Greens back Corbyn government to stop no-deal Brexit: UK Green news round up weeks 32-33
Greens support a Corbyn caretaker government to oust Boris Johnson and stop no-deal Brexit
With every passing day, the debacle surrounding Brexit gets more and more intense. A combination of a constitutional crisis, political incompetence and a hard-right government with its eyes on a disastrous Brexit policy has caused political chaos.
This week, Jeremy Corbyn wrote to opposition party leaders and backbench Tory MPs with a plan to stop a no-deal Brexit. In the letter, he called on them to support a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s government, support a brief government led by Corbyn which would secure an Article 50 extension to avoid a no-deal Brexit and call an immediate General Election.
Prominent Greens came out in support of Corbyn’s proposal. Green MEP for South East England Alex Phillips tweeted:
She was joined by Green MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Magid Magid, who tweeted:
Magid’s tweet referenced the position of the Liberal Democrats and their leader Jo Swinson. They initially ruled out working with Corbyn to prevent a no deal Brexit. This led to Caroline Lucas making a public call to Swinson asking her to support Corbyn’s proposal:
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) August 15, 2019
Lucas’ response was warmly received by the public – much more so than her previous suggestion for how to solve Brexit: an all-women cabinet. That proposal faced heavy criticism for the people Lucas had listed as being potential key figures in that cabinet, due to every one of them being white, and for her inclusion of right-wing Tories.
New Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater makes case for a Green New Deal in an independent Scotland
On 1 August, Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie were elected as the Scottish Green Party’s first co-leaders. And Slater is already making a name for herself in the Scottish press.
In an article for The National this week, Slater made the case for a Scottish Green New Deal, and argued that it will be deliverable through Scottish Independence. Slater wrote:
We need a Scottish Green New Deal as 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.
Our Scottish Green New Deal would be similarly sweeping, re-prioritising fair wages, investing in infrastructure for sustainable industries and undertaking public works projects such as insulation of houses to ensure that everyone in Scotland has a warm home.
And she concluded:
We’ve seen that when people have more say in what happens in their neighbourhood, they tend to make more sustainable, fairer decisions. People can see the benefits of clean air, clean water, wildlife, greenery in their communities, but it’s hard to make changes unless they have the ability to take control.
There is a solid case for Scottish independence to be made in planning for a sustainable low-carbon future. It is up to us to have the courage to seize the future that we want for ourselves and our children.
Green MEPs speak out on Kashmir
At the start of August India controversially terminated the special status of the Kashmir region. Kashmir was granted a unique status within India after the partition of colonial India by the British. It remains a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. The suspension of Kashmir’s special status by Narendra Modi’s government has ended a nearly sixty year arrangement. And it has been followed by a highly repressive lockdown, with opposition leaders being detained, internet and TV networks being cut-off and citizens being under strict curfews.
After Modi’s actions, Green MEPs have been speaking out about the issue.
Gina Dowding – MEP for the North West of England wrote in Green World:
By altering the constitutional status of Kashmir, India is reducing the possibility of a peaceful solution to a conflict that has kept two nuclear nations at odds for the last 70 years. A conflict that, should it flare up again, would bring untold human suffering, ruining in the process one of the most beautiful regions in the world.
I will be looking to see how I can use the European Parliamentary urgency resolutions process – which is used to address human rights abuses – and seek, along with my fellow Green MEPs in the UK, to find cross-party agreement for a condemnatory statement on what is happening in Kashmir.
Dowding was joined by London’s Green MEP Scott Ainslie, who attended a rally in solidarity with the people of Kashmir. Speaking before the rally, he said:
It is time to put an end to the decades of violence and human rights suffered by the inhabitants of Kashmir, and the decisions by India to unilaterally end the rights of Kashmiris is deeply disturbing and should be called out.
