Logo of the Green Party of England and Wales, depicting a green Earth with petals surrounding three-quarters of the globe

Caroline Lucas' thoughts on reforming Parliament

18.5.2020

Caroline Lucas describes how the coronavirus has forced Parliament to consider some basic reforms:

I’ve been pushing for Parliament to move into the 21st century ever since I was first elected in 2010. Maybe a virus which echoes the global pandemic of 1918/19 will help achieve that.

We could start by moving out of the Palace of Westminster, rat-infested, sinking into the Thames and – according to Imperial College scientists – a breeding ground of coronavirus. How symbolic. It’s always stood for what is broken about our politics. So, let’s take this opportunity to move Parliament out of London.

Seeing the screens perched around the House of Commons for the first sessions of the virtual Parliament underscored how unsuitable the chamber is for a 21st century parliament. Using video-link technology while still observing the arcane rituals and language of the House jarred. But, nevertheless, these virtual sessions have been a leap forward. The handful of MPs in the House of Commons, sitting the required two metres apart, have been joined by many others (including me) via video link, able to question ministers directly. It’s not ideal sitting in a Zoom “waiting room” until you are called, but at least you know you will be. MPs can often waste hours in the chamber hoping to catch the Speaker’s eye without success. Select committees are also carrying on via video link, so they can continue their important job of scrutinising legislation and policy and holding government ministers to account.

But building back better means more than just minor adjustments to parliamentary procedure. The whole system needs an overhaul, starting with the House of Lords. All that theatrical ermine, and seats reserved for hereditary peers. It has to go and be replaced with a fully elected, properly representative second chamber.

And while we’re about it, let’s change the voting system too so that two thirds of voters don’t see their vote wasted. A fairer voting system which properly reflects the range of views in our society and parties which discuss and work together, rather than hurl insults across a chamber, is how to run a country.

Keeping our democratic processes ticking over during this coronavirus lockdown has forced Parliament to put a toe into the 21st century. It’s time we dived right in.

It was only until recently that there was no method of voting electronically, which meant that many important Bills, were not put to a vote.

If we do establish a more permanent move to electronic voting, then I hope that it will put an end to the archaic practice of division bells ringing across the Palace of Westminster, forcing MPs to stop whatever they are doing and run from wherever they are on the parliamentary estate to the chamber in the eight minutes allowed. Speeding up the voting process won’t just be more efficient, it would also mean all amendments to legislation could be put to a vote – which doesn’t happen now because there simply isn’t the time.

If this virtual Parliament speeds up the transition to a more efficient parliamentary system, then that can only be a good thing. Those who believe they are protecting tradition and heritage by defending so many old-fashioned procedures are instead damaging our democracy.

With so many people, who are able to, working from home and joining colleagues via video link, perhaps seeing MPs joining a debate in the same way will create a sense of connection between MPs and voters which has been sadly missing in recent years. Next we need to tackle the arcane language.

But at least MPs are now able to hold the government to account over its handling of the biggest health crisis to face this country for a hundred years. And that can only be a good thing.

 

Matlock in Bloom plants Trees for the Planet

13.3.2020

"The Conservatives have pledged to plant at least 30 million more trees every year, the Lib Dems and the SNP each say they will plant 60 million trees a year, while the Green Party would aim to plant 700 million trees by 2030".

But community groups do it best (150 Trees and Shrubs).


Matlock Floods investigated by East Midlands BBC News

6.3.2020

On 6th March  the East Midlands news team decended on Knowleston Gardens, site of the Bently Brook pumping station. Contrary to local undertanding the film crew took evidence from the Environment Agency who confirmed that the November 2019 floods were caused by surface water rather than flooding from the river. The volume of the water was such that the pumping station could not discharge this water in sufficent volume and rate into the river. Hence the water back flushed through the drains into the town centre causing the flooding that we all saw.

EM BBC Matlock Flooding VIDEO-2020-03-08.mp4

This is not the first instance of surface water flooding affecting the town; it occured on 20 September 2018.


