East Midlands Green Party Blog


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Nottingham City Council Bilborough By- Election – Green Party asks are we ready for change?

The Green Party have selected Katharina Boettge to be their candidate for the Nottingham City Council by-election in the Bilborough ward. She is the Greens lead candidate for the European Election in 2014 and is the Party’s Regional Coordinator. Born in Germany, she has lived in Nottingham for 13 years where she works as a psychotherapist.

Katharina says that as a single mother she has experienced the problems of having to survive on a low income. “This Government has continued reliance on cuts and austerity which is causing real hardship to people in our communities. Yet they can find the money to give a £160 billion tax break to the cash rich oil companies, they do nothing about the obscene bonuses paid to the very people bearing the most responsibility for the financial crisis.”

If elected, Katharina says that one of her priority’s will be to help people fight the totally unfair “bedroom tax.” ‘It’s a mansion tax we need not a bedroom tax, to me it makes more sense to tax the people who’ve got the money. Hounding people who are already struggling is vindictive, particularly since there are not enough social housing properties they could move into.”

Katharina believes that Nottingham City Council needs some change “Labour has a comfortable majority in Nottingham and they are not offering a way out of the current government’s austerity and cuts that are crippling our country. Labour has actually failed to vote against the unfair and illegal workfare scheme in Parliament last week”. She further argues that all major parties support cuts and austerity, they only argue about the pace and details. The Green Party says categorical no to cuts and austerity, we are offering policies that will address our economic crisis, whilst these enhance the lives of individuals, families and communities. For example, in 2010 we proposed a Green New Deal that would see immediate government investment in renewable energy and a nation wide programme of insulation. This would create thousands of jobs therefore cutting the benefit bill and increasing tax revenue. It would save people money on energy bills leaving them with more to spend in the local economy.”

Katharina Boettge has been living in Strelley, in the Bilborough ward with her 13 year old daughter and their pets for over eight years, she says “I know the area well, Bilborough has been our home and I want to give something back to our beautiful neighbourhood.”

Polling for the Bilborough ward by-elections will be on the 4th of April 2013.

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Poverty and Climate Change: Can we afford not to vote Green?

please sir I want some more cartoon

The government chief scientist recently warned of climate change causing massive problems in our life-times. Local Green Party candidate Katharina Bottege answered “Look out of your window, it is happening now.” With chief scientist of present government warning of increased extremes in weather and problems with food, water and energy security, this post looks at how this is happening here, now and how we recognise it in increasing poverty and social injustice.  Our government says we cannot afford to take action against climate change despite their wasting of billions on failing systems. The Green Party says we cannot afford not to deal with climate change. Positive action against climate change can limit poverty and increase economic and social stability.

Climate change creeps into our lives in a million different ways, poverty is one of them. On one icy day last week I spoke with two ‘strangers’ about the effect of climate change upon their lives. The first chat was with a busy woman with a bad cold working at a checkout. She spoke of lighting candles instead of putting on the heating after her long shift. She wanted to convince herself she was warm. The second conversation was with a young man who sat next to me on the bus home. He talked of getting under the duvet on the sofa with friends to watch a film and how this time last year he was in shorts and t-shirt.  It is not hard to talk about climate change and the economic systems that fuel it, even if people aren’t always aware that is what they are talking about. We don’t talk so much about the extreme affects. The driest, hottest month of March since records began in 2012 and this year’s icy lack of spring both affect food production, health and well-being. Climate chaos means we also experience many floods across the region and beyond, destroying agriculture as well as homes and businesses. It is costing jobs. It is costing lives. In this freezing season people are dying.

Climate chaos is costing the people of the East Midlands dearly, today!  The rising cost of food and heating are part of it.  As I trudged through ice on my way home I thought of the increasing numbers of homeless people and others in fuel poverty. I also thought of the seeds, buds and bulbs; the ecosystems and food systems frozen in stasis. The effects further down the line when crops fail will be that food access goes down more and prices go up again. United Nations Development Programmes and Oxfam are among the many organisations who know poverty and climate change are linked. Transportation of food, water and other necessities is getting more expensive as fuel gets more expensive and government refuses to invest in alternatives that are less expensive, more efficient, safer and less polluting; alternatives that, unlike our present system, do not add fuel to rising poverty and social injustice. There are social costs to climate chaos. In extremes we have seen in Northern Ireland recently, people burning furniture to survive.

