Diana statement on ‘progressive alliances’

I agree that the country can’t afford another Tory government, and I’m proud to represent the party which started the ball rolling for a Progressive Alliance, enabling the LibDems to oust Zac Goldsmith in Richmond.

This fast growing movement to prevent another undemocratic Conservative victory is very encouraging, but it must be intelligently targeted. The Compass thinktank has been doing excellent groundwork with Greens, Lib Dems and Labour, and will soon publish the target constituencies where we have the best chance of beating a Tory. Based on analysis of 2015 results, Hereford and South Herefordshire isn’t one of them. If we try it everywhere it won’t work – it will weaken opposition parties and play into Conservative hands.

I hope this is the beginning of more collaboration between progressives, and look forward to finding common ground with local Lib Dems and Labour in the future. In particular, I want us to work together for a fair electoral system which will put an end to this kind of voting dilemma!

De Koffie Pot to host Make Votes Matter campaigner

An innovative Hereford discussion cafe event is hosting a top campaigner with Make Votes Matter, the national fair votes alliance, on Wednesday 25th January at 7.30pm.

Klina Jordan will be at De Koffie Pot to lead a discussion on different voting systems and how reform could ensure everyone’s voices are heard. Entry is free and those from all political persuasions and none are welcome.

This is the latest in a series of Big Green Conversations presented by Hereford Green Party. The events are relaxed, informal and sociable and take place upstairs in De Koffie Pot at Left Bank every fourth Wednesday in the month. Topics so far have included Brexit, Progressive Alliances, Personality Types and Politicians, and Hereford’s ongoing bypass saga.

Organiser Rob Hattersley said: “We’ve had great turnouts so far for these sociable events. The idea is to listen to each other and understand different viewpoints. With Klina from Make Votes Matter, we’ll be asking how we get majority government with only 24% of the vote, about voters feeling their votes are wasted in ‘safe’ seats, and how different voting systems could mean everyone’s vote really matters.”

It’s Christmas: a cycle network for Hereford?

Crowds at Hereford’s Castle Green Christmas Fair voted overwhelmingly to spend Santa’s £1,000,000 gift to Hereford on a comprehensive cycle network to reduce the city’s traffic delays and make roads safer, especially for children. Research suggests that school traffic is a major factor in rush hour congestion, so safe cycle networks would make a massive difference for a fraction of the cost and with no environmental damage.

It should be pointed out that Santa, like much political debate at the moment, is fictional (ssshhh, don’t tell the adults), and Hereford has not, in fact, been given a million to spend, although even more oddly the Council are pressing ahead with a short road to the south of Hereford for many times that cost which their own research tells them will do nothing to help congestion in the city.

The opinion poll was carried out at the Green Party stall at the popular annual event, with Christmas revellers voting with baubles for one of three options: a park and ride, a cycle network, or one twenty-third of a bypass. Actually, £1,000,000 will buy even less than this. They were also invited to create a paper Christmas bauble to hang on a Christmas Tree card on which was a message for 2017 to Jesse Norman MP. The tree will be presented to Mr. Norman by Green Parliamentary Spokesperson Diana Toynbee. Message ranged from ‘stop fracking’ (Norman is an Energy Minister and voted in favour – South Herefordshire is in the firing line) to ‘Fair Votes in 2017’ and several asking him to prioritise the natural environment we depend on, and stop Tory cuts to vital services.

Green Spokesperson Rob Hattersley said: ‘It was great so many people wanting Greens to do well in Hereford, and a general feeling that now is the time to engage with politics, not the time to withdraw. It was encouraging too to meet supporters from other parties keen for progressives to work together, on the day when Green co-leader Caroline Lucas campaigns with the Lib Dems in Richmond.’

 

 

 

Big Green Conversation for Jan 2017: Make Votes Matter

The Big Green Conversation is switching to the 4th Wednesday each month from January 2017. We’re looking forward to welcoming KLINA JORDAN from Make Votes Matter – the fair votes campaign – to lead a discussion on why we need electoral reform in order to change anything else.

We will also look at how to make the link between fair votes and everyday concerns, and reduce the confusion about the different PR systems the UK could and does already use. Come along and learn enough to impress your friends with your encyclopaedic knowledge of different voting systems!

So that’s at De Koffie Pot, Left Bank Hereford, 7pm for 7.30pm on WEDNESDAY 25h January.

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Download the graphic here

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’.

 

 

 

 

Fair Votes Now

The 2015 election has shown once again that our voting system is broken beyond repair. It denies voters real choice, produces unfair results and delivers unrepresentative governments. The current government has a majority with only 37% of the vote, and only 24% of the population when non-voters are included. Many of them don’t vote because they feel the system doesn’t allow their choices to be respected.

Take a look at the fair votes information here from Unlock Democracy, and then please sign their petition for a fairer and more inclusive system.