Tag Archives: Green Party

Candid Friend of the Green Party

Church historian Diarmaid MacCulloch sat in his home parish church (mine too) and said to camera that he is a “candid friend of Christianity”. I am too, but I am also the candid friend of the Green Party.

I’ve often found their website an interesting slant on news and opinions, and I found their response to events like the Boston Bombings and the Woolwich attack balanced and sensitive. I was sorry that they’ve kept up the fracking and 20 mile an hour speed limits news over commenting on the PRISM revelations (the same is true of the Socialist worker, whose views cannot be called balanced, but I like to hear from a range of people). With two welcome trials in Britain this week about security overstepping on the public toe, I hopefully peeked on the Green website to see what Mses Bennett, Lucas and friends such as the newly titled Jenny Jones might have to say against the Big Brotherism I felt confident they’d oppose. Instead, I found an article that made my eyes bulge…

Am I reading the Mail?! I asked, or my local rag? No – Green Leader Natalie, who I admire, was worrying about obesity, saying it requires “Political Will” to tackle – as per her leader’s blog of 30 Aug 2013.

My understanding is that the worldwide Greens are concerned with having freedom and supporting diversity; in devolving laws to the lowest possible level and not having intrusive and unnecessary ones. Which makes me think that they are against nanny state…oh, but aren’t those slow car laws are a bit controlling?!

What size and shape we are is NOT an issue for the government. The Greens rightly value all colours of the rainbow on the gender/sexuality continuum; they want freedom of belief, they hate racism and any other discrimination.

But this about obesity is controlling, value judging, discrimination! (everything the Greens are against).

When this country, like so many others, is in the pits of austerity, when this country, like so many others, is waging unnecessary wars, when this country is in the midst of revelations that it is being routinely spied on and laws are being passed to make protest harder, then the Greens, as the most radical and critiquing of our parties, the one who claims to be different, ought to be busy with these matters.

I’m sure another allopathic medicine diatribe (sorry that should say discourse) is due soon on this blog, though my Diana and Hannah post gives a flavour of my thoughts on that subject which I can explain more fully another time. But I think, as regards to our weight and size, I can do no better than refer readers to

http://voices.yahoo.com/in-defence-obesity-2630233.html

Who called the fat police? And who recruited Natalie Bennett?! Please resign your badge and get back to your better battles!

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The Hooded Claw of Green Energy

A turbine doth not a Green company make

I’m keen to leave Britain’s Big Six main energy suppliers behind and have been shopping for a new one over past months. I wrote to all the ones I liked with a list of identical questions not answered on their website. I was very disappointed by most of their overall answers.

Being green is not just about solar and wind generated energy and a rejection of nuclear and fossil fuel. Green is a world view that starts with equality, respect and justice. I’m reading the No Nonsense Guide to Green Politics at present, a New Internationalist publication by Derek Wall. And it reiterates my understanding that greens are generally against capitalism, for freedom and liberty and highly critical of the financial philosophies and behaviours that have caused global suffering.

So why do several green energy companies do credit checks – a system created by the American banks who are at the heart of the economic bubble that’s just burst? The values behind credit checks are very capitalist, whilst the creators fail their own criteria. And credit checks are intrusive – something I know greens dislike from their criticism of current welfare practices.

Most sites want direct debit – again, benefitting banks, themselves, but not customers. We lose control over money leaving our account (causing banking fees if we don’t have enough), and we pay more than we use. There’s been reports of quite large average overpay for most customers using direct debit (also true if you have a payment plan on a low income, with or without direct debit).

Most worrying was their relationships to debt collection. The policy of cutting off supply even in winter, revealed by accident when I lobbied against yet another price rise, is why I am leaving my current supplier (not because it happened to me, just the principle). Ecotricity lauds itself as especially ethical, taking the time to show up other companies on their website, and is advertised by the Green party. (I am not sure about an energy company and a party going together). I’d like to point out that Ecotricity has the worst debt collecting policy of all the independents, as bad as the Big Six energy companies. Despite being all over my local paper this week, effectively giving themselves a free ad, they omit that you go into collections after 2 weeks after a bill is outstanding. They may charge for debt recovery, including in relation to a previous occupant’s alleged bill! And they could cut you off in as little as a month – worse than the company I’m leaving! And debt/reconnection costs will be incurred. That rubbishes any claim of being ethical, green or different. And means I will not become a customer. Plus they seem like awful employers, with their “rigorous retesting” of the customer service staff. Ethics extend to customer service and employees and there’s definitely a gap here.