Our First Film Night - featuring "Tomorrow" on Tuesday 18 Feb 2020

We'd like to let you know about our first film night, we are showing "Tomorrow" on Tuesday 18th February 2020 at The Northern Light Cinema in Wirksworth.

Tomorrow showcases inspirational stories about sustainable solutions from around the world.  With a focus on community initiatives and creative solutions, the film is arranged around four chapters: democracy, education, economy, and agriculture.  The positivity expressed in this film through visits to permaculture farms, community renewable energy projects and creative schools, is reflected in a great soundtrack.

Doors to the venue will open at 6:30pm and the bar at the cinema will be open for drinks.  Tickets cost £11 and include vegan nibbles before the screening and entry to a raffle for the sofa and armchair seats available in the cinema.  The screening will start at 7:30pm

Tickets are available here (tickets cannot be purchased directly from the cinema).

 

We'd love to see you there, so please come along, be entertained, meet other local Greens, and nibble!

 


Is Conservative candidate Sarah Dine's election second leaflet a joke?

9 December 2019

It uses the low old gambit of a warm picture of Boris and a grim grey picture of his opposition.

It talks about "not building on green spaces" when half of Matlock is up in arms about precisely that, enforced by Conservative planning policy.

It talks about affordable homes, when the definition has been distorted, and any small promised delivery is dodged.

It has a picture of a land-based wind turbine when the Conservatives banned their construction in 2014 and prevented the construction of the Matlock Moor turbines.

It talks about "supporting local businesses" when the GDP of the Derbyshire Dales has plummeted 5.9% under the Conservative Government, the worst by far in all Derbyshire.

And "get Brexit done". Well, you've had three years and three prime ministers! And in July 2016 your peer group – 1,054 QCs and barristers - trashed the referendum.

Boris’s plan doesn’t get it done. It’ll be years before all the new tariffs are agreed. Labour’s plan gets it done in 6 months, in or out, respecting the 48% and the 52%.

Climate change. Tories abolished the climate ministry and made many cuts to renewables, as required by their sponsors in the fossil fuel sector.

Farming. Tories will always look after the grain barons. Sheep and beef sales in hill country will be hammered by WTO tariffs up to 40%.

Boris’s Brexit might well drive out Scotland and reunify Ireland - weird for a unionist party.

The private sector has made a fortune out of broadband packages and has missed all targets.

And you want another chance at all these things? Sorry. Doesn't get my vote. Let someone else have a go!


Comments from a concerned resident

7 December 2019

Matlock and area Floods

People and businesses in our town are still reeling from the recent floods. But what was the cause? And what’s being done to protect us in the future?

When he visited our town after the major floods, Boris Johnson said, “It could be building; it’s almost certainly Climate Change.” And when he made a surprise visit to John Smedley’s this week, he made it clear that we shouldn’t be building on Greenfields or areas at risk of flooding and that Brownfield sites should be developed first!

Water is water, and whether it comes from the river, run-off or under the ground, it has the same devastating effects on people and property. Matlock is unique with its steep valley sides and beautiful surrounding hills. Its geology is unique too and this enables the hillsides and hill tops to hold huge amounts of water. But it’s not merely water from ever increasing rainfall, it’s Groundwater too. Hence Matlock’s fame as a Spa town in Victorian times.

The dangers of interfering with this unique geology are now making themselves known. The wisdom of continuing to build on natural soakaways at a time when rainfall is ever increasing because of Climate change must be vigorously challenged.

The responsibility for flood risk management is divided: The Environment Agency is responsible for fluvial and ocean related flooding and Derbyshire County Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority, responsible for management of surface water and groundwater. The result of this split responsibility is deeply worrying; surface and groundwater find their way into the river and put pressure on the Environment Agency flood defences and the end result is the same.

Water is water, wherever it originates from, and too much of it causes devastation which lasts long after the flood waters have receded.

It’s time for an end to the, “It’s not our responsibility,” argument and passing the buck culture.

What is needed in this town, and nationwide is collaboration for the common good between all the government agencies in the face of Climate Change, which affects us all.

