Imagine Free Education
Quick Quotes: Alice Mason-Power – Candidate for Derby North Constituency
“I am currently working towards Qualified Teacher Status as I believe every student is entitled to an expert, qualified teacher in every subject in every school. The growth of Private School style Academies, allowed to run for profit and employ unqualified teachers must be reversed.”
Matt Genn – Candidate for Chesterfield Constituency
Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015
I am immensely honoured to be the Green Party candidate for my home town of Chesterfield having grown up here for most of my life. I feel proud of the fact that I can offer the people of Chesterfield the option of voting Green in May 2015.
For me, the Green Party is the only political party that is actively advocating both environmental sustainability and social fairness and equality. I hope in being the Green Party candidate I can represent and espouse these ideals.
I see the role of the Green Party candidate being primarily to listen and help to act upon the concerns of local people in Chesterfield. I am also presenting voters with a credible alternative to the three main “business as usual” Westminster parties and UKIP.
With the surge in both the Green Party’s membership and polling figures in recent months, I feel that it is becoming increasingly possible to deliver on people’s desire for change.
In particular, I want to campaign against the Coalition’s austerity agenda and the creeping privatisation of the NHS.
In addition I would be a champion for young people, who often end up being disenfranchised by our current political system. I want to give the young people of Chesterfield a voice; a voice in which they can believe. I will endeavour to work hard to represent them and their needs.
I have long had an interest in the environment and nature. From helping out on my parent’s allotment to studying about climate change at university, it has always been a passion of mine. With a university background in the environment and having recently started working as an environmental consultant, I want to use my skills to bring about a positive change.
Through the Green Party, I believe this is possible. So I am willing to roll up my sleeves and be the best Green representative that I can for the people of Chesterfield.
I’ve lived in Chesterfield for almost 13 years and this town is home to me. I was lucky enough to be raised and go to school here, so I have family and friends in the town and know the local area.
I believe Chesterfield is one of the best places to live in the UK and I see the role of a councillor as being someone who maintains this by listening to local people, taking action on their behalf and making a positive difference to people’s lives and the town. In particular I would fight against cuts to our frontline services and work to protect those who are vulnerable and needy. I would campaign for safer streets, better facilities for children, and more visible policing. Above all I pledge to listen to residents and take action to address their concerns.
I am proud to be a member of and to stand as a candidate for a political party I can believe in. The Green Party is different – we have strong principles and ethics and we believe in listening to the people we represent and taking action to help. Support for the Green Party is growing and 3 councillors have been elected locally 1 to Bolsover District Council, and 2 to Sheffield City Council. In total the Green Party has 135 councillors on 46 councils across England and Wales.
I have always had an interest and passion for protecting our natural world. Living on the edge of the Peak District, I’ve grown up to be a keen hiker and I regularly go for long walks in the Peaks with my partner, Tom, and my dog. I also enjoy swimming and horse riding. After university I went into the charity sector working for environmental, overseas development, child welfare and cancer care charities, which has given me real insight into some of the difficult issues people face and the support that is needed. I’ve worked in the charity sector now for 11 years and it’s hugely satisfying. I believe that representing the residents of St Helen’s ward as a Green Party Councillor will be even more so.
It is certainly disturbing to log on to the Derbyshire Green Party channel on YouTube and find the British National Party among its subscribers, for our party and the BNP have absolutely nothing in common. Quite apart from the fact that the BNP’s position on man-made global warming is that it does not exist, it is a racist party which attracts violent hooligans and sees its remit as stirring up ethnic conflict. The Green Party, needless to say, is not and does not.
In Chesterfield the BNP has no presence. It has never put up a candidate in a General Election and the tiny handful it has put forward in local elections have always been trounced at the ballot box. Unfortunately, however, the extremist BNP is not the only party to attract xenophobes, nor to seek to do so, as we shall see.
The British establishment has a long and ignoble history on this subject and continues to set a shameful example. Wikileaks has revealed that the Foreign Office’s director of overseas territories in 2009 referred to the dispossessed Chagos Islanders as “Man Fridays” in his conversation with his American counterparts while the head of state’s consort has referred publicly to the “slitty eyes” of Oriental people and asked Aborigines in Australia whether they still throw spears. I suppose that off-the-cuff stereotyping and casual racism are the stuff of upper-class japes though, so maybe we should look at a few more disturbing examples:
It was Peter Griffiths, the Conservative Party candidate in the Smethwick constituency on 1964, who became infamous for fighting and winning the seat using the slogan “If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour.” When, in his maiden speech as Prime Minister, Harold Wilson described new MP Griffiths as a leper, 50 Tory MPs walked out in protest at what they saw as an insult to their colleague. Peter Griffiths lost the seat in a by-election 2 years later but was welcomed as a candidate in Portsmouth and was a Tory MP again from 1979 to 1997 notwithstanding his appalling history.
Individual Conservatives MPs and parliamentary candidates regularly step out of line, apparently failing to comprehend that racist jokes are no longer acceptable or that to refer to Rhodesia’s Ian Smith as a hero might be offensive to non-white people. Recently the Lib Dems’ Jeremy Browne, foreign minister in the coalition government, showed that he at least has gone native since joining up with the Tories by going on BBC Question Time and referring to the French riding bikes and wearing onions round their necks. Before the General Election the Liberal Democrats pledged to end the incarceration of children in immigration service detention centres but presumably this is just another promise they would not have made had they known they would be in government, because kids are still locked up in dreadful places like Yarl’s Wood seven months later.