Ovo can add late fees. But they won’t cut off supply; they told me that categorically they’ll work with you to pay off outstanding balances.

Another un-green thing is holding customers into contracts with exit fees – a deeply capitalist idea.
Nearly all do it, especially on fixed rate schemes.

I’d also like to query why dates of birth have become mandatory when you sign up to an energy company. What do you need this intrusive and identifying information? I didn’t have to give it when I signed up to my current supplier, but I note I would have to now as a new customer with them. This has put me off my new chosen supplier, and the tone of the terms and conditions that I don’t think I could see until going to the signing up process. (I cancelled it to have a think).

None of the green energy companies offer a low income scheme and several charge a bit higher than main companies.

Finally – beware price comparisons. Every company has exaggerated my old supplier’s bills and claimed a saving, which I am cynical of. Already one of the many suffering with fuel poverty, I really don’t need a rise when I try very hard to be a low and responsible energy user.

I’d like to think that energy companies took heed and made all of their business – not just the Tellytubby windmills – truly Green (not necessarily in the party sense) but in having bottom line values which are ethical, not just for a simple price plan and a natural design on their website!

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Bins of Brighton

The Independent’s reporting of the bin problems in Brighton this weekend was pretty irresponsible and unbalanced. I scoured other newspapers but could only find a local online site and the Argus, the city’s newspaper; and the Socialist Worker who disappointingly took a swipe at a near cousin.

 

On the local Green party’s website, it was clear that the refuse collectors had gone to work that morning. But by the end of the day, the Independent’s website still omitted that, despite readers commenting that the strike was off – for now.

 

The way the i reported it made it clear that they were for the striking bin workers and against the Green led council whose changes resulted in the industrial action. It seems though that theses rubbish collectors had striked before, during the previous government.

 

The Independent printed the views of residents who were passionately Labour and ‘would never vote Green now; they were just like everyone else after all’.

 

I have a suspicion that the only Green council in Britain was given an unusually cut budget to make this progressive party, the most diverse from the ruling one, fail.

 

This is unfair since it is the Green’s first chance to be leaders, and what happens in one city isn’t a reflection of them as a whole – and nor is one incident or even leadership representative of even Green’s current administration in Brighton and Hove.

 

The problems are around a pay restructure which allegedly means up to £4k less per annum.

I’ve been trying to find out how much bin workers are paid, and some accounts say £30k+ -if so, I do not pity them a small loss as that’s already a huge wage, far more than many others get. No sources about Brighton’s problems spell out the workers’ wages, which changes one’s sympathies somewhat – only the potential loss.

 

I am completely against striking as a means of protest, making your community suffer because another party is not appeasing you. I know that many Greens support striking but I never think that industrial action is fair. It is the same ethos as taking hostages – hurt an innocent 3rd party until you get what you want.

 

Whereas other British national papers have seemingly ignored the situation (though my local mentioned it), it is unfair that biased reporting has sought to whip up bad feeling against one of our most well intentioned parties (and by that I include all existing parties).

 

My own experience of Green councillors has been very positive.

 

I am not a political party supporter but I do think that the Green’s policies are a far cry from the usual crowd and based on an ethos of caring, responsibility and genuine concern – which is exactly what government, local beyond, should be about.

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Elspeth on Elections – Council 2013

My analysis (yes I’ve had an extra day) is quite different from any local and national paper I’ve read – and it’s not all about a leader whose name recalls a Count Duckula Episode*

The English county election results this week have been exaggerated by the press. They all focus on UKIP, blurring the overall picture. A letter to the Independent said that the press’s coverage of the Purple Party caused their profile to be raised and helped them win votes – why couldn’t they have focussed on other parties, particularly the Green one? And what might our outcome have been then?

The i helpfully published a nifty before and after map of all the counties going to the vote, with statistics about changes (which didn’t add up and some misprints). It was clear that UKIP actually lost seats and its entire presence in places where it once held them – Bristol, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire. Leics is not +2 for UKIP – it’s merely maintained its 2 seats; Staffs lost one seat.

 UKIP won no overall control of any council and in all cases was considerably under the minimum seats needed to do so, even where they came second (eg Norfolk, Lincs, Kent – were a third of the requirement, c15 to 40+). Mostly UKIP came 3rd-5th place winning only 2-4 seats, and did not feature everywhere – there’s none in the North save North Yorks, or in Bristol, or Essex, where other parties grew (see below). 

I suspect that disaffected Tory voters would feel uncomfortable choosing a left wing party and there is, save the BNP (who lost its council seat) but one for them to pick; and nor would they want to choose the other half of the coalition, the Yellows.

