News - National Party News
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett's response to Leveson reportREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
THE Green Party today welcomed many aspects of the Leveson report, while expressing disappointment that there was little in it to practically address the concentration of ownership in the press.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said the call from Lord Justice Leveson for a new independent self-regulatory body, with the majority of its board comprising non-industry representatives and no serving editors, was a step forward.
"We would welcome the creation of independent oversight with majority civil society involvement."
"But although there is the call for independent regulation here, the mechanism suggested is indirect, clunky and open to subversion, rather than the direct creation of an independent body along the lines of Ireland's Press Council. There's also no reference to union representation, which would provide an important expert, hands-on view within the new regulatory body."
Natalie said that although the call for the new regulator to run a whistle-blowing hotline, and for a "conscience clause" to be inserted in journalists' contracts of employment was positive, the judge had failed to recommend direct action to ensure this happened. "The NUJ has long been calling for journalists to be protected if they refuse to act in manners they consider unethical, and it is essential for a future decent, independent press that this right is provided."
Natalie also welcomed the judge's call for a legal duty for the freedom of the press to be enshrined in law, which is not currently the case. She said: "Whilst the Leveson inquiry has rightly focused a spotlight on inappropriate and outright illegal behaviour by the press, we must never forget that a tenacious, questioning, independent press has in the past served Britain well, from the Sunday Times thalidomide campaign, to the Guardian's exposure of Jonathan Aitkin.
"This must be preserved and protected, and Leveson has rightly made his opposition to government regulation clear right from the start."
Natalie also welcomed the judge's recognition that the public was rightly suspicious of close relations between press and politicians when it came to lobbying about media issues.
"He was right to say that this undermines public trust and confidence, and his call for transparency in the form of registration of lobbying contacts was a good one, and potentially revolutionary, insetting a model that could be used across other industries and sectors. Registration of lobbyists is something the Green Party has long been calling for and this report provides a real opportunity to return to that broader issue."
The Green Party's chief criticism of the report is in the area of media ownership. While the judge makes a strong statement about the importance of plurality, he fails to make a direct recommendation for action, or taken board submissions made to him about limits for media concentration. Natalie said: "His call for greater transparency when ministers consider whether or not to refer a media merger to the competition authorities on plurality grounds is welcome, but does not go far enough. An independent regulator or overseer should have the power to make this referral."
Demand Reduction Should Take Centre Stage In New Energy BillREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
Responding to the Bill, Green MP Caroline Lucas said:
"While I welcome the Secretary of State's recognition of the huge opportunities offered by greater energy efficiency, I am disappointed that measures to help householders manage their bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring people out of fuel poverty are simply being tacked on to the government's energy strategy rather than taking centre stage.
We have heard positive statements about incentivising businesses and industry to invest in energy saving but unless this is much more of a priority in the Energy Bill, with concrete policies to match the Energy Secretary's rhetoric, the potential identified by DECC to reduce electricity demand by 40% by 2030 will not be realised.
The government's weak Green Deal policy looks unlikely to deliver either for bill payers or the energy efficiency industry, so the Chancellor should listen to calls from MPs to use the revenue from carbon taxes and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to invest in a nationwide housing retrofit to ensure all of our homes need far less energy to keep warm."
"The Bill also proposes £7.6bn of new funding for low carbon generation, bringing welcome green jobs. However the Government needs to do far more to offer long term certainty for the sector beyond 2020 by committing to a zero carbon electricity supply by 2030.
In 2006, David Cameron said that ‘we need targets as well as technology' to make the shift to a greener economy, yet he has allowed his Chancellor to completely disregard the Committee on Climate Change, his coalition partners, the renewables industry, NGOs and a raft of the UK's largest businesses by scrapping the 2030 decarbonisation target. Equally deplorable is the Goverment's refusal to support binding energy efficiency and renewables targets for 2030 that would deliver the longer term certainty that green investors are crying out for.
"Amendments are also needed to this Bill to rule out a new dash for gas. Gas is the real threat to our energy bills - not green policies. It has been repeatedly shown that the UK's ongoing dependence on expensive and polluting imported gas is what is forcing up energy bills. Yet Ministers have failed to tackle this problem. This government's apparent determination to keep the UK hooked on gas even in the face of the UN's latest warnings on climate change also raises serious questions about who Ministers are listening to over energy policy and the influence of pro-gas voices like Lord Howell."
Commenting on the confirmation of plans to subsidise new nuclear power through Electricity Market Reform, the Green MP said:
"Coalition ministers have stated again and again that their pledge to spend no public money on new nuclear will hold, yet it's obvious that EMR has been designed to allow subsidy via the backdoor.
"Ministers must now come clean about their intention to subsidise the nuclear industry after 2020 through the ‘Contracts for Difference' mechanism in the Energy Bill. We also need to know how much of the new funding for low carbon generation will be used to support clean home grown renewables rather than CCS or nuclear.
"At an estimated cost of up to £7bn per power station according to EDF, nuclear is eye-wateringly expensive and there's a real risk that householders will be saddled with the ever increasing costs of a new generation of inflexible expensive nuclear power funding when this support could be redirected to a range of renewable energy technologies instead.
"The government must urgently ditch this obsession with nuclear power, which threatens to add a huge burden to household bills for decades to come."
"Demand reduction should take centre stage in this new Bill, rather than being tacked on as a consultation exercise. MPs must also fight for an ambitious decarbonisation target, rule out a new dash for gas, and deliver support for smaller generators to break up the Big 6.
