Archive for February, 2017

I’d Vote Green but…

February 25, 2017

…if I vote Green, I get Blue. 

To an extent this is true, this is part of the problem with our electoral system. Winner takes it all and smaller parties get completely marginalised. One of the Green Party’s main policies is electoral reform towards proportional representation to avoid this situation. I have tried tactical voting in the past and don’t feel that it worked. I voted for someone I didn’t really believe in and it didn’t change the outcome of the result. If we had an election where everybody voted for who they actually wanted and not the person to stop the person they hate, then we might get a turnout more reflective of our views. In order to achieve this our elected individuals should reflect a broader cross section of our communities. This won’t happen whilst the same two parties remain in charge.

Even worse is that if you don’t vote at all, you’ll probably get more of the same. My local council election in 2013 had a turnout of just over a quarter of voters. 5000 local residents didn’t vote for their councillor who currently has a majority of just shy of 700. You could argue active apathy due to disconnect with voters which is what we would try to address. Another big Green policy is to take local decisions in local hands. If people could see that their vote had an effect, then maybe they would vote more.

….all you politicians are the same.

Again correct to an extent. We feel most politicians are the same. The Green Party however is different to all the others in how it is funded, from voluntary member donations and not large donations or trade unions. The fact we are different and don’t have our noses in the  trough mean we might actually provide some sort of opposition and scrutiny to local policymakers. Although most of our local members haven’t held public office, we give up a lot of our time for free to provide a Green alternative. You might call out inexperience, but you can’t accuse us of being in it for the money!

We are also locally run and are given a lot of free reign by the national party. This allows us to come up with policies that work locally and are not dictated by national policy such as Labour’s blanket ban on electoral co-operation.

…you only care about the environment.

This is a common misconception although our media coverage tends to be about environmental concerns we have a full range of policies which you can read about here in our 2015 manifesto. We have well developed and radical policies about taxation, electoral reform, social equality and much more.

What’s more is even in small numbers, having Green councillors can achieve a lot as our Association of Green  Councillors can attest. They have a wide range of stories about positive things Green Councillors are doing around the country.

The fact that all parties claims green credentials is a testament to how just our concerns are.

…my friends will call me a hippy

This is the easiest one to debunk. Just attend one  of our meetings. Our local party are drawn from broad walks of life or geography. Despite being slightly too “white middle aged man” as far as I can see nobody fits the stereotype of being a “hippy”. Unless by hippy you mean peace-loving, humanitarian and environmentally friendly? Our meetings are usually an interesting mix of debate, event planning and socialising and usually end like all good meetings do, with a drink. There’s no dancing round trees or choruses of Kumbaya in the ones I’ve been to. We always welcome new members with new ideas, the more the merrier!

…I’m worried my taxes will go up.

It’s currently  unlikely that we will be majority members of a council locally and the way local government funding is being squeezed we will have to work with other parties to really challenge the current status quo of service cuts and general inertia within our local council.

We want to properly fund our services and we need to seriously look at other ways to save money so we can afford to look after our children, elderly and vulnerable. One way may to completely overhaul our current three tier system to remove gridlock and improve proximity of decisions by making unitary authorities.

We know tax increases are unpopular, but nationally we’d look to completely overhaul taxation to make it less regressive and ensure those with broadest shoulders and large corporations pay their way. Locally, we’d seek to devolve power (and hence money) to local government to allow local decisions to have local effects.

 

Standing as a Candidate

February 4, 2017

photo02272016 was the year of rising nationalism and populism. The outcome of the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s victory in the US elections shocked us all. Now more than ever we have to stand up for our Green values. Let us turn 2017 into the year of fighting these reactionary tendencies. Let us fight for pluralism, diversity, solidarity, public services and a clean and healthy environment. The fight starts locally.  Would you consider standing as a candidate in the County Council Elections?

The Greens have always and will continue to be the natural antidote to populists and nationalists. Hence, we can and should play an important role in opposing the Conservatives and UKIP.  The Greens have always been the political party that is fighting against racial and religious discrimination, for gender equality and LGBTIQA+ rights. This is a core element of our Green identity. Fighting discrimination is not merely about protecting minorities, it is also an important contribution to an open and inclusive society. We believe in a culture of solidarity, which is open to migration and takes responsibility for people fleeing war or persecution. We want immigration laws instead of walls and fences. We stand for local co-operation and for global multilateralism.

Since 2008/09 Northamptonshire County Council has cut more than one quarter of a billion pounds from County Council spending, with dyer consequences for council services and local people. They have reduced their staffing levels from 17,000 to a few thousand, and are on course for less than 500 staff by the end of the decade.  Northamptonshire has turned off speed cameras and removed half of the street lighting in the county making many urban areas much less safe for local pedestrians and drivers.  They have radically reduced funding for more affordable ‘prevention’ and low level support services, and taken nearly £50 million from Adult Social Care and Children’s Services with devastating consequences for local people and the NHS.

Many of us are appalled by these actions and have spoken up but to little avail.  With the Conservative’s considerable majority in the Council they can afford to ignore even the most constructive of suggestions from politicians, residents or professionals, and they regularly do.  Would you consider standing as a candidate in the County Council Elections?

On Monday 20th February Northamptonshire Green Party are holing a meeting to give people the opportunity to understand why the Green Party tries to stand candidates at Council elections and what procedures are involved to get your name on the ballot. We will be looking for candidates from across the County, and it would be great to see you there, if you think you might be interested in putting your name forward in the area where you live. This meeting is for Green Party members only in Northamptonshire and the East Midlands.  The meeting starts at 7pm and finishes at 9pm in the Doddridge Centre, St James, Northampton. NN5 5HF

Citizens Income Talk & Discussion

February 1, 2017

green-party-conference-2015On Tuesday 7th February, Shirley Jones will be leading a talk in Kettering about the Citizens Income; what it is, and how it could work. As you may know, this was a part of the Green Party Manifesto at the General Election in May 2015, and it is an idea that has gained wider support since then. This will be a good opportunity to discuss the Citizens Income and to understand how we can get involved in campaigning to support the policy.

A citizen’s income has a long history and its genesis, at least as an idea, is now hundreds of years in the making. Many distinguished economists of the 20th Century have considered the idea and the Citizen’s Income Trust itself was formed about thirty years ago, with academics honing workable economic schemes and promoting it. Dr Malcolm Torry is the Trust’s Director and his latest book is ‘The Feasibility of a Citizen’s Income’. He’s also written ‘Money for Everyone’ and ‘101 Reasons for a Citizen’s Income’: both a lay person’s guide.

It is now coming into the mainstream: as well as the (albeit unsuccessful) Referendum in Switzerland, the policy might be due to be trialled in Scotland and Professor Guy Standing, of both the Basic Income Earth network and Citizen’s Income Trust, has run successful trials in India.

Shirley Jones has worked, in the distant past, for an MP and MEP. She writes and dabbles in drawing and painting. She also dabbles in deep-space astronomy and astro-physics, botany and other natural history. As well as comets and planets, she loves trees and bats, and all sorts of music.

http://citizensincome.org/

The Citizens Income Talk and Discussion is on Tuesday 7th February from 8pm till 10pm at The Keystone Community Centre, Kettering. NN16 9AA

Event is on Facebook