East Midlands Green Party Blog


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What Integrity is Left?

red and green

Greens are changing the political conversation with our push against the shift to the right of other parties. A sure signal of success can be seen in Labour’s uneasy recognition of the “Green surge”. They have created a national anti-Greens unit, headed by Sadiq Khan, to bring the left to heel. Instead of re-examining their abandoned roots they are using misdirection to discredit Greens, with highly dubious and hypocritical stabs at Brighton and Hove high on their agenda. As one of the East Midlands’ Green Party candidates (for Nottingham East), I thought hard and spoke to my family at length before standing. It was always going to be a challenging journey. For ever increasing numbers of us, striving within the Green Party is a stand we feel the need to make proudly, together. I knew we would battle being ignored and that, if we did well, we would be under fierce and sometimes personal attack. We are now under fire because our voices are being heard! Greens are a party run by its membership, on donations and by volunteers. We are surrounded by a political landscape of corporate funded parties, pro-austerity dogma and scapegoating. Without media backing and with limited resources we have soared up the polls as 4th party in front of Lib Dems. We aren’t avatar politicians with slick campaign machines and spin doctors. As a party we have integrity.

Other parties have regularly betrayed their own membership and core principles. Most Labour policies are no longer either fair or ‘left’. Greens are the only party fighting austerity and climate chaos left in the running. Labour’s Ed Balls and Rachel Reeves are among those recently reasserting the same tired, tried and failed agendas of continued deep cuts and placing focus on rising spending to cover shortfalls. This means rising personal debts and inequality for the majority of people, supposedly to pay the national debts fueled by that very same philosophy!

The right-wing is fracturing even as it grows and becomes more extreme. This is the time to push against it! Progressively, it seems the Green Party are the only ones not leaning ever further to the right. Some Labour supporters speak about splitting the left vote but I would argue they are no longer a party of either left or non-discriminatory policies. They would never consider standing down as they ask us to. It seems undemocratic and manipulating to suggest we should allow them privileges based on a distant, more ethical past. I believe parties need to earn votes with good policies and stay true to core values. Green policies are created and voted for by our membership which helps avoid the betrayal other parties have suffered at the hands of their leadership.

The rise of the Greens is due to an increase in people voting for policies they want. People who have become distrustful of the whole political system are also turning to us, adding to our collective voice. We are the only party talking about job creation, not job cuts. We are the only party standing against TTIP and fracking, for a public NHS and a fair taxation system that takes easily affordable amounts from those who can best afford it, instead of punishing the poor in economically and socially bankrupt ways or passing our debts on to young people. One analogy I like is a ‘shared’ dinner; it makes no sense for those who have eaten more and have more in their wallets to pay nothing of the bill leaving those still hungry and with empty wallets to pay for it all.

I could say a lot more, but all I want to put across is that no one owns your votes or is entitled to your support unless you feel it is earned. Question any party’s sense of entitlement of your vote. Question anyone who says your vote and voice don’t count. I’m not going to ask you to believe me. Instead I am going to ask you to make up your own mind and vote for what you believe in. I recommend this independent survey which matches people with preferred policies.

http://voteforpolicies.org.uk/survey/select
Antonia Zenkevitch, Candidate for Nottingham East


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Election 2014: the untold stories:

sunflower

Our wonderful lead candidate did not win but The Green Party of England and Wales has beaten the Liberal Democrats into fourth place in the European elections for the first time. In pre-election polls, as we past them in popularity, you would have thought this would be massively news-worthy. Mainstream media, including the BBC implicitly undermined The Green Party through omission. Greens have been referred to anonymously as one of the “other” parties (where they have not been completely ignored) in the lead up to elections and in much reporting of results. This is undemocratic and offensively undermining, not only of the party, but of many of the voices of Britain and the democratic system itself. (The Guardian is the main exception to this criticism). The Greens were polling higher than we have for 25yrs. That shift was reported by most, not as a Green Party achievement, but as a failure of everyone else.  These polls were reflected in results.  We are now the official opposition in Liverpool, Norwich and Solihull. Brighton and Hove Council remain Green. We have Green voices in Labour councils of Islington and Lewisham. In the South West, where I grew up, there is celebration over another Green MEP being added to the indomitable two we already have.

