Wednesday, 30 July 2014


As the justifications for gross inequality collapse, only the Green party is brave enough to take on the billionaires’ boot boys.
....................................................So here we have a perfect opportunity for progressive parties: the moral and ideological collapse of the system of thought to which they were previously in thrall. What do they do? Avoid the opportunity like diphtheria. Cowed by the infrastructure of purchased argument, Labour fiddles and dithers.
But there is another party, which seems to have discovered the fire and passion that moved Labour so long ago: the Greens. Last week they revealed that their manifesto for the general election will propose a living wage, the renationalisation of the railways, a maximum pay ratio (no executive should receive more than 10 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker) and, at the heart of their reforms, a wealth tax of the kind Piketty recommends.
Yes, it raises plenty of questions, but none of them are unanswerable – especially if this is seen as one step towards the ideal position: a global wealth tax, that treats capital equally, wherever it might lodge. Rough as this proposal is, it will start to challenge the political consensus and draw people who thought they had nowhere to turn. Expect the billionaires’ boot boys to start screaming, once they absorb the implications. And take their boos and jeers as confirmation that it’s on to something. You wanted a progressive alternative? You’ve got it.
Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at Monbiot.com

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Petition for a fair voting system



We all know that first past the post is an unfair electoral system that produces disproportionate results. First past the post elections in multi-member constituencies (such as the wards in London borough elections) are particularly disproportionate.

A good example is what happened to the Hackney Green party in this May's local elections. The party did extraordinarily well to finish a clear second in those elections in terms of votes cast. However because of the unfair electoral system they won no seats and finished behind the Tories and Lib Dems as well Labour where it counts in the council chamber. This cant be right or fair.

The Hackney Green Party has launched a petition to call on Government to adopt a fairer voting system for local elections in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland already use a form of proportional representation - the Single Transferable Vote).

I would urge you to sign this petition. 


The petition calls for the Government to adopt the same voting system for local elections as is used for the London Assembly (and Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly) - the Additional Member System. I've done some rough calculations (using some stylised assumptions) to calculate what the result in Hackney would have been under either the Additional Member System or the Single Transferable Vote. I'm sure you will agree that either form of proportional representation would be an improvement on what actually happened (and I agree with the Hackney Greens that AMS is the better form of system to go for even if it would not have delivered them as many seats as STV).

                          %age votes    FPTP seats   AMS seats   STV seats

Labour                     56%               50                  32              40

Green                      21%                0                   12              13

Tory                         12%                4                    7                3  

Lib Dem                    9%                 3                    5                1

TUSC                        2%                 0                    1                0

Monday, 28 July 2014

FRACKING



THE government’s presumption against fracking in designated areas, such as national parks, goes to show that the Coalition recognises that hydraulic fracking will harm the environment and presents significant risks.  
The Green Party calls on the government to offer all communities the same protection from dirty and dangerous fracking and shift energy policy focus instead towards clean, renewable energy sources and energy conservation.
The latest bidding process for licenses to extract shale gas from large parts of the UK is under way (1). About half the UK is open to exploration, but tightened rules cover areas of outstanding beauty. The Green Party is the only mainstream political party fighting to stop fracking (2) being pushed through by a government which consistently puts corporate profit over people.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:
“While the Government has signalled an intention to ensure some protective measures, we can have little confidence in promises of a robust regulatory framework.
“We know fracking can cause water contamination and shortages, as well as air and soil pollution. And this is an industry that’s made a catalogue of errors already. But legitimate concerns over its very real environmental and health risks are falling on deaf ears.
“By seeking to lock us ever-more firmly into fossil fuel dependence the Government is turning a blind eye to reason. It’s crystal clear that we need to be shifting to clean, renewable energy sources.
“We need a rapid shift to a zero carbon economy and that is not going to happen by pouring resources into establishing an entirely new fossil fuel industry.”
Natalie Bennett, Green Party leader, said:
"The announcement from the government this morning is further acknowledgement, forced from them by the passion of campaigners, that fracking would have a damaging impact on our countryside and environment.
"If fracking isn't appropriate in national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty, then it isn't appropriate anywhere in Britain's crowded, precious landscape.
"More, this decision risks focusing any fracking that happens in Britain in disadvantaged, poorer areas - Lord Howell's so-called 'desolate North'.
Bennett concluded:
"It needs to be stated again that fracking is a damaging distraction from our need to focus on energy conservation and renewable energy generation. We need to be working out how to deal with the 'carbon bubble', not looking for more fossil fuels to add to the problem."
Fracking, a controversial technique for extracting fossil fuels, is widely opposed in countries where it takes place (3).

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Greens and older people


Anyone who has canvassed for the Green party will recognise the truth in the statistics that form the basis of Harry Lambert's blog post for the New Statesman:

 


 

It is certainly the case that young voters are more open to our policies. Mind you they generally have longer to live with the consequences of not implementing them!

 

But there is no reason for older voters to be less attracted to the Green party. In fact our policies for older people are much better than those of the three main parties.