In ‘Collapse: How societies choose to fail or survive’ Jared Diamond looks at how, blinded by a creeping sense that this is all normal and therefore OK, many symptoms of climate change and environmental destruction go unseen. Crowded hospitals and education system are symptoms. Lowered wages as millions work in fewer centres of employment further from where they live are signs. High house prices, lost communities, traffic jams and longer commutes from where we live to where we work, rest and play are among the rising human costs of environmental destruction. Trouble finding places to put the things we throw ‘away’ is another symptom meaning problems with waste disposal. Disease epidemics, starvation, drought, increased violence, more wars, genocides, the oppression of groups of people, certain kinds of human rights abuses including people trafficking are all partially caused or made worse by climate change. So much in fact of what we find increasingly normal and unavoidable because we become used to it.

The increasing amount of vulnerable people going cold or malnourished and the resulting illness and even death are rooted both in financial system failures and in climate chaos our economic and political system is too blinkered and blundering to deal with. Tax breaks for big oil companies and billions spent on nuclear cannot replace renewables which are cleaner, safer, with decreasing cost, increasing effectiveness and job creation. The opposite in every sense of present policies of our government and the weak opposition. The same political systems that cut services and welfare and place too much control in the hands of the wrong aspects of the private sector. The same system that sells off NHS and schools and targets taxes on the poor.

Climate chaos increases natural disasters like tsunamis, famines, forest fires, floods. It causes more crop failures, extinctions and the collapse of eco-systems needed for our life and the health of the planet.  Resource scarcity means higher prices and less to go around, so less and less people have access to basics in life, such as clean water, food, shelter, dignified living conditions, work, security . This helps create more human conflicts and oppression, leading to more displaced and vulnerable people, more people trafficking, more poverty. We see it ourselves in increasing cost of life’s basics, in families requiring food parcels, in rising homelessness and mental health issues, in more people without work or security. We see it in rising hatred, blame and violence between different social groups. We see our government blaming all this on the most vulnerable and on the poorest while ignoring root causes. Greens offer another vital way, a jobs rich, low carbon, resilient economy based on what is sustainable and upholds dignity and justice. Together we can make a difference in our neighbourhoods, in our nation and in the world by adopting policies that tackle climate change as surely as they stand up for social justice and human rights.

Government is subsidizing the wrong companies, the wrong practices, practices which cost jobs and security, practices which are not competitive and do not boost the economy but cost us all. They cost us in taxes used to bail out, subsidize and support procedures that put us, our present and future at risk. These are not procedures that sustain a resilient economy that is jobs rich, well-being focused and protective of the natural systems of which we are part.Treating people like disposable commodities and refusing to pay social and environmental duties is not deemed necessary for profit in well run companies. ‘Provamel’ is a profitable, ethical company that operates carbon neutral food production with attention to detail on environmental impact from field to plate; an environmental no harm approach.

So, for the economy, for community, for planet, for people, for social justice, for ethical business, for tax justice and reform in the financial sector and for tackling climate change and poverty, can we afford not to vote green?


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The Northants Green Party Blog

CarolineRESPONDING TO THE BUDGET ANNOUNCEMENT, GREEN MP CAROLINE LUCAS (BRIGHTON PAVILION) SAID: “Amidst the tax breaks for shale gas and boastful roadbuilding pledges, there is one huge green economy-shaped hole in this flailing Chancellor’s Budget.

“With the UK’s green economy now worth over £120bn – 9% of GDP – providing nearly a million jobs and generating a third of our most recent economic growth according to the CBI, it is completely inexplicable that George Osborne keeps pretending it doesn’t exist.

“Given the huge potential of green industries and clean energy generation to provide British jobs and prosperity, as well as the obvious environmental benefits they will deliver, it’s time to drop austerity and go for Plan G.

