East Midlands Green Party Blog


1 Comment

Election 2014: the untold stories:

sunflower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Antonia Zenkevitch, MA Human Security

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Young Women Speak Out

The National Alliance of Women’s Organisations [NAWO] with funding from the EU have been working on a project called ‘Young Women Speak Out’. Their work has involved enabling young women across Europe (between 14-25) to compile a Young Women’s Manifesto of demands to be put forward to European Parliament candidates and MEPs seeking re-election in the May 22nd election. The purpose of this work is to engage and thus empower young women, enabling them to find their voice and to give them the means and confidence to place their demands before their elected representatives. It also encourages young women to vote for candidates who will support their demands in the European Parliament.
The NAWO works as an umbrella organisation, bringing together women’s sector NGOs, charities and individuals who work to achieve gender equality by challenging the sources of inequality e.g. violence against women and girls, and promoting policy and cultural changes.
The demands of young women of all nationalities and cultural backgrounds in Europe are set out in their Manifesto ‘Young Women Speak Out.’
http://www.nawo.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/YoungWomenSpeakOutManifesto1.pdf
Green Parties across Europe support these demands and Green MEP’s will keep the interests of all young people clearly in focus in their work in the European Parliament and in their Regions.
‘Without gender equality there is no democracy’
[European Green Party Manifesto 2014]
Greens advocate the inclusion of a social progress clause in European law to promote the emancipation of women in society and in the economy. ‘Equal payment for equal work’ must be a standard all over the EU, as well as equal representation of women in company boards, and equal opportunity as of right including in the work place and education.
Gender democracy means that women are part of the public life of our societies and take decisions in all institutions and companies on an equal footing with men.
To reach equality, we believe that the EU should adopt a more comprehensive policy approach against gender based violence. We advocate an EU Directive to address violence against women, including the definition of rape and sexual violence against women within marriage and intimate informal relationships, as a crime.
Sexual and reproductive rights are essential elements of human dignity. Greens defend the right of self-determination over our own bodies, including gender identity and reproductive rights.
The East Midlands Green List of Candidates collectively endorse the Young Women’s Manifesto.
Lead candidate Kat Boettge said: ‘from my own experience as a migrant and unmarried mother, and from those of my daughter I understands well the problems young women face. I am sympathetic to all of the points raised in the Young Women’s Manifesto and these will be influential with me if elected to serve as an MEP.’
Second on the list Councillor Sue Mallender said, ‘I have experienced the problems of managing motherhood and career development, as a senior steward with UNISON and with my work with young people I am familiar with the issues raised in the Young Women’s Manifesto and I am totally supportive of their demands.’
Third candidate Peter Allen is very familiar with the difficulties young women face. Peter says, ‘my wife Mary and I were both single parents when we married, each of us with three daughters. Raising a family of six girls has given me a unique insight into the difficulties young women face in the world. I am greatly encouraged by the Young Women Speak Out project to give young women a voice and encourage them to interact with mainstream politics.’
Fourth Candidate is Councillor Richard Mallender. Richard says ‘I have had the privilege of helping to raise my wife Sue’s two daughters and I am well aware of the problems young women have in both their personal lives and in trying to build careers. The Green Manifesto makes a powerful commitment to address these issues and I will continue to campaign for gender equality


1 Comment

Sustainability, am I a loony because I care about my daughter’s future?

