Eleven days until polling day – UK Green news round up week 16
Greens building momentum across England for local elections
With less than two weeks until polling day for English local elections, Greens have been stepping up their campaigns.
In Brighton & Hove the Young Greens held their ‘big weekend’ of action, supporting five Young Green candidates – Hannah Clare, Amy Heley, Raphael Hill, Alice Bennett and Martin Osborne. More than 25 volunteers from across the South East came to the city to campaign for the forthcoming elections and spread the Greens’ message. In Brighton & Hove, the Greens hope to expand their tally of councillors further – currently sitting at the joint highest level anywhere in the country at 11.
Elsewhere, Greens are battling to keep their foothold in local government. In Norwich, the Greens have suffered heavy losses in recent years. But due to boundary changes, Norwich is currently facing all-out elections, and so the Greens are hopeful of keeping, and evening extending their representation in city hall. The Norwich Green Party has been campaigning hard, and were even joined by party co-leader Siân Berry this week, who said:
The political weather is quite rocky at the minute but we have persevered on the council for such a long time and all of our issues are so high on everybody’s agenda at the moment.
I think we are much more likely to bounce back even stronger after what happened last year – that is the experience we have had in lots of other cities as well.
In Knowsley, Greens are hoping to build on their success in getting the first Green councillor elected in 2018. In pursuit of this, the party has spelled out a positive vision for their campaign:
The Green Party’s vision and ambitions for Knowsley is simple, we wish to put the community at the heart of everything the council does.
For too long residents have been excluded from the decision making process by people who wish to keep the establishment closed.
Our position is clear, residents should be viewed as assets who can help the council shape and develop our borough into a fantastic place to live.
And Colchester Green Party are hoping to repeat Knowsley’s success from last year, in getting a Green on their council for the first time. Green candidate Mark Goacher this week called for “fresh faces” to be put into office. Writing in the Colchester Gazette, he outlined what Greens would do for the city:
Greens want to do things differently and to unleash the power of localism.
Our 2019 Programme For Local Government contains a pledge to introduce more participatory democracy, allowing residents to form panels and assemblies to directly input into council decision making.
Greens also want to see a Community Right to Buy policy introduced, which would give local communities the chance to buy land when it comes up for sale rather than it being sold straight to developers.
Zack Polanski arrested at Extinction Rebellion protests
Green candidate for the London Assembly Zack Polanski was arrested this week as part of the Extinction Rebellion protests. He was quickly released and has not been charged. Polanski is one of more than 800 people who have been arrested.
Speaking to Left Foot Forward’s Josiah Mortimer, Polanski made clear that he would be willing to be arrested again as part of the fight against climate change. He also called for all political parties to be more ambitious on climate change:
.@ZackPolanski – a Green candidate who was arrested yesterday for taking part in the Extinction Rebellion protests – says all parties (including Labour and Greens) need to go further and faster on climate change pic.twitter.com/htw1YSvwes
— Josiah Mortimer (@josiahmortimer) 17 April 2019
Green Party in Northern Ireland launch local election campaign
It isn’t just England electing councillors this May. People across the north of Ireland also will be. And this week, the Green Party in Northern Ireland launched its manifesto for those elections.
The manifesto contains ten key commitments:
- Ending the use of single use plastics on council premises
- Divest council pension funds from fossil fuels
- Support community buy outs and increase small business grants
- Ensure council funding doesn’t go to paramilitary style gangs
- Provide free sanitary products in all council premises
- Take action on air pollution through effective monitoring
- Raise awareness and increase reporting of hate crime
- Giving local communities priority over developers in town planning
- Create an exercise on prescription to help illness and injury recovery
- Make space available for public art projects
On launching the manifesto, party leader Clare Bailey said:
I’m delighted to bring forward our Manifesto for the first time as leader of the Green Party NI. It sets out our commitment to address some of the key challenges of our time through local councils including climate breakdown, lack of progress on equality issues and the impact of Brexit.
The Manifesto contains ten key commitments including a complete ban on single use plastics and provision of free sanitary products within council premises as well as reducing hate crimes through Policing and Community Safety Partnerships.
Our campaign has been energetic and positive so far. Green means connecting with communities and our candidates have been listening to people and exploring new ways to better bring together people and their local councils.
We’ve harnessed the energy of good ideas and aren’t afraid to use the power of disruption to make much needed change across Northern Ireland.
Green leaders offer condolences after Lyra McKee’s murder
On Good Friday, journalist Lyra McKee was murdered while covering riots in the Creggan area of Derry. The riots erupted after police raided a number of homes, seeking to find munitions they believed may be used at Easter Rising commemorations. The New IRA – a republican paramilitary group who reject the Good Friday Agreement and seek to bring about a united Ireland through a military campaign – are suspected to be responsible for the murder. McKee was killed twenty one years after the Good Friday Agreement was first signed.
After McKee’s death, Greens began to express condolences and regret. Green Party in Northern Ireland Clare Bailey tweeted:
Waking on Good Friday 21yrs ago to news that a peace deal had been reached & that violence would now be ended.
Waking on Good Friday this morning to news that the beautiful kind and soulful @LyraMcKee has been shot dead.
