March For Europe

Greens are opposed to the ‘hard’ Brexit being pursued, we think recklessly, by Theresa May. We think this will damage the economy, makes Britain a more backward and inward looking nation, and wastes valuable time and resources when we should be focussed on much more pressing emergencies. We do not think most Leave voters wanted to pull out of the single market (in fact Leave politicians stated this would not happen), nor see EU and British citizens used as bargaining chips in negotiations.

It is also dangerous to sideline parliament in its crucial role of scrutinising the process and the outcome. Democracy is not a single event on the 23rd June 2017 after which we abandon power to an unelected prime minister to do whatever she wants. This is totalitarianism and un-British. We voted by a narrow margin to leave – we have not voted on where we want to go. Our MPs not only have the right, they also have a duty we gave them when elected to ensure decisions made in our name are good ones.

We are therefore happy to promote the March for Europe on 25th March which is being attended by the Herefordshire in Europe group who would be keen to welcome more locals aboard! There is a Facebook Group here, and you can contact the organiser, Polly Ernest, here.

 

Green debates Brexit Future for Farmers

Ellie Chowns - Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (North)
Ellie Chowns – Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (North) and Secretary (North)

North Herefordshire’s Green Party parliamentary challenger Dr Ellie Chowns last week debated post-Brexit agriculture policy in front of an audience of more than 60 agriculture students and staff at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire, outlining  the important choices ahead if we are to get the best future for our food and farming sector.

In the debate with MP Bill Wiggin, Dr Chowns emphasised the need to combine support for family farms and rural communities while also increasing food security and environmental benefits. She referenced two new reports commissioned by Green MEP, Mollie Scott Cato, setting out a detailed vision for farming post-Brexit.

Said Dr Chowns: “Currently more than half the income of UK farmers comes from subsidies, and far too much of that money is wasted on paying large landowners to do nothing.  Brexit gives us the opportunity to reorient farming support so that it incentivises positive action like environmental protection and job creation”.

New blogs and talks from Richard Priestley

I’ve just posted a blog ‘A strange moment in UK Politics’ and over previous weeks a number of blogs about exponential growth of solar power and of innovation of zero emission transport technologies. www.richardpriestley.co.uk

On the website we have a new MailChimp sign-up form. Please sign-up and you’ll get the each new blog direct to your in-box.

For those of you on Twitter, I’ve recently become an avid Tweeter @richard_global_

For those of you in Hereford, I’m giving a talk 7.30, Weds 8th March at De Koffee Pot. (Happy to do the same or similar talk at other locations) ‘Trump, the Carbon Bubble & possibilities of a better future’

Feedback and promotion welcomed as ever.

100 days: a message from Caroline, Jonathan and Amelia

In the 100 days since we were elected as your leadership team, the world has changed.

2016 has been confirmed as the hottest year ever on record. A man who talks hatred and division is on his way to the White House. Thousands more refugees are fleeing for their lives from places like Aleppo. And the Government is negotiating our future relationship with Europe on the basis of having our cake and eating it. Literally.

We are better than this.

And in the last 100 days we have seen evidence of this far and wide.  Between the three of us, we have visited Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels, Calais, Cambridge, Canterbury, Dublin, Exeter, Glasgow, Grantham, Isle of Wight, Leeds, Lewes, Liverpool, London, Machynlleth, Malvern,  Manchester, Much Wenlock, Newport Gwent, Norwich, Oxford, Scarborough, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, Lancaster, Winchester, Witney and York.Everywhere we go we find passionate people who know the power of working together and are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it. Millions who know that Trump won’t last and Brexit solves nothing. Who are already working for what comes next.

We stood for election on a promise to crack open the system and build a new modern politics, where power is redistributed and every vote counts.

That means having an ongoing conversation about progressive alliances – and we have been overwhelmed by the positive response. Local parties are rising to the challenge, asking themselves if this is something they should consider and exploring whether it might help them achieve their goals.

Over the weekend, we marked our first 100 days of leadership. And as part of this, we are pleased to announce the first of a special series of Q&A sessions with Green Party members to ensure this conversation continues and the whole Party has a say. On 23rd January 2017 you can join the co-Leaders live at 6.30pm on the Green Party’s YouTube channel for a live video Q&A. You’ll be able to ask us questions and we’ll try to answer as many as we can. You can also submit your question in advance.

