Budget fails to address today’s challenges

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

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

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

The time is now. Join us to stand for the Common Good.

A message from Caroline to West Mids Greens

Leader Caroline Lucas, who was born in Malvern, talks about a couple of our successes in the West Midlands. We are a dynamic active party with lots happening in many areas across the Midlands.

If you care about the environment, social justice and equality, the NHS, a sustainable economy promoting renewable energies and engaging with your local community … it’d be great if you can join us. We really active across all areas in the West Midlands and we’re a friendly bunch too.

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

Is the Richmond Park by-election a test bed for a better politics?

‘We support a progressive alliance: Greens are not standing a candidate’. That’s the Green Party leaflet for the Richmond by-election happening this Thursday, following the resignation of Zac Goldsmith in October over Heathrow expansion, writes Josiah Mortimer of Left Foot Forward.

And it’s brave stuff. This is the first time in recent history that a political party has put out materials backing (albeit indirectly) another party.

Something interesting is happening in Richmond. As I left the train station this Saturday, I was greeted first by a Green stall, explaining why they’re backing a Liberal Democrat-led ‘progressive alliance’ – and by activists from Compass, the left-pluralist think tank who want left-wing parties to work together.

Read the full article here.

Chancellor’s statement has nothing to say on climate change emergency

Caroline Lucas, the Green Party co-leader and MP for Brighton Pavillion, has accused the Government of ‘shirking its responsibilities’ after today’s Autumn Statement.

Lucas accused the Government of having ‘deeply skewed priorities’. She said: 

“Britain is drifting towards the stormy and unchartered waters of brexit with ministers refusing to reveal the route, or properly adjust the sails according to the headwinds. We needed an Autumn statement which rose to the challenges of the day, but we see a government shirking its responsibilities, lacking any moral compass and leaving us dangerously exposed to both economic shocks and climate change.

“This Autumn statement shows a Government with deeply skewed priorities. At a time of uncertainty they are continuing with plans to give a tax cut to corporations and the highest earners – while our NHS is strapped for cash and local services are under immense strain. We could save billions by scrapping the plans to cut corporate tax and raising the threshold for the highest earners – and we could plough that money into our ailing NHS – but the Government has refused to change course.

Lucas slammed the Chancellor for failing ‘even mention climate change’ in his speech. She said:

“With Trump’s election this could have been a moment for Britain to become a world-leader in the fight against catastrophic climate change but, instead, we see little evidence of a commitment to facing up to the greatest challenge of our times. Indeed, it is shameful that the Chancellor failed to even mention climate change in his speech. By caving into the motor lobby and freezing fuel duty again for the seventh year in a row the Government has made a mockery of the fact that it is the hottest year on record and condemned us to more carbon emissions and deadly pollution.”

“A Government with a genuinely bold vision could have used this Autumn statement to ensure that the economy is future facing on everything from the risks of a potential Brexit to the threats posed by climate change and growing inequality. Instead we have a backwards looking budget that fails to wage war on poverty and fails to grasp the realities of an uncertain world and the limited resources in it. A serious response to the situation we’re in could, for example, have included a nationwide insulation scheme to keep people warm in their homes, cut bills and create jobs in every community. Or the Conservatives could have scrapped their plan to hand cash to corporations and high earners and instead give the NHS the funding it so desperately needs.”

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’.