East Midlands Green Party Blog

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Europe, needed then, needed now.

On 9th May each year people across Europe celebrate the achievements of the European Project that began as the Coal and Steel Community in 1952 and has now grown into the European Union.

Its origin was among the the ruins of the second world war that many see as a continuation of the Great War of 1914-18 – the war that itself was to ‘end all wars’.  But it didn’t and by 1945, Europe lay in ruins with more than 100 million dead in both conflicts and countless more maimed and traumatised.

Witnessing the destruction, leaders of politics, business and civil community saw that it would be through greater cooperation between states, not insular nationalism, that such destruction could be avoided in the future.  As a result of collectively pursuing common interests, Europe has enjoyed the longest period of peace in in modern times. Now, seventy years on from the close of hostilities, war between France, Germany Britain and Italy is unthinkable.

Starting with 6 nations the EU incorporates a community of 28 countries, all committed to democracy and the peaceful resolution of differences between them. With stability has come prosperity and rising standards of living for many, but not for all.  

The new politics of Europe, built on negotiation not war, required new institutions that grew as the community grew.  Inevitably this new power base created tensions between the traditional institutions of state and the developing multinational structures. Tensions that have brought us to today’s political crisis.

Nation states are not built into the fabric of the planet, they are a fairly recent political development in world history.  But their ruling elites have become used to pursuing their own exclusive minterests, frequently neglecting the needs of the more humble of their citizens.  The notion of ceding some of their power to a supranational structure is an anathema to the nationalists.

But there is another reason for this tension. Prosperity within Europe has grown considerably since 1945, but it has not been shared fairly.  Since the 1980’s the gap between high and low earners has widened and poverty is again on the rise. The institutions of the EU, like those of the nation states have failed to ensure that all are included in the growing prosperity of the community.

At present it is the EU that is taking the greater blame for the inequalities and hardships that a growing number are suffering. National governments have been quick to pass the blame for their own failings on to the EU so as to protect the interests of their own powerful elites.

This blame game is not helpful and serves to obscure the multiple causes of our present difficulties.  The world and the nature of the problems we face has changed considerably since the institutions of the EU were set up.  It has changed beyond recognition since the institutions of the nation states were founded. Neither national nor European institutions have shown themselves prepared or capable of adapting to the new realities of the twenty first century.

The paternalistic nationalism of the ruling elites has run its course.  Universal education and the empowerment of women has seen to that. But also the EU, as it is currently managed has not shown the flexibility and responsiveness required to manage the new political agenda.  Both need reform.

Today’s agenda is both global and local.  Climate change, environmental destruction and the movement of people and goods are global needing transnational structures to comprehend them and manage their impacts.  But matters affecting people’s daily lives are experienced locally and need responses that are sensitive to local patterns of need and expectancy. Good policy that will enhance people’s lives can not be delivered from on high, be it Westminster or Brussels.  Democratic and empowered local government is needed, working in a partnership of equals with national and European structures. Isolationism, like nationalism is a dead end.

The days of domination of people by remote hierarchies are coming to an end.  People are now too well educated and informed. No matter how much the elite try to control the propaganda machine and fill people with false news, they will be unable to counter the free flow of global information. People want more control of their lives, they want to feel that they are being noticed and treated fairly.  

Greens call for the reform of politics both in Europe and at home. Demonstrations and protests show that people are finding their voice, they will be heard and those politicians who don’t listen will be swept aside.  We want to see a revival of local politics with more local decision making free of the dead hand of Westminster. We want to see voting reform so that all votes matter. We want to remain in the EU, working from within to shape its future in to an accountable transparent body working resolve global problems, helping to build a secure and sustainable world.  A partnership of the people of Europe can make all this happen.

[Mike Shipley 8 May 2019]   





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One More Wake-Up Call

The Green Party have called the latest United Nations report on the state of nature yet another wakeup call to governments and to us all.

The International Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services has been meeting in Paris over this last week to finalise the report that has been 3 years in the making that maps change over the last 50 years.  It represents the most comprehensive statement on the condition of the natural global environment to date.

Its message is stark: globally, wildlife has plummeted by 60% since 1970 and that one million species face extinction, some within a very few years.  If this does happen, as it will if we continue with business as usual, our livelihoods, economy, food supply, health and wellbeing will all be adversely affected..  

Introducing the report IPBES chair, Sir Robert Watson of the UK Tyndall Centre, University of East Anglia said that it presented an ominous picture, “The health of natural stems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever.”

Dipping into the numbers, the report shows that the abundance of land based species globally has fallen by 20% over the last 100 years.  40% of amphibia, a third of corals and marine mammals are threatened. In the last 500 years we have exterminated at least 680 vertebrate species.  Three quarters of the Earth’s land area has been significantly altered by human activity, one third of land is already used to produce human food so pushing out nature.  And still we plan to expand.

