What are the Green Party’s policies?

Suffolk Coastal Green Party’s three top priorities are:

 

We support national Green Party policies, founded on the following ten pillars:

Save the environment
We are in the middle of what scientists call the sixth mass extinction.
The Green Party will:

  • strengthen international agreements on climate breakdown
  • change how we measure progress
  • accelerate the roll-out of renewable energy
  • reduce our energy consumption

Green our land
Our land is under assault from developers, dirty technology and plastic.
The Green Party will:

  • make it easier to block the wrong kind of development
  • protect the land and sea
  • facilitate a zero waste society
  • plant more trees
  • ban fracking

Protect animal life
The Green Party doesn’t think it’s right to exploit other species on the planet, and will:

  • end abuse and exploitation of companion animals
  • reduce animal farming
  • ban animal testing
  • stop the badger cull and extend the hunting act

Challenge privilege
From vested interests that use our broken electoral system and corrupt party funding process to steer policy in the direction they want, to politicians who feel they have a right to rule because of the school they went to, privilege is all around us. The Green Party will:

  • make votes matter
  • retire unelected politicians
  • enable diversity
  • reform political funding

End discrimination
Whatever your skin colour, sexuality, ability or gender identity, our country should be a place where you feel at home. The Green Party will end discrimination by:

  • starting in schools
  • smashing barriers for BAME people
  • tackling misogyny
  • fighting for the LGBTIQA+ community
  • improving trans rights

Champion international friendships
We want to build a country that is at ease with itself and its neighbours, which builds bridges not walls.  The Green Party will:

  • hold a People’s vote on the Brexit deal and campaigning for a reformed Europe:
  • stand up for migrants and refugees
  • abolishing nuclear weapons and curb the arms trade
  • transform lives through international aid

Liberate our working lives
An economy that delivers more free time to spend with friends and family, which ensures greater financial security for everyone, alongside the opportunity to live larger lives. The Green Party will:

  • phase in the four-day working week
  • introduce a Universal Basic Income
  • create more high quality jobs
  • end workplace exploitation
  • tackle wage inequality

 

Unleash our creative power
The Green Party seeks to unleash the urge in all of us to be creative, to be innovative, to be brave by:Widening access to university and adult education, for people of ages by:

  • delivering genuine localism
  • giving small businesses a competitive break
  • making high-speed broadband a right
  • increasing funding and tax cuts for the arts and independent media


Embed collective kindness in our society

We envision a country underpinned by well-funded, locally led public services providing care and support for all – a society rooted in kindness:

  • restoring the NHS
  • freeing schools from the current test-led regime
  • bringing railways and buses into community hands
  • investing in community renewal
  • supporting disabled people

Deliver quality of life for all
The water we drink, the air we breathe, the grass our children play on, the homes we live in – they determine our health and wellbeing.

  • tackling air pollution
  • localising energy provision
  • insulating our homes
  • boosting access to green space and outdoor exercise
  • making council housing accessible again
  • giving more rights to private sector renters

For a more detailed look at the policies, take a look at the national Green Party website

GPEW-strap-online-wg

MP Thérèse Coffey at Greener Rendlesham

Suffolk Coastal MP Thérèse Coffey held a public meeting on 19th July, promoted by Greener Rendlesham.

Introduction
Thérèse told us she has been Minister of State for the Environment for three years (and was appointed again under new PM Boris Johnson on 25th July). She opened by conceding that “climate has been on the agenda for some time” and referred to the IPBES report on species extinction and habitat loss and the significance of our oceans – responsible for half the air we breathe and now in the forefront of widespread concern about plastic pollution.

Thérèse’s message was positive. She talked about how excited she was that 2020 is to be a “magical” year for global agreements, in particular, the UN Ocean Conference, and UN Conference on Climate Change (which might be held in the UK). She also mentioned the UN Sustainable Goals, due for review in 2030.

Following her brief introduction, Thérèse took questions on:

Sizewell C
Concern was raised about the impact on Minsmere, building on a SSI, species loss etc.
TC said that Sizewell was developed in the ‘60s, and the area designated as an AONB in 1970. ‘I do believe that the environment and industry can co-exist,’ she said. She views nuclear power as a carbon-free ‘solid baseline power.’

