East Midlands Green Party Blog

Green Party Opposes Fracking at Biscathorpe

1 Comment

As part of our focus on energy this month we bring you a video from our lead Euro Candidate for East Midlands, Kat Boettge, as she campaigns against plans for oil extraction in a local area of outstanding natural beauty and community:

 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/78459331″>Green Party opposes Biscathorpe oil drilling</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user8205550″>Tony Youens</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>


1 Comment

A Light on Energy

No to Fracking

This month East Midlands Green Party are focusing on the theme of energy. When I started writing this post, the street to which I’ve just moved went into blackout twice in one night. We stumbled over boxes to light candles. Being greenies, we had solar lights and a windup torch. I later found out that on the 13th of October the BBC reported the risk of blackouts this winter is higher than at any time over the past six years, according to the National Grid. Sitting in the dark we discussed, (along with things like how great one of our neighbours is and if he needs candles), the probability of power outages becoming more frequent and the effects on homes, businesses and public services. We don’t know our other neighbours yet, or those who might have troubles. We do know that the price of basic fuel often exceeds our own budget, along with an increasing number of others. We are lucky enough to be in paid employment, though my paid hours are few. Yet I know we are going to be cold and that this will effect my own physical capacity to work and live well, together with affecting my mood. Being constantly cold is not regularly associated with well-being. It does not help that there are so many others in similar or worse situations.

Under the present  insane system the priority is the pursuit of (short-term) profit rather than the meeting of human need or long-term solutions to the energy crisis. With Fuel Poverty on the rise and the cold winter  coming, charities such as Age UK are warning of associated fatal illness bought on by the cold which can and does result in the death of tens of thousands each year. Flu, asthma , chest infections, strokes, depression are some of the killers in the cold affecting low income households, including struggling families, infants, the elderly and those with disabilities. It affects us all as a society and as individuals. Within my circle of family and friends are those at risk. I am personally a high risk of complications  in cold spells due to my own health.

There is inefficiency and greed within an energy system based on polluting, wasteful extraction of resources that are becoming ever more scarce, or those which leave life-killing, cancer causing radioactive waste. Fracking manages both to be wasteful and polluting, destroying land and water. It is also radioactve.  One report citing some of the compelling research on this was by Douglas Main on October 3rd, for NBC News USA, where fracking is already in operation. Geochemistry and Water Quality Proffessor Avner Vengosh of Duke University stated levels of radium in fracking wastewater let out into rivers in Pennsylvania were ‘higher than those found in some radioactive waste dumps, and exceed the minimum threshold the federal government uses to qualify a disposal site as a radioactive dump site’ and that this will get into the food system on every level. The report by Main can be found at http://www.nbcnews.com/science/fracking-wastewater-contaminated-likely-radioactive-8C11323012. There is no promise to meet the energy needs of our communities. The industry is heavily subsidised by us through tax but comes with no health or environmental security.  It is no accident that fracking is banned in France, which will protect public safety and environment. It is also no accident that it is exempt from the clean water act in the USA, which is the only way it could be pushed forward.

Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent, BBC News, reported on August 13th this year that ‘researchers from the University of Texas in Arlington found increased levels of arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites in the Barnett Shale, an area with around 16,000 active gas wells.’ A component in rat poison and famous in the classic film ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’, arsenic is one of the worlds most effective and vile poisons. In fracking the outmoded, wasteful, centralised energy production industry has come up with something that is more deathly and desperate than anything we have so far seen. It leaves water undrinkable, carrying cancer causing and other poisonous chemicals and radioactivity.

Humanity has become dependent on wasteful, polluting, inefficient and heavily subsidised fuel instead of investing in renewables which are infinite , the relevant technologies are largely clean and increasingly efficient.  Green Party policy states the immediate objective: To promote full use of currently available renewable energy sources for heat, electricity and transport and provide the necessary support for the relevant markets and industries to grow. Meanwhile our Green Energy Policy also states the aim: To reduce demand for fossil fuels as rapidly as possible by inducing industry, householders and the public sector to invest in energy conservation. Under the present coalition, with no real opposition from Labour, subsidies of millions are going into £Billion Oil Companies while investment in renewables has been pulled. The Big Oil industry has limited accountability and little interest in communities becoming more self-sufficient through localised energy production.