We can not keep this up and hope to survive. This network of plant and animal life represents our life support system.  We as the human species are deeply integrated into the web of life no matter what our inflated egos may try to tell us.

The most chilling statistics come from a review of the domesticated species that we rely on for food. 9% of species that we have used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016.  1000 more breeds and varieties are threatened.

Our obsession with economic growth has led us to destroy the foundations of our food supply.  Clearing forests to raise cash crops to increase corporate wealth is threatening global freshwater supply.  Turning agriculture in to an intensive factory system of production for profit is destroying the soil essential for the growth of plants, be they traditional crops or the very latest offering from the private GM labs.

There are solutions, as there are solutions to climate change and pollution. Solution will require change, what the report calls ‘transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors.’  In other words a root and branch change in the way we do things. Change in our economy, our politics, our attitude to the Earth and in our technology. But Sir Robert Watson recognises that these changes will meet with opposition. ‘…by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from  those with interests vested in the status quo.’  An understatement at the very least.

Such radical change needs political change.  Protests by young people at their schools across the world, by Extinction Rebellion and many others globally are raising the pressure on governments.

Speaking to the BBC about the need to bring about change Ecologist Dr Rinku Roy Chowdhury, from Clark University, Massachusetts said: “So how do you that? Through individual behaviour, through the polling booth.”  

Greens across the world offer a political route to change that allows everyone to build a sustainable and fulfilling life that also allows nature to recover and flourish.  It means confronting some powerful vested interests who profit from the status quo. Unless we successfully do this, the majority of us now and in the future will lead impoverished lives on an impoverished planet whose natural capital has been squandered.

Mike Shipley

7 May 2019


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Green Party to Stand in Higham Ferrers Elections

Simon TurnerWe are proud to announce that Simon Turner, a local party activist and community volunteer, will stand for the Green Party in the upcoming by-elections in Higham Ferrers.  Vacancies have arisen at Northamptonshire County and East Northamptonshire District Councils due to the unfortunate death of local councilor, Glenn Harwood.  Our candidate, Simon Turner, said:

“I thank Mr Harwood for the service he has provided and wish his family well.”

Both by-elections are due to take place on Thursday, 15th February and this is the first time the Green Party has contested local elections in Higham Ferrers.  Simon said:

“I decided to stand to give people the opportunity to vote for a party that has different ideas on how to run our county, and after seeing a lack of change in how things are being done.  During the General Election campaign last year, we received a lot of positive feedback locally because the Green Party believes in doing what is best for people, rather than finding ways of running things in the same old way that benefits no one.”

Simon Turner joined the Green Party four years ago to oppose cuts to local services by Northamptonshire County Council.  He has stood in local elections in Wellingborough and has supported Green Party candidates in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections.  Simon works for a local engineering company and spends a lot of his spare time working for community organisations.  Simon said:

Simon Turner at Wellingborough and District Talking Newspaper with Jonathan Hornett“I volunteer for the Wellingborough and District Talking Newspaper which covers East Northamptonshire.  I carry out technical support each week to make sure all recordings are in place, mentor new volunteers, deliver and demonstrate new players to new listeners, or deal with technical problems with players for listeners. I am also a member of Rotaract; we raise funds for local charities that do not normally get much support as they are often obscured by larger national charities.”

Northamptonshire County Council have recently been in the news again for failing to manage themselves properly and for threatening to cut even more local services.  Simon commented:

“I am deeply concerned about all of our local services and the management of how those are delivered. We are now hitting crunch point with the few services that are still run directly by the county council.  The library is our community hub in Higham Ferrers; this is why it is far too important a local resource to be without, I will not let Northamptonshire County Council close it if I am elected.”

“The Conservatives have spent years telling us to vote for them locally, as they have never increased council tax. This has been a travesty; they relied on the contributions from central government, and are now blaming central government for their problems.  Having failed to keep up with the rising cost of delivering quality services, they have dramatically slashed services and put most of what is left over into the private sector, once again claiming it would be cheaper and better. The reality is that due to bad management, the county council is out of funds and they will not change how they are managed.”

Northamptonshire Failed County CouncilThe Green Party would scrap the county council because it is broken, and create local unitary authorities.  We believe that these would deliver better value for money and be more accountable to local people.  We would also seek to take back local services from the private sector because we think that if you pay the council to provide a service then they should do this and be responsible for providing that service too.  Simon Turner concluded:

“Vote Green Party on Thursday 15th February, because we will put the people we serve, and public services we are charged with delivering, first.  We will stand up for Higham Ferrers by fighting against cuts to local services, will change how the county council is managed, and will keep our library open.”

Vote for Simon Turner to represent you, Vote Green Party on Thursday 15th February.

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A huge victory on animal sentience

We just made the Government pull a screeching U-turn.

