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

Who is My Neighbour?

A Green Party member’s response to the House of Bishops letter saying that “Politicians need to deliver a fresh moral vision”

800px-Green_Party_protestors_2011In a letter urging congregations to vote on 7 May, the House of Bishops of the Church of England says it does not endorse a political party but encourages debate on issues such as nuclear defence and the economy. As a Vicar’s wife (retired) I know that letters to congregations are usually read out by the vicar during the main Sunday service. However, this “letter” is 56 pages long!

Here are some sound bites from the Bishop’s letter(1) with my response based on Green Party policies(2), with quotes from our two Derby Parliamentary election candidates; Alice Mason-Power (Derby North) and David Foster (Derby South).

Visions Worth Voting for – The Bishop’s letter states that the country needs “a new approach to political life that will change the political weather …”.

It seems to me that the Green Party has a new approach and a vision worth voting for.

David FosterDavid Foster says: “We Greens have a fundamental conviction that the existing system, based on inequality and exploitation, is threatening the future of the planet on which we all depend. This conviction colours every single policy we have.”

The Bishops letter covers various issues including the Economy, Europe, Defence, The State and Globalisation.

The Economy: It credits politicians for helping Britain avoid the financial instability of other European countries, but criticises them for turning the banking crisis into a “political football”

The Green Party believes that the existing banking system is undemocratic, unfair and highly damaging. Banks create money and decide how it is first used. Through the interest charged on the loans on which all credit is based, the current banking system increases inequality. Banks create and lend more and more money until the level of debt becomes unsustainable, then the taxpayer bails out the banks that are “too big to fail”. Servicing the growing debt mountain is a key driver of unsustainable economic growth that is destroying the environment. The power to create money must be removed from private banks. The supply of our national currency must be fully restored to democratic and public control so that it can be issued free of debt and directed to environmentally and socially beneficial areas such as renewable energy, social housing, and support for community businesses.

Europe: The Bishops say there is an “enduring argument for continuing to build structures of trust and co-operation between the nations of Europe”

Caroline Lucas Making a point CropCaroline Lucas MP says “I support a referendum on our membership of the EU…” but “,,,I want to see a radical reform of the way Europe operates. The EU has the potential to spread peace and make our economies more sustainable, and to promote democracy and human rights, at home and throughout the world. But it must urgently change direction, away from an obsessive focus on competition and free trade and towards placing genuine co-operation and environmental sustainability at its heart”.

Defence: The Bishops state “Shifts in global strategic realities mean that the traditional arguments for nuclear deterrence need re-examining”.

The Green Party is committed to pursuing immediate and unconditional nuclear disarmament. It believes Nuclear weapons are political weapons of terror, and are disproportionate to any threat. The £100 billion needed to renew Trident could be better spent elsewhere.

The State: The Bishops state “We need a richer justification for the state, a better account of the purposes of government, and a more serious way of talking about taxation”

The Green Party would end austerity, restore the public sector and create good jobs. This would be paid for with a wealth tax on the top 1%, a Robin Hood tax on the banks, and the closure of scandalous tax loopholes. It would also introduce a minimum wage of £10 per hour by 2020.

Globalisation: The Bishops say “The problem is that no-one in politics today has a convincing story about a healthy balance between national government and global economic power”

David FosterDavid Foster says: “Greens believe in a world that would prioritise the many, not the few. To this Government’s surprise, Coalition tax revenues are low. The rich don’t pay their way, and the poor barely earn enough to be taxed. The Green Party would change that.”

The Campaign ahead – The Bishops state “The election campaign is likely to entrench the apathy and cynicism with which many people approach politics today. To accept such attitudes is a counsel of despair. Unless we exercise the democratic rights that our ancestors struggled for, we will share responsibility for the failures of the political classes…”

This year, the Green Party will give more people than ever the chance to “vote for change” with candidates standing in 90% of constituencies. So people will have a real alternative to “politics as usual”

Vote for Values – The Bishops encourage voters to sow the seeds of a new politics by supporting candidates and policies which demonstrate key values such as “Halting and reversing the accumulation of power and wealth in fewer and fewer hands, whether those of the state, corporations or individuals”.