For Matlock, the message is clear to any thinking person; rethink the dangerous decisions to build yet another huge housing estate on what is, not only a massive carbon sink but also, a natural soak away.

In all likelihood, the decision makers are not the ones who have suffered. The long-term impacts of Climate Change and common sense must override short term Housing Delivery Targets.


The Guardian view on Boris Johnson’s poverty plan: spread it widely?

6 December 2019

The following is an extract from the editorial the Guardian Newspaper published on 3 December 2019, which just shows that Boris Johnson has no respect for the poor, women or dispossessed. So, think hard before you vote next week. For the full article please read: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/03/the-guardian-view-on-boris-johnsons-poverty-plan-spread-it-widely

Mr Johnson once thought ‘destitution on a Victorian scale’ might be a good thing. With Tory policies he may yet deliver such a dystopia

Mr Johnson became a Tory MP in 2001. He has held elected office continuously since then and been a steadfast defender of the rich and powerful, arguing no one has “stuck up for the bankers” as much as he did. He claimed that a cabinet minister’s annual salary of £141,000 is not enough to live on. How does he think a couple with two children manage on £140 a week, the level of a destitution wage?

He once argued that “sure-fire destitution on a Victorian scale” ought to be imposed on “young girls” to make them “think twice about having a baby”. This is a repugnant attitude, especially from a man who will not say how many children he has. In Mr Johnson’s world the rich’s failures ought to be forgiven; the poor’s punished.

He threatens to tilt Britain’s political system away from being a democracy to being an oligarchy, where the rich buy political clout. The manifestos make this clear: poverty is mentioned 40 times in Labour’s; 24 times by the Liberal Democrats and only three times by the Tories. Mr Johnson uses conservative social positions to encourage poor voters to betray their economic interests. Brexit Britain pines for the past. Yet a century ago the free market created squalid slums and soup kitchens. Today we have tent cities and food banks. It must be a concern for the country that if he wins, Mr Johnson’s campaign nostalgia is likely to become prophecy.



TORIES SET APPALLING STANDARDS of DISHONESTY

20 November 2019

How do we the electorate get honesty from the campaign messages in this election? The latest analysis from some of the press is that we don’t (Observer, 17 November and Guardian, 19 November). And, as the philosopher Sissela Bok has made very clear, political lying is a form of theft!

Democracy relies on accurate information, but we aren’t getting much of it particularly from the Tories. We receive a cacophony of claims like “net migration will treble to 840,000 a year if we vote Labour”. This is what the Home Secretary said last week! What she did not say is that this claim assumes that Labour would extend free movement to the rest of the world; but this is not their policy. Remember those ‘heady days’ during the EU Referendum when it was claimed that leaving the EU would free up £350m a week? Or that Turkey’s 75 million people were about to join the EU? Believe me, Turkey are no closer to membership now than they ever were. Boris has since lied saying he never mentioned Turkey during the Referendum. And, in the latest avoidance of the truth, he failed to declare his friendship with Miss Arcuri, when Mayor of London. Followed this week by a sinister stunt to change the Tory twitter account to a false ‘Factchecker’. We Greens need to show the way, clearly and unambiguously and above all ethically. Let’s do it now!


Scientists condemn Tories record on Climate Emergency

19 November 2019

The Conservative party’s record on tackling the climate crisis has rightly been condemned by leading scientists and former government advisers (The Guardian). They have warned that the forthcoming election is the last chance to halt the escalating emergency.

These experts accuse the Tories of copying politicians in the US by deliberately weakening environmental protection legislation. Analysis by Labour reveals that environmental policies put forward since 2017 and opposed by the Tories would have led to emissions reductions of over 70m tonnes a year by 2030 – more than the annual emissions of Portugal!

The climate emergency has become a key battleground in the election, with Labour promising a transformative green industrial revolution, the Liberal Democrats pledging to spend billions on the crisis, and the Conservatives announcing a pre-election moratorium on fracking and pledging to plant 30m trees a year by 2025. And, even better the Green Party has announced a bumper 100 billion climate emergency budget to get us out of this Tory Climate mess!


