Derbyshire County Council leader, Barry Lewis, recently posted a YouTube clip in which he announced his intention to schedule a conference later in the year in order to discuss the future of Derbyshire’s grass verges. Derbyshire Green Party welcomes the beginning of this conversation as it has, for a long time, been campaigning for the wild flowering of verges and the rewilding of green spaces. Following the announcement, DGP have released the following statement.
Looking up at grey skies in August, I’d say many of us have flippantly said “Global warming? Bring it on!” More seriously, opponents of action on climate change have made claims of beneficial effects of warming for agriculture and the economy as a whole. Maybe the storms and flooding of the last few days, repeating and exceeding the floods of last year and the year before have provided a more sombre idea of the effects of global warming on our weather systems. In this post, Phil Ælse explains why global warming won’t be a pleasant experience!
What does the term global warming means to you? Do you envisage yourself enjoying balmy days on Blackpool beach, strolling along the promenade at Llandudno in shorts and sun-glasses, and picking coconuts from the palm trees along Skegness front?
Unfortunately, whilst the general temperatures will increase in the short term, the specific effect on Britain could be less pleasant.
Think Costa Rica not Costa Brava: increased humidity; sweaty, smelly bodies; respiratory illnesses and skin disease on the increase; viruses and bacteria that flourish in dank conditions running riot; food spoiling rapidly and drinking water that needs boiling before use.
Britain’s Geography make it a damp place – even Julius Caesar commented on that: “The nights are short and the weather miserable, with frequent rain and mists.” Global warming won’t change that. The Pennines cause water vapour to rise and that soon comes back down as rain.
In general terms the east of Britain suffers more from this effect than the west, as the colder air streams across the North Sea are more ready to dump rain than the typically warmer Atlantic and its beneficial Gulf Stream to the west.
The Gulf Stream is a continuous current of warm water that runs from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic and up the west cost of the UK. This is what gives places like North Wales and Lancashire relatively warm coastline, compared to places at the same latitude, such as Newfoundland on the Canadian east coast. But whilst the sea and air temperature of the west coast is higher than the US east coast it is the welsh mountains of Snowdonia and the Pennines that then cause the cloud vapour to rise and dump rain on us.
Now, imagine if we warmed the ice cap at the North Pole. This will result in a stream of cold water pushing down the Atlantic and could cause a diversion of the Gulf Stream, pushing it south and away from the UK. This would remove the beneficial warming effect from our coast line and seas, and would means that we wouldn’t get the same comfortable temperatures, but we would still get the same clouds hitting the Pennines and rising to fall as rain. Except this is now more often going to be as snow and ice during the winter.
So, yes, an initial rise in global average temperatures may give you a slightly warmer climate – with all the problems of warm humid climates. But by 2050 we could start to see the diversion of the Gulf Stream, meaning that the climate our children will ensure will be more like that of Canada, with three metre deep snow drifts, transport chaos and frozen water pipes. The worst case result of the diverted gulf stream is that there will no longer be any warmer water streams being sent up to the Arctic Circle’s seas. The glaciers and ice caps will ultimately spread, not shrink, and northern Europe and the UK will eventually (and whilst not in our grand-children’s life time, fairly rapidly in geological terms) be brought in to the next ice age.
This has precedent. Ice core samples have been taken from the Poles and from ancient glaciers that show there is a direct correlation between rising CO2 levels and an eventual decline in to an ice age. The last big ice age, some 11,000 years ago caused the Gulf Stream to shut down. The regional climate of the Northeast Atlantic became considerably cooler and as a result north-western Europe dropped back to ice age conditions within tens of years of this diversion.
So how is this our fault?
Humans have only been around for a few thousand years, and ice ages have happened for millions of years and multiple times. Cows and pigs haven’t just started pooping and parping. What’s changed?
The difference in this case is the speed in which carbon dioxide (the most prominent greenhouse gas) is rising during the global industrial age compared to previous pre-ice-age periods. Each ice-age has been preceded by a gradual increase in carbon dioxide over thousands of years. In the last three hundred years, the rate of carbon dioxide has increased vastly, meaning that the rate of increase of the ice core graph is not a curve as in previous occurrences, but a near vertical line as can be seen on the extreme right of the graph.