Plastics and recycling
An audience member spoke of the difficulties of correctly identifying what plastics to put in which recycling bins.
There is no national agreement on manufacturers’ labelling. TC quoted a 25-year government plan looking into a mandatory scheme on plastics and recycling. Consultations have happened, but nothing has been announced.
The aim is for food waste to be collected from every home by 2023 and there is still deep discussion about a possible ban on plastic straws and the introduction of bottle banks.
She identified challenges like the film used in microwaves meals, and the volume of single plastic use in the NHS.
She mentioned that a majority of countries have approved the legally-binding UN Plastic Waste pact.

Solar power
Why isn’t it law that municipal buildings and new houses must have solar panels?
The majority of solar has been installed since 2010. TC commented that in 2015 the European Court of Justice ruled against VAT reductions on energy saving materials. As for wind power, decisions are made by local councils.
The 1987 Montreal Treaty is one of the most successful global treaties, she said, and has phased out several fluorinated gases.
(In the UK,  a member of the audience pointed out, VAT on domestic gas and electricity – fossil fuels – was cut from 20% to 5%).

East Suffolk Council climate emergency (tabled by SCGP’s Rachel Smith-Lyte)
It’s hoped that all policies will now have to consider the environmental footprint.

Palm oil and habitat loss
A suggestion was made to tax palm oil to make room for cheaper, more sustainable alternatives.
TC said that palm oil is among the issues under consideration by the Global Resource Initiative over the next year.  She hoped that leaving the EU might pave the way for a better relationship with, for example, Indonesia over timber logging.

Northern Route bypass
TC got a round of applause when she asked, ‘Do we need another dual carriageway?’ She understands the desire for more housing, but doesn’t think it’s the right thing to do.

Our future
12-year-old Eve got a standing ovation for her honest, direct appeal to, not just TC, but all of us. She said we were stealing what little time her generation has left and is frustrated that people complement her for her ‘passion’ about climate change when, in fact, she has better things to do on a Friday night. Younger people face a dystopian future as the price for the current obsession with economic growth. Action needs to happen now on aviation, fracking and oil.
TC replied honestly that the government could not commit to zero emissions by 2030 which Eve called for, saying she ‘didn’t believe we can achieve that.’ The Committee on Climate Change recommends zero carbon by 2050 and TC appreciated that hers was a ‘frustrating answer.’ She emphasised nature-based solutions – ‘Technology is not there yet’ – and the importance of acting, not just saying we will act.

Mangroves
Eve’s friend seconded her plea for quick action and talked about the benefits of mangrove forests.
TC drew parallels with Suffolk’s salt marshes which similarly provide habitat and coastal defences.

Austerity
After 9 years of cuts, how can government support local councils?
TC conceded that grants had fallen and said she wouldn’t pretend it’s not challenging.

Climate change acceleration
Climate change isn’t linear; it’s unpredictable and unprecedented (e.g. methane from melting ice caps). Scientists are out of their comfort zones and while it’s great that there are 60 people here, there should be 60,000. How to get people on board and is there, in fact, a big, holistic agenda to tackle the crisis?
TC referred to next year’s Biodiversity Conference (?). The government has adopted a National Adaptation Programme but this has been criticised, TC noted, by the Climate Change Committee for not having a particular timeline. This is now being looked at more carefully.

Too little, too late
One audience member spoke about feeling as if she were in a timewarp. Actions are 30 or 40 years too late. The UN General Secretary said we should have changed direction by 2020. Is it time to move to rationing and a war time economy?
TC recognised that people want more, and quicker. It’s a challenge. The UK, she said, has been at the forefront of the EU in pushing for environmental changes and will continue to work with them.

Consumerism
Does the government need more teeth to persuade us to change our consumer habits?
TC wants a move to a circular economy, with changes in design which are based on recyclability, with accompanying regulations.

Concrete
Concrete is a huge part of many infrastructure projects but causes 8% of CO2 emissions. How can we reduce concrete use eg, in motorway bridges and can tax breaks be given to alternative solutions?
TC said she didn’t know the answer but would find out more and write to the questioner.