When I tabled an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill to transfer the full effect of EU law on animal sentience into UK law, the Tories voted me down. But with your support, I forced them to announce a new draft Bill yesterday.

Thanks to you, the obligation on the Government to ‘pay regard to animal sentience when making new laws’ will now be transferred into UK law.

If you have a cat or a dog, you don’t need me to tell you that animals have an emotional life.

For most of us, it’s not some philosophical question. It’s obvious that your pet can be happy and sad. They have moods. They can feel pain. And they can suffer.

It’s common sense to this nation of animal lovers, but our Government had to be forced to make sure that ministers will always take animal sentience into account when making future laws.

Yesterday, we made a real difference to ensuring high standards of animal protection in the UK for years to come.

Thank you for your help in making it happen. And thank you for supporting the only party which will always stand up for animals.


Caroline Lucas MP

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Climate Alliance – Strength in Numbers

‘Think Global – Act Local’  E.F Schumacher

logo_Climate_AllianceLocal and regional Governments find themselves increasingly at the forefront in the battle against the impacts of climate change.  While national governments continue to prevaricate and placate the big money interests, City and Regional Authorities are left to clean up the mess of storms, floods and fires and manage the impacts of drought and heat waves.  No amount of denial can enable a City Mayor or Council to avoid the reality of flooded streets, damaged property and rising mortality rates. After a disaster, people want action to rebuild their lives quickly, and assurance that the authorities are ready in the event of further disruptive events.

Faced with the reality of the impacts of climate change, local authorities have formed a range of mutual support  alliances often as a response to the lack of support from their national governments.   It is they who have to find the finance needed to repair damage and to make the necessary adaptations to infrastructure.  In addition to the impacts of climate change, Cities and Regions face a range of related issues that include the impacts of growing urbanisation, increasing social provision and manage growing populations and pollution.

To get recognition of the role that Local and Regional governments are playing in delivering the Paris and Sustainable Development goals, a coalition of organisations representing the sub-national level of government met at COP23 to show national governments and the world that local and regional governments, together with their partners in the business sector, academia and civil society, are #united4climate with a strong message to share for joint climate action. In essence this message is that by acting cooperatively at the local level it will be possible to deliver the ambition goals set in Paris and keep the rise in global temperatures below 2C.

EuropeOne organisation within this coalition is European Climate Alliance, that includes 1,715 cities, municipalities and districts together with NGO’s and  local community Groups.  It is unfortunate that Oxford is the only UK representative in t his Alliance, a situation that Greens should work to rectify by pressurising local authorities in their areas to join.  Membership is not restricted to urban areas, and it is important that the rural areas are properly represented on this and other global forums.  The impacts of climate change will be no less in the countryside that will feel the impacts of floods, fires, drought and changes to the local ecology.

The aims of the Climate Alliance is to enable action at the local level that is fair, based on sound ecological principles, resource lean, locally focused inclusive and diverse. Ambitious goals, but it is recognised that for climate action to be effective it needs to be locally relevant and organised in such a way that the members of the local communities are engaged.  Projects also need to be practical and sustainable, focused on real needs on the ground and not meekly delivering remote targets or business plans.

Climate Alliance members are committed to the continuous reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions, pledging to cut emissions by 10 percent every 5 years, equivalent
to a halving of per capita emissions by 2030 from 1990 levels. Each member has also signed
up to the long term goal of levelling off at 2.5 tonnes CO2 per person and year, down from the current level of 9 tonnes. [European Average]

Climate Alliance cities undertake a wide array of measures to close this emissions gap, mostly focusing on a mix of energy conservation, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies. Actions undertaken across Europe include:

  1. implement urban planning and transport policy that promote climate-friendly mobility.
  2. give incentives and shape building codes to encourage energy efficiency in the building sector
  3. serve as role models with their own public buildings stock.
  4. shape their emissions through targeted, climate-conscious public procurement, water use and waste disposal strategies
  5. influence agriculture, forestry and tourism strategies
  6. engage with residents, enabling them to contribute to the fight against climate change in their own everyday lives, be it in terms of consumption patterns, lifestyle choices or ways of doing business.

By taking such actions locally with the clear objective of contributing to the internationally set ambition to keep global temperatures below 2C, local communities give a lead to central government and international forums to pressure them to create a supportive framework to enable this local delivery.  Over the last 25 years since the Rio Declaration, central governments have been weak in the face of the vested interest lobbying from fossil and financial sectors.  They have not shown the leadership required to steer us away from the dangers we now face with changing weather patterns on top of a range of other environmental and social problems.

In the UK local government has been deliberately weakened by a succession of central governments intent on gathering all power to itself, then failing to use that power in the interests of the general public.  Globally, local government is taking action and therefore effective power in response to the neglect of the central authorities.  UK local authorities need to follow this example.  By engagement with their local communities, action groups, academics and their local business community, they can form partnerships within the mold of the Climate Alliance to find ways of taking needed action.  By engaging with members of the community, they will gain their support and increase their reputation, giving strength to local governments in their negotiations with central government for adequate funding and support.