This meteoric rise is a result of our massive increase in carbon emissions from our altered way of life. Flying, driving and heating with fossil fuels means we are creating CO2 in spades.
Demanding fresh meat on our table every day means we have millions more cattle animals than we ever had before. To satisfy this demand, animals are now raised in factory conditions. Raising animals on pastures can be a means of absorbing CO2, but these intensive methods add to the emissions that are changing the climate on which we depend.
An economy based on producing and marketing ever increasing numbers of disposable consumer products means more and more energy is used in creating, transporting and disposing on giga-tonnes of products, many of which are used once then thrown away.
What can we do?
We need a different kind of economy. One that serves the needs of our communities rather than a continual treadmill of production for production’s sake. We need to get rid of the nonsense of long supply chains for goods that can be produced locally. We can make a start in our own lives by buying local produce and supporting local shops, by sharing tools and equipment that aren’t needed every day – but in the end the system must change.
We need to move a distributed modern energy system based on renewable energy with people in control of their own energy supply. The UK already has some community energy projects – other European countries, such as Germany have a lot more. If there is no community project, what about installing solar panels or switching to an energy provider that provides equitably generated electricity, and tell the fuel guzzlers WHY you switched.
And even when it seems like talking to the wall, we need to make sure our MPs know how we feel when they vote for things like fracking.
Ultimately, it may not be enough. But what you do will affect your community and your grandchildren. Doing nothing at all, you only allow the disaster to strike and when your grand-child looks at you and asks “Why is it so cold?” will you be able to say “Its just a cold snap, dear”, or will it be “Because my generation destroyed it all for you!”
Paris 2015: A Place for Hope
On 5th November, Donald and I were among more than 100 people, who 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Q Fracking is raping the earth so why are the government legitimising it?
- A 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
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!
There 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.
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
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
This government seems hell-bent on promoting fracking for shale gas in Derbyshire.
On 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.
High Peak Greens Meeting
Wednesday 26 August – 7.30 pm
Market Street, Hayfield,
Lots to talk about including:
Anti Austerity March
Climate Sense Campaigning
Peter Allen – High Peak Regional Co-ordinator
Derbyshire Green Party
From August 12th until a couple of weeks before Christmas Britain’s wealthy elite will be let loose on its moorland uplands. Driven grouse shooting involves beaters going in front of the people with guns “beating” the heather so that the birds fly into the air where they are then shot at. Around half a million birds can be killed during the season. If that seems barbaric, even worse is the fact that in order to maintain this so called sport, all grouse predators are being destroyed on the uplands, and the moors themselves destroyed by burning the heather in the name of “management”.
Hen Harriers are an iconic bird of the uplands, however in 2014 there were only 4 nesting pairs in England. A couple of weeks ago there was an outcry in this country when it was discovered that Cecil the Lion had been shot and killed in Zimbabwe, but where is the outcry at the loss of Hen Harriers? Five adult birds have disappeared this year, and whilst the disappearance is reported euphemistically as “mysterious” the obvious answer is that they have been shot, poisoned or trapped by game keepers to protect the grouse for shooting.
In the same vein game keepers are now systematically ridding the uplands of mountain hare because they are said to carry a parasite which infects grouse. Literally mountains of mountain hare have been killed in Scotland and the practice is spreading South.
When concern is raised about grouse shooting and the practices which support it, the argument is put that it provides employment and income to areas which would otherwise have none. However the grouse shooting season is a few months and whilst the hospitality trade might benefit slightly during that period, assuming those that shoot do frequent the restaurants and pubs of local areas, that benefit would be spread much wider, both geographically and time wise, if people were coming to look at the wildlife rather than kill it.
Not only that but grouse shooting costs us in terms of higher water bills, because of the cost of clearing water polluted by higher particulates as a result of peat burning.
