August 17, 2016

Standing up for unsung heroes – carers (interview with Caroline Lucas by David Wilkins)

This interview was conducted by new Medway Green Party member, David Wilkins. His article was printed in the Brighton and Hove Independent on 4th December 2015.

Caring for the carers

Justice for the long-term disabled and carers is a cause Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas is keen to champion.  On Carers Rights Day 2015, Ms Lucas explained why she was determined to make a difference.

“We do an injustice to carers because we don’t give them the support and the credit for the incredibly hard work that they do” she said. “Essentially  we’ve got a whole army of people who are unsung heroes, working behind the scenes looking after elderly parents, colleagues, friends or children.  I want to make sure they are better supported.”

Many carers believe they should be entitled to basic treatment such as respite care, a view Ms Lucas supports. This led her to support a defeated bill in parliament, arguing for free hospital parking for carers.

She said: “It was a small thing, but it was an indication and recognition of the amount of work carers have to do.”

When Ms Lucas was first elected as MP 2010, she met  Liz Dwiar and her twin sister Pauline.  Miss Dwiar had given up her job to become full time carer for her mother who’d suffered a debilitating stroke.

“What impressed me about Liz was that she worked immensely hard but had so much joy in doing it”, Ms Lucas said.  “To see someone give up the job the they love doing and give up the life that they loved because of their responsibility, and indeed, the love for her mother was genuinely moving”.

Ms Lucas remains deeply worried about the planned cuts to the welfare system, and said: “The benefit system and welfare system doesn’t help carers.  They only need to be earning a small amount of money from elsewhere and the carers allowance gets reduced.  We need to take George Osborne seriously when he says we’re all in this together.  If he’s serious about that, then he ought to be making sure that we don’t have a series of cuts that seem to be targeting the most vulnerable the hardest.”

“The amount of work carers do without being thanked is enormous and society should be saying a very big thank you not only with words, but hopefully follow that up with some policies to better support them as well.”

August 17, 2016

Medway Council urged to do more to help refugees #refugeeswelcome

Please see below a recent press release. An article based on this was published in the Kent Today here.

***

Medway Greens have reinstated their call for Medway Council to do more to help refugees in light of a House of Lords report published today [1].

A committee of House of Lords peers has spent months investigating the conditions thousands of lone children are living in across Europe, including children in camps in Northern France who are trying to be reunited with family in Britain.

The report criticises the British Government and other governments for “fundamentally” failing to fulfill their obligations under EU and international law to receive and protect children “in a manner that recognises their specific vulnerability”. [2]

Evidence also suggests a lack of “burden-sharing” between UK local authorities, with one council caring for 412 unaccompanied children, while many others had none. [2]

Last week the Conservative group on Medway Council opposed a motion calling on the Council to offer support to young refugees.

The motion submitted by Labour Councillor Johnson called on the Council to “undertake to engage in constructive dialogue with community groups, voluntary agencies, statutory bodies, educational institutions and other interested parties to develop support networks and opportunities for integration”.

Steve Dyke, Medway Green Party Officer says:
“Medway Greens have long called for Medway Council to do its bit in supporting refugees and today’s report further highlights the need for an adequate response. It is shameful that the Tory contingent of Medway Council appears unwilling to even explore options.

While it is understandable that council funds are limited, it is the Tory Government that has caused funding difficulties with its austerity driven agenda. It is up to our Tory-led Council and Tory MPs to be at the forefront of ensuring that the Government meets its obligations by seeking additional funding”.
Welcoming the House of Lords report, Jean Lambert, who is the Green Party migration spokesperson, said:

“The UK is not yet acting fully on its responsibilities for children, such as those at Calais. It knows what needs to be done, it just needs to do it. There are lone children in France who have a legal right to come to Britain, the Home Office knows this yet these vulnerable youngsters are still in the camps facing horrific living conditions and the danger of exploitation, violence and forced labour. The UK government cannot allow this to continue, and it must make sure local councils have resources to welcome these children and other refugees who need our help.”

August 8, 2016

A town of two halves. Talking to people on the local high street.

An interesting report tweeted to us by a writer on the Liberal Democrat blog. I think we can all agree that no one should feel left behind in the Medway Towns. We all need to work towards addressing the issues that are making people’s lives so difficult.

Politics and Parliament

image.jpegMedway is more divided than ever. To me, it has become a place of two halves.

In certain areas there are fantastic things being achieved. High economic activity, more development opportunities and tighter close-knit communities being formed. The area that I call home.

