Category Archives: Political Reform

Another Europe is possible

Meme-Supporters-Caroline-Lucas

On Saturday 28th May I travelled down to London to attend Another Europe is Possible’.  I only knew about the event as I had begun to follow Owen Jones on Twitter. Recently, I had been reading quite a few of his articles in the Guardian and liked his politics. I have always supported Britain being in Europe long before a referendum was announced. This maybe has something to do with being a History teacher, teaching Citizenship and an interest in politics from an early age. Like many others over the years I had become very disenchanted with politics and apathetic towards MPs, but the EU debate is an area I have always had strong views about, and because of this I decided to make the long trip to London for the day. It was worth it.

Recently, I attended a debate on the EU at the Devonshire Dome. The view I expressed at the Devonshire is just one of many views I have been sharing with friends for some time now, which is we need to remain in the EU because of the peace and security that Europe has now enjoyed for over seventy years. This a belief that the movement Another Europe is Possible promotes.

Indeed many of the positions of Another Europe is Possible are shared by the Green Party which is why Caroline Lucas was the first speaker on the platform to advocate this movement. My impression of her was someone who has a resolute determination to speak on behalf of the Green Party, but an openness to working with others on the progressive left to make change happen. Caroline’s speech was impressive and made an immediate impact with the audience. Caroline posed the pertinent question of ‘What kind of country do we want?’ This is of course at the very heart of this referendum for the British public to decide. She acknowledged that the EU has plenty of faults, as do I, but she questions how challenges will be solved by a Brexit, especially those issues which are transnational like climate change. I agree.

Caroline acknowledged as so did many others during the day that the EU does need to be more democratic and transparent, but so does Westminster. She believes, there will be similar trade deals to TTIP even if we do leave. The best way to defeat TTIP is to fight it from within the EU. Again, views broadly shared by all the speakers. Her opinions also resonated with my own when she spoke about the ‘toxic rhetoric’ of the Leave campaign in which there is a ‘harking back to an imaginary golden age’. I personally do not know when this golden age existed, nostalgia does play its part in history, but this is the small minded view that  Another Europe is possible is fighting against.

Another Europe is Possible is currently touring the country with a wide variety of speakers from different political parties and organisations to get the message across that it is best to reform the EU within. It is good to see that these events are well attended and it demonstrates that people do actually care about the future direction of Britain. It advances the viewpoint that not all of the British public are as apathetic about British politics as we might think. The idea of working together for change is the primary purpose of this movement which began last September with a handful of people, which within a short space of time has been galvanised into a broader based action group. This lobby group is very much in its infancy and does need support to make the changes possible that I am sure the British public want if we are to remain in the EU.

Louise Birch, Green Party member, Buxton

More videos

Owen Jones

John McDonnell

Yanis Varoufakis

A Message to our Leaders, from Andy White, Derbyshire

Andy WhiteIt is argued that the middle ground of English politics has been captured by what is effectively a centre right Tory Party, and Labour has lost what was once it’s core support of ‘The Working Class’. Indeed, those on the right argue that there is no such thing as the working class, and that demographic now identifies itself as ‘Middle Class’.

The dispossessed and less fortunate, those with little or no income are portrayed as an inconvenience by the policy makers, who constantly tell us that money has to be saved on welfare – there is no alternative – conveniently forgetting the real lives that are affected by market capitalism and the chase for constant growth. No place for compassion here.

Over the years since 1979 politics has changed from being representative of, and controlled by the people, to just being controlled by big business, with the masses kept in their place by a constant stream of propaganda that reassures them and carefully defines them as ‘hard working and doing the right thing’, because if you don’t, the wrath of the system will surely grind you down. The subliminal message is ‘do as you’re told or else’ …. With the ‘or else’ being the constant fear of a life in poverty, or being targeted as a scrounger, or not being able to find money to keep up. Sound familiar? True Victorian values are returning, we even have people working for nothing on penalty of losing welfare support…..a disgrace in 21st century Britain!

Such is the power of these messages that few actually question anymore! To do so suggests that you are a doubter, that you don’t believe in the good that is being done in your name, that you are an outsider, a radical and not ‘one of us ’. You’re not doing the right thing!

This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. We see daily on a global scale the damage done to our planet in the name of change and so called progress. The Green Party have a huge responsibility to educate our potential core support. That support, in a large part, is disaffected Labour and Liberal voters (and even some Tories), who are currently looking for the right alternative. They know the Tory way is wrong, but are unsure what the real alternative is. We need to construct a discourse that is legitimised by sustainability, and we need to get that message across at every opportunity. The 67% that didn’t vote Tory are a big audience waiting to hear the things that will give them stability, and that will ensure they can live life with all the comfort and support required in a civilised society.

Our priority messages should be simple and focus around security – of income (sustainable jobs, proper welfare), housing, transport and public services, – and sustainability of the planet, of the natural world, of our food and water supply. Our message needs now to be that only our policies can build that secure and sustainable world without fear, based on civility, human rights and a respect of all of life.

We need to begin that task now, and I would like the message to come from our leadership fairly quickly. Time is not on our side.

First published on 25 May, 2015 on East Midlands Green Party Blog

The Green Party – We’re Not Just a Pretty Face!

JeanI have to confess that I had a personal dilemma on how to vote in the election. Should I vote tactically or vote for what I believe in?

I have been a member of the Green Party for 30 years but I have only been able to vote Green in the General Election twice back in 1987 and 1992 and the only times I have been able to vote Green in Local Elections was when I stood as a candidate myself. It has been difficult for us as a small party to find both the people and the money to stand in General Elections so I was pleased that the Green surge brought a new excitement and energy and candidates willing to put themselves forward.

However, I live in Derby North where Labour’s Chris Williamson only won by a small majority in 2010. Many people I spoke to outside the Green Party who were concerned about the cuts and austerity said I should vote tactically rather than vote Green. I knew that Chris was passionate about Animal Welfare and he was also in a group of fifteen Labour MPs who called for an alternative to the continuation of austerity and spending cuts. So I did consider their view carefully but in the end decided to vote for the party I believed in and not to play the tactics game.

Having taken this decision, I was very disappointed that the Conservatives won Derby North by 41 votes after three re-counts. I began to think that perhaps I should have voted tactically after all. But would it have changed anything? Labour was defeated nationally, their leader resigned but they still appear to think that austerity and cuts is the answer to our debt problems. From what I have heard, the candidates for the Leadership want to move nearer to Conservative policies to win back business and the votes of comfortably off people. This is far removed from what the Green Party stands for as an anti-austerity party, who don’t want to renew Trident, who oppose TTIP and who do not want our NHS to be sold off to the highest bidder. So, I’m glad I wasn’t persuaded to play the tactics game.

As others have said, for the Green Party, it is not just about who “won” on 7 May. I think the Green Party’s results in this election have helped the Party break through the perception in many people’s minds that it is just a well-meaning nice campaigning group. I believe that it will help to convince voters in 2020 that the Green Party is a serious political party, and given the chance, it can change the future face of politics.  One of the first things that we need to try to change is the first past the post voting system.