We need to live sustainably, it’s a word commonly used by politicians but I wonder if they understand what Sustainability means. Looking at the internet, one gets various definitions in regards to environment, social and economic issues. I found the following definition the most useful:
Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Sustainability is important to making sure that we have, and will continue to have, the food, water, materials and resources we need for our well being and to protect our environment.
Basically sustainability means considering our future and ensuring that we do not destroy or use up the resources that we need for our comfort or even basic needs. Furthermore, if we think about our children and grandchildren and their future, we must ensure that we leave them a world that can provide for their needs.
I find it rather strange and difficult that as an environmentalist, I am perceived as an idealist or even a “looney”. Considering our children’s future should be a normal, caring and responsible thing to do. Looking after the planet for our children, is therefore, not an idealistic question but a pragmatic necessity. We hear that we must live within our financial means, otherwise we would be considered as short-sighted and selfish. Post recession, we were all blamed for the banking crisis by the ConDem government since we apparently have not lived within our means. It is absurd to blame us for the failure of a unregulated casino banking that gambled our money away. However, labour and ConDem obviously understand sustainability in a financial sense, because that’s what living within our means refers to. Money can be managed; if one system of economics does not work, we can change it (although with difficulties and some would suffer more than others from such a transition). However, we only have one planet, we cannot change that. We are currently living as if we had three planets, that is simply not sustainable!
Talking to people on the streets, I get the sense that most are not interested in environmental issues. I can appreciate that many are seriously struggling to eat and pay for heating, the environment may not seem a priority. But without the resources, it soon will become apparent how all prices will hike; extreme weather conditions, high energy prices will ultimately cause serious unrest world wide. We will be facing civil wars mass migration.
So being responsible and wanting to live within our means (environmentally speaking) surely should be an absolutely necessary priority. So why am I the looney? We appear used to the fact that politicians and corporations are looking after their immediate and selfish needs, all in the name of growth. Living as if there is no tomorrow for purely selfish reasons, should cause outcry, but no that is perceived as normal. And I am the looney? Strange and scary world, we are living in.


1 Comment

Hope not fear; a positive view on EU migration

The Green Party supports European Migration, and welcomes European Immigrants’ contribution to the UK

The Green Party’s long term global vision is of an international economic order where the relationship between peoples, nations and regions are non-exploitative. In such a world local economies would be as self-sufficient as possible, whilst at the same time people would be free to live and work where they wished.
Although the Green Party accepts systematic problems within the EU, and thus supports a reform of the democratic controls within the EU; the Green Party opposes any EU border control.

The Green Party entirely rejects any suggestion that immigrants are to blame for our current problems. On the contrary many immigrants are victims of the same system of exploitation and inequality that blights Britain. Others are seeking to escape the consequences of climate change, environmental degradation and resource shortage, all growing problems in the 21st century.

The Green Party will defend immigrant communities from attempts to scapegoat them, and will stand alongside them and all communities in opposition to austerity. They, like all UK residents, are entitled to high quality public services and secure housing and employment, paid for by increased taxation of the rich and large companies and a determination to make sure everyone pays what they should, by a clampdown on tax avoidance and evasion.

The Green Party rejects any poorly informed propaganda that Eastern European immigrants have been flooding this country. Recent figures in fact show that 2.34 million EU citizens live in the UK, whilst 2.2 million Britons live in Europe. The Green Party acknowledges that in some areas public services have been struggling with the influx, however the Green Party argue that this has been caused by poor management, Government cuts and the lack of regulation for workers’ rights that causes exploitation of Immigrant workers particularly seen in certain areas. The Green Party further recognises the contribution of immigrants to our public services like the NHS.

The Green Party wishes to support European immigrants against scapegoating, public misconceptions and welcomes immigrant communities’ enhancement to our life in a multi cultural and multi racial United Kingdom.


