Category Archives: Elections

Growth – The Elephant in the Room

Charlotte Farrell, Parliamentary Candidate for High Peak and candidate for Hope Valley in the Local Elections says…

?????????????????????????????To date I’ve attended five hustings, and at each the questions about the economy and austerity come up. The other 4 parties all talk about the need for growth to get us out of austerity. They say that with better economic growth the country will once again be able to start spending and austerity will come to an end. Every time, I make the point that we cannot have infinite growth in a finite world and that we need to rethink our whole economic plan. However, it feels as if my words fall into a void and nobody quite hears them.

I am never picked up on what I say, though I would dearly like to expound on why continued growth is bad; it’s as if there is a conspiracy not to validate mine or the Green Party’s position generally by asking the serious questions that arise from it.

Of course this may be the truth. It seems so blindingly obvious that we cannot continue to grow in the manner we are doing. Whereby the world’s population (and by that I mean the population of the wealthiest countries) continues to use more each year in terms of raw materials than the planet can replace in that time, and to throw out more waste, atmospheric and real, than the planet can deal with in the same time frame.

It seems that the other parties have no answer for this conundrum; but rather than admit it (or better still work towards finding an answer) they choose to ignore it altogether. Ostrich like, they cover their ears in the hope it will go away.

I am not denying that all of the parties recognise some need to avert climate change (except UKIP who seemingly do not believe in it); and that even under the coalition there has been some increase in renewable energy consumption, but until they address the fundamental issue of growth, their attempts will not be enough to avert global economic, environmental and social disaster.

I have always struggled with maths and so never bothered with economics. I thought it was just something for those much more intelligent than I, but now I realise that most politicians also don’t understand economics. What they do is support the existing system, either because they’re devoid of ideas for anything better, or to protect their own vested interests.

Under the present system we have to keep growing. That is because if we base our economy on debt, as is the case (97% of all “money” in circulation was originally created by the high street banks as debt); to create sufficient to pay it back (not to mention the interest) we have to produce more. And so it fuels a vicious circle.

Of course it’s difficult and unpopular to challenge the status quo and that is the reason the Green Party is constantly derided by the media, but sooner or later politicians are going to have to face up to the ‘elephant in the room’ – the question of infinite growth in a finite world.

If we’re going to exist within the limits of what our one planet can give us then one of the first things we need to accept is that there needs to be a redistribution of wealth. If we don’t have growth, then that which we have has to be shared a lot more equally than it currently is, both globally and nationally.

Again, our debt-based monetary system predicates against this. In a debt based economy the poor acquire more debt simply to live, while the rich, who do not need to borrow, acquire the benefit through tangible assets such as property, stocks and shares and the other trappings of privilege.

I believe that it will be hard to reach the kind of steady state economy we need while wedded to the old monetary system. How can something as fundamental as the creation of money, be left in the hands of those who profit most from its production? The banking system has failed us, but rather than think about a better way, we simply tinker at the edges and let it continue largely unmolested.

The Green Party wants to see money creation removed from the banks and given back to state control. This in fact used to be the case until computers did away with the need for there always to be a tangible real bit of money on the other side of the debt. Under the Green Party’s plans the National Monetary Authority would control the production of money, issuing it as and when needed straight into the real economy. It would be used (amongst other things) to build houses, schools, hospitals and railways etc and as these were built the money would filter down through the workers’ pay into the local economy.

I admit its difficult looking at things from the present position to see how we would get to that state or how we would achieve this; but that in itself is no reason not to work towards finding a way.

The destruction of the planet and our economic system go hand in hand. We desperately need to change both before its too late. If nothing else, I hope that with Green Party candidates standing in 90% of parliamentary seats this message gets across loud and clear, so long as it does, I won’t mind how often the media chose to mock us because ultimately I believe we will be heard.

Green Party candidate contact details

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Green Party Manifesto

Mike ShipleyMike Shipley writes:

The Green Party has launched its manifesto today, [14th April]. At the launch Natalie Bennett said “This manifesto presents the Green Party’s genuine alternative to our tired, business-as-usual politics. We desperately need a more equal society and the policies we announce today pave the way towards a brighter, fairer future for all.”

This is a long document, featuring policies relating to the economy, our society and our shared environment. It is also costed to show that it is possible to implement policies that will improve everyone’s lives and help stabilise the economy without the need for austerity.