We have always been open and honest about why we personally back progressive alliances and the chance to secure a fair voting system. And for us that doesn’t mean standing down, it means standing up for what we value. So we have travelled to Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP and Women’s Equality Party conferences to demand they stand up too – because all of us deserve better than we are currently getting.  Wales Green Party Leader, Alice Hooker Stroud, took the same message to Plaid Cymru conference.

Support is growing at a pace we never imagined, and in this final month of 2016, a year marked by division and despair, Greens took a small but important step for unity and hope.

Bold, brave Greens were instrumental in defeating a regressive alliance in the Richmond Park by election, showing that when we have more in common, it can make sense to work together.

The past 100 days have been historic. We live in a country where it seems people are feeling more insecure than ever before in our lifetimes. More frightened, more angry and more left behind.

But as 2016 draws to a close, we look to 2017 with hope and confidence.

Work for a better future always starts now and we want to thank you for being part of the change we all want to see. Together we can make sure 2017 is a different kind of year: Operation Hope starts now.  Please ask your family and friends to join us.

And please read our new blog to find out more about what the three of us have been doing on your behalf during our first 100 days as your leadership team.

Thank you,

Jonathan Bartley
Co-leader of the Green Party

Caroline Lucas MP
Co-leader of the Green Party

Amelia Womack
Deputy leader of the Green Party

The Brexit Car Crash: what did you do?

If the driver of your car was behaving erratically and endangering you both, and after discussion had refused to change course, would you accept that ‘decision’, or keep arguing that they should slow down?

Brexit is a complete and utter car crash for the country I love and for my children especially, who now face a much harder life than I have had so far as a result. So how dare anyone say I or other ‘Remainers’ should shut up and accept the decision? As it becomes increasingly clear how this is a catastrophic act of national self-harm, surely there is time for us to look at the clear evidence and change our national mind? And even if not, in a democracy, surely we have the right to argue for it? Democracy is not the same as mob rule, and MPs are elected not to follow the mob but to act in the national interest. They are democratically elected representatives, not delegates.

As it becomes clear how much damage Brexit is already doing to us, when we should be focussed on climate change, our NHS and poverty – and part of a secure Europe in an unstable world – Nigel Farage threatens to move to the States after ‘taking back control’! There is still time to change our minds, and we should.

Talk Shop: Brexit – what EU links do we want?

The topic of the next De Koffie Pot Talk Shop is ‘Brexit – what EU links to we want?’ on Thursday, 1st December from 7.30-10pm.

Talk Shop are monthly politics and ethics discussions presented by Perry Walker and Left Bank at De De Koffie Pot, Left Bank, Bridge Street, Hereford HR4 9DG. All welcome.

What deal with the EU do we want? What can we get?

There is no charge, and refreshments including local ales and ciders, pie minister pies and scotch eggs are available downstairs in De Koffie Pot cafe during the break.

For more information, phone 07858 750936 or email Perry@openupuk.org.

Talk Shop is an independent initiative and is not organised by the Green Party, however it does form part of weekly politics and ethics nights of which our own Big Green Conversation is a part. The next BGC is this Thursday 24th, 7 for 7.30pm, on the topic of fracking.

We don’t need a leaked memo to tell us there is no Brexit plan

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP and EU relations spokesperson, has responded to news that a leaked Whitehall memo has revealed that the Government has no overall plan for leaving the EU. [1]

Scott Cato said:

“We don’t need a leaked memo to tell us the Government has no plan for the UK’s exit from the EU and is struggling to cope – that has been plainly obvious since June 24.

“It is only the right-wing bias of the media and the weakness of the opposition that has concealed the damaging and irreconcilable splits within the Cabinet and the Conservative Party.

“The Government must open up the Brexit process so we can have a nationwide discussion about what it will look like and build a true consensus about how we will go forward as a country. People voted to take back control so let’s actually give them the chance to do that.

“This revelation explains both the destruction the Conservatives are wreaking on our country and their long-running success for serving only their own interests.”

Building a Better Britain

The new Green Co-Leaders set out their priorities for the next two years and explain how Greens do politics differently.

