Record number of Green candidates for 2016 Derby City Council election

Marten KatsFor the 2016 Derby City Council election, The Green Party will have a record number of candidates. There will be 8 candidates across the city, a big improvement from the 3 in 2015 when we stood in Darley, Mackworth and Boulton. We will again stand in these wards, but we will now also stand in Arboretum, Derwent, Abbey, Sinfin and Normanton. Campaigning has already started in Darley in January and we have good hopes to get our first Councillor elected to Derby City Council!

One Green Councillor can make a big difference in Derby. We can scrutinise the actions of the Council and ask critical questions. We do realise that Derby City Council is in a difficult position with the government cuts being unfairly harsh on Derby. However, we do believe that the current Labour administration is not getting their priorities right. They have refused to look into alternative ways to keep Moorways swimming pool and the Citizens Advice Bureau open. Both will now close, even though there are other ways to save money. Derby can cut the number of Councillors and their allowances, work with outside partners to finance them or look into other ways to raise funds, many councils in the Midlands have raised funds in inventive ways. Nottingham has for example set up their own energy company which raises important funds for the city. In Stoke-on-Trent council buildings have been sold for £ 1 under the condition that the new owner would turn them into housing (with loans available if needed) and not sell them on within 10 years. This has revitalised the city centre there. The Green Party in Derby has previously advocated looking into the possibility of apply this policy to Derby.

In Derby City Council, both Labour and the Conservatives play a lot of party politics, targeting each other. We would not play party politics. We would support the current administration where we agree with them, we would support the cross-party “fair deal for Derby” campaign, which is also supported by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and UKIP. We would work with any party when there are issues that we agree on, but we will keep our own profile and challenge the council when needed.

We believe we can get our first Councillor, however we can’t do it without help. If you are able to, please donate to our campaign via http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/electing-a-green-councilor-for-derby. If you are able to help with delivering leaflets or canvassing, please contact Marten Kats, candidate for Darley ward and chair of the Derbyshire Green Party on marten.kats@greenparty.org.uk. If you live in any of the wards where we will have a candidate, please consider putting up a “Vote Green Party” poster or sign. To get these (for free), please send an email to Marten.

Marten Kats
Chair Derby City Greens

Climate Change Summit – Paris 2015

Paris 2015: A Place for Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q & A session:

Investment in Renewable Energy

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

Fracking

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

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

Donald and Jean Macdonald
Derbyshire Green Party

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

Stand up for climate justice

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 about health and services such as adult day care center in Marietta and of course 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.

PUBLIC MEETING – Fracking in Derbyshire

Organised by Derby Climate Coalition with support from Derby 38 Degrees.

Monday, 21 September 2015
at 7:00 PM
St Peters Church,
Saint Peter’s Churchyard, Derby

Fracking in DerbyWe will discuss
• The economic and environmental consequences of fracking
• The actual plans
• What can we do.

 

Speakers include Brian Davey, Nigel Lee and Chris Williamson.

Members from a number of other organisations are coming. Tea and coffee available. Please come along if you can.

Book a place by using this link: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/events/stop-fracking-in-derbyshire

Background

This government seems hell-bent on promoting fracking for shale gas in Derbyshire.

Fracking map DerbyshireOn August 18th the government announced it would hand out a fresh round of licences giving exclusive rights for gas and other fuel exploration in 27 areas across the country. Two of the 10km by 10km squares of land affected are in Derbyshire. The licence for land between Derby and Long Eaton will go to Warwick Energy. That company has said test drilling could start in 2019. The affected area runs across the East Midlands, as shown below:

The other area includes parts of Amber Valley, such as the countryside around Ironville, Riddings and Somercotes and the licence will be held by Ineos. It is somewhere in that square where the firm says test-drilling could start in 2016 or 2017 with the possibility of “early stages of producing commercial gas by the end of the decade”.

Green Party members are invited to attend. 

Derbyshire Greens Critical of Delays to Rail Electrification

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

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

Derbyshire Dales Green Party election candidate Ian Wood said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nationalise railways

Sue steals the Duffield hustings!

