Alex Phillips launches Green New Deal report

Green New Deal tour bus with Green Party MEP Alex Phillips

The Green New Deal is all the rage right now. One of its most prominent proponents in the Green Party of England and Wales is Alex Phillips – MEP for the South East. And this week, she published a report outlining what a Green New Deal could look like in practice.

The report – researched by Samir Jeraj and Karen Anderton – sets out a series of proposals of what measures could be contained within a Green New Deal. These measure include:

  • Mass investment in renewable energy infrastructure, research, innovation, training and education.
  • Participatory budgeting processes at a local level, allowing communities to feed directly into financial decision making. Such processes would ensure marginalised groups – including people of colour and disabled people – have their voices amplified and centred in decisions.
  • Liaising directly with trade unions to create a just transition away from high-carbon industries towards new climate jobs.
  • Bringing public transport into public ownership, increasing bus services, and ensuring public transport runs on 100% renewable energy.
  • Partnering local authorities, further education colleges and universities to develop energy co-operatives to produce renewable energy, supplied through a municipal energy supplier.

The report goes into detail as to what a Green New Deal could look like for two regions in the South East – the Isle of Wight and Dover.

It argues for significant investment in tidal power on the Isle of Wight, along with creation of new jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency and research in low carbon technologies to tackle unemployment.

With regards to Dover, the report suggests projects to drive up the port town’s recycling rates could create over 100 new jobs. It also suggests that transitioning freight transport from rail to road would free road capacity for more frequent, electric, buses throughout the town – which could be delivered free to passengers, and be publicly owned.

Coinciding with the publication of the report, Phillips has this week embarked on a ‘Green New Deal tour’ of the South East of England. She has been visiting a number of towns and cities across the region including Redhill, Lewes and Oxford.

Phillips has been using this as an opportunity to speak to constituents about the opportunities a Green New Deal could open. Speaking in Oxford, she criticised other parties for failing to talking the talk on a Green New Deal, but failing to walk the walk. In particular, she questioned the Labour Party’s commitment to the programme, given some Labour councils’ support for airport expansion.

Scottish Greens hit out at Ruth Davidson’s new lobbying job

Alison Johnstone
Image credit: Creative Commons Edinburgh Green Party

This week, former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson faced widespread criticism after taking a lucrative job with a lobbying firm while still a sitting MSP. Davidson has taken a job with Tulchan communications, whose clients include many of England’s private water companies, outsourcing giant Interserve, and Santander.

Prominent Scottish Greens have been among those hitting out at Davidson taking the job.

Scottish Green Party member and Open Democracy co-editor Adam Ramsay wrote a scathing article in which he accused Davidson of “corruption”. Ramsay wrote:

The list of Davidson’s new constituents is long. But the bottom line is simple.

Everything Davidson has done is legal – for now. But it shouldn’t be. Politicians should not be allowed to work for lobbying firms. It should be illegal. Ruth Davidson should stand down from her seat, or have the whip withdrawn.

There’s a word for paid-for political access: corruption.

Ramsay was joined in criticising Davidson by co-convener of the Scottish Greens’ parliamentary group, Alison Johnstone. She said:

The people of Edinburgh Central elected Ruth Davidson to represent them, not use her position to earn £50,000 from lobbyists.

This is clearly a conflict of interests. Davidson needs to resign from the corporate body and as an MSP so Edinburgh Central can elect a committed representative.

Most folk who take second jobs do so through pressing necessity. It’s time for a by-election in Edinburgh Central, not to mention a change in the law.

And in an interview with STV, Johnstone added:

This is a woman who insists it is right to have a two-child limit for people applying for tax credits.

Well, I think it’s right to have a one-job limit for those of us privileged enough to serve in the Scottish Parliament.