By virtually cutting off the region, India is making Kashmiris inhabitants of an open-air prison, completely flouting the principle of autonomy enshrined in its constitution. Far from guarantee its security, the Indian Government is raising the stakes in a dangerous game that will only satisfy the hawks in its administration.
Lib Dem Mayoral candidate mocked for asking Greens to stand aside
The next London Mayoral election isn’t taking place until May 2020. But that hasn’t stopped the Liberal Democrats starting early on instigating mockery. In an interview with City AM, Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita suggested that Sian Berry – the Green candidate in the election – should stand aside to give Benita a free run. In the original article, it was also alluded to that the Liberal Democrats had already made an approach to request this.
Understandably, Benita’s suggestion was roundly rejected by Greens.
London Assembly candidate Benali Hamdache tweeted:
A) it’s a very different election – it’s about who runs London. NOT Brexit
B) It’s a 2 stage election where people can give a second preference
C) Greens have beaten LDs in 2012 & 2016 pic.twitter.com/K0VnKZLZf0
— Benali Hamdache (@greenbenali) August 13, 2019
Hamdache was joined in his criticism by the Greens’ candidate herself. Berry explained that she had no such request to stand aside from the Liberal Democrats:
Except I have no request like this from @SiobhanBenita that I can find anywhere in any inbox. I even checked FB messenger! I am very easy to find and contact so it is concerning to see this kind of public claim being made once again without truth in it.
— Sian Berry (@sianberry) August 13, 2019
It’s unsurprising that the suggestion didn’t go down well – given that the Greens beat the Liberal Democrats in both the 2016 and 2012 mayoral elections. There’s also been no indication that the Liberal Democrats are likely to do better this time around. The latest poll for the election has the Berry in third place on 16%, and full six percentage points above Benita.
Ross Greer condemns Trumps nuclear escalation
Earlier in August, international nuclear non-proliferation took a step backwards. US President Donald Trump took the decision to pull the USA out of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Force Treaty, escalating nuclear tensions between America and Russia.
Among the many voices condemning Trump’s decision was Green MSP Ross Greer. He said:
Donald Trump’s casual withdrawal from a successful, decades-long arms treaty shows how damaging his presidency is for world peace, and Vladimir Putin’s response shows how quickly we could descend into another nuclear arms race.
Today marks 74 years since the US dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. To prevent an atrocity like this from ever happening again we need to reduce existing nuclear stockpiles, not begin another rush to build more.
Amelia Womack slams rail privatisation
On August 14, rail passengers found out how much extra they’ll be paying for their rail fares in 2020. The rate of the annual rail fare increase was announced – at 2.8%.
Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack hit out at the rail fare increase, arguing that it was indicative of the problems with privatisation. In an article for Green World, Womack described the fare rise as an “insult to commuters” and argued that it shows the failure to make the necessary changes to the economy to respond to climate change.
Time and time again, privatisation has been shown to be the wrong approach for a rail service that should be returned to public hands. Renationalisation would allow for the railways to become the flagship service of a country that is serious about climate chaos, enabling us to implement a systematic change in the way we move around the country.
New South East Young Greens committee elected
This Saturday, Young Greens from across the South East of England came together in Reading for their annual Summer Gathering event. The event saw workshops, discussions and talks on issues including from misogyny, youth participation in politics and Roma, Gypsy and Traveller rights.
Alongside this, attendees elected a new committee for the South East Young Greens.
Thomas Hazell and Isabella Moir were elected as co-conveners and Hannah Clare, Georgia Saunders, Robert Nixon and Raphael Hill were elected as non-portfolio officers. The new committee replaced outgoing members Rosie Rawle and Sam Alston.
On her election, Moir tweeted:
And Hill also celebrated his election on Twitter:
Voting opens in Young Greens executive elections
It’s not just in the South East that Young Greens are choosing new leadership. The Young Greens of England and Wales are currently electing members of their Executive Committee.
Three candidates are standing for the two available co-chair positions: Rosie Rawle, Liam McClelland and Thomas Hazell.
