Tag Archives: Caroline Lucas

Greens should welcome the success of Jeremy Corbyn

corbI’ve shared many platforms with you, from opposing Britain’s disastrous and bloody war in Iraq to supporting investment in the economy in place of relentless and cruel austerity. Your inspiring campaign has put so many of our shared values into the centre of the debate in British politics.

Caroline Lucas to Jeremy Corbyn

As far as I know, no-one has claimed to have predicted the phenomenal progress of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Leadership campaign – and that includes Jeremy himself. Reliant on the nominations of MPs who won’t be voting for him (including Derby South MP Margaret Beckett, a supporter of Tony Benn in her young days, but now publicly regretting her action) who were persuaded to nominate him in the interest of widening the debate (and perhaps under pressure from their constituency activists), he is now the runaway leader in the race and odds on favourite to be elected when the result is announced on September 12th.

How has this happened ? Jeremy himself, in the low key, understated manner which has become a central part of his appeal, told a meeting in Manchester last weekend

“We are offering ideas and are asking people to respond… ( there is) a very broad range of support for radical ideas that have been suppressed for so long by this ridiculous consensus among party leaders at Westminster”

It is Jeremy’s success in challenging this ridiculous (and assumed) consensus that has been so significant and so pleasantly surprising. His campaign seems to involve a desire to offer hope rather than despair and cynicism, and a wish to move rather than merely chase the centre ground.

His campaign benefited from early endorsement by the UK’s largest trade unions, UNITE and UNISON responding to demands from their activists for a challenge to the ‘ridiculous consensus’ that has seen public services slashed and real wages for most workers declining. There also appears to have been a ‘red surge’ in support from both young radicals and former Labour Party members, returning to a party which they felt had left them.Many who remained in the party must also be delighted to be able to reveal their true colours and vote for someone who retains the idealism that brought them all into politics.This combination, of organised labour, young radicals and reinvigorated socialists has created a momentum which looks like winning Jeremy the leadership.

Looking at the reaction to Jeremy’s success in the media and in the political establishment, it’s interesting to see parallels with the reactions to the Green Surge and to contrast it with the reactions to the UKIP rise in popularity. UKIP’s views, despite (or maybe because of) their divisiveness were accommodated and taken very seriously by the media. The Conservative and Labour leaderships moved to challenge not the xenophobic views, but rather UKIPs monopoly in holding them. Those views were no real threat but rather a useful diversion to distract people from the real roots of our problems.

Like the Green Party, Jeremy was first dismissed as irrelevant and then ridiculed (beards, bike-riding, and dressing like a teacher apparently are serious obstacles to being taken seriously). Finally, when it became clear that he could succeed, his ideas were condemned as unrealistic and he was subjected to personal and political attacks and slurs. His proposals, like Green Party policies, are a real threat to powerful vested interests.

Well, as Gandhi said,

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

If he does win he will need all the support he can get, as he faces an all out onslaught by the political establishment and the forces of wealth and power.  A meeting of Greens in High Peak at the end of August recognised this, having noted that much of what Jeremy has been saying, against austerity and illegal wars and in favour of welfare and a ‘common good’, accords with
Green Party principles and policies. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has written an open letter to Jeremy welcoming his break with ‘ consensus’ politics and looking forward to working with him “to bring about the progressive politics that has inspired us both for so many years”. The meeting welcomed this initiative and agreed with Caroline that the Green Party has much to contribute to this progressive politics, which needs to be green as well as red, addressing the issues of climate change and ecology as well as social justice, and reforming our democracy including introducing proportional representation.

Peter Allen and Jane Reynolds

The Greek crisis is about Democracy not Debt

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

As Caroline Lucas has said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Shipley

First posted on East Midlands GP Blog on 7 July 2015

Today we call for a fairer more proportional voting system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green Party Launch Election Campaign Video

• Greens on 25% and surging in Bristol West
• Caroline Lucas: ‘The only wasted vote is a vote for something you don’t believe in.’
• New video follows viral success of ‘Change the Tune’ election broadcast

The Green Party, the fastest-growing political party in England and Wales, has released ‘Vote for what you believe in’, its second campaign video.

The film underlines the tremendous achievements made by Caroline Lucas, the Greens’ first MP, and demonstrates how a Green grouping in Parliament can deliver real change for the common good in the next Parliament.

The film follows hot on the heels of ‘Change the Tune’, the Greens’ genre-busting boy band spoof video which went viral on the internet which is the most viewed party election broadcast of the 2015 General Election campaign.

