Recent letters about Proportional Representation

The Guardian 30 December 2019 “Andy Beckett’s conclusion that the Tories are kept in power by our deference is misplaced. Rather, they are kept in power by our anti-democratic first-past-the-post electoral system. The Conservatives under Boris Johnson got barely any more votes than under Theresa May in 2017, just a 1% increase. From this, our democratic lottery handed them an extra 47 seats, which is then portrayed as a handsome victory. What we deserve is not mesmerising Tory rule, whether enabled by deference or not, but a functioning, proportional democracy that allows everybody to vote for the party they think best represents them.”

Edward Milford
Hereford and South Herefordshire Green party

Hereford Times 1 January 2020 ” I VOTED in the general election, as I have in every election since the early 70s, but as usual my vote counted for nothing in our voting system. The Conservatives got 43.6 per cent of the vote yet have an 80-seat majority. How is that fair? I don’t feel represented by our Hereford MP. I don’t agree with Caroline Lucas on everything, but she better represents my views and values, yet she is not allowed to represent me. With 2.7 per cent of the vote, there should be, I guess, about 16  Green MPs. With modern communications the constituency system is out of date.Instead we could have PR-elected MPs to deal with national and international matters and locally-elected representatives with more autonomy and powers to deal with local and regional matters.

Robert Milne

22 January – Big Green Conversation. “Trees Are the Key” documentary film

“Trees Are the Key” is an inspirational 40-minute documentary narrated by Kate Winslet. It was made in conjunction with The Word Forest Organisation, a Dorset charity that plants trees, builds classrooms and facilitates education in rural Kenya. It also shines a spotlight on the women’s empowerment group, Mothers of the Forest. It tells the story of why we need to plant more trees in the tropics and why we need to support the people who are taking care of the forests.

The documentary will be followed by discussion, including a focus on Herefordshire’s tree wardens and the FoE Double Tree Cover campaign.

7.30pm – 9.30pm, The Speakeasy Bar, The Left Bank Village, Hereford.

If you can’t make it to the Conversation, you can watch the film on-line here

General Election 2019 – a thank you from Diana Toynbee

Huge thanks to everyone who helped with delivering election leaflets, for campaigning in all weathers and for your donations and support. The overall result for the country is dreadful, but Greens are strong, locally and nationally – thanks to you! I got 4.8% of the vote, well above the England average of 3%. And Ellie got 9.3%, the sixth highest Green vote share in the country!

This amazing effort and result deserves celebration. On Wednesday 18th there’s the Big Green Festive Drinks at Left Bank Hereford from 7.30pm with complimentary mince pies and mulled wine.

We’ll also use this opportunity to have our next Hereford & South Herefordshire Green Party meeting, at 6pm – all welcome. 

Green Party Manifesto for 2019 General Election

The Green New Deal – Unleashing a Green Economic and Social Revolution.

This is a comprehensive ten-year plan ambitious enough to tackle climate and ecological breakdown at the scale and speed set out by science.

It will deliver a fast and fair transformation of our economy and society, renewing almost every aspect of life in the UK: from the way we produce and consume energy, to the way in which we grow the food we eat, and how we work, travel, and heat our homes.

This will be a combined investment of over £100 billion a year in the Green New Deal, with an additional investment in Universal Basic Income. Through this investment, we will provide new opportunities for everyone to work and live more sustainably and more securely.

more at https://campaigns.greenparty.org.uk/manifesto/#gnd

Remain and Transform

A People’s Vote to decide the way forward on Brexit, in which the Green Party will campaign for remain. A commitment to realise the full potential of the European Union to lead the fight against the Climate Emergency and to improve the lives of workers, low income families and refugees.

more at https://campaigns.greenparty.org.uk/manifesto/#rat

Growing Democracy

Replace the First Past the Post system for parliamentary elections with a fair and proportional voting system. We are champions of the Good Systems Agreement, a cross-party commitment to democratic reform brokered by the Make Votes Matter campaign group.

Create a fully elected House of Lords. Members will be elected for a maximum of ten years with half of the house being elected every 5 years.

Give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote and have a say on their future. We will also allow people to stand for Parliament and all other elected offices from the age of 16, offering support to elected young people so that they can combine their duties with studying. We are proud to march with the inspiring Youth Strike activists against climate chaos and know the passion and wisdom young people can inject into our policies.

Require all political parties to report the diversity of their candidates, so that progress in selecting more women and minorities to contest Westminster and local government seats can be monitored.