Mike Shipley

Written by Mike Shipley on behalf of East Midlands Green Party

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COP21 – Bonn 2017

UN Conference on Climate Change 23rd Session

Cop21 Bonn

25 years ago, a UN conference in Rio de Janeiro agreed the Framework Convention on Climate Change  “ as a framework for international cooperation to combat climate change by limiting average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and coping with impacts that were, by then, inevitable.”  The ambition was to achieve, through a negotiated process, the stabilisation of greenhouse gases at a level that would prevent a dangerous anthropogenic rise in global temperature. [1]

Since 1995 those countries that have ratified the Convention – 197 to date, have met annually to monitor progress and to map a course of action to achieve the stated ambition.  The 23rd session of these ‘Conference of the Parties’ [COP 23] is now in session in Bonn; those delegates who are able to look beyond the comfortable confines of the conference venue and consider both the last 25 years and the future prospects, might have cause to ask what really has been achieved.

Since the mid 1990’s global concentrations of Carbon Dioxide – the main but certainly not the only greenhouse gas, have steadily risen and are now more than 60% higher at 403 parts per million compared with a reference figure of 285ppm for the pre-industrial world. [2] Global temperatures have continued to climb and are now 1C above the pre-industrial average.  Sea levels are 83mm higher than in 1993 and 200mm higher since 1870. [3]

In Paris 2015, the COP 21 unanimously adopted the ambition to limit average total global warming to ‘well under 2C, aiming for a limit of 1.5C’ [4].  2C has been accepted by all governments as the level beyond which any changes to the global climate will have ‘dangerous consequences’. These include: prolonged drought, more violent storms, longer heat waves, accelerated ocean acidification and ice-melt, leading to food and water shortages, fire risk, property damage, rising sea levels and greater tidal surges, and increased threats to human health and welfare. As an understanding of the consequences of current climate trends has deepened, so it has become apparent that even a 2C average rise will have severe consequences in many parts of the world, hence the ambition for 1.5C maximum.

The Paris Conference was supposed to signal a new determination to get to grips with carbon emissions and to take the risks of climate change seriously.  Yet CO2 levels continue to rise and rates of emissions hit a record high in 2016.  What chance therefore of keeping below the agreed ‘dangerous’ threshold of 2C?

A UN report in 2014 [5] calculated that to keep within the 2C limit, total human generated emission of CO2 would need to be limited to 29,000 Gigatonnes.  This is the carbon budget that the human population of the planet has to ‘spend’ before entering the territory of ‘dangerous climate change’.  We have to date spent about 74% of this budget and still emissions are rising.  If we are to keep below 2C we have about 19 years of emissions left – at current average rates, before we enter the relm of dangerous climate change.  That is the amount of time we have to stabilise emissions to be balanced by the rate of absorption of CO2 by seas and forests. We are a long way from achieving that balance

In 2012 Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, concludes ominously that current emission trends are “perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius, which would have devastating consequences for the planet”.  Devastating puts it mildly.  Such a rise would make most land areas uninhabitable, not only for humans but also for most other species including those we rely on  to feed us.  Commenting on the record temperatures of 2012, Christine Lagarde head of the IMF said: “Make no mistake: without concerted action, the very future of our planet is in peril.” Since 2012 matters have not improved.

All this begs the question whether the UN COP process is a complete waste of time.  In terms of what is happening in to global climate, weather systems, the oceans and ecosystems, its achievements seem limited.  High on rhetoric, low on delivery. But is is the only global forum that is addressing this as a global problem, a problem that can not be solved at any local or national level.  Only through cooperative international effort will adequate measures be put in place.

COP is a ‘Conference of the Parties’ that is a government level forum for negotiation.  We have now come to a position where it is clear that Governments on their own can not and will not deliver the action needed to avoid an existential threat to civilisation.  As the COP  has matured, more non-governmental organisations and ad-hoc groups have become associated with it.  Their original purpose was to apply pressure to the assembled governments through lobbying and sheer presence, witnessing and reporting on a sorry catalogue of compromise and failure.  The so called ‘civil society’ presence at the COP has now grown to significant proportions, bringing opportunities for networking and initiating actions at ground level to combat the realities of a changing climate that some are experiencing now and in time we will all have to face.  It is this global forum of people that is perhaps the real success of the COP and  the real hope for the future of our planet.

