Category Archives: National

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

Advertisements

Across the world we are rising for climate justice

 

This weekend has seen people throughout the world take to the street to demand
effective action on climate change.climate1

Even in Paris, where demonstrations have been cancelled because of the state of emergency, thousands of pairs of shoes were arranged to represent those demanding action

Together, we are demanding that governments finally acknowledge that so far they have failed us. So many conferences have come and gone and emissions and temperatures have continued to rise. Despite pledges to end subsidies on fossil fuels, governments in many industrialised countries, including our own, have dramatically increased such subsidies and have supported technologies that carry a high risk of pollution, such as deep sea drilling, fracking, and extraction of oil from bitumen (tar sands). World wide, fossil fuel subsidies are at least 4 times higher than subsidies on renewable energy sources. The number is even higher when failure to internalise costs of environmental pollution are taken into account, as they were in the IMF report released in May 2015. That report estimates subsidies as around 10 million dollars per minute.

climate2

On Monday, another conference will start in Paris. Can we expect any better? Certainly not if we aren’t prepared to fight, to insist, to not let them off the hook. Pledges made by individual countries, so far would see temperatures rise by more than 3 degrees – a catastrophic result. The conference is promoted as “business friendly” and corporate lobbyists are present in force, where ordinary citizens are excluded.  We are promised business solutions, but, big business’ “solutions” for the climate remain basically the same: prevent any meaningful global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, avoid any form of public scrutiny and regulation by pushing failed market-based mechanisms such as a ‘global carbon price’, and promoting various for-profit schemes and hazardous techno-fixes.

actnow

Everyone can do something. Just making our representatives aware that we are watching their response to the demand for real action on climate change. On Saturday, Green Party members in the High Peak constituency were out talking to people in Glossop, encouraging them to sign a letter to our MP, Andrew Bingham. Please download the letter and send it to Andrew Bingham, or adapt it to include your own concerns – or send a similar letter to your own MP.

Letter_to Andrew Bingham

 

 

Climate Change Summit – Paris 2015

Paris 2015: A Place for Hope

On 5th November, Donald and I were among more than 100 people, who cop21 gathered at Derby Cathedral for a public meeting on climate change,  designed to give people the opportunity to hear about and discuss the issues to be debated at the Paris 2015 Climate Change Summit.

John Selwyn Gummer – now Lord Deben –  addressed the meeting. He chairs the Independent Committee on Climate Change and will represent the UK at the Paris 2015 conference. He began by outlining the three arguments he uses to counter climate change deniers:

  • Risk – the choice between acting on climate change and not acting. If the promoters of climate change are wrong and we act, nothing will have been lost – the atmosphere will be healthier. If the climate deniers are wrong and we do nothing, we shall face catastrophe.
  • Care – he said that as a result of centuries of astronomical exploration planet earth is the only planet to support life as we know it. That does not rule out the possibility of discovering life on another planet; it does mean that for the time being, planet earth is rare and therefore needs to be cared for and treated with respect.
  • Act Responsibly – in other areas of life we do not choose to act stupidly and therefore it is wrong to go on acting stupidly by increasing CO2 emissions. The link between climate change and CO2 emissions was as true as the link between smoking and cancer. We must therefore keep our CO2 emissions down to avoid crossing the critical 2 degree rise in temperature threshold to prevent disaster happening.

Lord Deben went on to describe how we get to that target. He emphasised that the Climate Change Act 2008 was achieved by an All-party consensus in the UK and that was key to its success. He was very optimistic and positive when he talked about his hopes for Paris 2015. He pointed out that in Australia and Canada political changes had meant that both countries were now committed to taking climate change seriously. He remarked on the co-operation that now existed between China and the USA. He pointed out that there is now a scientific basis for the reality of climate change and that all the nations responsible for 85% of carbon emissions now all have climate change legislation.

Lord Deben concluded his talk by stating two key things that he saw as essential to progress being made in Paris.