This Bill, coupled with next week's autumn statement, is an opportunity to reduce UK dependency on fossil fuels and drive transition to renewable home grown energy system – it's critical that opportunity is not wasted."
We need to solve the housing crisis, but not at our countryside's expenseREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight, Boles claims that the proportion of England's developed land should increase from the existing 9% to 12% - an increase of 1,500 square miles, equivalent to two and a half times the size of Greater London.
Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, said: "While it's clear that we need urgent action from the Government to address the UK's housing crisis, this should not mean whole swathes of our countryside being swallowed up by development as Mr Boles has suggested.
"The minister's desire to rapidly increase housing development on greenfield sites does nothing to address underlying issues affecting the availability of housing, such as Government cuts to the affordable housing budget and the failure to tackle long-term empty homes – with approximately 300,000 homes in England currently uninhabited.
"Housing should be at the top of the government's list of spending priorities – the campaign group Homes for Britain says that every £1 spent on housing puts £3 into the economy – and for every £1 spent on construction, government gets 56p back in reduced welfare payments.
"Nor does the minister address the practise of ‘land banking' – purchasing land for development, then refusing to build upon it until the value has increased, which contributes to the problem of 1.5 million brownfield sites that are suitable for development being left unused."
Ms. Bennett said: "Rather than riding roughshod over planning rules meant to protect our natural heritage, we need to see greater use of city and town brownfield sites, reuse existing industrial and office buildings as homes, and to look at how we can bring empty homes into use.
"This in part means restoring regional development policies that can rebalance our economy away from London and the South East.
"We should also be replacing regressive and business-damaging council tax and business rates with a land value tax, which would discourage speculation, 'land banking', and open up already existing development sites for use."
Price hike proves rail should be renationalisedREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
The Green Party is calling for the failed experiment in privatised rail to be allowed to end, after the impact of the tenth consecutive annual above-inflation ticket price increase was revealed.
Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett said: ‘There's very strong public support for renationalising the railways, and these price rises are only going to strengthen that. As the Rebuilding Rail report showed, privatisation is costing us £1.2 billion each year, and failing to deliver a reliable, innovative,
In August, the Coalition confirmed its plans to allow rail companies to increase prices by an average of 4.2 per cent, as of January 2 2013. This is one per cent above the rate of inflation, and marks a tenth consecutive real-terms increase in price for people travelling by rail.
Yesterday, Passenger Focus released figures which show some firms will be increasing prices by as much as 6.5 per cent.
In Brighton, for example, the full-price annual season ticket from Brighton to Travelcard zones 1-6 is set to be hiked from £4,644 to £4,928, a rise of 6.1 per cent.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: ‘The commuter rail fare rise is shocking, and comes in the same week as the news that our city is the worst affected in the south east by government council cuts. What has happened to David Cameron's announcement last month that the average rise for the next two years would be capped at RPI plus 1 per cent?
‘People are already being badly hurt by the government's disastrous economic mismanagement, council cuts and soaring energy bills. This is a scandalous rise, designed to keep shareholders well served while everyone else suffers the squeeze of so-called austerity.
‘Not only is this bad news for the environment but it is wrong that hard-working tax payers should have to foot the bill for profits and overseas shareholders. For both reasons, the Green Party is firmly committed to re-nationalising the railways – and three quarters of British voters now agree with us.'
Ms Bennett added: ‘Gradually bringing railways back under government control as contracts expire or are handed in is clearly the way forward, to rebuild a cost-effective, efficient and reliable service.'
To see how your rail fare will be affected, visit: http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/service/seasonticket/tickets
The Green Party has called for the University of London to be consistent in offering all its workers the London Living WageREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
THE leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, has written to Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Vice Chancellor of the University of London, urging him ensure outsourced workers enjoy the same pay and conditions as those directly employed by the university.
Below is the letter in full:
Dear Professor Sir Adrian Smith,
I am writing you in my capacity as Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, to express my concern over the situation of the outsourced workers at the University of London (central administration).
However I would first like to congratulate you and the University of London on the introduction of the London Living Wage for all workers at the University of London as of July of this year. I would also commend you on your recent announcement that the new London Living Wage rate of £8.55 will be introduced this month at the University, backdated to November 1. The Green Party has long been a supporter of a Living Wage and has advocated for its introduction throughout the United Kingdom.
However I am concerned about the lack of sick pay, holidays, and decent pension schemes available to the outsourced workers at the University of London. It has been brought to my attention that most of the outsourced workers receive fewer holidays than their colleagues who work directly at the University of London. I have also been informed that most of the outsourced workers receive only statutory sick pay if they are sick. As you know, SSP does not provide anything in the first three days of illness, and covers only £85.85 per week afterwards. I think we can all agree that this is near impossible to live on in London, let alone to support a family. Finally, I believe that all workers at the University of London should have the ability to buy into a decent pension scheme.
I urge you to completely accept the workers requests for a decent, fair package of conditions - pension, sick pay and holidays.
Your policy on the London Living Wage is commendable, but merely a first step on the path towards a dignified life and working conditions for the cleaners, caterers, security guards, and porters who keep your University functioning daily. I will therefore be supporting these workers and their 3 Cosas Campaign by making a video recorded endorsement, distributing campaign information to our members, and assisting with press coverage of the campaign.
I do hope that you look into options for address the conditions of these workers at the University of London as soon as possible.
Essential services protected by Green budget proposalsREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
THE Green administration of Brighton & Hove City Council today presented its draft budget plans against a backdrop of extensive funding cuts by the Conservative-led Coalition Government and the anticipated consequences of their welfare cuts.