Written by Mike Shipley on behalf of the East Midlands Green Party


  1. http://unfccc.int/essential_background/convention/items/6036.php
  2. http://www.climatechangenews.com/2013/12/31/carbon-dioxide-levels-now-61-higher-than-1990/
  3. https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/
  4. http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php
  5. https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full.pdf



References used:-











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The EU – Our Common Cause

Gerhard Lohmann-Bond’s speech to a pro-EU rally, which was organised by the European Movement on today in Nottingham:

Europe“We are united not just by our common cause, but have in fact far more in common than separates us. We share a common European heritage, a mixed blessing considering the hundreds of years of bloodshed which run like a red line through all our histories. It was what eventually became the European Union which put a stop to all that. It is said that we cannot choose our family, but we can choose our friends. By the same token we have no say in where we are born and raised, but the decision where we want to spend our lives is very much our own.

“I chose to make my home in England because I am an anglophile. Like many of the three million EU citizens living and working in the UK, I felt life was good, I felt privileged and got on with things. Many years after I first arrived in the UK I found myself moving to a small village in Lincolnshire, a few miles north of Stamford, with the wife and two children I had acquired along the way.

“The Conservatives were already in power at that time (ostensibly sharing it with the LibDems) and the country was groaning under their austere regime. There was a bunch of fruitcakes known as kippers agitating, but nobody took them seriously. There were also some seriously deranged individuals on the right wing of the Conservatives, but nobody took them seriously either.

“If only we had known, if only we had realised the danger they represented, if only we had understood how an economic policy driving more and more people into poverty, despair, and hopelessness combined with the relentless drip drip drip of poisonous lies fed to the public by a right wing tabloid press would finally convince a tiny majority of voters to ‘throw a tantrum’, as one prominent leave campaigner put it. And if only they had realised what the consequences of their vote would be!

“Parliamentary democracy is built on trust, the trust of voters that their elected representatives would on balance always act in their best interests. Looking at where we are now, we must question that belief. Up to the referendum we had a prime minister who was ultimately prepared to put his own party interests before that of the country, who was prepared to put his country’s prosperity at risk in an insane gamble he thought he couldn’t lose.

“One shoddy piece of legislation and a half-baked campaign later in which he tried to convince the country that more of the same was the best deal available – at a time when the neoliberal policies of his chancellor and his predecessors had already laid whole swathes of the industrial North to waste, when the rich had got so much richer than the great majority of honest hardworking people that they seemed to live on another planet altogether, when even the formerly comfortably off middle classes had lost much of their job security and their prospects; when the young could not only no longer trust that they would be better off than their parents, but could be certain that they would be worse off, when the old had to sell the home they wanted to pass on to their children to pay for their care, at such a time this prime minister tried to tell people that being part of the EU was good for them.

“What could possibly have gone wrong? We know what could have gone wrong, because it did. This was one man who put the unity of the United Kingdom at risk in a vain attempt to unify his hopelessly divided party. And then, when he had lost that desperate gamble, he vanished from the political scene, and the lunatics took over the asylum that was and is the cabinet office.

“Now, who is left to pick up the pieces? I can tell you who is left to pick up the pieces: a House of Commons full of spineless pricks and defeatists who first naively voted for a referendum they thought they could not lose (and even if they did, it was only advisory after all) and then compounded their idiocy by meekly claiming this was the will of the people and they had to act accordingly; a prime minister who had to pick a cabinet from among such talents as David Davies, a man described as thick as mince and lazy as a toad by one of the leading leave campaigners; Boris Johnson who used to fill the pages of the Telegraph with a litany of lies about the EU and who is best known for suffering from foot-in-mouth disease rather than for his diplomatic prowess and tact; Liam Fox, a man who is known to be in the pocket of the hard right in the USA; and a man casually referred to as ‘spreadsheet Phil’. To such people we have entrusted our future.

“What could possibly go wrong? We now have a government lead by a woman who promised to be strong and stable, but is too weak to live with her cabinet ministers, and too weak to sack any of them. Let there be no doubt about it: everything that could possibly go wrong will go wrong with this sorry lot in charge. So, where are we heading as a nation, or should I say as one of the several nations which make up the United Kingdom, because there is no certainty that the Scots will stay with us, or that Northern Ireland will not decide to unite with the South once Brexit bites?

“We are heading for a future where we will no longer have a health service which is free and available when we need it. Even if we could find replacements outside the European Union for the vast number of EU citizens who have come over here to work as doctors, nurses, and administrators, the NHS will be a mere shadow of its former glorious self, because it is being privatised even as I speak. It is said that if you go to hospital, you are more likely to be treated by a migrant than find one ahead of you in the queue.

“Applications for NHS jobs have already dropped off to the point where whole hospital wards have to close for lack of staff and where A&E departments are on more or less permanent black alert. Let me make this absolutely clear: don’t claim to campaign for the NHS one the hand if on the other you campaign to leave the EU. You can’t save the one while you pursue the other. The times when we could hope to fill the vacancies from existing national resources are long gone, and a time when we can reasonably hope to fill them with newly trained indigenous staff is far ahead in the future.