We have a long term aim to bring back values into politics, to build a fairer society for all and to continue to push for action to try to limit the consequences of global warming. Changing attitudes is always difficult and will not happen overnight. The abolition of the slave trade, votes for women, getting rid of apartheid, all required, and still require, persistence and dedication from those who believe that something needs to change. This election has shown that the Green Party is not just a pretty face; we have the body and brain to go with it.

Jean Macdonald
25 May 2015

A Big Thank You!

Kat Boettge writes:

Kat BoettgeThe regional party and I would like to sincerely thank you for your support. These elections and the previous year has created a political momentum that I have not experienced in this country. I have found this exciting and I am hopeful that we can achieve further success in the next five years, enabling us to influence policy locally and nationally.

However, unfortunately due to the unfair voting system, we have not gained any more MPs after Caroline Lucas, who has kept her seat. I am also very concerned about having a Conservative majority government, and many councils which are dominated by either the Conservatives or Labour with little serious oppositions. Sadly the main parties have been compromised by their corporate agenda; only the Green Party recognises and prioritises the need to fight climate change, to reform the banking sector, to challenge corporate power, to address social inequality, to improve animal welfare, stop cuts and austerity, and to invest in renewables.

However, after reflections, I think we have done very well – such a strong trend is almost impossible to ignore. In the UK 1,1 million people have voted Green, and this is a clear message that there are many who trust and support or aims. Our membership is continuing to increase rapidly. We have several new local parties and many highly motivated activists. And of course we have never had so many candidates, who also were prepared to actively campaign.

Here in the East Midlands we have had some very encouraging results too. Congratulation to Sue and Richard Mallender who held their borough seats in Lady Bay Rushcliffe. I have not seen most of the results, as we are still collecting them. However, I am aware of some, for example, Antonia Zenkevitch has done very well in Nottingham East with almost 10%. We held our deposits in several constituencies. In the local elections we have generally increased our votes (again I have as yet limited results).

I believe we significantly raised our Green Party profile. Voters and members believe in us, they believe in the positive solutions we offer. We must continue to get our message out there. Green activists and candidates have shown that even after disappointments, we just carry on. We reflect and learn regarding election strategies, but continue to fight for our uncompromising values. Because we all believe in our solutions – these are positive and achievable. So thank you again for your support, and we are looking forward to continue to fight for a better future for the common good.

Many thanks
Kat and the regional committee
Kat Boettge
Regional Coordinator

First published on East Midlands Green Party Blog 16 May, 2015

Our task is clear, to carry the opposition to the Lords of Misrule

Mike Shipley writes:

17890_1424688961158417_1093453912345290857_nIt wasn’t the result we wanted and hardly reflects the effort we put into the campaign. Campaign teams locally, across the region and nationally performed heroics, rising to some huge challenges in putting ourselves in the political firing line like never before. In the end the sheer spending power of the big parties made our task near impossible. The Tories spent over £8 million, the Greens a quarter of a million, a lot for us, but in today’s world, it is money that buys results.

By the end of the longest count I ever remember, 7pm Saturday, I, like very many political activists in the country, felt depressed and angry. This wasn’t democracy, it wasn’t justice, there wasn’t much to show for months of effort. I sat in the pub and stared into my beer, trying to forget about the whole thing.

This is just the reaction our lords and masters want. They want us to feel the weight of their presence, the totality of their control, they are taking delight in laughing in the face of our misfortune. We must not now or ever give in to despair.

On leaving the pub, I spoke to a first time voter, she was celebrating her 18th birthday and was thoroughly enjoying her night out with her parents and friends. She told me that she had indeed voted, but voted Labour, she had wanted to vote Green, but had believed the propaganda, now on seeing the result she regretted this decision and said that she would join us. This is happening across the country. Over the weekend our membership increased by over 2000. We are the only political party in England whose membership has consistently grown over the last year and it is still rising. In truth we have achieved a great deal in this campaign, and we knew all along that we were laying the foundations for 2020.

We are in a strong position with so much to work towards. We don’t have a leadership crisis, we are not fatally split on deep issues, we have not been decimated at the polls, our vote increased in line with our membership. We didn’t pick up the additional seats that we hoped, but we have laid solid foundations for the next round of elections both locally and nationally. Brighton was won with a much increased majority and the swing to Greens in Bristol was a huge 23% making it winnable in 2020. Making local gains in a general election is difficult as London Greens found in 2010. But the solid work put in, setting up ‘target to win’ campaigns in so many wards will serve us well over the next 4 years.

Labour and LibDem are in disarray, leaderless and lacking any sense of identity and the the latter any sense of purpose. LD’s bear the responsibility for a decade of divisive, destructive Tory rule, first by supporting them in coalition, then by failing to stop them snatching their seats to give the majority the Tories so desperately wanted. Greens must now carry the political opposition to Tory misrule. We have a clear manifesto, a clear purpose. We have a growing membership of people who want to see this effective opposition. We must deliver.

I was wrong to feel despair at the end of the count. The events of this campaign present us with huge opportunities. Over a million people defied the propaganda machine and the siren voices of the tactical voters and voted Green. Many more we know support our vision and policies. How often did you hear voters say…’I would support you, I agree with your policies, but….’ Those voters will now see that they were wrong to carry on supporting the the old order based on two party politics.

Times have indeed changed, there is a strong and growing mood for electoral reform that we must drive on. There is growing support for our policies. Out task over the next five years is clear. We must go out and convert that support in to votes, win seats and carry the challenge of our vision for a fair and just society into the heart of British politics.

[Mike Shipley 10th May 2015]

First published on East Midlands Green Party Blog

Today we call for a fairer more proportional voting system

After an evening of shocks and surprises the Green Surge continues to roll on.

Fair Votes Now 1 million votes for a single Green MP. Join our call for ‪#‎FairVotesNow‬: http://bit.ly/1DVSyGc

  • Caroline Lucas has grown her vote share in Brighton Pavilion by 11%, winning 22,871 votes and retaining her seat.
  • Across the country, over a million people voted Green – more than four times as many people than at any other General Election.
  • We came second in four seats, including Bristol West, where Darren Hall received the biggest ever upswing in a General Election in England and Wales – taking the Green vote up 23% to 26.8%.
  • Greens also retained around 100 deposits and beat the Liberal Democrats in 126 seats. In 2010, they beat them in just one.

Natalie Bnatalie-bennettennett said: “The Green surge has only just begun. Retaining Caroline Lucas, our wonderful Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, and recording at least four second-place finishes puts the Greens firmly on track to make further electoral breakthroughs.”

The election results show that the political landscape has fractured and we now live in an era of multi-party politics where the politics of the future no longer has to look like the politics of the past.

The fact that we have achieved over one million votes yet not been rewarded with more MPs draws into sharp focus just how unfair and outdated our winner-takes-all voting system is.

Caroline Lucas said: “In 2010, Brighton Pavilion showed that a different kind of politics is possible. That you can stand firm by your principles and still be elected.

But there’s not a moment to lose. Amid the most savage, targeted austerity cuts in modern history, and with parties set on wringing ‘every last drop of oil’ from the North Sea, even as climate change accelerates – the urgency of a strong, clear Green voice in Parliament has never been greater.

We will hold Parliament to account and push for real reform – starting with proportional representation, for a politics that looks far more like the people it’s supposed to represent.

And we’ll fight for a fairer, greener future – and justice today.”

