Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

Greens demonstrate support for fairer trade rules

March 5, 2014


As Green Party members agree a motion at their Spring conference to oppose a new Transatlantic Trade agreement, green campaigners have been out across the South West supporting fairer trade rules through their involvement in Fairtrade Fortnight.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is an agreement between the EU and the US, currently under negotiation in the European Parliament. Greens say, if passed, this agreement will weaken environmental protection, workers’ rights, health and animal-welfare rules. The Green Party passed a motion at their Spring conference in Liverpool to campaign against TTIP and Greens in the European Parliament are also actively opposing the agreement.

Meanwhile, across the South West Green, campaigners have been reiterating their support for Fairtrade above Free Trade. In Devon, Stephen Best, a Fairtrade banana producer from St Lucia, has been working with Exeter based Green Party member Andrew Bell to deliver conferences in schools highlighting the benefits of Fairtrade. Mr Bell said:

“Stephen’s passion for Fairtrade and what it has achieved for his community in St Lucia is highly evident to anyone who meets him. Fairtrade has literally been the saviour of banana production in the country. After the World Trade Organisation, backed by the US, changed trading rules giving American banana corporations’ greater power, small scale banana producers in the Winward Islands faced obliteration. However, Fairtrade came to the rescue offering a guaranteed minimum price for bananas and a ‘Fairtrade Premium’ – an extra sum of money which the wider community can choose how to spend. But corporate power never gives up, and now we see a new threat in the form of TTIP.”

Speaking at the Green Party conference in Liverpool, leader Natalie Bennet made clear to delegates the distinctive, principled stand Greens are making against TTIP:

“TTIP would blow apart the power of our democratic decision making. The deal provides corporations with new rights to sue the Government for legislating in the public interest – that’s definitely not acting for the common good. It’s not surprising, really, when we hear Lib Dems trumpeting the proposed US-EU free trade deal as some kind of economic saviour. The Lib Dems are the lapdogs of corporate Europe, while the Tories are its war horses.”

What’s wrong with Capitalism?

January 16, 2014

East Midlands Green Party Blog

Vote Green if you feel you are not benefiting from capitalism.

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February 2, 2013

David-Cameron-at-the-EU-s-007David Cameron’s high-profile speech on Europe has cheered Conservative supporters, but done little to improve the party’s chances of success at the next general election, according to polling by major Tory donor Lord Ashcroft.

The peer, who until 2010 was Conservative deputy chairman, said that Mr Cameron’s promise of an in/out referendum following renegotiation of the UK’s EU membership after the 2015 election “has not unleashed a desire for an overall Conservative majority”.

And the upsurge in debate about the EU in advance of the high-profile speech appears to have bolstered pro-European sentiments, with numbers saying they feel positive about British membership increasing from 18% to 22% and those thinking the UK would be better off out falling from 34% to 26%.

Lord Ashcroft’s poll – in common with most of those taken since last week’s speech – showed a small increase in support for Tories, but left Labour in the lead on 38%, against the Conservatives’ 33% and Liberal Democrats’ 11%. The avowedly pro-withdrawal UK Independence Party was on 9%.

However, Lord Ashcroft said that the change largely resulted from people who voted Tory in 2010 saying they would be more likely to do so again, as well as existing Conservative supporters becoming more likely to turn out and vote.

Writing on the ConservativeHome website, the Tory peer said: “If anyone expected an immediate leap in the Conservative Party’s popularity, the evidence should by now have disabused them of the notion.

“The speech, and more importantly the policy it articulated, has made Tories feel better about being Tories. This is not to be sneezed at – but let’s not confuse it with having changed anybody’s mind.”

Mr Cameron enjoyed a small increase in his leadership ratings in the poll, but the Conservatives were no more likely to be seen as united or having clear plans to deal with Britain’s problems.

While the coalition remained more trusted to run the economy than Labour, Tory leads on traditionally strong policy areas like welfare reform and immigration had narrowed.

“Not surprisingly, given all this, the promise of an EU referendum has not unleashed a desire for an overall Conservative majority,” said Lord Ashcroft.