Darrren Hall, PPC for Bristol West and the Green Party’s Home Affairs spokesperson, is on track to win in Bristol West where the Greens are polling at 25% and closing the gap on Labour. The Liberal Democrats currently hold the seat but have seen their vote slip by 28% since 2010.

In the video, Caroline Lucas says:
“The only wasted vote is a vote for something you don’t believe in.
“All of the evidence suggests that there won’t be any one single party with an overall majority, so the smaller parties are going to be more important than ever. And with just a handful of Green MPs we could make a real difference, standing up for issues that none of the other parties are. Whether that’s challenging spending a hundred billion pounds on replacing Trident nuclear weapons or bringing rail back into public ownership, or having real ambitious policies to tackle the climate crisis.”

Darren Hall adds:
“More and more I’ve heard people saying: no, I’m going to vote with my heart. Because unless you start that process, things will never change.
“We have to acknowledge the size of the climate change problem and start to tackle it today.”

The Green Party of England and Wales is polling at its highest ever levels ahead of a General Election. More people than ever before will be able to vote Green on May 7th 2015 – the Party is fielding candidates in almost 95% of constituencies.

Who is My Neighbour?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jean Macdonald
Green Party Activist

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

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

Protests against train fare rises – 5 January, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greens Out in the Cold – Again

Greens at AVBCIn the same week of the uproar surrounding The Green Party being left out of the plans for ‘Leaders debates’ running up to next year’s national election, local Mid Derbyshire Green Party members were left out of last night’s (15th October) Extraordinary Meeting of Amber Valley Borough Council (AVBC) at the Town Hall, Market Place, Ripley, to consider changes to the Core Strategy Local Plan.

Amber Valley Borough Council limited public attendance at the meeting to just 25, with just 20 non-council members being allowed to speak. Despite numerous requests to hold the meeting in a larger venue, over a hundred people were left outside in pouring rain for over an hour before being allowed into the entrance to the council building to hear the meeting through a speaker system.

Mid Derbyshire Green Party AVBC candidate for Belper North, Sue MacFarlane, said “Amber Valley Borough Council recognised the huge public interest in this issue, but did not hold the meeting in a venue big enough to accommodate the numbers of people who wanted to attend. Some of the submissions regarding the proposed Core Plan – including the submissions from Mid Derbyshire Green Party and Transition Belper – were initially left out of the summary document, and included too late for councillors to have sufficient time to consider them before the meeting. Green Party Policy says that democracy and accountability are vital at all levels of government and especially in local government. I don’t feel that the voices of the people of Belper were properly heard at the meeting, and I am disappointed that the plan still includes proposals to build on green field land at Bullsmoor Farm in Belper.’

Sue, together with Belper Town Council Green Party candidate for Belper North, John Devine and other Belper Greens, were at Ripley Town Hall along with members of Belper Town Council, Transition Belper, Residents Groups and other residents of Amber Valley who wanted to ensure that AVBC are aware of the depth of feeling regarding the Local Plan.

Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, is supporting Mid Derbyshire Greens position on this issue. Natalie is visiting Belper on November 17th to meet with our Local Green Party Candidates and their team, and to visit some of the proposed ‘Green Field’ sites. We are hoping to arrange a public meeting during Natalie’s visit to ensure that local people get a chance to speak to her about their concerns.

Sue MacFarlane
Mid Derbyshire Greens

Iraq: our military presence only makes a bad situation worse.

For the third time in 25 years, Parliament has voted to support military action in Iraq. The two conflicts have killed over half a million people, displaced four million and orphaned five million children. By any measure, Iraq is now in a worse state than it was before the 2003 invasion. There is civil war, the western backed government has no legitimacy among the majority of the population, real power is held by local war lords as in Afghanistan, another failed military intervention.

In recognition of the failure of military action in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, Parliament refused to back British involvement in the Syrian civil war. This conflict together with the sectarian policies of the corrupt Iraqi government, spawned ISIS, a brutal militia, armed and financed by governments hostile to the western presence in the middle east. Any engagement with ISIS will inevitably spill over into Syria where the Americans are already training and arming forces opposed to the Assad regime. No one knows the outcome, as in Iraq in 2003, there is no exit strategy.

Interviewed on Radio Derby, High Peak candidate Charlotte Farrell said that further military involvement would only make a bad situation worse and would further fuel the resentment many feel in the region to western interventions. Caroline Lucas was one of only 43 MP’s who voted to oppose further military involvement, joined in the ‘no’ lobby by Derbyshire MP’s Dennis Skinner, Bolsover and Tory MP for Amber Valley, Nigel Mills. The overwhelming majority won by the Coalition Government, supported by the Labour Party did not reflect public opinion. Despite the horrors depicted in the press of the actions of ISIS, 43% of British people oppose further military engagement.