The draft Green budget proposals protect essential services for residents and also offset 10% of the government's budget cuts with a modest 2% increase in council tax, below inflation and costing just 43p more a week for the average household; less than the price of a first class stamp.
Key measures in the draft 2013/14 budget include:
· All branch libraries to remain open;
· All children's centres to remain open;
· No changes to eligibility criteria for getting help from social care where many other councils are 'raising the bar';
· Support for carers protected;
· Maintaining one of Britain's last-remaining council-run youth services;
· Funding to prevent homelessness protected; also additional one-off resources identified to support this work further;
· Protecting grant funding to the voluntary and community sector, where many councils are halving or cutting such funding altogether;
· £300,000 additional support for key third sector financial advice organisations (e.g. Citizen's Advice Bureau) to help support residents who are worst hit by financial difficulties and government welfare cuts. These organisations are themselves threatened by government cuts to funding such as legal aid;
· Investing in incentives and infrastructure to support our growth industries such as the digital and creative sectors;
· Maintaining historically high levels of investment in transport improvements for the city;
· £8.4m more savings in expenditure, identified through increased efficiency and productivity;
Council Leader, Jason Kitcat said:
"The Green administration rejects the government's austerity cuts agenda, which is ill-considered and doing untold harm to our residents and the city's economy. Our draft Green budget is designed to protect essential services and carry on investing in our city, for the benefit of all residents and businesses.
"Our ability to continue supporting essential services and investing in the city, despite unprecedented government cuts, comes from prudent management of the council's spending and services over the last year, which leaves us in a much stronger position than many other cities as we enter the new budget round.
"As government welfare cuts bite into people's lives, the city council is seeing increasing demand for our welfare and care services. We also have ever-decreasing funds. I hope that in these difficult times, people will understand that the modest 2% council tax increase will help provide the services our city needs. It is less than inflation but, without it, services across the board, from libraries and street sweeping to care for children and the elderly, face being 10% worse off.
"These draft proposals build on the extensive consultation we've already had with the city on the challenging budget situation the city council faces. By publishing our proposals three months before the budget is finalised, we are once again providing an opportunity to listen properly to those affected, so that we can evolve our proposals ahead of the final decision in February."
The full picture for local government will only be available after the Government's Autumn Statement on 5th December, together with the Local Government Settlement which will be announced on 20th December and the schools funding settlement due in mid January 2013
Green MEPs welcome outright EU ban on shark finningREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
THE UK's Green MEPs, Keith Taylor and Jean Lambert, have welcomed a vote by the European Parliament which supports proposed legislation to ban the cruel practice of shark finning.
A 2003 EU law established a ban, but it was possible for fishermen to get around this by applying for special permits which allowed them to continue to remove the fins if they kept the bodies onboard their boats, rather then throwing them overboard.
However, given that such processing takes place on board vessels and fins and bodies can be landed in different ports, control and enforcement of the law was extremely difficult. Shark bodies were discarded overboard to make more storage space for the more valuable fins. The animal is often still alive after its fin has been removed and drowns when thrown back into the sea. The Greens in the European Parliament have long supported the outlawing of this odious fishing practice and the parliament today called for this existing loophole to be closed.
Speaking after the vote, Keith Taylor MEP said:"An unequivocal EU ban on the odious and wasteful practice of shark finning will finally become reality after this vote. MEPs have voted to prohibit the removal of shark's fins on board, making it mandatory to land sharks with the fins naturally attached. This will allow the EU ban to finally be implemented without exceptions. Despite EU legislation on shark finning existing since 2003, loopholes enabled this barbaric and wasteful practice to continue. Thankfully a majority of MEPs have now voted for an outright ban and rejected attempts to preserve these loopholes.
Jean Lambert MEP said: "Every year millions of sharks are caught, their fins hacked off and the bodies simply discarded to meet the demand for shark fin soup, an expensive delicacy. This is not only a senseless waste, it also puts pressure on threatened shark species. Banning shark finning in European fisheries is an important step, but the EU should also advocate for the practice to be outlawed at international level."
Greens support groups such as Shark Alliance which are calling for domestic and international catch limits to fully address the overexploitation of sharks.
New Renewables Funding Is Welcome, But No 2030 Target Means No Long Term CertaintyREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
MPs must now fight for decarbonisation target and support for smaller generators to break Big 6 deadlock'
The government has today announced details of some of its plans to reform the power sector ahead of the first reading of the Energy Bill next week.
Responding to the announcement, Green MP Caroline Lucas said:
"While I welcome the government's deal on £7.6bn of new funding for renewables and the green jobs this will bring, today's announcement should have done far more to offer long term certainty for the sector beyond 2020 by committing to a zero carbon electricity supply by 2030.
"In 2006, David Cameron said that ‘we need targets as well as technology' to make the shift to a greener economy, yet he has allowed his Chancellor to completely disregard the Committee on Climate Change, his coalition partners, the renewables industry, NGOs and a raft of the UK's largest businesses by scrapping the 2030 decarbonisation target.
"The real threat to our energy bills is not green policies, but the UK's ongoing dependence on expensive and polluting imported gas, which today's announcement will only perpetuate – along with plans to subsidise new nuclear power through Electricity Market Reform.
"Coalition ministers have stated again and again that their pledge to spend no public money on new nuclear will hold, yet it's obvious that EMR has been designed to allow subsidy via the backdoor.
"Ministers must now come clean about their plans to subsidise the nuclear industry after 2020 through the ‘Contracts for Difference' mechanism in the Energy Bill.
"At an estimated cost of between £5bn and £7bn per power station according to EDF, nuclear is eye-wateringly expensive and there's a real risk that funding will be sucked away from renewables.
