Green Issues

I've just been reading the statement put out by Rupert Read, the Green Party candidate for the upcoming Norwich North by-election, on the Rackheath eco-town project, one of the eco-towns that the UK government is currently in the process of building.

The point he is making about the proposed new by-pass to link this eco-town to Norwich is an example of the one, really big concern I had when these eco-towns were announced, the fact that you need to build a whole new road system to link these eco-towns to existing towns and cities in the area where they are being built. A new, large, road building programme is never going to be good for the environment.

Here's my pennies worth.

Instead of eco-towns, how about eco-suburbs, built in suitable, environmentally friendly sites, around existing towns and cities. That way the amount of new road building to link these new developments is kept to a minimum and it wouldn't take much to extend the existing public transport infrastructure to include these areas.

I know this doesn't sound as 'sexy' or headline grabbing as eco-towns, but I would've thought it would be better for the environment, which is the whole point after all.

Oh well.

Despite the better press coverage, despite the 44% increase in the vote and despite details such as the party beating Labour into 5th place in the South West and polling the highest amount of the vote in areas such as Brighton and Norwich, the Green Party of England and Wales is still left with just 2 MEP to keep up the party's good work in the European Parliament.

It is a shame that we have lost out on at least one seat due to the fact that the number of MEP's this time round was cut from 78 to 72, meaning that the South West area now only has 6 MEP's instead of the 7 MEP's it had before the elections last week. I say it is a shame because if the number of MEP's for the South West had remained at 7 then the 7th MEP would have been the first Green party candidate for the South West, Ricky Knight.

It is a shame that the party missed out on a seat in the East of
England by (if my calculations are right) 1% or 15,945 votes.

It is also a shame that the party missed out on a seat in the North West by 0.4% or 4,961 votes (This is the seat in the North West that went to the BNP).

The news gets worse. If the votes for the European Parliament was taken as a whole nation instead of region by region the Green Party would have got 6 MEP's instead of 2 (as illustrated at the site http://icon.cat/util/elections/ddumGbgDXU).

So what good news can be taken from this.

Well, as already mentioned, the party increased it's share of the vote by 44% from the 2004 election results. That's a big deal and something the party can build on in the run up to the next General Election which has to take place within the next 12 months.

The other big thing to take from these results is that the Green Party won the biggest share of the vote in Brighton and in Norwich, which puts the party in the best position it has ever been in to win seats in these area's in the General Election, and as we have seen, with the exemplary work of Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert, it only takes a few good people to make a positive and substantial difference.

The other positive thing to take from all this is the success the party had in the local elections.

In my own neck-of-the-woods in Gloucestershire, we now have a Green councilor on the county council and the Green party have added significantly to their numbers in areas such as Lancaster and Norwich and now have 123 councillors on 42 councils in England and Wales.

The party is making progress and needs to keep up the hard work. It is easy to look at the European elections and be downcast that the number of MEP's didn't increase this time round, but it will happen as long as the hard work continues.

This coming Thursday is Euro Election day, the day we get to vote on which political party you want to represent you in the European Parliament (otherwise know as your MEP's).

In case you haven't realised, I'll be voting for the Green Party and anyone who has doubts over the three main political parties in the UK in light of the ongoing expenses scandals might want to think seriously about using their vote for the Green Party.

The party's manifesto for the Euro elections can be found here and there is a news feed from their website at http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news.html or an RSS feed at http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news.rss (you should be able to see the 5 most recent entries from the RSS feed down the right hand side of this page)

I would urge anyone thinking about not voting this Thursday (the 4th June) to think again and take a look at what the Green Party has to offer.

I came across a blog entry yesterday from Derek Wall (http://another-green-world.blogspot.com). He's a high profile member of the Green Party of England and Wales and a member of a group within the party called Green Left. The article is called Green Left call for support for John McDonnell.

It's a interesting article essentially calling on disenfranchised Labour MP's to stand as independant candidates at the next General Election and comes with an assurance that those that MP's that did this and "stood for meaningful action to combat climate change" would not have a Green Party candidate stand against them.

Whilst an interesting thought, why not take this idea a step further and get the Green Party to send an open letter, say via the newspapers, to all Labour MP's (and Liberal Democrat and Conservative MP's come to that) who stand for, or have any kind of concern over environmental issues to join the Green Party and stand as a Green Party candidate at the next General Election. One of the problems the Green Party has is getting it's message out to the public through the media (particularly the TV networks). With something like this, it would be very hard for the media to ignore.

I'm guessing that anyone with a Green bone in their body is disappointed/sickened/enraged by the announcement today that plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport have been given the go ahead by the British Government.

This announcement exposes in a very brutal and visible way that the current British government has no regard for the environment and probably doesn't understand (or possible care) about the long term impact that such a decision will have.

They have fallen into the old, old right wing trap of putting profit (what they would call something along the lines of 'for the sake of the economy') over the social well-being and environment consequences of such a decision.

It now looks like the campaigning and protesting will need to continue before the government will have no choice but to back down over this issue. As the report on the BBC website mentions (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7829676.stm) this is not something that can happen over night (in the sidebar called 'What Happens Next?' in the BBC report it speculates that it would be 2019 (ie. 10 years) before the runway would be ready. 10 years is a long time, so you never know what might change in that time).

The Green Party have release a statement regarding this at http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/heathrow-go-ahead-ignorance-and-stupid...

I've just been reading an article of the Green Party website called 'We need a Green New Deal, not a Brown New Deal' and I think I have an answer to one of the questions raised from it.

The article mentions the fact that investment in what it calls a 'real Green economic package' (what the party calls the 'Green New Deal') could generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and the tone of the article suggests that the Green party are puzzled by why the government doesn't appear to be doing much towards creating these new jobs.

Maybe I'm a cynic, but a big part of the 'New Labour' ideology appears to be to put as much business in the hands of private companies as possible and the focus of most private companies is to make as much profit as possible (not, alas, to provide a service to their customers these days!). Therefore the easiest way for a private company to maximize their profits is to keep their work force to an absolute minimum as wages make up a large part of any company's outgoings. So whilst the idea of the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in one respect is a very positive thing, what goes with that is hundreds of thousands of wages that need to be paid out and it is this that is likely to be unattractive to the current Government.

What can be done to try and change this very narrow minded and short term attitude, I don't know (a change to a Conservative government is not likely to change this kind of thinking within the UK political system), but I think this is the root problem with current government thinking.

More information about the Green New Deal can be found in the PDF document at http://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/reports/Budget_for_a_Green_New... (a link I found at http://www.carolinelucas.com/?q=node/67)

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