  1. The need to recognise that Paris will not achieve an answer that is perfect – it may get the best answer that can be had for the time being but it will need to be improved on and modified over time.
  2. The importance of achieving a binding agreement in Paris – something to hold people and nations to, rather as the British Climate Change Act obliged the Government to take carbon emissions into account in any budgetary proposals that were put to parliament.

Apart from this, he said little about his views on the compatibility of economic growth and corporate deregulation with the need to cut net global carbon emissions to zero by mid century or whether corporate lobbying is delaying action to slow down climate change.

He spoke of the stand made by the Pope making a significant difference to worldwide awareness of climate change, not least in the USA, because it made it impossible to ignore the reality of climate change. He stressed that the encyclical also made it clear that you cannot deal with climate change in isolation from other issues such as world poverty and justice for the poor.

Q & A session:

Investment in Renewable Energy

  • Q If Britain, as he stated, is a leader in combating climate change, why have we not put more investment into renewals?
  • A It seems that renewables have been too successful.  For example,  off-shore wind farms were giving a return of 40% not the 29% forecast and this created a problem for the chancellor who presumably then decided they didn’t need investment!

Fracking

  • Q Fracking is raping the earth so why are the government legitimising it?
  • He appeared to imply that Fracking is a separate issue. He believes science and the evidence of science is that it is safe.
    By the mutterings from the audience, I think many people thought he must be looking at different evidence! He talked about the need to ensure that we had our “own” supplies of gas because of the dangers of being dependent upon Putin. He didn’t respond to the heckler who said that fracked gas is a fossil fuel, the implication being that we have to keep all fossil fuels in the ground.

The time for questions was limited as Lord Deben had to catch a train. There wasn’t time to go into the issue of other green-house gases, including methane, with agriculture, notably animal husbandry being currently a major emitter, coupled with the conversion of natural grassland and forest to cultivation of animal fodder or ask whether he still enjoys beef burgers!

Donald and Jean Macdonald
Derbyshire Green Party

This public meeting was organised jointly by the Derby Diocesan Environmental Group and Derby Cathedral Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee (JPICC) of which Donald is Chair.

Stand up for climate justice

The Far From Glorious Twelfth

Two_grouse_'picked'_after_the_previous_day's_shoot._-_geograph.org.uk_-_547403From August 12th until a couple of weeks before Christmas Britain’s wealthy elite will be let loose on its moorland uplands. Driven grouse shooting involves beaters going in front of the people with guns “beating” the heather so that the birds fly into the air where they are then shot at. Around half a million birds can be killed during the season. If that seems barbaric, even worse is the fact that in order to maintain this so called sport, all grouse predators are being destroyed on the uplands, and the moors themselves destroyed by burning the heather in the name of “management”.

Hen Harriers are an iconic bird of the uplands, however in 2014 there were only 4 nesting pairs in England. A couple of weeks ago there was an outcry in this country when it was discovered that Cecil the Lion had been shot and killed in Zimbabwe, but where is the outcry at the loss of Hen Harriers? Five adult birds have disappeared this year, and whilst the disappearance is reported euphemistically as “mysterious” the obvious answer is that they have been shot, poisoned or trapped by game keepers to protect the grouse for shooting.

In the same vein game keepers are now systematically ridding the uplands of mountain hare because they are said to carry a parasite which infects grouse. Literally mountains of mountain hare have been killed in Scotland and the practice is spreading South.

When concern is raised about grouse shooting and the practices which support it, the argument is put that it provides employment and income to areas which would otherwise have none. However the grouse shooting season is a few months and whilst the hospitality trade might benefit slightly during that period, assuming those that shoot do frequent the restaurants and pubs of local areas, that benefit would be spread much wider, both geographically and time wise, if people were coming to look at the wildlife rather than kill it.

Not only that but grouse shooting costs us in terms of higher water bills, because of the cost of clearing water polluted by higher particulates as a result of peat burning.