A flood of Tory promises

13 November 2019

Crisis, what crisis? Cometh the hour, cometh the man (late) with mop and bucket, so says the Guardian (13.11.2019).

Late on Monday after significant political pressure from across the country about the emergency floods in Derbyshire and Yorkshire, Downing Street announced that the prime minister would chair an emergency meeting of COBRA on flood responses. This took up most of his diary on Monday and that left the airwaves to his opponents. The Guardian reported “Perhaps Johnson thought he’d already done this bit, after footage emerged of him attempting to mop the floor of a Specsavers in Matlock last Friday. The widespread verdict was that Johnson appeared to be actually making it worse – possibly understandable given his earlier attempts to actually increase the volume of water in public life, via the purchase of three water cannon as London Mayor”.

“AWASH WITH MORE PROMISES!”

Vote for the Green Party if you want real and tangible action on flooding in Matlock.


Biblical rainfall inundates the Derbyshire Dales

8 November 2019

Today families and businesses in the Derbyshire Dales woke up to chaotic scenes, as parts of Matlock, the A6, and other parts of the constituency became inundated by floodwaters. Water flowed from the hillsides into the towns and water breached the riverbanks of the Derwent flooding surrounding farmland and villages.

The pictures here show some of the catastrophic physical features of this latest climate emergency.

But what are we doing about it? Is the County Council, who has responsibility for dealing with these issues, really taking action? We need action now not words.

What kind of long-term support will be provided to those who have been impacted? Is it adequate and is it enough?

As members of the Green Party we think that more needs to be done, not only in mitigating climate change but also increasing adaptation to these huge and cataclysmic events in our locality. If you think more needs to be done, please contact us because we need to hear your views and understand your concerns. We are the Green Party.

Your local Derbyshire Dales district councillors for the Green Party are Matt and Neil:

Matt Buckler      Email: matthew.buckler@derbyshiredales.gov.uk

Neil Buttle           Email: neil.buttle@derbyshiredales.gov.uk


Prospective Parliamentary Candidate

2 October 2019

We are very pleased to announce that Matt Buckler has been selected as our PPC for the Derbyshire Dales constituency. Many thanks to Richard and Matt and all those who helped us to run the hustings and selection process. If anyone is interested in helping with our campaign for Matt, then please come to one of our meetings (for details see the events page)


12 September 2019

Just had a very productive husting for our Derbyshire Dales Green Party PPC. Both candidates presented their manifesto for representing our Derbyshire Dales constituency. Look out for the video of their presentations which will be up on this website shortly, and for your email for online voting.


11 September 2019

A CALL for ACTION on CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION

https://gca.org/global-commission-on-adaptation/report

This report is a global call for action on adaptation to climate change. It pulls no punches. Climate change is already impacting on us even here in Derbyshire. Higher rain fall and heat waves. And, our infrastructure (e.g. Whaley Bridge Dam) is not fit for purpose. Political leadership at all levels needs to respond at scale and urgently otherwise our future is likely to be brutal and unpredictable. The recent hurricane damage and loss of life in the Bahamas is just one recent example. The Green Party from a relatively low base is taking action but we need a mass movement and wider political commitment and resources to adapt now in the Derbyshire Dales.

