The upcoming European elections are being seen as a referendum on the future of British politics. On May 29th I made the Green Party’s case for the future at the proposed wind-farm site in Bedfordshire featured in the fore-thinking Academy Award nominated film The Age of Stupid. Set in a future world ravaged by climate change, the film’s solitary narrator asks why previous generations failed to take the steps—like developing alternative energy sources—to forestall it. I addressed that question on Friday.
“The global consensus has finally come round to the view Greens have held all along but more importantly, the economic conditions have finally caught up as well. It simply doesn’t make sense to go on in the same way, inching toward ineffective carbon reduction targets when a more wholehearted shift would translate into millions of high-quality, skilled jobs that are virtually recession proof.”
Building sustainable alternative energy sources like wind, tidal, and solar power are a key part of the Party’s European Election Manifesto, which I co-authored, that lays out a plan to create 1 million new jobs throughout Britain, up to 100,000 of these coming in East Region.
These policies are more prescient coming at a time when Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum shows that climate change ‘is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people‘. The study goes on to say that climate change could amount in $600bn of economic losses by 2030.
(The photo shows me surveying the site with Demelza Stevenson from Nuon Renewables, the company seeking a permit to build 3 wind turbines at Airfield Farm, Beds)
The UK political media has been dominated by the row over MPs’ expenses – and speculation as to how the voters might show their disgust on polling day next week. Today Rupert Read, the Green Party’s leading Euro-candidate in Eastern region, called for voters to make a positive choice on 4th June, and “vote for the only party in this campaign bold enough to set out a positive vision.”
Speaking from his campaign tour of the Eastern region, Dr Read said: “As we move towards the end of the European election campaign, there’s one emerging story that the media is only now becoming aware of. Whilst political corruption, voter disillusionment and the threat of the BNP have been the main stories up to this point, quietly under the surface the Green Party has been steadily gaining support.”
Dr Read drew attention to strong evidence of the Green Party’s growing support in the opinion polls, including:
* A UKIP/ComRes poll that put the Greens on 11% nationwide, easily enough to win seats in several more English regions. The poll put the Greens on 16% in the South East, which would give a seat to Brighton councillor Keith Taylor as well as party leader Caroline Lucas MEP.
* A _Guardian_/ICM poll that put the Greens on 9%, half as much again as in 2004 – with UKIP on 10%, down from 16% in 2004, and the BNP on just 1%, down from 5% last time.
* A Green Party/YouGov poll in which 34% said they would either definitely vote Green in the Euro-elections, or would consider voting Green if they knew more about the party.
As for the anti-sleaze protest vote, Dr Read drew attention to another YouGov poll in which respondents were asked which party’s politicians they thought most likely to put their own financial interests before Britain’s. Asked to name up to three parties:
* 45% thought Labour, and 40% Conservative, would put their pockets before their country.
* Next came the BNP, the LibDems and UKIP, on 20%, 16% and 15% respectively.
* Only 5% thought Green politicians would put their own interests before their country’s.
Dr Read commented: “There has, of course, been intense speculation in the media that the protest vote would go to the BNP. Even the BBC has repeatedly, nay doggedly, mentioned the BNP as the possible beneficiary of the anti-sleaze protest, despite the contrary evidence of the opinion polls. Perhaps the latest YouGov poll, suggesting that the public feels BNP politicians are even more likely than UKIP to put their own financial interests before their country’s, might help pop the bubble of hysteria.”
And he concluded: “I think it will be far better for Britain if the majority of those minor party seats are taken up by Greens, committed to working hard for that million-jobs Green New Deal, with a positive vision for reform of both European and British democracy.”
You can see Rupert Read’s full comment piece here:
A recent survey of healthcare workers in the East of England conducted by the Green Party, has found that Green Party health policies are in line with many of the views expressed, particularly on many key points of principle, such as the price of healthcare provision and privatisation.
The Tories, Labour and Lib Dems all support further privatisation in the NHS. This is far out of line with the opinions of the real people surveyed who are working in healthcare.
