Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Green Party deputy leader to speak at Keele TEDx

Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack is to take part in a TEDx event taking place at Keele University on 9th June.

Ms Womack (29) is the youngest deputy leader of any UK political party and is committed to making young peoples voices heard within the Green movement and the wider political scene. In eight years of active involvement with the party she has campaigned on issues including TTIP and the shortage of affordable housing.

At the 2015 general election she stood in the Camberwell and Peckham parliamentary seat gaining 10.1% of the votes available, tripling the party's 2010 total.

Born in Newport she holds a degrees in Environmental Biology and Environmental Technology.

TEDX is a programme of self organised local events aimed at sharing innovative ideas from original thinkers and is an offshoot of the wider TED movement that began in California thirty years ago.

Participants in the event at Keele on 9th June include Students Union chief executive Jim Dickinson speaking about how politics can reconnect with the concerns of young people, Keele based research academic Sharon George on society's growing 'addiction' to material goods and its impact on the environment and jazz musician and academic James Tartaglia speaking about how he combines musical and philosophical ideas in his work.

Tickets and further information about the event are available at :


Sunday, 29 May 2016

The political class has turned the EU referendum into their own petty squabble.

Two months in and the campaign over whether or not the UK stays in the European Union is starting to look like a sorry thing. The public are rapidly moving from confusion, to annoyance with the incessant squabbling, to indifference.

There is just over a month more to go before polling day and no sign of things getting better any time soon.

At the end of last week the Treasury Select committee criticized both sides for using 'misleading' figures and 'implausible assumptions' in their campaign material.

The committee was critical of the statement made for the 'Remain' campaign by chancellor George Osborne that families would be on average £4,300 a year worse off were we to leave the EU, calling it 'mistaken' and saying he had 'probably confused voters.' Adding that 'the main Treasury analysis found the impact on family incomes would be considerably less;' can't help thinking Curious George ought have known that.

They also took the 'Leave' campaign to task for their repeated claim that leaving the EU would save Britain £350 million a week, saying it was 'deeply problematic.' Not least because it does not take into account the 'rebate' we receive on our contribution to the EU and the investment Europe ploughs into the country.

Committee chair Andrew Tyrie writing in the report says the claims 'sits very awkwardly' with promises both campaigns had given to the Electoral Commission to 'work in a spirit that reflects the gravity of the choice facing the British people.'

Speaking to the BBC's The World at One programme on Friday he said that what was needed was an 'end to the arms race of ever more lurid claims and counter-claims made by both sides.' Good luck with that as the teenagers like to say.

He added that unsubstantiated claims made by both sides were 'confusing the public' and 'impoverishing political debate', leaving voters 'thoroughly fed up.'

The British public has never shown much enthusiasm for participating in referendums; you could forgive them for ignoring this one entirely, even though doing so is potentially disastrous.

Both sided have managed to turn the whole exercise into a dispiriting circus, one where Ringmaster David Cameron goes through endless photo-ops wearing the pained expression of a schoolmaster taking the dimmer pupils in his house through their Latin prep, statistics get thrown around like custard pies and every five minutes someone invokes Hitler as the bogeyman of choice for unthinking commentators. Whenever it looks like a serious debate might be in danger of breaking out Boris Johnson blunders on stage and starts carrying on like the Cookie Monster on acid.

It would be laughable; if it weren't so serious. If the referendum on Scottish independence in late 2014 hadn't shown us how different things could be.

A referendum doesn't have to be a nasty squabble between the boys and girls in the Westminster bubble, it can be a positive conversation about how we see our shared future that engages voters and reinvigorates a jaded political process.

Whether the mess we're in is the result of accident or design on their part is debatable, what it clearly shows is that the political class of 2016 is worryingly incapable of talking to the electorate. Instead they focus on their own petty squabbles and point scoring all the while alienating the voters to whom they owe their comfortable lifestyle.

Europe matters,particularly to places like Stoke-on-Trent, my Midlands home town, a place that has been battered by three decades of economic change and either ignored or taken for granted by successive governments. Its regeneration, slow and faltering though it may have been so far, has depended on EU funding, that is why I will be voting for us to stay in the EU on 23rd June.

Although I find some of their 'little England' posturing absurd I recognise and respect in the more reasonable wing of the campaign for us to leave a belief that democracy is something we should all value and work to protect.

The 2015 general election taught us that it is never a wise idea to try and second guess the electorate, I am though willing to make one prediction, if we let the campaign continue to degenerate into a childish squabble then whoever wins; democracy will be the loser.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Strong results for the Green Party across the Midlands.

Green Party candidates across West Midlands recorded strong results in the local elections last week, further raising the party's profile in the region.

In the May Bank seat in Newcastle-under-Lyme Sean Adam gained 20% more votes than the last time the war was contested finishing fourth with 109 votes. Party colleagues Verity Venter ( Loggerheads and Whitmore) and Gordon Pearson (Westlands) also achieved good results, polling 129 and 51 votes respectively.

Speaking about the campaign Mr Adam said the party had 'produced a strong performance with limited resources' and had demonstrated once again their 'genuine commitment to engaging with local people on the issues that matter to them.'

The party would now, he said, be 'looking at what we have learnt from the campaign and putting together a strategy that will see us do even better next time.'

Party Coordinator Jan Zablocki said that the party would be working hard to address local issues such as residents opposition to development in Lightwood and protecting Weston Coyney Country Park.

They would also, he said, be raising national and international issues relating to the environment that have been highlighted as concerns by voters.

As an example he cited the bush fires that recently destroyed the Canadian town of Fort McMurray and the possible link between this event and climate change. The party will also be continuing to campaign against the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Elsewhere across the region the Green Party won its first seat on Cannock Chase District Council, taken by Paul Woodhead. In Solihull the party won four seats with Chris Williams gaining 75% of the votes case in Chelmsley Wood.

The Greens also contributed to the Conservatives losing control of Worcester City Council and now hold the balance of power in the city.

The party has its highest ever number of councillors in the region with twenty seven sitting on eleven councils across the West Midlands.

In the Police and Crime Commissioner elections John Raine achieved 7.4% of the vote in West Mercia and Paul Woodhead gained 3.7% in Staffordshire, raising the party's profile in both counties.

Although membership numbers have dipped slightly since the 'Green surge' before the 2015 general election the party has positive plans for campaigning activity across the city and, says Jan Zablocki believes it is winning the argument when it comes to persuading voters to change their habits.

Although it may be a 'long process' he says 'local, national and global events over the next few years will show that Green politics are the politics of the future.'