LGBT Manifesto launched
The Green Party launched what it claims is the best manifesto on offer for LGBTIQ people (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) in the coming general election in February.
The launch was held in Brighton, which has one of Britain’s biggest LGBTIQ communities, and is where the Greens hope to win their first parliamentary seat – Brighton Pavilion, where party leader Caroline Lucas has been tipped by bookies and most opinion polls to be on course for victory. Caroline was joined by Peter Tatchell for the launch.
It was held during the Conservative Party’s Brighton conference – to draw attention to the Conservatives’ poor track record on LGBT issues. Greens, in comparison, are the only party to officially support gay marriage
Phelim MacCafferty, national chair of the LGBTIQ Greens said:
“Fresh from our Spring conference where the Green Party became the first political party to officially support gay marriage and an end to the ban on civil partnerships being conducted in places of worship, we are announcing our key campaigning policies for the general election.
“There are 6 core areas which we view as key cornerstones of our LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) general election manifesto:
1. Open up civil marriages and civil partnerships, without discrimination, to both same-sex and opposite sex couples.
2. Require all police forces to have LGBT Liaison Officers with paid time allocated within their work schedules to tackle homophobic and transphobic hate crime.
3. End the blanket, lifetime ban on gay and bisexual blood donors.
4. Amend the Equality Bill/Act to provide explicit protection against harassment to LGBT people.
5. Refuse visas and work permits to “murder music” singers and others who incite homophobic and transphobic violence.
6. Ensure safe haven and refugee status for LGBT people fleeing persecution in violently homophobic and transphobic countries.”
First timersSwindon Green Party has announced that, for the first time since the seat was split in 1997, they plan to stand in both of Swindon’s parliamentary constituencies. Bill Hughes was selected to stand in the Swindon North seat last month following Jenni Miles’s selection for Swindon South in 2008.
Announcing Bill’s selection, Jenni said: “This is a fantastic day for democracy in Swindon. Everybody should have the opportunity to vote for a party that they believe in. Voting should never be about choosing the least worst option. People are fed up with the same old rhetoric from Labour and the Tories; they don’t trust them anymore.”
Bill Hughes says “As a veteran Green campaigner in Swindon for many years I see the need for Green Party policies grow more urgent by the day and look forward to representing Swindon North. We need to replace the present policies of the political elite of uncontrolled economic growth driven by financial greed by a truly sustainable economic and social system.”
The local party is also expecting to field a full slate of 22 local election candidates in Swindon in the upcoming elections. Another first, which will give everyone in Swindon another chance to vote green in May!
Early hustingsJules Lyle
Kensington Green Parliamentary Candidate Melan Embrahimi-Fardouee took part in an early hustings, held by the Kensington & Chelsea Forum for Older Residents, in March.
Melan introduced herself and illustrated her background in housing and regeneration, pointing out that she is standing for election "so that we can deliver what we believe would be fair and considerate to the people in the Borough and we will achieve that."
The chair started by pointing out that there are millions of people missing from the electoral register, meaning that many young people have chosen not to vote, and so the burden falls on those present - the older voters. Unfortunately time ran out before our Green member, Greta Trevers, was able to ask the panel how they would address this problem.
On the question of The Freedom Pass - London's free travel pass for older and disabled residents - Melan promised a national system. On housing, she said she would keep homes warm for everyone with free insulation. She would also look into tenants' service charges as these are currently unfair and a major impact on pensioners' income. On Portobello Market questions, Melan said the Greens were passionate about supporting all local trade and markets.
Toward the end, there was an outburst from an Iraqi lady in the audience: "Why have you invaded my country?". The panel looked awkward and embarrassed whereas Melan replied immediately, "Thank you, madam, for your good question. The Green Party is now the only party to really stand up for peace, and troop withdrawal. We would only use our armed forces for defensive and reconstruction purposes at home and abroad and in the wake of natural disasters worldwide, not by invading and trying to attempt regime changes."
OBITUARY - Val Oldaker
22 June 1941 - 11 January 2010
Peter LangVal Oldaker was one of the Green Party's leading activists in the 1980s. Her life revolved around promoting Green issues, and the organisations she promoted are a rollcall of community activism.
In the 1980s she was principally known for her editing of Green Activist. She would compile and edit it, and then run it off on a photocopier in the front room of her Newbury home. On the week the newsletter was being produced the house would become a mini community hall as members gathered to help and eat Val's plentiful food.