Yet there’s a part that seems to be forgotten. One that is deprived and rich in poverty, that is neglected by our MPs, and one where people are genuinely suffering.

These people want change. They need it.

Earlier this week, I travelled to Chatham High Street- to listen to the concerns of these people. To get an insight into these people’s lives, and to understand the impact that certain policies have on these people’s lives. I was shocked by the findings.

However firstly, may I just take a second to thank everyone who took the time to talk. I really appreciate it. A lot. And I have…

View original post 542 more words

July 27, 2016

Party People column – Cameron’s gamble

Medway Green Party member and Membership Officer, Steve Dyke, wrote the article below for the Party People column in the Medway Messenger:

So we now wait to find out the consequences of Cameron’s gamble.  Although the political landscape changed immediately following the EU referendum, it will be years before we know if the decision to leave was a good or bad one.

In this period of uncertainty we should remember that the same people are governing Britain as were on the day before the referendum.  We must not allow ‘Brexit’ to be used as a way of removing our hard-won rights and environmental protections (many of which emanated from the EU), to impose more austerity or privatise our NHS and public services.  It is notable that the existence of EU nature directives was a crucial factor in the Davies Commission ruling out an airport on the Hoo Peninsula in 2014.

The referendum result showed many people’s alienation from mainstream politics, with austerity-hit and economically disadvantaged communities using it to express their anger and frustration, including in Medway where nearly two thirds voted to leave.  The referendum campaign was bitter and divisive.  The scapegoating of refugees and immigrants is always wrong, but does reflect real stresses faced by local communities who should be listened to and have their problems addressed.

Divided communities need rebuilding and the increase in racism and hate crime since the referendum must be addressed.  The Green Party will always stand up for multiculturalism and the principle of the free movement of people.

Ultimately, real political change is needed.  The referendum was called by a government elected by just 24% of eligible voters.  A more responsive, representative and inclusive democracy must be built through electoral reform.

The Greens want to see a better, fairer society in Britain and we will always fight for this nationally and locally, even though we believe that Brexit will make this harder to achieve.

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July 23, 2016

Andrea Leadsom: “farming is a bedrock of the environment”. Err…

a new nature blog

Andrea_Leadsom_MP

New Defra Secretary of State Andrea Leadsom has sent a statement to Farmers Weekly, the farming newspaper. Although the paper has not published the full statement, here are the quotes it uses:

“Nothing is more important than the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink”.

“On 23 June, the people of this country voted to leave the European Union and we must now carry out their instruction,” she said.

“I believe this give us an unparalleled chance to design a set of policies that are tailored to the needs of the UK, rather than 28 different member states. We must seize the opportunities that lie ahead.”

The Secretary of State said the UK should work with our European neighbours “so that we get the best terms for the industry”.

“My ministers and I will lead from the front in these negotiations, championing the industry and all…

View original post 546 more words

July 13, 2016

Caroline Lucas’s six point post-referendum plan

This was written over a week ago and the political ramifications of the referendum result continue to develop by the day.

It is a worrying time for all of us who rely on there being a good opposition to government, to restrain them from inflicting their worst policies.

It is also a worrying time for opposition parties, particularly regarding the need to work together on issues where we agree – we need all progressive parties to be up to the task of opposition if we are to achieve the outcomes needed.  Outcomes that put people and planet first.

However this plan of action looks like a good start:

Caroline Lucas March 2012-147-Edit JJ Waller_0

My Six Point Post-Referendum Plan – by Caroline Lucas

I’m really worried about our country.

Not only are we now on course for serious economic turmoil but our politics is broken too. The Conservative party has repeatedly failed us – leaving a country divided and many people struggling to get by. Labour is imploding – with a revolt by some MPs crippling the leadership and leaving them utterly unable to hold the Government to account while they engage in a civil war.

It will be a long time before the dust settles. In the coming months it falls upon us, the Green Party, to put forward a positive vision of what a post-referendum Britain could look like.

That’s why today I’m publishing my six point emergency response plan. It sets out how we should respond to the referendum – and how we can best protect our country against the potential damage caused by Brexit.

Our plan is below. It’s only a start, of course, and in the coming weeks and months we want you to be part of this discussion.