In the UK, wealth exists alongside unimaginable poverty. Since 2009(3), the number of billionaires in the UK has more than doubled. Pay for top company directors has increased by 40%, while the number of people using Food Banks has increased from 26,000 to nearly 1 million and the average UK worker has experienced a 9% real terms pay cut. The Green Party is committed to reducing this divide between rich and poor.

Alice Mason PowerAlice Mason-Power says: “Austerity is not working for the people of Derby. Child poverty is at 19%, food bank usage is increasing, wages are stagnating as prices rise, and the bedroom tax is putting yet more pressure on already struggling individuals and families. We believe there is an alternative to yet more cuts. We believe in a society which prioritises the many, not the few. We believe in creating a future based on sustainability and equality. We believe in working for the common good. “

The Green Party would abolish the unfair Bedroom Tax. It would aim to dramatically increase the number of social rented homes and bring empty homes back into use, ensuring everyone has a secure, affordable home. It would also introduce rent caps and longer tenancies for renters. It aims to facilitate the development of human societies in which people can enjoy the exercise of their individual and collective rights responsibly. It would fight for a publicly funded NHS free at the point of use and end the creeping privatisation of its services. It would make mental health a much higher priority with resources to match its status and ensure free social care for the over 65s

The Bishops’ letter acknowledges the depth of insecurity and anxiety that has permeated our society after decades of rapid change, not least the changes brought about by the banking crisis and austerity programme.

It encourages political parties to reflect on the obligation to secure the common good of future generations, not just our own, and address issues of intergenerational justice and it states that this must include a responsible approach to environmental issues.

The Green Party’s policy is to work to phase out fossil fuel based energy generation and nuclear power and invest in renewable energy, flood defences and building insulation.

Who is my NeighbourWho is my neighbour? – The Bishops say “This letter is about building a vision of a better kind of world, a better society and better politics. Underlying those ideas is the concept of virtue – what it means to be a good person, a good politician, a good neighbour or a good community. Virtues are nourished, not by atomised individualism, but in strong communities which relate honestly and respectfully to other groups and communities which make up this nation.”

They warn against the temptations of apathy, cynicism and blame, and instead encourage people to seek a more humane society – a better politics for a better nation.

As a Green Party member I say “Amen to that!” “Roll on the election!”

Jean Macdonald
Green Party Activist

Links:
1. House of Bishops letter – letter urging congregations to vote
2. Green Party Policies – http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/
3. Inequality Briefing – http://www.inequalitybriefing.org A non-political organization whose purpose is to spread information rather than to suggest policy solutions,

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

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

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

Come and find out why your local Green Party has grown over a thousand percent in a year!

GP public meet mar15LEIf want to know more about the Green Party, then why not come along to the public meeting of the Mid Derbyshire Greens (Monday, 16th March)?

Green Party membership in the Mid Derbyshire and Amber Valley areas has increased by more than 650% since the beginning of last year, with Belper membership seeing a massive 1000% increase (yes, that’s one thousand percent) thanks in part to the increased publicity surrounding the political party.

Come to this public meeting and meet your candidates for Belper North Ward (Sue MacFarlane) and for Amber Valley (John Devine),

Sue MacFarlane, Green Party candidate for Belper North in this year’s Amber Valley Borough Council election said “Lots of these people want to get really involved with what we are doing and are already attending meetings, so we thought we would take the opportunity to host an open meeting and invite voters along to find out what we are all about and what we stand for.”

Sue added “Our policies are coming under increased scrutiny and getting a lot of coverage in the media because of the imminent general election and the surge in interest in the party, so we want to give people the chance to chat to us and allow us to answer their questions.”.

The meeting is being held at The OAP Centre, 37 Barley Close, Litte Eaton, Derbyshire DE21 5DJ, next Monday, 16th March from 7.15pm – 9pm and is open to absolutely everyone.

For more details, please email contact@midderbyshire.greenparty.org.uk .

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.