The efficiency of renewables is increased with localised energy generation, open to community co-ownership. Green Party Policy has long-term aims for a Green Economy with energy generation focused on combined renewables locally.  Our policy states: Energy would be generated, stored and distributed as close to the point of use as practicable, with maximum local control. Our policy has at its core a commitment to make energy production ‘fully accountable to the public sector‘. The fossil fuel industry, which itself should be fossilised, works on nationalised, centralised power structures and is becoming increasingly unfit for purpose. Much fuel is needed in the transportation of fuel in these systems, meaning more pollution, less power.

Increasing fuel poverty and power outages (blackouts) and the health and safety implications are the tip of a large iceberg we are being taken towards by those with the blinkered arrogance to believe we are somehow unsinkable.  Jarred Diamond,  in  ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive’ tracks the ancient societies that have fallen because humankind has misused, mismanaged and devalued water and soil and other natural, vital resources. He then links it to what we are doing in the post industrial ‘civilised’ world. Let’s not watch the titanic failure of inadequate energy policies destroy lives, futures, economies. The Green Party is the only political party in the UK with sustainable, workable energy policies.

There is something soulful in the scientific understanding that energy does not die, it chances to change. This is a holistic wisdom in the purest sense,  touching on the poetry of a ‘council of all beings’ and remaining true to both science of sustainable energy production and the lives and economies that rely on energy production being sustainable in every sense of the word.

I will end with this, the introduction to The Green Party’s comprehensive Energy Policy. To me, after the power cut, it is a light in the dark:

‘Our world is bathed in energy radiated from the sun, but is also provided with stocks of fossil fuels in which energy is locked up. Our economic development has taken us away from using sun, wind and water power to a technology dependent on dwindling supplies of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels represent natural capital. Industrialism has been committing the fundamental economic error of using capital as income. As E.F. Schumacher has pointed out, the wealth generated from the use of capital energy resources must be directed towards making ourselves independent of that type of resource.http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/en

Soundrack to changing energy policy:

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons

Boys on the Balcony – Seize the Day

If you Tolerate this – Manic Street Preachers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4qledBpbig

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHqFqSkHBqc

http://www.thenation.com/blog/160166/top-ten-antinuclear-songs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkCFronBCqs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg2gAbb0NuE

by Antonia Zenkevitch for The Green Party


1 Comment

Banker’s Bonuses

tax bankers not bedroomsplease sir I want some more cartoon

 

As part of our month’s focus on money and debt, this powerful article is written by Peter Allen, one of our candidates from Derbyshire, East Midlands, looking at Banker’s Bonuses in the light of national and international crisis:

 

With living standards in decline, a million young people unemployed, a crisis in the NHS and social care,  and rising levels of poverty and homelessness,  whose interests  might the government be trying to defend (at public expense) in the European Court ? … why bankers of course!

 

A few years back, after the financial crash, largely  caused by irresponsible behaviour by greedy bankers trying to line their own pockets, all politicians joined in the chorus of popular anger against them. Cameron and co accused Labour (with some justification! ) of allowing bankers bonuses and pay levels to get out of hand.

 

It was a sentiment that spread across Europe ( although in truth the amount of bonuses paid out in London was far higher than elsewhere in Europe) and has led to a new regulation ( agreed by all the other governments but being legally challenged by the UK ) which caps the bonuses payable to bankers. The cap is pretty generous (100% of their huge salaries or 200% “if shareholders agree”) but is being opposed by Cameron and co who argue that “it will just mean banks increase basic salaries instead”.

 

Perhaps the UK government is actually injecting a reality check, knowing that financial institutions are highly skilled in getting round regulations? Certainly the evidence of the last few years is that, having been bailed out by European taxpayers, they intend to carry on “business as usual”, making speculative decisions in the interests of short term gain, rather than investing for the long term benefit of Europe and the world.

 

The Green Party was not against injecting public money to stabilise financial institutions after the crash of 2008. but it said then, and it says now, that the bailout should not have been unconditional, allowing banks and bankers to continue to behave as previously. Rather public money should have been used to invest in a transformation of our energy supply, transport infrastructure and housing stock, creating decent jobs and starting to seriously address the imminently devastating impact of climate change.

