Support grows for Green Pres. candidate

The hiphop support for the Rosa-Cynthia ticket is fascinating and impressive ; and Cynthia herself is vastly impressive: See my previous posts on this, e.g.
One important thing is that enough people back McKinney to put some serious pressure on Obama not to sell out any more, especially now, at the Dems’ Convention. One encouraging straw in the wind: Obama has been talking more strongly again about taxing the rich and spreading the benefits, over the last week:

Still worrying is his reliance on entirely dodgy contributors:
I believe that Obama is the best U.S. Dem. Presidential candidate since Carter. However, that is saying precious little. Let’s back McKinney, to put pressure on Obama and to build a longer-term alternative.

Political history will be made at Green Party Conference

I am a local Councillor. Green Councillors want a Party that works well, a Party that punches above its weight, a Party that will deliver the successes and the desperately-needed policy-changes nationally that Greens are already achieving all over the country, locally.

That prospect is perhaps now within sight. For, in a fortnight’s time, the Green Party will make history. Having had a system of ‘Principal Speakers’ for the last generation, the Party is currently holding its first-ever election for a Leader (see here and here for the history of how this came to be). The entire membership has been balloted; the final votes will be cast at our national Party Conference on Sept. 5; the result will come out on Sept. 6.

My friend and colleague Adrian Ramsay is unopposed for Deputy Leader. For the Leadership position itself there is an intriguing contest going on, between our MEP and current Principal Speaker Caroline Lucas, and Ashley Gunstock, a grassroots member mainly well-known for his acting appearances on TV’s “The Bill”.

I will be voting for Lucas, simply because I believe that she is nothing less than the best politician – the most inspirational, the most intelligent, the most passionate, the most on-the mark – in Britain today, never mind just in the Green Party.
In any case, whoever is elected, it will be a historic moment when our first-ever Leader finally stands up to give their inaugural address to Party Conference on the morning of Monday September 8th. Our momentum should then snowball: and with excellent timing, because the next two years are the biggest opportunity the Greens have had for twenty years.

In 1989, we scored 15% in the Euro-elections. In 1999, with a fairer electoral system, we broke through and got our first two MEPs elected. In 2009, we aim to at least double that number. Such clear momentum will give us the platform we need in order to get into the Westminster Parliament for the first time, in the likely 2010 general election.

Within Brighton Pavilion’s constituency boundaries, the Green Party took 30% of the vote to Labour’s 25% at the last local elections, a share we need only to hold in the next general election to elect Caroline Lucas, taking the seat from Labour’s new candidate. Across Norwich South Westminster constituency in the 2008 local elections, the Green Party came first, with 33% of the vote, three thousand votes ahead of Labour, meaning that Adrian Ramsay would be elected, by defeating the unpopular Charles Clarke.

With a Leader for the first time, we have in prospect the chance of converting the strong support that we have enjoyed in local and Euro elections into a Westminster win. A Leadership team of Lucas and Ramsay will, I believe, change the face of British politics forever, by seeing the Green Party’s Parliamentary representation mushroom, in Brussels, and at last come to be, in Westminster.

We have the right policies. So how we make them fully popular?

In answer to this question, I’d urge readers to check out the ‘Reframing links’ on my blog here at the lower left side.
And the single most crucial book on this in recent years, as discussed below, is THE POLITICAL BRAIN by Drew Westen. Everyone intereted in political communications should read – and apply to our own situation – this book.
If we Greens fail to make a passionate appeal that moves far beyond policy-wonkery, if we fail to place believable leaders and personalities centrally in our messages, then we will fail. It is that simple. But we could succeed, brilliantly, if we improve our way of presenting ourselves and communicating ourselves and our vision…


Here is the latest statement from Caroline Lucas – these are starting to add up to a kind of ‘manifesto’ for her leadership bid, which is in itself I think quite an exciting development.
Naturally, this one is likely to be particularly exciting to readers of this blog: it singles out Eastern Region, as one of the two new ‘national target Regions’ for the Green Party, as a place where we need to break through next June, and should do so. Amen to that!

Lucas sets out her Green Euro election goals

Caroline Lucas, standing to be Green Party Leader, today said that the European Elections next year will be a vital opportunity to take the Green message to new people, and to return a record number of MEPs.

“Greens this year need to show that we are a rising political force, that cannot be ignored.

 “Whether we’re talking about employment rights, animal rights or renewable energy, Greens in the EU are already making a difference.

“But in politics, the proof people listen to is the number of votes we get, and how many Green MEPs are elected.

“It will be a tough election for us, because higher thresholds will mean we need more votes to return each MEP.

“So we need the strongest performance we can deliver, both to return our two sitting MEPs, and to gain new ones, in the North West and East England.

“All the time and energy put in by activists and members are absolutely worth the gains we can make.

