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A WELLINGBOROUGH COMMUNITY VISION

LOCAL COMMUNITY ALLIANCE PROPOSAL FOR THE COUNTY COUNCIL ELECTIONS

Proposal

2nd-feb-2017-posterTo create a community alliance involving party and non-party political groups and people with the intention of standing candidates who offer a community led alternative to the present  Northamptonshire County Council administration’s approach.

Background

Since 2008/09 the present administration of Northamptonshire County Council has:-

(1) cut more than a ¼ £ Billion pounds from County Council spending, with dyer consequences for council services and local people
(2) reduced NCC staffing levels from 17,000 to a few thousand, and we are on course for less than 500 staff by the end of the decade
(3) removed half of the street lighting in the county making many urban areas much less safe for local pedestrians and drivers
(4) radically reduced funding for more affordable ‘prevention’ and low level support services, and taken nearly £50 million from Adult Social Care and Children’s Services (including £27 million in 2016-17 ) – with devastating consequences for people, Care and NHS Services
(5) presided over failing Children’s services and considerably reduced spending including closing many Children’s and Sure Start Centres
(6) undermined many voluntary sector services, with numerous organisations reducing or closing services  entirely (like the recent collapse of Wellingborough Womens Aid and the difficult financial straits for The Daylight Centre and other Community Services)
(7) created a number of ‘so-called’ Community Interest Companies to take on the running of the remaining Council functions which will leave some 4,500 staff with jobs that are more insecure and threaten the livelihood of hundreds of workers in competing voluntary organisations, as these CIC’s ‘hoover up’ local contracts
(8) ignored appeals from many thousands of local residents who have tried to challenge these actions

Many of us are appalled by these actions and have spoken up but to little avail.  With the Conservative’s considerable majority in the Council they can afford to ignore even the most constructive of suggestions from politicians, residents or professionals, and they regularly do.

The Opportunity and Vision

With the County Council elections this May we have a chance destabilise the administration’s majority and bring forward a real community based alternative.  But given they hold way more seats than all other Party’s combined, this will be very challenging.   I feel we can only succeed if we can all ally behind a common vision that not only inspires each of the main political party’s but also attracts residents, groups and societies to our community led approach.   This vision needs to be compassionate, inclusive, prosperous and economically viable for our county, and us, its residents, workers and business owners.  It also needs to tackle, head on, the duel challenges of considerably reduced funding from Central Government and increasing levels of local need.

One of the major failings of the present administration is that effectively a handful of people are driving through these draconian actions, and the rest of us (the other 700,000 in the County) effectively have no voice or say.  So any new vision needs also to include a greater opportunity for us all to take part in crafting solutions to our collective challenges.

Making this Happen

Northamptonshire Green Party decided in Wellingborough and East Northants to see if we can pull together people from across our communities, political parties, organisations and interest groups, to see if we can craft a more humane approach in which we all lead.  We don’t expect this to be easy but we hope we can find common ground and create a common ‘manifesto’ or offer for the people of our area.  And that we can also agree a way of bringing this vision to residents in a cooperative and positive manner.  This vision needs to be innovative and inspiring, as well as rooted in the present financial reality.  And the solutions also need to inspire and drive us into action.

Selecting a Format for ‘An Alliance’

An ‘alliance’ could take many forms and this is something we will need to discuss and agree.  At the Northants Green Party AGM (28th Sept 2016) we decided that just doing ‘deals’ on one Party standing here or and another there would not be enough to make any difference given that in the Wellingborough (which has 6 County Council seats) only 1 is held by a party other than the Conservatives.  We feel if we are to have any genuine chance of success this alliance needs to be a grass roots community led movement that surpasses traditional party politics and pulls people and groups together for the good of the whole community.  With an average turnout of 30% at County Council elections, we need to be looking to attract people to vote from the 70% that regularly don’t take part, so our vision needs to inspire people to come forward.  And given that our health services and the care of Children and Older people are so important to many,  it would make sense to craft a community vision with these at its heart.

Next Step

Given the above we plan to do the following:-

(a) Hold an open public meeting in Wellingborough on Thursday 2nd February 2017, at Glamis Hall, 6.30pm to 8pm,  to gauge interest and start to draft a common vision or list of ideas, and
(b) Agree / discuss a way of working together to bring this vision forward at the elections in May

If you are interested to take part in these discussions please get in touch and join us at the open meeting on Thursday 2nd February 2017.

Marion Turner-Hawes
Northants Green Party
01933 381467

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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.