“We are heading for a future in which we could not build the houses we need to build if we want to solve our housing crisis even if we tried, because we have allowed our skills base to shrink. Remember how hard it was to get a plumber before our Eastern European friends started to offer their services? We are heading for a future in which our infrastructure crumbles beyond repair, because we cannot find the engineers to fix it.

“That skill base also went when the manufacturing sector was decimated. We are heading for a future in which we may no longer be able to feed ourselves adequately, because we have become too reliant on imports and do not have the collective will or the skills to grow and harvest our own food in sufficient quantities. We are heading for a future in which we can no longer rely on the standards of food safety to which we have become accustomed. The bonfire of regulations promised by the Brexiteers, well, they will be the very rules which keep us safe going up in flames.

“The University of Wageningen carried out a study of the likely impacts of leaving the EU on agriculture on behalf of the National Farmers Union and found them to be overwhelmingly negative. It strikes me as bizarre that anyone running a small or medium sized farm should have voted to leave, when their incomes – small though most of them are – rely on a system of subsidies which is almost certainly going to be swept away if Tory rule prevails. We are heading for a future in which our universities will no longer count among the best in the world, as academic staff leaves for better jobs elsewhere (this is already happening).

“Even Theresa May, who is pathologically obsessed with migration numbers, must realise by now that the targets her government ostensibly pursues would leave us short of essential workers in almost every major sector of industry and commerce. Migration, one of the big issues during the referendum campaign, is hardly mentioned anymore. And one by one the promises of a brighter future in a free trade world have fallen by the way, as the free traders of the world laugh at us and take us to the cleaners.

“Even the bankers are leaving the sinking ship. Make no mistake: xenophobia drives out the brightest and the best first, because they can find jobs wherever they want. Why would they want to stay in place where they no longer feel welcome? Worst of all will be the loss to our culture. Britain, once admired for its self-confidence, openness, inventiveness, and diversity, will become known as an island which had it all and threw it all away in a hissy fit.

“That Britain is the land in which I chose to make my home all those years ago and I want it back. It’s my country, too, and I want it back! I believe we have won the argument against Brexit long ago. Even the best of Brexits will leave our country poorer, less resilient, less beautiful. Let us not go into that long dark night of isolation. Let’s remember who we are and fight for our common future. We owe that much to ourselves and to generations to come. And let the people have the final say. It is said that politics is too important to leave it to the politicians. So let us, the people, take control and let the people decide.”

gerhardGerhard Lohmann-Bond is a long standing member and the Regional Co-ordinator of the East Midlands Green Party

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Why Caroline Lucas needs a Green TEAM

CarolineDid you watch the BBC Election debate last week, the one real debate between all parties of the entire election campaign? The debate was notable mainly for a truly extraordinary performance by Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas — including repeated devastating attacks from her on May’s substitute, the hapless Amber Rudd.

A number of commentators tweeted their reckoning that Caroline had ‘won’ the debate overall, including the moderator of the #CorbynVMay debate, Faisal Islam, Labour-leaning journalist Paul Mason, and even legendarily tribal Labour spin-doctor Alistair Campbell. And she picked up more new followers on Twitter than anyone else in the whole debate, Corbyn included, a kind of ‘objective’ measure of her success in the debate.

So, what does this mean for anyone impressed enough with the Green Leader and with Green policies to want to now back the Party? With just days to go until Election Day, does the ‘wasted vote’ argument still work, against the Greens?

Well, the first point to make is that Caroline got to participate in the #BBCDebate because enough voters in Brighton have voted Green to make her an MP already, under First Past The Post.

It’s also worth remembering that about 520–550 seats at this election, under our absurdly undemocratic electoral system, are already reckoned to be ‘safe’ for the Party that holds them. In every single one of those seats where the Greens are standing, a Green vote makes much more sense than anything else, if you want powerfully to voice the thought, #IAgreeWithCaroline. Eventually, if enough people start voting with their convictions, then some of these seats will no longer be safe…

But it’s worth noting too that there are seats where the Green Party is in direct contention to win, especially if Lucas’s scintillating showing in the BBC Leaders’ debate leads to a poll upswing for the Party.

There are a number of seats where the Greens are ahead of the LibDems, including places with recent Green surges in Councillor numbers, such as near where I live, in Suffolk.

There are seats where the Green Party is ahead of the Labour Party, such as Frome, where the singer Theo Simon is Green candidate. In the Isle of Wight, which has a strong tradition of independent voting, and the incumbent Conservative candidate had to stand down last month in disgrace, the well-known local politician Vix Lowthion is Green candidate — and in this seat, the Greens came ahead of both Labour and LibDems.

There are several seats where the Green Party is in second place to Labour, including Manchester Gorton, Sheffield Central (where the candidate is former Party Leader Natalie Bennett) and Liverpool Riverside.