“Just under a third (32%) of voters told us last weekend that this would be their preferred outcome of the next election – a proportion unchanged since last November.

“A Labour government remains the most popular choice, with 38%; 17% would rather have a Labour-Lib Dem coalition. Another round of what we have now is the least popular choice, with 13%.”

He warned the party that it must not give voters the impression that it is obsessed with Europe.

“In debating the question in the coming years we must remember that there is only so much oxygen in the room,” said Lord Ashcroft.

“Most people do not pay much attention to politics at all; when they do, let’s make sure they hear something that changes their view of the Conservative Party, not just of Europe.”

:: Some 1,008 adults were interviewed by phone for Lord Ashcroft’s poll between January 25 and 27

Three Yeses on Europe; No to Cameron’s Long Run of Misery

January 24, 2013

cameronfunnyWhat does the next five years of British politics look like, according to David Cameron?

On the basis of yesterday morning’s speech, there’s only one political issue – one long, grinding debate, in Britain and across Europe, as he tries, to entirely reshape not just Britain’s relationship with the other 26 members of the EU, but to entirely reshape the nature of that institution to being a free trade club.

Other issues – the issues that are of pressing concern to the British people – the 2.49 million unemployed, the one in 10 underemployed workers, the one in five workers on less than a living, and those who fear joining them – have to play second fiddle. (And of course the whole referendum pack of cards assumes that he’s going to win the next election – a very large assumption indeed…)

You’d be tempted to think that, despite his recent protestations, Mr Cameron doesn’t want the electorate to focus on the slashing in real terms of benefit payments, the continual erosion of funding to local government for essential local services, and the total failure of his Chancellor’s Plan A for the economy, under which by a mysterious process of alchemy the slicing of funds from the public sector was supposed to produce a private sector boom.

As Philip Stephens said in the Financial Times, with a considerable sense of restraint: “It is hard to imagine how such uncertainty will enhance the UK’s influence and prosperity.”

Nonetheless, in calling for a referendum, Cameron does have a point. The Green Party believes in democracy and self-determination. On important issues like this – and let’s not forget that withdrawing from the EU would have mammoth effects (just consider that we produce only 51% of our own food and the rely on Europe for the vast bulk of the rest) – voters should be given the opportunity to express a clear view.
So in the Green Party, we say ‘Yes’ to a referendum on Europe. No one under the age of 55 has had an opportunity to vote on our relationship with Europe, despite many promises in recent years. Self-determination shouldn’t be restricted to the Scots. We even agree with Mr Cameron on the need for change in the EU – but we believe that it should be 180 degrees in the opposite direction to the kind of changes that he is proposing. The working time directive, which he holds up as a point to get out of, we applaud. He wants to reshape the EU even further towards being a playground for multinational companies and bankers, at the expense of its economic and social security.

The role of Europe should be to provide guaranteed decent, substantial foundations on workers’ rights and consumer protections, on environmental standards, on human rights and peace, the basic conditions of life on which Britain was once a world leader. It can be difficult for nations to compete against others that are undercutting these rights – the answer is not to abolish them, but to fight to establish them as global standards, and making them standards in the whole of Europe is a great place to start.

And on issues of banking regulation, on the financial transactions tax, given that Westminster has shown itself unable to rein-in the excesses of the City, it needs all of the help it can get. Europe has made slow and uncertain progress on these issues since 2008, but it has done better than London.

So yes for change in Europe – but to a kind of Europe that isn’t a giant institution, bearing down on peoples and nations from above (as it has born down particularly oppressively on the Greeks), but one that provides a supportive foundation, on the basis of which local people can make decisions for themselves as locally as possible – it’s known as subsidiarity, and is there in the principles of the EU, just not applied as often as it should be.

And we say yes to staying within Europe – working together with our fellow states in a cooperative framework, not a storming high dudgeon or a take-it-or-leave it blackmail style, a la David Cameron. We need to continue to work with our European partners to build strong, locally democratic communities that decide their own way within the framework of strong, guaranteed standards.

Yes, yes, yes to a better European future – no to David Cameron’s way.

Source – Natalie Bennett (Huff Post)