 

In order to ensure the above banks will have to be properly regulated. This will require agreement at international level by governments committed to real reform. The election of such governments will require the creation of popular movements for radical change, across Europe and beyond, to challenge austerity and promote greater equality. Green MP Caroline Lucas, speaking to New Internationalist magazine in advance of the launch of the People’s Assembly earlier this year, summed it up

 

” It was an international banking crisis and this is an international crisis-and although each country has very different circumstances international solidarity and working together is absolutely crucial. Capitalism is international and people’s movements need to be international as well”


Leave a comment

Money, Money, Money – Must be funny

All pain no gain GP postertax bankers not bedrooms

This month East Midland’s Greens are putting banking and debt under the microscope. There are more posts to follow with this one giving an overview. In this age of globalised markets and globalised debts we need to re-examine the nature of money. In the USA there is a partial government shutdown as Republicans and Democrats battle out what to do about mounting debt. Their decisions may be behind closed doors and across the ocean but waves will be felt near and far.  Here in the East Midlands, at the time of the harvest we examine our national economic harvest of the year and the forecast ahead. Did you know for example that under the coalition government in the 2012 -2013 financial year borrowing had gone up £300 million, while at the same time the total debt had risen to 75.2% of our gross domestic product (GDP), up from 71.1% of GDP at the end of May 2012? These figures were reported by among others, BBC News Business, on 21/06/13. Such figures did not lead to a good economic yield at the year’s Autumn.

75 % of the UK economy is debt as borrowing rises. That is not a good harvest, with most of the crop spoken for. Much of this extra borrowing is subsidising banks and big business. Meanwhile public services are being cut and in certain areas shredded. Bankers bonuses are back in the billions while our national and personal debts are rising. Many people rely on payday loans with typical  apr at 3000 – 4000 % and more.  Amelia Gentleman’s article ‘Buy Now Regret Later? The Secret of Brighthouse’s Success’ The Guardian, Friday 4 October 2013 illuminates this culture of a society fueled, not by credit, but by debt.

Far from getting ourselves out of debt we have an economic system based on debt.  Our ability to pay off personal debts is being undermined. Thanks to savage cuts there are less full-time or secure jobs and more zero hours contracts, particularly for young adults, offering the most uncertain present and future. Students start their  working lives with huge debts and less employment prospects. It is no coincidence that one of the largest and ever growing proportion of homeless population are young people. Another group with rising debts and homelessness is families. Bedroom tax hits low income families, among many others, as do skyrocketing house prices. Austerity is increasing debt, with the cost of living far greater than a growing number of people’s ability to pay for even the most basic costs of shelter and survival. The Charity Crisis reports a 31% rise in homelessness in 3 years. This is attributed to rising debts, due to benefits cuts and rising house prices and living costs. Broken homes can become more common, along with domestic abuse. In the Independent 03/09/13 and The Mirror on 04/09/13 article accuse The Police (operating on decreased numbers and funds) of referring less domestic violence cases to Crown Prosecution  Service while allegation numbers rise by 10 % and prosecution dropped by 11.1% last year. This is one example of the harvest of our broken economic system, with police force targets having to be met under a 20% decrease in funds and a new level of red tape; Police Commissioners dictating regional priorities. There is toxic irony in the Tory’s rhetoric on family values when they are delivering policies across the board which raise the debts and threats to the majority of families, both in and out of paid work.

These insane policies are enabled by the Liberal Democrats, with inadequate opposition in Labour policies, with the nation remaining controlled by rising debt and a failing banking system. Credit Union Empowerment, measures to encourage responsible lending and banking reform are core Green Party policies.  The Green Party and Green Group Europe have long called for financial reform, including a Robin Hood Tax, or financial transaction tax which means bankers would help pay for high risk banking practices. This would encourage a more responsible approach and one in which cost of failure is not predominantly levied on citizens as it so far has been. This sensible taxing of bankers is something the coalition government are working against in both the UK and Europe. The government are not protecting a stable economy. They are ensuring one of high risk, imbalance and increasing debts and insecurity for most people. Citizens are being pushed into paying national debt by getting into more personal debt and it is not working.

