Dictators, Democracy & Division

More shocking headlines and news this week on just how the rules of our democracy can be distorted and manipulated to play some immoral power-game that will impact every one of us; the Conservative government under Prime Minister Boris Johnson are willing to write our views out of history and use procedures in ways never intended, to achieve a what would be a disastrous crash out of the European Union.

A no-deal Brexit means safeguards will be lost and we will be vulnerable to the powerful influence of huge global business and bigger trading ‘partners’. How on earth we are ever going to deal with the key issue of our time – the climate emergency – if we are focused on division rather than unity?

We are all at risk from this international threat to our environment and it’s a situation that requires co-operation if we have any hope of averting the worst that could come.

About that ‘No-Deal Brexit’

  • The unavoidable reality: A no-deal Brexit won’t be a clean break: this nightmare will go on forever
  • The unpleasant truth: crashing out is now very possible
  • The urgency: it’s time to save our democracy

The idea of a ‘government of national unity’ is creeping gradually up the list of possible solutions for how to get out of the crisis. And it is gaining more traction even since the article below was written.

In the Guardian this week, Jonathan Freedland makes clear:

“The myths of a no-deal Brexit are about to collide with reality. Those myths are many, and they flourish on both sides of the great divide. For remainers, the greatest is that no deal could never happen. They look at the polls that show far more Britons oppose a crash-out from the EU than support it – 50% to 38%, according to Ipsos Mori – and they can’t quite believe that any government would defy the public will on so grave a matter.

“Still, the greatest myths lie on the other side. One is the fond hope that Britons will weather the disruption of a no-deal Brexit as stoically as they withstood the blitz. The sight of British holidaymakers driven to tears over flight delays this week, with its echo of that time Britons called 999 to complain about KFC running out of chicken, should disabuse us of that particular daydream.

“…after a no-deal Brexit, we’d be back where we started. The last three years would come to seem like an argument between a husband and wife that’s raged in the kitchen. After 31 October, as my colleague Rafael Behr likes to put it, it’d be the same argument – except now the husband would be standing on the street, the front door slammed in his face, shouting his demands through the letterbox.”

All-Women Cabinet?

And today, Caroline Lucas has made a bold proposal. An all-women cabinet of unity to deal with the crisis. Well done, Caroline. As always, clear, insightful and bold. It’s about options.

An upcoming visit to Palestine & Israel

My new roles in the European Parliament include being a member of the Committee for Foreign Affairs and member of the delegation for relations with Israel as well as Palestine. For this reason, I was delighted to be able to take up an invitation to join a cross-party delegation visit to Israel and Palestine from 26th-30th August, organised by three sponsoring organisations: Danish, Norwegian and Swedish church groups.

During the visit, I’ll meet with representatives from both Israeli and Palestinian officials and NGOs, as well as a representative of the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Program Leader of the World Bank.

I’m particularly keen to explore the potential role of the European Union and its institutions in helping to find a way in which Palestinians, as well as the Israeli people, can be guaranteed their freedoms: to live without threat, to work, attend school, and move about their daily lives in safety, alongside each other.

I also have a personal interest in the region, which started when, as an 18-year-old, I spent some time on a kibbutz in the Negev desert; an amazing experience in itself through which I met wonderful and interesting people. It was not until quite a few years later that I learned of the wider implications of the Israeli nation-state, as it has developed.

The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner and conducts trade under an Association Agreement, which in effect means there is a close diplomatic relationship. I believe that the fundamental premise of the European Union as a peace project means that states must uphold international law and abide by conventions on human rights, which are clearly being broken by Israel in the current situation.

IPCC Report – farming/agriculture

This week saw the release of the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which calls for radical changes to methods of food production and consumption. I’ll pass over to Molly Scott Cato Green MEP who sits on the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee and is the agricultural spokesperson for the Greens. She refers to the South-West, where she represents. I think that there are comparable messages for us here in the North-West with our hill farming in the National Park, as well as our larger dairy and beef farms. It is clear to me that we must work with our farmers as stewards of the land to redesign policies and interventions that expand on this crucial role.

“The report acknowledges that if we are to prevent climate breakdown we must adapt land use so that agriculture becomes part of the solution rather than the problem. But we must go further and find ways of recapturing some of the emissions already in the atmosphere. The land has an extraordinary capacity to absorb and hold carbon if farmed in a climate-friendly way, and the South-West, with its largely rural economy, can lead the way.

“The IPCC recognises that intensive agriculture is resulting in high emissions and soil damage. It is also widely acknowledged that organic farming methods can restore soil health and turn land into a valuable carbon sink. The South-West is already a leader in successful small-scale and organic farming so is well placed to lead a climate-friendly farming revolution. The region also has areas that could be converted to agro-forestry, be rewilded with extensive tree cover and where peatlands could be restored.

“The IPCC report is also clear on the need to reduce meat and dairy consumption. Some land can and should be converted to the growing of protein crops but as the South-West is a leading livestock and dairy region, we need to ensure that these sectors focus on high-quality meat and dairy products and farming methods that protect soils and ensure the highest standards of animal welfare.”

Meanwhile this week…

Good

The good news is that we have got the power to stop a no-deal Brexit. Across the country, there are groups applying pressure and good politicians doing the same in parliament. On Tuesday 13 August, I’ll be in Manchester with ‘Yes to Europe’ to discuss what can be done, what’s being done and how every one of us can help. I’ll be at the Friends’ Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, M2 5NS Manchester, between 7pm-9pm.

