Tag Archives: Economy

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

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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

A Message to our Leaders, from Andy White, Derbyshire

Andy WhiteIt is argued that the middle ground of English politics has been captured by what is effectively a centre right Tory Party, and Labour has lost what was once it’s core support of ‘The Working Class’. Indeed, those on the right argue that there is no such thing as the working class, and that demographic now identifies itself as ‘Middle Class’.

The dispossessed and less fortunate, those with little or no income are portrayed as an inconvenience by the policy makers, who constantly tell us that money has to be saved on welfare – there is no alternative – conveniently forgetting the real lives that are affected by market capitalism and the chase for constant growth. No place for compassion here.

Over the years since 1979 politics has changed from being representative of, and controlled by the people, to just being controlled by big business, with the masses kept in their place by a constant stream of propaganda that reassures them and carefully defines them as ‘hard working and doing the right thing’, because if you don’t, the wrath of the system will surely grind you down. The subliminal message is ‘do as you’re told or else’ …. With the ‘or else’ being the constant fear of a life in poverty, or being targeted as a scrounger, or not being able to find money to keep up. Sound familiar? True Victorian values are returning, we even have people working for nothing on penalty of losing welfare support…..a disgrace in 21st century Britain!

Such is the power of these messages that few actually question anymore! To do so suggests that you are a doubter, that you don’t believe in the good that is being done in your name, that you are an outsider, a radical and not ‘one of us ’. You’re not doing the right thing!

This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. We see daily on a global scale the damage done to our planet in the name of change and so called progress. The Green Party have a huge responsibility to educate our potential core support. That support, in a large part, is disaffected Labour and Liberal voters (and even some Tories), who are currently looking for the right alternative. They know the Tory way is wrong, but are unsure what the real alternative is. We need to construct a discourse that is legitimised by sustainability, and we need to get that message across at every opportunity. The 67% that didn’t vote Tory are a big audience waiting to hear the things that will give them stability, and that will ensure they can live life with all the comfort and support required in a civilised society.

Our priority messages should be simple and focus around security – of income (sustainable jobs, proper welfare), housing, transport and public services, – and sustainability of the planet, of the natural world, of our food and water supply. Our message needs now to be that only our policies can build that secure and sustainable world without fear, based on civility, human rights and a respect of all of life.

We need to begin that task now, and I would like the message to come from our leadership fairly quickly. Time is not on our side.

First published on 25 May, 2015 on East Midlands Green Party Blog

Just a reminder: ‘Austerity Hasn’t Worked and it Won’t Work!’

Andy White, Local Candidate in Ashbourne, Derbyshire Dales says:

Andy WhiteAusterity is framed as being the saviour of our economy. We’re all in it together is the mantra! We all have to make sacrifices. This, of course, is obvious nonsense and it is proved so by the cynical promises the parties are making now to win votes.

Millions…. no – billions, have suddenly become available to inject into all sorts of areas, now that there is an election to win. So was the need for austerity a lie?

Austerity, in fact, is a word that is calculated to evoke the concept of hard times. Once you as taxpayers accept that the country is deeply in debt and the ONLY way to get out of it is by ‘Austerity’ quite naturally a patriotic reaction kicks in and you will gladly make your contribution to ‘balance the books’.

This Government’s so called ‘long term plan’ relies on you believing that you have to make this contribution, whilst they quite happily give tax breaks to millionaires. It is all a con …. to cover up the real culprits of a huge fiddle that not only cost this country billions, but cost the western world dearly too.

Bankers and speculators, in their rush for ‘growth’ gambled and lost and we, the general population are expected to pay. The Greens will change that and recoup money for major investments from those that caused the alleged ‘crisis’. It is time for change, it’s time that society worked for the many, and it’s time that those who have the most actually contribute the most.

Only the Green Party will do that. The other 3 all believe in MORE AUSTERITY – £30 billion of public sector cuts after the election is won.

But it hasn’t worked up to now, our national debt is increasing by the minute (almost £1.5 TRILLION) – and it won’t work in the future.

Don’t believe the lie about the need for Austerity; vote in this election for the Common Good. Vote Green

Originally blogged on East Midlands Green Party blog April 23, 2015

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 a Fair Economy

Imagine a Fair Economy

Vote for What you Believe In
One that Works for All

Quick Quotes:     

Charlotte Farrell – Candidate for High Peak Constituency?????????????????????????????
“I believe that there needs to be a fundamental change to our present economic and political system to combat the inevitable global destruction which we otherwise seem to be heading towards. I believe in providing a fairer and more equal society which is not at the expense of the environment. “

Ian Wood – Candidate for Derbyshire Dales ConstituencyIan Wood
“I believe there is in the end no alternative to a steady state economy as the basis of a sustainable economic system. It follows that I support Green policies for energy generation, planning and transport, and those which promote income equality, the integration of nations and peoples, and, ultimately, peace; all things that are consistent with the abandonment of growth as the central objective of economic policy.”

