East Midlands Green Party Blog


1 Comment

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


3 Comments

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.


2 Comments

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 ‘


1 Comment

Commemorating workers memorial day

Kat Boettge, lead MEP candidate

Kat Boettge, lead MEP candidate

Remember also, those who gave their lives at work . . .

I am writing this on the first anniversary (24th April) of the fire in the Bangladesh garment factory that killed over 1100 workers. One year on their families still wait for adequate compensation and large retailers still “bring to the market” clothing made in unsafe conditions by over exploited workers in Bangladesh and elsewhere.

Monday April 28th is Workers’ Memorial Day, when trade unions across the world remember fellow workers who have lost their lives due to accidents at work, which have often been caused by a lack of health and safety measures by employers, and reaffirm their commitment to creating and maintaining safe working environments. As the TUC says on its website The purpose behind Workers Memorial Day has always been to “remember the dead; fight for the living” … the latter can best be done by building trade union organisations, and campaigning for stricter enforcement of health & safety laws with higher penalties for breaches.

Deaths at work due to poor Health and Safety measures are not confined to poor countries. In the UK of particular concern is the danger faced by workers on building sites. 760 site workers have been killed since 2001, more than the number of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined during the same period. In 2012-13, 5.2 million working days were lost due to injury at work and there were 148 fatalities. After a steady decline in recent years, there is a serious concern that deaths and injuries are showing an increase.

There has been a decrease in trade union membership with an increased casualisation of the workforce in recent years, something that is particularly strong on building sites. To compound this problem, the budget of the Health and Safety Executive was cut by 35% in 2011, which has resulted in fewer inspections and fewer prosecutions of negligent employers. This puts more workers lives and health at risk. The Green Party agrees with the TUC that we need a strong strategy on Health and Safety from the European Commission to raise standards throughout Europe. We also recognise that actions by politicians in Parliaments need to be combined with action by trade unions, fighting, like the Green Party, for the Common Good.

Vote Green 2014


3 Comments

Vote for a Green New Deal

Kat Boettge, lead MEP candidate

Kat Boettge, lead MEP candidate

Amidst all the froth that is 24 hour news, and away from the unhealthy warmongering on both sides that is happening in Ukraine, two recent publications have received some warranted attention in the last couple of weeks.

Firstly, the recent report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a call for action by governments to address potentially calamitous global warming. The third in a series (the first report focussed on emphasising the scientific consensus that global warming is happening and has been caused primarily by human activity and the second outlined the catastrophic consequences of failing to take action) the report concentrates on the actions that can and must be taken to address global warming, and stresses that is entirely possible to take these necessary actions providing there is the political will to do so.

The authoritative report, the cumulative work of over 1200 international experts, concludes that the cheapest and least risky route to dealing with global climate change is to abandon all dirty fossil fuels in coming decades, and to invest instead in renewable energy, with the aim of quadrupling renewable electricity generation by 2050. Whilst lamenting the failure by governments to provide an adequate response up to now, it says that it is still not too late to act, providing governments, cooperating on an international basis, step up to the mark.

Secondly a new book, called ‘Capital in the Twenty First Century’ by the increasingly renowned French economist Thomas Piketty provides concrete proof of what many of us have suspected for years, namely that capitalism, far from promoting the economic well-being of all, entrenches inequality and privilege, which it tends to increase over time. The study, based on a more detailed analysis of wealth and income data than has ever been previously carried out, concludes that:

“Capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based”

Piketty argues that the structural inequality which capitalism creates must be countered by high levels of taxation of both income and wealth, an initiative which will require international cooperation between governments with a common determination to take on wealth and privilege.

These two important publications are well timed for the Green Party’s European Election Campaign. We have recognised that the world’s ecological and economic crises must be addressed together. Moreover, we have developed a programme which aims to do just that. Under our Green New Deal, increased taxation of rich individuals and large companies, and a much tighter control of banks and other financial institutions, will provide the resources for increasing the incomes of the poorest, and for defending and improving the public services on which we all rely. It will also involve the greening of our infrastructure, creating well paid employment insulating homes and other buildings, promoting energy-efficient public transport and transforming our energy production so that it is primarily based on renewables. Together with Green parties across Europe we are offering a real programme for change, based on sustainable economics and social justice.