The Green Party do not believe the poorest should be getting poorer while the rich get richer , nor that this is inevitable but a symptom of a broken system that needs fixing. One that has not been fixed by successive governments, each too lacking in vision and courage. Austerity is failing in its promise to build productivity in the private sector; small and medium sized businesses are not secure or significantly growing.  Foodbanks are growing. Rajesh Mirchandani reported for BBC Newsnight on 11th July 2013 that ‘the Trussell Trust, which runs food banks, reported a 21% rise in the number of people who said they did not have enough money for food because of problems with benefits. “A clear link” exists between the reforms and the increasing popularity of food banks, the Trust’s boss said. Conservative minister Lord Freud has said the two factors are unrelated.’

harvest

The Financial Times articles are often scathing about Government’s blinkered Economic Policy. One such article by Trevor Greetham is dated  02/09/13. Greetham states that ‘in encouraging a housing boom the government are forcing the next generation into debt in the hope the government can improve its own financial position.’ I personally wonder if it is so radical to suggest that a government should serve the interests of its citizens? We appear to have an inverted system under current policies. Trevor Greetham notes the failure of the government’s economic policy to recover the private sector and predicts people will have greater debt, not less, when recession does end. This will guarantee future turmoil.  The article recommends jobs creation and improvement of infrastructure to overcome the ‘economic stagnation’ caused by delays in recovery and unemployment.

Austerity is costing jobs and creating unemployment and an atmosphere of despair and blame.  The Green Party have long been calling for a Green New Deal of job creation, protecting and building valuable skills, sustainable infrastructures and lessening levels of unemployment  instead of increasing unemployment then using those without paid work (or not enough to live off)as scapegoats. We are calling for risky practices by bankers to be taxed in order to discourage and absorb  shocks and imbalances in the financial sector. The debt must not continue to rest on the shoulders of those least to blame and least likely to be able to carry the burden.  Current government policies are increasing debt for most people now and ensuring debt for most people in the future. We need not be tied to a cycle of debt. There is an alternative and the Green Party is at the heart of it. Be part of it.

Join the Green Party Link: https://my.greenparty.org.uk/civicrm/membership/joining

If you like it please share this blog post on Facebook, Twitter or WordPress.

The Voice / Soundtrack – just for fun:

Forbes is among the publications that has drawn parallels between the Great Depression and today’s crisis. There is a song from those bygone days by Bob Miller that is disturbingly appropriate today. This inspired me to write a soundtrack to banking reform.

Soundtrack for Calling for Bank Reform:

  • Bank Failures – Bob Miller
  • The Man that Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo – Music Hall Classic
  • I Need a Dollar – Pixie Lott (original Aloe Blacc)
  • Umbrella – Rihanna
  • Hands – Jewel
  • Stand and Deliver – AntMusic
  • Money, Money, Money – Abba
  • With a Little Help From My Friends – Beatles


2 Comments

No Jobs on a Dead Planet

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

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

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

See here speech here

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

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

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

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

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

” There are no jobs on a dead planet “


Leave a comment

Party of the Future, Party of Now

Photo

The Green Party has been in the spotlight more and more in recent months. Nationally we have seen our leader on Question Time, Big Questions and BBC radio. Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett have written for The Guardian. We have heard a breadth of topics discussed from economics, to fracking, privatization to flood defense, welfare and benefits to population, climate change and the living wage. Nearer to home our profile is shining too. We in Midlands are getting some very positive press.  I mention only a couple of highlights. The title of this piece is inspired by an article written in the Nottingham Post, 17th April ’13, entitled ‘Party of the Future’ in which Arnold North candidate Jim Norris was interviewed. In recent poll in which people focus on looking at policies, Green Party policies have been coming out as the public favourite. This is based on policies people want most, rather than choice based on the false perception there are only two / three political parties to choose from. As Jim Norris is quoted as saying in Nottingham Post “We are standing as an alternative to the three main parties and one which actually is thinking about the future and being sustainable. People have been receptive to what we are saying.”

