Tag Archives: animal welfare

Compassionate Derby – 28 November

Compassionate Derby

Saturday 28th November 2015
10:30am – 4:30pm St. Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Street, Derby

Back by popular demand for its fifth year running, Compassionate Derby is an ethical living event that is free to attend and where everyone is welcome!

Compassionate Derby 2015There will be a range of cruelty-free food and lifestyle products, lots of free samples, charity and campaigning stalls, children’s activities, a diverse program of talks throughout the day, a generous raffle and much more.

So why not head to Derby on November 28th to do a bit of Christmas shopping and find out more about living a compassionate lifestyle.

The Green Party will have a dedicated stall, so if you can make it, we look forward to seeing you there.

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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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jean Macdonald
25 May 2015

A Big Thank You!

Kat Boettge writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Many thanks
Kat and the regional committee
Kat Boettge
Regional Coordinator

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

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

How Secure is Britain’s Food Supply?

Written by Victoria Martindale, Parliamentary Candidate for Erewash

Victoria MartindaleAs part of British Science Week (13th to 22nd March 2015) I joined a panel of experts and politicians to discuss food security in Britain at Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

The UK faces a number of challenges to its food security, including long food supply chains, ‘food deserts’ in inner cities, wealth distribution imbalance, climate change and competition from abroad. These pose a real threat to the UK consumer; it is possible that food will become more expensive, choice limited or foods unavailable. Only this week we were warned that the cost of a new “Driver Certificate of Professional Competence” for transport haulers across the EU raises the prospect of ’empty shelves’.

In the 1980s the UK used to be about 80% self-sufficient in foods that can be grown here. This has now dropped to around 65%. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has recently raised concerns that this may be too low. As a nation, we increasingly rely on international markets to provide us with the huge range and affordability of food which we have grown accustomed to.

Questions put to the panel included:

• Is the UK in a vulnerable situation regarding its future food security?
• Following the horsemeat scandal in 2013 should consumers be concerned about the quality and security of their food?
• Are organic foods healthier and better for the environment? Is it fair to expect UK consumers to pay the price premium for these products?
• Are low food prices responsible for the incredible levels of food waste in households in the UK?
• What can be done concerning the incredibly low prices paid by supermarkets to UK dairy farmers forcing them out of business?
• Food banks are rising across the UK. Much of the burden has fallen on charities but is this really the Governments responsibility?

Panel – The chair was Professor Paul Lynch, Head of Natural Sciences at the University of Derby.

The speakers were:
Wyn Morgan, Food economist at the University of Nottingham;
Paul Paine, Garden Co-ordinator at Ecoworks;
Julia Davies, Head of Environmental Sciences at Nottingham Trent University;
Lucy Care, Liberal Democrat candidate for Derby North and
Victoria Martindale,  Derby Green Party Representative.

There was an informative and lively discussion on the night.  For space reasons, let me limit this blog to a few key messages.

I am sure many of you can remember the shocking headline news last autumn. Britain, we were informed, could be plunged into blackouts over the winter. We were warned of the risk of power cuts and electricity failures wrecking havoc over the winter for many households and businesses across the UK. But did we have any of these black outs? No we didn’t. Who was responsible for putting these stories out there? The big energy companies. Why? In response to new EU legislation that restricted their dependency on fossil fuels these massive profit churning companies wanted to legitimize their ongoing use of polluting fossil fuels and justify getting their dirty hands onto our shale gas and fracking up our country. They did so by spreading fear across the country.

This tendency to generate a state of fear, insecurity and panic among the British public and government is a ploy corporations often turn to in an attempt to justify their means to realise vast profits for themselves. It’s nothing more than scaremongering and their agenda is driven by nothing other than corporate greed.

IF_logo_banner_2_420x210The food security issue is similar to the energy security one. We are frequently warned that with a predicted extra 2 billion mouths to feed by 2050 we could be facing food shortages. We were scared with threats of ‘empty food shelves’ this time. Really? Will we all be struggling to find enough food to feed ourselves and will our children’s children be at risk of starving to death? Shock! Horror! However, just like in the energy debate, you need to stop a moment and look at who lays behind these sensationalist stories. In this case it was the NFU scaring us with empty food shelves.