Of course Greens in the UK, and across Europe, don’t think that the election of a few more Green MEPs will be enough in itself to solve the world’s problems. Indeed we recognise that real change is not the sole responsibility of elected politicians. Greens support and get involved in trade union and community campaigns in defence of jobs and services, and against so called ‘welfare reform’. Greens have been at the forefront of direct action campaigns against fracking and other forms of dangerous energy. Nevertheless, we do think that success in the forthcoming Euro elections will represent an important step in building the movement that is needed to secure a sustainable and socially just future for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.

Green Party members in the East Midlands will be working hard in the next few weeks promoting our message of Hope. Our hope is that our candidates, including myself, will be elected to the European Parliament on May 22nd. With your help, that is possible.

Vote Green. For the Common Good.


1 Comment

Greens get social priorities right

Kat Boettge, lead MEP candidate

Kat Boettge, lead MEP candidate

This government would have us believe that we are better off managing on our own.

Get the state “off our backs”, allow us to “keep more of our own money” and we will “manage just fine”. So it commits itself to continuing to reduce taxes, Corporation Tax on companies (reduced from 28% to 21% since 2010) and Inheritance Tax (already only paid on 5% of estates and set to be far fewer if Cameron and co are re-elected) in particular.

Meanwhile public services, particularly those provided by local authorities, are slashed to the bone, and spending on “welfare” is squeezed and scorned, with the reasonable desire to have a “spare bedroom” denied to those too poor to ” pay their own way” , and with high quality Surestart child care provision, and Day Centres for the elderly and disabled, all but wiped off the map.

Finding decent employment, that pays well , guarantees regular hours and offers long term prospects has become ever harder, even for those with degrees that graduates have gone into huge debt to acquire. Meanwhile finding somewhere decent to live has become a nightmare. House prices, already unaffordable for most people unable to borrow “from the bank of Mum and Dad”, are rising again and a chronic lack of “social housing” (i.e. housing with affordable rents, well maintained and offering security of tenure) means reliance on renting privately from those whose motive is to make money. Prospective landlords are encouraged to “buy to let”, perhaps in the hope of securing a decent retirement income, occupational pension schemes having been largely been closed down as “unaffordable” ( not true for MPs of course, who still enjoy gold plated pensions, but 25% of them have still taken the opportunity to become private landlords)

What is the alternative ? Well the Green Party had a fully costed manifesto in the 2010 election, which proposed cutting spending on warfare but not welfare and set out how we could create employment through a programme to “green” our energy, transport and housing, whilst providing decent public services for all and recognising that everyone had the right to live in a secure and warm home.

It is a programme needed more than ever now and could and can be paid for by increasing taxation on the rich and large companies, making the required effort to collect the taxes due (this government allows wealth to escape to tax havens and reduces the number of tax inspectors who collect ten times the amount they earn)

More than anything it is a programme based on a belief that we are better off living in a society based on principles of cooperation and compassion. It also recognises the urgent need to tackle ecological and environmental destruction, including dangerous climate change, a task that will require the actions of democratic and responsive governments and cannot be left to the “free market ”

Greens in the UK also recognise that we cannot solve the challenges we face (unemployment, social injustice, climate chaos) in isolation . In the European Parliament elections next month we will be standing alongside Greens across Europe, offering a real alternative to the failed policies of austerity. The Green Parties of Europe have agreed a common manifesto, which includes the following

“We Europeans should combine our own strengths, which is what sovereignty means, in order to shape our own future. Instead of socially deaf and environmentally blind austerity, we propose three coherent avenues to sustainability: fighting unemployment,poverty ; and all forms of social injustice; transforming our economies with innovation and eco-efficient solutions to tackle climate change and environmental degradation; re-regulating the financial industry so it solves the real economy. We call this a European Green New Deal”

Vote Green on May 22nd and encourage others you know to do so too……For the common good.

Read The European Green Party Manifesto here.