Protect the BBC, reinstate free TV licences for over-75-year-olds and tighten the rules on media ownership so no individual or company owns more than 20% of a media market.

Back a Citizens Convention and citizens assemblies to examine further ways to strengthen democracy, including developing a written People’s Constitution and Bill of Rights, and ensure the proposals come before Parliament. This will enshrine genuine democracy at the core of our political system, making sure that ultimate power will always rest with the people.

more at https://campaigns.greenparty.org.uk/manifesto/#gd

The Green Quality of Life Guarantee

Delivering Secure Incomes and Secure Homes

Restoring the NHS

Unlocking Education

Restoring our Nature and Countryside

Tackling Discrimination

Preventing Crime

Ending The War On Drugs

Transforming our Relationship with Animals

more at https://campaigns.greenparty.org.uk/manifesto/#qol

The New Deal for Tax and Spend

Simplifying Income Taxes

Making Big Business Pay Its Fair Share

Supporting Small Business

Ending Wasteful Spending

More at https://campaigns.greenparty.org.uk/manifesto/#tas

11 December – Big Green Conversation: Housing and the upcoming Herefordshire Core Strategy Review CHANGE OF DATE from 27 November

at 7.30pm at Left Bank Hereford

Herefordshire Council is re-writing its core strategy (Local Plan) . What should it say about housing? A discussion evening organised in association with the Herefordshire Centre for Community Led Housing. Council Cabinet members and officers are expected to attend.

Our General Election Campaign starts here: Diana Toynbee and Ellie Chowns say “Yes to Europe, No to Climate Chaos, Yes to a Fairer Britain”

Diana Toynbee and Ellie Chowns are our Parliamentary candidates. Here is our Manifesto

Diana says: “I’m delighted to be giving voters in Hereford and South Herefordshire a chance to vote for a fairer greener society. We all want a healthy, safe future, but our public services, democracy and countryside are under threat and real action is long overdue.

I’m a practical, realistic person – I understand the issues and am determined to support our economy and protect our quality of life.

I’m very proud to be receiving so much encouragement from local people. They’re telling me that more than ever we need a Green MP in Westminster championing what we care about.

I want to speak for you in Westminster, and work with others for fairer politics. You can be confident that my experience, understanding and energy will make me an excellent MP.”

Please click here to donate to Diana’s campaign

Contact Diana at diana.toynbee@greenparty.org.uk

Ellie says: “I’m delighted to be the Green candidate for North Herefordshire.  It’s time for change!  The old political system is broken, and we need some fresh Green thinking.

I’m standing because I believe North Herefordshire deserves better. We need an energetic MP with strong local roots, strong principles – and a record of getting things done.

I’m proud to have served my local community as a Councillor and as an MEP.  But I know that the big decisions that shape the future of this country are made in Westminster.  If we want to change politics in the UK, we have to change our government.

Bill Wiggin has been the Conservative MP for this area for 18 years, but he’s failed to represent us effectively.  It’s clearly time for change – and with my record of winning elections I’m the best-placed candidate to challenge the Tories here.

Greens success in Herefordshire proves our positive and practical ideas appeal to people across the political spectrum. We lead the political fight against climate change. We’re clearly and strongly pro-Europe. And we’ve always worked for a fairer Britain.”

Please click here to donate to Ellie’s campaign

Contact Ellie at ellie.chowns@greenparty.org.uk

Be In It to Win It:

Register to vote. Registering is easy: follow this link with your National Insurance number to hand. Register by midnight on 26 November. If you don’t have a NI number or you can’t register online, call 01432 260107 for help. And, make sure everyone you know is registered to vote!

Want a postal vote? If you’re not registered yet, you’ll need to register by 5pm 26 November. If you’re already registered, you need to fill in this form and hand it in or post it to Hereford Town Hall by 27 November. If you’re already registered and working away, studying at Uni or ill you can apply for a proxy vote. Here’s the link to the forms: these need to be handed in or posted to Hereford Town Hall by 3 December.

Richard Priestley on Protests

Protests are kicking off all around the World. In Lebanon, Chile, Iraq, Hong Kong, Spain, Ecuador, Bolivia, Pakistan and Russia and in many other places there have been anti government demonstrations. The school strikes and extinction rebellion movements touched nearly every country on Earth, with their demands for action to be taken over the ecological and climate crisis. Most of the media reporting covers each demonstration as a separate story and the focus is usually to magnify visually photogenic dress or on any violence, however tiny this is in relation to the total event. Serious analysis of what impels all these many millions of people to take to the streets and what links all the various actions seems very inadequate.