And then there is the cost to the atmosphere: Peat is a carbon sink and the High Peak is one of the biggest peat uplands in England and therefore one of the biggest carbon sinks in the UK. Management for grouse shooting consists of burning areas of heather on a cycle year by year. The effect of this is to release unwanted carbon directly into the atmosphere but more long term it has been shown to severely compromise the build up of future peat. It also obviously destroys the existing vegetation, much of which such as sphagnum moss is protected (and is one of the reasons for which subsidies from the EU to the landowners exist), and as stated effects water supplies. (http://www.wateratleeds.org/ember/)

Leading conservationist Mark Avery has launched a petition calling on parliament to ban grouse shooting . You can sign it here https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104441.

You could also contact your MP to ask him or her to support a ban. Green Party policy is clear. The Green Party is fundamentally opposed to all blood-sports. Our manifesto includes the commitment to ban driven grouse shooting.

Charlotte Farrell

The Greek crisis is about Democracy not Debt

euro-373008_640It is interesting that Greece, the cradle of democracy is now having to defend that very concept in the face of an onslaught from the corporate masters of the global economy. With the Greek referendum vote, the issue in Greece has escalated from an economic crisis, to a crisis of democracy.

As Caroline Lucas has said:

“The Greek people have made a decision which must now be respected. This referendum has seen EU states do their very best to undermine the democratic will of the Greek people but it’s time to draw a line under the past and move onwards”.

We cannot argue that former Greek governments, both of the right and left, badly managed the Greek economy. The EU and international finance were complicit in making this bad situation worse by failing to ensure that further loans to Greece were used for investment and did not end up lining the pockets of the wealthy. But the neo-liberal ‘free-market’ policies that dominate world finance want and need debt and Greece was encouraged to increase its debt rather than address tax avoidance and increase Government revenue.

By crippling Greece with debt, international financiers have been able to force her Government to sell assets to the private sector. They have also ensured that the bulk of Greek revenue goes to debt repayment, that is, to the private sector financiers, rather than to the welfare of the Greek people. Debt has become a commodity; it is traded and used by the private sector to increase personal wealth. Neo-liberal economics needs debt to create money and wealth. By loading governments with debt the financial institutions can divert tax payers’ money away from social provision and state investment in to their own coffers as interest repayments. For these institutions, cfreating debt is good business and leads to hugh personal bonuses.

The Greek crisis is not really about debt but about repayments. Debt is now a corporate asset, if a borrower defaults, then the asset becomes valueless. This was the root of the 2008 financial crisis. If Greece defaults it is the big financial institutions that will be hit, and they are using austerity to protect their interests.  They are demanding that money that should go to support the welfare of citizens goes instead to themselves. So the people of Greece must suffer in order to protect the assets of the wealthiest institutions and people in the world.

The interests of money and international finance are being put ahead of the needs of people – this is a democratic crisis. What are Governments for, to serve the people or international finance?

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, said:
molly scott Cato2“This referendum has provided an opportunity for all EU states to reflect on the balance of power between finance markets and democratic governments”.

This isn’t just a Greek crisis, it affects us all. The Conservative Government is determined to continue with its austerity measures in order to pursue its privatisation agenda and to reward its supporters with tax breaks. Austerity is not about sound economics, it is an ideology driven by the neo-liberal free-market. It is being driven by the corporate sector that has effectively hijacked governments. The rich and the powerful are once again driving the political agenda in their own interest and are ignoring the needs and wishes of people. They are challenging the very concept of Democracy.

The Greek people have raised their voices and have demanded that their government listen to them and address their needs, as they should in a Democracy. There are solutions to the Greek debt crisis and part of that solution is to recognise that some of the debt is un-payable.

Caroline Lucas has pointed out that there is a historic precedent for this:
caroline-close“History shows us that countries can escape crippling debt in a just way. In 1953, at the London Conference, Greece was among the European nations signing a deal which allowed for the cancellation of German debt, to enable the country to grow again after the destruction of the Second World War. Europe needs to come together to offer the Greeks a deal which allows their country to be rebuilt.”