However, by far, the Greens’ best prospect of all is in this election, after Brighton Pavillion where Caroline Lucas is standing again, is Bristol West. Here, Molly Scott Cato MEP, a green economist and longtime colleague of Caroline, will need just 2500 votes to move from Labour to Green to become Bristol’s first Green Party MP. She is up against a Labour candidate who is a vociferously anti-Corbyn and who has refused to commit to electoral reform; favours the renewal of trident; and has a much weaker record on issues such as defence of the NHS — which is partly why Molly Scott Cato has been endorsed by the National Health Action Party.

Why does it matter, that there be more Green MPs to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Caroline Lucas?

Caroline has been worth a dozen MPs from any other Party, in terms of her phenomenal workload and achievements since being elected to Westminster — which is why she has repeatedly won Parliamentarian of the Year awards. But there’s only so much that a lone MP can do. To reach the next level of influence and power — to be able to put forward motions requiring a seconder, for example — Caroline Lucas needs to be Leader of a Parliamentary group. That makes it crucial that she has at least one more MP in her team besides herself! The best prospect of all for that to happen is in Bristol West.

Part of what came over so strongly in the BBC Debate was the different philosophy of the Green Party. Lucas stood completely apart from the other Leaders by being the only one to place concerns about our very future, in particular the rising tide of climate disasters, front and centre. She made Corbyn look distinctively uncomfortable by focussing on key issues that set Greens apart from Labour: such as the Green focus on peace, meaning no to Trident; the Green focus on smart public transport rather than carbon-heavy mega-infrastructure, meaning no to HS2; and the Green focus on the public having a say before any Brexit deal gets final approval.

The Green Party is of course the only Party not fixated on ever more ‘economic growth’, ever more stuff, ever more environmental degradation — and again the contrast with Corbyn and Labour was clear, with Corbyn pitching explicitly in the debate for faster growth, which ensures faster breaching of our environmental limits in general and our carbon ‘budget’ in particular. This is an issue which Scott Cato is particularly strong on (and that I’ve worked with her on, as part of the Green House ‘post-growth project’).

So that’s the bottom-line. It must be great to live in Brighton Pavillion, and thus to have Caroline Lucas as one’s MP. But she’s lonely. She needs company. She needs a team.

One Caroline Lucas has already made such a startling impact on British politics. Think what two (or three or four…) like her could do, together…

Written by Rupert Read, never miss a story from Rupert when you sign up for Medium. Learn more

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Unity required, to defeat the Tories and achieve PR

Conference Liverpool 2017A well organised and largely united Green Party of England and Wales ( GPEW) Spring Conference took an important step forward for the party, and the wider left, last weekend. Taking place in Liverpool, in conjunction with the largest ever gathering of Global Greens, Conference endorsed the initiative of the party leadership to try and  build alliances with other parties in advance of the next general election, with the aim of removing the current government and replacing it with a coalition with a primary commitment to introducing proportional representation.

At a packed fringe meeting ahead of the vote, with the title  ‘ Progressive Alliances in the UK ‘  Caroline Lucas predicted that unless Greens united with others to achieve electoral reform we faced the prospect of at least 20 years of majority Tory governments. If such alliances, agreed and organised at local level, wanted to also campaign together on other issues, eg in defence of local services, then so much the better.

Jonathan Porritt reminded us that as well as talking with other politicians and activists we also needed to reach out to people who had not previously been involved in party politics. We needed progressive alliances to allow the Green Party to come out of the political wilderness. Realistically, in the here and now, they were the only mechanism by which we can fight the rule of the elite. The Green Party needed to show the extraordinary leadership needed to step up in favour of electoral alliances.

Andrea Frieze had been the prospective Green Party candidate in the recent Richmond Park by-election. She was anxious to stress that she hadn’t  stepped down in that election by not getting herself on the ballot paper. Rather she had stepped up in favour of an electoral alliance. It had achieved its objective of getting rid of a Tory MP, and would continue at the local elections in 2018, with the aim of getting rid of the Tory majority on the council and getting more Greens elected. Although ‘ Targeting to Win’ was a tried and tested strategy we cannot wait for it to succeed across the country she said. The situation is dire and we need to cooperate with others in order to achieve power. At the next General Election we might end up standing in only a handful of seats, where we could have a chance of being elected.

Tommy Shepherd MP said he was the first SNP member to speak at a Green Party Conference. The SNP remained committed to PR even though the vagaries of the first past the post system had  worked to their advantage at the last general election. The 2014 referendum was the greatest modern example of a Progressive Alliance. Supporters of the Yes campaign worked together without even knowing which party, if any, activists belonged to or supported.

Neal Lawson from Compass said he was a green, liberal socialist who wanted to work with greens, liberals and socialists to achieve a better society. He thought the Labour Party’s attitude to PR was changing and that the attitude of the Green Party towards the Labour Party can help change it further and faster.

