Category Archives: Uncategorized

The work of our MEPs

euWe’re fast approaching the EU referendum, and though we hear claim and counter claim about membership, we’ve heard hardly anything about the work of our representatives in the European Parliament. Indeed, if you are relying on the BBC for information, you could believe that only UKIP has any MEPs – and be forgiven for thinking they don’t do very much.  Paul Tattam, a Green Party member based in  the High Peak, has complained to the BBC more than once about the monopoly given to UKIP MEPs in programmes like Question Time. Here, he provides an overview of the work done by the European Parliament.

Twenty eight European countries with a combined population of over half a billion people are represented by the 751 members elected by voters in the member states. The United Kingdom has 73 MEPs – the third highest representation of any country.
A proportional representation electoral system favours allows small parties, like the Greens to be well represented. There are 50 Green MEPs in the parliament – three are from the UK – Jean Lambert is a representative for London, Keith Taylor for the South East, and Molly Scott-Cato for the South West.

What do our MEPS do?
The threats facing our world in the 21st century – climate change and environmental degradation, tax avoidance and corruption, terrorism, war and refugee crises – are all issues that can only be addressed internationally – and this is precisely what the Members of the European Parliament do.

‘Dieselgate’ – the extent of the conspiracy by car manufacturers to cheat the public about the nature of emissions from their vehicles is an issue that European Greens are currently pursuing – making sure that this threat to our health and safety doesn’t disappear from view.
Air quality – Green MEPs have worked hard to get improvements in the appalling quality of the air many of our towns and cities. It is a tribute to the tenacity of MEPs that the British Government is now once again facing action in the High Court over its inaction over poor air, despite the censure of the UK Supreme Court in 2015.

But Green MEPs aren’t just involved in environmental issues – foreign affairs, economic policy, transport and tourism, tax avoidance, and rural affairs are all committees that our Green MEPs work on.

When we travel to EU countries or holiday or work, it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always so easy. For example, MEPs have worked to reciprocal health care agreements so we can rely on treatment when aboard. Our own beaches have benefited from the rules on the quality of bathing water introduced by the EU. More recently MEPs have worked hard to stop us being ripped off by exorbitant roaming charges when we travel in EU countries. There are opportunities for exchanges and study programmes in Europe, and hundreds of thousands of UK citizens benefit from the right to work in another EU country without red tape.

It’s easy to contact your MEP. Contact details are available on the European Parliament Website (www.europarl.europa.eu), where you an also find out about the issues MEPs are dealing with. Our own MEPs Roger Helmer, Glenis Willmott, Andrew Lewer, Emma McClarkin, and Margot Parker from three different parties, and it is our right to expect any one of these members to answer our questions.

For more information about our Green MEPs

Jean Lambert

Keith Taylor

Molly Scott Cato

Advertisements

The NHS and Europe

Recently a few of us from the Green Party went along to a public debate on EU membership at the University of Derby in Buxton. One of the first things we saw when we arrived was a leaflet from the Brexit camp claiming that the only way to save our NHS is to leave the EU. nhs-resized1A closer look showed that the threat comes from TTIP, the secretive treaty that the US and the EU have been negotiating, whose details have come out in a series of leaks.

The Green Party doesn’t underrate the threat to our democracy and to the health and well-being of Europeans and of our environment that TTIP represents. Green MEPs have been in the forefront of the campaign to cancel TTIP, moving the European Parliament from a position in which they were likely to just rubber stamp the treaty to a much more critical position.

But do we really believe that TTIP is THE immediate threat to our health service? The reorganisation of the NHS in the last parliament already opened the NHS up to privatisation, allowing private firms to cherry pick profitable services. Nothing Jeremy Hunt has done demonstrates a commitment to a publicly funded NHS, free at the point of use – certainly not the arrogant contempt he has shown for the junior doctors.

Recent disclosures show that while other EU governments have insisted on explicit exclusion of their health services from the trade deal, the UK has not. The reasonable conclusion is that a Tory post-Brexit government would allow areas of privatisation to continue and increase, and would write them into UK-only free trade deals.

Thanks to the work done by opponents of TTIP, there is now a real chance of defeating the deal. Of course, that’s not the end of the matter. TTIP is a symptom, an almost inevitable result of the same economic policies that brought is the financial crash in 2008. It sets out the same demands for corporations to be free to exploit human and natural resources, free from all restraint, with economic growth as the only measure of worth. In the Green Party, we believe a different type of economy is both necessary and possible, and that we can work with other Europeans to achieve it. Come and join us!

A brief list of things the EU has done for our environment

What has the EU ever done for our environment in the East Midlands?