Marianne Bamkin – Candidate for South Derbyshire ConstituencyMariane Bamkin
“I believe that the economic theories being used to promote the concept of ‘Austerity’ are flawed and not well thought through, leading to a greater social divide between the rich and the common man.”

Green Party candidate contact details

Growth – The Elephant in the Room

Charlotte Farrell, Parliamentary Candidate for High Peak and candidate for Hope Valley in the Local Elections says…

?????????????????????????????To date I’ve attended five hustings, and at each the questions about the economy and austerity come up. The other 4 parties all talk about the need for growth to get us out of austerity. They say that with better economic growth the country will once again be able to start spending and austerity will come to an end. Every time, I make the point that we cannot have infinite growth in a finite world and that we need to rethink our whole economic plan. However, it feels as if my words fall into a void and nobody quite hears them.

I am never picked up on what I say, though I would dearly like to expound on why continued growth is bad; it’s as if there is a conspiracy not to validate mine or the Green Party’s position generally by asking the serious questions that arise from it.

Of course this may be the truth. It seems so blindingly obvious that we cannot continue to grow in the manner we are doing. Whereby the world’s population (and by that I mean the population of the wealthiest countries) continues to use more each year in terms of raw materials than the planet can replace in that time, and to throw out more waste, atmospheric and real, than the planet can deal with in the same time frame.

It seems that the other parties have no answer for this conundrum; but rather than admit it (or better still work towards finding an answer) they choose to ignore it altogether. Ostrich like, they cover their ears in the hope it will go away.

I am not denying that all of the parties recognise some need to avert climate change (except UKIP who seemingly do not believe in it); and that even under the coalition there has been some increase in renewable energy consumption, but until they address the fundamental issue of growth, their attempts will not be enough to avert global economic, environmental and social disaster.

I have always struggled with maths and so never bothered with economics. I thought it was just something for those much more intelligent than I, but now I realise that most politicians also don’t understand economics. What they do is support the existing system, either because they’re devoid of ideas for anything better, or to protect their own vested interests.

Under the present system we have to keep growing. That is because if we base our economy on debt, as is the case (97% of all “money” in circulation was originally created by the high street banks as debt); to create sufficient to pay it back (not to mention the interest) we have to produce more. And so it fuels a vicious circle.

Of course it’s difficult and unpopular to challenge the status quo and that is the reason the Green Party is constantly derided by the media, but sooner or later politicians are going to have to face up to the ‘elephant in the room’ – the question of infinite growth in a finite world.

If we’re going to exist within the limits of what our one planet can give us then one of the first things we need to accept is that there needs to be a redistribution of wealth. If we don’t have growth, then that which we have has to be shared a lot more equally than it currently is, both globally and nationally.

Again, our debt-based monetary system predicates against this. In a debt based economy the poor acquire more debt simply to live, while the rich, who do not need to borrow, acquire the benefit through tangible assets such as property, stocks and shares and the other trappings of privilege.

I believe that it will be hard to reach the kind of steady state economy we need while wedded to the old monetary system. How can something as fundamental as the creation of money, be left in the hands of those who profit most from its production? The banking system has failed us, but rather than think about a better way, we simply tinker at the edges and let it continue largely unmolested.

The Green Party wants to see money creation removed from the banks and given back to state control. This in fact used to be the case until computers did away with the need for there always to be a tangible real bit of money on the other side of the debt. Under the Green Party’s plans the National Monetary Authority would control the production of money, issuing it as and when needed straight into the real economy. It would be used (amongst other things) to build houses, schools, hospitals and railways etc and as these were built the money would filter down through the workers’ pay into the local economy.

I admit its difficult looking at things from the present position to see how we would get to that state or how we would achieve this; but that in itself is no reason not to work towards finding a way.

The destruction of the planet and our economic system go hand in hand. We desperately need to change both before its too late. If nothing else, I hope that with Green Party candidates standing in 90% of parliamentary seats this message gets across loud and clear, so long as it does, I won’t mind how often the media chose to mock us because ultimately I believe we will be heard.

Green Party candidate contact details

Green Party Manifesto

Mike ShipleyMike Shipley writes:

The Green Party has launched its manifesto today, [14th April]. At the launch Natalie Bennett said “This manifesto presents the Green Party’s genuine alternative to our tired, business-as-usual politics. We desperately need a more equal society and the policies we announce today pave the way towards a brighter, fairer future for all.”

