East Midlands Green Party Blog


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What Integrity is Left?

red and green

Greens are changing the political conversation with our push against the shift to the right of other parties. A sure signal of success can be seen in Labour’s uneasy recognition of the “Green surge”. They have created a national anti-Greens unit, headed by Sadiq Khan, to bring the left to heel. Instead of re-examining their abandoned roots they are using misdirection to discredit Greens, with highly dubious and hypocritical stabs at Brighton and Hove high on their agenda. As one of the East Midlands’ Green Party candidates (for Nottingham East), I thought hard and spoke to my family at length before standing. It was always going to be a challenging journey. For ever increasing numbers of us, striving within the Green Party is a stand we feel the need to make proudly, together. I knew we would battle being ignored and that, if we did well, we would be under fierce and sometimes personal attack. We are now under fire because our voices are being heard! Greens are a party run by its membership, on donations and by volunteers. We are surrounded by a political landscape of corporate funded parties, pro-austerity dogma and scapegoating. Without media backing and with limited resources we have soared up the polls as 4th party in front of Lib Dems. We aren’t avatar politicians with slick campaign machines and spin doctors. As a party we have integrity.

Other parties have regularly betrayed their own membership and core principles. Most Labour policies are no longer either fair or ‘left’. Greens are the only party fighting austerity and climate chaos left in the running. Labour’s Ed Balls and Rachel Reeves are among those recently reasserting the same tired, tried and failed agendas of continued deep cuts and placing focus on rising spending to cover shortfalls. This means rising personal debts and inequality for the majority of people, supposedly to pay the national debts fueled by that very same philosophy!

The right-wing is fracturing even as it grows and becomes more extreme. This is the time to push against it! Progressively, it seems the Green Party are the only ones not leaning ever further to the right. Some Labour supporters speak about splitting the left vote but I would argue they are no longer a party of either left or non-discriminatory policies. They would never consider standing down as they ask us to. It seems undemocratic and manipulating to suggest we should allow them privileges based on a distant, more ethical past. I believe parties need to earn votes with good policies and stay true to core values. Green policies are created and voted for by our membership which helps avoid the betrayal other parties have suffered at the hands of their leadership.

The rise of the Greens is due to an increase in people voting for policies they want. People who have become distrustful of the whole political system are also turning to us, adding to our collective voice. We are the only party talking about job creation, not job cuts. We are the only party standing against TTIP and fracking, for a public NHS and a fair taxation system that takes easily affordable amounts from those who can best afford it, instead of punishing the poor in economically and socially bankrupt ways or passing our debts on to young people. One analogy I like is a ‘shared’ dinner; it makes no sense for those who have eaten more and have more in their wallets to pay nothing of the bill leaving those still hungry and with empty wallets to pay for it all.

I could say a lot more, but all I want to put across is that no one owns your votes or is entitled to your support unless you feel it is earned. Question any party’s sense of entitlement of your vote. Question anyone who says your vote and voice don’t count. I’m not going to ask you to believe me. Instead I am going to ask you to make up your own mind and vote for what you believe in. I recommend this independent survey which matches people with preferred policies.

http://voteforpolicies.org.uk/survey/select
Antonia Zenkevitch, Candidate for Nottingham East


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Election 2014: the untold stories:

sunflower

Our wonderful lead candidate did not win but The Green Party of England and Wales has beaten the Liberal Democrats into fourth place in the European elections for the first time. In pre-election polls, as we past them in popularity, you would have thought this would be massively news-worthy. Mainstream media, including the BBC implicitly undermined The Green Party through omission. Greens have been referred to anonymously as one of the “other” parties (where they have not been completely ignored) in the lead up to elections and in much reporting of results. This is undemocratic and offensively undermining, not only of the party, but of many of the voices of Britain and the democratic system itself. (The Guardian is the main exception to this criticism). The Greens were polling higher than we have for 25yrs. That shift was reported by most, not as a Green Party achievement, but as a failure of everyone else.  These polls were reflected in results.  We are now the official opposition in Liverpool, Norwich and Solihull. Brighton and Hove Council remain Green. We have Green voices in Labour councils of Islington and Lewisham. In the South West, where I grew up, there is celebration over another Green MEP being added to the indomitable two we already have.