But the difference then was that the debt wasn’t a corporate asset; Governments weren’t controlled by big business. It is essential now for the Governments of Europe and America to address the debt crisis and to be seen to be standing for the interest of the people and not spinelessly bowing to the pressures of the global corporations. This is the demand from Molly and the European Greens:
molly scott Cato2“We now urgently need to see a conference to address the issue of Greece’s debt with restructuring and debt relief a clear outcome. There also needs to be clear support for rebuilding the economy, especially by investing in sustainable sectors of the economy”.

Further, we now need to see Governments acting as part of democracies, in deed and not just in word; to listen to the calls coming from their people for economic justice and for the gross inequalities in society to be leveled off. If they fail to do this, the global corporate sector will be triumphant and democracy will be effectively dead.

Mike Shipley

First posted on East Midlands GP Blog on 7 July 2015

Derbyshire Greens Critical of Delays to Rail Electrification

The Green Party in Derbyshire believes the ‘pause’ in the electrification of the Midland Main Line announced by Transport Secretary and Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin is actually a humiliating full stop.

This long-heralded plan formed part of a £37.5 billion package of rail improvements announced by the Government before the general election.

Derbyshire Dales Green Party election candidate Ian Wood said:

Ian Wood‘A few weeks ago Mr McLoughlin was telling voters about the exciting new future for railway travellers in this part of the world.

‘But there is a strong whiff of suspicion that he already knew that the figures did not stand up.

‘And now he has had to tell Parliament what Network Rail must have known for months – that the railways in his own constituency are being left behind while the Cotswold railways serving the Prime Minister’s constituents are to be improved as planned.’

The Green Party’s concern is that the Government will eventually declare that the electrification upgrade in the East Midlands has been somehow superseded by their much more expensive high speed rail proposals designed to get business travellers to London more quickly.

The Green Party says Midland Main Line electrification would cut CO2 emissions by 40% and would support lighter more efficient trains which would be cheaper to run.

Meanwhile the high speed project from Birmingham to London is going ahead at a cost of around £50bn.

Ian WoodMr Wood said:
‘The whole East Midlands region needs an efficient rail network to help strengthen the regional economy and to relieve the strain on the existing network.

‘Mr McLoughlin led voters to believe their faith in the railways and their willingness to pay enormous fares on the privatised rail network would at last be rewarded with a modern railway.

‘Now that the Government has failed to secure the improvements everyone knows are essential, voters can see the brave talk of a northern powerhouse was a load of distracting public relations.’

Nationalise railways

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2015)

“Animal agriculture is responsible for emitting more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry and causes unfathomable destruction of natural resources and habitats. Yet it flourishes, almost entirely unchallenged.”

This is the claim of the groundbreaking documentary which follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations refuse to tackle it.

Ian Wood, Green Party Activist in Derbyshire Dales writes:

I amIan Wood possibly the only Green in the county not to have heard of this film, but now I have, and indeed have watched the whole thing, and it is truly excellent.

We all have to go green, of course, but this film makes the bold and convincing claim that we cannot call ourselves environmentalists unless, and until, we are all vegan. Being vegan uses three times less water and grain resources than being merely vegetarian, and eighteen times less resources than being an omnivore. The entire human population could exist perfectly decently on the grain we feed to animals.

The film is a bit preachy at the end and finger-wags that it’s not enough just to cut down on meat on the grounds that, if you have Meat-free Mondays, for example, you are only doing the wrong things on six days of the week and not seven. My view is that it is better to do the wrong things on six days of the week rather than seven, especially if it helps more generally. If you cut down on meat and fish you are reducing your carbon footprint – that is undeniable.

The film is excellent on the lobbying power of agri-business and the corrupting power of money derived from meat-eating of all kinds.

I am a meat-eater and I shall certainly be cutting down on my consumption of meat purely on the basis of having seen this film.