Wherever we go in Britain – from Brighton to Birmingham, Durham to Dulwich – we see the same picture. The country is in a crisis. From a creaking health service and environmental chaos to a crumbling politics and a broken economy – we live in an age of insecurity. The Conservative Party Conference was a real low point, with a Prime Minister attempting to put on sheep’s clothing while preaching the politics of the wolf pack. In the face of all that’s wrong in Britain, the Tory leadership’s main messages appeared to be that migrants were to blame and that we need to go back to the failed education system of the 1970s.

In recent weeks, it’s fair to say that the Labour Party has attempted to shift onto our territory by joining us in calling for a ban on fracking – and rolling out a pledge for the same £10 minimum wage we had in our manifesto. Of course, huge differences still exist – from Labour’s support of both nuclear power and weapons, to their leadership’s failure to support a fair voting system, their wavering on airport expansion and their reluctance to oppose the government’s reckless ‘hard Brexit’. But, overall, the change of direction is extremely welcome, particularly because it gives us space to put forward the truly bold Green policies that unite our party, and are so desperately needed in Britain.

The truth is that this country is at a fork in the road. The politics of anger and despair are knocking at the door, and people are clamouring for something new. That’s where we come in.

Take, for a start, the state of our economy. We are a rich nation plagued by poverty – with millions of people living paycheck to paycheck, without any real job security. We work all of the hours in the day, yet wages have stagnated for a decade now. We can do better than this. That’s why the Green Party goes beyond calling for wage increases and pay ratios within firms – and looks to a future where people can work less and know that a genuine safety net exists to support them when they’re not working. Our long-standing policy of a basic income – a universal payment to everyone in Britain – is gaining traction precisely because the economy is failing to deliver for so many people. It shouldn’t be radical to say that everyone deserves time with their friends and family, or enough money to live on.

Then there’s our environment – the lens through which we see every issue. Climate change is accelerating and our most precious species face being wiped out. We’ve known for a long time that the situation is critical, but now it’s getting desperate. Both the government and opposition talk the good talk when it comes to climate change – but their actions fall short of what’s needed. Laying down new tarmac for airports, ploughing billions of our money into Hinkley Point and ripping through the countryside with HS2 send us in entirely the wrong direction and are applauded by both Conservative and Labour MPs. The recent decision on fracking was the latest in a long line of backwards steps from a Conservative cabinet seemingly hell-bent on driving us off the climate cliff.

This is about the kind of Britain we want to build – and whether we want to invest our resources in oversized, overpriced projects and starting a whole new fossil fuel industry in this country or the clean renewable technologies of the future. We can build a better country – but that means saying ‘no’ to twentieth-century solutions to twenty- first-century problems, locking fossil fuels in the ground and embracing a real energy democracy.

And then there is the state of our democracy. It’s utterly dysfunctional. We have a government elected by less than a quarter of those eligible to vote and a Prime Minster who has never won a general election. The House of Lords is unelected and unaccountable to anyone. The EU referendum showed that people across the country come out to vote when they know it means something, but we can’t hand back control to the people unless we radically reform a Parliament that systematically locks them out.

Britain is a tough place to live for many people at the moment, but perhaps those facing the worst time are people who have come here from other countries. The mood is toxic and the streets feel unsafe for many migrants and for many others who feel scapegoated by this government for its policy failure. The rhetoric from the government and, sadly, some in the Labour Party too has only inflamed an already tense atmosphere. As Greens, we’ve always welcomed people who come here to make a life – it’s a big part of what makes this country what it is. That’s why we’re fighting to keep free movement within Europe, and pushing the government to take in more refugees and give local authorities the resources they need to welcome them. Ultimately, in the face of rising division across our continent we need to be building bridges, not walls.

The challenges we face – as a country, as a party and just as people trying to make sense of all that’s happening around us, are immense. But we’re resolute that we won’t let this time be de ned by those who want us to be a smaller, more closed country.

We’re proud to be leading this party at this most defining moment in history – we know how much it matters. Thank you for being part of this movement – without you, none of what we do would be possible.

This article was originally published in Green World.

Caroline Lucas inspires local Greens

Greens from Hereford and Worcester joined with Malvern Green Party on Friday, for an afternoon with party leader Caroline Lucas, on an eventful day in British politics. Caroline is Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, but actually spent her childhood in Malvern.