  1. WE DEMAND A GENERAL ELECTION IN THE AUTUMN SO PEOPLE CAN CHOOSE THE GOVERNMENT THEY WANT TO REPRESENT THEM IN THE NEGOTIATIONS TO COME. : THE current Government has no mandate for negotiations.
  2. WE DEMAND A PARLIAMENTARY VOTE ON ANY ‘TERMS OF EXIT’ BEFORE INVOKING ARTICLE 50. This stops a small cabal at the top of Government having total control over this country’s future place in the world.
  3. WE DEMAND THE PROTECTION OF FREE MOVEMENT WITHIN THE EU, STRONG ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTIONS, WORKERS RIGHTS AND THE SINGLE MARKET.  WE’RE WORKING WITH A RANGE OF ENVIRONMENT NGOS AND OTHER EXPERTS TO IDENTIFY WAYS TO BEST PROTECT VITAL GREEN LEGISLATION
  4. WE DEMAND A SECOND REFERENDUM ON THE TERMS OF A FINAL DEAL.Britain decided to leave the EU, but nobody knew what kind of Brexit was on the ballot paper. It’s only right that we’re all given a say.
  5. WE DEMAND  AN EMERGENCY LAW WHICH GUARANTEES THE RIGHTS OF NON-BRITISH NATIONALS ALREADY LIVING HERE IN BRITAIN. No one who has come here to make a life for themselves should feel threatened by Brexit.
  6. WE DEMAND THE PROTECTION OF YOUNG PEOPLE’S FUTURE. 75% of young people voted to remain. It’s only right that the Government should now guarantee continued funding for Erasmus, student exchanges and EU funded schemes targeted at young people.

This six point plan is only the beginning. In the coming weeks we’ll be redoubling our campaigning on the issues close to our hearts. For starters that means that we will be standing up to racism and xenophobia wherever it occurs. We have a proud history of fighting bigotry and our elected politicians across the country will be focussing on this over the coming days.

When others are divided we will unite to oppose Trident renewal, hold Ministers to account as the Chilcot Inquiry is published and bring legislation to Parliament which will distribute the benefits of migration to all communities in Britain.

We’re ambitious for the next few months. In a time of crisis we will stand up for people, and for our environment. It’s no wonder that new members are joining the party at a rate of almost one per minute.

But to really make an impact we need your help. I’m urging people to join the many who have already signed up for Green Party Membership in the last few days. We rely on our members to make the stand against the Government that’s so desperately needed. We’re committed to working across party lines to challenge the Establishment – but we can only build those bridges upon solid foundations.

Please join up here:https://my.greenparty.org.uk/civicrm/membership/joining

July 13, 2016

Upcoming event – Medway Open Studios – 16th July

OPEN STUDIOS AT NUCLEUS ART CENTRE,  CHATHAM.

Saturday July 16th,17th & 23rd 10am-4pm each day.Medway_Open_Logo-300x300

This includes a visit to Paul Cumming-Benson’s Studio (pictures etc on sale).

Paul is one of our members and will be raising funds for Medway Green Party.

Hope to see you there.

Please click here for further details.

 

July 4, 2016

“We must urgently heal the divisions created or deepened by the referendum” by Steve Dyke

The article below was printed in the letters page of Medway Messenger on Friday.

The Green Party cannot hide its disappointment at the result of the EU referendum, having campaigned strongly for a vote to remain.  However we acknowledge that the result here in Medway indicates many people had strong grievances with the EU.

However the vote to leave does not give our Government a mandate to slash hard-won rights at work, cut environmental regulations or privatise our NHS and public services. It is important for people to recognise that at the moment in practice nothing has changed – the same Conservatives remain in power, both nationally and locally.  Many of our environmental and social protections in particular originated from the EU and we must fight to protect these from the worst instincts of Tory ministers.

Much of what happens now remains uncertain, but the decision to leave could turn out to be particularly devastating for our environment. The EU has been at the forefront of global action on climate change and Britain has been leading that push. Leaving the EU not only undermines our standing in the international community, but represents a huge gamble with our own green energy targets and performance. The Government must urgently demonstrate that it will remain resolutely committed to the agreement made in Paris last December and to its national obligations under the Climate Change Act.  European laws protect some of our most precious habitats and species, cut air pollution and clean up our beaches. Any attempt to do away with these vital rules must be resisted.

The so-called EU ‘debate’ was bitter and divisive, stirring up hatred.  The vote shows people’s alienation from mainstream politics, especially in austerity-hit and financially struggling communities.  Our political system needs fixing and a priority for all parties must now be to build a more inclusive democracy, reforming our electoral system to make it proportional and representative.  It will be ironic if many people voted to get rid of what they saw as an undemocratic European Union only to find themselves governed by an unelected Prime Minister when Cameron’s successor is chosen by a small group of Conservatives.

We must urgently heal the divisions created or deepened in the country by the referendum.  Problems of neglect, inequality, alienation and racism cannot be allowed to grow.