We are the party facing the future. For a swelling volume of people, there is an exciting and much-needed shift towards democracy and choice which opens up possibilities. In Northampton, independent candidate Tony Clarke has joined The Green Party and now locally campaigns with us under an “INDEPENDENT GREEN’ banner, standing at the election as a Green Party candidate. Increasingly Labour representatives and activists alike have been shifting allegiance to the Green Party. Former Labour leader of Worcester City Council and Party Chairman David Barlow joined the Green Party. In his company is former Worcester Labour Party Chairman and Councillor, Peter Nielsen. On 29th April Worcester News reported  Barlow saying “The Green Party offers exactly the kind of credible, progressive policies which I have always supported and from which the Labour Party has drifted away.”

Greens are a party growing, sometimes slowly, sometimes with great energy, always with determination and rooted values. A much repeated sentiment is that the Green Party is the party with ethical action and morality at its core.  This has been said by those who were once staunch supporters of other parties. Our stance on alternatives to austerity and our at present lone political voice in the fight against climate change and destruction of environment are among other common praise. Councillor Richard Mallander and candidate Katharina Bottege have spoken publicly about HS2, Kat also recently on local radio interviewed about the plastic bag tax. We have been photographed as we joined and helped steward local protests against the horrors of the bedroom tax.  Our striving towards equality is much noted, our commitment to a fair 50% of our candidates being women for example, is not going unnoticed when it stands alongside the other parties recent 21-30% women candidates. It is our action on the ground, in communities, that gains applause too. It also raises awareness of what we, as a party rooted in our communities, could achieve with more representation and more people choosing a party with the fair policies they want most, instead of choosing what they hate least.

In that shift away from putting up with complacency former Labour Party Chairman and Councillor  Peter Nielsen is reported in Worcester News on 29th April ’13 as saying : “The Green Party has the ethical and moral dimension that has been lost in our traditional political parties, in particular the Labour Party. The Green Party sees environmental sustainability and social justice as inseparable. It is now 40 years old, and has matured into an impressive and credible political organisation that I am happy to join and in which I feel completely at home.”

So folks, voting cards at the ready, they are a ticket to the future. May 2nd is the next stop on the journey.

Further Information:

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/Greens-party-future/story-18729147-detail/story.html#axzz2QiROoObE

http://tonyclarkeindependent.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/i-guess-i-am-one-big-watermelon-green.html

http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/10355420.Labour_leaders_shift_their_allegiance_to_the_Greens


Leave a comment

Vital Women in Politics – Green World Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Leave a comment

George Osborn / Guy of Gisborn – Green notes on a ridiculous budget

naughty Guy of Gisborn

Robin Hood Laughs

Has anyone noticed certain similarities between the Sheriff Henchman Guy of Gisborn and George Osborn? No, I don’t mean the steamy Richard Armitidge depiction. I mean the derisive bailiff who took from the poorest what they did not owe.  This Robin Hood Region blog  shares some Green arrows of truth to drive into the latest budget; a budget already full of holes:

  • Subtract from those with least and you end up with less than nothing -basic maths!
  • Unemployment has increased since his government came to office (2.53m up from 2.47m) with those people blamed for poverty.
  • There are economic and environmental holes all over the budget.
  • Words and phrases such as ‘unavoidable’, ‘there is no alternative’  are the words of bullies and abusers the world over. Is it coincidence that these are words spoken today by our government? We must each draw our own conclusions…

  • “With the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warning that tax rises, welfare cuts, and wages freezes will push over 7 million children below the breadline in the next two years, it’s scandalous that this millionaire Government is still so reluctant to make the richest in our society pay their fair share of tax.” Caroline Lucas
  • If millionaires and multinational corporations pay ever-decreasing income tax the deficit will get worse – basic maths!
  • Corporation tax avoidance works against small & medium sized businesses which make up 60% of private sector.
  • “Treating 1 million of our cold draughty homes each year would create 140,000 jobs, save each household up to £250 in fuel bills, and cut carbon emissions.” Natalie Bennett