I would now disown the things I have previously said about fossil fuels being far more important to climate change than eating meat. It is quite apparent that eating meat causes more climate change and water shortages and natural imblanaces than fossil fuels, and I am somewhat ashamed I ever thought differently.

Cowspiracy is a calm and brave documentary and thoroughly recommended.

http://www.disclose.tv/action/viewvideo/194765/Cowspiracy_The_Sustainability_Secret_2015/

Note: The Green Party does not require members to be vegetarian or vegan. In section (d) of its Food and Agriculture Policy http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/fa.html it states:

High rates of consumption of meat and other animal products in richer countries, and rising demand elsewhere, means that the increasing requirement for animal feed competes with food production for direct human consumption. We will encourage healthy and sustainable consumption patterns, including a shift towards more plant-based foods. Such a shift would enable an increased world population to be fed sustainably and would help to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. (See FA211, FA222, FA237, FA662)

Why consider eating less meat?

Victoria Martindale, Green Party Activist writes:

Vegans are stereVictoria Martindaleotyped as freak lentil loving extremists but there is so much more to it. Eating less or no meat and dairy is not just about animal welfare concerns. Meat is associated with so many of today’s global challenges and unacceptable environmental issues that it is about far wider reaching matters such as:

• our own health – meat and dairy are high in saturated fats, the key risk factors for the leading killers in the western world like stroke, heart disease, diabetes
• meat production is the leading man-made cause of global warming
• it exacerbates world hunger and poverty
• it pollutes our water, soil and atmosphere
• it uses vast amounts of finite land and fresh water
• its linked to deforestation etc.

If someone stopped eating meat they would do far more for global warming as an individual than if they never drove a car or flew in an aeroplane again – it’s a hard realization that most people can’t face up to.

There need not be millions of starving people in this world with even more hungry mouths to feed as our population continues to burgeon, there need be no food insecurity issues if we used the finite resources of land and water more efficiently. Meat production is one of the most inefficient food production systems there is, and has high dependency on fossil fuel input. I heard somewhere that about 14 calories of input is required to produce 1 calorie of output in meat!

If you want to find out more about how we treat animals, a documentary called Earthlings has the key message – I defy anyone to watch that and not turn instantaneously veggie, its not for the faint hearted.

In fact it’s on at Belper Goes Green on Saturday 30th May at 11.00 am. Find out more about the weekend from
http://www.transitionbelper.org/belper%20goes%20green.html

Earthlings – A Film by Nation Earth

Note: If you can’t get to Belper Goes Green you can view Earthlings at home.  EARTHLINGS is a powerful and informative documentary about society’s treatment of animals, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix with soundtrack by Moby. This multi-award winning film by Nation Earth is a must-see for anyone who cares about animals or wishes to make the world a better place.  http://earthlings.com/?page_id=32

 

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

Climate Change – Urgent Action Required

Message from the Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett

natalie-bennettThis year the most important climate talks in history will take place in Paris.

Leaders from around the world will come together to decide the world’s course of action in addressing the most important issue of modern times.

Yet, despite the looming threat of a climate crisis, during this election you could be forgiven for thinking that the threat had lifted.

The truth is, politicians from the other parties simply aren’t speaking about climate change. In fact I was the only party leader to raise the topic during the three and a half hours of Leaders debates.

You and I know both know that the science is unequivocal – fortunately we have the plan to tackle the crisis.

The Green Party is the only party calling for the urgent action required and at the heart of our pledge to protect the environment is our conviction that we must also reconfigure our world to work better for people.

We will cut public transport fares – because everyone should be able to afford to get to where they want to go – and because the air pollution caused by cars is a crisis that must be tackled.

We will invest in home insulation – because no one should fear family members getting ill or even dying from the cold – and because we want to cut carbon emissions.

We will generate 80% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030 – because we know we must leave four-fifths of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

We are using three times as many resources as our planet can sustain – we must change course, and we can.