 

In particular our Citizen's Income policy of a simple, non-means-tested state income of  £170 per week would lift many out of poverty. Those questioning whether the policy is affordable should note that it is very similar to the reforms the Coalition Government is implementing from April 2016. But shamefully the Coalition policy will only apply to those reaching State Pension Age from April 2016. The Green party's policy would benefit existing as well as future pensioners. This is important because rates of pensioner poverty are highest amongst the oldest pensioners.

 

It is often stated that Greens want to increase the cost of energy and this might be a reason older people are less open to voting for us. But we actually want to help people with the cost of keeping warm by paying for the insulation of millions of homes and prioritising those on fixed incomes such as pensioners.

 

Older people have as much to gain from Green policies as younger people. We obviously have a lot of work to do to get that message across. That is one of the reasons I helped to found the Green seniors network. If you are a pensioner and interested in knowing more about our policies please get in touch! 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Notes from the campaigntrail - V111

This website which allows people to share their 3 favourite Green policies with their friends - do spread the word! 

Notes from the campaign trail V11

DORCHESTER: Green Party storms European elections

MORE than 763 students from the Thomas Haryde School “went to the polls” for a student mock European Election.
Students from all years cast their votes in the first mock election, representing one of the largest electorates of teenagers in Dorset in the run up to the real election. 
During the past week students assembled campaign teams and embarked upon their election trail throughout the school representing the Conservatives, Green Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and UKIP.  
The campaign teams produced Party Election Broadcasts that were aired across the school and exhibited election posters also. The school also played host to two election hustings, one with a panel of student representatives, and another presenting five candidates competing in this year’s actual election. 
The Thomas Hardye results were as follows: Conservatives 95 (13 per cent), Green Party 351 (47 per cent), Labour Party 86 (11 per cent), Liberal Democrats 45 (six per cent) and UKIP 172 (23 per cent).
The Mock European Election was organised by the Sixth Form Student Union whose aim was to get as many students as possible engaged in the political debate and prepare hundreds of first time voters for the real election day later this month. 
Sixth Form Enrichment Co-ordinator Anna Killick said: “This has been an excellent opportunity for the entire school to find out more about the European Elections and I commend the students for the respect they showed towards each other and the serious way they debated the issues.”
As the European Election uses a proportional voting system the school’s results, if replicated across the South West region, (made up of 
six Members of the European Parliament) would have seen the Green Party gain four MEPs, UKIP one MEP, the Conservatives one MEP and Labour and the Liberal Democrats none.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Notes from the Campaign Trail -V1

ICM Polling: Green Vote Growing as Liberal Democrats Wither



13 May 2014
The Green Party is polling (1) at 10% ahead of the May 22 European Elections, putting it firmly in fourth place and three percentage points ahead of the ailing Liberal Democrats (7%).
 
The Greens have surged four points since ICM’s last poll and are within touching distance of meet their target of trebling their number of MEPs from two (Jean Lambert, London, and Keith Taylor, South-East) to six. Based on a national swing the latest poll would give the Greens 5 seats in England plus one in Scotland. The Lib Dems would have zero seats. Among 18-24 year-olds the Greens are the second most popular political party.
 
Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:
 
"The results of this poll chime with what I am hearing around the country. 
Former Lib Dem voters feel that the party no longer represents their values, let alone their views on tuition fees, nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons, and on curbing the influence of the banks and big business. 

 
"Former Labour voters are looking at our firm statements that the poor and disadvantaged must no longer be made to pay for the fraud and recklessness of the bankers. And traditional Tory voters are coming to us for our firm defence of the green belt and determination to rein in our still out of control financial sector."
 
Penny Kemp, Head of Media on the Green Party Executive, said:
 
"If the Green Party as predicted push the Lib/Dems into fifth place, I will be asking Ofcom and the Broadcasters Liaison Group to review their recent policy and I will be arguing for a place at the top table."
 
The polling results echo those released on May 2 by the Green Party. That polling, which was conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Greens, had the Green Party on 8% and ahead of the Lib Dems in four of the nine English regions (the North-East, the North-West, Yorks and Humber and Eastern Region) with both parties polling on 11% in London.
 
1) http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/12/support-labour-drops-tories-lead-guardian-icm-poll?CMP=twt_gu

Monday, 12 May 2014

Notes from the campaigntrail - V

The Greens even get a mention in The Ambridge Socialist
 
 The Ambridge Socialist 4th May CONTACT KEITH FLETT 07803 167266
 
The real Borsetshire Echo: 60 years of class struggle in Ambridge
The Wedding episodes: good or bad?
 