The story in the news is the success of UKIP, but just as the success of The Greens has been underplayed, the success of UKIP is overplayed.  A deeply worrying movement in public thinking but 90% of the electorate did not vote for them. Many did not vote at all and that, more than anything, helped them win the seats they did. The Greens didn’t win as many new seats as UKIP, but we did not field as many candidates. Nor have any of our candidates been suspended for extreme raciest, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and ablest comments as a growing number of UKIP candidates recently have. We are not funded by large corporations as UKIP is. 99% of the party is run by volunteers and we have less funds than other parties to paper the world with flyers so we focus on target wards. The more members and support we gain the more we are able to build on this; to field more candidates so that everyone who wants to can vote Green. If recent polls and social media trends are read correctly, a growing wave of people are voting Green and even more want to.  In the north of the UK UKIP support thins out. In Manchester Greens came second in terms of the popular vote, with 21%. Yet parties with less of the popular vote gained seats and they did not. This is a strange aspect of our system meaning we have to fight even harder than mainstream, better funded parties to succeed. Yet we are truly in the game now, a rising voice of hope working against the rising voice of hate. It has never been more important to stand together.

Much damage may have been done by Russell Brand’s call to not vote. Many with preference to Green policies and disillusioned by mainsteam parties have not voted. However, on social media and in person I have heard many others say they voted Green for the first time. Many say it is the first time they ever voted. Others say it is the first time they voted for what they truly wanted. With the general elections only a year away this can only be the beginning of the surge. Hope has tenacity and strength and we have much to strive for and protect for the common good. We must strive against voter apathy, scapegoating and hopelessness and tell the world about our policies.

So what can we do now? Complaining to the BBC for its biased reporting of the elections is one thing we would very much suggest. Please see the petition against BBC news media blackout of The Green Party. What we can all also do is tell another story. There are parts of the country where Greens got a large percentage of the popular vote. There are parts of the country where we became official opposition. We held seats and gained seats, both in councils and the European Parliament. We did this in spite of media bias lumping us together in the category of ‘other parties’. We saw surges in the polls and on social media in spite of a mainstream media determined not to report positive stories. A party run by volunteers with policies so many want but fear they cannot have became a rising voice in this election.

My story, as social media bod for the East Midlands, is the over 24hrs in which #VoteGreen2014 was showing as one of four most popular hashtags on Twitter. At one point it appeared the second most popular hashtag. The other party people were talking about voting for was, unfortunately, UKIP. Occasionally Labour was also one of the popular discussion points. This means everyone seemed to be talking about voting either UKIP or Green. On Facebook, I saw people who once would have dismissed us sharing Green Party flyers and talking about our policies. I remember saying to my husband as he waved tea in front of my face while I continued my role in the growing team keeping Green seen, that this was democracy awakening. More people were not just voting for the usual suspects. Those voting in fear included those fearful of economic and job uncertainty. It is our combined job now to continue to convince people that Green Party is the party fighting austerity and for job creation and bank reform; measures that will protect them. We have to fight the wave of hatred and the excuses for bigotry. Humanity has been here before. The ugly fact is that hatred has won seats and the map has new shadows across it. The good news is that Greens are in a stronger position to strive for the common good.  We need all hands on deck to build on this.

Find the Petition against BBC Blackout of Green Party in the Elections at:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/bbc-news-stop-this-media-blackout-of-the-green-party?bucket&source=facebook-share-button&time=1400968778

Antonia Zenkevitch, MA Human Security


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Diary Dates – A Green Month Ahead

With thanks to Nick Martin from Nottingham Secretary  and Simon Hales, East Midlands Secretary we share  important dates coming up, starting this week.  Your voice and standpoints are needed:
  • Nottingham Green Festival:This Sunday 1st September is the annual Nottingham Green Festival at the Arboretum (off Waverley Street). The event runs between 12:00 and 6:00, full of wonderful stalls and activities. Nottingham Green Party will be running a stall.

 

  • Our Leader Visits: We are pleased to announce that Green party leader Natalie Bennett is visiting us on Tuesday 24th September.
    There will be an opportunity for members to hear Natalie speak in the early evening from 6pm – 7.30pm at Ashston Court Hotel, Derby. This venue is right opposite Derby Railway Station.  www.astoncourthotelderby.com/business.html

If you can’t make it you can still be involved in campaigns and actions:


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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/


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Getting ‘There’

Green Train                   Transport_Lower_Fares           green bike co2 footprint