The story in the news is the success of UKIP, but just as the success of The Greens has been underplayed, the success of UKIP is overplayed.  A deeply worrying movement in public thinking but 90% of the electorate did not vote for them. Many did not vote at all and that, more than anything, helped them win the seats they did. The Greens didn’t win as many new seats as UKIP, but we did not field as many candidates. Nor have any of our candidates been suspended for extreme raciest, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and ablest comments as a growing number of UKIP candidates recently have. We are not funded by large corporations as UKIP is. 99% of the party is run by volunteers and we have less funds than other parties to paper the world with flyers so we focus on target wards. The more members and support we gain the more we are able to build on this; to field more candidates so that everyone who wants to can vote Green. If recent polls and social media trends are read correctly, a growing wave of people are voting Green and even more want to.  In the north of the UK UKIP support thins out. In Manchester Greens came second in terms of the popular vote, with 21%. Yet parties with less of the popular vote gained seats and they did not. This is a strange aspect of our system meaning we have to fight even harder than mainstream, better funded parties to succeed. Yet we are truly in the game now, a rising voice of hope working against the rising voice of hate. It has never been more important to stand together.

Much damage may have been done by Russell Brand’s call to not vote. Many with preference to Green policies and disillusioned by mainsteam parties have not voted. However, on social media and in person I have heard many others say they voted Green for the first time. Many say it is the first time they ever voted. Others say it is the first time they voted for what they truly wanted. With the general elections only a year away this can only be the beginning of the surge. Hope has tenacity and strength and we have much to strive for and protect for the common good. We must strive against voter apathy, scapegoating and hopelessness and tell the world about our policies.

So what can we do now? Complaining to the BBC for its biased reporting of the elections is one thing we would very much suggest. Please see the petition against BBC news media blackout of The Green Party. What we can all also do is tell another story. There are parts of the country where Greens got a large percentage of the popular vote. There are parts of the country where we became official opposition. We held seats and gained seats, both in councils and the European Parliament. We did this in spite of media bias lumping us together in the category of ‘other parties’. We saw surges in the polls and on social media in spite of a mainstream media determined not to report positive stories. A party run by volunteers with policies so many want but fear they cannot have became a rising voice in this election.

My story, as social media bod for the East Midlands, is the over 24hrs in which #VoteGreen2014 was showing as one of four most popular hashtags on Twitter. At one point it appeared the second most popular hashtag. The other party people were talking about voting for was, unfortunately, UKIP. Occasionally Labour was also one of the popular discussion points. This means everyone seemed to be talking about voting either UKIP or Green. On Facebook, I saw people who once would have dismissed us sharing Green Party flyers and talking about our policies. I remember saying to my husband as he waved tea in front of my face while I continued my role in the growing team keeping Green seen, that this was democracy awakening. More people were not just voting for the usual suspects. Those voting in fear included those fearful of economic and job uncertainty. It is our combined job now to continue to convince people that Green Party is the party fighting austerity and for job creation and bank reform; measures that will protect them. We have to fight the wave of hatred and the excuses for bigotry. Humanity has been here before. The ugly fact is that hatred has won seats and the map has new shadows across it. The good news is that Greens are in a stronger position to strive for the common good.  We need all hands on deck to build on this.

Find the Petition against BBC Blackout of Green Party in the Elections at:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/bbc-news-stop-this-media-blackout-of-the-green-party?bucket&source=facebook-share-button&time=1400968778

Antonia Zenkevitch, MA Human Security


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Euro elections – hope not fear

First of all I want to thank all the people who voted Green; and all the Green candidates and members who have been working tirelessly in this campaign.
After returning from our short stay at Kettering for the count yesterday, I have recovered from my disappointment. I knew that our chances of getting a seat were slim, but I had hoped for a higher percentage. I also have been concerned about now having two UKIP and two Conservative and one Labour MEPs in the East Midlands; this far right move has also been shown throughout Europe and is seriously threatening our Green, peaceful, equal and fair agenda. Banking reform, challenging corporate power, protecting workers’ rights, improving animal welfare, fighting climate change, investing in renewables and addressing equality in Europe is not supported by the right wing parties. That does worry me.
However, after reflections, I think we have done very well – such a strong trend is almost impossible to oppose. In the UK 1,2 million people have voted Green, and this is a clear message that there are many who trust and support or aims. Voters have also clearly shown their lack of faith in the Libdems, and admittedly I was pleased that we got more votes than them. Although I would obviously have preferred Libdems gaining seats to UKIP or the Conservatives. Here in the East Midlands, we came fourth – which is a great achievement. The campaign has also gathered momentum, and it appeared that many were motivated to help, join and some to even vote for the first time. I believe we raised the East Midlands Green Party profile. Someone today reminded me of our slogan of “hope not fear”. And I thought yes, absolutely. Voters and members believe in us, they believe in the positive solutions we offer. Whatever happens from now on in Europe and in the UK, we must continue to get our message out there.
Next year, we have local and general elections, which we must focus on. We also will analyse the results and start considering a long term strategy for the Euro elections in five years.
That’s how it is, Green activists and candidates have shown that even after disappointments, we just carry on. We reflect and learn regarding election strategies, but continue to fight for our uncompromising values. Because we all believe in our solutions – these are positive and achievable.
So than you again for your support, and we are looking forward to continue to fight for a better future for the common good.