Sian Berry reiterates call for second EU referendum before a General Election

Sian Berry
Image credit: Rosie Rawle

Parliament is on the cusp of calling a General Election – possibly as early as Monday. But Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Sian Berry this week reiterated that the Greens support holding a second referendum on Brexit before an election.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Berry said that a second referendum is the only way to get clarity on Brexit. She said:

In terms of sorting out Brexit, we’ve been absolutely consistent that a people’s vote – a further referendum – is the way to get clarity on that issue. And that a General Election – given the uncertainties which are all over the papers about who might fight in what way and who might win – a General Election is not going to be the way to do that with clarity.

You can watch a clip of her appearance on the show here:

Caroline Lucas part of 300 strong group of MPs calling for parliamentary pension fund to ditch fossil fuel investments

Caroline Lucas
Image credit: Creative Commons: GPEW

This week, 300 MPs demanded the trustees of the Parliamentary Pension Fund end its investments in fossil fuel companies. The fund is currently valued at £700m.

Among those leading the calls was Green MP Caroline Lucas. She was joined by the leaders of the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party.

Speaking on the calls, Lucas said:

The climate emergency requires that we keep fossil fuels in the ground. I’ve been calling for fossil fuel divestment for well over 5 years and am encouraged by the huge number of MPs who now agree that we must move our investments away from the polluting industries of the past, and instead support policies that will bring about a clean energy future.

The pension fund currently holds £11.6 million of shares in BP, and £10.9 million in Shell.

Ellie Chowns speaks out on her recent arrest

Ellie Chowns
Image credit – YouTube screengrab

Green MEP was recently arrested demonstrating against the ban on Extinction Rebellion protests in London. This week, she spoke out about the arrest, and its implications for democracy.

In an article for Bright Green, Chowns wrote:

The use of Section 14 in this way is an unprecedented move in policing public protests in the UK, and it is a worrying one. The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental pillar of our democracy – indeed, it is enshrined in Article 11 of the Human Rights Act. Outlawing all Extinction Rebellion – related protest across the whole of the capital city is a disproportionate response to peaceful protest. The fact that I was not even part of an Extinction Rebellion action, merely trying to defend their right to protest, is testament to the indiscriminate nature of this tactic.

Two Green West Midlands General Election candidates selected

A General Election is imminent. And local Green Parties are gearing up to fight it. Two West Midlands Green Parties have this week selected their candidates for a snap election.

Kevin White has been selected for Bromsgrove. The seat is currently held by chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid, and the Greens received 2.1% of the vote in 2017.

Speaking to the Bromsgrove Standard on his selection, White said:

The Green Party offers a respectable change towards a fairer and more just society, starting with greater investment in the public services that people need. We have a sound but radical approach to politics, not just on the environment.

Also selected this week for a West Midlands constituency was Claire Davies. Davies will be contesting Redditch – a seat currently held by Tory MP Rachel Maclean. In 2017, the Greens won less than one per cent of the vote.
According to Worcester News, Davies said of her selection:

We have solid progressive policies on all aspects of life, not just the environment. The Green Party offers a true alternative for a fair and just society, starting with proper funding for the public services that people need.

Young Greens have never been as ready for a General Election, argues co-chair Rosie Rawle

Young Greens action weekend in Brighton & hove
Image credit: Young Greens

Local parties aren’t the only ones gearing up to fight a General Election. The Young Greens of England and Wales are also firming up their plans.

In an article for Bright Green, Young Greens co-chair Rosie Rawle this week argued that the youth branch had never been more ready for a General Election. In the article, Rawle wrote:

We’ve already built the core foundations of our organising model, re-activating regional teams, training up new groups and society organisers, and fine tuning our phone bank operations. We’re punching high for donations and preparing access funds to boost engagement. We’re crafting a talented speaker network and press strategy. There are new skill-sets in our team meaning we can deliver even more creative and dynamic digital communications, building mass mailing lists, campaign actions, and shareable content that reminds our audiences exactly why they should be voting Green. In effect, we’re about to launch our most ambitious Young Greens election campaign ever.

This is our moment to stand up for our futures. Join us to get involved, to help fight and win.