2 Comments

A Cruelty Free Christmas

What does Christmas mean to us? Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, born in poverty to live a humble life among ordinary people. Other symbols are for example Santa which came from a Bishop St Nicolas from Turkey. He gave to the poor.
But this humble and religious aspect of Christmas seems now completely lost, its meaning has changed, but to what? Most people would say it’s about spending time with family, eating well, and an expression of love, which seems now to be in the shape of presents and good food. Experiencing my 13 year old daughter, and witnessing our society, it appears that we somehow measure our love and care for each other in the amount of money spent on gifts and food.
So Christmas has become a symptom of pure capitalism; and capitalism comes with victims. In order to produce endless items (cloths, cosmetics, electrical devises, jewellery, toys, etc) cheap labour, often in developing countries like China or Bangladesh is required. We know how these workers are treated and with few rights they are left vulnerable and exploited.
Production of consumer goods means the use of energy; this means burning fossil fuels that leads to climate change, more violent storms, loss of live and livelihoods. We are facing the biggest environmental catastrophe in our history, which we have been causing by our ignorance and greed for ever more goods.
Our exploitation does not stop here; animals are also paying a huge price for our Christmas tradition. Millions of turkeys are slaughtered along with ducks, geese, pigs, lambs and chickens. Puppies and kittens are given away as presents, then often neglected or discarded by new owners when the novelty has worn off. Prettily packaged cosmetics and toiletries make nice presents, but were probably cruelly tested on animals. Rabbits and foxes have their fur stripped from them to be turned into clothing and accessories.
So is Christmas a season for giving and caring? Not really. But it does not have to be that way. In my family we have a rule no presents for more than £5 per a person – except the children, they get “normal” presents exceeding our limit. We do allow some capitalistic expectation for them, since living in our society we want to avoid them feeling left out or neglected. However, we will discuss the original meaning of Christmas with them, and the madness of spending a lot of money as some sort of expression of love. Furthermore, we will spend some time at Christmas thinking and talking about people here in the UK and over the world, who are suffering as a direct result of our unequal, exploitative culture.
So let’s try and make this a truly “Merry” (for all) Christmas; lets reduce this madness of consumption, let’s spend time with others, think about the less fortunate and vulnerable people, and let’s try to make this a victim- free Christmas. And then we truly can enjoy ourselves.
Oh yes – and cruelty free, here is a wonderful vegetarian nut roast that can replace the turkey, and you can still have all the trimmings!
Lentil and Cashew Nut Roast [for 6 – 2hrs 40min]
75g finely chopped red peppers
2300g red split lentils
450 ml vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
100g unsalted cashew nuts
11/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small leeks, trimmed & finely chopped
100g mushrooms finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
75g mature vegetarian Cheddar cheese, grated
100g wholemeal bread crumbs
3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
1 free range egg, lightly beaten.
• Rinse the lentils in a sieve under cold running water. Drain, then tip into a saucepan. Add stock and the bay leaf, bring to the boil.
• Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft and pulpy and the stock has been absorbed. Stir briefly to prevent the lentils sticking, discard the bay leaf.
• While the lentils are cooking, put the cashew nuts in a non-stick frying pan and toast over a moderate heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently, set aside to cool, then roughly chop.
• Preheat the oven to 190C/375F
• Line the bottom of a 1.4 litre loaf tin with a piece of greaseproof paper.
• Add the oil to the frying pan and cook the onions over a moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, leeks, peppers and garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir the lemon juice
• Tip the lentils and vegetables into a mixing bowl Stir in the breadcrumbs, cashews and 2 tablespoons of the parsley, followed by the grated cheese and the beaten egg. Season to taste then spoon into the loaf tin. Level the top and cover with a piece of lightly oiled foil.
• Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the bake comes out clean.
• Remove from the oven and leave to cool while set in the tin. After 10 minutes turn out and cut into thick slices
• Serve with all the trimmings and enjoy a cruelty free Christmas Dinner

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Kat


1 Comment

Shame on you – you Government of millionaires

As a cost cutting measure, the Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Government is ending the practice of giving free visas to children from Belarus and Ukraine who’s health has been affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. Children from these countries have been offered rest and recuperation holidays in various countries across Europe, including Britain and Ireland. The purpose of these holidays is to give the children some small opportunity to be free of the radio- active fall out that still blights their home countries. Many of these young people live in poverty and these breaks are the only real holidays they will ever have. For a short period of their young lives that can have uncontaminated food, clean water and a chance to find enjoyment in an unpolluted environment.

The situation in the areas contaminated by the Chernobyl explosion remains serious and the cost a major burden on the economies of Belarus and Ukraine. The world may have largely forgotten about Chernobyl, but the people of Belarus will never be able to forget. Each year that country must spend 20% of its GDP on the continuing clean-up operation, there is little money left to help children suffering from radiation induced sickness. 99% of the land in Belarus is classified as contaminated, 70 square kilometres of land around the stricken plant are permanently uninhabitable. People are still waiting to be evacuated from areas that are too contaminated to live in. Since 1986 there has been a 200% increase in birth defects, many of these are congenital and will be passed on to future generations. Cancer rates have increased by orders of magnitude. 800,000 men were drafted in to help to contain the disaster, to limit the spread of radiation to other countries. 100,000 of these men are dead or disabled. This is the cost of nuclear power that it’s proponents want us to ignore, it’s a cost that the people of Belarus and Ukraine would like to ignore, but they never will be able to.