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Greens accuse LibDems of ‘misrepresentation’

The East Midlands Green Party has stated that the Liberal Democrats claim to be the only party ‘standing up for Britain’s membership of the EU’ is a misrepresentation.

‘The LD’s are trying to give the impression that all other parties in this election want to come out of the EU and that only they favour continued membership. This is simply not true’, said KB, the Greens lead candidate in the East Midlands.

‘In our freepost leaflet we say that we need a very different, reformed European Union, a Europe that supports local communities to make decisions for themselves, that reins in the power of the giant global corporations and helps ensure they and rich individuals pay their fair share of taxes. We also think that it needs to be a more democratic Europe, with the European Parliament, where we hope to have increased representation given more control over unelected commissioners. Unlike the anti Europe parties the Greens say that we need to stay in the EU because it lays the foundation for Human and Workers Rights and of consumer and environmental standards. We know that all of these areas would be weakened by the Euro-sceptics who oppose even the limited protection that current European legislation provides’

The Liberal Democrat claim was made in their Freepost leaflet. When challenged about the distortion in the leaflet lead candidate Bill Newton Dunn refused to defend the leaflet or take responsibility for it , blaming the “national office” but being unable to tell the Green Party who to direct a complaint to.

‘Bill’s indecisiveness on the matter is perhaps an indication of the disarray in which the Lib Dems find themselves’ said Kat ‘ Having shared a platform with him a number of times in the campaign I get the impression that he is unenthusiastic about various aspects of the Liberal Democrats platform in this election. And so he should be! He knows that his party is part of a government that has refused to implement the working time directive and has opposed taking action against bankers excessive bonuses. It is also a government which has blocked reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which would have put a cap on payments to the largest landowners who at present grab most of the subsidies paid by the EU to farmers,funded by taxpayers across Europe, many of whom are struggling with the impact of austerity. At home he knows that it is a government which has scapegoated immigrants and benefit claimants rather than taking action to control the activities of the financial institutions and their overpaid bosses who are really responsible for the crisis which has caused so much misery. It has also failed to keep its promise to be the greenest government. We know that many who have voted Liberal Democrat in the past , are extremely disillusioned with that party now and hope that many of them, if not Bill himself , will vote Green in the European Election later this month. With the Green Party already ahead of the Liberal Democrats in the polls we offer the real voice of hope in this election ‘


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Extreme Energy – Extreme Risk

water on fire - chemicals in fracking

water on fire – chemicals in fracking

 

Continuing as part of this month’s focus on energy policy, Derbyshire’s indomitable Mike Shipley has written this post:

 

Extreme Energy – Extreme Risk.

 

Even though Governments and the oil industry will not admit it, the world has passed peak oil production.  This is important information that we should be informed about in order for us to be involved in the decisions necessary about our energy supply in the years to come.  But with so much investment and share value tied to oil and fossil reserves, the industry, financial sector and the governments they control are keeping quiet, behaving as if it’s all ‘business as usual.’  The markets do not like change, confirmation of peak oil from ‘reliable sources’ would send jitters through the market and weaken investor confidence in the dominant fossil sector.  Very rich people would find their investments and therefore their wealth, devalued.

 

So we don’t hear about ‘Peak Oil’ except from scientists and Greens, and they aren’t seen as ‘reliable sources’ by the market.  But it’s what the industry is doing that gives the game away.  The easy so called conventional oil and gas on land or in shallow water,  is running out.  Why else is this conservative ultra cost conscious industry investing so heavily in hard to win reserves known as ‘extreme energy’?  They are investing in high cost, high risk exploration, trying to find fossil reserves that will reassure the markets that fossil carbon remains a good investment.  These explorations include the very deep water drilling, up to 3 kilometres down,  off the coast of Brazil and in the Gulf of Mexico, the mining  of Canadian tar sands, mountain top removal for coal in the Appalachians, fracking and underground coal gasification [UCG] that is about to be launched in the UK.

 

These sources of energy, to which we can add nuclear, because of the uninsurable risk associated with nuclear accidents – come with a high price tag.  The technology needed is either in an early stage of development or it is being stretched well beyond its design capacity, as happened with the Deep Water Horizon disaster in the gulf of Mexico. Because of this the risk associated with extreme energy is much greater than with either conventional energy sources or with renewables.  However the industry will do everything it can to transfer this risk from its balance sheet to the customer and then the taxpayer as the insurer of last resort.  One way or another we will pay a high pricer for extreme energy.