With over 1 million Green votes only resulting in a single Green MP please share our call for a fairer more proportional voting system

#‎FairVotesNow‬: http://bit.ly/1DVSyGc

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

October newsletter shows Belper Greens mean business!

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The ‎Mid Derbyshire ‪Green Party clearly mean business!  Their October newsletter has been delivered to every house in the town’s North Ward!! Bring on the elections!

So what makes The Greens different?

  • Every citizen will receive the ‘Citizen’s Income’ – no matter what!
  • The NHS will be protected;
  • The railways will be returned to public hands;
  • Student tuition fees will be abolished and so will student loans;
  • Most importantly, we will do what is needed to ensure our kids have a planet to inherit!

Join us and make a difference!!  We meet every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month at The Bulls Head, Belper Lane End, DE56 2DL

Belper students to question Natalie Bennett!

belperschool

As part of her very full day in Belper next Monday (17th Nov), the leader of the Green Party will be visiting Belper School & Sixth Form Centre.

Natalie_Bennett

Natalie will be meeting the students studying for their ‘A’ Levels in Government and Politics, giving a talk and then answering questions.

Later the same day, Natalie will be hosting a public meeting at No. 28 in The Marketplace from 7pm until 8:30pm and will be taking questions from attendees. All are welcome.

 

Green Party Membership passed 20,000 today

1463119_583405441732546_2094308750_nMembership of the Green Party has surged up 46% this year and just passed 20,000 for the first time. This increase is mirrored by rising poll rating (1) which sees the Greens consistently polling 7%, level pegging with the LibDems. The Green Party outperformed the Liberal Democrats in the May 2014 European Elections both in terms of MEPs returned and percentage of the total vote [3]

The Green surge shows no sign of slowing. The Party plans to stand in at least 75% of seats at the 2015 General Election – 50% more than in 2010 (4). Campaigning is already underway to significantly increase the number of Green Councilors in the local elections that will poll at the same time as the general election.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACommenting on these figures, Green Party target candidate for Hope Valley in the High Peak, Charlotte Farrell said: ‘The surge in membership does not surprise me, the traditional Parties are bankrupt of ideas and their policies continue to make life worse for all but the very rich. What particularly encourages me is the surge in membership of the Young Greens which has rocketed up by 100% since March this year (2). Young Greens can get fully involved in the working of the Green Party helping us to keep up to date and relevant policy, and to represent the Party as candidates.’

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said: “These astounding across-the-board membership rises clearly demonstrate that more and more people appreciate that the Green Party is the only party committed to transforming our economy and shaking up business-as-usual Westminster politics. The Green Party warmly welcomes all the new members. Members are the lifeblood of the Green Party, a truly democratic party which allows all members to help form policy.”

Siobhan MacMahon, Young Greens co-chair, said: “The growth of the Young Greens this year has been spectacular. We have doubled in size since March alone to nearly 4,000 members – significantly larger than the Liberal Democrat’s youth wing. Thousands were inspired through the European elections, Green Party conference and even the Scottish referendum, that brought home to young people the Greens’ vision of a genuine progressive alternative to the same-old right-wing politics of the coalition parties, as well as Labour and UKIP.

The Green Party is consistently polling at over 10% among 16-24 year olds. Young Greens are attracted by Green polices that call for free education, affordable and publicly-owned transport, an end to migrant-bashing and a halt to the continual attacks on young people. The Party recognises that the youth of Britain have been at the sharp end of austerity, and are badly affected by the crisis in affordable housing. It is also the young generation who will have to live with the full effects of climate change and resource depletion.

Charlotte concluded by saying: ‘The Young Greens’ 100% growth this year is testament to a sea-change going on in politics. New groups are springing up across the country every week, campaigning on the issues that really matter to this generation, but that are ignored by the mainstream parties. We are campaigning for policies that will build and fair and sustainable future that will work for the common good of all.’

East Midlands Press Officer:
Mike Shipley

Notes

1 http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/09/29/yougov-polling-green-party-neck-and-neck-with-liberal-democrats/
2 http://www.younggreens.org.uk
3 http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/05/26/european-elections-greens-gain-50-more-meps,-push-liberal-democrats-into-fifth-place/
4 http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/09/05/green-party-leader-natalie-bennett’s-autumn-party-conference-keynote-speech/

Constitutional Reform: “Democracy for Everyone”

1463119_583405441732546_2094308750_nIn the aftermath of the Scottish Referendum the Green Party is backing calls that a People’s Constitutional Convention agree radical changes to the governance of the UK.

Soon after the Scottish Government has negotiated additional powers with the UK Government, a People’s Constitutional Convention should be commissioned, before the General Election, to map out a new settlement for the rest of the United Kingdom as soon as practicable.

In the wake of the Scottish referendum, which saw the highest turnout at a UK election (85%) since 1951, the Green Party is backing calls for a People’s Constitutional Convention to be established to consider radical changes to the entire governance of the UK. We need to put power back in the hands of the people.

Creating Policy

The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW or Greens), invites experts to draft policies: then asks Conference to amend them: then votes to adopt them. The policies are binding on Members and are visible to all at http://www.policy.greenparty.org.uk This is a lengthy but deeply intelligent and democratic process.

We are rewarded for our effort by leading, for the last 4 years, the “vote for policies” with a current electorate of over 400,000 – http://www.voteforpolicies.org.uk

We are not rewarded with media coverage and we are penalised by having to find a deposit of £500 to exercise our democratic right to stand, intelligently, in Westminster elections – a double penalty for a party mainly funded by its members.

It is worth reviewing the relevant history:

1. Long ago, a Scot created the Bank of England that is actually the Bank of UK.

2. Years ago, Greens adopted a series of policies about public administration, including the need for a radical written constitution. The constitution, according to Greens and recently Labour, must be created by a Peoples Constitutional Convention.

3. A few weeks ago, East Midlands Greens put forward a Motion to speed up the drafting of a constitution.

4. A few days ago, on an 85% turnout, 1.6 million Scots voted Yes to Independence. 2 million voted No, because of an (exaggerated) fear of the unknown: and because of a vague, last minute, cobbled together “Vow”, that there would be unspecified delegation to Scots.

5. A day later it became clear that the Vow was at best wishful thinking:-

• Tories’ PR consultant, currently our PM, found he couldn’t carry out the Vow, in face of pressure from his far right and UKIP. So he linked devolution to the Scots, with the removal of Scots MPs’ votes in the UK parliament. That wasn’t in the Vow.
• Libdems seemed to completely lose sight of their earlier commitment to the EU rules on subsidiarity – yet another abandonment of principle.
• Labour is horribly confused as usual between Scots and English MPs

Two days later, on 20th September, Greens published a position paper on constitutional issues called “Democracy for everyone” – see policy briefing

The paper might seem a bit sudden to the electorate at large, but in fact every word is based on our well drafted policies for public administration (PA 001 to PA 918).

Readers can as ever read the policies and position paper for themselves.

Guiding Principle
The guiding principle should be that power flows upwards from the people rather than downwards from an over-centralised state. The Green Party will press for the Convention for a new settlement that includes:

Greater powers for local and regional government
Local government exists in a permanent state of crisis, with neither the resources nor the powers to effect the comprehensive change local people want. Councils should have enhanced powers and spending to tackle the housing crisis, generate renewable energy, deliver strong public services and promote local businesses. Where there is public demand for regional government we will support referendums to establish it.