“I give my heartfelt thanks to everyone in the party who is already working incredibly hard to make this happen, and urge everyone to focus on the task ahead and redouble their efforts.

“By getting more Greens elected to Europe, we will be helping defend social and environmental rights, and to create a more transparent and accountable EU: something other parties consistently fail to do.

“In my experience, I can tell you that every Green MEP is worth ten from the other parties. So let’s make it happen!”

New EA Head endorses what the Green Party has been saying for years…

From today’s Independent comes this item giving the thoughts of the new EA Head on our coastal defences. In the course of the article, he makes crystal-clear why (in effect) the Green Party is right about the totality of the environmental threats facing us — and how we cannot preserve our coastline without tackling these…

‘Stark warning on Britain’s shrinking coast’ by Nigel Morris, Independent, Monday, 18 August 2008

Abandon homes to the rising sea, warns Britain’s new environment chief

Stretches of Britain’s coastline are doomed and plans will soon have to be drawn up to evacuate people from the most threatened areas, the new head of the Environment Agency warns today.

In his first interview since taking office, Lord Smith of Finsbury says Britain faces hard choices over which areas of our coast to defend and which to allow the sea to reclaim. He said detailed work was already far advanced on identifying areas of the east and south coasts which were most vulnerable to erosion, and called on ministers to give emergency help to families whose homes will be lost.

In a wide-ranging interview, Lord Smith, a former cabinet minister, also warns that the Government is not taking the environment seriously in a series of key projects. He says *Building a third runaway at Heathrow Airport would be a “mistake” because of pollution and aircraft noise; Plans for a new generation of coal-fired electric power stations should be abandoned until the Government is certain they will not pump out harmful gases. The proposed Severn barrage will destroy fish stocks and wreck bird habitats”.

Lord Smith disclosed that the agency was drawing up projections of where sea erosion will do most damage over the next five, 25, 50 and 100 years. It is also factoring in the additional problem of the threat to low-lying areas from rising sea levels. “This is the most difficult issue we are going to face as an agency,” he said. “We know the sea is eating away at the coast in quite a number of places, primarily – but not totally exclusively – on the east and south coasts. It’s a particularly huge issue in East Anglia, but in quite a number of other areas as well.”

Lord Smith, a former culture secretary, promised to do his “level best to try to defend communities where there are significant numbers of properties under threat and where it’s possible to find engineering solutions”.

But he said the agency, working with ministers, would have to identify “priority areas” and warned: “We are almost certainly not going to be able to defend absolutely every bit of coast – it would simply be an impossible task both in financial terms and engineering terms.” Suggesting that parts of north-east Norfolk and Suffolk faced the most immediate danger, Lord Smith promised to work closely with the communities involved to achieve as much “consensus” as possible over which coastal stretches to protect.

He said: “We will publish next year details of the work that’s been done, where we think the particular threats are, where we think there is current defence in place. We will begin to talk with communities where we think defence is not a viable option.”

He also said ministers could no longer rely on insurance companies to cover families who lost their homes, suggesting they would have to be rehoused at taxpayers’ expense. He said: “We need to start having a serious discussion with government about what options can be put in place.”

Lord Smith put himself on a collision course with his former colleagues over a number of important infrastructure projects championed in Whitehall. He dismissed the Department of Transport’s insistence that building a new runway at Heathrow could be environmentally sustainable. “The increases in volume of air traffic and the consequent increases in congestion on the ground are, from the analysis that we’ve done, pretty unavoidable,” he said. “I think the Government is making a mistake and I will carry on telling them that I think they are making a mistake.”

He opposed building a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in north Kent – with others to follow – because he is not satisfied the promised technology to “capture and store” carbon would have been developed in time for its planned opening in the next decade. “My view would be that we should not go ahead with the development of a new coal-fired generation unless those [clean coal] technologies are in place and we can clean up the emissions.”

Although he supported using the river Severn’s huge tidal power to generate electricity, he said he was alarmed at the Government’s support for a fixed barrier. “Effectively you would be destroying the fish populations of everything up the river system from the barrier. That is a major environmental downside.”