SONY DSC

Sue MacFarlane, nearest the camera, a Green Party candidate from Belper gave a very credible showing at Monday’s Mid Derbyshire Hustings at Ecclesbourne School in Duffield, hosted by The Duffield Christian Council.

In front of a very full and lively audience, Sue, who is the prospective parliamentary candidate for Mid Derbyshire, made a lot of new friends as she debated issues ranging from farming to the NHS, and housing to defence. Sue gave direct examples of how the Green Party manifesto addresses the issues people are concerned about, and spoke with passion and authority on what were clearly hot topics for the locals attending – and in some cases for the country as a whole.

The Green Party’s membership ranks continue to swell and earlier this month hit 60,000 nationally, a growth of over 300% in less than seven months, overtaking both the Lib Dem and UKIP memberships in the process.

Climate Change – Urgent Action Required

Message from the Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you,

Natalie Bennett
Leader, Green Party of England and Wales

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

Candidates join in April Fool’s Day Railway Actions

Return the Railways to the Public

Alice David and KimThree of our members, Alice Mason-Power, David Foster and Kim Collis joined others from Derby People’s Assembly and Derby Climate Coalition leafleting at Derby Railway Station to make links with the issue of cuts, privatizations and our railways.

There were nearly 100 such actions up and down the country on March the 31st and April the 1st, loosely organised under the Action for Rail umbrella.

Alice Mason Power with imprintAlice Mason-Power is standing in Derby North Constituency and is also standing in the Local Election in Darley Ward.

David Foster is standing in Derby South Constituency and is also standing in the Local Election in Boulton Ward.

David with imprint

The Green Party would aim to re-nationalise the railways and work to produce an integrated, affordable and sustainable public transport system.

Marten Kats – Mackworth Ward – Green Party Candidate

Marten Kats – Local Election Candidate for Mackworth writes:

Marten Kats with imprintOn 7th May there isn’t just the General Election. In Derby there are local elections as well. Regardless of who you vote for in the General Election, please consider voting Green locally. One Green councillor can make a big difference in Derby.

I live locally and feel passionately about the area where I live. The reason why I am standing is that I think this city needs a Green councillor.

Having at least one Green councillor can make a big difference. We can get our voice heard in the council, stand up against recycling cuts like the brown bin tax and the removal of blue bins, while fighting the Sinfin incinerator that will cause health problems to local people. We will fight for our green spaces and tackle housing issues, partly by making better use of empty buildings.

If I get elected, I would address local issues in Mackworth, engage with local people and be a voice for them. Mackworth needs a safe crossing for children to Markeaton Park, a place to hang out for teenagers, measures against anti-social behaviour, better public transport, activities for elderly and more attention to traffic and parking problems.

Vote Green on 7th May for a different voice on Derby City Council.

Imagine Free Education

Imagine Free Education

Vote for What you Believe In Quality Education, no tuition fees

Quick Quotes: Alice Mason-Power – Candidate for Derby North Constituency

Alice Mason Power“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

Matthew Genn“In addition to being 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.”

Green Party candidate contact details

Imagine a Public NHS

Imagine a Public NHS 

Vote for What you Believe In

Take the Profit Motive out of Health Care

GPLogoStrapGreenForWeb Quick Quote from Ralph Hierons – Candidate in Erewash Constituency

Ralph Hierons “There are many disparate, disaffected groups of potential Green voters in the UK, who may be unaware that there is a party that shares their ideals: those campaigning against TTIP who do not know we are the only party that are totally opposed to it; those fighting to save our NHS who are unaware of our policies regarding a fully funded, free at point of service, un-privatised NHS; those who do not want the land under our homes stolen, and poisoned, who need to be made aware that we are the only party who are totally against fracking. “

Green Party candidate contact details

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

Green Party Meeting in Derby

Thursday 19th February

800px-Green_Party_protestors_2011

If you want to find out more about the Green Party in Derby come along to the Brunswick Inn this Thursday 19 February and meet other members and supporters.