 

Even if risk costs are externalised, that is: passed on to the community and tax payer, the cost of  bringing extreme energy to market remains high and will increase as reserves become more difficult to find.  For this reason the price of energy from fossil fuels will continue to rise in to the future.  The big six energy companies will use their dominant market position to protect their profits and therefore share and dividend value.  The age of cheap fossil energy is over and the only way prices of fossil energy can be brought down is through Government subsidy.  This is what the ConDem Government is doing when it gives tax breaks and cuts regulatory costs.  But even with this support the costs of extraction and processing is high and will be reflected in market price.

 

Without doubt, we need a secure and sustainable source of energy that we can rely on well into the future.  Fossil fuel is not this energy.  By its very nature is is limited in supply and is getting more expensive to find and is damaging to the global environment.  The energy future that can deliver reliability is renewables, it has to be, by their very nature, renewables are limitless.  The wind will always blow, the sun will shine the tides rise and fall somewhere all the time.  The technical challenge is to connect up these various technologies in to energy grids that cover large areas so that energy can flow from high generating areas to the becalmed areas.  Developing this super-grid and building the appropriate generating plant will initially be expensive, but developing this system is an investment in the future and once mature, it will deliver reliable and affordable energy.  This has happened in Germany where because of its investment in renewable energy generation, the wholesale cost of electricity is falling.  True that the retail price remains high because of green tariffs that are designed to pay for the switch from fossil-nuclear to renewable.  But as the technology matures and the grid is developed, tariffs will fall and so will prices to the consumer.

 

This will not happen in the UK thanks to the policies of successive governments.  In the future we will be paying a premium global market price for gas, having been made reliant on gas power generation by Gideon Osbourn.  The fracking venture will prove to be an expensive flop and underground coal gasification will rack up a huge price tag in environmental damage that we will all have to pay for. Nuclear will deliver profits to French and Chinese state owned companies at our expense, but again it will fail to live up to the hype leaving us instead with a very costly clean up bill that will be greater than the value of the energy generated, plus the ever present risk of a major nuclear accident.

 

Green Party Energy policy aims to move energy generation from this high risk strategy that is based on extreme energy to a secure and sustainable energy supply system based on renewable sources of energy.  It can be done, Europe’s most successful economy is dong just this.  Japan in taking a close interest in German energy policy and for obvious reasons is interested in following this lead.  However, this strategy does not suit the big energy companies, and for that reason, the ConDem government is promoting a fossil-nuclear policy based on extreme energy and extreme risk.


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Culling Badgers will not stop bovine TB

In the light of recent events we are reblogging a July post by Mike Shipely on the badger culls which scientific reports say will not stop TB outbreaks:

The Green Party recognises that bovine TB is a serious problem, that it threatens the livelihood of many farmers, causes undue stress and costs the taxpayer around £50 million a year.  The problem has become progressively worse since the early 1980′s and successive governments have failed to develop a satisfactory policy to combat it. This Coalition Government is no exception. As the Defra website understates: A number of different measures have been tried to control the TB in cattle by culling badgers. None of these were entirely successful. ‘  Put more simply, policies, largely reliant on culling, but including movement restrictions and herd testing, have failed.  The measure of this failure has been the progressive spread of the disease from a few remaining residual pockets in the West Country in the late 1970′s to most agricultural areas of mainland Britain.

The disease has been spread by the movement of infected cattle.  As Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says, “Bovine TB is spreading at an alarming rate and causing real devastation to our beef and dairy industry.”  Such a rapid spread could not be caused by badgers who, if undisturbed, will remain in a restricted locality for the whole of their relatively short lives. There is evidence to show that the level of disease on badgers lags that in cattle in the same area.  If badgers were causing the spread, the disease would be higher in their population than in cattle.  In addition, infected cattle are found in areas with no badger population. It is true that badgers can pass the infection back to cattle, but most infection is cattle to cattle and always has been.

The fixation that some farmers, rural vets and politicians have with the badger to cattle transmission has prevented the adoption of the effective control regime that this country needs.  Because  of opposition to badger culling, Professor John Krebs was asked to evaluate its effectiveness 20 years ago.  He  found that there was a lack of scientific information on which to base recommendations and he advised that a properly conducted study of bTB in this country be carried out.  This study took 10 years and its final report, a rigorous, peer reviewed scientific evaluation of the disease in the UK was published in 2008.  It contained two key conclusions, these were:

First, while badgers are clearly a source of cattle TB, careful evaluation of our own and others’ data indicates that badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.