This is a long document, featuring policies relating to the economy, our society and our shared environment. It is also costed to show that it is possible to implement policies that will improve everyone’s lives and help stabilise the economy without the need for austerity.

Like most elections, this in 2015 is dominated again by arguments over the economy. No one can deny the importance of economic policy, but in a General Election that will vote in a Government for 5 years, we should be asking other, more profound questions. We should ask about priorities and about what sort of society our politicians are wanting to create with the power we will give them.

The Conservative Party is focused on money, it wants a society in which those who have it can keep as much of it as possible and do with it as they please. Labour seems now to be content with simply shadowing the Tories, accepting their economic strategy and hoping to be able to put a bit more of a human face on to it. Their real focus is power – vision has deserted them.

By comparison the Green manifesto sets out a clear vision of what we can build through our policies:
Print• a human scale economy that works for people and doesn’t damage our planet
• public services that deliver what people need
• a society that cares for the future of the young and the welfare of the vulnerable
• a more equal society that accepts diversity and offers opportunity regardless of background, governed honestly by elected representatives dedicated to the common good.

None of this is wishful thinking, neither is any of it unaffordable. What is wishful thinking is the idea that we can go on trying to solve through ‘growth’ the endlessly recurring crises that the economic strategies of the post war period have created. Perpetual growth in the economy is not possible; forever increasing the rate of consumption of natural resources is not possible, any economic strategy based on either or both will fail. Chancellors may engineer a temporary upturn of the indexes that they control in order to win an election, but in the long term the “growth and consume” economic plan dooms us all to failure.

The Green manifesto catalogues the failure of successive governments to which our present leaders seem to be blind. More than one in four children growing up in poverty, nearly one million people reliant on food banks, growing levels of inequality that sees the wealth of the richest 1% greater than the poorest 55% of fellow citizens, and the spiralling growth of debt that will see more that 2 million households paying half of their disposable income paying off loans by 2018.

For many, these grim realities do not add up to the success story that the Coalition Government is trying to claim in its bid to hold on to power. They spell out failure, and what the other manifestos are offering is very slightly different versions of this failure. More cuts, more austerity for the majority of voters, more tax cuts for the affluent supporters of the status quo, more privatisation that will lead to us paying private providers more for poorer services. Just more wishful thinking.

We are at a critical time and the outcome of this and the next election will shape our future – although you would barely know this from the trivia that is gushing out from the mouths of our so called ‘leaders’. Climate change is gathering pace. We need a clear action programme to be agreed in Paris at the end of the year otherwise global temperatures will overshoot 2 degrees centigrade. The cost of the damage will break all but the strongest economies – and the British economy is not one of the strongest.

Democracy is under threat by a corporate takeover of Government policy-making. This is demonstrated in the secret Trans-Atlantic Trade negotiations, TTIP, that will strip Governments of the ability to enact laws to protect public health or our shared environment lest they threaten corporate profits and bonuses. Inequality is stoking tensions in society that can only lead to a rise in crime, in fear and a decline in general well-being and health. The capacity of our natural environment to provide the food and clean water that we all need to survive is being eroded by increasing unregulated development and pollution.

These issues are ignored by politicians and commentators alike, they are too big for them to comprehend. But they are not ignored by the Green manifesto. Here, we set out a route that will steer us away from the dangers inherent in ‘business as usual’. We show how it is possible to build a sustainable society in which each individual can build a life of purpose, within the natural limits of the one planet that we have to live on. Our aim in this election is to campaign on this manifesto, to maximise our vote and so demonstrate that there is a serious and growing level of support for our policies; policies that work for the Common Good.

Mike Shipley April 2015
Mike is standing as Green Party candidate in the Local Elections for Sett Ward on High Peak Borough Council

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,

Ian Wood – Derbyshire Dales Constituency

Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

Ian WoodI live in Bakewell, am fifty-seven years of age, a freelance journalist, a husband and father of four children (aged from ten to twenty-two), and I used to be a lawyer.

A quarter of a century ago, I stood for the SDP in a parliamentary by-election in Mid-Staffordshire. I can now see with almost embarrassing clarity how little distinction there actually is between any of the old established parties’ economic analyses and those of their opponents, and how much they make of such tiny differences.

The world is whirling towards an economic cataclysm that will prompt widespread changes in the way we earn our living and share the proceeds of investment and labour. In consequence of my economic views, I respect and would observe the natural limits of the planet that, inevitably, have to be ignored by capitalists if it is to provide the growth that they have come to expect. And, accordingly, I believe there is in the end no alternative to a steady state economy as the basis of a sustainable economic system. It follows that I support Green policies for energy generation, planning and transport, and those which promote income equality, the integration of nations and peoples, and, ultimately, peace; all things that are consistent with the abandonment of growth as the central objective of economic policy.