What are the major local issues for Derby City that Greens should be campaigning on?  Bring along your ideas and opinions

Time: 6.30 pm
Venue: Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby, DE1 2RU (near Railway Station)
Contact: Phillip Hood – philiphood51@talktalk.net

 

TTIP – the Battle between Big Business and Democracy

TTIP_banner_cropped560with_text2TTIP isn’t a deal for citizens, small farmers, consumers, workers or small business. It’s about pushing a ‘big business’ agenda.

At a meeting in Derby on Wednesday 8th January, 2015 we heard a very clear presentation on the implications for us if TTIP becomes law. The meeting was organised by Derby Peoples Assembly and Derby Trades Union Council. The speaker was John Hilary, Director of War on Want. John explained he has worked for the past 20 years in the international development and human rights sector.

John said that although TTIP is being promoted as a way of getting out of recession and recovering from the financial crisis of 2008, the ideas actually started back in 1990 with the Trans-Atlantic Business Diologue when big executives got together to sweep away barriers that stopped their profits. He also said that ‘Austerity’ was not a recent policy but was part of a long term engineering programme.

The intention to launch TTIP negotiations was first announced by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address in February 2013, and the first round of negotiations took place between European Commission and US officials in July of the same year. The aim is to rush through the talks as swiftly as possible with no details entering the public domain, in the hope that they can be concluded before the peoples of Europe and the USA find out the true scale of the TTIP threat. It was hoped to finish plans by this year, 2015, as next year the US Presidential Elections take place so America won’t be able to deal with negotiations in election year.

TTIP is being negotiated ‘on our behalf’ by unelected European officials. Even our MP’s don’t know – and aren’t allowed to know – what’s being negotiated away.

It will cost at least one million jobs. It will pave the way for the introduction of genetically modified food into Europe. It will irreversibly extend the privatisation of key public services such as the NHS and it will give US corporations the power to sue the UK and other states for loss of profits when these governments introduce public policies designed to protect their citizens.

It is based on three pillars:
• De-regulation
• Privatisation
• Power to sue host governments – Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)

De-regulation – John explained that TTIP is not a traditional trade agreement designed to reduce tariffs between economic partners. Tariffs between the EU and US are already at minimal levels. The stated aim of TTIP is to remove regulatory barriers which restrict the profits to be made by transnational corporations on both sides of the Atlantic.

The worry is that these ‘barriers’ are in reality some of our most prized social standards and environmental regulations such as labour rights, food safety rules (including restrictions of GM food), regulations on the use of toxic chemicals, digital privacy laws and even new banking safeguards introduced to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

John explained that the EU works on a ‘precautionary principle’ – the onus is on the corporation to prove a chemical is safe or it will be banned. In America it is different. There, the onus is on the government to prove something is unsafe before it can be banned. To highlight this difference, in the cosmetics industry there are 1300 banned substances in the EU. In America only 12 substances are banned.

If TTIP is adopted, then the EU would be forced to lower its standards in food safety to the US level.
• In America you can’t chose what food you eat. 90% of beef in America contains growth hormones and 70% of processed food contains genetically modified ingredients.
• Environmental regulations would be harmonised and reduced to US levels allowing a US-style fracking boom in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Privatisation – There is grave concern at the recent confirmation that health services, education, postal services and sewerage services are all included in the TTIP negotiations, with only audio-visual services (at the insistence of the French government) excluded. TTIP will open up our public services and government contracts to competition from multinational corporations and would make privatisation of the NHS irreversible in the future. (See below for information about a meeting organised by NHS Campaign Groups in February)

Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) – TTIP would enable huge multinational corporations to sue governments for loss of profits resulting from public policy decisions. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections.

This is already happening in relation to existing treaties. For example:
• Swedish energy company, Vattenfall, is suing the German government for 3.7 billion Euros over the country’s decision to phase out nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
• The French company, Veolia, is suing the Egyptian government for loss of profit as a result of the country’s decision to raise the minimum wage.