The NFU is effectively the political arm of DEFRA. With its huge wealth comes huge power and influence over the UK’s agricultural policies. Its agenda is to maximise production, yields and exports in order to maximize the revenue and profits for its members, many of whom are already among the wealthiest of this country. It wants to drive an industrialised food production process which is heavily chemical dependent, savages the environment, and spits out poor quality mass produced food that is bad for our health and forces smaller scale farmers out of business.

CowsIt’s time we faced up to the powerful monolithic institutions like the NFU and put the food security issue into perspective. If we display one iota of honesty we are not in a food crisis and we are not by any means about to be confronted with a single empty food shelf. However, that’s very different from saying we don’t need to address how we feed everyone and look closely at our production and distribution processes. We do and we also need to face up to our responsibilities to those in developing countries who don’t have food security even in today’s modern world.

The other likely scaremongering suspects are the global high tech enterprises like Bayer Cropscience, Monsanto and Syngenta. They use food scares to legitimize their development of GM crops under the Panglossian guise it is the answer to all the world’s problems and is the only means to achieve food security for everyone. Yeh right.

The continued industry promises about the ability of GM crops to tackle the world’s growing social problems are pure myth. GM crops are linked to massive increases in herbicide use, increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the expansion of mono-cultural farming practices and increased costs all along the food chain which the already starving and poor of the world can’t afford. They require huge areas of forests and valuable natural habitats to be cleared.

This is ecologically devastating and overrides people’s rights to their native ancestral land, food, natural resources and traditions. GM crops are patented too with over two thirds of all patented food crops in the hands of the top ten companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Pioneer and Dow. This means they monopolise the market and it allows them to control the research, breeding and ultimately the entire food chain of GM crops which returns them profits of eye watering proportions.

Attempts to produce GM crops that are resistant to climate change, floods, drought tolerant, altered photosynthesis, and exacerbate intensive farming are all attempts by corporates to earn billions at huge cost to the environment, society and local communities, and our health rather than addressing the real challenges of sustainable food production like combating climate change in the first place.

Over_Farm_produce_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1611242Research shows that we can feed a growing global population a nutritious diet without environmentally damaging factory farms and GM crops. This requires addressing the underlying difficult, but very important issues that currently affect food security and making fundamental changes to the way food is produced, distributed and consumed. The aim should be to provide healthy sustainable diets for all whilst living within environmental limits.

The Green Party believes that GM foods are not the answer to food security. Instead, it promotes a set of sustainable policies based upon local production and distribution, lower meat and dairy consumption, more seasonal produce and which protect livelihoods and biodiversity to provide everyone with healthy nutritious foods.

So, when asking about Britain’s food security, be careful who you ask.

Victoria Martindale
Green Shoots Editor

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

‘Farmageddon’

FarmyardAccording to the ‘Farming Industry’ and Agribusiness, the way in which creation has evolved is hideously wrong. You cannot cook and eat a chicken unless you pluck the feathers off which is a waste of time and money. So the farming industry has developed chickens without feathers. Instead of allowing cows to ruminate freely in fields of grass, it has decided it is much better to keep cows in narrow pens, feed them grain that has been processed and saturated in pesticides and to genetically modify the cow so that it can be milked more frequently in order to increase milk yields. The farming industry says animals are much more efficient food producers if they are kept in tightly confined cages and pens and fed a very intensive high protein diet.

The folly of this way of thinking and the disastrous consequences of the industry’s interference in nature is meticulously documented in a highly distressing and disturbing book by the CEO of ‘Compassion in World Farming’. It is a grim story of devastating dimensions. We are busy creating our own new version of a hell of tortured and abused farm animals, polluted and poisoned land, rivers and seas and a range of new diseases in both animals and humans alike derived from the phosphates, nitrates and other highly toxic chemicals used in pesticides and fertilisers and animal feed. There is, according to ‘Farmageddon’, clear evidence that these poisons and toxins are gradually finding their way into the human food chain.

The appalling ignorance among many of our MPs, MEPs and ‘Lords’ of these issues and what is happening on factory farms and to the countryside is exemplified by their willingness to pass legislation based on ideology rather than facts and evidence, and by their all too easy acceptance of the influence of powerful lobby groups working on behalf of agribusiness.