Like most elections, this in 2015 is dominated again by arguments over the economy. No one can deny the importance of economic policy, but in a General Election that will vote in a Government for 5 years, we should be asking other, more profound questions. We should ask about priorities and about what sort of society our politicians are wanting to create with the power we will give them.

The Conservative Party is focused on money, it wants a society in which those who have it can keep as much of it as possible and do with it as they please. Labour seems now to be content with simply shadowing the Tories, accepting their economic strategy and hoping to be able to put a bit more of a human face on to it. Their real focus is power – vision has deserted them.

By comparison the Green manifesto sets out a clear vision of what we can build through our policies:
Print• a human scale economy that works for people and doesn’t damage our planet
• public services that deliver what people need
• a society that cares for the future of the young and the welfare of the vulnerable
• a more equal society that accepts diversity and offers opportunity regardless of background, governed honestly by elected representatives dedicated to the common good.

None of this is wishful thinking, neither is any of it unaffordable. What is wishful thinking is the idea that we can go on trying to solve through ‘growth’ the endlessly recurring crises that the economic strategies of the post war period have created. Perpetual growth in the economy is not possible; forever increasing the rate of consumption of natural resources is not possible, any economic strategy based on either or both will fail. Chancellors may engineer a temporary upturn of the indexes that they control in order to win an election, but in the long term the “growth and consume” economic plan dooms us all to failure.

The Green manifesto catalogues the failure of successive governments to which our present leaders seem to be blind. More than one in four children growing up in poverty, nearly one million people reliant on food banks, growing levels of inequality that sees the wealth of the richest 1% greater than the poorest 55% of fellow citizens, and the spiralling growth of debt that will see more that 2 million households paying half of their disposable income paying off loans by 2018.

For many, these grim realities do not add up to the success story that the Coalition Government is trying to claim in its bid to hold on to power. They spell out failure, and what the other manifestos are offering is very slightly different versions of this failure. More cuts, more austerity for the majority of voters, more tax cuts for the affluent supporters of the status quo, more privatisation that will lead to us paying private providers more for poorer services. Just more wishful thinking.

We are at a critical time and the outcome of this and the next election will shape our future – although you would barely know this from the trivia that is gushing out from the mouths of our so called ‘leaders’. Climate change is gathering pace. We need a clear action programme to be agreed in Paris at the end of the year otherwise global temperatures will overshoot 2 degrees centigrade. The cost of the damage will break all but the strongest economies – and the British economy is not one of the strongest.

Democracy is under threat by a corporate takeover of Government policy-making. This is demonstrated in the secret Trans-Atlantic Trade negotiations, TTIP, that will strip Governments of the ability to enact laws to protect public health or our shared environment lest they threaten corporate profits and bonuses. Inequality is stoking tensions in society that can only lead to a rise in crime, in fear and a decline in general well-being and health. The capacity of our natural environment to provide the food and clean water that we all need to survive is being eroded by increasing unregulated development and pollution.

These issues are ignored by politicians and commentators alike, they are too big for them to comprehend. But they are not ignored by the Green manifesto. Here, we set out a route that will steer us away from the dangers inherent in ‘business as usual’. We show how it is possible to build a sustainable society in which each individual can build a life of purpose, within the natural limits of the one planet that we have to live on. Our aim in this election is to campaign on this manifesto, to maximise our vote and so demonstrate that there is a serious and growing level of support for our policies; policies that work for the Common Good.

Mike Shipley April 2015
Mike is standing as Green Party candidate in the Local Elections for Sett Ward on High Peak Borough Council

The Politics of the Future

Vote for What you Believe In

The Politics of the Future doesn’t have to look like the Politics of the Past

cropped-gplogostrapwhitegreenforweb.jpgQuick Quote from David Foster – Candidate for Derby South Constituency

David Foster“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.”

Green Party candidate contact details

Spread the Word says Andy White, Derbyshire Dales District Council Candidate

General Election Candidates in Derbyshire

Vote for What you Believe In

To find out who they are and which Constituency they are standing in – click on the General Election heading at the top of this page.

To read your Candidate’s Statement – click on the Candidates Statement Category on the left sidebar and scroll down.