“I can’t take my chauffeur everywhere” past Conservative candidate for Tottenham stated when he was caught for drunk driving. That comment by Derek Laud could be argued to sum up government attitudes to public transport; that it is simply not on their radar even when it is irresponsible not to consider it.  Successive governments have lacked the will to prioritize public transport and invest the time and money needed to update services and improve access. Labour’s John Prescot promised in 1993 that “any privatisation of the railway system which there is, on the arrival of a Labour government will be quickly and effectively returned to public ownership”.  Promises broken. The Luis tram in Dublin connects the city efficiently and safely. We can shoot across Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and yet for us progress crawls and is often derailed by indifference.  The Green Party understands that an integrated, affordable, reliable green public transport system is part of the structure that can help build resilient, healthy economies and communities. Public transport is a tool for people and planet. It also plays an important role in supporting enterprise. Businesses large and small rely to some extent on public transport systems. It is needed by local food networks, producers and shops. This month our regional website recorded Green Councillor Richard Mallender, of Rushcliffe Borough Council and Green MEP candidate Katarina Boettge’s reactions to uneven public transport  expenditure: eastmidlands.greenparty.org.uk/news.html/2013/02/01/greens-slam-hs2-proposal. This post is an opening up of that debate.

While an increasing amount can be dealt with in the virtual world, via internet and satellite, there are times when human to human contact is the missing link. Meetings and conferences like the  Green Party Spring Conference and 40th birthday celebration this week rely on public transport beyond one high speed link. Local and regional services should not suffer for one high speed line.

Mobility for many is limited by inadequate public transport, often coupled with economic injustice, with isolation posing threat to the physical and mental well-being of many. Those reliant on public transport include the elderly, those with disabilities, students, young people and parents with young children. Buses and trains form vital life-lines to shops, post offices, places of work and study, play and social groups. These services are often unreliable, infrequent, expensive, vanishing. Instead of such retraction of service we need to broaden access and appeal. Air quality, public and planet health are adversely affected by congestion and over reliance on cars. Fuel poverty increases with over use of fossil fuels and energy security is threatened. Cycle lanes, walk-ways and better rail and bus networks with lower fares offer a healthful, sane and regenerative system in place of the predominant congesting crawl of cars squabbling over parking space. People are travelling ever further from home to work as local communities, economies and eco-systems are undermined.

If we are to support the strengthening of our communities and the building of a sustainable and durable economy we need efficient, affordable public transport. We need it to connect people; to empower ethical enterprise and those at risk of isolation, poverty and social exclusion. Improving services such as bus and trains creates and secures more jobs. This is needed in these times of economic insecurity. Improved air quality protects our health. Good public transport, efficient, green, safe, affordable, accessible is win-win. We are told it is not a priority. Frankly, what of importance does seem a priority in much of mainstream political rhetoric at the moment? The NHS, schools and other public services are struggling through cuts while we spend billions on weapons and millions on creating new roles in management. It is not a matter of lack of money as much as irresponsible lack of vision. Let us not allow those who rely on chauffeurs to dictate our direction and those who break their word to define our reality.

Happy travels and blue skies in this season of no leaves on the line 🙂


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East Midlands at the heart of Green Party’s 40th Year!

East MIdland Conference Centre

As we wish one another a healthy, hopeful 2013 we can feel happy that the East Midlands is playing host to The Green Party Spring Conference in February. Our party has evolved over 40 years; one generation, through many changes locally, globally, regionally. Those of us here now form the torch-bearers of the next generation.

From the 22nd to 25th February 2013 East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham becomes the hub of The Green Party of England and Wales. This gives local party members an opportunity to be at the very heart of the next stages of flourishing and sustaining. Attendees will collectively be involved in the progression of policies within the party. There will also be fringe and training sessions, special panels and birthday celebrations.

Our neighbours in the West Midlands saw the seed of the Green Party planted in Coventry  by Tony and Lesley Whittaker, Michael Benfield and Freda Sanders. Then called the ‘PEOPLE’ party it grew into The Ecology Party and ultimately The Green Party. During this time it has weathered many storms and influenced change. It has stayed true to core values. I extend an invitation to you to tell some of the stories of our last four decades, how lives and futures have been shaped,  what we have faced and are facing. What are the greatest challenges ahead? What inspires you? What have you been part of? Is it the party’s stance on creation of green jobs and a living wage or their questioning of unjust wars? Is it continued work in building sustainable energy supplies and sharing economies or the contribution to animal rights that fire your loyalties? Has it been our call for better insulation in homes or empowering local producers? Is it the greater gender equality within the party that excites you or their stance against injustice in the present tax and banking systems? We have come far and have far to go!

So, as we toast in 2013, we may remember to say ‘happy birthday Green Party, many happy returns!’ For more information on the conference and to book please follow this link: http://greenparty.org.uk/conference.html.  

written by Antonia Sara Zenkevitch for East Midland’s Green Party