“There’s no doubt that the cuts have failed – now we need urgent investment in nationwide green infrastructure to stabilise the economy, tackle the environmental crisis and deliver clean and secure energy for…

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George Osborn / Guy of Gisborn – Green notes on a ridiculous budget

naughty Guy of Gisborn

Robin Hood Laughs

Has anyone noticed certain similarities between the Sheriff Henchman Guy of Gisborn and George Osborn? No, I don’t mean the steamy Richard Armitidge depiction. I mean the derisive bailiff who took from the poorest what they did not owe.  This Robin Hood Region blog  shares some Green arrows of truth to drive into the latest budget; a budget already full of holes:

  • Subtract from those with least and you end up with less than nothing -basic maths!
  • Unemployment has increased since his government came to office (2.53m up from 2.47m) with those people blamed for poverty.
  • There are economic and environmental holes all over the budget.
  • Words and phrases such as ‘unavoidable’, ‘there is no alternative’  are the words of bullies and abusers the world over. Is it coincidence that these are words spoken today by our government? We must each draw our own conclusions…

  • “With the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warning that tax rises, welfare cuts, and wages freezes will push over 7 million children below the breadline in the next two years, it’s scandalous that this millionaire Government is still so reluctant to make the richest in our society pay their fair share of tax.” Caroline Lucas
  • If millionaires and multinational corporations pay ever-decreasing income tax the deficit will get worse – basic maths!
  • Corporation tax avoidance works against small & medium sized businesses which make up 60% of private sector.
  • “Treating 1 million of our cold draughty homes each year would create 140,000 jobs, save each household up to £250 in fuel bills, and cut carbon emissions.” Natalie Bennett

Robin Hood Nottingham

  • The Chancellor has failed to provide the framework to fulfill the enormous potential of our green economy.
  • The right to earn £10,000 tax free for the decreasing amount of people in steady work does not add up when public service cuts and other economic injustices mean more do not have jobs or cannot work because of  issues such as disability or age
  • The budget still relies on taxing the poorest most, targeting the most vulnerable, including children, single parent families and those with disabilities.
  • The budget fails to value the vital work of those within the public sector, undermining schools, hospitals etc … undervaluing their service and their staff
  • The budget goes against the directive of the International Monetary Fund (IMF):
  1.  IMF says the cutting corporation tax does not boost growth!
  2. IMF says we need to spend more not less. Cuts are not working.
  • Fair corporate taxation does not mean an noncompetitive economy. Sweden, Finland and others have managed.
  • The Department of Energy and Climate Change say shale gas is unlikely to reduce energy prices significantly. It will suppress the development of vital renewables:

  •  ‘The lazy, arrogant ‘no alternative’  argument lacks vision, intelligence, humanity & sense.
  • “Amidst the tax breaks for shale gas and boastful roadbuilding pledges, there is one huge green economy-shaped hole in this flailing Chancellor’s Budget.” Caroline Lucas
  • UK new nuclear is likely to be  more expensive  and less safe  per unit of electricity supplied than any other low-carbon energy source and too slow to deploy to meet our pressing energy needs.

This budget is a continued, self defeating war on the poor and has total disregard for environmental resources and balance we and other beings need in order to survive. It is socially unjust and economically reckless. It flies in the face of the needs of the majority for jobs, for warm homes, for enough money to live with dignity. It creates more poverty and then blames the poor. It works against sane action for safe, healthy environment and sustainable futures for all. Robin Hood Tax, or financial transaction tax on banks’ more risky ventures is one way forward. I encourage people to look into ever- Green policies to find out more and to vote Green in the fight for fairness.

Further Reading on Green Responses:

http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2013/03/20/budget-2013-time-for-plan-g-stop-failed-austerity-and-invest-in-the-billion-pound-green-economy

http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2013/03/20/budget-2013-another-deceptive-and-divisive-budget-for-private-profit-and-public-pain/


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No Laughing Matter; one response to the budget

Danny Alexander, George Osborne, David Cameron laughin

Green Party members in East Midlands have a few things to say about the latest budget. This response comes from Derbyshire’s Mike Shipley:

Some time ago, a picture of Osborne, Cameron and Danny Alexander was dong the rounds on Facebook.  It showed the three of them sharing a joke, the caption said:

‘What are they laughing at?  They are laughing at us!’

If our situation wasn’t so serious, laughter might be the best response to the Coalitions latest budget.  Big tax breaks for mega rich companies who will hide their profits off shore and pay huge bonuses, a penny of a pint for the rest of us. Thanks Gideon, you really understand the common people!