Radio Derby’s political reporter noted that the timing of the Parliamentary recall suited the Tory party, giving its leader the opportunity to play big international statesman on the eve of their conference to cloud the issue of a ministerial resignation and a defection to UKIP. He reminded us of another Conservative prime minister, who in 1982 and facing electoral defeat, used a foreign policy adventure to drive up jingoistic popularity and win a year later. But cynicism aside, there are many good reasons why this new engagement should be opposed. We are endlessly told that the economy is struggling and that we must all tighten our belts. Despite this, close to £1billion was spent on bombing Libya and we can not suppose that this campaign will come any cheaper. This is about the sum saved by scrapping the Educational Maintenance Allowance, three times that saved by scrapping the disability living allowance. So our young people and disabled are having to pay for a military adventure that will solve nothing.

From recent past history we know that this action will further radicalise young men into joining the jihad against us. It will kill and displace yet more civilians, it will condemn more hostages to death, it will bring closer the time when Iran will feel forced to intervene itself. Military force will not solve anything, it will make a bad situation worse.

We have to do something, the whole region is in a state of collapse. As Charlotte said, we have to open negotiations, this can be difficult, talking to people involved in atrocities. But then we are now allied to countries that are brutal dictatorships. In August alone, Saudi Arabian courts ordered the beheading of nineteen people, mostly foreign nationals, this year it has beheaded six women, again mostly foreign workers.

In the light of the headline reports of ISIS atrocities, calling for talks seems an inadequate response. But Europe is the living proof that only negotiations can solve age old problems. In 1945, Europe lay in ruins, divided by generations of bitter hostility that had broken lives, displaced millions and brought the full horrors of war home to everyone. Something had to change to alter the course of events that could so easily have lead to yet more conflict, such has been the 2000 year history of Europe. The response by a few wise heads to the brutality of two world wars in a generation was to negotiate. Not as in 1918, the victors dictating to the vanquished, but as equals. The bitter enemies of just a few years earlier, joined together to find a collective vision to banish warfare, to allow their countries to cooperate in building a peaceful society in which people could flourish. This process led to the Treaty of Rome and the European Union. The dream of warlords from Charlemagne to Napoleon, of a united Europe was achieved without bloodshed, through negotiation among equals.

This is the only way forward for the Middle East and every new military campaign only serves to further delay the opening of these talks. They have to involve all parties, including Iran and Syria, including the representatives of the Kurds and on equal terms, Sunnis and Shias. The west and western interests can not dictate terms. Peace is possible and there is a profound desire among the people of the whole region and beyond to find this peace. But a small minority, protected from the horrors of war, see profit in further conflict, Iraq, broken as it is, is spending $1billion on weapons, good business for some. Weapons flow freely, from Russia as well as the west, earning great wealth and creating more markets. This is where the west’s action is needed, control international arms sales, stop fuelling the conflicts that are threatening to spiral out of control and engulf us all.

For more information, visit: http://www.stopwar.org.uk/

Greens Challenge Channel 4

Matthew CropMatthew Bain Challenges Channel 4

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

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

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

Yours faithfully,

Matthew Bain

Fracking on Trial

serious_about_climate_change_splash_860x305

Speaking after the first day in court, Caroline said:

“We were moved by the support shown for us at Brighton Magistrates Court on Monday and I would like to thank everyone who wrote and tweeted in support. I am pleased that this has put the focus firmly on the dangers around Fracking.

To avoid catastrophic climate change we need a rapid shift to a zero carbon economy, matched with policies to keep the majority of known fossil fuels in the ground. The window for action is closing fast.”

Today, we are calling on the Prime Minister to redirect the billions of UK fossil fuel subsidies into flood relief and adequate flood protection.

Add your voice to Caroline’s and the other protesters by taking action today.  http://my.greenparty.org.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=46629&qid=1556466

If you want to learn more about fracking and how you can help prevent runaway climate change each day we will share more ways you can take action here.  http://my.greenparty.org.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=46638&qid=1556466

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

UK’s first Green MP welcomes Labour to Brighton with digital billboard ad

Labour ConferenceLabour Party members attending their conference in Brighton this weekend, in the constituency of the UK’s first Green MP, will be welcomed by a billboard making the case that it is Caroline Lucas who is offering the real opposition in parliament.