Electoral reform
Proportional representation should be introduced at all levels of Government – from Local Councils to the lower and upper houses of the UK Parliament. In most of the UK the composition of governing bodies does not reflect the will of the people.

‘Total’ recall for all elected politicians
The UK Government’s current Bill to allow constituents to ‘recall’ their MP part-way through their term of office does not go far enough. In the current bill only MPs who are convicted of a criminal offence and jailed: or MPs who have been suspended by their peers, will be subject to a recall process. In contrast the Green Party backs ‘total’ recall where the power rests solely with constituents. The Green’s MP, Caroline Lucas, has worked with MPs from all political parties to produce a ‘total’ recall Bill under which a by-election would be triggered if 20% of constituents sign a recall petition.

Local referendums and citizen’s initiatives
If the public don’t like a Government decision they should be able to force them to reverse it. And if the Government is dragging its feet on implementing a popular measure the public should be able to give it a push. The Green Party backs the right of citizens to introduce their own referendums or initiatives if they secure a sufficient number of petition signatures.

Replacing the House of Lords with a fully-elected Upper House
Britain’s Upper House is perhaps the most glaring example of the neo-feudal state in practice. No other country that calls itself a democracy retains an unelected branch of parliament stacked full of retired MPs, party donors and a smattering of hereditary peers. The Green Party believes it should be abolished and replaced by a directly-elected second chamber.

The extension of the right to vote to all 16 year olds
16 year olds were entrusted to help decide the future of their nation in the Scottish Referendum. They repaid that trust. The Green Party has long-argued that the age of majority should be reduced to 16 for the rest of the UK with accompanying full citizenship rights and responsibilities.

A written constitution
All of these changes need to be included in a new written constitution setting out our rights and Government’s responsibilities.

All of these are existing Green Party policies.  The new settlement should be subject to a referendum.

So where from here?

Greens will seek the resources to speed up the drafting of a new Constitution. We will ask other parties to consider our ideas in a Peoples Constitutional Convention. We will meanwhile support the Yes movement in Scotland, in its insistence that the vow be consummated.

1463119_583405441732546_2094308750_nReaders, please comment

We need an early vigorous debate. We might have to act before our next Conference, if we are to maximise our impact on the 2015 elections.

John Youatt, Jean Macdonald, Mike Shipley for Derbyshire Green Party

See also an article on the East Midlands Green Party website see http://www.eastmidlands.greenparty.org.uk

Greens Challenge Channel 4

Matthew CropMatthew Bain Challenges Channel 4

“In the wake of Channel 4 broadcasting Martin Durkin’s hour-long tribute to Nigel Farage (‘Nigel Farage: Who Do You Think You Are?’) which the Daily Telegraph described as “so cloying even UKIP fans would find it sickly”, I hope that Channel 4 will now consider making a documentary tribute to Caroline Lucas.

Unlike Farage, Lucas is an elected MP who has been voted into Parliament, not just the creation of a media hype storm. Unlike Farage, Caroline Lucas represents a real breakthrough in British politics, bringing the Green point of view into the mainstream, not just representing a retrograde group of little Englanders. Unlike Farage, the Green agenda that Caroline Lucas pursues is of utmost importance to the wellbeing and survival of our species, not a series of parochial and petty whinges. Unlike Farage, Lucas’ Green approach seeks to unite people across Europe and the world in defence of a common enemy – climate change – not divide people and set them against the poor and downtrodden.

serious_about_climate_change_splash_860x305Moreover, Caroline Lucas is willing to put herself on the line and get arrested in defence of what she believes in — out there on the front line, not in the snug bar like Farage. And Caroline Lucas is a woman who has come up from the grassroots of politics through her own hard work and intelligence, though Channel 4 probably don’t care about that as you clearly prefer to give free party-political broadcasts to Farage, an ex-merchant banker who consorts with Murdoch and is funded by the same dodgy money as our other useless politicians. I sincerely look forward to watching an hour-long Channel 4 film on Caroline Lucas, who in my opinion is the finest politician operating in this country today, but I won’t hold my breath.

Yours faithfully,

Matthew Bain

Greens Want Openness over MP's Pay and Perks

John Youatt 6

John Youatt

At their Spring Conference in Liverpool, the Green Party adopted a motion tabled by Derbyshire Green Party calling for transparency over MP’s pay and expenses.  The motion also calls on the Party to oppose the recent 11% pay rise for MPs, due to be paid from 2015, and demands that future pay rises be linked to the UK average rise in pay.

The Greens call for openness over MP’s salary, expenses, sponsorships and any other income that comes from their work as an MP.  They also call on MP’s to make a contribution from this income for constituency work and to ensure that any paid posts created are openly advertised.

Derbyshire Green Party secretary John Youatt, who piloted the motion through the Conference, told delegates that the MP’s expenses scandal during the 2010 general election had seriously damaged trust in Parliament.

He said, ‘Electors are seeing their representatives in Parliament fiddling their expenses and getting very rich, while they are suffering the consequences of the austerity policies that MPs have approved. The 11% pay award shows that little has changed.’

John Youatt expressed the view that MPs needed to address this lack of trust that many people feel towards their MPs.  He went on to say, ‘The policy we have today adopted commits all Green candidates for Parliament to sign a pledge that they will make a full time commitment to the job and will submit a regular report to their Constituency concerning any allowances, expenses or other income related to being an MP.  They will also undertake to donate a proportion of their income for the benefit of their constituency.  This goes beyond the current requirement for MPs to report their expenses and allowances in that they will be reporting directly to their Constituents and discussing with them the use of some part of that income.’

‘This is an important issue.  My own son, who is now 40, has never voted.  He says that it is a waste of time and that they are all just the same; looking after themselves.  In a democracy, the governed must engage with the government.  I want my son to feel able to vote, for his sake and for the sake of his daughter – my granddaughter.’

This is the Candidate’s Pledge adopted by this policy.  Green Candidates will be asking those of the other parties to make a similar pledge during election campaigns.

1.       I will make a full time commitment to the job for which I will be well paid.

2.     I will ensure that, in the interest of transparency, a report is prepared every two months in which all allowances, other related income and expenses will be included. This report will be submitted to a local constituency body in a way that is open to public scrutiny, with receipts and justification for all expenses.

3.     I will invite the local party to discuss with me a donation to it of a percentage of my salary, which will be used to fund support staff for my constituency work.

4.     I will advertise all positions within my constituency office. Positions would be filled to industry standard terms and conditions for conducting interviews and making appointments.  Family members would only be employed through that open recruitment process.   

Greens Want Openness over MP’s Pay and Perks

John Youatt 6

John Youatt

At their Spring Conference in Liverpool, the Green Party adopted a motion tabled by Derbyshire Green Party calling for transparency over MP’s pay and expenses.  The motion also calls on the Party to oppose the recent 11% pay rise for MPs, due to be paid from 2015, and demands that future pay rises be linked to the UK average rise in pay.

The Greens call for openness over MP’s salary, expenses, sponsorships and any other income that comes from their work as an MP.  They also call on MP’s to make a contribution from this income for constituency work and to ensure that any paid posts created are openly advertised.