Forward to the Report

A young woman in Bangladesh hears a siren of an incoming typhoon and moves her family to safety. A farmer in Zimbabwe uses a new variety of maize that is more resistant to drought. In Denmark, engineers redesign city streets to make them less prone to flooding. A business executive in Indonesia uses data and maps on water risk to inform his investments. An urban planner in Colombia paints roofs white to deflect dangerous heat. This is what climate adaptation looks like. Examples like these are taking root and beginning to spread. Of course, not all communities have the same capacity to adapt, and those in fragile areas and living in poverty are most vulnerable. The world has a moral responsibility to respond in a way that improves lives and livelihoods for all. To end poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must drastically cut emissions and adapt to a warming world. The sooner we act, the better off we will be. Adaptation is an economic imperative as well. This report finds that investing in adaptation, and in the innovation that comes with it, can unlock new opportunities and spur change across the globe. Adaptation can provide a triple dividend: it avoids economic losses, brings positive gains, and delivers additional social and environmental benefits. There are bright spots, but so far the response has been gravely insufficient. Meanwhile, the climate crisis is here, now: wildfires ravage fragile habitats, city taps run dry, droughts scorch the land, and floods destroy people’s homes and livelihoods. What will it take to meet the challenge? Government officials and business leaders need to radically rethink how they make decisions. We need a revolution in understanding, planning, and finance that makes climate risks visible, incorporates these risks into all decisions, and releases public and private financial flows. Adaptation can bring out bold ideas and inspire innovation beyond what people currently think is possible. Most of all, we need political leadership that shakes people out of their collective slumber. This Commission was formed to raise the visibility of climate adaptation on the global agenda and inspire action. It brings together over 30 Commissioners and 20 convening countries, from nearly every sector and every region of the world. We are united by a collective determination to accelerate adaptation. We are working with many partners to support a Year of Action, starting in September 2019, that will jump-start the necessary transitions for change. Together, these actions form a comprehensive platform for urgent, bold, and equitable adaptation. We have reason for hope. Throughout history, people have adapted to change. In turbulent times, they have found ways to reduce risks and create new opportunities. With ingenuity and resourcefulness, people have overcome the most extraordinary challenges—from eradicating disease to rebounding from the devastation of war. We need this courageous spirit today. We call for global leadership on climate adaptation to create safer, stronger, and thriving communities around the world.

 


29 August 2019

Stop the badger cull coming to Derbyshire

Derbyshire is one of 14 areas that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is considering for ten new badger cull zones this year. They are expected to make their announcement on where has been selected around the 23rd August 2019. 

There is a real chance that Derbyshire could be included for the first time. If this happens the badger cull will begin in the first week of September 2019. This means we only have days to change the Government’s mind.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is running a campaign to prevent the Badger cull. So please support them at https://action.wildlifetrusts.org/page/46753/action/1

If you want more information about the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust you can find it at https://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/

 


16 August 2019

CLIMATE CHANGE AND NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANS

Neighbourhood planning has proved incredibly popular, with hundreds of plans already adopted, and thousands of plans currently in preparation. Government has described neighbourhood planning as “a revolution to hand power back to local communities” and a tool that will give people “the power to shape the future of their local area”.

However, one single issue looms large over the future of all local areas. The changes we will all experience as a result of climate change mean that any plan made now that does not consider climate change and energy as central themes will simply not be fit for purpose. Despite their popularity, recent research has shown that most plans already adopted simply do not consider these issues in any meaningful sense. Neighbourhood plans will be in force for 15-20 years. If they are to successfully help communities deal with the future we will actually experience, they must move away from the narrow focus on accommodating housing that has blighted local planning in general, and move to an approach that plans for resilient, sustainable communities in a genuinely holistic sense.

This new guide explores the huge potential of neighbourhood plans to plan for and build a positive future for local communities, through addressing and responding to this, the most challenging issue of our times. As a champion of approaches that place climate change at the front and centre of the policy priorities of the spatial planning system, the Town & Country Planning Association welcomes this guidebook.

https://www.cse.org.uk/downloads/reports-and-publications/policy/community-energy/energy-advice/planning/renewables/low-carbon-neighbourhood-planning-guidebook.pdf

Hugh Ellis Senior Planner Town and Country Planning Association, January 2018


9 August 2019

Fritjof Capra on Reforesting as a means of tackling Climate Change

A recent authoritative study by scientists at the Swiss university ETH Zurich, published in Science, represents the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted on Earth without encroaching on crop land or urban areas; and of the amount of COthat would be absorbed from the atmosphere by those trees.
 
The study shows conclusively that planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis.
 
Their analysis found that there are 1.7 billion of hectares of treeless land on which 1.2 trillion native tree saplings would naturally grow. That area is about 11% of all land, equivalent to the size of the US and China combined. The study estimates that such a worldwide planting program could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities!
 