Ralph Hierons – Erewash Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Ralph HieronsI joined the Green Party following the last general election as I saw them as the only party with any remaining integrity. With election policies and promises being rapidly discarded by the three ‘mainstream’ parties in the grab for power.

I am inspired by the lack of a real alternative to the right wing bias as we approach this General Election. I want to increase my involvement with the only party that I trust to deliver on their pledges in an open democracy.

What appeals most to me about the Green Party is their holistic approach to government and to society. Whilst the other parties promote their sticking-plaster remedies to whatever populist problems will garner the most votes, the Green Party, whilst fluid enough to respond to new challenges (TTIP, Fracking) as they arise, is constant in ethos, and propose changes across the board that can only improve society, environment and equality.

As we approach the General Election, I see communication as the Green Party’s biggest challenge. There are many disparate, disaffected groups of potential Green voters in the UK, who may be unaware that there is a party that shares their ideals: those campaigning against TTIP who do not know we are the only party that are totally opposed to it; those fighting to save our NHS who are unaware of our policies regarding a fully funded, free at point of service, un-privatised NHS; those who do not want the land under our homes stolen, and poisoned, who need to be made aware that we are the only party who are totally against fracking.

Without the vast budget and huge corporate donors of the other parties, our challenge is to take this message to these people and build upon the Green surge.

I have worked as an internet designer and developer since 1997 and, along the way, have worked in film, print and on-line media. I consider myself an able communicator and am looking forward to dedicating all of my skills and experience in this field, to spreading the Green Party message throughout Erewash.

I view Erewash as a mass of abandoned potential, which like so many areas has been brutalised by austerity cuts. The constituency is distanced from Westminster and consequently disaffected. Combatting voter apathy in an area that has been penalised by the current coalition is definitely an uphill struggle, but one I would rise to. I am truly inspired by the ‘Transition Towns’ movement and believe this is a model we could apply to Long Eaton and Ilkeston – developing our micro-economy and building a stronger community.

Green Party candidate contact details

Charlotte Farrell – High Peak Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

?????????????????????????????I am standing as a parliamentary candidate for High Peak constituency because I believe it is important to give people the opportunity to vote for the Green party wherever possible.

I became interested in environmental issues back in the 1980’s, concerned about the effects our current way of life was having, and the impact of climate change on the world generally.

I believe that capitalism is incompatible with a sustainable society and that while we continue to follow the present economic trajectory we will inevitably cause untold harm to mankind and to the planet. I believe that the alternative is to build policies which put people and the planet first before profit.

I originally trained as a nurse and worked as such for 15 years before re-qualifying as a solicitor. Last year, after 10 years in the law, I left to work with my partner making orthopaedic footwear; so that I could devote more time to politics.

I live and work in the High Peak and am involved in various community activities there. In particular I was involved in the purchase of Derbyshire’s first community owned and run village pub which now provides a focus for the local community.

If I was elected I would stand for:
•  meaningful action to combat climate change and pollution
• providing decent jobs with a living wage and truly affordable housing
•  fighting cuts to public sector jobs and services
• increased investment in health and education, in particular ending the pernicious privatisation of services
• integrated, affordable and sustainable public transport
•  zero tolerance inequality and discrimination
• immediate unilateral nuclear disarmament and an end to UK involvement in overseas conflict and war.

I believe that there needs to be a fundamental change to our present economic and political system to combat the inevitable global destruction which we otherwise seem to be heading towards. I believe in providing a fairer and more equal society which is not at the expense of the environment.

Green Party candidate contact details

Sue MacFarlane – Mid Derbyshire Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Sue MacFarlaneI joined the Green Party officially last year after having been ‘in sympathy’ with its values for many years. I joined because I wanted to be part of the change we need to make our society fairer and more sustainable. Having joined, I spent some time reading Green Party policy and recognised that some of the issues I was already interested in (Citizen’s income, re-nationalisation of the railways, opposition to TTIP etc.) were aligned to Green party thinking.

I quickly became active in the local party and we meet every couple of weeks to discuss current projects and campaigns. I have been selected democratically by the group to be their ‘lead’ candidate for Belper North Ward in the Amber Valley Borough Council elections. I am also standing as a national election candidate in order to give people a chance to vote Green in Mid Derbyshire in the general election.