Third World Countries
Countries like Uganda are the most badly off. It receives the rest of the world’s plastic and has put up expensive solar panels, but cases 1% of the problem while suffering from the other 99%.
TC has been to Uganda and commented that it was one of the poorest place she’d visited. Like Bangladesh, it disproportionately handles the world’s waste while suffering the most ill effects…


I had to leave at this point, just before the meeting closed. I’m writing this some time after the event, so many apologies for anything mis-remembered or left out.
Report by Libby Ruffle

If you have any additional content to add to this report, comments, or want to share thoughts about any of these issues, email us:

suffolkcoastgreens@gmail.com

 

Housing. Why are there so few affordable houses to buy or rent?

This is a direct result of Conservative policy.

They first said that local councils must allow their tenants to buy their houses at a below market price. Note that this privilege was not extended to private tenants!

Further, local councils were not allowed to build any more houses to replace the ones they had been forced to sell. As an example, Ipswich had owned 14,000 houses, they have been forced to sell about 6,500.   Of these 6,500, about half are no longer occupied by the original tenants. They either died or sold and moved elsewhere. So these houses are now private to rent houses. Thus, within Ipswich about 3000 affordable houses to rent have disappeared even though the population has grown greatly in the last 20 years.   And the losses are still continuing.

And you have to remember that when big estates like Chantry were built they were 100% affordable houses.   Now when the like of Persimmon or Bloor build small estates they argue and get the percentage of ‘affordable ones’ reduced to around 5%. And remember that Persimmon made a £66,00 profit on each house they built in their last financial year.

Article by SCGP Membership Secretary Eric Walker

Read more about Green Party housing policy here

affordable homes

 

Why is the welfare state disappearing?

BootsNurses-1

Two main reasons.

A/ Taxation as a percentage of company profits has been steadily reduced over the last 20 years.

B/ Wealthy companies and super rich individuals with the aid of smart lawyers, have found ways to avoid tax by using tax havens. Companies in the news such as Amazon and Facebook get the headlines but they are not the only ones. That well known British company ‘Boots the Chemists’, when owned by British shareholders paid annual tax of about £100 million.   But since bought by a private equity firm, they have paid almost no tax.

According to John Ralfe, Boots’ former head of corporate finance, “the UK has lost about £100m a year in tax as result”.[23]

<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boots_UK#cite_note-Guardian-23>

 post by Eric Walker, SCGP Membership Secretary

Read more on the Green Party’s economic policy

tax

 

Farmers and the EU subsidy

Farming is a major industry in our region. U.K farmers currently receive £3.5 billion each year in E.U. subsidies £80 an acre they farm.

Gove proposes that when this subsidy stops as we leave the E.U. he will year by year reduce the amount the farmers receive until by 2028 the subsidy has vanished. He also proposes to remove the tariff that food importers have to pay on food from non E.U. countries. Brexiteers such as Jacob Rees-Mogg often extol the ‘cheap food’ that will result from leaving the E.U.   Jacob is not really interested in the fate of our farmers.

His considerable wealth comes from his investments which, routed via tax havens are his main source of income.

post by Eric Walker, SCGP Membership Secretary

agrireport-300x231

Clash of interests at NHS

The Health Secretary has just set up new NHS department called NHSX, a unit for “digital transformation in the NHS” which will “ combine the best talent from government, NHS and industry”.

This should set off alarm bells.

New Labour tried something similar, inviting tech companies into the NHS only to waste £12 billion. Clashes of interest need to be avoided. Current signs are not good. Last November they set up the ‘Healthtech Advisory Board’. Who is on it? Nicola Blackwood who was a Health Minister in government until she lost her seat in the 2017 election. Now she works as ‘senior adviser’ to several commercial companies in the health field all anxious to get or keep nice contracts with the NHS. In spite of this work for these companies she now gets appointed to a government body which is to advise on future direction in this field.

post by Eric Walker, SCGP Membership Secretary

 

Review: ‘Torn From Home’ for Holocaust Memorial Day at the University of Suffolk 25th January

Rwanda, 1994. Evariste Kanamugire was a child when he came home to be met by a neighbour. ‘You must leave now.’ All of his family had been massacred. Telling  this story on Holocaust Memorial Day, Evariste paused as he struggled to keep his composure. The trauma of his story and his quiet determination to tell it, especially given that he had for a long time been unable even to speak, left the audience silent and struggling to articulate a response.