Who knows, the ‘Brexit’ crisis may even provide us with an opportunity to build a better society in the UK.

Steve Dyke

Medway Green Party

 

June 19, 2016

EU – “a many headed beast” by Clive Gregory

With only a few more days to go until the EU referendum, many local people are still undecided and, understandably, the most prominent campaigns in the media haven’t helped much.  With so much information being bandied about, much of which cannot be substantiated, it is no wonder people are confused.

Part of the problem is that the EU is a many headed beast; this means that the option of staying in or coming out of the EU is complex.

Originally, the major powers, long before the end of World War II, decided that there could be no more war in Europe.  However, rather than have the interests of the people of Europe at heart, these power brokers and financiers wanted a way of making vast fortunes without the inconvenience and danger (for them) of war.

On the other hand, the post war era also created a powerful demand from millions of people for real change. As a result, as the EU began and developed, it progressed with two main heads, the un-democratic corporate head and the publicly accountable head – the parliament where our MEPs sit.

Because of this publicly accountable head and demand from millions of Europeans, our beaches are cleaner, our air less polluted, our wildlife is safer and some of our dirtiest power stations have been closed.  We experience protection from discrimination in the workplace, have rights as working parents, and to paid holiday, and a regular lunch break.  The EU has been fundamental in making the British workplace a fairer and more equal place.

However, the undemocratic head (the dark side) of the EU remains. This is best summed up currently by TTIP.  This is a so-called trade agreement between Europe and the USA. This agreement has been negotiated in total secrecy and would, even now, be virtually unheard of were it not for a few investigative journalists and activists.  A movement across Europe has now grown into a massive protest against this toxic agreement that would see corporate organisations seize a greater position of power than national, democratically elected governments.

At this point, you might be thinking I’m about to recommend that we exit the EU in order to escape this evil.

No, not at all – we MUST stay in Europe.  And this is why –

If we exit Europe we’ll lose our connection with 500 million people.  A block of 500 million people has power – the power to stand up to banks and mega corporations who seek to destroy our fledgling attempts at democracy and who seek to control and rule behind the scenes.  This block of people creates a mass of consciousness that is felt, understood and FEARED by the few power brokers that try and set the agenda – in their interests.

Five hundred million people can prevent TTIP, can prevent corruption from being completely out of control, but we need to come together and fight. Already a new organization, DiEM25,  has been born with goals to make the EU more accountable – its initial goal, to live stream currently closed-door meetings, shows what needs to be done to regain democracy within the EU.

Should we exit the EU, it is my fear that hard won freedoms would be sacrificed to business interests.  We are already in the grip of the financial empire that rules from behind the scenes, but being part of 500 million people still gives us some power; reducing to 60 million will be surrender to forces darker than the dark side of the EU.

Clive Gregory

Medway Green Party

 

June 10, 2016

Medway Greens say ‘yes’ to Europe

Medway Green Party EU stall in Rochester

Medway Green Party EU stall in Rochester

Over the last few weeks Medway Greens have been chatting with many people in the Medway Towns, through canvassing and street stalls as well as social media, to explain their support for remaining in the
European Union.

Medway Green Party Membership Officer, Steve Dyke, says “We are giving people a positive message about Europe that is in sharp contrast to the scaremongering and negativity from some other parties.  We emphasise the many good things that membership of the EU has brought to the UK, from environmental protection to human rights, from arts funding to gender equality.  For us it is not a case of taking our country back, but of wanting to take it forward, and we believe this is best done as part of the family of democratic nations that is the EU”.

“We know the European Union is far from perfect and needs change in many ways, but the Greens want to remain and work with other like-minded people to achieve this, rather than walk away to the margins of Europe.  Many of the major issues that affect the UK are global ones that cannot be dealt with effectively by one country alone, such as climate change and terrorism”.

Former Green Party parliamentary candidate for Rochester and Strood, Clive Gregory, is particularly interested in the relationship between the EU and global corporations. He says:  “The people of Europe need to be united against the power of the mega corporations and mega rich elites – we will not be able to do this alone.  Many of those speaking for an exit want us to be helpless and alone as then we’ll be easy game for global banks and corporations. By staying in, we can be part of a movement for true democracy, a movement that is beginning to take real shape, not for left against right but for people and democracy against the powerful, whether corporate or dynastic”.

The people of the Medway Towns will be able to discuss any issues they have around the EU – or raise anything else that concerns them – with members of the Medway Green Party at their next street stall in Rochester High Street from 10 a.m. on Saturday morning (11th June).

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