I am also in favour of a federal Britain and our place in the world being firmly at the heart of a federal Europe. When it became safe and sensible to do so, I would support the UK’s adoption of the Euro. The central objective of Green policies is to place the emphasis on the sustainable distribution of natural assets rather than exploiting them for growth. Hence, we would have to deal with the economically essential support of uncompetitive member nations, just as our own Chancellor of the Exchequer raises most taxes in the richer south and uses them in part to fund services in the poorer north. However, I would wish to see efficient enterprises – for example, those conducted by Derbyshire farmers – succeed against unduly subsidised continental ones, and there is little wrong with the free market when it operates between smaller and more equal businesses that do not grow by debt and stock market leverage.

This is the best and most optimistic time to be green in history. As the Green Party candidate in the Derbyshire Dales constituency I am passionate about putting forward a truly viable, radically different and increasingly popular alternative for voters to consider. I would be a diligent and persuasive advocate for the constituency. I am also intending to stand in Bakewell for election as a district councillor.

Green Party candidate contact details

Alice Mason-Power, Parliamentary Candidate for Derby North comments on the Budget

A few choice quotes from Gideon Osborne’s last Budget speech with thoughts by Alice Mason-Power, Parliamentary Candidate for Derby North

“A record number of people in work.
More women in work than ever before.
And the claimant count rate is at its lowest since 1975.”

Alice Mason PowerWork means something very different to that in 1975 – the number of people employed on zero contracts has increased by over 50,000 or 25% since 2010. Those people out of work are being stigmatised more than ever and are struggling to the point of resorting to food banks to feed their families – not a feature of a strong economy.

“This week we accept the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission that the National Minimum Wage should rise to £6.70 this autumn, on course for a minimum wage that will be over £8 by the end of the decade.”

Alice Mason PowerOn this minimum wage people would still need to claim benefits including housing and council tax benefit. People will still be in the cycle of poverty despite employment, raising the benefit bill yet further because of the failure to pay the Living Wage that both people and the economy need

“I am clear exactly how that £30 billion can be achieved.
£13 billion from government departments.
£12 billion from welfare savings.
£5 billion from tax avoidance, evasion and aggressive tax planning.”

Alice Mason PowerMore money to be reclaimed from those on the lowest incomes than from those with the highest incomes who can afford an advisor to cut their tax. This will affect many, many more people. Where will these welfare savings come from? the disabled? the unemployed? pensioners? Note that child poverty in Derby North stands at 19%, with no prospect of it being reduced.

“In two weeks’ time, we will cut corporation tax to 20%, one of the lowest rates of any major economy in the world.”

Alice Mason PowerThis should be higher – why are we cutting tax for corporations when cutting welfare? It’s obvious, big business is more important than us, the people, and no Mr Osborne, the wealth does not ‘trickle down’, it floods away into tax avoidance schemes and bonuses for the already excessively rich.

Overall – the budget does not address the stark issues this country faces. The rich get the extra help they don’t need. Those who are struggling have not been mentioned. They will have to struggle on. The Chancellor is banking on the hope that many of them won’t vote in the election and turn his Party out.

Also of course no mention of climate change or the rising cost of energy. The real issues once again ignored by this Business as Usual Government.

Alice Mason-Power 18th March 2015

10 Reasons You Should Be Worried About TTIP

TTIP_banner_cropped560with_text2On Tuesday 18 February I, along with several other members of the Green Party, attended a packed meeting in Derby. This was the second meeting this year at which John Hilary, Director of War on Want, had spoken about the threats posed by TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership). The people were then asked to form four groups to focus on one of four areas threatened by TTIP – Jobs, Health and NHS, Food Safety and Animal Protection, and World Trade. People were asked to suggest what actions we could take in Derby.

What can we do? One thing everyone at the meeting agreed was the need to use every available means to make voters aware of the serious threat to our way of life that TTIP poses and to ask them to challenge all candidates on whether they are for or against TTIP.

In terms of political parties, we know that the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour are all in favour of TTIP, and UKIP is in favour of what TTIP is setting out to do but just doesn’t think it should be negotiated by Brussels. The Green Party (and Plaid Cymru) is the only main party that is against TTIP.

Greens can work through our party structure and our MEPs to try to stop TTIP’s progress. We can also join with many other individuals and groups such as War on Want, Derby Peoples Assembly, the Unions, Friends of the Earth, 38 degrees and many others worldwide who are all working towards the same goal.

Ten reasons why you should be worried about TTIP

1. A Threat to Democracy – if agreed, TTIP would give corporations the power to sue governments over decisions that could harm their future profits, undermining democratic decision-making made in the public interest.