Derbyshire Green Party secretary John Youatt, who piloted the motion through the Conference, told delegates that the MP’s expenses scandal during the 2010 general election had seriously damaged trust in Parliament.

He said, ‘Electors are seeing their representatives in Parliament fiddling their expenses and getting very rich, while they are suffering the consequences of the austerity policies that MPs have approved. The 11% pay award shows that little has changed.’

John Youatt expressed the view that MPs needed to address this lack of trust that many people feel towards their MPs.  He went on to say, ‘The policy we have today adopted commits all Green candidates for Parliament to sign a pledge that they will make a full time commitment to the job and will submit a regular report to their Constituency concerning any allowances, expenses or other income related to being an MP.  They will also undertake to donate a proportion of their income for the benefit of their constituency.  This goes beyond the current requirement for MPs to report their expenses and allowances in that they will be reporting directly to their Constituents and discussing with them the use of some part of that income.’

‘This is an important issue.  My own son, who is now 40, has never voted.  He says that it is a waste of time and that they are all just the same; looking after themselves.  In a democracy, the governed must engage with the government.  I want my son to feel able to vote, for his sake and for the sake of his daughter – my granddaughter.’

This is the Candidate’s Pledge adopted by this policy.  Green Candidates will be asking those of the other parties to make a similar pledge during election campaigns.

1.       I will make a full time commitment to the job for which I will be well paid.

2.     I will ensure that, in the interest of transparency, a report is prepared every two months in which all allowances, other related income and expenses will be included. This report will be submitted to a local constituency body in a way that is open to public scrutiny, with receipts and justification for all expenses.

3.     I will invite the local party to discuss with me a donation to it of a percentage of my salary, which will be used to fund support staff for my constituency work.

4.     I will advertise all positions within my constituency office. Positions would be filled to industry standard terms and conditions for conducting interviews and making appointments.  Family members would only be employed through that open recruitment process.   

The Gagging Bill

DemocracyWe are sliding into a dictatorship.  The new aristocrats of wealth are staging a coup by stealth, controlling what Government does, determining who makes up Government, influencing the political agenda and ensuring that all legislation conforms to their interests.  They are ensuring that the public are unaware of the Government’s programme until it is too late, and are distracting public populist distractions away from policies that will have a huge impact on their lives.  I do not claim this idea as original; I have taken it from Professor Robert Reich of the University of California, who said:

‘I fear that at least since 2010 we’ve been witnessing a quiet, slow-motion coup d’état whose purpose is to repeal every bit of progressive legislation since the New Deal and entrench the privileged positions of the wealthy and powerful – who haven’t been as wealthy or as powerful since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century.’

Alarmist, and relevant only to America?

Remember…

  • ·        ‘It’s the Sun Wot Won It!’ The American owned News International claiming credit for the Tories 1992 unexpected election victory.  Murdoch again endorsing Blair, and hey – he wins!
  • ·        The economic strategy of Austerity that suits the financial institutions but was not included in the Tories election manifesto. 
  • ·        The singular lack of effort to regulate the financial sector that is such a big donor to Tory coffers. 
  • ·        Corporate lobbyists steering energy policy away from renewables towards fossil fuels at a time when 97% of people who know what they are talking about on climate change are screaming, ‘cut carbon emissions’! 
  • ·        Tories in Europe blocking regulations on fracking and blocking moves to implement a Financial Transaction Tax. 

And so the list goes on.  We are seeing members of Parliament acting against the interests of their electors, secure because they know that the corporate press will support their re-election.

In the face of disquiet about the influence of lobbyists, the Government felt compelled to bring in a Lobbying Bill, but with a twist straight out of 1984 – they managed to exclude the activities of the powerful corporate lobbyists and focus instead on charities and small campaigning groups.  They have turned the Lobbying Bill in to a Gagging Bill. The Corporation who are running the show are unaffected and it is the small citizens groups who are trying to bring their concerns to the political agenda who will be effectively silenced in an election year.

So we now find that if the ‘Gagging’ Bill is passed into law, the ability of groups such as the Women’s Institute, Frack Off and campaigns against Austerity will be severely limited in their ability to bring their concerns and policy preferences to the attention of the public in an election.  The corporate run big party election machine will have a clear run to push the official line.  All the electors will hear is ‘Britain’s on the mend’ and ‘the medicine’s working’.  Nothing about destitution, hunger, under-employment, full time jobs for less than a living wage, obscene banker’s bonuses, the rich getting richer, the poor poorer.  Those who might have the true facts on the state of British society will have been silenced.

And this is not all.  Hidden away in the sub-clauses of an Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill are proposals to stop protest.  A middle ranking police officer will have the power to ban any protest if it is deemed to risk causing a disturbance.  Any Council will have similar rights if any group of electors raises opposition to a demonstration. 

This Bill is proposing a nebalcombe-frackingw power called the Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance.  Unfortunately it can’t be applied to politicians on Newsnight, but it can apply to just about anyone else away from their home.  So a landowner could apply it to ramblers on a foot path; the owners of a drilling site could apply it to people walking slowly along an access road; the organisers of a hunt could apply it to anyone holding a critical placard.  A person speaking in a public place can be silenced least she or he annoy anyone. 

There is no definition of ‘Nuisance or Annoyance’; it is the opinion of a Council or a senior police officer who seeks the injunction.  Once granted the injunction can be enforced by any ‘officer in uniform’.  There needs to be no clear intent, only the officer’s opinion that there is a risk of undefined ‘antisocial behaviour’.  The Officer will have dispersal and exclusion powers and the power to remove any person they ‘suspect’ to be under 16.  Failure to abide by the instructions of the Officer is an arrestable offence that could lead to imprisonment.

This is an attack on our fundamental right of free assembly and free speech.  This Bill has been sternly opposed by campaigning groups, the churches, political groups and legal opinion.  Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, acting on behalf of the Christian Institute said

 ‘It is easily foreseeable that these powers may be invoked by the police in situations where their use impacts bluntly upon the exercise of rights to free expression and free assembly, as well as other core right.’

In his Opinion he cited the following statement from the European Court of Justice referring to the European Convention of Human Rights.

 ‘Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of (democratic) society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man.  Tolerance, of low-level non-criminal behaviour that may be capable of causing some person annoyance or nuisance, is an important feature of an open and democratic society governed by the rule of law.’

We may also note here that the Conservative Party wishes to withdraw the UK from the European Convention, in the light of this Bill, we can see why.

For more information on opposition to the Gagging Law go to:  http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2014/01/22/gagging-law-we-won-the-argument-but-lost-the-vote/

Mike Shipley – Press Officer, Derbyshire Green Party

A New Year message from Katharina Boettge, lead European candidate for the Green Party in the East Midlands

kat-gp-1I wanted to use this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year, and to thank you for all your support, hard work and donations.

In 2013 we were heavily involved in preparing for the upcoming Euro Election in May of this year.  We have achieved a lot including setting up a media structure, engaging further with the social media, community websites and groups.

We have planned a promising campaign strategy that hopefully will get us to Brussels.  Recent polls have been encouraging.  Nationally the Greens are on 7% and support for the other parties is starting to fade.  The public mood is very volatile and very many are looking for something new, something honest, something that addresses their needs.