I, like you, want to leave a better future for our children. I want the next generation to look back on what we did at this time and think ‘my parents generation did something to protect our world’. I want them to be proud of us.

To keep climate change on the agenda and to continue our fight for social justice we must elect more Green MPs.

We can do this if we have a strong Green voice in parliament – but we need your help now more than ever with a Green vote on May 7th.

Thank you,

Natalie Bennett
Leader, Green Party of England and Wales

p.s. Please share this message with someone you know who shares your concerns and urge them to vote Green on May 7th.

Want to Live Longer? Don’t Ask a Mouse

Laboratory RatThe leading causes of death have changed markedly over the years. A century ago, infections were the leading causes of death. Today, we will probably survive much longer than our ancestors but it is more likely we will die of age-related diseases like mobility problems, arthritis and Alzheimer’s or other chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer or stroke. What is evident is that different factors in our individual genetics and lifestyles are coming together to shape the ultimate cause of each of our deaths more than ever before.

Just like the causes of death have progressed so too must our approach to their research and treatment. We need to question the continuous use of traditional research models that are unable to reflect today’s complex, chronic and individually unique diseases. Instead, we should exploit the latest scientific alternatives that are far more representative of modern diseases and take a more personalised approach to medicine; one that recognises that disease risk and response to treatments vary greatly from person to person.

Take identical twins, you can’t get much more similar than that. They develop from a single fertilized egg which means they have the same genes. And yet, despite their identical gene set, if they were both to grow up and develop breast cancer, say, it is quite probable that they will each have a different type of breast cancer that responds to a different class of drugs. This illustrates the influence of factors other than genes in our environments that are involved in disease progression.

So if differences in disease between genetically identical twins can be so profound then it is understandable that they are even more diverse between individuals of the same species but who have different genomes. Imagine, then, the differences with other species with whom we share even less genetics, biochemistry and lifestyle. Results from animal models have always been unreliable when transferred to humans, but they are simply unable to mimic the multitude of factors that influence us over an entire human lifetime to culminate in the kinds of diseases we are dying of today.

In 2010 the Coalition Government promised to reduce the number of animals used in medical research. It has broken that promise five consecutive times as numbers of animals used each year has consistently increased. This highlights not only another five broken promises of this untrustworthy Government but it prolongs the suffering of people waiting for effective treatments and it subjects millions of animals to pain and death unnecessarily. Any Government must have the courage to honor the obligations of researchers to scientific integrity, fulfill their responsibilities to the public who fund their endeavours and, above all, remember the hapless patients and families.

On World Day for Animals in Laboratories on Saturday 25th April, please bear in mind that the forthcoming general election presents parties with the opportunity to turn the hopes of our patients into reality by committing to modern, more personalised human-relevant research that can offer answers to the big health killers of today.

The political systems of the other parties all prop up the gratuitous institutionalised violence of animal research; giving them your vote is giving the thumbs up to continue. But just like there are alternatives to animal models, no matter what the people who govern will have you believe, so too is there an alternative system that makes the current one obsolete:

  • It’s a system that stands up for the common good which includes other species too.
  • It’s a system that realises that animals have an intrinsic value of their own and their purpose on this planet is not all about human satisfaction.
  • It’s a system of common sense that recognises that the answer to our longevity doesn’t lie in a mouse.
  • It’s a system that recognises that animal experiments are unreliable and dangerously misleading for patients because non human species are different from us and they don’t get the same diseases as we do or respond to drugs in the same way.

This system is the Green Party’s system and, unlike other parties, our policies are based upon evidence and come with scientific backing. As far as medical research goes, we will fulfill patient hopes by ensuring that research funding is directed away from failing animal disease models and towards modern human specific techniques which offer greater opportunities to cure our killer diseases and improve drug safety.

We will achieve this with a step by step strategy that phases out animals alongside increased funding for modern non animal alternatives and updated regulations to see their quicker development, validation and approval. It’s a system that works for people, animals and the environment in recognition of the connection between all three. Now, isn’t that a system worth voting for in May?

