on December 18 last year.  Four other members of the working party couldn’t get to the meeting and sent apologies, but Mr and Mrs Cox decided to proceed with the meeting even though it was inquorate.

Members of the public, many of them from the Green Party, attended the full meeting of the council at St John’s Chapel in Belper to protest at the proposal.  Without exception, public speakers said that the money in reserve should be spent on projects to benefit the town.

Comments made by residents who had signed a 174-name petition against the proposal were read out before it was officially handed over by their spokesman.  The improved provision of public toilets was high on the wish list of the residents many of whom said they felt the council was out of touch with public feeling.

Four people, two of them Green Party candidates standing in Belper at the elections in May, spoke out against Cllr Cox’s recommendation before the final decision was made.  The majority of the councillors, including the Mayor and his son Dan Booth, the deputy Mayor, backed the public opinion and when it came to the vote, only Mr and Mrs Cox voted in favour of the recommendation.

So now the normal precept is going to be charged for the year 2015/16 and a decision on how to spend the money will be made at a future meeting.

The vast reserve of money accumulated over a number of years was last discussed in public last January (2014) when it was agreed that it needed to be spent by March 2015. At the time Cllr Alan Broughton suggested that the townspeople be asked for ideas on how to spend it.

Various grants have been made to charities and groups in the town during the year as usual but none of that has come from the reserves and no obvious attempt to gauge public opinion has been made.

Sue MacFarlane, the Green Party’s candidate for Belper North in the upcoming Amber Valley Borough Council elections, wanted to know why Cllr Broughton’s suggestion to ask the townspeople what they wanted to spend it on 12 months ago had not been followed up.

“Whilst I can understand how a cut in the Precept in an election year may appear to be the right thing to do if you are hoping to get re-elected to this council, I don’t think it is appropriate to use this money as a pre-election rate cut. A cynical person could surmise that the council did not want anyone to come up with any ideas,” she said.

Both Sue MacFarlane and John Devine, the Green Party candidate for the Belper North Ward for Belper Town Council, offered to help in any way possible to generate public discussion on the matter.  “Maybe we could have an open debate at an event in the Strutt Centre so we could decide how the money could best be spent for the long term benefit of the people of Belper,” said John, offering Green Party local members to help this to happen.

Another member of the public, Maurice Neville, who has worked as a senior local government officer, said “I was very surprised to find that there was no information at all about the reserves on the council’s website,” adding that other councils did provide such details and he was able to find them at the click of a mouse.  Mr Neville pointed out documentation was vital if people were going to be able to assess the wisdom of the proposal.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Sue MacFarlane on 01773423758 or 07774004240, or email her (see contacts page).

Derbyshire Greens Crowdfunder Launch

Want to make sure there are Green Party candidates to vote for in Derbyshire at this year’s general election?

Click on the picture and get involved!

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Help get the word out – Share, Share, Share!