Sunday, 23 October 2011

Yes to a referendum on the EU!

According to Paul Cotterill on the Liberal Conspiracy blog Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green Party,  has outflanked Labour on the issue of a referendum on the EU. He is right. Outflanking a gauche and leaden-footed Labour leadership isn't difficult these days. Labour is completely hamstrung by its New Labour legacy, and because of its complicity in privatisation and austerity it is incapable of challenging the most dangerously reactionary government in a century.

Caroline said: "I support a referendum on our membership of the EU because I am pro-democracy, not because I'm anti-EU - and because I want to see a radical reform of the way Europe operates. The EU has the potential to spread peace and make our economies more sustainable, and to promote democracy and human rights, at home and throughout the world. But it must urgently change direction, away from an obsessive focus on competition and free trade and towards placing genuine co-operation and environmental sustainability at its heart."

Caroline has called this exactly right. We need to challenge the lack of democratic accountability and neoliberalism of the EU. Most people don't want us to leave, but this is a Europe of austerity, dominated by the ECB. The way the Greeks and Irish have been humiliated is appalling, and all to bail out French and German banks. That is unacceptable. We need start a movement to liberate the EU from the dead hand of neoliberal failure, and make sure that the Green Party is at the forefront of that movement.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Green Party make further gains in local elections

Locally we had a good series of results in the four wards in which we stood, coming second in Gowy from nowhere. We still have a lot of work to do and we need to build up a stronger local campaigning party.

In the wider North West, Hilary Robinson was elected to Alsager Town Council; our first Green Councillor in Cheshire, and John Coyne retained his seat in Liverpool which had seemed vulnerable to a resurgent Labour. In Lancaster we had a disappointing result losing 4 councillors to Labour who had a good result in the north of England - totally underserved given the cuts they had planned in public services and the privatisation of the NHS which they had already started upon before the general election last year.

Nationally, we went into our election campaign with 116 councillors on 42 councils and have come out of it with 130 on 43 councils, a gain of 14 seats.

Norwich fought off Labour in two wards, as well as gaining an additional seat in Thorpe Hamlet, to bring their total seats on the council to 15 - adding to its tally of city councillors at every election since 2002. We also gained seats in Bolsover, Bristol, Herefordshire, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk, Malvern Hills, Mid Suffolk, Reigate, Solihull, South Hams, Stafford and St Albans! The outstanding Brighton results were also a real highlight: we gained 10 more seats, taking our total to 23 and making the Greens the largest party on the council.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Greens fighting hard in West Cheshire elections

Members of the Green Party in Cheshire West and Chester have been working hard in our target wards of Gowy and Davenham and Moulton. We have been busy talking to voters and delivering election flyers over the past week and the weather has been very kind to us. By the 5th of May we will have delivered over 7500 flyers in the two wards.

Our campaign is focussed on fighting the cuts imposed in Cheshire by the Coalition government. George Osborne's £81 Billion cuts package is totally unjustified and genuine threat to the welfare state which will cause suffering to the weakest members of our society, including the poor, disabled and unemployed.

We have seen the effect that cuts have had in Ireland where the economy has been devastated. You can't cut your way out of a recession - that is what happened in the 1930s and it lead to a decade of economic stagnation and conflict which cost millions of lives.

The Green Party has a fully costed economic programme which will protect public services and create jobs, lifting us out of economic stagnation and building a future for a sustainable economy which will help us deal with the consequences of climate change. A couple of Green councillors in West Cheshire would make all the difference - wherever you are vote Green on 5th May!

Sunday, 24 April 2011


For the record - I don't agree with Nick. Like many people in this country I'm appalled by the role the Liberal Democrats (LDs) have played in propping up a reactionary, class war Tory government which is seeking to return us to the inequality and public squalor of the 19th century. £81 billion pounds worth of cuts which will hit the poor, low paid, unemployed, disabled and women hardest would be bad enough in itself but what accompanies it makes it much, much worse - the privatisation of the NHS, the bogus 'Big Society', the sell off of forests, student loans at £9,000 a year, the scrapping of environmental bodies, the attack on the public sector and pensions, the support for bankers who created the economic crash, nepotism for neighbours by Cameron, and the absurdity of calling environmental protection legislation 'red tape' all add up to a nightmare for the British people. Those of us who lived through the Thatcher era never thought we could be shafted to such an extent again - but that is what is happening as I type this.

