East Midlands Green Party Blog


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MEP challenges government on ‘circular economy’ post-Brexit

CircularEcon-1Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, has challenged the government to follow the EU and embrace the ‘circular economy’ post-Brexit.

The call comes following a vote in the European Parliament today on legislation related to creating an economy in which products stay in use for longer and at the end of their life, are reused, repaired, re-manufactured, upgraded, or recycled. Greens argue that creating this ‘circular economy’ will encourage new small industries, create thousands of new jobs and hugely benefit the environment. A majority of MEPs also voted for binding targets for recycling and a call on the European Commission to set up binding food waste targets.

Commenting on the vote, Molly said:

“As a Green Economist I have long argued for the need to move away from the linear economy based on extraction, production and disposal, which is wasteful of resources and energy. The time has come to move towards an energy and resource efficient circular economy, which will also provide enormous economic development opportunities, especially for SMEs.

There are many jobs to be created through waste products being either reused or recycled rather than simply dumped in landfill or burned. Combating planned obsolescence will also help consumers save money and have better quality products. 

“Reduction targets for food waste and stronger recycling targets add up to a package that will be good for citizens’ health, the environment, as well as for the economy.

Molly, who is Green Party speaker on EU relations, concluded:

“We must ensure that this sort of ambition is mirrored by our own government. We must ensure that the threatened ‘bonfire of regulation’ does not undermine these economic opportunities. I challenge the government to place the circular economy at the heart of a post-Brexit economic strategy.”

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Budget utterly fails to address the challenges of our time?

You might have thought that there was no one left on a trolley in a hospital corridor. That our social care system wasn’t on its knees. That climate change wasn’t a crisis that threatens our very future or that there was no air pollution epidemic linked to the deaths of tens of thousands.

This budget should have been an emergency intervention to end the chaos in health and social care and address the air pollution emergency, but instead it’s another resounding failure from a Government that’s got no ideas beyond an obsession with scaling back the state. With our NHS in peril and social care in crisis, this Budget was a chance for the Government to take a stand for the public services upon which we all rely. Instead they continue to push ahead with planned corporation tax cuts, and their handout to high earners, while unveiling woefully inadequate funding changes for the NHS and social care.

This budget is another climate failure – with the Chancellor failing to mention climate change even once in his speech. Rather than reversing the solar tax hike or ploughing money into renewables, the Government seems hell bent on drilling for more gas and oil in the North Sea, and handing further cash to the motor lobby with the fuel duty freeze. Britain should be leading the world in climate change technology and green jobs, but instead we’re lagging behind and laying the foundations for another dash for gas.

Caroline Lucas, MP
Co-leader of Green Party and MP for Brighton Pavilion


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Schools to face £1.8m business rate bill for solar panels

solar-schools-ukResearch by Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the House of Lords, suggests that schools could face a business rates bill totalling £1.8 million if the Valuation Office Agency goes ahead with plans to remove the exemption for small non-domestic installations.

Of the 74 education authorities in England and Wales that responded to FOI requests, they were responsible for 821 schools with almost 14,000 kW of solar power capacity installed. Scaling that up to all 174 education authorities suggests a total business rates bill in the region of £1,800,000 per year.

Jenny Jones, the Green Party’s voice in the Lords said:

“It’s utterly absurd to penalise schools for investing in solar panels. Schools obviously face bigger financial challenges than this, but the business rate charges will stop any plans for more solar panels. Schools I have visited see them as a triple investment – in their energy costs, their pupils’ education, and their future.

“My research shows there is huge scope for schools to install more solar panels. While some schools have installed panels on most of their buildings, many currently have few or none at all. The Government should ditch these plans to charge rates on small solar installations and support more schools to join the clean energy revolution.”

 


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Stop pretending we can’t afford the NHS: that’s the message of our march

GP NHS placard photoWe are living in a world in which the politics of the leaders of two of the world’s great nations – America and Britain – is built on broken promises. During Donald Trump’s election campaign he promised to “take on Wall Street”. So when just weeks later the president announced a cabinet full of banker billionaires, my brother, Senator Bernie Sanders, said: “With all due respect, Donald Trump is a fraud.

Meanwhile, here in the UK Theresa May took up her post as prime minister on the commitment to “work for all, not just the privileged few”. Well, it is just weeks since our NHS descended into a humanitarian crisis, and we are already looking at another round of privatisation and cuts. Which is why at midday today we will be marching on parliament in support of the NHS.

We don’t need reminding of the horrors we saw over the winter, with people dying on trolleys and turned away from hospitals, and the British Medical Association warning our most cherished institution has been pushed to breaking point. The NHS is facing a £22bn funding gap, with the demand for care set to rise 4% a year while the health service’s budget will go up by only 0.2% every year between now and 2020.

This crisis in healthcare has been exacerbated by the current Tory government – but its foundations were laid by New Labour and further strengthened by the coalition with the Health and Social Care Act of 2012. The creeping privatisation of the past quarter of a century has introduced vast fragmentation and inefficiency into our health service, and, combined with chronic underfunding, has left the NHS on the brink. Anyone who has visited a hospital recently knows how hard doctors, nurses and all the staff are working to make sure patients are cared for with dignity and compassion, despite the strain on the system. It is time we listened to their concerns.