And then there is the cost to the atmosphere: Peat is a carbon sink and the High Peak is one of the biggest peat uplands in England and therefore one of the biggest carbon sinks in the UK. Management for grouse shooting consists of burning areas of heather on a cycle year by year. The effect of this is to release unwanted carbon directly into the atmosphere but more long term it has been shown to severely compromise the build up of future peat. It also obviously destroys the existing vegetation, much of which such as sphagnum moss is protected (and is one of the reasons for which subsidies from the EU to the landowners exist), and as stated effects water supplies. (http://www.wateratleeds.org/ember/)
Leading conservationist Mark Avery has launched a petition calling on parliament to ban grouse shooting . You can sign it here https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/104441.
You could also contact your MP to ask him or her to support a ban. Green Party policy is clear. The Green Party is fundamentally opposed to all blood-sports. Our manifesto includes the commitment to ban driven grouse shooting.
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:
‘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.
‘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.’
“Animal agriculture is responsible for emitting more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry and causes unfathomable destruction of natural resources and habitats. Yet it flourishes, almost entirely unchallenged.”
This is the claim of the groundbreaking documentary which follows filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations refuse to tackle it.
Ian Wood, Green Party Activist in Derbyshire Dales writes:
We all have to go green, of course, but this film makes the bold and convincing claim that we cannot call ourselves environmentalists unless, and until, we are all vegan. Being vegan uses three times less water and grain resources than being merely vegetarian, and eighteen times less resources than being an omnivore. The entire human population could exist perfectly decently on the grain we feed to animals.
The film is a bit preachy at the end and finger-wags that it’s not enough just to cut down on meat on the grounds that, if you have Meat-free Mondays, for example, you are only doing the wrong things on six days of the week and not seven. My view is that it is better to do the wrong things on six days of the week rather than seven, especially if it helps more generally. If you cut down on meat and fish you are reducing your carbon footprint – that is undeniable.
The film is excellent on the lobbying power of agri-business and the corrupting power of money derived from meat-eating of all kinds.
I am a meat-eater and I shall certainly be cutting down on my consumption of meat purely on the basis of having seen this film.
I would now disown the things I have previously said about fossil fuels being far more important to climate change than eating meat. It is quite apparent that eating meat causes more climate change and water shortages and natural imblanaces than fossil fuels, and I am somewhat ashamed I ever thought differently.
Cowspiracy is a calm and brave documentary and thoroughly recommended.
Note: The Green Party does not require members to be vegetarian or vegan. In section (d) of its Food and Agriculture Policy http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/fa.html it states:
High rates of consumption of meat and other animal products in richer countries, and rising demand elsewhere, means that the increasing requirement for animal feed competes with food production for direct human consumption. We will encourage healthy and sustainable consumption patterns, including a shift towards more plant-based foods. Such a shift would enable an increased world population to be fed sustainably and would help to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. (See FA211, FA222, FA237, FA662)
The Green Party believes beyond question that climate change is happening right now and if we do not begin to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions very soon, global warming will accelerate beyond any hope of our control.
Green Party members Charlotte Farrell and Peter Alan were on the front line against Fracking at Barton Moss.
Charlotte is standing as Parliamentary Candidate in High Peak and also as Green Party candidate in Hope Valley Ward in the Local Elections.
Quick Quote from Charlotte: “…17 leading scientists and economists have issued a warning – the #EarthStatement about climate change. Again!?! Yes, unfortunately, warnings seem to be falling on deaf ears – our current government have increased incentives for oil and gas exploration – including fracking – and decreased incentives for renewables. It’s time to act.
The earth statement sets out eight essential actions – and they’re ALL Green Party policy.
It’s getting more and more urgent to get our voices heard. #VoteGreen – before it’s too late.”
Message from the Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett
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.
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.
Return the Railways to the Public
Three 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.
David Foster is standing in Derby South Constituency and is also standing in the Local Election in Boulton Ward.
The Green Party would aim to re-nationalise the railways and work to produce an integrated, affordable and sustainable public transport system.
Generation Green is a fresh new voice in the student community, promoting the values of the National Green Party of England and Wales to create a fairer, healthier, and sustainable democratic society.
Generation Green encourages its members to get active in the student community, in the city of Derby and in their respective home towns, because Generation Green believes that politics should be the result of people’s will, and should work for all people – not just for corporations or the wealthy.