2. A Threat to Public Services – TTIP will create new markets in public services such as health and education, leading to greater liberalisation and privatisation. It would also make it very difficult to bring these services – as well as our energy and water – back under public control or renationalise them.

3. A Threat to Food Safety – Through a harmonisation of good safety regulation, EU food safety standards would be lowered to US levels. This would remove EU restrictions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides and hormone-treated beef.

4. A Threat to the Environment – TTIP would see EU environmental regulations being harmonised and reduced to US levels, allowing a US-style fracking boom in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

5. A Threat to the Climate – With strong investor rights, TTIP would allow corporations to sue governments for bringing in new policies to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

6. A Threat to Workers’ Rights – Workers’ rights could be reduced to US standards and businesses could relocate to US states and EU countries with the lowest labour standards.

7. A Threat to Personal Privacy – Leaked documents indicate that TTIP could be used to reintroduce central elements of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which was rejected by the European parliament after popular protest. This could force internet providers to spy on their customers.

8. A Threat to Financial Control – TTIP is set to remove many of the new financial regulations (such as banking safeguards) that have been introduced since 2008 to prevent a future financial crash.

9. Negotiated in Secrecy – While corporate lobbyists are playing an integral role in negotiations, the public have been shut out. All negotiators must sign nondisclosure agreements. There is no access to the draft text or the agreement – even for MPs – so most of what we know is from leaked documents.

10. A Dangerous Blueprint for the Rest of the World – If TTIP is agreed, countries in the global south will come under huge pressure to apply TTIP standards to avoid losing trade. The business lobby are upfront about their aim of creating ‘global convergence towards EU-US standards’. This would see free trade policies forced on poorer countries, that they have had no part in negotiating.

PrintGreens say no to TTIP – If TTIP goes through there will be no point in electing a government, it will be government by corporations!

You can find a previous posting on this site giving more detail about TTIP itself and the War on Want website offers resources and information about their TTIP Campaign http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/trade-justice/ttip

Jean Macdonald

 

Tax Dodging, is costing us £70 Billion a year, we need action not words

Sue MacFarlane Parliamentary Candidate for Mid Derbyshire writes…

Sue MacFarlane cropI have received a number of messages in the last few days from electors expressing concern about the latest tax scandals involving HSBC. Like all my correspondents I find these revelations shocking and, as a Green Party Parliamentary candidate, I pledge to do everything I can to highlight that tax avoidance is wrong, cheating us all, and demand that the new Government in May takes effective action to put a stop to it.

In the wake of the HSBC, Swiss Leaks and Lux Leaks tax avoidance scandals, the Green Party has pledged to introduce a Tax Dodging Bill in the first 100 days after the election. The campaign for such a Bill is being widely supported by a network of NGOs, cooperatives, faith groups, MPs and Unions. During the election campaign, all Green Party candidates will attempt to get the other candidates to pledge to support such a measure, or explain to their electors why they don’t find tax avoidance wrong.

The Green Party has long championed firm action on tax avoidance as an alternative to austerity and fully backs the Bill which calls for new rules to make the UK tax regime more transparent and tougher on tax dodging. Green Party policy is to crack down heavily on tax havens and other methods of tax evasion and avoidance, and press for a transparent country-by-country reporting so that company profits can be located and taxed.

Green Party finance speaker, Molly Scott Cato MEP, who is a member of the European Parliament’s tax working group, said:
“In the wake of repeated tax avoidance scandals, it is now all the more vital that we put in place legislation to ensure corporations and wealthy individuals pay the taxes that treasuries need to invest in public services and infrastructure. Greens have been pushing hard in the European Parliament for a full inquiry into the Lux Leaks scandal but unfortunately, despite the rhetoric from both Tories and Labour on the issue, they have refused to back such an inquiry.”

Four years ago, in 2011 Green MP Caroline Lucas launched the Tax and Financial Transparency Bill in the House of Commons. She exposed the fact that HMRC was failing to prevent serious tax evasion, totaling £billion’s of lost tax each year. Despite two attempts at getting the Bill passed, it failed to gain enough Parliamentary support.

Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, has said “Tax avoidance has cost this country tens of billions of pounds over the course of this Parliament, at a time when public services are being slashed. If the Government’s political priorities had been clamping down on tax avoidance, rather than dismantling our welfare state and public services, then we’d be in a far fairer, more humane, and more economically stable Britain. We need new laws to make the UK tax regime tougher on those who wish to avoid contributing to our society.”

This Coalition Government is telling us that Austerity is necessary because the country cannot afford a social welfare programme to help the most needy, or a health and education service that fairly serves all. If the Government took the necessary measures to collect the tax that is legally due to it, taxes that have been agreed by our democratically elected parliament, then I believe that there would be no case for the failed policies of Austerity.