The EU is responsible for about 80% of our environmental laws in the UK.

Climate change

Climate Change is our greatest threat today. It increases the frequency of extreme weather conditions like flooding; it will threaten our food security and sea levels will rise, reducing land mass and causing mass migration.

Flooding has been an increasing problem in the East Midlands (for example in Lincolnshire). This is not only tragic for the individuals concerned, but also costly.

Increasingly unpredictable weather in East Midlands puts agriculture and food production at risk leading to higher food prices and putting farming livelihoods at risk.

Climate has no borders, and we must work together with other countries to address this. The EU has been a significant part of the international efforts to tackle climate change; and the UK must work with the EU to get effective international action to limit climate change.

Wildlife

Prior to EU legislation, protected wildlife sites were being diminished by 15% a year. After the passing of the EU’s Natura 2000 and the birds and habitat directive, this has been reduced to 1%.

EU legislation was instrumental in protecting many types of marine wildlife and fish; without these, many species would now face extinction.

Protecting birds and fish must be done together with our neighbours, as these species travel across borders. If the UK, for example, reduces fishing of an endangered species, it becomes pointless if our neighbours continue to fish it indiscriminately.

There are internationally valuable habitats in the East Midlands, including the Peak District Moorlands and parts of the Lincolnshire coast that are protected by EU directives and will be at risk from a Brexit.

Pollution

Our seas as well as our air have been heavily polluted, and consequently our wildlife and our own health have suffered.

EU legislation has ensured that our beaches in Lincolnshire have become much cleaner. The EU landfill site directive has been driving local authorities’ recycling efforts, and overall this important legislation will ensure that we will have to reduce our landfill waste and will further drive up recycling.

Particularly in urban areas like Leicester, Nottingham and Derby, our air has been shown to be heavily polluted. Nationally, 29,000 people die prematurely every year, directly linked to air pollution. Our three major cities in the East Midlands are affected by this and the EU legislation is ensuring that we must address this.

So please consider voting to stay in, so we can continue to protect our environment with our European colleagues.

Fair Trade and the Green Party

Do you drink Fair Trade coffee or tea? Ever eaten a “Devine” chocolate bar? Do you always world-fair-trade-day-logomake sure that you chose the Fair Trade banana’s in the supermarket? Did you know that you can also get Fair Trade gold as well as Fair Trade toilet rolls? Fair Trade is a phenomena that is rising around the world and South Derbyshire Greens are keen to know more about the movement.

The Fair Trade movement started in 1992 when a group of charities that do considerable work in developing companies got together to form a foundation. Their premise is to provide an alternative form of international trading conditions which allow farmers and workers to financially benefit from growing crops and produce. Many of the Fair Trade producing companies are partially owned by the farmers themselves. The Fair Trade Foundation states that it is “Working to secure a better deal for workers and farmers”. It also cares for the welfare of workers, ensuring that working conditions are of a good standard. It is a global concern with 1.5 million farmers and workers involved across the planet.

The ethos of Fair Trade fits beautifully into the policies and ethos of the Green Party. We (I speak as a Green Party member) believe in social justice and greater equality, which is what Fair Trade aspires to do. Although international import of produce is not necessarily encouraged; the 2015 manifesto states that the Green Party will “work to reduce food imports and increase home and local food production where feasible” there are some produce that are very difficult to grow in our climate. Have you ever seen a chocolate plantation in the UK? However, Green Party Policy recognises that sustainable societies are vital across the globe and therefore has included the following policy:

IP122 A General Agreement on Sustainable Trade, under which fair trade rules (where producers are guaranteed a reasonable price for their products before planting, and a portion of the payment is set aside for community development) would become a requisite for international trade and local supply of goods would be preferred, should replace the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). A World Localisation Organisation should replace the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Fairtrade-banner

To find out more about the Fair Trade movement, Fair Trade produce and Fair Trade shops join South Derbyshire Greens

May 31st, 7pm
Fair2all,
17 Bath Street,
Ashby de la Zouch LE65 2FH

Mandy McIntosh, the founder of Fair2all, will speak. She has been involved with the Fair Trade movement for over 20 years and has written a number of magazine articles about the movement. An added bonus is that the talk will be in a Fair Trade shop, and there will be refreshments on offer.

Marianne Bamkin, South Derbyshire Greens

 

The NHS – Death by a thousand cuts

Today, for the first time since the NHS was founded, junior doctors have taken all-out strike action to oppose imposition of a contract that they say would make patient care unsafe by over-stretching staff who are already at breaking point. Despite attempts by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to smear the doctors, most people believe that the government has forced the doctors into taking this action.  But to what purpose?

stretchnhs

Including NHS privatisation in an election manifesto is political suicide – so the current government included a 7-day NHS, but omitted to provide extra staffing.