According to author and authority on the Archers Linda Grant the recent episodes of the Archers featuring Kirsty and Tom’s non-wedding fell firmly into the ‘marmite’ category. The Ambridge Socialist was not over enthusiastic but this was restrained compared to The Spectator which described them as a ‘new low’. Antonia Quirke in the New Statesman was not enthusiastic either. Gillian Reynolds in the Telegraph was more sanguine. Ambridge Socialist Editor Keith Flett said ‘the divorce rate would be rather lower if more people realised marriage was not for them and did not succumb to bourgeois pressures to get married. This suggests that Tom’s actions were out of the ordinary. Did that make for compelling radio? We’ll let our readers decide
 
 Was Kirsty & Tom’s non-wedding Peak Archers?
 Yes
No
 May Day in Ambridge: Bosses out of Borsetshire
Frustrated at years of failure by the BBC to report May Day events in Ambridge, this year the Ambridge Socialist produced a special issue.
As usual Bert Fry lead the traditional Borsetshire Trades Council march to the village green where a red flag was planted and speeches calling for ‘Bosses out of Borsetshire’ were delivered.
Also on the village green Kenton Archer erected a Maypole and crowned Lyndia Snell [in absentia] May Queen. Traditional festivities at the Maypole included Kenton’s special punch made from whatever he could find in The Bull and Freda Fry’s May Day burgers containing locally reared rabbit….
The Grundy’s People’s Cider stall was also present
Complaints from Neo-Liberal placeman at Borsetshire Land Charlie that all this amounted to a rural uprising against the rightful landowners of the village were robustly dealt with by PC Knacker Burns but Kenton Archer was de-arrested after PC Burns was accidentally hit over the head with the Borsetshire Trades Council May Day flagpole.
 
Ambridge Socialist Editor Keith Flett said May Day in Ambridge should not to be missed unless of course you listen to Radio 4 in which case you did miss it
 The Ambridge Socialist poll RESULT
Who is the most man in Ambridge? Rob 64%  Tom 19% Charlie 7%
 
In Other News
The Ambridge Socialist has agreed to back a range of candidates for the Borsetshire Council Elections on 22nd May including Labour, Greens and TUSC under the slogan Bosses out of Borsetshire
 
According to the new Editor of the Archers [Observer 27th April page 3] the serial is akin to Ibsen, Shakespeare and Hardy. Macbeth beckons. See Nicholas Lezard [Independent 30th April] for a rigorous Marxist analysis.

Notes from the campaign trail -1V

On wearing a Green Party rosette.

I have been wearing my rosette since the campaign started and have not yet had a single adverse reaction from the public - in fact the opposite! I have people constantly coming up to me with good wishes and thumbs up signs. I even had one lovely young woman hug me and say "congratulations for standing". Now, at my age, that does not often happen:-)
I recall that during the GLA election I dropped a £1 in a buskers tin (I always do, when I can afford it).
He saw my rosette and ran after me with a fistful of change of change.
"That's for the Green Party" he said.
On another occasion, I was buying chips and I received two bags. "I only ordered one" I said and he replied "That's for being in the Green Party"


Notes from the campaign 111

The joys of collecting nomination signatures, from a fellow Green Party activist.

I wanted to share an amusing moment or two from the campaign. well, it was a downright soggy day for it, but I had a couple of wards worth of signatures to collect to stay on target ahead of the nominations deadline. The response is generally very good and most people are happy to facilitate our standing candidates. One gets the occasional, "I'd rather not", or "I'm a bit busy right now." But I'm quite the advocate of a soft sell approach and have had some people come back after initially saying, no thanks, "Okay then".

Today, in Harlesden, I had a man turn down the offer and duly close the door only to be questioned by his wife. I could hear her reprimand him behind the closed door and whilst in the middle of the next signature she came back after me, snatched the clipboard out of my hand and said, "I'm signing for the Green Party! I'm signing for the Green Party!" Then she went back into her house with clipboard in hand, "and I'm going to get his signature too!" In fact, the husband did refuse, but the neighbour who had just witnessed the scene with me dared not!

Today, I had another signatory do an amazing rendition of all the drum bass on the street (yes, it was Harlesden :). He was complaining about the way his neighbourhood had changed in the 30 years that he'd lived there, and apparently they only get one hour's sleep a night due to all the music. Then he launched in to a rendition of the kind of noise he had to endure. He was quite advanced in years but could have gone for a recording contract there and then!

Then, two days ago, another example of one family member coercing another -- the head of the house originally said no, then the daughter intervened and although she wasn't resident there thrust the board into her mother's hand and said, "Only the Greens will keep the streets clean and green!"

Thursday, 8 May 2014

News from the campaign trail - 11.

Inspirational official launch of the London green Party campaign this morning. Around one hundred local and Euro candidates braved the rain for our outdoor launch opposite Parliament.
See report and photos here:  http://london.greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/05/08/london-green-party-elections-launch-vote-green-for-real-change

News from the Campaign Trail

Here's a lovely endorsement for the Green Party from , a key CiF contributor.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/08/voting-green-european-elections-why

Key qs:

The surprise was that the more I looked at them, the more I liked them. Their policies appear to me eminently sensible and unabashedly progressive, in most areas. They are the only party which has refused to be drawn into the immigrant-bashing competition with the others, and the only which proposes a vote in the general elections for EU citizens based on residency, rather than nationality. Their commitment to minority rights, including LGBT, is second to none. They alone seem to understand that discussion and collaboration, rather than confrontation, is the way to reform the EU. Their candidates seem passionate and compassionate. 

&

And so, on 22 May I will be voting for the Green party, for the first time. Not as a default choice, but as a positive one. Not as a wasted vote, but as a vote that may add to their already significant 45 MEPs and make a genuine difference. Not as a protest vote against the establishment, but as a strong voice of resistance against the politics of hate peddled by so many others.