Caroline Lucas named the UK’s sixth most admired woman

Caroline Lucas
Image credit: Creative Commons: GPEW

Caroline Lucas is easily the Green Party of England and Wales’ most recognised public face. Now, according to a poll conducted by YouGov, the true extent of her popularity has been revealed. YouGov found that Caroline Lucas is the UK’s sixth most admired woman.

She placed above any other politician, and was behind only the Queen, Michelle Obama, JK Rowling, Malala Yousafazai and Judi Dench. The only other politicians to make the top 10 were Scottish first minister Nicola Strugeon, and surprisingly, Theresa May.

Magid Magid brands Salvini a coward in speech in the European Parliament

Magid Magid on Newsnight
Image credit: BBC screengrab

The new European Parliament is now in full swing, following elections in May. Parliamentary business is moving forward, and this week, Green MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber Magid Magid went viral for his contribution to a debate on the Mediterranean refugee crisis.

In his speech, Magid hit out at Italy’s far-right deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, branding him a “coward”. In the debate Magid said:

Mr President, the future of Europe will be defined by courage or cowardice, by compassion or callousness, by hope or fear. Carola Rackete, Captain of the Sea-Watch 3, courageously sailed into the depths of the Mediterranean cemetery to snatch her fellow humans from the jaws of death. In this, she is a living embodiment of a fairer, kinder Europe, and our fellow brothers and sisters crossing the Mediterranean deserve more than just a statement. They deserve the openness of our arms, the safety of our welcomes, and the warmth of our European embraces.

He continued:

In contrast, Matteo Salvini is a coward. A coward because what kind of grown man watches a child drowning, gasping for breath and turns his back?

A coward who boasts about detaining and arresting a lifesaver. A coward who decides to make an enemy of the victims of war and those who have been dispossessed. To Salvini and all his supporters who I can see here: you are all going to lose, I promise you that, because at the end of the day those who have courage in their hearts and want to succeed – we are going to win.

Steven Agnew forces Northern Ireland Assembly to divest from fossil fuels

In a massive step forward for the international fossil fuel divestment movement, Green Party MLA Steven Agnew this week was successful in his attempts to get the Northern Ireland Assembly pension scheme to pledge to end its investments in fossil fuels.

Speaking on the divestment victory, Agnew said:

There is a mere 11 years to make the changes needed to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.

The Stormont stalemate has prevented us from addressing climate breakdown through locally enacted legislation. However, I’ve focused on what can be done.

That’s why I’m delighted that I have convinced the NIAMPS Trustees of the importance of divesting Assembly pensions from fossil fuel companies.

The Assembly’s commitment comes a year after the Irish government divested its €8bn national investment fund from fossil fuels.

Greens vote against Ursula von der Leyen in European Commission President election

Green Party MEPs
Image credit: YouTube screengrab

The European Parliament this week agreed the European Commission’s new president – German right-winger Ursula von der Leyen. She was elected in a narrow vote in the parliament, with 383 MEPs voting for her, and 327 against.

Among those who voted against von der Leyen’s presidency were the UK’s seven Green MEPs. Speaking on their decision to reject von der Leyen, Green MEP for South West England and Gibraltar Molly Scott Cato said:

on a wide range of issues, from tax and trade to climate and protecting life in our countryside, there is clearly a gulf between the views of von der Leyen and the Green agenda for change.

If she becomes president, it will be thanks to the votes of the far right, rather than those of the strong pro-European majority. Had she chosen the radical change that millions of Green voters demand we could see the EU transformed over the next 5 years. We would tackle inequality and poverty, defend people from corporate power, fix our broken tax system and properly address the climate emergency.

Improving the lives of citizens and restoring confidence in the EU is also the best way to crush the voices of nationalism, extremism & fascism that are gaining ground across the continent.

The position of the UK’s Green MEPs contrasted starkly with that of the Labour Party MEPs. Labour’s MEPs, along with the rest of their Socialists and Democrats group in the parliament voted to elect von der Leyen, something which they claim to have done “reluctantly”.

Greens form ruling coalition in Lewes

After the Greens experienced their best ever English local election results in May, the party has found itself in an increasingly influential position on councils across the country. In some places, that’s meant taking party in ruling coalitions on councils.

One of those is Lewes, where this week the Greens joined a cross-party alliance to oust the previous Tory administration from power. In its place, a coalition of the Greens, Liberal Democrats, Labour and Independents was formed. At the helm of that coalition is the Greens’ Zoe Nicholson, who this week was voted in as leader of Lewes District Council.

Speaking on her election, Nicholson said:

I would like to thank my fellow councillors and all the residents who have given their support for this co-operative alliance.

Lewes District Council will be joining the ever-growing number of councils across the country which are pioneering a new way of doing business on behalf of local people.

We are not alone in this endeavour.

John Finnie calls for a new strategy on drug deaths in Scotland

John Finnie Green Party MSP
Image credit: YouTube screengrab

New figures revealed this week showed that drug deaths in Scotland have risen by 27%. And Green MSP John Finnie responded to the revelations by calling for a new strategy from the Scottish and UK Governments and the abandonment of criminalisation. Finnie said:

When it comes to drugs, criminalisation has caused more harm than it can claim to have prevented. The ‘war on drugs’ approach has self-evidently failed. Addiction is better tackled by trained medical professionals, not with the strong arm of the law, and dangerous substances need to be taken out of the hands of gangsters.

It’s clear that the current approach to drugs from both the Scottish and UK Governments is not working. If we are to avoid seeing thousands more lives tragically lost then we must immediately adopt an evidence-based approach by for example permitting interventions such as supervised drug consumption facilities.