We do believe that if we can get our message of hope and honesty out to enough people across our region, we can be successful.  Remember, this election uses a proportional voting system, not first past the post.  This gives us a real chance, but to take that chance, we will need all the help that we can get.

If you are interested in joining us in changing current politics in 2014, please contact us or just come to our next meetings.  There are so many ways in which you can help, depending on your interests, experiences, time availability and skills.  I am sure that we can find a suitable and exciting role or task for you.  I look forward to meeting you soon.

Katharina Boettge – Lead European Candidate for the Green Party in the East Midlands

TWO IMPORTANT MEETINGS IN DERBY

Derbyshire Green Party AGM and Quarterly Meeting – Sunday, 19th January, 2014 at 12 noon

The Derbyshire Green Party Annual General Meeting and Quarterly Meeting will be held on 19th January, 2014 at The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU.  The Brunswick is two minutes walk from Derby Rail Station.  The meeting will start at 12 noon (when the pub opens).

Contact for Derbyshire Green Party – contact@derbyshiregreenparty.org.uk   

East Midlands AGM –  Sunday, 26th January, 2014

The East Midlands Green Party will be holding its Annual General Meeting in Derby on 26th January, 2014 at the Aston Court Hotel, Midland Road, Derby DE1 2SL (near Derby train station) at 12 noon

Contact for East Midlands Green Party David Foster email david121@ntlworld.com

Both meetings are open to all.  Even if you are not a member you are still very welcome to attend the meeting and hear what the Greens have been doing in the past year and the proposals for the European Elections and Local Elections coming up in May.  However, only members will be able to vote.

Greens Support Derby People’s Assembly

DPA 26102013 Natalie 1A strong Green Party presence was felt at Derby People’s Assembly on the 26th October, 2013 with leader Natalie Bennett making an appearance at the workshop on “Climate Change Threat and 1 Million Climate Jobs”  and making a speech at the end of the day.  Accompanying this was both the DGP stand and a number of members showing their faces for most of the day. Overall it is thought that over one hundred people attended throughout the day. 

The format was much like many other discussion group based events.  The day kicked off with three speakers talking about the People’s Assembly itself, Education Reform, and Cuts to the Fire and Rescue Service.  After these speeches, attendees split up and went to the discussion groups they had chosen.  There were two groups before lunch, speeches after lunch, two more discussion groups and more speeches to round off the day.

Sue Arguile from the NUT gave a very passionate speech about the recent strikes by teachers and Gove’s education reform.  She spoke about a radio phone-in interview with a woman whose attitude had shocked her.  The caller, as well as her general ‘teacher bashing’, had said that teachers should be looking to their ‘product’.  This “marketised” view of teaching also shocked the attendees.

Following this was a local secretary of the Fire Brigades Union who spoke both about what the despicable cuts to the fire service will mean in terms of the service to the public and also about the treatment of workers in that sector over pensions.

Discussion groups were then held on:  the Politics of the Crisis, the Demonization of Immigrants, Tactics for the Anti-austerity Movement and Debt and Loan Sharks.  The immigration discussion seemed to centre on Unite Against Fascism and the benefits of setting up local anti-fascist groups to counter the British National Party, English Defence League and other far-right groups when they organise in areas.

The second set of discussion groups were on:  Protecting the NHS, Defending Education, Re-unionising the Country and Busting Economic Myths.  Although poorly attended, the re-unionising group sparked some enlightened discussion about the state of trade unions and their attachment to the Labour Party.  One graph showed that the more direct action unions took, the more their membership increased.  Also encouraging was the statistic that showed that union membership was up again.

There was an hour after lunch for some more speakers including Christian Wolmar who spoke much about re-nationalising the railways, mentioning that this idea was being debated in the Labour Party.  He failed, however, to mention that us Greens have been campaigning on it for a while now.

After this, the third round of discussion groups were held on the topics of:  Welfare, Public Transport, the Bedroom Tax, Using Art Against Austerity and a repeat of the Protecting the NHS group. Another member of the Green Party found the workshop on Bedroom tax to be a complete eye opener as they heard that many tenants are put in severe difficulties when they are served with orders and have no idea about their rights or what free legal help is available to them.

Natalie Workshop DPA 26102013 6The final groups were held on:  Building Community Campaigns, the Peoples Charter and (with a strong Green presence) Climate Change and 1 Million Climate Jobs.  Natalie Bennett spoke at the climate change group about the need for investment in insulation of all houses in the UK to both reduce carbon emissions and create jobs.  Natalie also spoke reassuringly of the party’s opposition to incineration both on the grounds of pollution and the harmful effects due to air quality reduction.

Finally speeches were given about:  Green jobs and ditching neoliberalism by Natalie, the railways by Alex Gordon of the RMT union and the future of Derby People’s Assembly by Peter Robinson.

Natalie’s speech can be seen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUqTBFSpWPQ

Chris Smith                                                                                    Member of Derbyshire Green Party and Young Greens

 

 

Greens note Russell Brand's stunning interview with Jeremy Paxman

Russell Brand 430px-Russell_Brand_Arthur_Premier_mike cropRussell Brand has thrown down a gauntlet.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YR4CseY9pk He has forcefully stated what we all know, that the cosy Parliamentary political process works to protect the interests of the  land-and-wealth-holding 1% that is manifestly uninterested in the well-being of the 99%.  He also states that the majority of that 99% have lost both interest and confidence in the political process; witness the falling turn-outs in elections, that reached shockingly low levels of less that 20% in the Police Commissioner elections last year. 

In advocating revolution he was giving voice to the sense of disempowerment felt among people he knew – he clearly keeps contact with his roots despite his recent acquisition of fame and wealth.  He is expressing anger with the political establishment, an anger that not only he feels, but many feel as they turn away from the electoral political process and try to find some other vehicle to bring their existence and their plight to the attention to those who have power.

It is clear to us all that this Parliament is not that vehicle – and that is a tragedy.  Over generations brave, selfless and far sighted people have wrested power, clause by clause, from the Barons who claimed their legitimacy from the rights of conquest.  That attitude, the absolute right to hold and exercise power without question or challenge, still underpins the British Establishment.  Every concession is grudgingly given.  They will never rest until each is taken back and we return to the condition of serfdom.  Austerity is a step in this direction, taking back our economic gain.  Next will come disenfranchisement.

Brand’s initial, repeated call on people not to vote would play into the very hands he identifies as the robber’s.  Not voting hurts no one but ourselves.  The power structure couldn’t care less.  If no one voted, they would claim power by default; they see it as theirs as of right.  If people don’t bother to vote, there will be less need for them to spend their stolen money on propaganda, after all, their own faithful followers can always be relied on to turn out.  Tories are more likely to vote than any other persuasion.  Why bother to go to the hassle of formally disenfranchising the people if they do it to themselves?  Once again we are divided against ourselves, working against our own interests and playing into the hands of our rulers and masters. 

A call to revolution does have a certain heroic ring, ‘man the barricades’ – storm the citadels of power, smash a few busts of the great and pompous – then what?  Historically revolution has failed to deliver a better order and the price is sickeningly high.  The world is in a mess and the last thing we need is the diversion of revolution.  As Brand rightly points out the planet is in danger, government is broken, and people are suffering.   Parliament either doesn’t care or is powerless to act in the interest of the majority – things have to change. 