Figures from the Tax Justice Network show that each year the Treasury looses £70 Billion to the tax dodgers. Figures from the last budget state that the cuts to Governmental departmental spending since 2010 have been £25 billion. The pain, suffering and damage to the economy caused by those cuts was unnecessary and caused by the Government’s failure to collect what is due to it.

First published on the Green Party East Midlands Blog on 18th February, 2015

Austerity is not working – well for most of us …

Sue MacFarlane, Green Party Candidate for Mid Derbyshire has this to say about Austerity.

Sue MacFarlane cropI’ve been watching what is happening in Greece with interest. The people there have had enough of the austerity measures imposed by Europe that clearly aren’t working. The left wing Syriza party’s recent victory was unthinkable when their share of the vote was 5.6% in the 2007 election. Think about that, from 5.6% of the vote in 2007, to 36% of the vote in 2015.

Yesterday in Spain, tens of thousands of people marched in Madrid – they too are looking for change. The ‘Podemos’ (meaning ‘We Can’) party is also ploughing ahead in the opinion polls, and is talking about writing off Spain’s debt if it comes to power. Their leader, Pablo Iglesias, has said that a ‘wind of change’ is starting blowing through Europe. I agree.

Who are the people that think austerity is working? The bankers? The politicians? The 1%? The media? Ask almost anybody you know if they think that austerity is working, and they will say that it isn’t. So why are we persevering with it? Could it be because the bankers, the politicians, the 1% and the media have something to gain from the widening gap between rich and poor?

Let’s take the bankers. Our government (well, it was actually our money) started to bail out the banks. Yes, that’s right, the government gave our money to the banks saying ‘We will never appreciate how close we came to a collapse of the banking system’ (Paul Myners, City minister 2008-10) You’d think, given how strapped for cash the banks were, they would have instigated austerity measures of their own, wouldn’t you? You know, stopped paying obscene bonuses and such. I don’t need to tell you how this all worked out…

The politicians? In 2010, when the current government was formed, 23 of the 29 members of the new cabinet were millionaires – and over half of them were multi-millionaires. Do you really think these people could possibly understand our lives? With the best will in the world, these people have no idea what it’s like for the poorer people in our society. They talk about ‘the poor’ like this is an unchanging demographic instead of a situation that should be temporary. They do this because, under their government, it has become harder and harder to escape the ‘poverty trap’.

The 1%? The people who own as much of the world’s wealth as the poorest 50%? Whilst the rest of us are suffering under the austerity cuts, the luxury goods market has doubled every year since the measures were put in place. Why wouldn’t they think austerity is working – it IS working for them! They are getting richer!

The media? Don’t even get me started on the media! The cosy relationship between the media and the government is well documented, so no need to go into it here. Suffice to say that Andy Coulson was working in Downing Street as the Conservative Party’s Director of Communications when he had to resign due to the phone hacking scandal. There are some people in the media who can report honestly on what is happening – Owen Jones is one of these – but there aren’t many.

A report published by Oxfam last year (http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/the-perfect-storm-economic-stagnation-the-rising-cost-of-living-public-spending-228591) showed that the austerity measures here in the UK are causing substantial hardship to people living in poverty. The gap between rich and poor is widening, and is obscene. Apart from that, as Greece is finding out, it is not good for anyone – and not something that people will stand for any longer.

Apart from anything else, this austerity and inequality is just not necessary for the recovery of our economy. The National Audit Office said that we spent £850 billion on the bank crises in 2009 – that equated to £26,562 per taxpayer in the UK. Imagine if the government had given this money to you and me, to every adult in the country, to spend into the economy. Imagine the boost this would have had to the economy – and the people of this country who provided the money in the first place. We are still bailing the banks out – and they are still paying bonuses.

Finally, I’ll finish by saying that I think that the widening gap between rich and poor is not an accident – it is a strategy of power. It is a tool being used to keep people ‘in their place’. It hasn’t worked in Greece, and I don’t think it’s going to work here in the UK for much longer. As Frederick Douglass once said ‘ Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe’.

(First published 8th Feb on the Green Party East Midlands Blog)

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

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Getting Organised Against TTIP

TTIP

Greens Dispute Need for Derbyshire Cuts

Leafleting in High PeakIn July, Derbyshire County Council told us of their plans to drastically cut services and whilst promising to consult on their proposals, made it clear that, as they saw it, savings of £70 million over the next three years (beginning in April 2015) would have to be made. There was no alternative given the cuts in funding from central government.

As Labour Council Leader Anne Western said at the time:

“We need to be absolutely clear – we do not want to make these unrelenting cuts which will affect services local people rely on. The Government has left us no choice and we are having to think the unthinkable. Its budget reductions mean we have to cut our spending on local services by more than a third”

PrintThe Green Party disputes the need for cuts to vital public services, and challenges the need for austerity which the other main parties promote as a political consensus. Instead it has a commitment to an entirely different set of economic policies, which will promote the common good and the preservation of our planet, rather than the interests of a tiny elite.