In between being a local candidate, founding a Lets scheme, running a community festival and the Friends of the Earth group, Val was always cooking: vegetarian, made from raw local ingredients, and it didn't matter if it was a handful of us round the dinner table, or 200 people at a festival, she produced meals which were tasty, nutritious, and usually made money for the organisations involved.
Her motto was "well get on with it then" and she did: she had no time for faffing, and no sympathy for people who didn't deliver on their promises, or who couldn't understand the environmental imperative.
My main work with her was when we co-founded Green & Away, now a well established charity celebrating its 20th anniversary. We established Green & Away to celebrate the party's 18th birthday, and such a good time was had by all that we continued with it: she did the cooking, I did the organising, and member Jim Wallis was our equipment maestro.
When Val retired and she and her husband Frank moved to Shrewsbury, she again threw herself into community activities. The celebration of her life drew a packed audience, and friends listed the myriad of groups she worked for there - FoE, the composting society, the choir, the local Green Party, and many others.
She was the epitome of the local activist: thoroughly committed and thoroughly capable. She will be missed by many.
Greens were part of a demonstration against Westminster city council over their recent jamboree. The civic dinner cost £23,000 and was attended by councillors , and those they invited, while money for community groups and projects has not been forthcoming.
Also present were bikers, who were protesting at the parking charges being imposed on them by the council. One biker cameraman asked me why we were there, supporting them. I told him that, while we'd prefer them all to be on bicycles, at least motorbikes cause less congestion and that there were cheaper ways of thanking the voluntary sector than the cost of this event.
There was a fantastic atmosphere, with everyone shouting "Shame on you!" at the people in fur coats who attended the meal. The few New Labour councillors who had boycotted the meal were there and so were UNISON, because of the imminent job cuts. Everyone appreciated our support.
10% market fee blocked in Brighton
Cllr Jason KitcatThe Conservative administration in Brighton & Hove pledged back in 2007 to keep council tax increases at or below 2.5% for the last two years of this council term. They've been funding this pledge with some increasingly desperate cuts and fee increases.
The opposition parties united are able to outvote the administration councillors, however this time joint work evaded us despite our many attempts to get Labour and LibDems to work with us to reverse the worst of the cuts in the budget. They were more interested in doing deals with the Tories than risking giving the Greens anything to crow about in the run up to the general election.
However, a month prior to the main budget meeting, Conservatives proposed a series of fee increases, mostly at a 2% rate of inflation. Singled out for a huge 10% fee increase were farmers' market stalls and street traders. This increase was not only disproportionate but seemed to unfairly target an important but fragile part of the city's economy. In recent months a number of farmers' markets had struggled to stay viable with one even closing down.
Green Cllr Jason Kitcat proposed an amendment to the fees, cutting them down to a 0% increase for farmers' markets and street traders. Minutes before the meeting began the Tories, becoming aware of the anger this measure would incur, put forward their own amendment calling for a 1% fee increase. However with the Green amendment already tabled they withdrew their own and the Green proposal was voted through. In tough economic times farmers' markets and street traders have one less financial pressure to worry about, for this year at least.
2020 lacks vision
Greens in the European Parliament have criticised the European Commission's new Communication on the 'Europe 2020 Strategy' at a Greens/EFA conference comparing the EU's climate and energy strategy to the proposed 'Green New Deal'.
Green MEP for South East England and member of the UK's Green New Deal Group, Caroline Lucas, commented: "The Commission Communication published today is simply more of the same.
It reveals a shortsighted obsession with growth and competitiveness, and completely fails to provide a clear 2020 vision for a more sustainable future and a better quality of life in Europe.
"The EU 2020 Strategy does not recognise the crucial links between economic, environmental and social issues. Only a Green New Deal offers a joined up approach to the challenges we face - delivering new green jobs and sustainable economic solutions to the current crisis.
"The Commission is repeating the mistakes of the Lisbon Strategy by presenting a programme without demanding obligations. We need binding targets on resource and energy efficiency and for the preservation of biodiversity - as well as for social objectives. The restated 20/20/20 targets in themselves are inadequate to properly address climate change, and they demonstrate a real lack of ambition for Europe's future.
"What's more, the Commission's rigid attachment to GDP growth as the driving target for economic development is a recipe for repeated failure. GDP growth does not automatically provide improved social equality, better environmental protection or a happier life for citizens. New indicators are needed. Greens would like to see a target in the EU 2020 Strategy for better distribution of income.
"The Greens also regret that Barroso caved in to pressure from Member States and backtracked on the crucial question of conditionality for European funding. European funds must only be allocated where environmental and social conditions are fulfilled."carolinelucasmep.org.uk