Kat Leafletting 2017All of us in every progressive movement had to unite to defeat the Evil Empire and to change our political society. Progressive Alliances were meeting points for those who believe the best in others. We needed to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.

The motion debated at conference ( moved by High Peak member Mike Shipley, in his capacity as chair of GPRC) referred to electoral alliances rather than progressive ones. It had been carefully worded, after extensive discussions between the co-leaders and the two national governance committees, the executive ( GPEX) and the regional council ( GPRC). There was a recognition of the fact that many Green Party members would find it difficult to recognise the Liberal Democrats and/or Labour as progressive, and that the primary aim was to achieve electoral reform. The motion ( see below ) stressed that the initiative for forming alliances rested with local parties. The national party would advise but not instruct. Local parties should only contemplate making alliances with those with whom they shared values in common, ruling out any alliance with UKIP for example, despite their interest in electoral reform.

Two friendly amendments were included in the final motion, removing the assumption that alliances would only be negotiated in a minority of constituencies and committing the national party to actively promote electoral alliances when local parties had voted in favour of one.

The motion was overwhelmingly carried with probably between 5 and 10% of the several hundred members in the hall voting against.

Final Text of Motion passed (with amendments)



Electoral Alliances for Proportional Representation


In recognition of the democratic deficit in the UK whereby a Party polling a minority of the popular vote in General Elections are able to command a Commons majority and form a Government, in 2015 GPEW committed to campaign by all legitimate and peaceful means in favour of Proportional Representation.


Following the commitment made by the Green Party of England and Wales  to campaign by all legitimate and peaceful means in favour of Proportional Representation (PR) for elections at all levels of government, Conference seeks to enable the formation, where appropriate, of Parliamentary electoral alliances for PR.

Such alliances:

  • Would apply only to Parliamentary elections up to and including the expected 2020 General Election
  • Will not apply in all constituencies, with potential constituencies identified by GPEx as guided by the Elections Coordinator”.
  • Will only be entered into with parties and candidates with principles which the local party determines are broadly in line with the values of the Green Party.

In pursuit of this policy, Conference calls on GPEx, GPRC, WGPC and local Green Parties to work in cooperation to ensure that any electoral alliance entered into is in the best interests of the Green Party of England and Wales.

Conference therefore instructs:

  • GPEx especially via the Elections Co-ordinator (and in the case of Wales, WGPC) to provide advice and support to local parties on parliamentary electoral alliances for PR, and in particular to identify constituencies where such alliances may be appropriate
  • GPEx to therefore encourage local GPs, where they judge it appropriate, to open dialogue at the earliest opportunity with potential allies including campaigning groups and other political parties on forming such electoral arrangements in good time for the next general election.
  • The Leader/s and Deputies of GPEW and Wales Green Party to keep open channels of communication with the leaders of other opposition parties, for purposes of co-ordination of electoral alliances at a party level
  • GPRC to maintain oversight of party strategy on electoral alliances for PR, in line with the responsibilities laid out in section 6 of the GPEW constitution.

All final agreements must be ratified by a vote of all local parties in the constituency involved. If the selection of a Parliamentary candidate by a local party would normally require a ballot of the full local party membership, then this will also be the case for ratifying an electoral alliance for that constituency.

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Lords must fight government power grab

Today, the government revealed that they are reaching for the Henry 8th powers, which are the nearest this country comes to making law by Ministerial diktat. The Lords has to do everything in its power to fight this government power grab.


There are three dangers down the road with Brexit. One is that the Government simply leaves a lot of European law out of the Great Repeal Bill.

Another is that much of the detail is put in secondary legislation, which gets less scrutiny and is extremely difficult to amend and vote down. In both cases they’d hope nobody notices, or that any opposition would be swamped by the focus around other issues like single market access.

A third is that the Government gives itself so-called Henry the Eighth powers to unilaterally repeal or amend these laws after the act passes, opening the door to a bonfire of environmental and social protections.

The nature of the beast of democracy is that you are often on the losing side and things are done that you don’t agree with. We can all live with that. But what the government is threatening to do is to take executive powers that allow no debate and little discussion, while they destroy pollution controls, environmental safeguards and workplace safeguards.

The Great Repeal Bill will just be the start, as secondary legislation and Ministerial misjudgements are hurried through. Next will come all the detailed giveaways in the trade negotiations with the likes of Trump. We know from our experience with TTIP that these external treaties have significant internal impacts. Modern trade deals need as much parliamentary scrutiny as any legislation.

I don’t under-estimate the practical problems with parliament dealing with the sheer volume of secondary legislation and trade negotiations, which is why we need a functioning second chamber that has real legitimacy. That means a second chamber elected under a PR system where every vote counts.