East Midlands Green Party Blog


2 Comments

No Jobs on a Dead Planet

Peter Allen reports back on a momentum gathering People’s Assembly:

Following a successful and determined local Peoples Assembly Against Austerity in Nottingham last month, with around 400 participants, a national PAAA attracted an amazing 4000 people to Central London on Saturday June 22nd.The event was sponsored by a number of trade unions (UNITE, UNISON, PCS, NUT, CWU, FBU, TSSA, NUJ), various campaign groups and War and Want .

The Green Party was the only political party with parliamentary representation that backed the event. Our MP, Caroline Lucas, reminded the gathering that the environmental crisis was as important as the economic crisis and indeed that “you can’t tackle the one without the other”. Rather than bailing out the banks unconditionally, money should have been invested in insulating our homes,renewing our railways (which should be taken back into public ownership) and greening our energy generation. Such initiatives would also create the jobs that are desperately needed

See here speech here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuggTKDAhE0&feature=share

Party leader Natalie Bennett facilitated a workshop discussion on the need for a renewal of democracy given the fact that democratic politics has been discredited by broken promises and corporate lobbying. As Natalie said “we have a political system for the 1%, owned by the 1%”.

Other sessions discussed the crisis in the NHS and other public services, the need to defend the poorest and most vulnerable from the attack on welfare benefits ( a clergyman from Haringey said “civil disobedience is defensible against the indefensible”) and the need to establish peoples assemblies across the country, bringing together all those who want to resist austerity and the politics of despair, and who know that there is an alternative to the “race to the bottom” that the establishment parties all promote.

Greens will have an important role to play in these local initiatives.In particular we have a responsibility to ensure that ecological and environmental issues remain at the fore front.

As Sharan Burrow , General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (and quoted by Carloine on Saturday) said

” There are no jobs on a dead planet “

Advertisements


1 Comment

Genetically Modified Futures?

A blog post by Mike Shipley of Derbyshire Greens regarding his thoughts on the politics of GM food :

Tories are pushing the EU to accept Genetic Modification

The Tories are at it again, putting corporate interests ahead of  public well-being.  This time it is Owen Patterson, the Agriculture Minister, who is acting in the interests of the big Agrochemical companies who want to launch GM crops onto the European market.  The EU takes a cautious approach to GM, with some countries maintaining an outright ban.  The Conservative Party in the UK  has been working for years behind the scenes to try to get GM crops accepted using its MEP’s to do all they can to weaken the regulation of GM products from the EU.

Why are they doing this, in the face of public opposition and unease among the farming community? Simply for profit.  If GM is launched in Europe the stock of the big GM players will soar, anyone with investments in those companies will reap a rich harvest of dividends.  But more than that, if GM crops become the standard crop it will mean that big, private corporate interests will control the whole human food chain from seed to plate. They will be able in time to take a profit from every meal served no matter how humble it may be.

Patterson says that he wants the UK to go all out for GM crops so as ‘not to be left behind’.  Left behind in what?  The race to make fat cats fatter? If he is worried about UK Science trailing the world he might do better to argue for more science funding and more support for UK students.  He might argue for more investment into research in to conventional plant breeding and sustainable agriculture in a changing world.  Now that would be really useful, but it wouldn’t make fast bucks for the Agro-chem giants.  That is what GM is all about.

GM is a flawed technology because its true purpose is hidden behind a wall of false claims. We are told that we have to have GM to increase yields in a hungry world.  Yet the US Department of Agriculture admits that GM crops do not increase yield.  People go hungry because of economic mismanagement not because of a lack of food productivity. In reporting on the potential of GM technology, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology concluded that GM can’t feed the world.  The concern is that the push for GM is weakening the ability of countries to increase food production.  In India many states are cancelling licences for GM crops, they have made rural poverty worse driving many small farmers, the main-stay of any countries food production, out of business.

We are led to believe that GM crops cut pesticide and herbicide use.  Not true, in the US, herbicide use on GM crops is up by one third compared to conventional crops. Furthermore, this heavy use is leading to the emergence of ‘super-weeds’ that are resistant to the herbicides.

We are told that GM crops have no impact on biodiversity.  Not true.  Contrary to what the GM Companies claim, non-pest insect species are killed by the GM toxins.

We are told that GM food is safe, the truth is that the work to prove this simply has  not been done.  Rather than carrying out controlled and peer reviewed safety trials, the GM companies are spending millions on lobbying to get food safety regulations weakened.

And we are told that American consumers love GM.  That’s simply because they don’t know that they are eating it.  The GM Companies have fought all attempts to introduce labelling regulations for foods containing GM products.

But none of these arguments cuts any ice with Paterson.  In fact he dismisses them all as ‘humbug’ and he is determined to push for the entry of GM into UK agriculture by pressurising the EU to lower regulatory standards.  But for the greater good of the global population, these arguments plus the true economic impact of GM, need answering.  To resist the pressure that will be applied to the EU by the well financed GM lobby we need more Greens in the European Parliament. Green   MEP’s who are capable of looking beyond the lobbyists hype and see the wider interests of the people they represent and of the global population. Green MEP’s who will ask the awkward questions and demand answers. Green MEP’s who will stand up to corporate bullying.  In June 2014 we will have the opportunity to send more Green MEP’s to the European Parliament. Take that opportunity.


2 Comments

UKIP – The rise of racism

In times of crisis people can stick together or they tend to start blaming each other. With the country experiencing the longest economic slump for a century, the rise of UKIP as a party based on blaming others is hardly surprising. Sadly the government seems intent on policies blaming its own citizens, and the poorest in society.

The government has consistently blamed the welfare system for our deficit. Greens believe the deficit could be addressed if the government were to close down tax havens and end corporate tax avoidance. The crisis was not caused by welfare, public services or anyone on benefits; the crisis was caused by a greedy and unregulated casino banking system.

 

Whilst the government blamed those on welfare, UKIP has hijacked the “debate” by blaming the EU and immigration for our economic problems.

The recent county council elections have unfortunately shown that UKIP’s strategy has been successful with an overall of 25% of the votes. The press gave them a lot of coverage – which has been surprising considering that basically they only have one real policy. I guess this kind of simple blaming culture has some sensational value for the press.

Anyway during the county council campaign the press also reported various UKIP candidates making racist comments. I have had an email earlier this week from the “hope not hate” campaign reporting that Chris Pain, leader of the UKIP Lincolnshire council group, and UKIP’s East Midlands chairman has made some very racist comments on facebook. When I tried to find him on facebook I was not able to, thus I am wondering if UKIP has also acted up on this. However, it is important that the public is aware of UKIP’s members, and particularly leaders’ attitudes.

 

Pain wrote on Facebook: “Have you noticed that if you rearrange the letters in ‘illegal immigrants’, and add just a few more letters, it spells, ‘Go home you free-loading, benefit-grabbing, resource-sucking, baby-making, non-English-speaking ********* and take those other hairy-faced, sandal-wearing, bomb-making, camel-riding, goat-********, raghead ******** with you.’”

 

As an immigrant myself, but also as a human being I am deeply offended by his comments and we need to ensure that the public is aware of UKIP’s hate and racism.

To scapegoat others, encouraging hate and racism is the last thing that we need.