The Green Party found that 70% of respondents agreed (‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’) with the statement ‘further privatisation in the NHS should be avoided’.
And 73% of respondents believed the use of private cleaning companies for NHS contracts may increase the risks of infections like MRSA on hospital wards and should be avoided. The Royal College of Nursing and the Green Party both agree, while the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems oppose any re-nationalisation of cleaning services in the NHS.
Cllr. Rupert Read, lead Green MEP candidate for the Eastern Region, commented:
“Greens have always recognised that the privatisation of the NHS is incompatible with democratic accountability and with well-run hospitals. The failure of New Labour’s Public Private Partnerships, which so often delivers poorer service and can run over budget, is a clear example of these problems.
And this issue is especially pertinent to the Eastern region at the moment, as Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire is currently threatened with conversion to ‘foundation’ status, which is just privatisation with a less threatening name.”
The Green Party survey found that 83% of respondents agreed with the statement ‘a greater role in health provision should be afforded to local health centres, as opposed to very large regional hospitals’. The Green Party is the only party committed to a program of genuine ‘relocalisation’ and decentralization of public services in the name of accountability and local choice.
77% of respondents agreed that healthcare should always be free to the consumer at the point of delivery. The Lib Dems merely say they would ‘review’ prescription charges if they came to power and Labour and the Tories continue to support charges. The Green Party on the other hand, opposes on principle all charging for health except through the taxation system – a genuine position of principle that healthcare should be “free at the point of need”.
Cllr. Read said
“Healthcare is a basic human right. If patients are forced to pay for their healthcare, unless through progressive taxation, poorer and less healthy patients lose out at the expense of those lucky enough to be wealthier and healthier. And though the price may start small, there is a slippery slope issue here. Many basic services are now charged for unless there are exemptions – such as prescriptions, most dental check-ups and dental work, eye tests and glasses and so on. We should not go down the road towards a health system like the mess in the US, where many people just don’t have health insurance.”
Respondents to the Green party survey were unanimous in agreeing that complementary medicine should be provided on the NHS if there was evidence that it worked. The Greens Party agrees that complementary medicine should be provided when appropriate.
63% of respondents agreed with a central Green policy advocating increasing the amount of money spent on prevention of health problems and on health promotion schemes.
And a majority agreed (and only 6% disagreed) that the public have a right to assisted dying in very tightly controlled and assessed situations where a patient has a terminal illness and has requested assistance. The Green Party recognizes the complex moral and personal issues surrounding this issue but believes that, under very specific and strict conditions, a person should have a right to end their life with dignity rather than in severe pain.
Green Party MEPs Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas scored top marks for their voting record on animal issues in Europe in an analysis by PAD Director Dr Dan Lyons.
The Green MEPs both got a perfect score of +15 from the award-winning political analyst, while Andrew Duff, Lib Dem MEP for the Eastern Region came bottom with a paltry -15…the lowest score possible.
The UK Greens are the only party which has a policy called ‘animal rights’. Both Green MEPs, Caroline Lucas in South East England and Jean Lambert in London, are staunch and consistent defenders of animals with a 100% positive record on this vote, both scoring +15. Dr Lucas has been especially active for animals and helps to table pro-animal laws. The Green group is now an influential force in the European Parliament, and UK Greens can rally their colleagues to help make a major difference for animals. The Euro manifesto includes a specific animal protection section and promises to work for a ban on animal experiments.
Andrew Duff, MEP for the Eastern region of England, earned his rather evil minus 15 due to his cosy relationship with the animal testing industry. As a whole the Lib Dems are a little inconsistent and unreliable on animal welfare issues and their Euro manifesto doesn’t mention animals at all.
The Greens have an excellent chance of winning seats in Eastern England, and with the latest polls showing the Greens only 2 points behind the Lib Dems, a vote for the Green Party would be a huge vote for animal rights and a massive one against the animal testing industry and their big supporter, Lib Dem MEP Andrew Duff.