The digital advert will be on display prominently on Queen’s Road – one of Brighton’s main thoroughfares.  The street is the main route down which Labour delegates and lobbyists who arrive by train will travel to reach the conference at the sea-front Metropole Hotel.

The ad starts with a check list, against a red backdrop, reading: “Saving the NHS, Fighting Austerity, Railways in Public Hands, Scrapping Trident.”  As the screen turns green, the billboard says “Brought to you by the Green Party.”

The final screen displays a photo of Caroline Lucas MP and reads: “Welcome to Brighton – Home of the True Opposition in Parliament. p.s. Labour is down the hill on the right.”

Rob Shepherd, Chair of Brighton and Hove Green Party, said, “We know a lot of Labour members want their party leadership to stand up to austerity and NHS privatisation, and to support progressive policies such as public ownership of the railways.

“We wanted to remind them that there’s an MP already fighting for these causes in Parliament. It would be great to see Labour members using their conference to encourage Ed Miliband to follow Caroline’s lead on standing up for these causes, and bring together a powerful coalition of voices to reverse the consensus that austerity and privatisation are the only game in town.”

The Green Party’s own autumn conference took place last weekend, also in Brighton.  In her conference speech Caroline Lucas criticised cuts to welfare and local services, and argued that it is the Green Party, rather than Labour, that is offering the real opposition to the Government’s agenda of austerity and privatisation.

She is speaking at two events at Labour’s conference – a Compass panel discussion called ‘Labour – an open tribe?’ and an Institute for Public Policy Research event titled ‘The Condition of Britain’.

Her Private Member’s Bill to bring the railways back into public hands is due its second reading next month.

View the ad on line at: http://bit.ly/16qbrBJ

'Only a political and diplomatic solution will solve the war raging in Syria'

Caroline-LucasSpeaking in the debate on Syria in the House of Commons last night, Caroline Lucas echoed the sentiment of the majority of members of the House in condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

‘I have no doubt that we are all united in complete condemnation of the deplorable chemical attacks on civilians in Damascus. The gut-wrenching images of those attacks are etched on all our minds as we sit here tonight.’

She went on to recognise the importance of opposition to another military intervention in this volatile region, recognising that the force of public opinion and the opposition in Parliament had stayed the Government’s hand and forced it to recall Parliament rather than fall in line behind the American determination to mount a military attack.

‘It beggared belief that, once again, we could have been about to embark on military engagement, without apparently having learned any of the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan…. As Hans Blix pointed out earlier this week:

“If the aim is to stop the breach of international law and to keep the lid on others with chemical weapons, military action without first waiting for the UN inspectors report is not the way to go about it.”

Caroline went on to express her concern that once again it seemed that Governments were prepared to flout international law in taking military action without the full support of the UN.

‘… both the US and our Government are indicating that they are prepared to act against Syria without a UN mandate. For all that the Government’s motion talks of making “every effort” to ensure a Security Council resolution, the bottom line appears to be that they are happy to proceed without one.’

She outlined work that has been undertaken by Madeline Albright and others to clarify the legal position on military intervention in sovereign States and said that the clear conclusion was that explicit UN approval was essential.

‘ The conclusion from all this is clearly, if inconveniently for the Government, that military action against a sovereign state, other than in self-defence, without the authority of the Security Council cannot be justified under the responsibility to protect.’

Acknowledging the views of other members of the House, she said :

‘…we have an opportunity now with the new regime in Iran and we should be responding to a more moderate leader there, yet by going ahead and giving a signal that military action is the direction in which we are heading, we absolutely undermine the authority of that new leader in Iran.’

Referring to the wider consequences of any attack, Caroline expressed concern that these clearly had not been thought out.  She pointed out that in being asked of the likelihood of Assad taking retaliatory action in the event of an attack, Nick Clegg had no answer.

 ‘It was put to him [on radio] that Assad could well retaliate against an attack, but when he was asked what we would do in the face of such an escalation, answer came there none.’

Expressing serious concern of the implications of yet again taking military action that flouts international law she warned:

‘As the law of the jungle takes hold, it will be increasingly difficult to condemn similar actions by others. I am increasingly convinced, therefore, that only a political and diplomatic solution will solve the war raging in Syria and by extension hold its spread beyond the region. That is why I will not support the Government’s motion.  Only a political and diplomatic solution will solve the war raging in Syria ‘ 

[for a full transcript of Caroline’s speech, see:http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debate/?id=2013-08-29a.1479.0 ]

‘Only a political and diplomatic solution will solve the war raging in Syria’

Caroline-LucasSpeaking in the debate on Syria in the House of Commons last night, Caroline Lucas echoed the sentiment of the majority of members of the House in condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

‘I have no doubt that we are all united in complete condemnation of the deplorable chemical attacks on civilians in Damascus. The gut-wrenching images of those attacks are etched on all our minds as we sit here tonight.’