We should never have been so surprised at LD support for this Tory government and its cuts agenda. In 2004, prominent LDs including Clegg, Laws and Cable contributed to the 'Orange Book' which was essentially a neoliberal manifesto. The reactionary take-over of the LDs had begun. Just as with New Labour The LDs swung to the right abandoning the social democratic approach the LDs had been found on.

So what has this got to do with the referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV)? Given the above - its not surprising then that many on the left now want to punish Clegg and the LDs by voting down AV. The theory is that if the referendum is lost the Coalition government will split, forcing an election in which Labour and Ed Milliband will ride to the rescue of the nation. In my view this is very short-sighted for several reasons; firstly, there is no guarantee that the Coalition will split. The LDs are in a very vulnerable position at the moment and they don't want an election. Not only do they fear meltdown but they have no funds to fight a campaign; secondly, even if the Coalition does split there is no guarantee that Labour will win or the Ed will ride to the rescue if they do. New Labour may be dead but it certainly hasn't been buried; finally, and most importantly the AV referendum offers us something very rare in British politics - a chance to bring about progressive electoral reform.

AV isn't perfect, its not as good as proportional representation (PR), but it's a hell of a lot better than what we have at the moment - a rotten voting system well past its sell by date. If the referendum is lost it will put back electoral reform for a generation. The beauty of AV is that it increases voter power and makes MPs more accountable to their electorate - so what if it slightly benefits the LDS? - that is the popular view based on previous voting patterns, but it assumes that many will put the LDs down as a second preference - now that is much less likely. Neither will it benefit the BNP as has been suggested - it will benefit you the voter by putting more power in your hands. Don't believe the outrageous lies put about by the No campaign. Vote YES on May 5th and help to break the mould of British politics. AV now PR later!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The greenest government ever - huh?

So, this is the greenest government ever? I guess quite a few of us are scratching our heads on this one. As the Tory (nasty) Party went thorough it's re-branding with Blairite poster boy and PR man David Cameron, we saw Dave cycling to work, followed by a car carrying his suit and briefcase, installing a wind turbine on his house, and cuddling polar bears at the North Pole (OK, not quite be he would if he could have - no doubt).

Of course, this was all a PR con, or as these things are known these days - greenwash. Lets get down to the facts. The Tory-led government is in thrall to the corporations, and if there is one thing corporations hate its environmental regulation which prevents them dumping costs onto the environment in the form of pollution. It's not difficult to work out that we are going to see a weakening of environmental regulation and a knock down sale of our environmental assets.

So what is the "greenest government ever" doing? Well, its scrapped the Sustainable Development Commission and the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution for a start. It's downsizing the public bodies which protect the environment like the Environment Agency and Natural England. It's planning to sell off our forests, its scrapped the fleet of emergency tugs which are there to protect the marine environment, and it wants to start building new uneconomic and unsustainable nuclear power stations - like the Olkilouto plant in Finland which has been an outrageously expensive botched cock-up.

Behind much of this is the disaster of The Public Bodies Bill which gives the government powers to scrap public bodies at will. The bill is audacious, mendacious and dangerous for the environment. These bodies were created by parliament but parliament will have no say in their merger or removal.

The reality is that this is likely to be the least green government ever with falling environmental standards and failure to tackle our greatest problem - climate change. This won't be a surprise to anyone in the Green Party. It's exactly what we expected. We had the right policies to create a green economy whilst providing a million new jobs and protecting public services. We now have to face five years of going backwards environmentally with nothing being done to deal with the most serious issues that face us.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Green Party Benefit Gig! - 9th January

There will be a benefit gig for the Party at Alexander's in Chester on Sunday 9th January. All very welcome. Try and come along if you can and pass this on to all your friends!