"The government must urgently ditch this obsession with nuclear power, which threatens to add a huge burden to household bills for decades to come."
"Ed Davey is right to say that energy efficiency measures should significantly bring down bills in the years to come – DECC's own figures show the UK could reduce electricity demand by 40% by 2030, a massive saving for bill payers.
"But since the government's weak Green Deal policy looks unlikely to go anywhere near to delivering this, the Energy Secretary's rhetoric on demand reduction now needs more concrete policies to match.
"And if the Chancellor really cares about people's energy bills, he will listen to calls from MPs to use the revenue from carbon taxes and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to invest in a nationwide housing retrofit to ensure all of our homes need far less energy to keep warm."
The Green MP concluded:
"This government's apparent determination to keep the UK hooked on gas even in the face of the UN's latest warnings on climate change also raises serious questions about who Ministers are listening to over energy policy and the influence of pro-gas voices like Lord Howell.
"When the Energy Bill comes to Parliament, MPs must work together to get the 2030 decarbonisation target into legislation, and to ensure measures to open up the energy market for independent and smaller generators, and community projects – breaking the monopoly of the Big 6."
Britain must ‘Educate, Empower, Employ' our young people"READ ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
THE GREEN Party congratulates students taking part in the #Demo2012 protest against the loss of their Education Maintenance Allowance, the rise in university tuition fees, and the failure to provide employment opportunities for young people entering the workforce.
The demonstration, organised by the National Union of Students, is the first organised student protest in London since 2010 saw a wave of similar events caused by the government's decision to almost triple university tuition fees.
Organisers expect at least 10,000 protesters to march past Parliament Square, under the slogan of ‘Educate, Empower, Employ'.
Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, said: "Two years ago I spoke at a debate at Westminster Kingsway College, where I saw the anger and despair of students facing the loss of their Education Maintenance Allowance, and heard how for some it would mean the end of their education."
"Now, their younger sisters and brothers enter a world in which the EMA is only a distant dream, where they face £9,000 per year tuition fees should they get to university, and where nearly one million young people are trapped in unemployment."
"This cannot be allowed to continue. We need to support young people to learn, to train and to study, and ensure that they can be sure of finding a place in the workforce after that."
"This means abolishing university tuition fees - the Green Party's fully-costed 2010 general election manifesto showed how that could be achieved - and restoring the EMA or a comparable system."
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: "Today Greens stand in solidarity with the thousands of students taking to the streets of London to march for the future of higher education."
"This government's reckless decisions to vastly increase tuition fees, scrap the Educational Maintenance Allowance and cut college funding amount to nothing less than an assault on our young people – and on the principle of universal education."
"With youth unemployment now at nearly one million and no clear sign of economic recovery, our younger generations are facing the tragic reality of being denied the same opportunities as their parents."
Lisa Camps, Campaigns Officer for Young Greens, said: "I'm marching with young greens from across the country today because the fight for our future didn't end with the trebling of fees and the scrapping of EMA. Young people have been promised a world of opportunities which has been pulled from underneath them."
"Young people will protest, occupy, and keep taking action to take back our futures from a tiny elite intent upon preserving education as being for the privileged few."
An anti-women 'church within a church' is unacceptableREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
THE Christian message is at heart about reconciliation. But the church which is supposed to proclaim and live that message has often failed to do so in its own life and example, sometimes spectacularly.
The row over women bishops in the Church of England will be seen by many as another example of this, which is why Archbishop of Canterbury designate Justin Welby - no stranger to conflict zones - was so keen to emphasise at General Synod this afternoon that the vocation of the C of E ought to be "how to develop the mission of the church in a way that demonstrates that we can manage diversity of view without division; diversity in amity, not diversity in enmity."
That is a right, bridge-building note to strike. But it did not work with the hardened minority. For the reality is that it takes two sides to build a bridge, and one of the difficulties of the current situation is that some opponents of full women's ministry in the Church of England clearly want to be able to maintain a 'church within a church' based on non-recognition, non-collaboration, non-acceptance, and in some cases non-communion.
The compromises that enable this are sold in terms of 'provision' and 'accommodation'. But those labels are misleading. After the decision to ordain women in 1992, the General Synod adopted the disastrous Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. This established 'flying bishops' for anti-women priests and parishes. It instituted legally sanctioned no-go areas for women. There was nothing reconciliatory about any of that, and what it mostly achieved was the institutionalisation a kind of 'trench warfare' conducted by those implacably opposed to accepting women as priests.
The proposal on the table at Synod today (20 November 2012) was a slight step forward on that Act. It would have allowed parishes who will not recognise a woman bishop alternative male episcopal oversight -- but the details of that would have been shaped by guidelines rather than legislation, and the formula by which it would have been enacted at least avoided guaranteeing that the alternative would have to be a man who himself opposes the ministry of women. In that way the deeply offensive notion of 'taint' ("you receive women's ministry so we won't receive or recognise yours") was removed from the equation.
Nevertheless, the women who would have become bishops if today's legislation had been passed would have to operate within constraints, and with a degree of blatant non-acceptance from some colleagues, which their male counterparts do not have to put up with, and which in any other walks of life would rightly be regarded as intolerable. Such a 'solution' is, at best, unfair and ungracious.
At worst, it is asking one group of people to accept a second-class position in order to placate the refusal of others to recognise their ministry as legitimate purely because of their gender. This in no way fits with the calling of the church to exemplify "a new creation in Christ"; to affirm (in St Paul's words) that "in Christ there is neither male nor female"; to honour the first witnesses to the resurrection (apostolic women whose testimony the law did not accept, but the faith did); to acknowledge female Christian leaders in the New Testament like Junia, or to follow Christ in challenging social institutions that excluded women and many others from the community.