But revolution?  No!  We just haven’t time.  Revolution would set the clock back, we would have to invent new structures, go in for endless arguments, assassinations, plot and counter-plot, the wealth might change hands, but it would stay in a few hands and those hands would stay on the tiller. Remember the outcome of the Russian Revolution; new rulers, same privileges, the people still shivering out on the street, disenfranchised.

Fair is Worth Fighting ForDemocracy is broken and it is up to us, the Greens, to mend it.  There is no one else to do it.  We can do this through engagement, by making demands of Parliament, by holding Parliamentarians to account, by knowing what they are up to, by letting them know that we know what they are up to, by being aware of where the power in this country lies and by not being taken in by the propaganda machine that is the media and press.  And we need a clear programme.  Political protest, even revolution, without a manifesto achieves nothing.  That is why Occupy fizzled out. It asked many pertinent questions but it came up with no answers.  It did not develop a programme of action. 

We have had two generations of protest; protest against the bomb, against war, against hunger and poverty, against cruelty, against unjust taxation, against austerity.  Protest is like a safety valve, it allows people to let off steam, it lets them feel that they are doing something, it allows spokesmen for the power structure to make pious statements about listening and sharing concerns, it sends us home thinking we have taken action and nothing changes.  Why?  Because at the next election the ballot boxes tell a different story.  People vote for the business as usual parties as they are bidden to do by the propaganda machine, and a new conservative party is installed.  Those who don’t vote are dismissed as apathetic, not interested, not bothered, so no need to take account of their opinions because they have expressed no opinion. 

Protest without a clear manifesto that lays out the action that we are demanding, is going to achieve nothing.  We still have the bomb, we are still at war, and there is still poverty and cruelty, now joined by hunger.  OK, we might have defeated the poll tax – but think why.  The Tories were about to lose an election, public opinion was swinging against them, which galvanised action; they scrapped the poll tax and made us pay by raising taxes.  The protests died away, they won the next election, and it was back to business as usual.  The focus of protest was too narrow, there was no other programme.

We cannot argue with Russell Brand’s analysis.  We are drenched in analysis, the airwaves are full of it but what we need desperately is solutions.  And Brand’s initial solution will not work.  It will not put us in any better position, why should it?

What really stirs in his splendid tussle with Paxman (no less) and call for revolution, is that there is a solution, a very clear Green manifesto that focuses on our collective needs, that maps out a clear way forward that will increase our general well being, that will rein in the abusive power of the new aristocrats of wealth, that will address both our social and global ecological crisis. It is the Green Manifesto for a Sustainable Society. 

Russell Brand Wikimedia Commons cropOf course Brand might find it awkward to endorse the Greens. He is part of a business, the Brand ‘brand’.  He has to keep his million followers in mind. His advisers might tell him that if he endorses the Greens he will lose followers and become less interesting to the media that helps him make his money.                

He knows that we are here, and perhaps, he is throwing down a challenge to us – to take a leaf out of his book, be totally up front, have the confidence of strong belief, don’t be afraid of telling it as it is, or of upsetting people or of being controversial. 

We are too deferential, too concerned about the detail, about trying to balance the books about having answers to every question.  Our purpose is still to shout about the big issues.  There is hunger on our streets, our climate is changing, we are running out of the essentials for life and the rich are robbing our children of their future.  We are too concerned with winning the intellectual argument and are failing to make emotional contact with those who should be supporting us.

So we note that towards the end of his interview with Paxo, he did declare:  “I say when there is a genuine alternative, a genuine option, then vote for that. But until then, pffft, don’t bother. Why pretend? Why be complicit in this ridiculous illusion?”

Our answer is, top marks Russell. We Greens are not pretending, we are a genuine option. We Greens are not complicit. We have grown up from a party of eco-warriors to a party in which social fairness goes hand in hand with saving the biosphere.

We Greens won’t get power as in an instant majority. But we do believe in the best power of all, the power of persuasion, and are quite good at it.

Russell, be radical again with yourself, and declare you’ll vote Green in 2014 and 2015.  That will give you and us the power of persuasion.

Mike Shipley
Derbyshire Green Party

 

Greens note Russell Brand’s stunning interview with Jeremy Paxman

Russell Brand 430px-Russell_Brand_Arthur_Premier_mike cropRussell Brand has thrown down a gauntlet.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YR4CseY9pk He has forcefully stated what we all know, that the cosy Parliamentary political process works to protect the interests of the  land-and-wealth-holding 1% that is manifestly uninterested in the well-being of the 99%.  He also states that the majority of that 99% have lost both interest and confidence in the political process; witness the falling turn-outs in elections, that reached shockingly low levels of less that 20% in the Police Commissioner elections last year. 

In advocating revolution he was giving voice to the sense of disempowerment felt among people he knew – he clearly keeps contact with his roots despite his recent acquisition of fame and wealth.  He is expressing anger with the political establishment, an anger that not only he feels, but many feel as they turn away from the electoral political process and try to find some other vehicle to bring their existence and their plight to the attention to those who have power.

It is clear to us all that this Parliament is not that vehicle – and that is a tragedy.  Over generations brave, selfless and far sighted people have wrested power, clause by clause, from the Barons who claimed their legitimacy from the rights of conquest.  That attitude, the absolute right to hold and exercise power without question or challenge, still underpins the British Establishment.  Every concession is grudgingly given.  They will never rest until each is taken back and we return to the condition of serfdom.  Austerity is a step in this direction, taking back our economic gain.  Next will come disenfranchisement.

Brand’s initial, repeated call on people not to vote would play into the very hands he identifies as the robber’s.  Not voting hurts no one but ourselves.  The power structure couldn’t care less.  If no one voted, they would claim power by default; they see it as theirs as of right.  If people don’t bother to vote, there will be less need for them to spend their stolen money on propaganda, after all, their own faithful followers can always be relied on to turn out.  Tories are more likely to vote than any other persuasion.  Why bother to go to the hassle of formally disenfranchising the people if they do it to themselves?  Once again we are divided against ourselves, working against our own interests and playing into the hands of our rulers and masters. 

A call to revolution does have a certain heroic ring, ‘man the barricades’ – storm the citadels of power, smash a few busts of the great and pompous – then what?  Historically revolution has failed to deliver a better order and the price is sickeningly high.  The world is in a mess and the last thing we need is the diversion of revolution.  As Brand rightly points out the planet is in danger, government is broken, and people are suffering.   Parliament either doesn’t care or is powerless to act in the interest of the majority – things have to change. 

But revolution?  No!  We just haven’t time.  Revolution would set the clock back, we would have to invent new structures, go in for endless arguments, assassinations, plot and counter-plot, the wealth might change hands, but it would stay in a few hands and those hands would stay on the tiller. Remember the outcome of the Russian Revolution; new rulers, same privileges, the people still shivering out on the street, disenfranchised.

Fair is Worth Fighting ForDemocracy is broken and it is up to us, the Greens, to mend it.  There is no one else to do it.  We can do this through engagement, by making demands of Parliament, by holding Parliamentarians to account, by knowing what they are up to, by letting them know that we know what they are up to, by being aware of where the power in this country lies and by not being taken in by the propaganda machine that is the media and press.  And we need a clear programme.  Political protest, even revolution, without a manifesto achieves nothing.  That is why Occupy fizzled out. It asked many pertinent questions but it came up with no answers.  It did not develop a programme of action. 