Second, weaknesses in cattle testing regimes mean that cattle themselves contribute significantly to the persistence and spread of disease in all areas where TB occurs, and in some parts of Britain are likely to be the main source of infection.

Further, the report recommended that:  Scientific findings indicate that the rising incidence of disease can be reversed, and geographical spread contained, by the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone. These measures include improved bio-security on farms to prevent contact between badgers and cattle, regular testing of cattle, and strictly controlled movements linked to the testing regime so that no infected cattle are moved and an improvement in the reliability of the bTB test.  The clear message is that culling is unnecessary and can be counter-productive.

It should be noted that this ten year study included a scientifically based Randomised Badger Cull Trial designed to test the effectiveness of culling in both infected areas and in clear areas to check the spread. The report stated:RBCT results showed that reactive culling [in response to an outbreak of the disease] increased, rather than reduced, the incidence of TB in cattle, making this unacceptable as a future policy option.  On Proactive culling, designed to stop the spread of the disease in clear areas the report found: reduced TB incidence in cattle in culled areas. However, …. this beneficial effect on cattle breakdowns was offset by an increased incidence of the disease in surrounding un-culled areas.

KCC2008Wildwood161The Green Party accepts these scientific findings and strongly opposes the new badger-cull pilots  as contrary to the clear scientific evidence; we also have significant animal-welfare, public-safety and ethical concerns.  Caroline Allen, a practising vet who speaks on animal welfare issues has said, ‘..the measure of success of the cull is a reduction in TB of around 15%, i.e. leaving 85% of the disease untouched, this all seems completely nonsensical.’  She also noted that the Government has cut funding for vaccination trials.  This decision is also nonsensical. Greens support the decision by the Wales Assembly to scrap the cull and fund a scientific vaccination trial.  We strongly support those independent groups, including Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who are raising funds from the public to run a five year trial of vaccination in the badger population. We endorse the Trust’s strategy to control the disease through vaccination and increased biosecurity on farms and call on the Government to provide funding for measures such as electric fencing and badger gates to segregate cattle and badgers.  The Government must also increase funding for an oral badger vaccination and for improved cattle testing.  It must work with the EU to get approval for the use of the available cattle vaccine and to get increased funding for improved treatments.  In addition the movement restrictions on animals from infected areas must be more strictly enforced. 

If farmers are serious about bringing bTB under control in the UK, they must accept the science, stop treating badgers as a scapegoat and adopt this packet of measures.  They require a lead from Government and from the NFU.  If these bodies will not give this lead, then farmers like so many other section of society  must turn to those who will give the lead needed and vote for a change of leadership, both of the NFU and of the country.

Please Sign the anti-cull e-petition and get your friends to do the same.  The No 10 petition to stop the cull has now passed 220,000 signatures.

But the more signatures it gets the stronger the message it sends to the Government so keep signing!http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38

Fore more information on the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Vaccination Trial go to:

http://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/badgersCulling Badgers will not stop bovine TB.

via Culling Badgers will not stop bovine TB.


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Law of the Land

When we speak of ‘The Law of the Land’ this phrase has many meanings. We have different areas of law and justice. Last night I watched news footage of Caroline Lucas’s son being picked up by his ear by police as he sat in peaceful protest against fracking. I wondered how many kinds of justice were being undermined. There is criminal justice law and civil or social justice and the environmental laws there to help protect both us and the land. John Youatt, wrote a piece on fracking on the Derbyshire Green Party blog. He is a retired planner and former minerals officer and his arguments are informed and compelling. In the light of public arrests and ridicule this is a further response to fracking. This post regards the injustices we are suffering and the silencing of our campaign.  Some of these infringements of justice include:

  • Our legal and moral right to peaceful freedom of assembly
  • Environmental Protection Laws, with both EU and UK commitments undermined
  • Our legal and moral right to clean water
  • Our legal and moral right to clean air
  • Our democratic rights to be heard
  • Our right to heritage
  • Our right to jobs
  • Our right to question how tax payers money is spent

I must interject that the police are not always like this at demonstrations. Years ago at the largest ‘Stop the War’ march in London, police officers helped us get over barriers in an overcrowded area and gave directions and smiled. This blog piece is not anti-police but more broadly anti-injustice and pro democracy.

Many people are unaware what fracking is and there has been little or no public information. Fracking adds to ground water pollution, destruction of communities, destruction of natural habitats, destruction of human health. Fracking increases climate chaos and decreases potential job provision in jobs rich green energy. Our government is subsidising oil companies with millions for this destructive process, which speaks volumes about its lack of economic efficiency. This is unforgivable in the present economic and environmental climate. The total absence of any kind of opposition by the Labour Party is also unforgivable. Whilst the cost of green energy goes down as its effectiveness increases, the cost of fracking will increase as its effectiveness decreases and the damage it creates for humans and habitats grows.  In the UK we can boast some of the most diverse natural habitats in the world, with animals and vegetation and whole ecosystems dependent on a balance being broken. Those eco-systems include us. We need a healthy environment to live in too. We are breaking land and communities if we do not fight the frack.