Victoria Martindale
Green Activist

‘Message of Hope’ for 3 Million Student Loan Holders

 Over 550 Green candidates will support the wiping of Student Tuition Fee debts.

PrintAll the 3 million people with student loans (+ family and friends) have to do is Vote for them, and they will have to change the colour of the door in No. 10!

If you can spread the message particularly now, as the deadline to register to vote is the 20th, then sixth formers and their concerned parents, etc, will also have the opportunity to vote Green.

To watch part of Natalie Bennett’s speech with a list of candidates and a link to registration click the link.

http://abolishtuitionloans.co.uk/

 

'Message of Hope' for 3 Million Student Loan Holders

 Over 550 Green candidates will support the wiping of Student Tuition Fee debts.

PrintAll the 3 million people with student loans (+ family and friends) have to do is Vote for them, and they will have to change the colour of the door in No. 10!

If you can spread the message particularly now, as the deadline to register to vote is the 20th, then sixth formers and their concerned parents, etc, will also have the opportunity to vote Green.

To watch part of Natalie Bennett’s speech with a list of candidates and a link to registration click the link.

http://abolishtuitionloans.co.uk/

 

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

GreenSpirit – Wednesday 4th February in Nottingham

GS-EM-Badge-Logo-v1GreenSpirit is a national network of people who believe that human life has important ecological and spiritual dimensions.

The network promotes the view that all Life on Earth is sacred and profoundly connected, and it seeks to bring together people who have an interest in contemporary spirituality, ecology and social justice.

Derbyshire Green Party has had an email from Shaun who is currently setting-up a new GreenSpirit group for Nottingham and the East Midlands. This new, local GS group will hold an interesting and stimulating mix of events (including talks, presentations, workshops, social events and celebrations) that draw together people of different faiths, plus those of no fixed faith who are spiritual on a personal level. The common ground among those attending will be an interest in personal spirituality, a passion for the Earth and all its life forms, and a radical commitment to social justice.

The first meeting of the new GreenSpirit local group is scheduled for Wednesday 4th February and will be held in central Nottingham. The evening will include a group guided meditation, a presentation of the powerful short film ‘The Awakening Universe’ by Neal Rogin of the Pachamama Alliance (the film explores the deep interconnection that exists between all life on Earth, using beautiful cinema-photography and a wonderful, original musical score), plus an ecumenical act of fellowship to mark and celebrate Candlemas, St Brigid’s Day and Imbolc. Full details about this meeting are given on the group’s webpage, which can be found on the national GS websitehttp://greenspirit.org.uk/localgroups/nottingham/

In addition, there will be three informal pre-meetups before 4th February for those who’d like the chance to meet some other members of the new group casually over coffee in advance of the first formal meeting. Again, the details can be found on the GreenSpirit webpage. Alternatively, take a look at GS on MeetUp.com which gives full information about all their forthcoming events http://www.meetup.com/GreenSpirit-Notts-Derby-Leicester-Spirituality-Action/

GS-EM-Badge-Logo-v1More information about the GreenSpirit network and its activities can be found on the national website http://www.greenspirit.org.uk/ or you can contact Shaun on 0776 957 4063

Constitutional Reform – Urgent request

PrintEast Midlands’ Members have signed John Andrews’ motion C21 on Constitutional Reform.  Here is the link to the motion https://my.greenparty.org.uk/resource/agenda-section-c-spring-conference-2015/#C21

The motion proposes that the GPEW drafts its preferred text for a Constitution based on our values and policies, possibly with a view to a Peoples Constitutional Convention.  Other Parties are also supporting a Convention, spurred on (for a while?) by the backwash from the Scotland vote.

We were disappointed that the motion was not put at the Autumn Conference because it ran out of time. Because of our rules, our motion goes back towards the back of the queue.