The BBC in a rather bland and disjointed article did try and make a few linkages about people’s frustration over inequality and government corruption, and mentioning in a rather disconnected way the climatic and ecological emergency. Will Bunch, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, gave some good historical background on Chile and the malign influence of American foreign policy, and how both countries now have such dangerously high levels of inequality as a direct result of a toxic economic ideology.

Continues at https://www.richardpriestley.co.uk/protests/

18 September – Cultural Emergence Discussion

Cultural Emergence is a toolkit designed to create cultures of personal leadership, collective intelligence and planetary care. Developed by Looby Macnamara in collaboration with other global visionaries, join Looby to find out how Cultural Emergence can support you in creating regenerative cultures in your own life and relationship, as well as how it can ripple out into the world. Discover a message of hope and tools for empowerment.
Looby Macnamara is an experienced permaculture teacher, author and designer, and runs Applewood Permaculture Centre in North Herefordshire. Looby is running a weekend ACE – Activating Cultural Emergence course 4-6th Oct at Applewood Permaculture Centre. And you can find out more with an online free/pay as you wish Cultural Emergence taster course. www.applewoodcourses.com 

7.30 pm at Hereford Left Bank. Organised by Herefordshire Green Network.

25 September – talk by Mark E Thomas: How Creating Economic Opportunity for Millennials Will Help Save the Environment

Mark E Thomas, author of the book 99%: Mass Impoverishment and How We Can End It, will talk about why we are now looking at the first generation in living memory that can expect to be poorer than their parents. This is mass impoverishment in action and the result of political choices rather than cast-iron laws of economics. He will show how we got into this mess, and how we can get out and he will show that the five key actions that we need to end mass impoverishment are precisely those we need to tackle climate change. After the presentation, there will be a discussion and a workshop for participants. The evening will conclude with an opportunity for book signing at 9:30 pm.

Starts 7.30pm at Hereford Left Bank. A Big Green Conversation, organised by Herefordshire Green Party


Prime Minister’s actions appalling, says Ellie Chowns

From Hereford Times 4 September 2019

“We live in extraordinary political times. This is a crisis on a scale not seen for decades. And the most extraordinary thing of all? This is an entirely manufactured crisis, homegrown in Britain, created by the actions of a handful of people – Boris Johnson chief among them.

Last week Johnson took the unprecedented step of announcing the suspension of Parliament – a move that rightly outraged the majority of MPs and citizens. No wonder so many thousands took to the streets across the country, including here in Herefordshire, to defend our Parliamentary democracy and stop the coup. It was indeed a coup, albeit without ‘tanks on the lawns’ – it was a brazen, autocratic attempt to seize power from elected representatives, by a prime minister with a wafer thin majority.

It was indefensible and appalling – and those are the words of a Conservative MP!

Johnson has been gambling recklessly all along. He gambled that he could pretend the blockage was the EU, when the truth is that his problem is the division within his own party. He gambled that he could side with the Brexiteer hardliners and force moderates to give up. He gambled with the country’s future by threatening ‘no deal’ – a strategy of catastrophic self harm. Johnson’s gambles have backfired spectacularly.

All other parties have been absolutely united in opposing Johnson’s attempt to silence debate – and a significant number of brave Conservatives have put principle before party, and country before personal interest.This week, Johnson not only lost his party’s majority in the House; he lost his very first vote as PM, and all shreds of credibility as a leader.

There is another way forward. As a country, we have been deeply damaged by this Brexit mess. It’s high time we started looking for common ground and rebuilding our broken politics. That’s a task that goes way beyond Brexit – but first we do indeed need to resolve Brexit.

I believe we are better off in the EU, but I recognise that a narrow majority wanted to leave, more than three years ago now. So what we need now is a compromise agreement – the best possible withdrawal deal – which should then be put to the people for the final say.

I would of course campaign, as I have always done, to remain.

Because Brexit was never our core problem. Membership of the EU costs less than one per cent of government spending. Brexit has left us no time to think about the other 99% of government business – vitally important things like the NHS, schools, social care, and tackling the climate crisis.

Brexit would make things worse in all those areas. We are quite literally fiddling while the planet burns.

Fundamentally the Brexit mess has shown just how broken our political system is. Our democracy is creaking at the seams, in desperate need of fixing.