We need to redefine our understanding of the word ‘criminal’ when people are led away for exercising their legal right of protest peacefully. We must question whether under such circumstances we are in a democracy or what another regional Green Party member termed a ‘mature oligarchy’; a carefully constricted ruling by the few.  We need to redefine our idea of how the law is used when environmental laws and human rights law are side-lined in order to push through an inadequate, wasteful and damaging energy program. We need to question our protectors of the peace when peaceful protest meets the brutality of protesters’ faces pushed into the ground or young men picked up by their ears. Yesterday there was criminality and there were arrests but it was not the criminals who were arrested.

This blog post urges you to join the peaceful but vocal fight against fracking. Support Caroline Lucas MP and The Green Party as the only political party challenging this insanity and short-termism.  You do not have to wear a rainbow jumper to protest. The threat of fracking affects us all, from all walks of life, our heritage, our health and our future.

FIGHT THE FRACK, JOIN THE GREEN PARTY – FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR!


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Green Party says NO to Foston Factory Farm, Green Party says NO to all Factory Farms

The Green Party is opposing the planning application for the development of a mega Pig Factory Farm by Midlands Pig Producers. We also oppose any factory farm for several good reasons outlined below. This specific development would be placed in the pleasant rural village of Foston on Uttoxeter Road, South Derbyshire. The planning application involves a pig rearing unit together with anaerobic digestion facility and associated infrastructures. Midlands Pig Producer already have a factory farm in the area which holds around 5000 pigs. The Foston unit would hold 25000 pigs with 1000 pigs being slaughtered every week.

South Derbyshire DC has refused permission, the matter now lies with Derbyshire County Council who have called for more evidence on environmental impacts. If they refuse the matter will almost certainly go to appeal and be decided by the Ministry of Environment.

Foston residents have been campaigning against this massive development for some time now. The site is bordered by housing and a women’s prison, the natal unit of which is within 130 meters to the pig farm. I have spoken to some residents who have serious concerns about possible health implications, which I understand have not been fully assessed. It is unclear what Midlands Pig Producers would do in the event of an outbreak of disease for example Food and Mouth. Residents fear that the pig unit and possible neighbouring houses and the prison might have to be quarantined and movement in the village strictly limited.

Furthermore local residents understandably do not wish to live next to a big industrial unit, with its associated noise, smell and traffic movements. Although the developers claim that they will filter off 90% of the noise and smells; residents fear that the remaining noise and smells from 25,000 pigs will have a serious impact on their lives.

Another really important point is the risk of flooding. This area is prone to flooding. The actual flood-line is very close to the development; and flooding increases the risk of water contamination. The Environment Agency has objected to the plan on the basis that the risks to groundwater contamination can not be properly managed.

The development will cause a significant increase in traffic movements and noise in an area that lacks the infrastructure to properly absorb these impacts. The proposal is therefore contrary to established planning guidelines for developments in rural areas. Furthermore, the access road to and from the site is not appropriate for heavy industrial and agricultural traffic.

The Green Party promotes a sustainable approach to food production and these mega units, reliant on cheap oil and animal feed are not sustainable, which is why we oppose not only the Foston piggery but also all factory farms. We believe that the land used to grow the animal feed should be used to grow food for human consumption. Producing meat means that these animals have to be fed. Land used to grow the animal food is taken from the area used to grow human food. More intensive units means less land for human food. The calorie needs of a growing pig is about double that of a human child under 10 and 50% higher than an active adult. So the food going to this pig unit could feed 50,000 children.

I feel strongly about animal welfare, since animals are able to experience many of the same feeling as humans do. Any human with some sense of empathy can sense that animals can feel fear, pain and discomfort, they also feel stress when separated from their young. Keeping pigs or any other animals in cages for all of their lives, without natural light, without the chance to be part of their social structures – is cruel. I understand that Midlands Pig Producers claim that they will keep to the RSPCA code of welfare for farmed animals. In my opinion these standards are inadequate for these intelligent and social animals.

Another major concern is the use of antibiotics. In large factory farms animals are kept in unnatural and confined environments, the outbreak and spread of diseases is, therefore a serious risk. In order to prevent this, animals are usually kept on low doses of antibiotics. 27% of all antibiotics are used in pig farming here in the UK. Experts are increasingly warning that bacteria are getting resistant to these antibiotics, which are the same as the ones used in human medicine. We rely on antibiotics heavily; without effective antibiotics normal operations and common illness can become lethal. Risking losing the service of valuable antibiotics through overuse as in factory farms is irresponsible.