Robin Hood Nottingham

  • The Chancellor has failed to provide the framework to fulfill the enormous potential of our green economy.
  • The right to earn £10,000 tax free for the decreasing amount of people in steady work does not add up when public service cuts and other economic injustices mean more do not have jobs or cannot work because of  issues such as disability or age
  • The budget still relies on taxing the poorest most, targeting the most vulnerable, including children, single parent families and those with disabilities.
  • The budget fails to value the vital work of those within the public sector, undermining schools, hospitals etc … undervaluing their service and their staff
  • The budget goes against the directive of the International Monetary Fund (IMF):
  1.  IMF says the cutting corporation tax does not boost growth!
  2. IMF says we need to spend more not less. Cuts are not working.
  • Fair corporate taxation does not mean an noncompetitive economy. Sweden, Finland and others have managed.
  • The Department of Energy and Climate Change say shale gas is unlikely to reduce energy prices significantly. It will suppress the development of vital renewables:

  •  ‘The lazy, arrogant ‘no alternative’  argument lacks vision, intelligence, humanity & sense.
  • “Amidst the tax breaks for shale gas and boastful roadbuilding pledges, there is one huge green economy-shaped hole in this flailing Chancellor’s Budget.” Caroline Lucas
  • UK new nuclear is likely to be  more expensive  and less safe  per unit of electricity supplied than any other low-carbon energy source and too slow to deploy to meet our pressing energy needs.

This budget is a continued, self defeating war on the poor and has total disregard for environmental resources and balance we and other beings need in order to survive. It is socially unjust and economically reckless. It flies in the face of the needs of the majority for jobs, for warm homes, for enough money to live with dignity. It creates more poverty and then blames the poor. It works against sane action for safe, healthy environment and sustainable futures for all. Robin Hood Tax, or financial transaction tax on banks’ more risky ventures is one way forward. I encourage people to look into ever- Green policies to find out more and to vote Green in the fight for fairness.

Further Reading on Green Responses:

http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2013/03/20/budget-2013-time-for-plan-g-stop-failed-austerity-and-invest-in-the-billion-pound-green-economy

http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2013/03/20/budget-2013-another-deceptive-and-divisive-budget-for-private-profit-and-public-pain/


Leave a comment

The Wrong and the Right in Energy Policy

The following is the voice of our indomitable Mike Shipley in which he presents a Green Party vision of vital, workable, sustainable energy policy in alternative to the wasteful and socially and environmentally reckless government energy agenda which subsidizes and gives tax breaks to trillion pound Big Oil companies and under-funds renewable alternatives:

The Wrong and the Right in Energy Policy

The International Energy Agency has warned the world that by 2017, we will have a better than even chance of being locked in to a 2C rise in temperature.  This is a result of the investment decisions now being taken that will determine global energy infrastructure for the next 30 years or more. Unless someone, somewhere starts to make a serious commitment to the decarbonisation of  energy production, we will experience at least 2C of global warming by mid century and be on track for at least double this by century’s end.

Who will take that lead?  The International community, bought off by oil interests, have shelved any decision on cutting carbon emissions until 2020. This is too late to stop a 2C rise without truly massive emergency investment.  The British Government has also signalled that it has abandoned any pretence of showing leadership, with a policy portfolio dominated by private interests.  In his last budget statement George Osborne handed tax breaks to oil and gas companies to encourage a new round of exploration in the North Sea and to open the door to gas fracking.  Coupled with his slashing of feed in tariffs for renewables, his energy policy is to lock the UK into high carbon and increasingly expensive fuels for the next generation.  Even the pilot CCS project at Long Gannet in Scotland has been abandoned through lack of support by the private sector.

Osborne is always quick to point out that there isn’t the money available to radically change the UK energy infrastructure.  Oh yes there is.  The trouble it is in the hands of the big oil and gas companies and they won’t pay their taxes or even invest in the next generation of renewable fuels.  As a result of Osborne’s ill timed policy of giving tax breaks to the worlds richest companies, nearly £26 Billion will be invested in North Sea exploration 2011 – 2013.  This is the money that was desperately needed to invest in our sustainable energy future.  Of course the industry and Osborne herald this as good investment, generating jobs and tax revenue.  Except that the investment comes as a result of promise of taking less tax and the industry is globally shedding jobs.  This investment is about private wealth. The Scottish Government estimates that there is £1.5 trillion of oil to be won from the UK Continental Shelf, these companies are investing to get that wealth quickly, and they can only earn it if they burn the oil and release the carbon dioxide.  Osborne has slammed the door on 2C and opened the one marked 4+.  Thank you Gideon!