She went on to recognise the importance of opposition to another military intervention in this volatile region, recognising that the force of public opinion and the opposition in Parliament had stayed the Government’s hand and forced it to recall Parliament rather than fall in line behind the American determination to mount a military attack.

‘It beggared belief that, once again, we could have been about to embark on military engagement, without apparently having learned any of the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan…. As Hans Blix pointed out earlier this week:

“If the aim is to stop the breach of international law and to keep the lid on others with chemical weapons, military action without first waiting for the UN inspectors report is not the way to go about it.”

Caroline went on to express her concern that once again it seemed that Governments were prepared to flout international law in taking military action without the full support of the UN.

‘… both the US and our Government are indicating that they are prepared to act against Syria without a UN mandate. For all that the Government’s motion talks of making “every effort” to ensure a Security Council resolution, the bottom line appears to be that they are happy to proceed without one.’

She outlined work that has been undertaken by Madeline Albright and others to clarify the legal position on military intervention in sovereign States and said that the clear conclusion was that explicit UN approval was essential.

‘ The conclusion from all this is clearly, if inconveniently for the Government, that military action against a sovereign state, other than in self-defence, without the authority of the Security Council cannot be justified under the responsibility to protect.’

Acknowledging the views of other members of the House, she said :

‘…we have an opportunity now with the new regime in Iran and we should be responding to a more moderate leader there, yet by going ahead and giving a signal that military action is the direction in which we are heading, we absolutely undermine the authority of that new leader in Iran.’

Referring to the wider consequences of any attack, Caroline expressed concern that these clearly had not been thought out.  She pointed out that in being asked of the likelihood of Assad taking retaliatory action in the event of an attack, Nick Clegg had no answer.

 ‘It was put to him [on radio] that Assad could well retaliate against an attack, but when he was asked what we would do in the face of such an escalation, answer came there none.’

Expressing serious concern of the implications of yet again taking military action that flouts international law she warned:

‘As the law of the jungle takes hold, it will be increasingly difficult to condemn similar actions by others. I am increasingly convinced, therefore, that only a political and diplomatic solution will solve the war raging in Syria and by extension hold its spread beyond the region. That is why I will not support the Government’s motion.  Only a political and diplomatic solution will solve the war raging in Syria ‘ 

[for a full transcript of Caroline’s speech, see:http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debate/?id=2013-08-29a.1479.0 ]

People’s Assembly Against Austerity

PA CropThe Tories have unleashed the biggest assault on ordinary people for generations. It needs to be met head-on. The People’s Assembly Against Austerity is a key opportunity to bring together all those who want to stop the cuts and the ­devastation they are bringing to millions of people in the UK, and to launch the next steps in the fightback.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity was launched with a letter to the Guardian on February 28th 2012.  Two of the initial signatories were Caroline Lucas MP and Natalie Bennett. 

The Green Party had voted at their conference in February to support the event and agreed to send a delegation to the People’s Assembly and to  encourage local parties, regional federations and other GP bodies to also send delegations and to support future local People’s Assemblies.

People’s Assembly Against Austerity – Saturday June 22nd 

GeneralThis gathering is going to be a huge expression of opposition to “austerity” and privatisation involving all the main Trade Unions, local Trades Union Councils, local and national anti-cuts groups, campaign groups focused on NHS, Education, Housing, the People’s Charter, Coalition of Resistance and the Green Party.  Most of the policies that the People’s Assembly are advancing are Green Party policies

Derby People’s Assembly – A new local “networking” group has been formed in Derby made up of individuals and people representing local groups concerned with issues such as Climate Change, Taxation, NHS etc.  Two Green Party Members attended the initial meeting.  The aim of the meeting was twofold: to publicise the national gathering in London on 22nd June and to arrange a follow up event in Derby in the Autumn. 

Transport has been arranged for those who would like to attend the London event.  See our events page for details.  A Facebook page has been established (https://www.facebook.com/groups/143367235856170/?fref=ts ) and a blog and website will also be set up 

The time has come for us, the People, to make our voice heard. We are a democracy.  We must demand that the Government uses the power and money we give it to serve our interests, and not just those of the wealthy vested interests that are controlling politics.  Austerity will never succeed because the economic crisis was not caused by public spending. We must demand that the government we elected adopts policies that address the causes of the financial crisis.  We must demand that they invest in our future to build a sustainable economy.  We must make it clear that if this Government will not listen to us, we will elect one that will.