Good News – The good news is that there has been huge uproar about these plans. Thanks to massive people-powered campaigns across Europe, the European Commission was forced to suspend negotiations on ISDS at the beginning of 2014 and conduct a public consultation. A record 150,000 people took part in the consultation – including War on Want supporters and Green Party members – and the overwhelming answer was ‘no’, we don’t want companies to be handed these destructive powers. Fifty groups in Britain have signed up to the NoTTIP coalition – including all the largest trade unions, social justice groups, environmental campaigners and of course, the Green Party.

Bad News – Unfortunately, despite this, the European Commission has confirmed its intention to press forward regardless and to use TTIP to introduce the controversial new powers and the British government is hell bent on getting TTIP agreed. David Cameron calls the deal a “once in a generation” opportunity which will create ‘growth and jobs’.

What we can do? – At the heart of it, TTIP will lead to a shift in the values upon which our society is based. The movement against TTIP is growing, but for it to succeed all the groups in society who are threatened by this corporate power grab need to be mobilised. Some suggestions:

Attend a meeting “TTIP and the attack on the NHS” – Tuesday 17 February 7.30pm in St Peter’s Church Hall, St Peter’s Street, Derby. Organised by NHS Campaign groups, supported by People’s Assembly. Will TTIP mean the wholesale privatisation of the NHS? John Hilary, Director of War On Want, will be speaking again along with an NHS Speaker.

Local Councils – A city council in the German town of Erkrath unanimously declared its opposition to TTIP. This follows the initiative by hundreds of French municipalities to declare themselves TTIP-free zones. It was suggested at the meeting that we might press for Derby City Council to declare themselves a TTIP-free zone.

May 7 Election – Push TTIP up the agenda by contacting candidates, sharing our concerns and asking them where they stand.

European Parliament – contact MEPs – John suggested that many MEPs are not fully aware of all the implications.

Small Businesses – contact the Small Business Federation to find out their views and get them involved.

Young People – The effects on the lives of the young and underprivileged could be phenomenal. Mass youth resistance is needed.

We need to keep building the movement against TTIP because we can win.

Jean Macdonald  
Green Party Activist

Links:

http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/trade-justice/ttip – sign the European Citizen’s Initiative against TTIP and CETA

http://www.waronwant.org/news/latest-news/18256-ttip-the-fight-is-on-for-2015 video of John speaking short presentation at seminar in Stockholm

http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/trade-justice/more/inform/18196-ttip-will-cost-one-million-jobs-official download the TTPI myth buster

http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/trade-justice/more/inform/18078-what-is-ttip download a booklet written by John Hilary

http://www.nottip.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/TTIP-Newspaper-Issue-02-04.pdf read a copy of The #noTTIP Times, October 2014

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

Mid Derbyshire's Green Christmas event a big success!

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On Saturday, 29th November, Mid Derbyshire Green Party hosted their first ‘Green Christmas’.  The event was visited by over 200 hundred people, with lots of interest in learning more about the Greens.

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There were craft stalls selling sustainably sourced products, and a raffle including such varied prizes as a reflexology session, original artwork, and handmade crafts.  Reminisence Vintage provided tea, cake and mulled wine, and live music was provided by local Green Party candidates, members and supporters.  It was a fabulous day, and a great start to the Festive Season!

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More photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152858877664522.1073741826.201453709521&type=1

Mid Derbyshire’s Green Christmas event a big success!

SONY DSC

On Saturday, 29th November, Mid Derbyshire Green Party hosted their first ‘Green Christmas’.  The event was visited by over 200 hundred people, with lots of interest in learning more about the Greens.

SONY DSC

There were craft stalls selling sustainably sourced products, and a raffle including such varied prizes as a reflexology session, original artwork, and handmade crafts.  Reminisence Vintage provided tea, cake and mulled wine, and live music was provided by local Green Party candidates, members and supporters.  It was a fabulous day, and a great start to the Festive Season!

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More photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152858877664522.1073741826.201453709521&type=1