The oil companies have become untouchable, they sit on mountains of cash and are using it to enrich their shareholders and senior executives, they give vast sums to politicians and organisations that will look after their interests and promote climate change denial.  The top 5 oil companies, which include BP and Shell, made $1trillion in profits in the decade 2001-11.  In addition they receive public money as subsidies and tax breaks,  the richest of them all, Exxon-Mobil, pays a mere 18% tax rate.  If any finance minister has the nerve to demand a higher share of that profit to help a struggling local economy or to build national infrastructure, they pull out and go elsewhere.  This happened in the UK when Gordon Brown increased taxation on the oil sector, in response oil companies reduced output to reduce their tax liability until they got an oil friendly Chancellor.

All this new investment sends a clear signal to the financial markets that the safe place for money is in the fossil sector, Government support for renewables is lukewarm and hedged with uncertainty, therefore it is unattractive to investors, so it is starved of cash.  Investors want maximum and quick profits. The oil that will flow as a result of these tax breaks will be burned adding to the still rising levels of carbon dioxide. Yet as we know that 80% of existing oil reserves needs to remain unburned if we are to limit temperature rise to a level we can reasonably hope to afford to live with. With men like Osborne in control, delivering the policy demanded by Big Oil, that is not going to happen.

 But it doesn’t have to be like this.

At our Spring Conference, a draft policy paper for Energy was presented.  This policy shows how it would be possible to implement an energy strategy that addressed the real issues that are ignored by the Liberal Democrat Conservative Government.  It presents a strategy that enables the full decarbonisation of both energy and transport by mid centuryA strategy that will end fuel poverty, that will create sustainable business opportunities and skilled jobs, that will invest in research and the development of new technologies so creating significant export opportunities.  A strategy that will give the UK a long term affordable, reliable, sustainable and largely indigenous energy supply.  The Green Energy Strategy would turn the UK into a global showcase, demonstrating how a technology based civilised society can operate within the carbon budget required to cut carbon dioxide to a safe level of 350ppm.  Now wouldn’t that be a better policy option than making the richest companies and people in the world even richer while consigning us all to a very unstable and hazardous future?


2 Comments

No to the Bedroom Tax

tax bankers not bedrooms

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fKaoTKr9aw

The above video displays only one of the outcomes of the bedroom tax. People with two or more homes are stating that children with disabilities must share bedrooms with other siblings or their families will have benefit cuts. This effects the safety and health of any disabled child, their siblings and their family. It is also economically unworkable, the cost of moving families with disabled children and re-equipping homes with the most basic tools to allow even the minimum safety and mobility would be far greater than any saving made. Single parents, recently bereaved families and those with children away at university are also targeted in these cuts.

Human rights are being violated with this and other unnecessary and unequal cuts.  80% of cuts are to come. Calls for tax justice and fair pay are being increasingly replaced with those in poverty turning on one another in response to government spin-doctoring, which Natalie Bennett at Spring Conference called ‘deeply derisive workers verses shirkers rhetoric’. Blame is placed on those driven into unemployment by public service cuts and economic failures of a system where organisations making cuts often make people redundant before looking at turning off the lights at closing time. Responsibility is placed at the door of those whom accident or illness made too ill to work. International workers often used as cheap labour, hardly surviving on their pay, are hated by those who lose their jobs or take pay cuts to compete. Losses are taken by small and medium sized businesses collapsing under unjust tax laws and other financial inequity. Young people and vulnerable groups pay increasing ecological and economic bills while many become blinded to the real issues.

Be seen to be Green with me on the 16th March at 1pm at Brian Clough Statue off Market Square, Nottingham. Our policies, including for a living wage and for the top of an organisation to be on no more than 10 times the salary of the lowest paid employee, of bank and tax reform and cutting carbon not welfare are important in these times. They are the only concise alternative to austerity.

Please join us for this and other peaceful demonstrations. Please share this with others and use this blog and our facebook group to let us know your thoughts and any relevant local campaigns.

With Thanks,

Antonia