See here http://greenparty.org.uk/values/fair-society.html

On the basis of the above, Derbyshire Green Party opposes the budget cuts being proposed, however reluctantly, by our Labour County Council, and urges others to do the same.

The council is consulting on its plans on a service by service basis, inviting responses to its planned cuts.

See here http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/council/have_your_say/take_part/default.asp

The deadline for responses to its proposed cuts to its Housing Support Service is November 18th.

Peter mug-shot crop 1

Peter Allen

I have sent the following response to telladultcare@derbyshire.gov.uk on behalf of Derbyshire Green Party, which I invite others to make use of in their own responses.

Peter’s Response

“I write in response to your proposals to cut spending on Housing Related Support Services. The County Council may not have a legal duty to provide these services but your own report identifies how vital they are to support some of Derbyshire’s most vulnerable residents.

The proposed reduction in the length of time that residents with a learning disability receive support to enable them to live independently in the community is based on an assumption that such service users can be taught how to manage without support faster. No details are given as to how this is to be achieved and we fear that many of those affected will ‘sink’ rather than ‘swim’ with serious consequences for themselves and a likelihood that they will require support again sooner rather than later, meaning that, in the long term no savings will be made. Alternatively, support will be denied to them, leaving them unable to cope, and therefore likely to end up in far more expensive residential care.

An insensitive, false economy.

The proposed halving of the number of vulnerable young adults supported to access and maintain appropriate housing is likely to increase the numbers of such young people ending up in prison or hospital.

An insensitive, false economy.

The proposed reduction in emergency housing provision for victims of domestic abuse is, as your report says likely to lead to the following:

  • more women and families fleeing abuse being placed in bed and breakfast
  • police and safety issues escalating
  • increased demand for counselling and mental health services.

An insensitive, false economy.

Your report also makes clear what the consequences of the huge cuts to support for vulnerable adults with mental health problems will be:

  • Increased hospital admissions
  • Increased tenancy breakdown and homelessness
  • Stigma and loss of family connection.

An insensitive, false economy.

Similarly, your proposed cut to the Handy Van service, which carries out essential repairs and improvements in the homes of vulnerable residents will, as your report warns, have the effect that more people will remain in hospital for longer due to delayed hospital discharge. Whilst the total removal of your sheltered housing provision might save nearly £1 million per year in the short term, as you yourselves say, it will have as a likely impact a growth in the number of older people losing their independence and having to go into far more expensive, and unwanted residential care.

Insensitive, false economies.

Finally, the proposed ending of the Older Peoples Housing Options Service will increase pressure on the remaining housing advice services and mean that more older people will remain in unsuitable housing and therefore experience a deterioration in their health and well being, which is likely to lead to increased health costs in the future.

Yet another insensitive, false economy.

The cuts you propose are unfair and unwise, and are likely to cost more in the long term, in both human and financial terms. Before proceeding on this course of action Derbyshire County Council should, alongside other equally resource stretched local councils across the country, launch a campaign in defence of essential council services, demanding that any government which is elected next May finds the resources to properly fund public services in general and council services in particular.

There is plenty of money around. It is just in the wrong hands.”

Peter Allen
High Peak Regional Coordinator, Derbyshire Green Party

Post Carbon – where will the smart money go?

Fracking 9Last weekend, Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney made the most important political statement of the year. Speaking at a World Bank seminar in New York, Carney said: the “vast majority of reserves are un-burnable”. He was referring to fossil fuels, he was speaking to financiers and industrialists.

Carney is no liberal Green giant, he is a very conservative minded Canadian who encouraged the exploitation of his country’s tar sands, about the dirtiest fuel in the world. Yet he has had to swallow a dose of reality and accept the warnings of Nicolas Stern about the full impact of climate change on global finance. He has at last accepted the dangers of putting too many of our economic eggs into the oil basket.

In the spring of 2012, I wrote an article called ‘The Carbon Bubble’, published on the DGP website. [ https://derbyshiregreenparty.org.uk/2012/03/17/the-carbon-bubble/ ] That article showed that a huge amount of global wealth is invested in oil and gas reserves. If these reserves are burned, as they have to be to give a return on the investment, then global temperatures will rise to between 3.5 & 5.0 degrees C. If the wealth invested in coal is added in, then the planet becomes uninhabitable.

At that time investors continued to pour their wealth in to fossil reserves. We are still seeing that in the UK over fracking. The rich and powerful individuals and organisations making these investments fully expect a return. For them to stay rich, the world must fry.