Here are three positive ideas for starters: change the electoral system so that all votes count equally, abolish the unelected House of Lords, and clean up politics by removing the influence of dirty money. A fairer, cleaner, more grown-up politics would encourage our leaders to act in the long-term interest of the country as a whole, and seek common ground rather than taking extreme positions.

It would enable us to re-set our relationship with the European Union, and finally turn our attention to other things that really matter – starting with the climate emergency.”

26 September – presentation on charity supporting families bereaved in Palestine/Israel

7.30pm at the Steiner Academy, Much Dewchurch: Sana Knaneh, current Development Director of the UK charity Friends of the Bereaved Families Forum will give a presentation about the charity’s work supporting bereaved families across the Palestinian/Israeli divide.

Today, more than 600 families from both sides of the divide, all of whom have lost family members in the conflict, have chosen to reach out to the other side and work together for peace and reconciliation. This work has been building since 1994 when The Parent’s Circle- Families Forum was first formed and the UK charity exists to raise funds to support them in their on-going work of raising public awareness in Israel and abroad and developing educational and advocacy projects that ‘foster dialogue and empathy towards both Israelis and Palestinians’.

This is important and very challenging work: those involved are seeking to transform the pain of their anger, grief and loss into a catalyst for peace, reconciliation and tolerance. In January, they faced the loss of their US aid which the Trump Administration decided to cut, putting at risk two key peace-building projects the success and importance of which Sana will explain. So, though there’s no charge for the presentation, please consider giving a generous donation.

Sana is a Palestinian citizen of Israel currently based in London. She holds an M.A. in International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Master’s degree in International Strategy and Diplomacy from the LSE. She’s a certified peace and conflict resolution facilitator and is also a researcher at the Mitvim – the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign policies and focuses on the role of the Palestinian citizens of Israel in foreign affairs.

Contact David (Donaldson) daviddon@myphone.coop

29 September – Walk and tea with Kate & Paul Lack at Whitbourne near Bromyard.

A scenic route along the River Teme, with Kate telling us a little bit about the history of farming and landscape use in this area. (She is currently writing a book about the history of Herefordshire farmers and farming from earliest times).

Contributions of cake very welcome!

Follow parking signs and meet at 2.30pm at Colbridge Cottage, Whitbourne WR6 5RT. tel. 01886 821978

All walks, bike rides, teas etc. are fundraisers for the Green Party, as well as being pleasant social occasions, and we suggest a minimum contribution of £3.00. Children free.

If coming by car please try to share transport where possible. Non-members are very welcome. We are very grateful to those who kindly host these events. Could you host a walk and tea or other social/fundraising event? If so, please ring 01568 610955 or email folley.farm@btinternet.com

18 September – Talk on “Confronting the Finance Curse” by Tax Justice Network

Summary of the event

The wealthy are getting richer at the expense of the rest of us. Let John Christensen help you see behind the veil of secrecy and complexity which has been constructed to stop us seeing this outrage. The speaker is Chair of the Board of the Tax Justice Network, which is an expert-led network of economists, finance specialists, lawyers, and others, who work with civil society to expose the corruption of tax havens and the economic and social damage they cause.

Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Talk starts at 7:30 p.m.

Venue: The Malvern Cube

The event is free but voluntary contributions at the door will be welcomed.  Early booking is recommended – register here

Visit Ellie Chowns MEP in Brussels or Strasbourg

Ellie writes:

“I believe a key part of my job as an MEP is to help bring the West Midlands and Europe closer together. One way I can do this is by inviting people to visit the Parliament and see how it all works. So I am always delighted to welcome constituents to visit the European Parliament in either Brussels or Strasbourg.

Visits can include:

  • A visit to the Parlementarium, the Parliament’s visitor centre in Brussels;
  • A peak inside the Hemicycle and Greens/EFA group room (depending on the Parliamentary timetable);
  • Breakfast, coffee or lunch with me in the Parliament’s canteen (depending on my schedule);
  • Q&A with a member of my staff team; A visit to the excellent House of European History museum, just next to the Parliament in Brussels;
  • A chance to explore the beautiful city under your own steam”

read more here

19 October – Leominster Apple Fair

Leominster Apple Fair – Early Notice

Saturday 19th October, 10am-4pm at The Priory Church, Leominster

Please save the date and come and support this fun ( and fundraising) event – help needed with running the cafe, and setting up and clearing up afterwards. Also with making cakes and puddings and other refreshments, and we welcome suggestions for additional attractions.

Please contact Felicity with offers of help: 01568 610955 or folley.farm@btinternet.com

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