“This new quantitative evaluation shows that forest restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said Prof. Tom Crowther, the lead researcher of the ETH team of scientists; and he added: “What blows my mind is the scale.”
 
 Regenerative agriculture and forestry are the only proven strategies to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Now the ETH study provides detailed quantitative information on where and how this can be done most effectively.
 
The research is based on measurements of tree cover by hundreds of people in 80,000 high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth, combined with 10 key soil, topography and climate factors, to create a global map of where trees could grow.
 
Here is the link to a summary of the ETH study in The Guardian (UK):
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/04/planting-billions-trees-best-tackle-climate-crisis-scientists-canopy-emissions
 
What is now urgently required, according to Jean-François Bastin, also at ETH Zurich, is that governments factor tree restoration into their national climate strategies. However, we need not wait for governments to take action. We can begin to implement the solution of forest regeneration ourselves. And this is the second part of the exciting news I want to share with you.
 
A second article in The Guardian profiles the organization TreeSisters, founded by Clare Dubois and Bernadette Ryder, which is planting 2.2 million trees each year (at an average cost of 40¢ per tree) across Madagascar, India, Kenya, Nepal, Brazil, and Cameroon.
 
To do so, TreeSisters raise the money from thousands of individuals, and they work with organizations employing local people to plant the trees. For example, in Madagascar, TreeSisters works with Eden Reforestation, employing more than 1,000 people who have planted 225 million new mangrove trees since 2006.
 
In these projects, reforestation goes hand-in-hand with poverty alleviation among the local populations — a truly systemic solution — and TreeSisters tend to work predominantly with organizations led or driven by women.
 
Here is the link to this second Guardian article:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/19/planting-billions-trees-save-planet
 
And here is the link to the website of TreeSisters, which I have used myself to make a donation: https://www.treesisters.org/donate.
 
I hope you will find this information as inspiring as I have. In the words of Clare Dubois: “Let’s not wait for the government. We the people are the solution and can drive massive change. We’re talking about how we can move from rebellion to restoration.”
 
With best wishes from Berkeley,

Fritjof


6 August 2019

Best for Britain — Work together locally

Following on from the earlier Unity Candidate post, Best for Britain has produced a useful "Grassroots guide to building thePro-European Alliance" document, which answers a lot of the questions people have about this approach. You can find the guide here.


3 August 2019

Local Authorities across the UK Step up to Tackle the Climate Change Emergency

Over 200 local authorities have now signed up to tackling the serious climate emergency we are now facing here in the UK. These local councils represent over 64% of the UK’s population. And, the number is growing as the local (heatwaves and flooding in Derbyshire and Yorkshire and a severely damaged reservoir in Whaley Bridge) and global news reveals even more brutal and life-threatening events.

The Green Party is putting its weight and expertise behind these developments and at a local level our Green Party Councillors are actively supporting the Derbyshire Dales District Council with its emerging Climate Change Emergency Group along with the more recent announcement by Matlock Town Council to commit to reducing its carbon emissions, to help alleviate climate change impacts.

Scientists make it clear - we're facing a climate emergency

On 8th October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a vital report on the state of climate science. They warned that if the planet warmed by 1.5C there would be some devastating consequences, such as the loss of most coral reefs, and increased extreme weather such as heatwaves and floods. Yet the consequences of allowing 2C warming would be truly catastrophic. Given that the planet is currently heading for 3-4C warming, keeping to 1.5C requires a radical shift across energy, land, industrial, urban and other systems to reduce emissions, unprecedented in history for its speed.  

If your local council has already passed a climate emergency motion, you may be wondering what you can do next to make sure this results in ambitious action in your community. One option is to campaign for the council to convene a citizen’s assembly to involve the wider population in this process.

The Republic of Ireland has already led the way by convening a citizens assembly to deliberate on options for climate action, with overwhelmingly positive outcomes. Oxford City Council has been the first UK public authority to announce plans to follow suit. Oxford’s citizens assembly will be tasked with assisting the City Council in its final decisions around the promotion and adoption of carbon abatement measures and targets for Oxford and for the council itself. 

