Four days until polling day – UK Green news round up weeks 48 & 49
Green Party would invest £12 billion in renewables
The Green Party of England and Wales has this week fleshed out its proposals regarding renewable energy. In an announcement on Tuesday, the party committed to spending £12 billion to invest in renewables. It also said this would deliver 75,000 jobs, and “pave the way for wind to provide 70% of the UK’s electricity by 2030.”
Speaking on the announcement, Green MP Caroline Lucas said:
We need a radical transformation of our energy system if we are to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Investing in community-based renewable energy will not only help reach that target, but also puts power in people’s hands.
This is the Green New Deal in action: delivering clean energy, green jobs and empowering local communities.
Greens respond with anger to Friends of the Earth party league table
A ranking of political parties’ policies on climate change has this week sparked anger among Greens. The league table, compiled by Friends of the Earth suggested that Labour’s policies were stronger than those of the Greens.
However, in a strongly worded statement, the Green Party of England and Wales criticised the methodology of the ranking:
We think Friends of the Earth have got this wrong. Going through a similar exercise, Greenpeace scored the Green Party with the highest score. Friends of the Earth themselves actually also score the Green Party manifesto the highest overall, but Labour have simply made additional promises that were not included in their manifesto. We would question Labour’s commitment to any promise they have made which does not appear in their manifesto.
Our manifesto clearly sets out the most ambitious Green New Deal of any political party and we are also the only party to commit to reaching net-zero carbon by 2030. It is the Green Party that has consistently led the way on the environment and pushing climate change to the top of the agenda. We encourage voters to read our manifesto to see why both Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have scored it highest.
Vix Lowthion talks up prospects of a Green MP for the Isle of Wight
With polling day coming ever closer, politicians of all parties have been out battling for every vote. Among the Greens hoping for a shot at joining Caroline Lucas in parliament is Isle of Wight candidate Vix Lowthion.
In an interview with The Canary published this week, Lowthion explained her assessment of the situation on the island:
You can really feel that people are fed up with the government. And people want to see real change.
But on the island that real change comes from the Green perspective, and that seems to be unique in the country or in the area. And trying to get that over is – well we’ve got an open door.
She also highlighted how Greens are converting Labour voters on the island:
So not only are we offering what they want from Labour in terms of that investment in public services, but also looking at taking the Brexit shambles and dealing with it – and [we’re] not afraid to do that.
The Isle of Wight is among a handful of places the Greens are hopeful at winning more seats in parliament – along with others such as Bristol West and Sheffield Central.
Greens return to Oxfordshire County Council with by-election win
Although the General Election is eating up most of people’s political attention, other elections have still been rumbling on throughout the country. And one of those – a local council by-election in Oxfordshire has proven fruitful for the Greens.
Pete Sudbury was elected to Oxfordshire County Council in a by-election in Wallingford. The victory sees the Greens return to the council for the first time since 2017, when the party’s two councillors were unseated.
Speaking on his election, Sudbury said:
I am so happy and so proud to have been elected to represent the people of Wallingford, Brightwell and the Wittenhams. My team worked hard to win this campaign and I will be the Green voice working constructively across party lines on the county council for the best interests of the division and county as a whole.
Jonathan Bartley centres refugees in election debate
This election has been characterised by the sheer number of TV debates held between prominent members of the country’s political parties. Many of them have passed by without incident, and have had little effect on voting intention.
But one of the few stand out moments of the many debates came from the Channel 4 “Anything But Brexit Debate”. Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Jonathan Bartley had placed refugee and migrants high on the agenda during the debate – a topic largely lacking from the rest of the election campaign.
And in the closing question on why people should trust politicians when they will say anything to get votes, Bartley made clear that this wasn’t the case when it comes to refugee rights. In his final remarks, Bartley stated:
If you don’t want refugee children to come to this country I don’t want your vote.
Greens support striking UCU workers
An ongoing dispute surround academic staff’s pay and pensions has spilled out into strike action from the University and Colleges Union in recent weeks. And Greens have been out on picket lines and at rallies supporting the striking workers.