Adding to the pressure facing hospitals across the country is the financial crisis in social care. We’re living longer, and that’s a great thing – last year, aged 81, I stood in the Witney byelection after David Cameron resigned. But while there are currently one-third more over-85s than 10 years ago, adult social care budgets have been cut by one third in the same time. And the care funded by local authorities accounts for just a small proportion of the care elderly people in the UK currently receive. Every year family, friends and neighbours provide £55bn of unpaid carefour in 10 people in care homes pay for themselves, and a staggering 1.2 million people over 65 with care needs receive no help at all.

We are simply not providing enough care and support for people in the community, at home and close to where they live. This means elderly people are more likely to end up in hospital, and when they get there it is more difficult to get them home again. People who are medically well are stuck in hospital because there is nowhere suitable for them to go and too little support for them at home. The system is failing these people who could be living at home or in supported accommodation instead of being isolated from their communities on a hospital ward. But it also fails those who desperately need the hospital beds these elderly people occupy.

The government’s response has been to engage in a cruel con where local councils were told there was “new” funding for social care, only to find much-needed funding cut from elsewhere. It is little wonder the system is on its knees – and the prime minister’s insistence on ending free movement as part of Brexit risks starving the NHS and care services of the staff they so desperately need.

Yesterday 250,000 people took to the streets of London to march in support of the NHS, unwilling to stand by and watch while this government dismantles public healthcare – and I’m proud to be among their number. The government tells us there isn’t enough money but this isn’t true. We are the fifth richest country in the world – we have the money to stop our health service turning into a humanitarian crisis, and to care for people when they grow old: in hospitals, the community and homes. We have the money for a fully funded public health service. If Theresa May is to keep her promise to “work for all, not just the privileged few”, she must not let the NHS and social care crumble on her watch.

 

Written by Larry Sanders, Green Party Health and Wellbeing Spokesperson, for the Guardian.


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I’d Vote Green but…

The Northants Green Party Blog

…if I vote Green, I get Blue. 

To an extent this is true, this is part of the problem with our electoral system. Winner takes it all and smaller parties get completely marginalised. One of the Green Party’s main policies is electoral reform towards proportional representation to avoid this situation. I have tried tactical voting in the past and don’t feel that it worked. I voted for someone I didn’t really believe in and it didn’t change the outcome of the result. If we had an election where everybody voted for who they actually wanted and not the person to stop the person they hate, then we might get a turnout more reflective of our views. In order to achieve this our elected individuals should reflect a broader cross section of our communities. This won’t happen whilst the same two parties remain in charge.

Even worse is that if you…

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Corbyn, the accidental leader, is finished

Robert Lindsay's blog

corbyn-straight-talking

In my last blog on Jeremy Corbyn I suggested that his halo had cracked because he was not entirely honest about his thoughts on Brexit.

Because he did not believe in remaining in the EU himself, he failed to support Remain wholeheartededly. His USP (unique selling proposition) had been that he was a man who stood by his principles. He failed to do that. Bang goes the sole reason for his popularity.

Four months on, he is now openly supporting Brexit, but not, he says,  because he believes in it, but because the people have told him to. His comments on Blair’s speech about the dangers of a right wing Brexit are telling:

“Well, it’s not helpful. I would ask those to think about this – the referendum gave a result, gave a very clear decision on this, and we have to respect that decision, that’s why we didn’t block…

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Greens accuse Socialists of failure to stand up to corporate power as MEPs vote to support CETA trade deal

stop-cetaGreens have accused the Socialist and Democrats group in the European Parliament of caving in to corporate power and letting down the citizens of Europe. The accusation comes following a vote in the European Parliament in favour of the CETA trade deal between Canada and the EU. The vote saw Socialists divided on the controversial trade treaty with 97 voting in favour and 67 against.

Labour MEPs who are members of the Socialist and Democrats group, were equally split, with seven voting for the deal; 10 against and two abstaining [1].  Divisions amongst Labour MPs were also exposed last week when CETA was voted on in the House of Commons. Despite shadow international trade secretary, Barry Gardiner, urging Labour MPs to vote against the deal, they instead voted in favour by 85 to 68.

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, and longtime opponent of the CETA trade deal, said:

“With trade, as with Brexit, Labour are exposing how weak they are as an opposition. The Party is hopelessly split between backing the citizens of Europe and caving in to corporate power.

“Their long-time trade coordinator in the European Parliament, David Martin, has been a forceful supporter of CETA and has strenuously opposed the Greens for their opposition to the anti-democratic aspects of this treaty. No wonder their shadow trade minister can only persuade half his MPs to vote against this dodgy deal.

“The weakness of socialists in Europe to protect citizens against the worst aspects of corporate globalisation plays straight into the hands of the extreme right and nationalist forces which are on the rise across the continent”.

CETA has long been opposed by European Greens as well as by trade justice campaigners, trade unions, and millions of citizens in the EU and Canada. Opposition has focused on the fact the treaty will allow corporations to sue governments over legislation that threatens their profits and concerns over how the deal will impact on workers’ rights, climate action, animal welfare, and chemical and product safety. Molly Scott Cato concluded:

“As Greens we don’t believe that more deregulation and more power for corporations is the way to support citizens in Europe. We believe that putting citizens first involves strong environmental, health, social, agricultural and animal welfare standards, and fighting against tax havens and climate change. This means killing off toxic trade deals like CETA. Greens will continue this fight in countries across Europe.”