I am a realist, and understand that the possibility of winning a seat in Mid Derbyshire is minimal. However, I have met many people who have said that they would like to be able to vote for the Green Party in a national election and I would like to give them a chance to do so.

I feel I am a credible candidate, with good communication skills. I prepare press releases for Mid Derbyshire Greens, and have been on the radio about a local issue surrounding democracy. I am a Natural Voice Practitioner, and this involves helping people to find and use their voice. I feel that politics has similarities to this, and I feel very strongly that everyone’s voice should be heard. I would like the opportunity to be able to represent people, and to give them a voice in local and national politics.

I organised the successful ‘crowdfunder’ project which played a large part in enabling us to stand Green Party candidates in Derbyshire at the coming general election. I feel well supported by my local party and activist group, and am heartened by the fact that our numbers grow at almost every meeting. They have faith in me and I would like to validate that faith by standing as Green Party candidate for Mid Derbyshire in the forthcoming general election.

Green Party candidate contact details

Ian Wood – Derbyshire Dales Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Ian WoodI live in Bakewell, am fifty-seven years of age, a freelance journalist, a husband and father of four children (aged from ten to twenty-two), and I used to be a lawyer.

A quarter of a century ago, I stood for the SDP in a parliamentary by-election in Mid-Staffordshire. I can now see with almost embarrassing clarity how little distinction there actually is between any of the old established parties’ economic analyses and those of their opponents, and how much they make of such tiny differences.

The world is whirling towards an economic cataclysm that will prompt widespread changes in the way we earn our living and share the proceeds of investment and labour. In consequence of my economic views, I respect and would observe the natural limits of the planet that, inevitably, have to be ignored by capitalists if it is to provide the growth that they have come to expect. And, accordingly, I believe there is in the end no alternative to a steady state economy as the basis of a sustainable economic system. It follows that I support Green policies for energy generation, planning and transport, and those which promote income equality, the integration of nations and peoples, and, ultimately, peace; all things that are consistent with the abandonment of growth as the central objective of economic policy.

I am also in favour of a federal Britain and our place in the world being firmly at the heart of a federal Europe. When it became safe and sensible to do so, I would support the UK’s adoption of the Euro. The central objective of Green policies is to place the emphasis on the sustainable distribution of natural assets rather than exploiting them for growth. Hence, we would have to deal with the economically essential support of uncompetitive member nations, just as our own Chancellor of the Exchequer raises most taxes in the richer south and uses them in part to fund services in the poorer north. However, I would wish to see efficient enterprises – for example, those conducted by Derbyshire farmers – succeed against unduly subsidised continental ones, and there is little wrong with the free market when it operates between smaller and more equal businesses that do not grow by debt and stock market leverage.

This is the best and most optimistic time to be green in history. As the Green Party candidate in the Derbyshire Dales constituency I am passionate about putting forward a truly viable, radically different and increasingly popular alternative for voters to consider. I would be a diligent and persuasive advocate for the constituency. I am also intending to stand in Bakewell for election as a district councillor.

Green Party candidate contact details

John Devine – Amber Valley Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

John DevineI am quite a new member to the Green Party but since joining I have been extremely active and I have become part of a strong and focused team here in Mid Derbyshire. I believe that the Green Party is the only Party which has the ethics, morals and policies to put this country back on its feet. To that end I will fight, heart and soul, for the Green Party and the ‘Common Good.’

My work experience has been varied. Six years in the armed forces taught me the value of team work and discipline. Later, as a registered nurse, working with special needs patients, I learned compassion and developed a strong sense of social justice and the need to speak out against injustice.

I have also worked as an Environmental Crime Enforcement Officer for the Environment Agency where I dealt with many different people and professions. Part of my role was to produce prosecution reports and give evidence at magistrate and crown courts. I also have experience of making presentations to councils and local community groups.

I am standing as Parliamentary Candidate for the Amber Valley Constituency in order to give people the chance to vote for a different way of doing things. I want the people of Amber Valley to know that the Green Party is here and that we are prepared to speak for them; that the Green Party offers hope and practical solutions where all other Parties offer division, fear and failure.

I believe that my life and work experience, together with the fact that my beliefs are firmly in line with Green Party philosophy, make me a credible candidate to stand for Amber Valley

Green Party candidate contact details

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 🙂

wordle

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

GPLogoStrapGreenForWeb

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.