Green candidate in Bristol West Carla Denyer tweeted her support:
I’ve been on the picket lines and at the rally in Bristol this morning supporting the #UCUstrike. The commercialisation of higher education benefits nobody. I fully support @UCU‘s demands. Here’s some of my favourite @TheGreenParty policies on higher education 👇#UCUStrikesBack pic.twitter.com/l3YOgaIuEI
— Carla Denyer (@carla_denyer) November 25, 2019
Green MSP Ross Greer expressed solidarity with the striking workers and criticised the Scottish Government’s response to the industrial action:
At the same time as lecturers and support staff have seen their pay decline 20 per cent in real terms, their workload has exploded, with the average lecturer working the equivalent of two days unpaid overtime a week. More than half of academic staff are on insecure contracts. No wonder they are on strike.
The Scottish Government can’t wash their hands of this and they certainly shouldn’t be undermining workers’ rights to take industrial action in defence of their pay, pensions and conditions.
And Young Greens co-chairs Thomas Hazell and Rosie Rawle – both of whom are university students, with Rawle also being a UCU member – joined picket lines in Oxford and called for people to “fight against the marketisation of education”:
We must fight against the marketisation of education driving down pay and conditions for front-line staff.
— Young Greens 💚 (@YoungGreenParty) November 28, 2019
‘I am economics professor’ – Molly Scott Cato in beautiful EU parliament put down
Sadly, our media seldom pays attention to goings on in the European Parliament. But this week was different. In a perfect “you couldn’t write this moment”, Brexit Party MEP Richard Rowland criticised Green MEP Molly Scott Cato’s credentials to assess the economic impact of Brexit by alleging she didn’t have an economics degree. Scott Cato responded simply:
Obviously you haven’t been paying much attention to my CV because I was and I remain a professor of economics.
You can watch the full exchange here:
“As far as I’m aware she does not have any degree in economics.”
“I was and I remain a professor of economics.”
This is what happened when a Brexit Party MEP questioned the expertise of Green MEP Molly Scott Cato over post-Brexit trade. pic.twitter.com/vw1SRxlbN6
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) November 26, 2019
Ross Greer criticises Scottish Government support for munitions factory
This week it was revealed that the Scottish Government has been financing a munitions factory. Green MSP Ross Greer was among those criticising the SNP government’s role in arms manufacturing. He said:
The First Minister has repeated the same claim, insisting despite the evidence that this government does not support the manufacture of munitions. Yet here we have a government-funded project that specifies munitions and explosives as the growth market being supported. It is hard to see how the government’s enterprise agency can justify funding this arms company, especially when so many small businesses are crying out for more support.
The SNP never miss an opportunity to criticise the Tory government at Westminster for its support of global arms dealers but the truth is their own position is drenched in hypocrisy. Since they came to power, over £25 million of Scottish taxpayers’ money has been given to arms dealers, including Saudi Arabia’s bomb-maker and the supplier of tear gas used against children in Hong Kong. This must stop.
Patrick Harvie slams racism at the “top of the Tory party”
The General Election campaign has been marked by numerous allegations of racism directed towards both the Labour and Tory parties. Among those joining the fray to criticise Tory racism last week was Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie.
In an article for the National, Harvie hit out at Boris Johnson for his repeated use of racist slurs and tropes. He also slammed the Tories for running an anti-immigrant campaign and for their record in government. He wrote:
The Tories are still campaigning on an anti-immigrant platform. They are still linking immigration and the benefits bill, for example. This counts the cost of human beings, rather than recognising their contribution to our society.
In government they have overseen a deliberately hostile environment which has deported British citizens because of their heritage. The Home Office imprisons families at detention centres throughout the UK, including Dungavel in South Lanarkshire.
Jonathan Bartley faces criticism for comments on halal meat
Last week, Green Party of England and Wales co-leader courted controversy after comments he made about halal meat. In two separate media interviews – one on BBC Radio 5 Live, and the second on BBC North West, Bartley stated that he would ban halal meat. This attracted widespread criticism, with many accusing Bartley of dog-whistle islamophobia and pandering to rhetoric of the far right.