I picked a couple of counties to analyse in detail (from their own council interactive websites), and found that only a few actual UKIP seats had been won, and that these had been Purple previously. I also noted that it happened in areas where only red, blue and purple stood – I don’t remember any Greens or independents or small parties candidates in anywhere UKIP were most successful.

The Greens have long been in my view the 4th party (which reminds me of the AA advert that called themselves the 4th emergency service). They held on to their presence in all of their councils bar Cambs, doubled their number in Bristol and Worcestershire, and introduced themselves in Essex, Warwickshire, Cornwall. They lost a couple from their hotbed in Norwich, but gained back the seat held on to by defecting local leader. But the Greens put up only a small proportion of seats – whereas UKIP were widely represented.

I also see a welcome rise in independent candidates; already the majority in Cornwall and Anglesey (the only non English election); they are now top on the Isle of Wight, 2nd in County Durham still by a large margin (though smaller than it was), North Yorkshire; and sizable in Lincolnshire above the Lib Dems, although coming 4th overall. 

I note a huge loss for the two parties in government, both in seats and county favourites which I’d like to think shows disillusion with them. I am glad that the colour of the political map has changed – there are three red counties instead of one, 10 less blue and 12 (not 4) not being under no overall control – which is how I would like to see politics done. 

I am concerned that UKIP has been chosen (note I do not spell it the annoying Guardian way) by several as its protest vote, I’d like to think, hoping it took seats from Tories and Lib Dems whilst not swapping them for a recent government which frustrated even its own supporters. As I said above, there was not always anyone else to tick beside. And I think that’s why 70+% once again did not vote. Do they feel all parties are bad, none are different, that their voice won’t be heard, whoever’s in power? 

I’ve seen little focus on the silent majority in news reports. I feel that having to pick this or that and not being able to say none of the above or suggest anything else makes voting very limited, especially with first past the post voting system that favours the two original parties. 

I am dismayed by the presumption (which I do not fully believe) that all these purple crosses mean that the public want more severely right wing policies. When it’s already so right wing it’s farcical, if it weren’t so dangerous and frightening; when you wouldn’t believe it if you put it in fiction – some are asking or harder welfare rules (how could there be?!), and tougher stances on immigration. 

I read UKIP’s policies as I am a fair minded person – as I did for 9 parties, not keen that they should plant cookies and think I am in any way a supporter. The “milder BNP” epithet still stands. Some of their tax ideas were interesting, but badly put with poor sentences (now I feel I’ve set myself up!). I definitely detected a Thatcherite “everyone pays the same” over income tax – something which lost her even staunch Blue sympathisers. And as for Trident… I wondered if I were reading an anti Green party parody instead of a serious manifesto. 

What I do hear is that racism should not be linked to national pride or wanting a sense of identity. It is true that we have lost our sense and right of being a distinct nation apart from our Celtic neighbours, who have gathered more strength in that. I have heard the comment that it’s racist to be an area where there’s no other nationalities and ethnicities – but that seems to be reverse racism, attributing judgement and narrowness, as if positive discrimination is to be applied to where people live. We should never feel awkward, discriminatory or lesser for having more indigenous people than not.   

But UKIP and its cousins (BNP,  English Democrats) are linking multiculturalism to our problems, making outsiders causes to be repatriated rather than seeing them as potentially enriching, although this is crude and unrepresentative to say that the above sentence encapsulates their policies. Remember the freedom we’d like to move abroad, especially if we needed refuge. 

The work ethic that the right wing wants clashes with what they say about foreigners. They want us to get any job and work hard, but they’re cross when immigrants do it instead of original peoples; and don’t see that the very work ethic they wish to promote to benefit claimants creates a culture of poor working conditions, even kinds of slavery. No, getting round minimum wage and working an unhealthy amount of hours is not acceptable, and if one person accepts a bully’s terms, so will the next… And life is not about toil and the taxable income you generate, or submission to hierarchy…

 

I am glad the ruling parties have a message that people are turning from them. I am glad there is more shared power and co-operation (what I’d hoped from the 2010 general elections) in the county councils. I am glad more independents are gaining voices.

I’m alarmed that several have chosen to vote for a further right wing party, and that (looking at comments online) that some do support harsher regimes (which don’t affect them, of course).

But I am sorry that we have a system where so many don’t feel it’s worth their while going to the booths – and that’s the statistic that should speak the most. It’s what can’t be said in a ballot box that really counts.

 

* a 1990s cartoon:  episode No Sax Please, We’re Egyptian  “I am the One they call Nigel”

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