So, where there’s a will there’s a way and this crisis is only the latest step in a strategy of creeping privatisation that’s been going forward for some years. While publicly declaring their commitment to the NHS, the coalition government abolished the legal duty of the Secretary of State to provide health care and introduced measures to dismantle the NHS leaving you so dissatisfied that you turn to private insurance, if you can afford it.

And the demolition continues under the current government. While the government continues to claim it has maintained spending on front-line services, cuts to social care and other budget decisions have brought our NHS to the point of collapse.

Hidden away in this year’s budget was a 30% cut to the NHS capital budget – money for repairs to buildings and repair and replacement of broken or out-of-date equipment. That leaves a shortfall of more than £1 billion for current work and replacement before the year begins.

Hospitals have been fined millions of pounds that could have been spent on patients because they didn’t meet response targets. How’s that supposed to help? To be fair, the system used to have some kind of logic. Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which include GPs, could withhold funds if targets weren’t reached, but it was at the discretion of the CCG. If they saw a consistent failure in a particular area, they paid the money with the condition that it be spent improving the failing area. But now, CCGs have been instructed to withhold the money, decreasing funding and driving struggling services deeper into failure.

Take this together with the dispute over doctors’ contracts and the “plan” to deliver a 7-day NHS with no increase in funding or staffing and a frightening picture emerges. With doctors and other health care staff spread ever more thinly, targets such as waiting times in A&E will inevitably be missed, triggering a vicious circle of withheld funds and deteriorating services.

We need to stand up for our health service, for the patients and for the people who work in it. As a first step, why not write to your MP about these issues? But fixing single issues isn’t enough. We need our NHS fully restored as a public service. Green MP Caroline Lucas has been at the forefront in taking the fight to parliament, introducing the NHS Reinstatement bill to reverse the creeping privatisation carried out by successive governments (http://www.carolinelucas.com/issues/health).

nhspublic

 

Every school an academy?

When Japanese Knotweed was first introduced into this country nearly two
handsoff hundred years ago as an ornamental plant, no-one would guessed what menace it would become. Likewise when Tony Blair’s government opened the first Academy in Bexley 16 years ago, the privately run, but publicly funded initiative was trumpeted as a way of trying to break a cycle of failure in areas with extremely challenging conditions. But should all state schools be forced to become Academies?

Many government initiatives over the years have been heralded as saviours of one aspect of the educational system or another. In the 1980s the Assisted Places Scheme was Mrs Thatcher’s big idea to break the mould by promote the merits of independent schools over comprehensives; more recently Free Schools are supposed to deliver parental choice and flexibility of the curriculum…..

This latest announcement on the future of Academies in the 2016 Budget is a quite extraordinary development. Perhaps even more controversial is that the proposal also includes the abolition of the right of a parent to sit on a school’s governing body, just by dint of being a parent of a child in the school. Whatever one thinks of Academies, the idea that local authorities should be simply cut out of the management of schools, a role they have had had since 1870, is almost unbelievable. Proposing to strip parents of their right to join a schools Governing Body and participate in the process of their child’s education is astonishing.

Academies may in some instances be quite small bodies, but many academies are now part of academy chains. The largest chain, the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) , runs 67 academies across England. Does it perform well in this role ? In February 2016 this chain in England was accused by Ofsted of “failing too many pupils“. The inspectors described almost half of the schools in the chain as “less than good“, and warned that poorer pupils do “particularly badly“.

noacad

The plans announced in the budget would see our schools and their assets given into the control of private organisations, who are often operating for profit and always operating without local, democratic oversight.

The Derbyshire Times recently reported that “as many as half of all lessons in some Derbyshire academies are being taught by unqualified staff”.

Opposition is mounting to this policy – unannounced in the Conservative Party General Election manifesto – even among Conservative MPs and leaders of some Conservative controlled councils. So, we have a chance of stopping this privatisation of our children’s education. In our own county, parents and teachers organised in  Matlock and Derbyshire Anti-Academies have held well-attended protests. Get involved!

handsoff2

Whereas Government and politicians come and go, our children only get one chance to pass through the educational system. The Green Party believes in a well-funded, accountable school system which should have the welfare of all our children at its core, and which should not be endangered by the latest fad, or short-sighted career aspiration of Westminster politicians.