Vote Green to keep out the BNP in Eastern

There are of course many vital positive reasons to vote Green next June, which you can find detailed in my blog, below [including in the post immediately below]. But there is also an important ‘negative’ reason, which I haven’t yet discussed, and that I want to share with you here…:
Next year’s Euro-elections are by proportional representation. Now, the Green Party is Britain’s fourth political Party. But it is not only the Green Party that has a real chance at picking up the last seat or so in several of the nation’s regions, next June. It cannot be ruled out that the far-right racist Party (the BNP) might also do so in one or two places. Which (us, or the far-right) gets more votes will determine which gets elected. It is as simple as that. The Green Party has at present two seats and is aiming to pick up at least 2 or 3 more, thus at least doubling our numbers in the Euro-Parl. The far right at present has no seats, and is aiming to win its first seats at Brussels, which would be an important advance for it. It must not be allowed to achieve that. A vote for the Green Party next year, in the Euro-elections, will in many parts of the country be the single most effective way of stopping the far right from breaking through into the Euro-Parl. In regions such as here in Eastern Region, to be confident of stopping the racists and neo-fascists, your best bet is to vote Green. If we get 125,000 votes, and the BNP gets 124,999 (it isn’t likely that they will get so many — but it is not by any means beyond the realms of possibility), then you’ll see what I mean…
…It’s your choice…


Greens have a key role to play in combating the BNP, says Lucas

Caroline Lucas, who is standing to be the Green Party’s first leader in September, today issued a stark warning that only the Green Party has the answers to combat the BNP. 

She was adding to a growing national debate, led by the Observer, highlighting that Britain needs the Greens to be the growing force in politics, not the BNP.

She said:

“The rise of the BNP has been rapid. In the absence of political hope, voters have turned to them as a political protest. Every council seat gained, together with the recent London Assembly seat they have won, have been targeted towards promoting their leader, Nick Griffin, to a position of power.

“Britain has faced down the rise of the far right in tough economic times before, and it must do so again.

“It’s time for people to come off the sidelines and re-engage the British public with politics they can believe in.

“Unlike Labour, Greens will never pander to racism and prejudice – but we will work for a better future for everyone, wherever they live.

“Our Councillors are constantly striving to tackle unemployment, poverty and poor housing, the very things that create the bitterness and sense of abandonment that the BNP attempts to exploit.

“Green Councillors work hard on the ground, and never take their wards for granted, as so many other councillors do.

“The Green Party is playing its part in promoting positive, progressive politics wherever we can. We urge anyone who wants to take racism and prejudice out of politics to join us and work for a better future, for everyone.”


The Observer today outlines why the Greens must beat the BNP


News from the Green Party | 14th August 2008


Green Councillor Maya de Souza, today raised concerns at the
conclusions of a report showing the disproportionate targeting of
black and asian lawyers by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

Councillor de Souza has represented Highgate ward in Camden since 2006
and is a member of the government's 14-strong Black, Asian and
Minority Ethnic Women Councillors' Taskforce. The taskforce was set up
earlier this year to develop practical ways to encourage women from
minorities to become councillors and champions of their communities.
She is also a qualified solicitor.

The report, published by Lord Ouseley on 14th August, is the result of
an independent review commissioned by the SRA in response to data
published by the Law Society in 2006. This showed that black and
minority ethnic lawyers were disproportionately affected by regulation.

Councillor de Souza's response concludes that the report released
today highlights the continuing presence of discrimination in many
areas of society, and that much work is still needed before
organisations like the SRA can claim to be truly fair and even-handed.

She says: "I hope to see the Law Society, the SRA and organisations
representing BME solicitors work together to tackle these problems and
show other organisations what can be done."

Councillor de Souza's response:

"The Ouseley Review found 'evidence of some stereotyping' within the
SRA, which led to an assumption of guilt in respect of lawyers from
some communities even before an investigation had begun. It also
pointed to the focus of regulation on sole practitioners (a higher
proportion of black and asian lawyers are sole practitioners) as a
reason for this discrimination.

"It found evidence of a greater proportion of BME solicitors referred
to the Solicitors Disciplinary Board, a greater proportion of cases
where a decision was made to intervene in the practise and a
disproportionate number barred from student applications or admission
to the roll.

"While making clear its findings of institutional racism, the report
also makes a broad range of recommendations to help elminate this,
from applying equality and diversity strategies to working with the
Law Society to develop better systems of support and guidance.

"The upside of this review is that it's clear that the public sector
equality duties, which have led to impact assessments being carried
out, are leading to proper investigation of practises that would
previously remain hidden – something that members of the public
suspect but cannot establish.

"It also reveals how affected we all are by stereotypes of different
communities and how this affects the ability of people to be
scrupulously fair. This is something that we in the UK pride ourselves
on and I hope that this report will lead to consideration as to how we
can surmount this problem if we are to be a fair multi-cultural society.

"For the legal profession it also raises other issues – why do more
ethnic minorities become sole practitioners? What are the barriers to
them achieving success in larger firms and how can this be tackled? Do
sole practitioners require greater assistance and support?

"This issue of support and guidance is of increasing importance as
fees for legal aid practitioners are cut and lawyers in this sector,
who are disproportionately BME, will have to operate on lower incomes.

"There is a lot more work to be done to address these issues as well
as the disproportionate representation in certain aspects of work of
the SRA. I hope to see the Law Society, the SRA and organizations
representing BME solicitors work together to tackle these problems and
show other organisations what can be done."