As a recent correspondent to The Independent newspaper said
‘Abuse is endemic in the conveyer-belt system (of abattoirs) that allows animal killing on this massive scale. In the UK we breed, fatten and slaughter one billion animals a year. When animals are seen as a “crop” to be “harvested” and a “product” to be sold as meat, compassion and empathy are in short supply”. (The Independent, 15th February 2015, Letters, from Sara Starkey, Tonbridge, Kent).

The author of ‘Farmageddon’ has travelled widely to gather facts and figures regarding the cost and effects of factory farming. Each of his chapters begins with a personal story of how small farmers, village communities, animal and fish populations have been affected by the mass production of food by intensive farming methods. It is certainly not only the animals that suffer. People in North and South America who have found themselves living close to vast pig farms develop respiratory problems and health issues. In Derbyshire, the Green Party has put a lot of work into campaigning against the application to build a mega pig farm at Foston. Although the plans have not been passed at the moment, it is likely that after the election, Midland Pig Producers will appeal against any decisions that don’t go their way.

In spite of the bland assurances of the ‘industry’ manure tanks do overflow, genetically modified plants and fish do escape into the eco-system, and minute particles in pesticides and fertilisers do leach into the water table and the atmosphere with measurable negative health effects on populations.

In fish farms, certain species of fish which cease to ‘fatten up’ once they have reached puberty, are artificially modified into a kind of ‘third sex’ so that they continue to put on weight. Wherever animals that were intended to roam free are cooped up in totally artificial conditions they show distress, boredom and injury. We truly have created a hell on earth, yet its residents are not simply the long suffering animals but the humans who designed and built it; we are ultimately the victims of the way in which we permit the farming industry to turn animals into ‘products’.

The writing must surely be on the wall when we read that the Parisian chef Alain Ducasse, with 18 Michelin stars has ‘removed all meat from the menu at his eponymous restaurant in Paris’s most storied hotel, the Plaza Athénée’ (The Independent, Friday 13th March 2015, p47). Why has he done this? Because, according to Ducasse,
‘There is an absolute necessity to go towards a better way of eating, in harmony with nature; healthier and more environmentally friendly’.

If we are to avoid an environmental catastrophe in the next 40 years we need to reduce our consumption of meat by 50%, according to a report in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Country fieldThe Green Party believes that we need to expose the ‘big lie’ of factory farming that their existence is necessary in order to feed the world’s burgeoning population. This simply is not true. There is no real problem about feeding the world if we all reduce the amount of meat that we consume and reduce the huge amount of food waste that we tolerate.

This article has been adapted from a review, written by Donald Macdonald for Derby Cathedral Outlook, of the book Farmageddon by Philip Lymbery (Bloomsbury, 2014)

To find out more, you can watch a short film on the Compassion in World Farming website www.ciwf.org.uk/farm-animals/

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.

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.

Green Party attend Compassionate Derby

Compassionate Derby adGreen Party members set up a stall at this popular Ethical Living event held in the centre of Derby on Saturday 6 December.

 

Compassionate Derby is in its fourth year and attracts a wide range of stalls where you can buy a range of lifestyle products, vegan cookbooks, Christmas decorations and support a huge variety of charity and campaign stalls run by people concerned with animal welfare and the environment. There was also no shortage of delicious cruelty-free lunch options.

As might have been expected at such an event, we had lots of interesting conversations with people with whom we have interests in common. There were many people from Derbyshire and surrounding counties who were already supporters or members of the Green Party. Some had voted Green but many more would vote Green if there was a candidate standing in their ward or constituency.

Compassionate Derby 004 CropI spoke to two young people, one a member and one considering becoming a member, who will be too young to vote in the 2015 elections. They think the voting age should be lowered to sixteen.

Sue MacFarlane (Mid Derbyshire Green Party candidate for Amber Valley Borough Council, Belper North Ward) and fellow Green Party member, Jackie Blackett, were taking part in a musical contribution in the upper hall but called in to chat at the stall.Compassionate Derby 012 crop

I was surprised to discover that one or two people who were very concerned about animal welfare and the environment, had not heard of the Green Party. This made me think how important it is to attend community events, given that the Green Party cannot rely on the main media to give us publicity.