Generation Green’s aims are:
• Supporting the local Green Party
• Encouraging student participation in the elections nationally
• Raising awareness of local environmental issues
• Translating party policies in a student friendly way
• Encouraging recycling within the sphere of the university and local community.
Prior to 2014 there was no real green presence in the city of Derby, Generation Green wish to change that. They say:
“We don’t ask our members to be full members of the Green Party of England and Wales (though we encourage it). We do not ask that you come out protesting every other weekend, though we seek to facilitate that if need be. We only ask that you agree with the Green Party’s ‘Core Values’ and its stance on the Environment, the Economy, Education, Welfare, and progressive Social policies. If that sounds like you then please like our Facebook page”:
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.
A Green Party member’s response to the House of Bishops letter saying that “Politicians need to deliver a fresh moral vision”
In 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 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 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 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-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 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!”
Green Party Activist
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,
Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015
I became interested in environmental issues back in the 1980’s, concerned about the effects our current way of life was having, and the impact of climate change on the world generally.
I believe that capitalism is incompatible with a sustainable society and that while we continue to follow the present economic trajectory we will inevitably cause untold harm to mankind and to the planet. I believe that the alternative is to build policies which put people and the planet first before profit.
I originally trained as a nurse and worked as such for 15 years before re-qualifying as a solicitor. Last year, after 10 years in the law, I left to work with my partner making orthopaedic footwear; so that I could devote more time to politics.
I live and work in the High Peak and am involved in various community activities there. In particular I was involved in the purchase of Derbyshire’s first community owned and run village pub which now provides a focus for the local community.
If I was elected I would stand for:
• meaningful action to combat climate change and pollution
• providing decent jobs with a living wage and truly affordable housing
• fighting cuts to public sector jobs and services
• increased investment in health and education, in particular ending the pernicious privatisation of services
• integrated, affordable and sustainable public transport
• zero tolerance inequality and discrimination
• immediate unilateral nuclear disarmament and an end to UK involvement in overseas conflict and war.
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.
Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015
I am quite a new member to the Green Party but since joining I have been extremely active and I have become part of a strong and focused team here in Mid Derbyshire. I believe that the Green Party is the only Party which has the ethics, morals and policies to put this country back on its feet. To that end I will fight, heart and soul, for the Green Party and the ‘Common Good.’
My work experience has been varied. Six years in the armed forces taught me the value of team work and discipline. Later, as a registered nurse, working with special needs patients, I learned compassion and developed a strong sense of social justice and the need to speak out against injustice.
I have also worked as an Environmental Crime Enforcement Officer for the Environment Agency where I dealt with many different people and professions. Part of my role was to produce prosecution reports and give evidence at magistrate and crown courts. I also have experience of making presentations to councils and local community groups.
I am standing as Parliamentary Candidate for the Amber Valley Constituency in order to give people the chance to vote for a different way of doing things. I want the people of Amber Valley to know that the Green Party is here and that we are prepared to speak for them; that the Green Party offers hope and practical solutions where all other Parties offer division, fear and failure.
I believe that my life and work experience, together with the fact that my beliefs are firmly in line with Green Party philosophy, make me a credible candidate to stand for Amber Valley
Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015
As the Green Party candidate for North East Derbyshire, I think that the most important thing for the party is to field as many candidates as possible to give the public a chance to vote Green. Despite supporting Green Party values for as long as I can remember, I have never voted Green because I have never had a candidate to vote for.
I work as Head Gardener at Renishaw Hall. Working outside I am keenly aware that climate change is actually happening. In the 12 years that I managed the vineyard at Renishaw, harvest dates came forward an average of one week, that is proper scary. My employer has also invested in renewable energy (three wind turbines and a biomass boiler). However, seeing the decision making process that led to this, I can assure you that ‘leaving it up to the market’ will not solve our energy problems.
In fact, it is the abject failure of free market capitalism to deliver anything worthwhile (apart from i pods) that has politicised me even more than imminent climate catastrophe. After all, unprecedented levels of CO2 in the atmosphere may not be that bad, the results from this experiment are not in yet. Also driving at speed down the M1 with your eyes shut may be safe, it’s something else I haven’t tried. But to expect the market to deliver fairness and a more equitable society is just plain silly.