In 1991, Doctors in Balarus and Ukraine sent a fax message to their international colleagues; in desperation they made this appeal, “SOS appeal. For god’s sake, help us to get the children out.” The message was picked up by Adi Roche, an Irish peace campaigner. She began to take a few children into her own home to give them the break that their doctors hoped would help to give them some extra vitality to fight the effects of low level radiation. This initiative lead to the establishment of the Chernobyl Children’s Project and numerous charities became involved in taking children for a recuperative break in a number of European countries and in America. The visa requirements for the children and their parents or carers – many are orphans, have been waived by the receiving countries. In 2009, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office reaffirmed that the UK would continue to waive the £86 visa fee.

But no longer. Now the Government has ended this waiver, it says that the country can not afford it. The UK is so hard up that it has to collect around £186,000 from the Chernobyl children’s families, many of whom subsist on less than £2 per day. Let us just remind ourselves of the poor state of the UK economy, the countries richest people and corporations managed to avoid paying £95 billion in tax last year. Margaret Thatcher’s funeral cost the tax payer £3 million, the prize money at Royal Ascot was £5million. Yet our Government can not afford to let these poor children come to our country for free. Shame on you, you Government of millionaires.

STOP THE FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE WITHDRAWING GRATIS VISAS FOR CHERNOBYL CHILDREN COMING TO UK FOR RECUPERATIVE HOLIDAYS FROM BELARUS & UKRAINE

Sign the petition here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/37945


1 Comment

Dealing with Denial, some thoughts & ideas

climate-change better world for nothing cartoon

I felt drawn to writing something  about how to deal with climate change denialism  – with the help of cartoons from Joel Pett, Chris Maddon and others. This is also written to help address ‘there is no alternative’  and ‘green is a luxury’ ideas. I think the above cartoon says a huge amount about how central and beneficial green policies are and how unprogressive and self defeating the will to deny the problem is. The fact is that by addressing climate change in sensible ways you have a host of benefits. It makes me smile to see the idea of denial incapulated in the phrase ‘What if it’s a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?’. Then, simply, we have a better world.  There is much evidence, like the Stern Report, for example, that counters denial of climate change. Desertification, more flooding, less habitable land – including London. Some may argue how habitable parts of London are, but allowing it to be underwater seems a little extreme. More locally much of Lincolnshire could also become sea.  Fear can turn for some into depression and apathy takes hold which can lead to sticking heads in the sands or thinking it is someone else’s problem. However, large and small everyday things we can do make real, positive change together. The evidence is in front of our own eyes already, as these cartoons illustrate:

flood-bridge climate change

We’re here in 2013 when many thought we would not be, so we can be hopeful as well as realistic. We have the capacity to make life better. So how do we move forward with hope and action and not get drowned in fear and apathy? Green policies, I believe strongly, form a vital part of this. Green is often seen as a luxury. It is not, and with rising food and fuel costs, increasing natural disasters and price wars over finite raw materials and food, we cannot see green choices limited to consumerism. A little green hedonism can be good and ethical business plays an important role but changes in the way we think are vital too. Better insulation in homes has economic, social and environmental benefit for example.

polar bear climate change

To the ‘there is no alternative’ brigade the only answers can be that present policies are not working and that, as Einstein said, ‘we cannot solve a problem using the same kind of thinking that created it’. There is no alternative is caveman thinking. There are those who say it is a choice, us or the trees and little furry creatures. However, without trees we have no life, no clean air, no shelter to keep soil fertile, no food, no thriving eco-system of which we are part. Personally, I make no excuse for valuing the majesty of life and that the balance of life matters. I also add a favourite contemporary quote from Jarred Diamond’s ‘Collapse: How societies choose to fail or survive’:

‘Elimination of lots of lousy little species regularly causes big harmful consequences for humans, just as does randomly knocking out many of the lousy little rivets holding together an airplane. (Diamond, J, 2005, P.489)

I also add that I am a proud tree hugger and I love many creatures, large and small, with and without fur, including humans. So I conclude that green people and life centred policies are the only way forward. Green policies that call for creation of green jobs and a fairer, more honest tax system, that call for better insulation, a living wage, decentralized, empowering, sustainable energy and food production and protection of our public services. There are, always of course, alternatives. Whatever the future is, our hands help form it. I leave you with these thought provoking cartoons:

climate-change-cartoon-IDS Noah's-Ark-climate-change

Written by Antonia Sara Zenkevitch for East Midlands Green Party