Enough Food for Everyone

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Caroline Lucas reported in her News bulletin in January that a new campaign was launched in Parliament called Enough Food For Everyone: IF, which aims to use this year’s G8 to focus attention on tackling the fact that one in eight people around the world go to bed hungry every night.  Caroline said that she will be campaigning alongside groups like Oxfam, to ensure development and environmental issues are at the top of the agenda. The British Government is to host the next G8 Summit at a hotel and golf course complex at Enniskillen in Northern Ireland on 17th – 18th June 2013. 

The G8 is short for “Group of Eight – a group of rich, northern hemisphere, mostly white, countries.  Membership of the Group is by invitation, its workings highly secretive, its decisions affecting the whole world.

The eight members in order of their rotating hosting responsibilities are: France, United States, United Kingdom, Russia (as of 2006), Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada.  Among G8 leaders to attend this year will be British Prime Minister David Cameron, United States President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Since 1975, the heads of state or government of the major industrial democracies have been meeting to deal with the major economic and political issues facing their domestic societies and the international community as a whole.  In the past, the G8 Summit has dealt with big issues like international trade, and relations with developing countries, questions of East-West economic relations, energy, and terrorism. The Summit agenda has now broadened considerably to include social issues such as employment and the information highway, transnational issues such as the environment, crime and drugs, and a host of political-security issues ranging from human rights through regional security to arms control.

While some say that G8 helps build personal relations and allows for quick co-ordinated responses to a crisis, G8 can also be seen as an exclusive and powerful club which defends and promotes free-market capitalism and Western style democracy.  Many view it as an attempt at forced globalisation by the rich West and undemocratic because developing countries are excluded.  Free-market capitalism has not delivered on its claim that it is the best way to enable developing countries to be emancipated from their poverty.  Consequently non-governmental and civil society organisations and the Green Party are critical of the G8.  We use the media interest created around G8 meetings as an opportunity to advocate our concerns and to promote an alternative agenda. We are scandalised that the G8 makes decisions that affect many other nations and economies that are not represented such as the major ‘new’ economies like China and India.

The ENOUGH FOOD FOR EVERYONE IF campaign tackles 4 issues head on: aid, tax, land and transparency. The IF Campaign argues that IF we all act together, we can make the world leaders change the future by tackling the four big ‘IFs’, each of which relates to the major topics on the G8 agenda: 

AidIf we make the right investments to stop people dying from hunger and help the poorest people feed themselves.  The UK government has committed to spending 0.7% of its national income on aid. We must make sure they keep this promise.

Tax – If we stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries.  Too many unscrupulous businesses and individuals manage to avoid paying the taxes they owe in developing countries. They’re dodging millions of pounds every day.  Yet taxes are the most important, sustainable and predictable source of finance. The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) estimates that developing countries lose three times more to tax havens than they receive in aid each year.  That money could help millions of people to escape from hunger. We can help stop this tax dodging if our government steps up to close the international tax loopholes.

LandIf we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use crops to feed people, not fuel cars.  The poorest farmers are losing their land to giant corporations. These companies don’t care that the land is already being used by local people to grow food. Stopping them would help millions of people get enough to eat.

TransparencyIf we force governments and big corporations to be honest and open about their actions that stop people getting enough food.  Transparency and accountability are vital in the global food system. Decisions that can affect millions of people are made behind closed doors, without the participation of those affected. Corporates and governments must be more transparent about their affairs so that citizens can hold to account powerful players in the food system.

The IF Campaign recognizes that these are big IFs, but argues that if we press our leaders to make these happen, and IF they do, there really will be enough food for everyone.  

That’s why Caroline Lucas is joining with other organisations in a campaign to tell our leaders that if they take strong action to tackle the structural causes of hunger, there will be enough food to meet the needs of earth’s 870 million hungry people.

Because the venue for the G8 is in Northern Ireland, a Week of Action is scheduled to take place in London from 10-14 June.  You can join tens of thousands in Hyde Park, London on 8 June for one unmissable event to demand action on world hunger. More information on:   www.oxfam.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/our-campaigns/if

Donald and Jean Macdonald 

The Queens Speech, a ‘Squandered Opportunity’.

Responding to the Queen’s Speech to Parliament, Caroline Lucas MP said that the Coalition Government had squandered a vital opportunity to put action to tackle climate change and the growing environmental crisis at the top of its legislative agenda.  ‘Listening to the Queen’s Speech today, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the climate crisis has simply gone away. In the face of mounting scientific concern about the urgency of the threat we face from climate change, the deafening silence from this Government is unforgivable.’