Please can we have our NHS back?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greens Respond to Badger Cull

Charlotte Farrell, Green Party Candidate for High Peak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Reasons You Should Be Worried About TTIP

TTIP_banner_cropped560with_text2On Tuesday 18 February I, along with several other members of the Green Party, attended a packed meeting in Derby. This was the second meeting this year at which John Hilary, Director of War on Want, had spoken about the threats posed by TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership). The people were then asked to form four groups to focus on one of four areas threatened by TTIP – Jobs, Health and NHS, Food Safety and Animal Protection, and World Trade. People were asked to suggest what actions we could take in Derby.

What can we do? One thing everyone at the meeting agreed was the need to use every available means to make voters aware of the serious threat to our way of life that TTIP poses and to ask them to challenge all candidates on whether they are for or against TTIP.

In terms of political parties, we know that the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour are all in favour of TTIP, and UKIP is in favour of what TTIP is setting out to do but just doesn’t think it should be negotiated by Brussels. The Green Party (and Plaid Cymru) is the only main party that is against TTIP.

Greens can work through our party structure and our MEPs to try to stop TTIP’s progress. We can also join with many other individuals and groups such as War on Want, Derby Peoples Assembly, the Unions, Friends of the Earth, 38 degrees and many others worldwide who are all working towards the same goal.

Ten reasons why you should be worried about TTIP

1. A Threat to Democracy – if agreed, TTIP would give corporations the power to sue governments over decisions that could harm their future profits, undermining democratic decision-making made in the public interest.

2. A Threat to Public Services – TTIP will create new markets in public services such as health and education, leading to greater liberalisation and privatisation. It would also make it very difficult to bring these services – as well as our energy and water – back under public control or renationalise them.

3. A Threat to Food Safety – Through a harmonisation of good safety regulation, EU food safety standards would be lowered to US levels. This would remove EU restrictions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides and hormone-treated beef.

4. A Threat to the Environment – TTIP would see EU environmental regulations being harmonised and reduced to US levels, allowing a US-style fracking boom in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

5. A Threat to the Climate – With strong investor rights, TTIP would allow corporations to sue governments for bringing in new policies to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

6. A Threat to Workers’ Rights – Workers’ rights could be reduced to US standards and businesses could relocate to US states and EU countries with the lowest labour standards.

7. A Threat to Personal Privacy – Leaked documents indicate that TTIP could be used to reintroduce central elements of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which was rejected by the European parliament after popular protest. This could force internet providers to spy on their customers.

8. A Threat to Financial Control – TTIP is set to remove many of the new financial regulations (such as banking safeguards) that have been introduced since 2008 to prevent a future financial crash.

9. Negotiated in Secrecy – While corporate lobbyists are playing an integral role in negotiations, the public have been shut out. All negotiators must sign nondisclosure agreements. There is no access to the draft text or the agreement – even for MPs – so most of what we know is from leaked documents.

10. A Dangerous Blueprint for the Rest of the World – If TTIP is agreed, countries in the global south will come under huge pressure to apply TTIP standards to avoid losing trade. The business lobby are upfront about their aim of creating ‘global convergence towards EU-US standards’. This would see free trade policies forced on poorer countries, that they have had no part in negotiating.

PrintGreens say no to TTIP – If TTIP goes through there will be no point in electing a government, it will be government by corporations!

You can find a previous posting on this site giving more detail about TTIP itself and the War on Want website offers resources and information about their TTIP Campaign http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/trade-justice/ttip

Jean Macdonald

 

Green Party Meeting in Derby

Thursday 19th February

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

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

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

 

Want to know what all the fuss is about The Green Party?

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If want to know more about the Green Party, then why not get yourself to  today’s  public meeting of the Mid Derbyshire Greens (Monday, 16th Feb)?

Green Party membership in the Mid Derbyshire and Amber Valley areas has increased by more than 650% since the beginning of last year, with Belper membership seeing a 1000% increase, thanks in part to the increased publicity surrounding the political party.

Sue MacFarlane, Green Party candidate for Belper North in this year’s Amber Valley Borough Council election said “Lots of these people want to get really involved with what we are doing and are already attending meetings, so we thought we would take the opportunity to host an open meeting and invite voters along to find out what we are all about and what we stand for.”

Our policies are coming under increased scrutiny and getting a lot of coverage in the media because of the imminent general election and the surge in interest in the party, so we want to give people the chance to chat to us and allow us to answer their questions.” Sue added.