Bartley later apologised on the same day, claiming he was expressing a “personal view that the practice of killing non-stunned animals should be ended”:
I have replied to some comments directly today, but also wanted to publicly apologise further to being asked on the BBC this morning about my views on Halal meat in which I expressed my personal view that the practice of killing non-stunned animals should be ended.
— Jonathan Bartley (@jon_bartley) November 29, 2019
However, some Greens believed this apology was insufficient. Greens of Colour called for the Green Party to issue a formal statement on the issue:
We therefore for urge the party to release an official public statement ASAP.
— Greens of Colour (@GreensofColour) December 2, 2019
This call was echoed by Jewish Greens, who issued their first ever public statement, published in Bright Green. In the statement they said:
Jewish Greens were very concerned to hear of Jonathan Bartley’s recent comments regarding the banning of Halal meat. Given the similarities in the ritual practice surrounding Halal and Kosher slaughter, we presume a call to ban Halal meat is also a call to ban Kosher meat. This is deeply worrying for our community and we stand with Greens of Colour in rejecting restrictions on religious slaughter. We join with them in asking the Green Party to issue an official apology and retraction. At this time of heightened tension for both Jewish and Muslim communities this cannot be delayed.
Greens express support for campaigners in World AIDS Day tributes
December 1 is World AIDS Day. And this year, prominent Greens have been among those paying tribute to campaigners fighting for justice to those with HIV/AIDS and seeking to break down stigma surrounding the illness.
Green MP Caroline Lucas tweeted her support for those fighting HIV/AIDS stigma:
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) December 1, 2019
Green Party of England and Wales Deputy Leader Amelia Womack highlighted the Greens’ policies to tackle HIV/AIDS which include prescribing PrEP on the NHS:
This #WorldAidsDay let’s challenge the status quo & demand action.
As @thegreenparty we would:
✔️ Prescribe PrEP freely on the NHS
✔️ Reverse Tory cuts to sexual health & HIV services
✔️ Take a public health approach to drug use
✔️ Fight discrimination against people with HIV+ pic.twitter.com/kpxcSyQhMb
— Amelia Womack – Green Party 🏴 (@Amelia_Womack) December 1, 2019
And in an article for Pink News, Green MEP Alex Phillips called for more action on HIV/AIDS and hit out at Boris Johnson’s homophobia:
We need to be electing politicians who genuinely care and understand the problems still facing our community, not Prime Ministers who refer to gay men as ‘tank-topped bum boys’.
Patrick Harvie calls for grouse moors to be wiped out by reforestation
Policies around land distribution and use rarely get much air time in election campaigns. But the Scottish Green Party’s calls for shifting land use in Scotland have filled a few column inches.
Party leader Patrick Harvie has called for Scotland’s grouse moors to be repurposed for reforestation projects. In an interview with the Sunday Herald, Harvie said:
Reforesting a huge amount of that land would be profitable for the economy. It would be ecologically sensitive and create a space for biodiversity to flourish.
Guy Ingerson slams Aberdeen council for cutting support for anti-racist march
Aberdeen council last week came under fire from anti-racists for dropping its support for the St Andrews Day anti-fascist march. The council has traditionally provided £5,000 to allow road closures to take place. However this has not been forthcoming this year.
Aberdeen North General Election candidate Guy Ingerson hit out at the decision:
This is [a] real kick in the teeth for those of us fighting for equality in our city. Hate crimes are on the rise across the country and this march is an annual symbol of solidarity to those who are victims of such vile hatred. In the run up to Christmas we would have hoped this administration could have shown some goodwill.
This is real kick in the teeth for those of us fighting for equality in our city. Hate crimes are on the rise across the country and this march is an annual symbol of solidarity to those who are victims of such vile hatred. In the run up to Christmas we would have hoped this administration could have shown some goodwill.