Our Motion’s chances at Spring Conference can be improved or indeed guaranteed if we win or come high up the Prioritisation Ballot
Here is the link to the ballot. http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1938402/b86cec820060

THE DEADLINE to complete the ballot is 24TH JANUARY Please vote now

Please also read the motion and comment online on the members’ site when the ‘amending motions’ link is available.

Coincidentally, Derbyshire County Council is consulting on a ‘Combined Authority’ – a partial merger of economic functions between DCC and the Derbyshire districts and the city. Do have a look. A draft response might follow. It closes on 23rd January http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk

The relevant PSS for both issues is here http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/assets/images/policy/pdfs/Public.pdf

There is also an updating motion on Regional Government
John Youatt john@youatt.co.uk

Protests against train fare rises – 5 January, 2015

Peter Robinson from Derby People’s Assembly has emailed to draw members’ attention to the protests against the fare rises outside railway stations on January 5, calling for Public Ownership as well.  CAN ANY GREEN PARTY MEMBERS TAKE PART?

These actions are taking place at DERBY and NOTTINGHAM stations from 7.30 am and at BURTON from 15.30 pm.

invest-in-our-planet-20140814-064711264On Friday January the 2nd train fares are due to increase again. We already have some of the most expensive fares in Europe. We also have the most fragmented service, and it is the case that the government is now subsiding railways (and the franchises) MORE than when British Rail was de-nationalised.

Between 1997-2012 Virgin Trains’ West Coast Mainline paid £500 million in dividends after pocketing £2,5 billion in subsidies. By contrast, the publicly owned East Coast Mainline has returned nearly £1bn to the government since 2009.The arguments for public ownership are overwhelming.

The environmental case for switching to rail and other public transport is also overwhelming.

With the support of Action for Rail, the Peoples Assembly are teaming up with Bring Back British Rail, Compass, the Green Party, the Campaign against Climate Change, We Own It, and a variety of local groups to organise leafleting of commuters at railway stations on Monday January 5th.

Later that Caroline Lucas Making a point Cropweek the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, will be presenting her private members bill calling for public ownership of railways. The People’s Assembly is looking for people who are prepared to volunteer to distribute leaflets at their local railway station.

Are you prepared to help?  If you would like to organise an action at a station, please contact Peter Robinson at peterfrobinson@ntlworld.com and say which station you can attend and state a preferred time.

Information from the People’s Assembly website http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/public_ownership_for_railways_protest

Image

Getting Organised Against TTIP

TTIP

Derbyshire Dales Green Party Constituency meeting

Derbyshire Dales Green Party Constituency Meeting

Wednesday 3rd December at 7.30 pm

Please join friends in Matlock at the The Gate, 72 Smedley Street, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 3FQ

ALL WELCOME cropped-gplogostrapwhitegreenforweb.jpgContact the coordinators John Youatt john@youatt.co.uk or Chris Smith almostchris666@googlemail.com if you would like more information. Or phone John on 01629636241

Mid Derbyshire Greens attend East Midlands Conference

Belper Greens candidate John Devine was interviewed by BBC TV at the EMGP conference in Nottingham yesterday.

John-Devine-002

Several members of the Mid Derbyshire Greens attended the conference which had over three times as many people as expected turn up!  This really reflects the overall surge in local Green Party membership  as well as nationally – which has grown to more than 25,000, with the number of young greens more than doubling!  This has a lot to do with young voters increasingly wanting to  make their voices heard on the subjects of austerity, education and the Citizens Income.

EMGP_2014Conference_Web

 

Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party will be visiting Belper tomorrow (Monday 17th Nov) to meet with students studying Government and Politics at Belper School & Sixth Form Centre and to later host a public meeting and Q&A session at No. 28 in the Belper Market Place (7 pm until 8:30 pm – All welcome).

Please contact John Devine (07932 576159) or Sue MacFarlane (07774 004240) for more details.  Both candidates will be present at tomorrow’s public meeting.