Compassionate Derby 009 CropMy husband and I were on the stall during the morning and then I was joined by Chris Smith, who is assisting John Youatt in convening the Derbyshire Dales regional group for the afternoon. Compassionate Derby 011 crop

Many people wanted to know whether the Green Party would be standing candidates in Derby. We explained that we were standing candidates in Derbyshire but at present we had no candidates in Derby itself. I did ask some of them whether they would be willing to stand as a candidate in the local elections. One person said she was considering it and I encouraged her to get in touch.

Compassionate Derby 008Someone also brought up the old chestnut of our name “Green Party” which they said should change. When asked what he would call us, he suggested the Sustainable Party.

There was also a question of how the Green Party would operate when it had more MPs. Would they be able to express their views on a particular matter if they did not hold the “official” view? Would there be a party whip? I said that there would be a steep learning experience to go through as the Green Party moved from being mainly activists on the outside of Parliament to being active on the inside.

It was a very well attended event and a really encouraging place to have a Green Party stall.

Jean Macdonald
Green Party activist

Greens' Alarm at Huge Wildlife Loss

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Green Party’s candidate in the High Peak, Charlotte Farrell, reacted with shock at the news that over half of global wildlife has been lost since 1970. The information comes from the World Wildlife fund in its latest ‘Living Planet’ report. This shows that there has been a nearly 40% fall in the populations of land and marine animals, with freshwater animals, including fish, falling by three quarters.

Commenting on these figures, Charlotte said, ‘This is truly terrible, wildlife isn’t some luxury, it is part of our life support system. The loss of fresh water life is particularly worrying since this shows how much strain sources of fresh water are under. Without clean water, life for all becomes impossible.’

Since 1970, the global economy has boomed and human population has doubled. The Greens claim that this growth is fuelled by an unsustainable use of natural resources. They say that the rate of use of resources in Europe and America would need three Earths to maintain.

Charlotte went on to say, ‘By any measure, what we are doing now cannot be kept up for much longer. The rate of loss is increasing and at the same time we are seeing serious changes to the chemistry of the oceans and to the behaviour of the climate. Just how much more warning do we need before we make the change to a sustainable economy and live within the limits of the only planet we have?

‘What is most alarming is the fact that our politicians are in total denial about all this. Little appears in the press, nothing is heard from our leaders who go on and on about ‘growth’ as if this was possible for ever. Only the Greens have faced reality and proposed an economic policy that shares the wealth we have to secure a decent living for all, while conserving the planet. Instead of serious action, Governments are driving a last desperate grab for what is left, by the mega-rich and powerful, who have already decided that the majority of us must live in poverty for ever. Greens totally reject this. We know that there is a better way to live within the natural limits of the world. Our policies work for the common good. This will be our message in the coming election campaign.’

For more information on the WWF Living Planet Report:

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/

Greens’ Alarm at Huge Wildlife Loss

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Green Party’s candidate in the High Peak, Charlotte Farrell, reacted with shock at the news that over half of global wildlife has been lost since 1970. The information comes from the World Wildlife fund in its latest ‘Living Planet’ report. This shows that there has been a nearly 40% fall in the populations of land and marine animals, with freshwater animals, including fish, falling by three quarters.

Commenting on these figures, Charlotte said, ‘This is truly terrible, wildlife isn’t some luxury, it is part of our life support system. The loss of fresh water life is particularly worrying since this shows how much strain sources of fresh water are under. Without clean water, life for all becomes impossible.’

Since 1970, the global economy has boomed and human population has doubled. The Greens claim that this growth is fuelled by an unsustainable use of natural resources. They say that the rate of use of resources in Europe and America would need three Earths to maintain.

Charlotte went on to say, ‘By any measure, what we are doing now cannot be kept up for much longer. The rate of loss is increasing and at the same time we are seeing serious changes to the chemistry of the oceans and to the behaviour of the climate. Just how much more warning do we need before we make the change to a sustainable economy and live within the limits of the only planet we have?