We know why there is no action.  This government is protecting the investment in the carbon sector made by those who keep it in power – read the article on the Carbon Bubble, posted here earlier this year.  This Government is incapable of showing leadership – that is not its purpose.  Its purpose is to dismantle the State and sell it off to the private sector.  It is using what it calls the ‘economic mess’ as the smoke screen to do this.  It will only address the climate crisis when its backers in the financial sector are ready to make money out of it.  By then it will be a very costly task for us all.

Others see things differently.  Writing in the Financial Times, Nicholas Stern called for a ‘Queen’s Speech for Growth’, looking to the renewable energy sector to kick-start the shrinking economy.  He said ‘Policies to encourage low-carbon investment would provide new business opportunities, would generate income for investors, and would have credibility in the long term, both because they address growing global resource challenges, while tapping into a fast-growing global market for resource-efficient activities.’

In 2010, the Green Party manifesto called for a ‘Green New Deal,’ borrowing US President Roosevelt’s concept for an economic plan to end the great 1930’s depression by investing in public works.  The Green’s fully costed economic strategy would have seen the deficit cut by 2015 through investment in the green economy, increasing employment, cutting energy costs and boosting tax revenue. Corporate media empires chose to ignore this alternative strategy since they wanted to promote privatization and protect their interests in the carbon sector.  They hood-winked the electorate into voting for a range of ‘conservative’ economic strategies that, as we warned – have led to a double dip recession and rising unemployment.

The Green programme set out clear targets to cut carbon emissions to avoid warming exceeding 2°C, we called for cuts to annual carbon dioxide emissions of 10% – starting now, with the aim of reducing emissions by 65% by 2020 and 90% from 1990 levels by 2030.  The key to doing this is to decarbonise the energy sector.  To achieve this we proposed:

  • Reducing energy demand through insulation and energy efficiency measures, creating new local businesses and thousands of jobs
  • Investing in genuinely renewable energy sources, aiming to obtain half of our energy from renewables by 2020, backing this with direct government investment with strong and clear policy support, creating genuine energy security, boosting business and employment
  • Switching the investment planned for new coal, nuclear power and nuclear weapons to research into renewable energy technologies and their commercialisation, creating a major export potential
  • Supporting renewable heat with a levy on waste heat from power stations, supporting sustainable energy crops and combined heat and power, helping councils develop heat distribution networks, boosting local employment and the rural economy
  • Supporting the adoption of bio-gas from sustainable organic sources, but opposing the large scale cultivation of bio-fuels, especially in poor countries
  • Bringing the electricity network and gas mains into the public sector to develop them to suit renewable energy schemes and introduce smart meters and appliances
  • Support Europe-wide renewable energy initiatives, including the building of highly efficient Long Distance High Voltage DC power lines.

In addition, Greens proposed a range of other policies to encourage low carbon living.

  • Develop public transport as an acceptable and reliable alternative to car travel.
  • Change planning guidelines to ensure that facilities are within reasonable walking distance of residential areas, cutting the need for travel
  • Support to small and local business, including local supply networks.
  • Decarbonise food production by supporting small-scale organic farms supplying local markets.

Had Greens been in government, we would now be creating jobs, boosting tax revenue and securing long-term energy supply.  These policies will have to be adopted as some time, in some form.  As Nicholas Stern understates in his Financial Times article, ‘there is a recognition that actions [on low carbon investment] cannot be delayed indefinitely’.  However, the longer action is delayed, the costlier it will be for all of us.  We are hearing may calls at present to ‘make the switch’ – to seek out cheaper energy suppliers.  If consumers are really serious about making long term savings on their bills there is only one switch that will be effective, the switch to Green policies.

Mike Shipley

 

Greens now the only political party fighting for free education

Green Party education policy states: “education is a right and an entitlement and should be free at the point of delivery to people of all ages”. Education does not just benefit the student; by developing skills and knowledge, it benefits society. It is reasonable that society should enable all its members to receive a good education. It is not reasonable to limit good education to those who can afford it. Education is an investment in the future. If that investment is limited, the future will be poorer. Making higher education once again a privilege for the affluent is socially divisive; it will also exclude many people from careers that require graduate training. Inequalities within society will increase which will affect everyone’s quality of life. This will be the outcome of the ConDem Governments policy on financing higher education.