As mentioned above, the Green Party says that we have to address sustainability in food production. These factory farms use a lot of energy and have a high carbon footprint. Since we are facing a major environmental crisis, we need to reduce energy usage and carbon omission. The UN has published information that states that the meat and diary industry produces 18% of green house gases globally; however other studies imply an even higher contribution.

These factory units will further harm small and medium sized farmers. Farmers cannot compete with the low prices that these mega units can achieve at the present time. This unit would have around 18 employees working in the factory; if the pigs were traditionally farmed, far more people would be employed and earning a living from this. Do we really want our British farming to become an industrial production line? Do we really want our landscape to be filled with industrial units? Or do we want to see traditional farms with grazing animals in the fields?

Having looked at this Foston development I could not find a single reason that I thought was persuasive in its favour. Local residents, traditional farmers, the pigs, the consumers’ health, our environment all would have to pay a price so that a handful of people could get rich. That is simply not a good reason to allow mega factory farms.


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Shame on you – you Government of millionaires

As a cost cutting measure, the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Government is ending the practice of giving free visas to children from Belarus and Ukraine who’s health has been affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. Children from these countries have been offered rest and recuperation holidays in various countries across Europe, including Britain and Ireland. The purpose of these holidays is to give the children some small opportunity to be free of the radio- active fall out that still blights their home countries. Many of these young people live in poverty and these breaks are the only real holidays they will ever have. For a short period of their young lives that can have uncontaminated food, clean water and a chance to find enjoyment in an unpolluted environment.

The situation in the areas contaminated by the Chernobyl explosion remains serious and the cost a major burden on the economies of Belarus and Ukraine. The world may have largely forgotten about Chernobyl, but the people of Belarus will never be able to forget. Each year that country must spend 20% of its GDP on the continuing clean-up operation, there is little money left to help children suffering from radiation induced sickness. 99% of the land in Belarus is classified as contaminated, 70 square kilometres of land around the stricken plant are permanently uninhabitable. People are still waiting to be evacuated from areas that are too contaminated to live in. Since 1986 there has been a 200% increase in birth defects, many of these are congenital and will be passed on to future generations. Cancer rates have increased by orders of magnitude. 800,000 men were drafted in to help to contain the disaster, to limit the spread of radiation to other countries. 100,000 of these men are dead or disabled. This is the cost of nuclear power that it’s proponents want us to ignore, it’s a cost that the people of Belarus and Ukraine would like to ignore, but they never will be able to.

In 1991, Doctors in Balarus and Ukraine sent a fax message to their international colleagues; in desperation they made this appeal, “SOS appeal. For god’s sake, help us to get the children out.” The message was picked up by Adi Roche, an Irish peace campaigner. She began to take a few children into her own home to give them the break that their doctors hoped would help to give them some extra vitality to fight the effects of low level radiation. This initiative lead to the establishment of the Chernobyl Children’s Project and numerous charities became involved in taking children for a recuperative break in a number of European countries and in America. The visa requirements for the children and their parents or carers – many are orphans, have been waived by the receiving countries. In 2009, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office reaffirmed that the UK would continue to waive the £86 visa fee.

But no longer. Now the Government has ended this waiver, it says that the country can not afford it. The UK is so hard up that it has to collect around £186,000 from the Chernobyl children’s families, many of whom subsist on less than £2 per day. Let us just remind ourselves of the poor state of the UK economy, the countries richest people and corporations managed to avoid paying £95 billion in tax last year. Margaret Thatcher’s funeral cost the tax payer £3 million, the prize money at Royal Ascot was £5million. Yet our Government can not afford to let these poor children come to our country for free. Shame on you, you Government of millionaires.

STOP THE FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE WITHDRAWING GRATIS VISAS FOR CHERNOBYL CHILDREN COMING TO UK FOR RECUPERATIVE HOLIDAYS FROM BELARUS & UKRAINE

Sign the petition here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/37945


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Vital Women in Politics – Green World Women

Natalie Bennett, Green Party leader and former chair of Green Party Women, recently said: “The Green Party has consistently led the way compared to the other large parties in the percentage of women standing for elected office.  In the 2010 general election we had 33% female candidates, compared to Labour’s 30%, the Conservative’s 24% and the Liberal Democrat’s 21%.” Always pushing forward, The Green Party of England and Wales has now committed to a fair 50% or more of our candidates being women, in order to redress the imbalance in Parliament and the broader political and social arenas. I want to reflect upon the fact that other parties – the same parties this week heralding an aggressive, agentic and uncompromising leader as the way for a woman to be in power, are the least supportive of further woman candidates. In the news this week we are hearing a great deal about one woman who climbed the political ladder. News reporters, asked to respectfully refrain from criticism, have allowed instead a very one-sided, glorifying and blinkered idea of her policies and put Vaseline on the eyes who seek to see how those policies affect us today. They are also failing to ask a vital question as to where other women of politics are. We will leave controversial critique of her policies for another time, it would take too many posts!