We have had two generations of protest; protest against the bomb, against war, against hunger and poverty, against cruelty, against unjust taxation, against austerity.  Protest is like a safety valve, it allows people to let off steam, it lets them feel that they are doing something, it allows spokesmen for the power structure to make pious statements about listening and sharing concerns, it sends us home thinking we have taken action and nothing changes.  Why?  Because at the next election the ballot boxes tell a different story.  People vote for the business as usual parties as they are bidden to do by the propaganda machine, and a new conservative party is installed.  Those who don’t vote are dismissed as apathetic, not interested, not bothered, so no need to take account of their opinions because they have expressed no opinion. 

Protest without a clear manifesto that lays out the action that we are demanding, is going to achieve nothing.  We still have the bomb, we are still at war, and there is still poverty and cruelty, now joined by hunger.  OK, we might have defeated the poll tax – but think why.  The Tories were about to lose an election, public opinion was swinging against them, which galvanised action; they scrapped the poll tax and made us pay by raising taxes.  The protests died away, they won the next election, and it was back to business as usual.  The focus of protest was too narrow, there was no other programme.

We cannot argue with Russell Brand’s analysis.  We are drenched in analysis, the airwaves are full of it but what we need desperately is solutions.  And Brand’s initial solution will not work.  It will not put us in any better position, why should it?

What really stirs in his splendid tussle with Paxman (no less) and call for revolution, is that there is a solution, a very clear Green manifesto that focuses on our collective needs, that maps out a clear way forward that will increase our general well being, that will rein in the abusive power of the new aristocrats of wealth, that will address both our social and global ecological crisis. It is the Green Manifesto for a Sustainable Society. 

Russell Brand Wikimedia Commons cropOf course Brand might find it awkward to endorse the Greens. He is part of a business, the Brand ‘brand’.  He has to keep his million followers in mind. His advisers might tell him that if he endorses the Greens he will lose followers and become less interesting to the media that helps him make his money.                

He knows that we are here, and perhaps, he is throwing down a challenge to us – to take a leaf out of his book, be totally up front, have the confidence of strong belief, don’t be afraid of telling it as it is, or of upsetting people or of being controversial. 

We are too deferential, too concerned about the detail, about trying to balance the books about having answers to every question.  Our purpose is still to shout about the big issues.  There is hunger on our streets, our climate is changing, we are running out of the essentials for life and the rich are robbing our children of their future.  We are too concerned with winning the intellectual argument and are failing to make emotional contact with those who should be supporting us.

So we note that towards the end of his interview with Paxo, he did declare:  “I say when there is a genuine alternative, a genuine option, then vote for that. But until then, pffft, don’t bother. Why pretend? Why be complicit in this ridiculous illusion?”

Our answer is, top marks Russell. We Greens are not pretending, we are a genuine option. We Greens are not complicit. We have grown up from a party of eco-warriors to a party in which social fairness goes hand in hand with saving the biosphere.

We Greens won’t get power as in an instant majority. But we do believe in the best power of all, the power of persuasion, and are quite good at it.

Russell, be radical again with yourself, and declare you’ll vote Green in 2014 and 2015.  That will give you and us the power of persuasion.

Mike Shipley
Derbyshire Green Party

 

Natalie Bennett's Address in Derby 24th September 2013

Natalie Bennett DerbySpeaking to a well attended audience in Derby, Natalie Bennett catalogued the inadequacy of the Labour Party’s response to a range of political issues that are affecting people’s lives.  Contrasting the reality of fuel poverty that is becoming a reality for a growing number of people with the huge profits being made by the big energy companies, she condemned Labours proposal for a two year price freeze as inadequate.

‘After two years, then what?’ she asked. ‘The Green Party proposes a national energy conservation programme funded by the Government.  This will lead to permanently reduced energy bills and to lower carbon emissions.  The insulation programme will create sustainable jobs, taking people out of fuel poverty and off benefit.’ 

‘Labour want to see the minimum wage enforced.’ She said.  ‘We know that people cannot hope to manage on a minimum wage, that is why we want to see it raised to a Living Wage, that enables people to meet their necessary weekly costs.  This policy is supported by 70% of people.

‘Labour have no commitment to re-nationalise the railways to ensure that investment goes where it is needed to build a system that meets demand.  This is Green policy and it is supported by 75% of people.

‘Greens support a publicly funded NHS free at the point of delivery.  Labour has made no commitment to reverse the coalition policy of sell-off of the NHS.  ‘‘Labour is backing fracking, ignoring that we must leave half of all known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change.’

Natalie went on to criticise the economic strategy of the three big parties.  There was she said no evidence of fundamental change in economic strategy from any of them.  They were all supporting the creation of a low wage economy that was only possible with the availability of cheap fossil fuels.  This she explained allowed cheap food and goods to be transported to this country, pricing local production out of the market.  ‘This failed economic strategy has left half a million people in this country, the sixth richest in the world, dependent on food banks.’

She reminded the meeting about the causes of the economic crisis.  ‘The bail out of the banks took huge amounts of public money.  Yet the banks were bailed out with no guarantees that they would reform their activities, stop high risk investments and end the bonus culture.  If the economic strategy proposed by the Green Party in 2010 had been implemented, we would now be seeing investment by the banks in sustainable projects that the country needs, creating long term employment to get and keep people in work and off benefit.’

‘We now need to ‘re-localise’ the economy.’  She said that this process had to be accompanied by the restoration of local political power that could rebalance the economy away from London and the south east.  As evidence of this unbalanced economy she told the meeting that there were a million empty homes in the UK yet there was also a housing shortage.  The power of big corporations was concentrating work in the areas that suit themselves having no regard to where people now live.  As a result these economic hot spots drag people in but do not provide the facilities that workers need, hence a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

‘We need thought out regional development strategies that address both economic and social needs, backed with the necessary political power to deliver those strategies.’

‘With rising transport costs and rising wages in the developing world, we are now seeing a ‘re-shoring’ in production, with companies starting to bring production back to the UK.  This offers great opportunities but we must have the economic and political structures in place to ensure that business properly pays its way.’  Natalie explained that with a clear political determination, big business could be made to address and pay for its impact on the environment and society.  ‘Greens on Bristol Council have helped to bring in a supermarket levy that collects 8% of turnover to reflect the damaging consequences of supermarkets.  This money is ploughed back in to local small business.’

Flanked by the five East Midland European candidates, Natalie concluded with a review of  the Green Party’s electoral prospects.  ‘We are now a Parliamentary Party.  This has been very important in lifting our national profile.  Latest opinion polls are placing the Greens on 12% and show a clear growth in support, by contrast the Liberal Democrats are now on 10% with their support fading.  With our level of support we could have six MEPs, including one here in the East Midlands.’  Natalie said that recent events had shown that the public were turning away from the three main parliamentary parties and looking to the smaller parties to express a dissatisfaction with traditional politics.  ‘We know that a growing number of people are coming to support Green policy.  Our challenge is to get people to vote for what they believe in, because what they believe in is increasingly Green Party policy.’