Have your say about this vital issue! Write to your MP, tweet your point of view, write to Nicky Morgan (nicky.morgan.mp@parliament.uk), Secretary of State for Education!

The forced conversion of all state schools to academy status is one insanity too far!

Paul Tattam and Jane Reynolds

A brief list of things the EU has done for our environment

Europe – in or out by Andy White – Derbyshire Dales GP

Our future in Europe – Natalie Bennett in Derby

natalieNatalie Bennett has been in Derby to speak on our future in Europe. The event took place on Thursday, 11th February 2016, from 7pm at the University of Derby. Before this meeting started, she has taken part in various activities. This included an interview with BBC Radio Derby, an interview with student radio and canvassing in Darley ward for the 2016 Derby City Council election. The main event started with a talk of approximately 30 minutes from Natalie Bennett, followed by a short speech from Marten Kats and then a question & answer session.

Natalie Bennett talked about the position of The Green Party on the European Union. The Green Party recognises there is a lot wrong with the European Union. The democracy of the European Union will need to be improved. The non-elected European Commission has too much power and the elected MEPs don’t have enough power. The European Union is too focussed on big businesses and not on small/medium businesses, local communities and ordinary people. TTIP is a danger to our democracy as it could open up the possibility of companies suing governments for loss of profit.

So why does The Green Party advocate a vote to remain in the EU? Even though we do another europerecognise there is a lot wrong with the European Union, it also brings many advantages. Many problems can only be tackled by cross-border co-operation. Examples are climate change, water and air pollution. Also workers’ rights need to be controlled at a European level as otherwise various countries can undercut others over the backs of workers. Harmonisation of various regulations makes it easier for small and medium businesses to sell their products in other parts of the European Union and European Economic Area. At least 3 million jobs in the UK depend on Britain’s membership of the EU. Finally, The Green Party celebrates the free movement of people. There has been a lot of negative publicity about the free movement, mainly by our right wing media. However, free movement has enriched our culture. There are roughly as many UK citizens in other EU countries as there are EU nationals in the UK. EU nationals don’t come here to claim benefits, instead they contribute greatly to our economy. It is important to make this clear in our EU referendum campaign.

We need to address the faults of the EU, but we don’t do that by walking away. Just like there is a lot wrong with Westminster, with the undemocratic voting system being the worst. That doesn’t mean that we have to give up on democracy, we need to fight to change it. It works the same in the European Union. We need to stay in it and fight for a different Europe from the inside. Europe is changing, politics is changing, a different Europe is possible as long as we don’t give up on it.

Marten Kats

More information

Green politicians reinforce party’s commitment to campaigning for the UK’s continued EU membership

Another Europe is possible

Why the left should fight to stay in Europe

 

 

Moorland Management – 27th January

Meeting on moorland management

Wednesday 27th January 2016
7:30pm Royal Hotel, Market Street, Hayfield

UPLAND HEATHLAND Upland heathland_ipcress7

Robert O’Connor, a local Green Party member and ecologist/conservationist, will lead a discussion on the subject of moorland management in the UK.

The blanket bogs and upland heaths of the UK account for something like 1.35 million hectares (lowland peat covered about 65,000 hectares in mainland Britain in 1990, now likely to be much less due to commercial extraction).  Changes in land use over human history include; strategic use of uplands for defence and transportation, animal stock grazing and low level agriculture, industrial use including quarrying, hunting and other forms of recreation, and more recently the use of uplands as freshwater catchment areas.

Other issues under consideration for discussion include:

  • Land ownership  
    Who owns what?
  • Hunting
    Killing of ‘non-preferred’ species on estates managed for game hunting, and how much money is involved in game hunting.
  • Effects on biodiversity
    Estates managed for hunting tend to have low species diversity – for example moorlands managed for red grouse are mostly dominated by heather, which is the preferred food plant of red grouse.
  • Effects on CO² storage
    Blanket bogs store significant amounts of CO² in the peat layer, accumulated over thousands of years.
  • Effects on flood attenuation
    Requires a holistic and landscape approach in implementation of ‘future-proofed’ flood alleviation schemes.
  • What is being done now to address habitat degradation?
    A quick look at some exemplar conservation projects undertaken by various NGOs, such as the RSPB.
  • Appropriate use of public funds in subsidies
    Looking at various payment schemes to landowners past and present.