While the Tories have always provided a natural home for those with right wing views, more recently Labour has been courting the same constituency with some determination. Peter Mandelson was quoted, after this year’s General Election, saying that Labour were defeated because they had failed to engage with the white working class, as if there could be no other logical reason why the electorate should have spurned the Party that gave us the war in Iraq, ID cards and abolition of the 10% tax rate while allowing an unregulated financial sector to cost us billions in bail-out money. You might think that having been MP for Hartlepool Lord Mandelson might have more insight into working class people than to categorise them as racist bigots and thickos, but one man who certainly put Mandelson’s thoughts into practice was Phil Woolas. His campaign of lies against his main rival has led to his making history, seeing his win overturned and a by-election ordered – so grave were his accusations that the Liberal Democrat candidate was a supporter of Muslim extremists. Of course, Phil Woolas’s tactics were bare-facedly an attempt to woo Oldham East and Saddleworth’s racist voters; this in a town where the race riots of 2001 are still fresh in the memory. “If we don’t get the white vote angry, he’s gone” was the advice of Woolas’s agent after canvassing voters, and there followed a torrent of rubbish through the letter boxes of Eastern Oldham including made-up tales of death threats and a fake picture of his opponent being arrested. Phil Woolas has not gone quietly into the political wilderness and still proclaims to have done nothing wrong.
Before Woolas was cast out of parliament, new Labour leader Ed Miliband appointed him Shadow Immigration Minister. A Tory opponent described this appointment as representing an appalling lack of judgment on Ed Miliband’s behalf, and on this occasion I think I agree. A nicer example of a leader putting a metaphorical fox in charge of a chicken shed would be hard to imagine.
In Barking, joy at the drubbing dished out by the voters of Barking to BNP Nick Griffin was only slightly tempered, but tempered none the less, by the fact that his conqueror, Margaret Hodge, has shown herself not averse to appealing to prejudice as potential vote-winner. Her quote in 2008 that 80% of her white-skinned constituents were thinking of voting BNP because “no-one else is listening to them” was part of a clear attempt to create tension by implying, wrongly, that people from non-white backgrounds were being given priority in services and housing. The effect of the remarks was, as she must surely have been expecting and therefore presumably thought worth doing anyway, that the BNP gained both additional respectability and much useful publicity in the area.
So what of the Green Party? We don’t have an open-door immigration policy but we do have one based on compassion and we certainly do not seek to represent those who would like to foment racial tension. We will not be subscribing to the BNP’s YouTube channel! Having grown up and gone to school in a Northern town my fellow candidate Sarah and I have a more balanced view of working class people than Peter Mandelson and we are not expecting people, on their doorsteps, to make race or immigration an issue. There are far more pressing concerns in Holmebrook Ward, notably security of tenure and the area’s relatively high dependency on means-tested benefits, which are due to fall in real terms next year, making the poor even poorer and low paid workers even worse off than they are now in terms of being able to care for their homes and their families. We believe that, regardless of what Peter Mandelson or the proprietors of The Sun, The Mail and the Daily Express may believe, working class people, of whatever colour, are not bigots or thickos, and unlike Peter Griffiths in 1964 and Phil Woolas in 2010 we shall not be peering into the gutter when searching for votes.
Candidate: Holmebrook Ward
Tranport policy is a fundamental failure of this and previous governments. We need a carefully planned and boldly implemented transport system if we are to build a future to cope with climate change. Until the recession, CO2 emissions from transport had been rising inexorably. In the long term, only good public transport can reduce emissions.
Nationally, trains have been neglected for many years. Most money goes to London and the South East, now under the guise of catering for the Olympics – a party that will last for 3 weeks! You only have to compare with European continental trains to see how far behind we have fallen in this country. Important in an election? Yes to Greens. Trains (and trams) powered by renewable electricity will have to be the main source of long distance transport to reduce climate change and to overcome the lack and high price of oil supplies.
Nationally, one of the longest intercity train services is between Liverpool and Norwich, via Sheffield, Chesterfield and sometimes Long Eaton and Alfreton. Many of the trains are two coaches only. These have been overcrowded for years between Manchester and Nottingham. We were promised at a meeting in Chesterfield in March that the trains would be expanded to 4 coaches in May. We later heard they were talking about May 2012!
Derbyshire County Council (DCC) have been lamentable on this issue. The reopening of the Matlock to Buxton line was a “key” element in their Local Transport Plan 1 in 2000. They contracted Scott Wilson to produce a feasibility study which stated that it would be relatively easy to reopen the line as most infrastructure was still in place. DCC (then Labour) got cold feet and refused to proceed with it. The Multi-Modal study on the East Midlands section of the M1 recommended that the East-West rails lines, some intact, should be reopened to passenger traffic. This report was supported by DCC and Chesterfield Borough Council (CBC). Virtually nothing has been done to implement this recommendation. It was DCC that cut off Chesterfield Town Center from the rail station by building the so-called “bypass” between the two. There are no bus services of any use to the station, and only a few per day to Bolsover. DCC refuse to support anything to provide such a service.
In general DCC has been very supportive of bus services, and their support of Community transport has also been excellent. Unfortunately their information systems are awful. Take the journey by bus from Chesterfield to Wirksworth for example: we assume there must be reasonable services, but they do not give details in their timetable booklet that we all have to pay for. Information at bus stops is either non-existent or poor quality. Our case is that, for a little more money, good information could persuade more people to use buses, thus reducing the necessity for so much subsidy. The bus companies are equally guilty here, but they are let off the hook by bad management at DCC. The bus companies tell us that it is DCC’s job and not theirs to provide bus information, while DCC tell us the opposite! Nothing gets done except one playing off against the other. As the licensor and contract provider DCC should be in the driving seat.