There is one candidate for the treasurer position: a job-share candidate of Matthew Hull and Rowan Van Tromp.
Two candidates are standing for the two co-chair positions on the Young Greens Senate: Billy Howells and Danny Keeling.
And there are eight candidates for the remaining six committee positions: Edward Frank, Isabella Moir, Will Vowell, Tyrone Scott, Rebecca Mulvaney, Robert Nixon, Alexander Nettle and Nannette Youssef.
More information on all of the candidates can be found here.
Voting for the election is taking place online, and all members of the Young Greens of England and Wales will have received an email explaining the voting process. Voting for the election will close after an in-person hustings at Young Greens Convention taking place from 24-25 August in Norwich. Young Greens Convention is the primary democratic and mobilising event for the Young Greens of England and Wales. Green MEPs Magid Magid and Ellie Chowns will be speaking at the event along with Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Sian Berry.
War on drugs must end – Amelia Womack respond to drug death statistics
On August 15, the latest drug death statistics in England and Wales were released. The statistics showed a 16% increase in the number of drug related deaths – the highest annual increase since records began.
Green Party of England and Wales deputy leader Amelia Womack argued that this showed the failure of the existing approach to drugs. Womack said:
We are seeing in these figures the huge human cost of the ‘War on Drugs’, and the impact of cutbacks to treatment and prevention services following Westminster government austerity.
It is striking the higher levels of deaths in the poorer regions of the UK, including in Wales.
Green Party policy calls for a different approach. We need to take a public health approach to the misuse of drugs, and protect individuals, communities and especially children at risk of exploitation through county line drug gangs.
Vix Lowthion calls for a replacement to A-Levels
This week college and sixth form students across the country received their A-Level results. But the Green Party’s education spokesperson Vix Lowthion spoke out about the failure of the A-Level system to meet today’s needs.
Pupils feel that their whole future is fixed in three exams taken in the summer heat. The working reality for adults is investigation, project work and in teams. Our qualifications system should reflect these 21st-century skills.
A-levels instead emphasise the ability to memorise and pass tests.
Our society needs adults who can analyse, reflect and collaborate. These skills can be built through module tests and research.
Catherine Rowett calls for an end to intensive agriculture in East Anglia
Earlier in August, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was released. The report called for drastic changes to food production methods and land usage in order to avert catastrophic climate change. It also recommended a major shift towards vegetarian and vegan diets.
And last week, Green MEP for the East of England Catherine Rowett responded to the report by calling for an end to intensive agriculture in East Anglia and echoing the recommendation to shift towards plant-based diets. According to the Eastern Daily Press, Rowett said:
If we can move away from meat-based diets and reduce the amount of land we use to feed chickens and pigs, we could free up large areas for nature, which is essential for reducing the alarming rate of global heating and for protecting valuable wildlife.
We need EU funding to help small-scale farmers, who struggle to compete against intensive mega-agriculture, to set up and continue sustainable ways of farming that work with nature and not against it.
In addition, moving to a more plant-based and more local diet could help feed more people, with less waste, and improve people’s health. It is encouraging to see that the IPCC scientists say we must factor environmental costs into food, and it is time we introduced taxes on the most damaging foods like red meat.
Gina Dowding hits out at decision to resume fracking in Lancashire
The despised fracking project in Lancashire has once again been given the green light this week. Fracking in the area has been highly controversial and long attracted opposition from the local community and climate campaigners. The latest decision to resume the process has been condemned across the board – including by Green MEP Gina Dowding.
According the Independent, Dowding said:
Fracking is not a bridge to a cleaner future – it is simply another fossil fuel. We should be banning fracking and transitioning to a low carbon society with great urgency.
Campaigners at the Lancashire site have been campaigning against fracking for nearly a decade. Last year, three anti-fracking campaigners were imprisoned for their activism, before eventually having their sentences quashed by the court of appeal.