Bad

As Cuadrilla UK prepare the extract shale gas from Lancashire again (last time they caused 57 seismic events), news comes of more safety concerns that haven’t been addressed; yet the Environment Agency and Oil & Gas Authority have given permission to begin fracking anyway. Tomorrow, I’ll be back at the roadside to stand with residents on the second anniversary of ‘Green Mondays’. The site is between Blackpool and Kirkham on the A583 near PR4 3PE. I’ll be there from 11am – 1pm. Please do read up on why the recent approval by regulators is so wrong.

Where hope lies

Co-operation, alliances, allegiances and *whatever it takes to ensure a no-deal Brexit does not happen. But any unity must be clearly defined to ensure it is on this issue and that it is temporary; that the people will decide the Government once we have safely navigated the current treacherous storms of disunity and chaos brought about by Brexit and this Conservative government. We live in rare times and this is a unique situation calling for what feels like unnatural responses.

*To move forward we must agree that Proportional Representation is a vital ingredient and so too is an agreement on immediate climate action.

Onwards

 

ps: I wish I could attend an event next Sunday that is so close to my heart, sadly I’m not available. Councillor Geraldine Coggins though will be speaking for the Greens at the bi-centenary commemoration of the ‘Peterloo Massacre’. The rally will see unions, groups, organisations, campaigns, parties and individuals setting off from 10 different start-points at noon, to converge on Albert Square for 1pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pride, Misdeeds & Anniversaries

It’s been a very full week again, although thankfully the coming one is looking a lot less action-packed and offers time to review and plan. From the relief of getting a good team of staff to support me with my MEP tasks in place, to reflecting back to the awful ‘misdeeds’ in the Brexit vote, and later the joy of Lancaster Pride this weekend, it’s been a week of seeing the positives and acting on the negatives.

Pride

Back home, Lancaster Pride did Lancaster proud this week in Dalton Square. ‘Unity in diversity’ is a good way to sum it up. Loved meeting the Typhoons RUFC Lancashire’s first and only inclusive rugby team (who practice at Preston Grasshoppers RFC). Straight or gay, any ability, shape, or size they say – everyone welcome as long as you’ve got the right attitude to rugby… and they certainly do! The event was fabulous and fun.

Brexit

Today is the 3rd anniversary of the Referendum that gave us ‘Brexit’; seems like yesterday and an eternity all at once. Our co-leaders of Green Party of England and Wales reflected on what’s happened since: the key critical social and environmental issues that have not been tackled, and two million young voters have been denied a say in their futures.

Siân Berry said:

“Our politics has become entangled in what has been rightly described as Brexit chaos over the past three years. We could, and should, have been dealing with the fast-rising issues of poverty and homelessness, the collapse of bus services and the causes of the filthy air we breathe, the state of our nature-deprived countryside and the struggles of our small farmers to survive. Instead we have been bogged down in party in-fighting, fact-free debates about non-existent Brexit options and arcane struggles over parliamentary procedures.”

Jonathan Bartley added:

“More than two million young people have become voters since the 2016 referendum. Well over another million are aged 16 and 17, seeing society wrestling with issues that will have a huge impact on their futures. That’s more than 3 million people who deserve a say on their own future through the democratic option of the People’s Vote. Parliament has shown itself to be unable to find a way forward. The answer is democracy, and giving those young people the option to have their say.”

EU Parliament

In Brussels, I was pleased to sign a letter calling for an investigation into Brexit electoral ‘misdeeds’ that have come to light. It is a cross-party initiative, co-led by fellow Green, Molly Scott Cato MEP. Molly rightly says: “Brexit is a crime scene, yet our efforts to ensure the perpetrators face justice using the agencies available in the UK…have so far failed.”

Together, we 38 UK MEPs are calling on a high-level international legal commission to intervene over ‘declining democratic standards’ in the UK, asking the commission to investigate: breaches of spending rules and data-protection laws; the exclusion of non-UK EU citizens residing in the UK from voting during the 2016 referendum; the more recent disenfranchisement of UK citizens resident abroad, and EU citizens resident in the UK from the European elections this year.

There’s a lot more to this and an awful lot more to come. Alongside all this, MPs are preparing to take the Met police to court, after the force has failed to investigate alleged offences by Brexit campaigners for nearly a year. Separately, the Brexit Party has been told by the Electoral Commission to check its donations and tighten up its processes, after a loophole was revealed that could allow foreign donations to the party.

Meanwhile, this week:

Good:

The Green Party signed up to support the Manchester Declaration for a Right to Repair worldwide. It’s a call by independent repair businesses and citizens who are frustrated with the early obsolescence of most of today’s products. They ask UK legislators and decision-makers at all levels, as well as product manufacturers and designers, to stand with us for our Right to Repair, by making repairs more accessible and affordable, and ensuring that we adopt product standards making products better supported, well documented and easier to repair by design.

Siân Berry said: “We are committing to using our political influence at local, national and EU level to trigger the switch to a circular economy, and fight for our right to repair.”

Here’s a link to further information about the project.

Bad:

Just 0.34% of the UK”s population will now decide who the next PM is to be. Many of us lament the system that allows this to happen. Can we do anything to change this? Not right now but the fight for fairer voting and more representative democracy is at the core of the Green Party policies and we will not stop fighting for them.

Where hope lies:

Students, young people and school pupils rose again on Friday for another YouthStrike4Climate march and here in the North West, despite some Chorley students being told they cannot now go to their School Prom because they participated in the Strike, they participated in the Strike, they are not deterred. And that gives me inspiration.

Onwards 💚

 

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