Speaking after the House of Commons vote on tuition fees, Caroline Lucas said: “This is a dark day for the future of higher education in this country. The huge hikes in tuition fees, together with the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance and proposed cuts in college funding, amount to nothing less than a Government assault on our young people – and an attack on the principles of universal education. Many people may be priced out of going to university as a result of today’s vote – and those who do go are likely to be saddled with massive debt. This is unacceptable for a society which values social mobility and inclusiveness.”

There are alternative ways to fund education, including a more progressive taxation system.  For example, raising UK corporation tax to the G7 average would generate the funds needed to abolish tuition fees and still leave our main corporation tax below that of the USA.  A business education tax levied on the top 4% of UK companies, as proposed by the University and Colleges Union, would require business to pay its fair share for the substantial benefits it receives from higher education and would allow us to raise investment in our Universities to the average for a developed country.

The Conservative Party is aggressively pursuing a policy of privatization, aiming to disconnect Government at all levels, from the supply of services to the public. They have both health and education clearly in their sights and the Liberal Democrats are not opposing them. The withdrawal of funding to arts and social science courses, and the hike in fees is part of this policy. Our Universities are to be run as businesses, selling their product – education, at a profit. Courses offered will be those that run at a profit as required by their corporate sponsors and investors. Their customers will buy their product with the principle intention of getting a well-paid job.  Education will no longer be about developing the mind, or about intellectual challenge. Students will no longer experience the excitement of discovery, the joy of learning, the profound satisfaction of understanding new and challenging concepts. In the sterile learning factories of the ConDem world, they probably will not even be much interested in their fellow students beyond simple sensual gratification.

Greens believe that Higher Education is essential in developing a civilized society. Education is a process, not a product. It should be available to anyone who wants to study for a degree regardless of his or her age or background. Its purpose is to challenge ignorance and prejudice, to raise and answer questions and indeed if necessary, to challenge orthodoxy and authority. This will prevent the fossilization of society and the emergence of a new dark age.

Mike Shipley 14 December 2010

The Least Green Government Ever?

At a time when the effects of climate change are beginning to hit home around the globe, and even the US Government is beginning to acknowledge its seriousness, it is unfortunate to say the least that the British public has elected such a climate sceptic Parliament. This is what the corporate owned popular media intended when they focused public attention on the economic crisis which, they lead people to believe, was caused by the Labour Government’s wasteful social and welfare policies and not on the irresponsible behaviour of the financial institutions. Corporate finance and big business is not interested in climate change, it does not see enough profit in it, it thinks that it can weather the storm and come out of the crisis in total control of the planet, its governments, and its remaining assets.

David Cameron has tried to mask the climate scepticism of his party by labeling his government ‘the greenest ever.’ Empty words we might suspect. The early actions of this ‘greenest government’ show the influence of scepticism and denial.  On taking office, it abolished the Sustainable Development Commission, even though this body was able to save government more than it cost. The Environment Agency is at risk, the Environmental Transformation Fund, which supports the development of low carbon technologies, has had its budget cut by 22% to £120 million. The Low Carbon Building Programme, which provided grants for renewable energy instalations, has been scrapped. A pledge to incorporate pioneer installers of solar power into the new Feed In Tarrifs [FIT’s] has been dumped. Energy Minister Charles Hendry has even hinted that the FIT payments will be slashed.

Not looking so green, but here’s todays victory for the deniers. The idea of scrapping the Department of Energy and Climate Change [Decc] is now being floated as a ‘cost saving’ measure. Decc provides the strategic overview of the UK’s commitments to both Climate Change and to renewable energy policy, ensuring that our international obligations are met. Already Decc has had its modest budget of £3.2 billion cut by £85 million. The irony is that half of its funding, £1.7 billion, goes to the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, a subsidy to the nuclear industry of which Chris Hune, LD Minister incharge, must be unaware, since he proclaims that a new generation of nuclear power stations can be built without subsidy.

So, the fledgling dedicated Department charged with preparing and implementing our countries response to the biggest crisis the world has faced since the ice sheets started advancing, must get by on £1.5 billion per year; and its very existence together with the Carbon Trust and the Energy Saving Trust, is under threat.

In response to this threat, Caroline Lucas said, “nobody who undestands the urgency and seriousness of the climate crisis could even contemplate decimating the department that leads the effort to deal with it.”  John Sauven, head of Greenpeace described the proposal as “sheer insanity.”

Just to put this £1.5 billion budget for implementing energy and climate policy into context, total Government spending for 2010 will be £661 billion. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is planning to write off £1.5 billion of tax revenue owed over the last 2 years. Reward the tax evaders, penalise the planet.

Gives some idea of the priorities of this ‘greenest government ever.’