But our situation is no laughing matter. This budget is based on a lie.  The lie being pushed at the British public is that the financial crisis was caused by excessive public spending, and therefore this spending has to be slashed and the money returned to the private sector who will invest it to create jobs and restore the economy.

The truth is that the financial crisis was caused by reckless bank lending to the private sector, it was private debt that was out of control n 2008, not public spending.  It was the banks who created the problem, then they demanded that governments bail them out with public money, threatening to go bust if that money wasn’t produced.  In this game of chicken, unfortunately it was Governments who blinked first, encouraged by conservative economists who said that the banks were too big to fail, they had to be saved, all else had to go to the wall. In order to save the banks, public spending had to be sashed to find the money and keep the markets happy.

Now that the banks have been bailed out, they aren’t returning the favour. They aren’t providing affordable finance to projects that will benefit the taxpayers who bailed them out.  Instead they are sitting on the cash and using it to justify the continued practice of paying excessive bonuses to themselves. We are rewarding them for their greed and folly with our money that should be being spent on public services that would benefit us all.

None of this will Gideon Osborne recognise.  His mission is to win the gratitude of the super rich who will bankroll his Party’s election campaigns.  He is using the so called ‘crisis’ to drive his own agenda, which is to privatise as much of public provision as possible, so adding to the wealth of his core supporters.  Oh yes, he generously chips a penny of the price of a pint and cuts the fuel duty increase, but don’t bother to drive to the pub to drink to Gideon’s health, by the time he’s finished, this government of millionaires will have made the rest of us considerably worse off.

‘Who are they laughing at?  They are laughing at us.’


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Derbyshire Green Party

Portrait of a young boy crossing guard standing on the road holding a stop signIn a remarkable piece of Orwellian ‘Newspeak’ the Tories running DCC are trying to claim that their proposed budget cuts to the County Youth Service were in fact part of an ambitious plan to make youth provision in the County ‘Bigger and Better’.  Their original plan to axe all youth clubs and to scale back its professional youth workers met with such an outcry of opposition that the Council has been forced into a rapid rethink, which they are trying to dress up as the product of a consultation.  One is forced to wonder why they didn’t think to consult first and avoid all the uncertainty for young people, parents and workers.

Adults have a moral responsibility to ensure there is adequate provision for young people in society, enabling them to develop and mature into citizens who are able, in time to take over the running of society.  It is…

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Fighting for Fair, Green Party are there

GP EM at Anti Bedroom tax demo

Councillor Richard Mallander and candidate Katharina Boettge are among the Green Party people in this photo taken at Nottingham’s Anti-Bedroom Tax protest yesterday. Other party members were circulating, mingling and sharing leaflets about real alternatives to the cuts. Simon Hales and myself were stewards for the event, helping to ensure safety for those taking part. As this tax targets children and those with disabilities, young families and people with mobility and sight problems were in the crowds. People came in support of others. One little girl told me proudly that her Sylvanian family bunnies were ready to protest with banners against the bedroom tax she made for them herself. Nottingham Pensioners Action Group (NPAG) were out in force as people from different organisations and none joined to say ‘no’ to those least able to pay and least to blame for the financial troubles being expected to pay most. From the far left to centre, old hats and new faces stood shoulder to shoulder.  Human stories were shared by a mix of speakers from all backgrounds and ages. Hundreds more local people joined in online, many with limited mobility or issues of transport and our crowded speaker’s corner. Many thousands more gathered across the country. Newscasters as far as Russia have picked up on protests.

‘Spare room tax’ is deceptive. Children of the same sex under 16 or different sexes under 10 would have to share rooms. This suggests a child’s bedroom is an unoccupied or ‘spare’ room according the government. Children, it appears, do not count as individuals. Public and inter-party pressure and rulings in which government plans have been found in contravention of basic rights set out by the Human Rights Convention, have lead to some concessions. These have been for the severely disabled, and foster families housing one vulnerable child, and  for the rooms of those away in armed forces. Definitions of severely disabled are still contentious,  particularly given the farce of ATOS reform. Many disabled children will still have to share rooms as will so many other children. People needing care assistance will still have troubles. Foster families offering sanctuary to more than one bedroom’s worth of children will still be penalised for their service to community. Bereaved families will still have to move or make further choices over such things as food or heating on their decreased income. Single parents often working part-time while supporting children will be under increased risk of homelessness. Calls for people to be moved to other areas for social housing I have heard from some quarters would further fundamentally undermine families, communities, schooling and the large parts of society and economy reliant on part-time employees and volunteers.  Such actions would over-burden the jobs markets, resources and populations of some areas while devastating others, with the ridicule of empty homes and people without shelter.