Yes, Jesus' first active disciples were men, because the conventions and restrictions of the day made elements of their public role very difficult for women. But Jesus took every opportunity to affirm the importance of women theologically as well as socially (think of Martha and Mary). Naturally then, as the nature and circumstances of the 'sending out' changed, women played a crucial role in the early Christian movement, which recognised (in a way that some 2,000 years later some sadly still do not!) the revolutionary consequences of the Gospel for those who had been pushed aside by forms of religion that arrogated themselves ahead of the boundary-breaking love of God.
So, yes, a reconciliatory approach to the way we 'do church', internally and externally, is vital. But the true reconciliation of which the Gospel speaks involves bringing together in transformed relationships people who have been wrongly divided from each other and from God: women and men, slave and free, Jew and Greek, rich and poor, 'clean' (in ritual terms) and 'unclean'.
Any church order or sacramental theology which cannot recognise and act on this in every fibre of its being is, in the final analysis, deeply flawed. Likewise, pastoral and ecclesiastical arrangements that are ultimately allowed to deny the possibility of transformation, and which seek instead to preserve the very barriers Christ broke down, will end up being a counter-witness rather than a 'provision'.
When the Church of England finally gets women bishops (from the moment women were ordained as priests it was always when, not whether), the situation of those who cannot accept female oversight and leadership will have changed fundamentally. Attempts by some within the church to go on believing that women's priestly role might in future somehow be revoked will lack any basis. A permanent wall of refusal will become unfeasible. The big decision-time will, unavoidably, require others.
The archbishop-designate said that provisions for opponents of women bishops must be enacted "faithfully". That should mean as a bridge, not a barrier. An anti-women 'church within a church' cannot be justified. It is cruel to all concerned, demeaning of the Christian message, and offers no viable path to the future for the Church of England.
This article was originally written before the Synod vote, and modified very slightly afterwards.
* My further comment for Ekklesia: 'Vote against women bishops keeps church on wrong path' - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17436
© Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia. He now lives in Scotland, but was an active member of the Church of England for 40 years. He was adviser in adult education and training in the Diocese of Southwark from 1991-1996, and edited a collection of essays on that experience entitled Expanding Horizons: Learning to be the church in the world (SBCS, 1995). His essay 'Beyond the rhetoric of establishment' is published in (ed.) Kenneth Leech, Setting the Church of England Free: The case for disestablishment (Jubilee Group, 2001). He has also edited and written several chapters in Fear or freedom? Why a warring church must change (Shoving Leopard, 2008).
Climate Change Targets Must Be MetREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
THE GOVERNMENT must not allow plans to cut UK carbon emissions to be suspended until after 2015, the Green Party warns.
Penny Kemp, the Green Party's Environment Spokesperson, said the government must act to combat climate change now.
She said: ‘Yet again, this Government exposes its hypocrisy. It calls itself a Green government but its actions show that the Prime Minister's words are hollow.'
Ministers from the Treasury and the Department of Energy and Climate Change are understood to have reached an impasse in negotiations over whether to include targets to slash national emissions by 2030 in its Energy Bill, or postpone a decision until the next Parliament.
But the targets, set by the government's independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC), will cost less than one per cent of national GDP and could help save the world from environmental catastrophe.
The CCC set targets to reduce total carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and added recommendations for levels to be achieved by 2030.
Its proposals include cutting transport emissions by 44 per cent by encouraging more electric cars and vans and reducing tailpipe emissions, cutting emissions from buildings by 74 per cent (plus an extra 48 per cent from industrial buildings), cut energy production emissions by 90 per cent and cut agriculture emissions by 0.625 per cent.
The recommendations were made to attempt to make sure the UK keeps its emissions to a rate at which global temperatures increase by two degrees or less. Yesterday morning (Monday November 19), the World Bank report Turn Down the Heat was released, explaining why a two degree increase was the maximum the planet could stand.
The report warns that at present, the rate of carbon emission by each country in the world would lead to a global temperature increase of four degrees centigrade, which would cause a three feet rise in sea levels, cause global flooding, droughts and the loss of vast areas of agricultural land.
It also warns that it would cause summer temperatures to rise by nine degrees centigrade in the European Mediterranean states – the same heat as that recorded in the Libyan desert at summertime.
The Green Party believes that even a reduction to the levels proposed by the CCC is too little to arrest the effects of climate change, but any possibility the government will fail even to achieve this is unacceptable, and potentially disastrous.
Ms Kemp said: ‘This government fails to care about climate change or future generations. All the evidence shows that we are heading towards climate catastrophe.'
South East Euro-MP urges people to sign up to support safer streetsREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
KEITH Taylor, the Green MEP for South East England, is calling on people across the South East to add their support to a new Europe-wide petition (1) which calls for 20mph speed limits in urban areas. His call comes during the UK's Road Safety Week (2), held each year to draw attention to the number of people who die on our roads.
According to the road safety charity Brake, three in four children in the South of England say drivers need to slow down around their home and school, and that they would walk and cycle more if roads in their neighbourhood were safer.
The European petition, ‘30kmh – making streets liveable', calls for 20mph/30kmh limits to become the norm for urban and residential streets across Europe. Local authorities would be able to make exceptions where other measures have already been taken to provide for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
UK campaign group ‘20's Plenty for Us' has worked with other organisations throughout Europe to use the new, democratic, European Citizens Initiative process (3) to create the petition. If more than a million people from at least seven EU countries – about 55,000 from the UK – sign up then MEPs must debate this proposal to introduce 20mph/30kmh speed limits for urban and residential roads. The European Commission must also seriously consider how it could be introduced.