A Climate Emergency was announced by the Stroud District Council Administration on 16th November 2018 which pledged to “do everything within the Council’s power to make Stroud District Carbon Neutral by 2030“.

This public call for action was followed up by a motion to the Environment Committee on 13th December 2018 which, after a minor amendment regarding timing of agreeing funding, was passed with unanimous support from all political parties. This motion set out seven actions:

  1. To set out a Plan of Action, including clear targets and transparent reporting, to develop District wide Locally Determined Contributions to complement National Determined Contributions in line with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5C.
  2. To include planning and support in the District for adaptation to the climate change that is already happening.
  3. To develop a strategy for Stroud District Council to play a leadership role in promoting community, public and business partnerships for this Carbon Neutral 2030 Commitment throughout the District, County and region.
  4. To work with partner bodies across the county to ensure that the climate emergency is adequately reflected in the development and implementation of all county wide strategies and plans, including Gloucestershire 2050, the Gloucestershire Industrial Strategy, Gloucestershire Energy Strategy and Gloucestershire Transport Plans.
  5. To investigate all possible sources of external funding and match funding to support this commitment.
  6. To work with key partner organisations within the County and region to secure external funding.
  7. To report back on an annual basis to Council on progress made.

 And, to help Local Authorities a new Guide for executives of Local Authorities has just been published. The recently launched local authority tool kit by Ashden on climate emergency called “Cutting Carbon and Improving People’s Lives” can be downloaded here: https://www.ashden.org/programmes/co-benefits


2 August 2019 (By John Youatt, founder member of DGP)

What is a Unity Candidate?

At the Derbyshire Dales group meeting on Wednesday 31.7.2019 the concept of a "unity candidate" for the next general election was raised. As this was a new concept for many, John Youatt has kindly provided the following explanation:

A Unity candidate is an a-political candidate selected and promoted by all Parties except the Tories. So far only two Parties have promoted the idea in the Dales, Greens and Humanity. 

 

There have been a handful of such candidates over the decades, notably journalist Martin Bell ‘the man in white’ who defeated the Tory in Tatton qv: and doctors defending the NHS.

 

I think Libdems might be persuaded. Fortress Labour currently bans such tactics on pain of excommunication, but many members want liberating. At Brecon, Labour as usual didn’t join others in favour of the Libdems.

 

In the event, the remain Party, LibDem, came second to the leave Parties, Tory and Brexit – unsurprising given the flawed referendum.  Libdems won because the leavers didn’t ally.  Labour crashed because it doesn’t have a clear position on leave. Had it been a remain party, the remainers could have won outright via the Libdems, given they came second in 2017. Plaid and the Greens deferment was, I guess, a powerful symbol but minimal mathematically.

 

In the Dales, Patrick has a current majority of 52%. He’s now in his twilight years. Despite that, there is no chance IMO of any of the other parties winning on their own – but better if he does stand down.

 

There is a very good chance if we all band together. We would pool all our resources and excite the media and electors. We would make it clear that the arrangement would be for one term only, based on say 5 shared objectives. Parties would reserve for another day any policies we couldn’t agree, and would say so to their own membership. 

 

There are other more nuanced alternatives, as set out below by Best for Britain. Add as link

 

Previously, we had planned a public meeting supported by Compass to attract support and thus add to the pressure on the Libs and Lab. Our line would be that we would blame Labour or Libdems if the Tories won because they declined .

 

We need our new PPC to lead this. It is our duty as Greens to knock on the Labour door until it opens.

 

Meanwhile, we should set up the public meeting logistically and start advertising it, speakers to be advised.

 


10 July 2019

Naomi Smith on Best for Britain

There's a warning over the Brecon Beacons – those handsome hunks of sandstone that take their name from the signal fires lit on those ancient mountains to warn of impending attack.

The present warning is aimed at politicians, particularly but not exclusively those contesting the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.

