Newport to Brighton, Spalding to Holyrood – UK Green news round up week 9
Amelia Womack sets out her stall for Newport West by-election
After the sad passing of longstanding Labour MP Paul Flynn, a by-election has been called in Newport West for 4 April 2019. The Green candidate for the by-election is the Green Party of England and Wales’ Deputy Leader Amelia Womack. And this week she laid out why she thinks Newport should elect its first Green MP.
Writing in Green World, Womack said:
Our city needs respect from Westminster, we need to be highlighting how austerity has affected our communities, how our young people have been failed by reduced opportunities, as well as addressing climate change – which will only increase our flood risk.
And we can do this with a clear Green vision that reflects a politics that works for people, the environment and ensuring we give every generation the best opportunity in life to thrive.
On top of that Newportonians do not need a politician who will go to Parliament to be whipped to voting in lock-step with their party. We have so many unique issues and only Green representation can ensure that our city’s voice is heard.
Clare Bailey hits out at women’s representation at the top of business
Figures released this week revealed the shocking level of representation of women at the top of businesses in the north of Ireland. They showed that just three out of the top 100 businesses are led by women. They also revealed that 57% of higher level jobs are occupied by men.
The Green Party in Northern Ireland leader Clare Bailey was sharp in her condemnation of the revelations and the failure of business to get its house in order:
I think there’s been very little effort within some sectors to really address gender inequality within management and structures.
I think this situation still persists because it takes time for new people to come through the ranks, and there are barriers especially when you reach the top – chief executives, chairs of boards – the appointments process is all geared towards male structures.
I think bosses need to actively start trying to address gender imbalance within their organisations..
Caroline Lucas condemns failure to tackle press discrimination
Campaigns against racism in the British media were ramped up this week, as a group of senior politicians hit out at the press regulator’s work to tackle press discrimination. They did so in an open letter signed by 26 politicians and a coalition of NGOs including War on Want and Global Justice Now. Among the signatories was Caroline Lucas.
The letter accused IPSO – the press regulator – of having “taken no action” on press discrimination, and “turning a blind eye to the continuing incitement of hatred.” It went on to say:
We write to express our deep dismay and to ask you to address this problem urgently and publicly. While the press must be free to do its job, your implicit condoning of religious and race-based hate must stop.
Lucas was joined in signing the letter by figures from across political divides including Baroness Warsi and Clive Lewis.
Green councillors force progressive amendments to Brighton & Hove council budget
This week, the Labour run Brighton & Hove council passed its budget. As a minority administration, Labour requires the support of other parties to pass key measures.
Due to this, Brighton & Hove’s Green councillors were able to drive progressive amendments through. According to Brighton & Hove Green Party, this saw £500,000 secured for carbon reduction, £2.1m ring-fenced for emergency housing provision, and cuts to sexual health & community safety work being reversed.
Speaking on the budget, Green council group convener Phelim Mac Cafferty said:
We have pushed to improve the budget being proposed– and our work will now see over £12.5m put back into the council budget, providing serious investment into climate change mitigation, support for the homeless and challenging the plans to reduce funding for some of our most vital public services, such as substance misuse rehab and libraries.
Caroline Lucas slams fellow MPs over climate change debate
Caroline Lucas was not happy this week. In the aftermath of thousands of school children striking to save the climate, parliament held its first debate on climate change for two years.
But the number of MPs who attended was dismal. And Caroline Lucas has been vocal about it.
Taking to Twitter after the debate, she called out the 610 MPs who failed to attend the debate:
Unforgivable that 610 MPs skipped yesterday’s debate on climate change.
Young people on #schoolstrike4climate are showing leadership, while truant politicians shirk responsibility.
If your MP missed it, tell them why we urgently need a #GreenNewDeal to secure our futures: pic.twitter.com/MpNI4WfEFA
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) March 1, 2019
Alison Johnstone and Patrick Harvie confirmed as Green Scottish Parliamentary group co-leaders
On March 2, a shake up in how the Scottish Greens coordinate their parliamentary team took place. Alison Johnstone and Patrick Harvie were announced as co-leaders of the Green group in the Scottish Parliament. Speaking on the announcement, Johnstone said:
I’m pleased to have this opportunity to share the parliamentary leadership role with Patrick. The Green MSPs have continually punched above our weight, leading the change in Scotland, and I am sure we will continue to do so in the years ahead. Greens have gender balanced leadership roles throughout the party and I am pleased that this will now be the case in parliament too.
Johnstone may be unfamiliar to readers outside of Scotland, but she is a formidable politician with a strong track record. She was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2011. And before that she had a five year stint on Edinburgh council.
Ross Greer joins calls to bring Scotrail into public ownership
Scotland’s railways haven’t fared to well as of late. And Scotrail has been one of the primary causes. It has received two separate warnings over its performance, and the Scottish government even revised its passenger satisfaction targets down so it could keep its franchise.
Inevitably, this has led to calls for Scotrail to be stripped of its franchise and for Scotland’s railways to be brought into public ownership. Joining these calls this week was the Green MSP Ross Greer.
Abellio need stripped of the ScotRail contract and our trains brought back into public ownership as soon as possible.
Jonathan Bartley visits Young Green local election candidate in Spalding
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley has been travelling the country this week. And one of his stops was in the small South Lincolnshire town of Spalding.
His visit saw him throw his support behind the Young Green local election candidate Alistair Crisp. He also spoke at a public meeting on the issues affecting small towns like Spalding. According to Spalding today, Bartley said:
It’s a travesty that Spalding is so short-changed in terms of transport, with the huge congestion in trying to get round the traffic jams.
There aren’t the decent bus and rail services this community deserves, but the money being spent on HS2 would revitalise transport services here.
We need bold solutions for whatever the local problems area, whether they be living wages, decent food production, access to local shops, hospitals, dental services and GPs’ surgeries.
Localism is very much the answer that we need to develop the economy in the way the community needs.
Alistair Crisp is one of 10 young candidates the Young Greens of England and Wales hope to see elected onto councils across England in May.
Holistic review debate rumbles on
In early 2019, a referendum of Green Party of England and Wales members approved radical changes to its democratic structures, known collectively as the Holistic Review”. These reforms proved controversial, and sparked significant debate amongst party members.
However, that debate is still ongoing, while their implementation takes place. This week, Green World published a discussion piece on the Holistic Review, with former party leader Natalie Bennett and current member of the Green Party Executive Doug Rouxel taking opposite sides.
Within the article, Bennett declared of the reforms:
It is about ensuring that equality and diversity are at the heart of our structures and actions, that we are providing members with the training and support they need, and are able to flex and change with circumstances in this fast-moving political age, while maintaining the local party sovereignty and democracy that are at the heart of our philosophy.
However, Rouxel remains unconvinced, arguing the Holistic Review had failed to tackle the major democratic challenges facing party:
There are a number of problems faced by the party with its current structure. One of the principal problems is that there is no defined form for the party; it’s not clear how the different parts – local parties, regional parties, national parties and the central party – all inter-relate. The Holistic Review does not even begin to address this problem. Even if it seems obtuse and not relevant, it is a problem that cuts to the heart of many of the concerns that members raise, and some of the admin headaches that the party centrally has. If this relationship was clear, then the remit and role of the different parts would be much clearer, and the work that we collectively expect them to take on would be clearer.
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