Keith Taylor has long championed 20mph speed limits and has visited communities across the UK to support their calls for lower limits on their streets. Last year he successfully gained the support of the European Parliament for 20mph residential speed limits to be recommended as road safety best practice across the EU. 8.3m people in some of the UK's most iconic cities already live in communities adopting the 20mph limit.
Keith Taylor, a member of the European Parliament's Transport Committee, said: "Speed limits should be reduced wherever people live, to reduce injuries and fatalities, traffic noise, air pollution – and CO2 emissions."
He continued: "The number of people dying on British roads is on the increase. More than 1,900 people were killed in 2011, three per cent more than in 2010 – and the biggest increases were among children and those aged over 60. Many of these lives would have been saved if the vehicles involved had been travelling more slowly. That's why I keep campaigning for slower speeds across the South East."
He concluded: "Portsmouth, Oxford and Chichester are three cities that have already introduced 20mph speed limits on residential roads. This European Citizens' Initiative is an excellent use of this new EU process. I would urge everyone to sign the petition and help make towns and cities across Europe safer and more pleasant places to live and travel."
Senior Worcestershire Liberal Democrat joins Green PartyREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
LONG-serving Liberal Democrat councillor Clive Smith has resigned from his party and joined the Greens. Clive, who represents the Link Division on Worcestershire County Council, Malvern Hills District Council, and on Malvern Town Council, has been a member of the Liberal Party since the 1960s.
The defection of Cllr Smith means that the Green Party now has representation on Worcestershire County Council for the first time, as well as increasing the number of Green councillors on both the District Council and the Town Council to three.
Councillor Clive Smith stated "I have become deeply unhappy at the way the Coalition Government has allowed the Conservatives to pursue the most reactionary agenda this country has ever seen. I joined the Liberals because I believe in social justice – that the most vulnerable in society should be supported rather than demonised. The Coalition's assault on higher education, the health service and the welfare state is not in tune with my Liberal principles."
"I respect deeply my local Liberal Democrat colleagues, many of whom I have grown up with and who I know have their own misgivings. But I find myself unable – in public or in private – to defend what is being done in our name."
"I have thought long and hard about this decision – it is the most difficult I have ever had to make. However, it has been made easier for me by the fact that the Green Party – with its strong sense of community and its belief that local people are best placed to make the decisions that affect their communities – has held fast to the values I hold dear. I have worked for many years with local party leader, District Councillor John Raine – and believe him to be someone of great integrity and prepared to make a principled stand. I very much look forward to working with him and his District Council colleague, Julian Roskams, who has been a good friend for many years and has made a significant impact since joining the District Council in July."
Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett said "We are delighted to welcome Clive to the Green Party. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. It is also a further sign that the Liberal Democrat party is one that has abandoned so much of what its members and supporters have fought for, whether it was restricting university tuition fees, abolishing Trident nuclear weapons and opposing nuclear power, or acting to tackle the pressing issues of climate change and protecting the most economically vulnerable in our society. The Green Party presented in 2010 a fully costed general election manifesto that abolished tuition fees and didn't cut essential government services – although it did provide for an end to Trident and British involvement in the Afghan War, and pointless building of new roads. We have a plan for Britain that involves rebuilding our local economies, bringing manufacturing and food production back to Britain, ensuring a living wage and secure jobs, and a decent level of benefits for those who need them."
Malvern Hills Green Party Leader, Councillor John Raine (Malvern West ward) said: "Clive cares deeply about our community and his uncompromising stand on issues of social justice will ensure that he is a highly valued additional member of our party who will continue to serve the electorate of his ward and all citizens of Malvern Town, Malvern Hills District and Worcestershire as a whole, with the dedication and devotion he has demonstrated over many years".
Today marks the annual Trans Day of RemembranceREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
WHILE progress has been made in certain respects, today marks an important day of remembering that the battle for equality is not won yet. Across the world trans people are being discriminated against, abused and murdered at shocking and unacceptable levels. The Green Party and the LGBTIQ Greens call for an end to such abuses here and abroad.
A world that would exclude, bully and demean you for who you are is not a fair world or a Green world. Today on Trans Day of Remembrance all LGBTIQ Greens will be remembering those who lost their lives because certain elements of society remain hateful. The Green Party will continue to fight for governments to better recognise and defend the rights of trans people across the world. Whilst the Gender Recognition Act was a positive step towards trans equality we as a party are conscious much remains to be done.
We hope everyone today can consider those who have lost their lives, because they are trans, as well as think about how we can put an end to such heinous tragedies.
Greens condemn PM's downgrading of Equalities ChecksREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
GREENS have condemned the Prime Minister for ‘calling time' on checks to make sure that sections of society aren't discriminated against as a result of government decisions.
Last year the Government changed the rules so that these ‘Equality Impact Assessments' weren't essential to produce when making decisions, but authorities like Brighton & Hove City Council recognised their value and continued doing them.
In an announcement yesterday, David Cameron said that he would be forcing central government departments that had continued this work to stop.
Councillor Ben Duncan, lead for Equalities at Brighton and Hove City Council, said:
"Looking at the embarrassing assessments of some government decisions, it's no wonder they're looking to hide this information.
"Equality Impact Assessments are an important and useful way of understanding the effects of decisions that politicians make.
"I'm really proud that we at Brighton & Hove City Council have continued doing them, and that our work has been recognised for being among the best in the country."