I have read and completely agree with the Green Party manifesto 2010. Here are some bits I’m particularly passionate about:
• Re-nationalise the railways.
• Education: Get rid of SATS, league tables and, Ofsted, while you’re at it; Teachers are professionals who should be allowed to teach – ticking boxes should be reserved for pupils in multiple choice examinations. I also believe that there should be no tax relief for private schools.
• Health: I believe we should get rid of all markets within the NHS; give nurses and staff a decent pay rise then ask them what needs to be done to make the NHS better. Patients should also be fed proper food while in hospital.
• I also personally believe that it would be wise to nationalise the national grid and power generation.
I hope for your support. We have a lot to do.
Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015
You could describe me as a secret Green. I have lived my life according to good, Green, environmental principals since I was a teenager, therefore, for at least the last 40 years. I garden organically, at home and on my allotment; I have re-used, recycled and upcycled; I have installed solar panels in order to contribute to sustainable energy; basically, quietly doing my own bit towards a sustainable future. However, I have decided to come out of the closet and take direct political action so that voters in South Derbyshire are given the opportunity to vote for the Green Party.
I am a Doctor of Philosophy in Information Science as well as a qualified librarian, teacher and nursery manager. I am a passionate believer in Equality, Open Knowledge and Knowledge for All. I believe in a world where all people are allowed the same opportunities of health, work and education, despite differences in gender, race, or ability. I consider that humans are only a small part of our planet and we should tread gently amongst the multitude of other plant and animal species, doing no harm as we pass through this world. As a parent and grandparent, I feel the responsibility to teach our descendants to protect their environment, including scientific moral responsibility and scientific progress towards minimum environmental impact.
I have taken an active role in my local community and, here in Weston-on-Trent, I was a Parish Councillor for four years. I am and have been a committee member of several village organisations and been part of successful campaigns to extend the school and the village hall and to improve the recreational facilities for children and young people in Weston and Aston. More recently, I have been involved with national campaigns to prevent the closure of public libraries. I am a confident and experienced public speaker and able to frame logical argument.
I have become gradually more politicised over the past five years as I have realised that the current governmental coalition are seeking to disenfranchise the people of Britain and establish central governmental control by removing decision making powers from Local Government and erecting barriers to free and accessible sources of information. 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. I feel that current major politicians are lacking in moral convictions and their shallow attempts at vote catching will not be translated into the public good.
I want to stand as a parliamentary candidate for the Green Party for the two following reasons. Firstly, I am a doer, a person of action and I want to change the current political situation. Secondly, the Green Party core principles and manifesto accord with my general views and convictions; and I believe that they are the right ones to reform politics in the UK.
Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015
I am immensely honoured to be the Green Party candidate for my home town of Chesterfield having grown up here for most of my life. I feel proud of the fact that I can offer the people of Chesterfield the option of voting Green in May 2015.
For me, the Green Party is the only political party that is actively advocating both environmental sustainability and social fairness and equality. I hope in being the Green Party candidate I can represent and espouse these ideals.
I see the role of the Green Party candidate being primarily to listen and help to act upon the concerns of local people in Chesterfield. I am also presenting voters with a credible alternative to the three main “business as usual” Westminster parties and UKIP.
With the surge in both the Green Party’s membership and polling figures in recent months, I feel that it is becoming increasingly possible to deliver on people’s desire for change.
In particular, I want to campaign against the Coalition’s austerity agenda and the creeping privatisation of the NHS.
In addition I would be a champion for young people, who often end up being disenfranchised by our current political system. I want to give the young people of Chesterfield a voice; a voice in which they can believe. I will endeavour to work hard to represent them and their needs.
I have long had an interest in the environment and nature. From helping out on my parent’s allotment to studying about climate change at university, it has always been a passion of mine. With a university background in the environment and having recently started working as an environmental consultant, I want to use my skills to bring about a positive change.
Through the Green Party, I believe this is possible. So I am willing to roll up my sleeves and be the best Green representative that I can for the people of Chesterfield.