‘Torn From Home’ was brilliantly put together by Northgate High School, Ipswich Faith and Community Forum and the University of Suffolk,  along with several other groups and individuals. The contribution from Northgate, in particular, was highly commended by Holocaust educator and speaker Mike Levy as ‘outstanding.’ Their presentation of dance and poetry was compelling and a wonderful coming together of the school’s different departments.

Elizabeth Sugarman of the Suffolk Liberal Jewish Community was the first speaker on the programme. Her relatives were Dutch Jews. 70% of the Jewish population in Holland were murdered by the Nazi regime, the single biggest loss in Western Europe. One of Elizabeth’s relatives was Nanette Blitz Konig, who was taken to Westerbork with her family, before being sent to Bergen-Belsen. There, she met an old school friend, one Anne Frank. Unlike Anne, Nanette survived and after recovering from typhus travelled to Eindhoven, England and then, finally, to Brazil. She is still alive, and survived by several children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The Northgate students next interviewed Frank Bright, whose family moved from Berlin to Prague, hoping it would be safer. But the family were sent to Theresienstadt getto. The people already there, he recalled, were not friendly but jealous of the extra time that new arrivals had spent outside. He would soon feel the same emotion. Frank and his family were transported to Auschwitz.  ‘We didn’t know what Auschwitz meant,’ he said.
Alone of his family, Frank survived. ‘Being liberated did not mean living happily ever after.’ He was 17, on his own, with no education. He compared what schooling he had received before being sent to the ghetto, to child minding – after all, why educate Jewish children?

Frank’s response to the promise of ‘never again’ was stark. It’s wishful thinking, he said. Study the subject yourself, he advised, and don’t rely on hearsay.

Mike Levy, a Holocaust educator, expanded on the increasing build up to the Holocaust. He described the awful events of Kristallnacht, reminding us that this took place in a country where Jewish people made up only 1% of the population when Hitler came to power.

The audience was shown a Pathe news reel of children arriving on the Kindertransport on 2nd December 1938. Over 200  children arrived on the boat from Hook of Holland to Harwich, and were bussed to Dovercourt, then a Warners holiday camp. Some would have been told that their parents would follow which, of course, they never did. That winter was the coldest of the century and their hot water bottles froze in the unheated chalets. While most of the country and media welcomed the children, some newspapers hoped no more would come to ‘steal their jobs.’

Elsewhere in Suffolk, evidence of the Jewish children remains visible: on a farm building at Lodge Farm in Saxtead, for example, shalom – Hebrew for peace – is written in white paint. And fifteen children, he told the Ipswich audience, found homes in the town.
Mike also invited up Ann Chadwick, who was two when 5-year-old Suzie Spitzer arrived from Prague as her new foster sister.

Martin Simmonds of Suffolk Refugee Support, which helps refugees from countries like Eritrea, Sudan and Syria, told us that there are some 68.5 million people displaced globally – more than the UK population. He read out quotes from refugees about how they felt on leaving their countries. No one wanted to leave their homes. It is as if, one person said, part of the soul remains behind.

And so we heard how Evariste, the final speaker, has slowly learned to talk again, is married and has children, and completed his studies to be a social worker. He sleeps now, something he was unable to do for several years. But he has nightmares. And although he has refugee status, he is waiting to officially become a British citizen to feel truly at  home.

A shared act of Reflection and Commitment, and an exit to the haunting sound of Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus  played by Nick Parry and Nigel Tuffs – and composed by Olivier Messiaen in a Nazi Prisoner of War camp – was a suitably contemplative end to the event.

 

Review by Libby Ruffle
Contrubtions are welcome from all Suffolk Coastal Green Party members