This post is about many political women, not one. These women of the Green political movement of today and of its seeding and growing this past 40 years, include party founders and leaders, activists and our first voice in Westminster. These are the women of the ‘there is an alternative’ movement. These are the women at the front of the movements of social justice, environmental protection, sustainable economics, peace-building and hope.  I would like to introduce just some of these women who have changed the face of the political world for the better.

Click on each photo to find out more and to add your own thoughts and stories. – caroline lucas gpgp natalie bennettGREEN PARTY WOMENGP Leslie WhittakerJean lambertGP no blood for oilMarina-Silva-of-the-Green-006sunflowergpgreenballot3.jpgEuropean Green Group Organise a Get Women on Board Conference circle of friends around earthGP Solange Fernex - France 1934 - 2006GP councillor PheonixGP Jenny_Jones London AssemblyElizabeth May, Green Party CA  GP miriam_kennetIngrid Betancourt Pulecio, Collumbian Green Party

We offer some UK and international images and stories of women involved in the last 40 years of Green Politics. Some of these women have given lives and liberty, all have given integrity, intelligence, strength and vision. Sarah Cope, present Chair of Green Party Women: “Women in the UK are now facing a ‘triple jeopardy’ in terms of austerity. Firstly, increasing unemployment, as women’s employment is heavily focused on the public sector. Secondly, loss of income: over 70% of government cuts to date have come from women’s pockets. Add to this cuts to legal, domestic abuse services, caring and childcare support.” It becomes clear that we need more women representatives of the right kind, for fairness and perspective. The women pictured above and below are among the true women leaders in politics:

 GP MSP Alison Johnstone Lothian with MSP Patrick Harvie GlasgowGreen Party Japaninternational-day-of-peacegp scottish centralgp freda saundersgp woman in male environmentGP reclaimthenightClimate Change DemoGP Jill Stein & Greens against Keystone XLget women on boardnataliebennett2013confGP Cheri Honkala Philadelphiagreen party womenbyname2012summerGP Caroline_Lucas  

Click on these photographs to find the stories behind them and add your own experiences.

These women are not limited to but include (in no particular order):

  • Leslie Whittaker and Freda Saunders, 50 % of the founders of our party which inspired a vital global green political movement. Without them, where would we be?
  • Petra Kelly, bright, guiding star, whose life and influence could fill books & who was tragically killed
  • Caroline Lucas MP, our history maker in Westminster
  • Natalie Bennett, our empowered leader
  • Marina Silva, founder and Leader of the Green Party in Brazil after coming third in elections
  • Ingrid Betancourt Pulecio, held captive for 6 years for standing as a Green for Colombian Presidency
  • Ms. Nao Suguro, co-founder of Green Party of Japan
  • Agnieszka Grzybek, Co-leader of Green Party of Poland
  • Doctor Jill Stein, Leader of Green Party USA
  • Cheri Honkala, USA Green Party Deputy Leader
  • Elizabeth May, Leader of Canadian Green Party
  • Jenny Jones of the London Assembly
  • Alison Johnstone, Green MSP
  • Romayne Phoenix, Green Party MP candidate for Lewisham West and Penge and chair of Coalition of Resistance
  • Jean Lambert, one of our wonderful champions of change in Europe, MEP for London
  • Franziska Brantner, Green MEP
  • Solange Fernex, life-long peace campaigner and European Green Party member
  • Miriam Kennet a Green Councillor in Reading, founder and Director of the Green Economics Institute

Last month was Women’s History month. In a World in which women are often one of the under-represented groups, let’s take a moment to refocus on the inspirational, history making women in the Green Movement. They form part of a rich, vital and growing movement involved in social justice,  environmental protection, peace work and human rights.  As men and women of the Green movement move forward together towards equality, with our vision of a resilient, sustainable future, let’s herald these women.

In the East Midlands Katharina Bottege stands as MEP. Her mother has also been a vital part of the Green political movement. For more information on Green Party policy for a fair 50% of candidates to be women, please see:

http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2013/02/26/greens-take-further-step-to-promote-women-general-election-candidates/