"How will making it easier to implement government policies that could discriminate against women, BME communities, or LGBT people help economic growth or tackle inequality in this country?
"It seems that the Prime Minister is more interested in fast-tracking uninformed and unfair decisions than making sound ones."
Brighton Pavilion MP, Caroline Lucas, said:
"Not long ago, David Cameron was attacking civil servants as ‘the enemies of enterprise', yet now he wants only the ‘smart people in Whitehall' to consider fairness and equality issues in policymaking – making it far more difficult for civil society to hold him to account.
"Where is the evidence that so-called ‘bureaucratic rubbish' is holding back the economy? This claim, driven by the Conservatives' ideological obsession with deregulation at any cost, is nothing more than a smokescreen for the absence of real ideas at the heart of this government.
"What's really keeping our economy down and hampering businesses is not regulation to prevent discrimination or to improve environmental protection – it's the failure of the government to give policy certainty to industry and to invest in jobs-rich projects to get the economy back on its feet."
Green Party calls for Gaza-Israel ceasefireREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
THE Green Party has called for an immediate end to the fighting in Gaza and Israel that has claimed at least 90 lives in Gaza and three in Israel, and applauded the efforts of Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, to support efforts for a ceasefire.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said: "Palestinians have the right to live without fear of attack, and with the right to freedom of movement and to justice.
"Israeli civilians have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza, and I condemn wholeheartedly the Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, as well as the Israeli military's attacks on the population of Gaza.
"The loss of life and the injuries caused to innocent civilians in this new wave of violence is deeply saddening, and both sides must now be held to account by the international community for their role."
First Green councillor elected on St Edmundsbury Borough CouncilREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has congratulated Julia Wakelam, who today became the first Green councillor to be elected to St Edmundsbury Borough Council in the Risbygate ward in north and central Bury St Edmunds. She replaces the Conservative councillor who resigned.
Julia campaigned against over-development of housing around the town and won by a massive 51%, beating the votes of the combined Labour and Conservative opposition.
She will give a great boost to St Edmundsbury Green Party. Risbygate ward makes up part of the county council constituency, which is held by her fellow Green Mark Ereira-Guyer.
Following very hard-fought campaigns, the Green Party came a strong second in two other Suffolk by-elections.
In Beccles the Labour Party was defending a seat and was pushed into third place. Green candidate Nicky Elliott finished second but the Conservative candidate, currently the town's mayor, was elected.
In Stowmarket North, Green Party candidate Linda Baxter finished second to the Conservatives, who won based on a low turnout.
Leader congratulates Green Party election candidatesREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has congratulated Green Party candidates who yesterday made a strong showing in parliamentary by-elections, and in the Bristol mayoral and Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
Natalie said: "In the Bristol mayoral election, Daniella Radice and her team rang a strong campaign, attracting a great deal of media attention and setting the agenda on many issues from the living wage to local bonds.
"As the only female candidate in a field with 14 men, she was particularly strong in working with the Fawcett Society and other women's groups in promoting more women becoming involved in politics,
"She attracted 5.9% of first preference votes, just 1% behind the Liberal Democrat candidate, in a city where Liberal Democrats make up the largest group on the council."
In the parliamentary by-election in Cardiff South and Penarth, Anthony Slaughter, who is chair of Gwyrddio Penarth Greening (GPG) , won 4.1% of the vote, 2.9% up on 2010.
Natalie said: "In visiting Penarth with Anthony, I saw how his work with GPG has supported local shops and businesses, and promote environmentally friendly measures in the area – and saw how the Green Party in Cardiff and the region is strongly promoting our distinctive policies against the Severn barrage and the Cardiff incinerator."
In the parliamenrary by-election in Manchester Central, Tom Dylan, former mayor of Norwich who now lives in Manchester, won won 3.9% of the vote, up 1.9% on our vote in the electorate in 2010.
Natalie said: "It is clear that Tom's work in campaigning on creating new, green, jobs, and getting Manchester's economy moving again had an impact."
In the Corby parliamentary by-election, the Green Party stood in the seat for the first time.
Jonathan Hornett won 1.1% of the vote.
Natalie said: "This was a very creditable showing in a new area where the seat was hard-fought between the sitting Tories and the Labour victor.
"I was pleased to be able to visit Corby to support Jonathan's campaign, and to see a local party growing with the campaign."
Natalie added: "The Green Party has traditionally struggled to poll well in byelections, and in growing our vote in all three by-elections, in two traditionally strong Labour cities, and in a Tory-held area in Corby, we've shown that there's growing support for our range of policies, from renationalising the railways to making the minimum wage a living wage.
Police and Crime Commissioners
The Green Party's local parties took different positions on the PCC elections. The Green Party was not in favour of these elections.
Natalie said: "We don't agree with the principle that one politician of one political colour should have control over a regional police service covering large and diverse areas, but in different local areas the local circumstances meant local parties chose to make different choices over whether to not comment, to back a standing candidate, or in the case of Cleveland, so stand a candidate, our prominent local councillor Joe Michna.
Natalie said: "Joe won 13.7% of the vote – strong support for his policies, which included strong support for more support for victims of crime, and more "bobbies on bikes", to help make police accessible to the public."
Green Party member, Malcolm Victory, wins 2012 PRIME Award for Senior Entrepreneur and Best Product, from the Prince's Trust!READ ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
THE Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME) and Sage One accounts Senior Entrepreneur of the Year competition has been won for 2012 by Malvern inventor and entrepreneur Malcolm Victory for his invention, the Rotaire Dryline. He won the "Best Product of the Year" category, the other categories being "Online Product of the Year" and "Best Service of the Year". From these three winners one supreme Entrepreneur of the Year will be chosen at the Award ceremony taking place during the International Senior Enterprise and Mentoring Conference at the BT centre in Central London.