On the day after the High Court ruling that Parliament must be consulted on the terms of Brexit, and only a few hours after another Conservative MP resigned their seat forcing a by-election, Caroline outlined in her consistently positive way the urgency of building progressive alliances.

She explained how many people voted for Brexit partly out of frustration with out of touch politicians and a sense of a lack of control. Voting reform to ensure every vote counts was the foundation for for further progressive change and should therefore be the key principle in forming such alliances.

She mentioned how she had been subject to some unpleasant social media messages in the last 24 hours. ‘People need to understand parliamentary scrutiny on Brexit isn’t about whether or not we leave. That decision has been taken. Article 50 is about where we are going. The level of anger demonstrates the depth to which trust in political processes has fallen.’

People were getting cross about the idea of a second referendum being ‘ask the same question again and again until you get the answer you want’, but a second one wouldn’t be the same question, it would be on what Brexit actually looks like for trade, environmental and employee protection and free movement of labour. In fact, Caroline felt that a General Election would be a more positive way of consulting the British people about the outcome of the negotiations.

‘We need to change the whole way we do politics’, she argued. ‘Parliament and councils must be more reflective of the communities we serve. Parliament is getting better – we’ve converted one bar into a crèche – but it is still a very difficult environment for most people – a kind of Hogwarts.’

Mentioning how Greens in Richmond yesterday agreed to stand down and support the Liberal Democrat against Zac Goldsmith, she added ‘Labour is now key, and electoral reform is now in Labour’s interests. It is vital to be talking to other parties. We need to be smarter, so that we can change the game once and for all.’

‘Time is running out. The climate crisis is urgent, inequality is urgent, the breakdown of our public services is urgent’, she said, before urging us not to give up on the fight for a genuinely public NHS.

 

A question and answer session followed. One questioner asked ‘What keeps you awake at night?’ to which she replied ‘When we understand so much about it, why we are not dealing with the climate crisis more urgently?’ She went on to explain how dealing with the issue is a win-win: more jobs, a better environment, better health and less poverty, yet so often it is presented as something costly to deal with.

Responding to a question about Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline explained that although she got on very well with him personally and liked him, Labour had one leader and two policies on many things, where the Greens had two leaders and one policy! Labour as a whole still don’t see the importance of electoral reform, or of the urgency of the climate crisis. But this was changing, she argued, as Labour began to realise it cannot win a general election under the current system on its own.

Caroline gave some advice for dealing with cynicism. ‘Online polls around actual policy show massive support for what the Green Party stands for. People like green policies when they see them. We have to ask people what they really want, big questions about what makes them happy and what they want for our country, and then connect that to our policies.’

She agreed that Greens have been right recently to emphasise social justice, as a way to deal with the myth that it is a one-issue party. But she felt it important now to rebalance that slightly on the environmental priorities as these have such huge implications for human health and happiness. ‘Air quality is a big issue for young and old. Fracking will have such massive implications for constituencies if done at scale that even Tory MPs will start to oppose it.’

‘Anyone who lazily alleges that all politicians are the same has never met Caroline Lucas MP’, said Rob Hattersley, from Hereford Green Party. As a final contributor from the audience said ‘Thank you Caroline for being a quiet, civilised, courageous voice of reason in the madhouse of parliament’.

 

 

 

 

Diana on sustrans bridge

Brexit: we still have more in common

Now the Brexit dust is settling, what does it mean for Herefordshire?

The fact is, no-one knows, and we are left feeling a little confused and uncertain.

But we can start by refusing the label ‘divided society’, and celebrate what we have in common, our caring communities, our beautiful countryside, our public services.

We can engage in the decisions that affect our lives by keeping an eye on what our politicians are up to: in Westminster, voting for nuclear weapons and against fairer voting systems; locally, voting for a pointless road, not protecting our rivers from pollution, and cutting vital bus services (sorry – ‘savings’, not cuts!).

Politics shouldn’t be something done to us from London – voting on June 23rd was a political act, so let’s keep going! If we ‘want our country back’ let’s stop selling it off to big business; let’s not allow it to be blasted by fracking!

Since June 24th we know how it feels to participate in a democratic process where every vote counts. Wouldn’t it be nice if that applied to all elections? If you agree, join the growing movement for proportional representation, so that all our voices can be heard.