‘What is most alarming is the fact that our politicians are in total denial about all this. Little appears in the press, nothing is heard from our leaders who go on and on about ‘growth’ as if this was possible for ever. Only the Greens have faced reality and proposed an economic policy that shares the wealth we have to secure a decent living for all, while conserving the planet. Instead of serious action, Governments are driving a last desperate grab for what is left, by the mega-rich and powerful, who have already decided that the majority of us must live in poverty for ever. Greens totally reject this. We know that there is a better way to live within the natural limits of the world. Our policies work for the common good. This will be our message in the coming election campaign.’

For more information on the WWF Living Planet Report:

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/

Greens want more Organic Farms

During a visit toKat in Louth. an organic farm in Lincolnshire, Kat Boettge, the lead Green European Election candidate in the East Midlands discussed with farmer, Andrew Dennis, children’s lack of understanding about food and where it comes from. Woodlands Farm  near Boston lays on guided tours for schools and interest groups.

Kat said, ‘it is clear that children love coming here to see the animals and see crops being planted and harvested, but many can’t identify which ones are in the food they eat. It surprises me that many think fish fingers come from chicken and that tomatoes grow underground. How can we expect people to eat responsibly if they don’t know where their food comes from?’

After her visit, Kat Boettge congratulated Woodlands Farm for maintaining organic production and supplying local markets in the face of stiff competition from the supermarkets. ‘Woodlands is just the sort of farm that the Green Party wants to see supported by Government policy. It is producing healthy food, supplying local markets, maintaining the quality of the soil and working with nature rather than destroying it. It concerns me that a farm like this could be under threat from the increasing industrialisation of farming that will come from the trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and America.’

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership                          The trade agreement that is causing concern to organic farmers is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership known as TTIP. The farmers at Woodlands believe that this will open the market to genetically modified crops and cloned animals. This they claim will make it very hard to maintain their organic standard.

Kat Boettge, lead MEP candidateCommenting on this risk, Kat Boettge said, ‘I believe that TTIP is bad news for many farmers, it will open up our market to stiff competition from American producers many of who have production standards lower than in the EU. We know that American companies are very keen to bring GM crops to Europe. Experience shows that they will contaminate non-GM crops resulting in a loss of the organic standard. We also know that the modified genes do escape into the wild populations, what we don’t know is the long term effect of these genes on wildlife.

Government taking powers to close hospitals

kat-gp-1Kat Boettge writes Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to give himself the power to close A&E Departments without full consultation.  Earlier this year his attempt to close the A&E Department at Lewisham Hospital was ruled to be illegal.  In response, he has added a clause to the Care Bill that is already before Parliament to give him the power to close hospital departments or to order the withdrawal of services. 

Hunt has lost twice over Lewisham.  After his initial attempt to close the A&E Department was ruled to be illegal he appealed, and again he lost.  So now he is resorting to changing the law to suit himself.  Not, it should be noted, in an open way, but by sneaking in a clause at the last minute to the Care Bill, that has nothing to do with the reorganisation or privatisation of the NHS but is, strangely enough, about the provision of Care.  It would seem that Hunt thinks a good way to deliver Care to vulnerable people is to take powers to close hospitals.

If this clause is passed by Parliament then the Government will have the power to close any NHS service or even a hospital without proper consultation.  The Government is claiming that they need these powers to streamline the NHS.  I do not believe this.  I say that the real motive is to accelerate privatisation by withdrawing essential services so as to force people to turn to the private sector.

Following the Government’s defeat over the Lewisham hospital, Caroline Lucas tabled an Early Day Motion in the Commons to draw attention to the Hunt amendment to the Care Bill that aims to give a Government appointed administrator the powers to close NHS services.  If the Coalition Government gets these powers, then they will be able to close hospitals simply to save costs and so hit their financial targets.  No consideration will be given to local needs or to the advice of Doctors.

So much for the ConDem’s claims to be listening to the local community.  Their much trumpeted support of localism is as much a sham as their claims to be the ‘Greenest Government ever’.    But also it is shocking that only 37 MP’s have signed Caroline Lucas’s EDM.  It seems that they, like most of the public, are unaware of Jeremy Hunt’s hospital closure plan. 

The counCarolineLucasandGreensatSaveNHSdemo2.11.2013webtry desperately needs more Green MP’s and MEP’s to work for the common good of all, and not for the vested interests that influence most of our current MP’s.  We, the people, must act now to stop this reckless amendment or wake up to find our local NHS services being closed down.