Thoughts are with Lyra's family at this devastating time. https://t.co/xX4Uq9m5jP
— Clare Bailey (@ClareBaileyGPNI) April 19, 2019
Her deputy Malachai O’hara also tweeted:
My friend Lyra was murdered in Derry last night. Her life was coming together – book deal, beautiful girlfriend, making plans and feeling soo upbeat about what was ahead for herself. She was sweet and loving, forensic and smart with soo much still to give. Heart is breaking.
— Vote O’Hara #1 in Castle (@oharamal) April 19, 2019
And local election candidate Anthony Flynn expressed his administration for McKee and her work:
Siân Berry calls for rent caps after proposals to outlaw Section 21 evictions
This week, the government announced plans to prohibit no-fault Section 21 evictions, a move welcomed by housing campaigners. Section 21 allows for landlords to evict tenants without good reason. Campaigners argue that this is used by landlords to evict tenants who seek to uphold their rights or push for better housing conditions.
Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Siân Berry welcomed the news, but called for the government to go further. She argued that rent-capping is also required to truly protect tenants.
This decision by the government protects renters from unscrupulous landlords who dish out arbitrary or revenge evictions. The removal of section 21 will go a long way to provide security for tenants across London and beyond.
She also argued that landlords could still force tenants out of properties through prohibitively high rent rises. As such, she explained that her efforts to get Sadiq Khan to push for rent controls across London is needed to protect tenants:
A loophole landlords still have in getting tenants out of their homes is by unreasonably raising rents. This is why in our rent stabilisation report we said the Mayor should lobby for constraints on rent rises within tenancies, as well as greater security.
Greens rule out alliance for the European elections
As the UK gets ready for European parliamentary elections set to take place on 23 May, some pro-EU campaigners have been calling for an anti-Brexit alliance. Such an alliance would see Greens, Liberal Democrats and the newly formed Change UK agree to support each other or stand down to maximise the number of pro-EU members of the European Parliament.
But the Greens have confirmed they won’t be entering an alliance with other parties. Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Sian Berry stated that this is something the party is ‘not considering’.
As Left Foot Forward’s Joe Lo has highlighted, this will be welcome news for may Greens.
Patrick Harvie to call for Scottish Green New Deal
The Green New Deal has been all the rage recently. Now the proposals are being brought to the Scottish Parliament.
On 24 April, Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie is set to call on the Scottish government to implement a Green New Deal.
Speaking to The National this week, Harvie said:
We quite simply cannot afford to continue with our over-reliance on oil and gas. Climate science tells us there is just over a decade to act if we are to prevent climate breakdown, while the inspirational school climate strikers demand that we act urgently to secure their future.
A Green New Deal for Scotland is a practical way to transform Scotland’s economy, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in clean, green industries and tackle the huge inequality that still exists within our communities.
Green Euro candidates selected for East of England
With just over a month now to go until the European parliament elections, regional and national Green Parties are selecting their candidates. The latest announced candidates come from the Eastern region.
The Eastern Green Party has selected Catherine Rowett as its lead candidate, pipping the 2009 and 2014 European parliamentary election lead – Rupert Read – to the post. In 2014, the Greens came within 1% of winning a seat in the East of England constituency.
The full list of candidates for the East of England region are:
- Catherine Rowett
- Rupert Read
- Martin Schmierer
- Fiona Radic
- Paul Jeater
- Pallavi Devulapalli
- Jeremy Caddick
According to the Belfast Telegraph, the Green Party in Northern Ireland leader Clare Bailey will be standing in the elections too.
And although the South East Green Party is expected to announce its full list of candidates early next week, some candidates have already been confirmed to be on the list.
The South East Young Greens tweeted that their commitee member Isabella Moir would be fighting the elections for the Greens:
We'll be out campaigning for all our Green candidates, so keep your eyes peeled for all the ways you can help. pic.twitter.com/MVdGo1w3oP
— South East Young Greens (@SEYoungGreens) April 20, 2019
And the Isle of Wight’s Vix Lowthion confirmed that she is on the party’s list, along with former lord mayor of Oxford Elise Benjamin, and the 2012 candidate for deputy leader for the Green Party of England and Wales Alex Phillips:
Caroline Lucas under fire for holocaust remarks
Green MP Caroline Lucas has been under fire this week, after allegedly making comparisons between climate change and the holocaust. Speaking on LBC, Lucas said:
Well I think what we need to do is to look at the fact that the vast vast majority, 99.999 per cent of the world’s best scientists believe that climate change is happening and believe that it is being driven by human activities…
Politicians can argue about it but ultimately we need to look at where the vast majority of scientific evidence lies and I do think that the media has a responsibility on that too.
You know we don’t generally now have people disputing the Holocaust on the media and having that as a sensible conversation.
I really hope that we can just move on now and get on to what needs to be done because the urgency is overwhelming and I think the real debate needs to be about how we get our emissions down.
Speaking to the Jewish Chronicle, Lucas apologised and clarified her position:
giving air time to anyone that questions the existence of either [climate change and the holocaust] cannot be justified in the name of balance. I apologise for what was not the best comparison.