The meeting is being held at The Old Oak pub in Horsley Woodhouse, Derbyshire DE7 6AW today, February 16th from 7.15pm – 9pm and is open to everyone not just members of the party.

A second public meeting is planned for March 16th at Little Eaton, which is just off the A38, south of Belper and Duffield.

For more details, please email sue@the-macfarlanes.co.uk .

Everyone Needs a Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First posted on East Midlands GP blog 4 Feb 2015

Austerity is not working – well for most of us …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Homes for People not Profit

GPLogoStrapGreenForWebThe Green Party’s Housing policy states ‘Affordable secure accommodation is a basic human need’. Who can argue with this simple proposition? How can a person be a member of society if they have nowhere to live, no reliable address, nowhere secure to keep essential and personal belongings – nowhere to curl up warm and secure to sleep? A very simple proposition that successive Governments have failed to grasp. For them, houses are an investment, some sort of luxury that only the rich are supposed to afford, something to be provided by the market for those who have the money to buy or rent, enough money to provide a profit for the landlord or developer.

It was Thatcher who turned housing into a commodity to be bought and sold for profit. Her policies put profit and personal gain above basic human needs. Her policy of selling off council houses at a knock down price, then forbidding Councils to replace them destroyed the concept of public housing. Her ideological, aggressive ‘go-getting’ government destroyed the post war consensus that Government and Councils should ensure that people were properly housed; that with proper and secure housing the family unit would hold together, children would have security, working people would have a settled base from which to find work and hold down jobs. Communities would be more settled and mutually supportive, neighbours helping to look out for each other. All this was sacrificed with the Thatcherite drive to break up traditional working class communities and create a new property owing and therefore (she hoped) Tory voting class.

So the market came to drive housing policy, the need for profit outweighed the need to provide affordable homes. People took on mortgages that they couldn’t sustain, so driving them into debt. Thatcherism didn’t have the sense to understand that this ‘property owning democracy’ had to be underpinned by secure work in order to keep up the payments for 25 years. Secure jobs were destroyed by the thousand, people were thrown out of work, they were forced to take temporary, poorly paid work, they struggled to keep up the payments, debt built up, fuelling eventually the financial crash. People became homeless, all very predictable and the Government continued to do nothing except leave it to the market to supply housing.

The Government has failed to understand the market it puts such faith in. It is not set up to meet people’s needs, it is there to make profit. For house builders the highest profit lies in the luxury end of the market, on green field estates built on the edge of cities and towns for the executive class with company cars. But the need is for the majority of people, needing to live near to work to cut travel costs, near to schools, near to facilities. They need affordable accommodation, with enough space for the family, perhaps three generations of family. The key word is ‘affordable’ a word that our governments of millionaires fails to understand. But ‘affordable’ doesn’t give enough profit for the market.

Government has to involve itself again in the implementation of a housing policy designed to ensure that there is a sufficient mix of available homes to meet the different needs of the population. This is what Green Housing Policy aims to do.

We have a costed programme that would deliver 500,000 homes in five years. We would end the right to buy and enable Councils to borrow for the express purpose of restoring their housing stock to meet local needs. We would end the tax relief that is claimed by private speculators for ‘buy to rent’, so helping to finance the building programme. By taking action on sky high rents and providing more accommodation at affordable and controlled rents we would be able to cut the £9billion of housing benefit that currently is paid to private landlords. For those who do rent privately we would ensure that they had enhanced rights including, crucially, greater security of tenure. As well as enabling Councils to build affordable homes, we would require them to use the powers that they already have to bring some of the 700,000 empty properties in the country into use.

We would also ensure that all new and refurbished properties were energy efficient, so helping to end fuel poverty and leave people with more disposable income to use in the local economy, helping local business. Making homes more energy efficient is also important in addressing climate change, which is an essential priority.

This is Green policy, joined up thinking, working to meet people’s real needs, giving them security, building healthy neighbourhoods where people can settle and feel they belong, where their kids can grow and flourish on a sustainable planet.

Policies that work for the Common Good.

Mike Shipley and Peter Allen