For more information:

 

 

Green Party Spring Conference

SPLASH_SpringConf2016_v1

Green Party Spring Conference 2016 
Friday 26 – Sunday 28 February
Harrogate International Centre

Spring Conference – in its new shorter format – will be held at the Harrogate International Centre – the third largest conference and exhibition centre in the UK – in the lovely spa town of Harrogate on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

Booking

Bookings are now open! Get the best prices by booking online before 14 February.
We do everything we can to keep the cost of attendance down, and we hope that the shorter format will be welcome for that reason, but for those who would not be able to cover the costs of attendance themselves there is also a limited access fund.

Non-members are also very welcome to attend and can either book using the form on the website, or can pay on the door.

Timetable and agenda

Conference is a chance for members from all over the UK to get together not only to discuss and vote on policy motions, but also to network, socialise and learn. As well as nine hours of discussion time and around 12 workshops dedicated to policy, there will also be:

  • 16 training sessions on local party organisation, campaigns, media, policy, electoral activism, etc
  • 20 informative fringe sessions run by party members or staff
  • 3 topical panel debates open to the public with high level external speakers
  • Evening entertainment programme
  • Exhibition including members groups as well as external organisations and campaigns

An outline timetable is available on the website. The first agenda (list of motions accepted) and the prioritisation ballot is open on the members’ website until 25 January.

Details of how to apply to run a fringe are online.

Travel

Harrogate is 35 mins by train from Leeds.

Check the travel page of the conference website

If you are seeking or offering a seat in a car you can use our Liftshare scheme.

Accomodation

There is a huge selection of hotels and B&Bs right on the door step of the venue, and we have arranged allocations at a few local hotels. See the accommodation page on the website for more info and booking.

Creche

Children between the ages of 1 and 11 are welcome to join the Conference Creche, which is run by fully qualified, DBS checked staff. And all absolutely free of charge to Green Party members who are attending the Conference! (Refundable deposit required).

Latest news

Keep up to date with our plans for Spring Conference on social with #GPConf
and https://www.facebook.com/events/714590818675803/

If you can’t join us there, why not watch the Leader’s speech and plenary sessions live online!

How to hold a policy discussion with your local party

About the priority ballot

More information on the website. www.greenparty.org.uk

 

No Minister, this winter's floods are not 'Unprecedented'.

East Midlands Green Party Blog

David Cameron was ill advised to brag about how much flood defence work has been done during his premiership – surrounded as he was by flood water in York. “Like much of the rest of what you have done as prime minister David, your actions on flood prevention have been demonstrably inadequate. That’s why you were surrounded by flood water!”

The line being taken by this lamentable government is that the floods of this winter were ‘unprecedented’. The impression that they want to leave with the public is that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent them and that they are a one-off event, unlikely to be repeated. “So, Environment Minister Truss” [who has repeated the ‘unprecedented’ line like well trained parrot] “were the floods of 2007 or of 2014 also ‘unprecedented’? Doesn’t ‘unprecedented’ mean ‘not happened before’?”

After the 2007 flooding in the West country, there…

View original post 962 more words

No Minister, this winter’s floods are not ‘Unprecedented’.

East Midlands Green Party Blog

David Cameron was ill advised to brag about how much flood defence work has been done during his premiership – surrounded as he was by flood water in York. “Like much of the rest of what you have done as prime minister David, your actions on flood prevention have been demonstrably inadequate. That’s why you were surrounded by flood water!”

The line being taken by this lamentable government is that the floods of this winter were ‘unprecedented’. The impression that they want to leave with the public is that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent them and that they are a one-off event, unlikely to be repeated. “So, Environment Minister Truss” [who has repeated the ‘unprecedented’ line like well trained parrot] “were the floods of 2007 or of 2014 also ‘unprecedented’? Doesn’t ‘unprecedented’ mean ‘not happened before’?”

After the 2007 flooding in the West country, there…

View original post 962 more words

Important message for Green Party Members in Amber Valley

If you are a Green Party member living within the Amber Valley Borough Council boundary then you should have received an invitation to vote in the ballot currently taking place to decide whether Amber Valley becomes an independent local party. Previous experience tells me that emails sent to a large number of addresses at once sometimes end up in junk, spam or bulk mail folders.

If you are an Amber Valley member and don’t think you have received your invitation then please check this/these folders. If you still can’t find it then it may be because we don’t have an up to date email for you. Please contact me to ensure you have the opportunity to participate in this important vote.

Peter Allen
On behalf of Derbyshire Green Party
Email     peterd.allen@btinternet.com
Tel          07793319547

The Curate’s Egg of the Paris Agreement

The Curate's Egg of the Paris Agreement

Don’t rubbish this agreement, it’s all we have.

Don't rubbish this agreement, it's all we have.

Deal on a Knife-edge – which side of 2°C will it fall?

COP12 – Last Chance Saloon?