This is the problem that financiers and politicians of all shades except Green have allowed to happen. If the carbon reserves are not burned, to keep temperature rise to below 2C, colossal amounts of private and corporate wealth will be lost, markets will crash, the Carbon Bubble bursts, unleashing a financial crisis that would dwarf that of 2008. If the reserves are burned to return the expected profit and wealth, then the cost of the resulting climate chaos will be far greater than the value of the reserves, the economy will be bankrupt.

Carney’s predecessor at the BoE, the ever cautious Mervyn King, recognised that the warnings about over investment in carbon assets by the Stock Exchange needed due consideration. The new Governor has indeed considered the matter and is issuing his quiet warnings to the market. Is it a coincidence that the markets have dipped this week? Is the move to divestment in coal, gas and oil really so altruistic? Are we seeing a steady retreat from carbon assets as the reality of climate change begins to penetrate the minds of corporate investors? If so this will create its own problems.

Where will the wealth go? If it is pulled out of oil and gas, it will be looking for a home. Is this the real reason for the drive for privatisation of public service. Not an ideologically driven policy at all, but a pragmatic response to the need to find a safe haven for private and corporate wealth. What could be a better long term investment than the supply of food, water and health? These are what everyone in the world needs on a daily basis, just like energy but on a far bigger scale. Hand all of this supply to the private sector and the potential market is huge and growing.

Greens oppose this commercialisation of the basic needs of people. For us, the supply of the essentials of life, food, water, energy, health and education, should be under public democratic control so access is not determined by personal wealth, but by need. Hand this supply over to the private sector then it will be driven by profit, not the needs of the consumers. Many will be priced out of the market in these services so that the rich and powerful can maintain their privileged positions.

Mike Shipley

Green Party Membership passed 20,000 today

1463119_583405441732546_2094308750_nMembership of the Green Party has surged up 46% this year and just passed 20,000 for the first time. This increase is mirrored by rising poll rating (1) which sees the Greens consistently polling 7%, level pegging with the LibDems. The Green Party outperformed the Liberal Democrats in the May 2014 European Elections both in terms of MEPs returned and percentage of the total vote [3]

The Green surge shows no sign of slowing. The Party plans to stand in at least 75% of seats at the 2015 General Election – 50% more than in 2010 (4). Campaigning is already underway to significantly increase the number of Green Councilors in the local elections that will poll at the same time as the general election.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACommenting on these figures, Green Party target candidate for Hope Valley in the High Peak, Charlotte Farrell said: ‘The surge in membership does not surprise me, the traditional Parties are bankrupt of ideas and their policies continue to make life worse for all but the very rich. What particularly encourages me is the surge in membership of the Young Greens which has rocketed up by 100% since March this year (2). Young Greens can get fully involved in the working of the Green Party helping us to keep up to date and relevant policy, and to represent the Party as candidates.’

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said: “These astounding across-the-board membership rises clearly demonstrate that more and more people appreciate that the Green Party is the only party committed to transforming our economy and shaking up business-as-usual Westminster politics. The Green Party warmly welcomes all the new members. Members are the lifeblood of the Green Party, a truly democratic party which allows all members to help form policy.”

Siobhan MacMahon, Young Greens co-chair, said: “The growth of the Young Greens this year has been spectacular. We have doubled in size since March alone to nearly 4,000 members – significantly larger than the Liberal Democrat’s youth wing. Thousands were inspired through the European elections, Green Party conference and even the Scottish referendum, that brought home to young people the Greens’ vision of a genuine progressive alternative to the same-old right-wing politics of the coalition parties, as well as Labour and UKIP.

The Green Party is consistently polling at over 10% among 16-24 year olds. Young Greens are attracted by Green polices that call for free education, affordable and publicly-owned transport, an end to migrant-bashing and a halt to the continual attacks on young people. The Party recognises that the youth of Britain have been at the sharp end of austerity, and are badly affected by the crisis in affordable housing. It is also the young generation who will have to live with the full effects of climate change and resource depletion.

Charlotte concluded by saying: ‘The Young Greens’ 100% growth this year is testament to a sea-change going on in politics. New groups are springing up across the country every week, campaigning on the issues that really matter to this generation, but that are ignored by the mainstream parties. We are campaigning for policies that will build and fair and sustainable future that will work for the common good of all.’

East Midlands Press Officer:
Mike Shipley

Notes

1 http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/09/29/yougov-polling-green-party-neck-and-neck-with-liberal-democrats/
2 http://www.younggreens.org.uk
3 http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/05/26/european-elections-greens-gain-50-more-meps,-push-liberal-democrats-into-fifth-place/
4 http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/09/05/green-party-leader-natalie-bennett’s-autumn-party-conference-keynote-speech/