Friday, October 19, 2012

Building for growth?

– a letter regarding the predations of  developers, and the madness of old politics  

I write regarding the planning proposals for housing in the north of Beverley.  This government, and previous ones, have set up a presumption in favour of new build, putting pressure on local authorities to identify land.  The construction industry has lobbied hard  for this.  It is not about need, it's about profits for construction companies.  It comes from the tired ideology of ‘growth’, which is extremely short-term : like allowing a dog to run wild with no thought for the consequences for dog or community.  Look at Ireland - new houses built,  then bulldozed.  Look at casino banking…..The myth of infinite growth (on a finite planet) is busted and we had better hurry up and accept it. 

In the context of the global oil crisis,  we need land for food as we must now focus on producing  most of our food locally.  Government targets for new building are highly questionable - they are about a decade old and the economic climate has changed completely in that time.  Before building new houses, one has to ask where are the jobs  in the area for the occupants? is there sufficient infrastructure?  what are the transport implications? – but most importantly, can we afford to cover this valuable food-producing land in concrete?  We take food for granted at our peril.

Brownfield sites are available, and old housing needs renovation, which would provide local jobs instead of work for huge construction companies - which are, by nature, very wasteful  and, like other multi-nationals,  drain wealth out of the area. However, there is no VAT on new build,  and large construction companies prefer to work on virgin land - so where are the incentives to do the right thing?.

The 'corporate growth' idea is outdated.  Are we concerned about the welfare of local traders and communities  - or big business ?...  It’s time to think differently.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Greens of Europe: Paris Council meeting

A couple of shots of  'the candidate' as delegate at last Autumn's European Greens' Council meeting in Paris: a pre-meeting and voting.  This meeting climaxed in the Paris Declaration.  The GPEW stance is often greener than most of the other European green groups (e.g. we want far less European 'integration' than other groups).

GPEW gets more votes in this forum than many countries because of our relatively high vote in the European elections.  A Green vote really does count in the Euros!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Women in politics

Yesterday I drafted a press comment on behalf of the Executive in response to the publicity given to the paltry presence of women in government.

...‘That women feel  under-represented in and by government is no surprise.  The results of the  survey confirm what we already know through our conversations on the doorstep and in the streets and through observing the male-led policy-making of  the old grey political parties.   If more women had a real say in  choosing and running our  government, would we be buying a  new Trident missile system,  continuing to sell arms,  making a habit of  going to war,  bailing out and rewarding the (mostly male)  banking sector ... whilst cutting services and  benefits to  vulnerable people and those with disabilities? 

 As a woman in politics, it's frustrating to find one is often expected to fit in to the political stereotype of arguing about detail whilst the big issues (e.g. climate change, corporate exploitation of people and planet, democracy) are rarely mentioned.  To go to the root of the problem, to point out the elephant in the room (or that the emperor has no clothes) as many women tend to do, is often treated as naive -  ‘real’ politicians don’t mention that, do they?    
Politics needs women – not just in the UK,  but worldwide.  It is an outrage that at least half of the world’s population is marginalised.   On top of that, in the UK, the first-past-the-post electoral system means that  most people justifiably feel that their vote doesn’t count and/or that they can’t vote for a party they believe in  - so it’s really not surprising when the turnout at elections is so low.‘

We have a lively Green Party Women group in the Party  and we are working hard to ensure women are empowered to come forward as candidates as we see equality as fundamental to progress towards a sustainable world.  The Green Party has just elected its new Equality and Diversity Committee to ensure we  continuously improve. 

According to a report from the Centre for Women & Democracy  : the 2010 General Election there were more candidates standing than ever before (4,134). There were also more women candidates than ever before (877), constituting a greater percentage of candidates than previously (21% as against 20% in 2005, 18% in 1997 and 8% in 1979).
The report noted that the Green Party had the highest percentage of women candidates (33% - a slightly inaccurate figure) followed by Labour (30%), the Conservative Party (24%) and the Liberal Democrats (21%).'