The Rotaire Dryline is an invention to take the stress out of drying clothes outdoors, by simply covering a rotary airer to make a kind of skirted umbrella, saving energy and thereby saving money. "I am highly honoured to have been awarded this accolade," he said "though I never expected to win it. It makes me very humble to be seen as a role model for mature entrepreneurs, especially with such an energy saving Green product. However, I am still amazed that there are several million rotary washing lines out in British weather without a cover to keep the rain off! Why would people do that? It is really taking optimism too far." The Rotaire Dryline can be seen and purchased at www.rotaire.com.
The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise assists people over 50 to pursue new initiatives and employ their life skills in new directions. The website has a vast archive of help to set up business and keep track of the enterprise, with over 1700 pages of information, online calculators for tax and other financial issues. The sponsor, Sage, makes the industry standard accounting package for business, and have generously given a £500 cash prize to each of the winners.
Best New Product
Malcolm Victory – The Rotaire DrylIne
Malcolm Victory, 61 Years old from Malvern, spent his entire life working in graphics and design, but like so many others in the UK he had never put money aside for his retirement.
In his early fifties, Malcolm decided to take decisive action to ensure that he was financially stable later in life. Putting his design skills to good use, Malcolm came up with an invention that was so simple, so effective and so widely applicable that he decided to stake everything on it. Malcolm says, "It was so blindingly obvious that I felt I could rely on my invention for my pension – which I had never saved for."
The Rotaire Dryline, as it became known, is a rain cover for a rotary washing line and the laundry hung upon it. Malcolm's product was borne out of thinking about a simple, cost effective solution to the age old problem of English weather ruining the ability to dry clothes outside. Thanks to the waterproof cover of the Rotaire Dryline and the ingenious mesh skirt which traps sideways rain, users can hang out the laundry whatever the weather is going to do.
Malcolm realised that his product could be aligned with his passion for energy saving, "as a member of the Green Party it was important that I created a product that I believed in". His research into the feasibility of the Rotaire Dryline proved that by not using a tumble dryer, 10.6 million KwH of electricity and 4.56 million tonnes of CO2 could be saved in the UK alone. Not only saving energy, Malcolm soon realised that the cost savings of the product to the UK consumer would be huge and could offer a pay-back in about six months.
With a unique, energy friendly and cost effective product, Malcolm patented the Rotaire Dryline within the UK, US and EU. "It is currently the only viable product in this field and people keep asking me why it was not invented before." Malcolm then set about understanding the ‘business basics' needed to make his product a commercial success.
Malcolm equipped himself with a business plan, marketing knowledge and an accountant and began to see sales come in through his website www.rotaire.com which to date have reached over 5000 units. Achieving great customer feedback on his website, clients of the Dryline comment that they think the product is a superior, simple and a cheap alternative to tumble dryers.
There are big plans for the future of the Rotaire Dryline. Malcolm says, "I am in talks with a property development company to install the Dryline in Housing Association premises and new-build houses." Further Malcolm also has his sights set on expansion outside of the UK, "I have only sold small numbers abroad, Ireland is proving a very good market and I will set up distribution there, and I hope to sell into the continental EU and US markets as cash flow increases."
Green Party deplores Israel's attack on GazaREAD ARTICLE ON MAIN WEBSITE
THE GREEN Party condemns in the strongest possible terms the latest attack by Israel on the Gaza Strip.
The country yesterday launched more than 160 missiles into Gaza, claiming to have hit ‘156 targets' in the territory. Its attack killed 13 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, an 11-month old boy and two infants, and injured 130 more.
Green Party International Co-ordinator Dr Derek Wall said: 'The Green Party deplores Israel's attack on Gaza. There can be no peace in the Middle East without justice for the people of Gaza. The attack which has killed many civilians, announced on twitter and widely seen as part of an election campaign is both cynical and sordid. The Green Party calls for an end to violent incursions in Gaza.'
Israel has sought to justify the attack by arguing it was responding to rocket attacks on its citizens from Gaza by Hamas. The state says ‘more than 200' rockets were fired, one of which killed three people, and wounded a four-year-old boy and two babies.
While The Green Party accepts that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is too complex to be regarded as ‘black and white' it also notes that Israeli commentators and peace campaigners are despairing of their own leaders' seeming unwillingness to engage in a meaningful peace process – the only way the senseless killing of civilians in Israel and Palestine can be brought to an end.
We also believe that in common with previous Israeli military acts, this latest attack – the most intense since 2009 – is out of proportion both to the activities Israel argues led to its response, and to the ongoing disputes between Israel and dispossessed Palestinians.
Dr Wall continued: ‘The conflict will only end when Israel is prepared to discuss a plan for peace with Palestinians. Violence only leads to more violence. The killing power of Israel puts their state at a huge military advantage however without justice, the future of both Palestinians and Israelis is bleak.'
The Green Party notes with sadness reports that mere hours before he was killed in the latest missile attacks, Hamas military commander Ahmed Al-Jabari had received the draft of a permanent truce between Hamas and Israel.
And we hope other political parties, and people across the world will join us in our condemnation of the attacks, and call for meaningful, lasting peace in one of the world's most violently, and tragically, disputed regions.
Dr Wall said: ‘We challenge other UK political parties to condemn Israel's violence and to support an inclusive process for peace and justice. Green Party members support the ongoing protests against Israel's military attack.'