Poverty and homelessness, particularly in families and young people, is already escalating at alarming pace. See charities and social enterprises like Shelter, Save The Children and Gateway for Families for further information, or follow BBC, Guardian and other media.  This is before council tax changes and bedroom tax comes in. With virtually no smaller social housing properties and no rent control in private landlord market, this will be an expensive failure, resulting in more vulnerable people hungry, cold and increasingly without homes while costing ‘the tax payer’ more in housing benefit in unregulated private market, in adaption of new homes for those with mobility problems, in litigation for human rights violation and in decreasing ability to work in those thousands whose fragile physical and mental health is further threatened by these ‘reforms’.

Many people are called such offensive names as ‘scrounger’ or ‘sponger’ and a waste of good tax payers’ money. People relying on help from housing benefit include pensioners who have worked all their lives. They include many people who often do work but require help because they are also doing the vital work of raising children. They include carers.  They include the vast swathes of people made redundant by public service cuts and companies shedding jobs despite multinationals remaining in profit and able to avoid paying tax. These multi-national corporations are often even further subsidized by government. The people affected by this tax and other cuts include vulnerable people temporarily or permanently unable to work through accident or illness. In those  people’s eyes who see spongers as the norm among those facing poverty,a waste of all the good tax payers’ money  does not seem to include the tax breaks for millionaires, the billions in bonuses still given to high level bankers for making the same risky transactions that played a great part in the present economic insecurity, despite our taxes bailing out those banks. Waste of good tax payers’ money does not appear to include the taxes used for second and third homes for MPs, often costing in the millions, sometimes under 20 miles from each other. Good tax-payers’ money to some seems not to be wasted subsidizing billion dollar oil companies or financing more weapons of mass destruction. To these misguided individuals wandering into the fog of derisive and divisive anti-poor or undeserving poor rhetoric, it is a waste of all those good tax-payers’ money to ensure a child has their own bedroom, that pensioners are warm and well, that families have homes, that people with disabilities have the basic care they need for human dignity, that students can go and learn to be the next doctors, scientists, economists, artists, thinkers, leaders of enterprise etc with a room at home to return to as they pay back huge loans for fees. They cannot see that such taking away of basics for survival means there are those coerced to stay with abusive partners by this tax. Domestic abuse, depression and indeed rates of suicide are on the rise.

Economically, it makes better sense to tax people who can actually pay.   Socially it makes sense to ensure there are enough proper long-term living wage jobs for people ( not including zero hours contracts or enforced unpaid labour) before blame is thrown at those without paid work. Ethically it makes sense to honour the work of parents, of those in the voluntary sector and others making a contribution to society not directly measured in pounds and pence. The Green Party heralds economic and social strategy that places resilience, stability, sustainability and increased equality over the boom and bust cycle chasing growth at all costs. For those who prefer  more conventional economics of chasing the next boom phase, I offer the damning recent Moody Report and the words of John Maynard Keynes: ‘The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury’. However, The Green Party distrusts GDP as the sole or primary indicator of wealth and well-being when it does not encompass measurements of gaps between the richest and poorest or of basic living conditions.  Ultimately, subtracting more and more from people with the least leaves us all in the negative in every sector of society and economy. There is an alternative and The Green Party is part of it.

Photos from across the Nation of Demos yesterday:

http://welfarenewsservice.com/campaigners-rally-against-the-bedroom-tax/#.UUW1BxeeOe0

Introduction to Alternative Economics; beyond the boom & bust:

http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news-archive/3493.html – Green Party and The Green New Deal

http://www.matureeconomy.org/?p=15

http://www.greeneconomics.org.uk – founded by Green Councillor Miriam Kennet

Examples of Human Rights Action taken Against the manner of Government Cuts :

http://www.anthonycollins.com/briefings/welfare-reform-update

http://wearespartacus.org.uk/bedroom-tax-undermines-disabled-peoples-human-rights

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/05/benefits-welfare