 What can you do?

  • Write a letter to your local paper using the information above. 

From Kat Boettge                                                                                                Green Spokesperson for Social Care

Beware! Mega-farms on the Loose: Foston next?

DSC_0120In the wake of a decision by the Welsh Assembly to allow a 1000 head mega-dairy unit near Welshpool in Powys can we expect increased pressure on Derbyshire County Council to approve the application for a 25,000 pig unit in Foston?

A recent media event in London was part of a ‘charm offensive’ by big agribusinesses to try to win over opinion on mega-farms, with speakers with close associations with the industry giving their ‘objective’ view on them.  They went to great lengths to insist that the economies of scale that come from these farms help keep food costs down and that animal welfare is safeguarded.

Not surprisingly these speakers took a blinkered view, yet any close analysis of the mega-farm model reveals that, rather than being an answer to the developing food crisis, it is actually a key driver of rising food prices across the globe.  In addition they have many other damaging impacts; from pollution, to heavy water usage, impacts on local communities and employment, and the effects on the animals involved.

The mega-farm model is popular with big agribusinesses because it allows them to produce the cheap food supermarkets want and to make larger profits by externalising costs.  These costs include the full impact of pollution, disruptions to people’s lives and the risk to public health.  These costs are paid for by us.

The tax system encourages the growth of the mega-farm industry in that it provides a massive subsidy to energy-intensive large-scale farming, over more labour-intensive, and smaller-scale pasture and mixed farming.  How?  Because energy use, especially reactive nitrogen fertiliser (which accounts for half of all energy use in agriculture) and red diesel, both come in at a low tax rate.  Whereas labour is highly taxed, so time is expensive.  We need instead, to tax pollution and fossil fuel use, and encourage reliable and skilled employment.

Big agribusiness uses its financial muscle to buy animal feed, both on the local and world market.  Land that should be used to grow food for people is instead widely used to grow animal feed.  Industrial animal farming and its demand for grain and soya for animal feed is a key factor in global food price rises.

As well as huge inputs of food this industrial farming is also heavily reliant on water and drugs, such as antibiotics, and produces large amounts of toxic waste.  The lessons from America, where this sort of farming is much more prevalent, are troubling.  Industrial farming practises there have required massive amounts of antibiotics.  There is increasing evidence of a link between antibiotic use in animals and resistance in people. The UK chief medical officer Sally Davies has given voice to her concern about the increase in antibiotic resistance in people.  Are we really willing to risk this absolutely vital class of drugs to have a bit more cheap meat on our plates?

Animal welfare is also about much more than health, something the supporters of these farms don’t seem to understand.  The industrial dairy cow can no longer live on grass and suffers from numerous ‘production diseases’ as well as high levels of lameness and mastitis.  This disease led to the destruction of far more cattle in the UK than bovine TB, about which the Government professes such concern.

In these massive mega-farm units, animals are unable to express their natural behaviour; cows can’t graze, pigs can’t root around. We are dealing here with sentient beings, not machines. We know animals feel frustration when unable to behave naturally; they get bullied in large groups and feel fear and distress.  If you have seen cows in pasture you will see a contentment you will not see in factory farms.

Small farms, in their current form, are far from perfect – partly because they struggle on tiny margins, and these large scale units will further impact negatively on small local farmers.  But it is they who can sustainably provide their local markets with food season by season, as they have done for thousands of years.

There is no doubt we will see more of these units come up for planning approval in the near future, and the Green Party is committed to fighting them.  The Government has already shown it will ride roughshod over publSupermarketsic opinion and the real facts on cost. Only Greens understand the need for our agriculture to head in a fundamentally different direction, to support local production and local markets.  We need to be reducing our reliance on imports, regulating the middle men and the supermarkets.  We need to ensure that smaller scale producers get a fair deal, and produce the healthy food we need, create jobs, look after our precious landscapes and wildlife and make a decent living.  Only then will our food supply be secure.

[Mike Shipley, with thanks to Caroline Allen]

Natalie Bennett's Address in Derby 24th September 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natalie Bennett’s Address in Derby 24th September 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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