Plaid Cymru, the Greens and Change UK have stepped aside in the contest to give the Lib Dems the best possible chance of winning this traditionally marginal seat back from the Conservatives

Why? The reason, like everything these days, is of course Brexit. With the government on a majority of just three, including their DUP partners, taking this seat from the Conservatives could prove crucial for the Remain alliance in stopping Brexit altogether.

Pro-Brexit voters will be spoilt for choice: the incumbent MP and Conservative representative Christopher Davies, who was recently found guilty over false expenses, is standing, along with the Brexit party and Ukip. Pro-European voters will congregate around the Lib Dem candidate, Jane Dodds. Labour will likely try to straddle the two groups but it's not a seat they can realistically grab. The last time the constituency elected a Labour MP was 1970.

Leaders of the anti-Brexit parties have all suggested that this Brecon alliance could be repeated in the event of a general election or a new Brexit referendum.

This should leave Conservative and Labour politicians quaking in their hiking boots. After three years of division, in-party fighting and a humiliating lack of progress, the big two parties are about to learn the hard way that the world of politics is changing, and changing quickly. A positive alliance between smaller parties now presents a substantial challenge to both Labour and Conservative MPs.

Conservatives may respond with their own lashed-together version of an alliance with Nigel Farage, although in truth he'd be the puppet-master rather than a partner.

Alliances come in many different flavours. They range from a basic sense of cooperation to a full scale pre-negotiated coalition, as happened in the early 1980s between the SDP and Liberal party. In 1997, an electoral pact was formed between the Lib Dems and Labour when both stood aside in the Tatton by-election so independent candidate Martin Bell could defeat the sleaze-ridden Conservative MP Neil Hamilton.

Despite examples of successful cross-party work, some tribalists remain resistant to the approach, even at the expense of their own party's electoral success. To assuage the concerns of sceptics, here are five partnerships, of varying degrees of cooperation, to illustrate the ways parties can work together for the greater good.

The non-aggression pact

The parties all field candidates, but only one is fighting - and spending money - for victory. This can be easier for activists to swallow than more restrictive alliances. Think of the 1997 Lib-Lab pact. Campaign directors swapped information including target lists and, while still fiercely competing in seats where both were in contention, they didn't focus resources in each other's marginals with the Tories. In 1997, a spinner leaked to the Mirror newspaper a list of 22 seats where Labour voters would be urged to back the Lib Dems in a bid to defeat the Conservatives. The plan worked in 20 of those seats.

The local cluster

Remember the 2016 Richmond Park by-election?  The Greens stood down and Labour didn’t channel its resources, allowing the Lib Dem candidate Sarah Olney to take the seat from incumbent Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith. This bottom-up approach can help work around national leadership intransigence and deliver a desired result via a local level alliance.

Tactical voting

In areas where parties have not managed to negotiate a formal pact, the electorate can still swing a result by voting not for their first preference of candidate, but for the candidate best placed to prevent an undesirable outcome.

The simple pledge

Individual candidates can sign a pledge - for instance promising to back Remain in a final say referendum - to inform a tactical vote

A joint policy commitment

Without standing aside, this allows parties to increase their chances of achieving particular policy outcomes, such as guaranteeing a vote on Brexit.

There’s something important to bear in mind here. These are all positive alliances. Parties get involved because they want to help one another achieve particular goals. They need to be informed by the most up-to-date polling, but not driven entirely by it. The incentives for smaller parties to join come in the form of real reciprocation and the chance for them to increase their parliamentary clout.

It is also important to note that, in order to achieve a stop-Brexit majority in parliament, joint working may only be required in a third of the seats up for grabs, or perhaps even fewer. Beware partnerships that appear to be positive alliances but are actually built on mutual distrust or worse. Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, we are looking at you.

The Brecon and Radnorshire is an important first step. Now we see if the progressive parties of British politics can work together in a way that could fundamentally change the Brexit debate.

Naomi Smith is the newly-appointed CEO of Best For Britain, which is campaigning to keep Britain in the EU. You can follow them on Twitter here.