Vote with your heart, and vote Green

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Tomorrow the country goes to the polls, with the future of the country and our public services at stake. When you vote, remember that every Green vote is an endorsement of the policies in the Green Guarantee, of our vision for a caring, compassionate and outward looking Britain.

Speaking on the eve of polling day, Jonathan Bartley, Co-leader said:

“My message to voters ahead of tomorrow is to vote with your heart, and vote Green. If we wake up to a Conservative government on June 9, Green MPs will hold them to account, whether it’s by calling out the government for bringing the NHS to its knees or fighting an extreme Brexit. We’d be making sure a Labour government delivered on the bold promises in its manifesto – and taking them even further.

“I’m calling on people across the UK to vote not just for the MP they want, but the kind of country they want. The Green Party stands for a caring a confident country, that invests in public services, protects the environment and would give the people of Britain a say on the final Brexit deal. We’ll always stand up for what matters and fight for an inclusive, tolerant society with a positive vision for a sustainable future.”

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Our Green Guarantee: economy, environment and NHS among key priorities

IMG_1207Harborough Greens have welcomed today’s publication of the Green Guarantee,  a set of key priorities for Green MPs elected on June 8th. At the Green Guarantee launch in central London, co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley pledged that Green MPs will fight to transform politics and create a confident and caring country.

Closer to home, Green Party candidate for Harborough, Darren Woodiwiss said, “Green MPs would act to protect the environment, reverse the privatisation of the NHS, properly fund our schools and give people a referendum on the terms of any Brexit deal.”

On the economy, the Green Party wants to see a programme of green investment that would not only protect the environment, but create jobs. Darren said:

“A green economy would be innovative and benefit communities. We want to see support for small business, co-operatives, mutuals and social enterprises.

“We should also support start-ups and creative enterprises through community credit and green investment, to provide opportunities for young people.”

The Party has pledged to immediately guarantee the rights of EU citizens, protect freedom of movement and give the British public, rather than just Parliament, the final say on any EU deal.

The Green Guarantee also promises to ‘take steps towards the introduction of a universal basic income, including a government sponsored pilot scheme’ and ‘phase in’ a shorter working week.

You can read more about the Green Guarantee here: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/green-guarantee/

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Time to end the ‘privatisation experiment’ in our NHS

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The Green Party wants to see an end to “the privatisation experiment” in the NHS, and action to tackle the current funding crisis that is threatening care and disaffecting staff.

Darren Woodiwiss, Green Party Candidate in for the Harborough Constituency, which covers Market Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, said:

“People really value our NHS above all other public services. Yet the government has been slowly privatising it, piece by piece. What’s more, it needs a considerable injection of funding to plug the hole in its finances. Indeed, health should not be seen as some sort of precious commodity, but as something to which we should all have equal access.”

Campaigners for a public NHS point out that in 1989 private firms had a relatively minor role in clinical based NHS care. Today however, the market approach to care has seen opportunities for the private sector greatly increase, with walk-in centres, urgent care units, ambulance services, maternity care, GP services and even entire hospitals among the many services open to privatisation.

The co-leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, has set out the party’s plans for ending marketisation in the NHS to ensure that the health service is ‘fit for the challenges of the twenty first century’.

Caroline said:

“A confident and caring country is one where we provide people with the healthcare they need, free at the point of use. The current Government is putting our NHS through a cruel form of shock therapy – leaving the patient weaker and on the verge of collapse.”

“The Green Party will reverse this race to the bottom on health provision and reinstate our health service to make it a world leader.”

In 2015 Caroline Lucas introduced the NHS Reinstatement Bill into Parliament which aimed to roll back privatisation, so that all health and dental services are always publicly provided and funded, and free at the point of access.

Other Green Party policies on health include

  • Bringing spending on mental health care in line with spending on physical health care.
  • Stopping further private finance initiative (PFI) contracts.
  • Engaging and consulting with health service professionals on any future developments; and removing the pay cap on their salaries.
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Let’s put creativity, inspiration and passion back into our schools

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Announcing plans for an inspiring education system, the Green Party has promised to abolish SATs tests and end the academies programme. The party says it wants an end to the practice of testing children from the age of seven through SATs, freeing teacher and pupils from “pointless, pressured testing”.

Darren Woodiwiss, Green Party Candidate for Harborough said, “This announcement will be welcomed by parents, teachers and pupils everywhere. Teachers already know their pupils’ capability; and so they shouldn’t need to put 7 year olds, and themselves, through the unnecessary stress that SATs cause.”

Turning to academies, Darren added, “The academies programme has seen schools taken away from communities and put into the hands of multi academy trusts and businesses. It is yet another example of creeping privatisation.”

Going forwards, the Green Party wants to see £7billion of investment in the education system to fill the funding gap created by years of underinvestment and cuts. Figures show that by 2020, 99% of schools will have been hit by a funding cut – the average primary school will have lost £103,000, and the average secondary school will have lost £470,000.

In Harborough, Welland Park Academy will see a budget reduction of £135201 by 2019  while Robert Smythe will lose a massive £223,183 . Darren said, “These cuts will hit hard, and if elected, I would fight to get them reversed.”

Launching the party’s plans for schools, Vix Lowthion, Green Party education spokesperson and secondary school teacher, said:

“We want to create an inspiring education system that transforms lives and transforms Britain – but that can’t happen without the very basic foundations being in place and this Government has been removing them brick by brick.

“We need to make up for the enormous shortfall, the massive neglect, in our education system by plugging the £7billion spending deficit. At the same time as schools are getting less resources, more is being asked of teachers and pupils. Getting rid of SATs tests would be one big step towards putting the enjoyment, creativity, and inspiration back into school and ensure teachers are free to teach.”

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Warm welcome for a green energy future

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Harborough Greens have welcomed the party’s new environment manifesto, published yesterday. Darren Woodiwiss, who will be the Green Party’s candidate for Harborough in the general election said, “This is a significant announcement by the Green Party. Tackling climate change, promoting the green economy, and protecting the natural environment, are all essential for creating a sustainable and fairer future.”

The Green Party Environment Manifesto includes plans for:

  • A new Environmental Protection Act which to protect natural world in the wake of the EU referendum decision by creating a new environmental regulator and court.
  • Ending the monopoly of the Big Six energy companies by building democratic, locally owned alternatives.
  • Ending plastic waste by introducing a bottle deposit scheme to stop 16 million plastic bottles ending up in environment every day.

Announcing the manifesto, Caroline Lucas, Green Party co-leader, is said:

“The environment has been wilfully ignored by the political mainstream and our climate and our countryside will pay the price of an environment-free election. With 2016 the hottest year on record, and a climate-denier in the White House, the need for bold and dynamic action on climate change has never been more urgent. The UK must lead the world in building a green economy and investing in a viable future – one that respects and nurtures the natural systems on which we depend. The Greens are the only party to truly recognise the importance of the environment.

“Our economic prosperity depends on the natural world. It is the ultimate source of everything we make and use – from food and materials, to the air we breathe. Even the digital economy depends on rare earth metals and huge amounts of energy. Building a successful economy is not at odds with protecting our environment, it is impossible without it. A prosperous, thriving future will be green – or not at all.”

Taking back control of our energy system is a key policy. The Green Party would:

  • End the monopoly of the Big Six by building democratic, locally owned alternatives – reaching at least 42 gigawatts by 2025. We will require grid operators to give priority access to community energy projects, and pioneer a new Community Energy Toolkit to empower local communities to create energy and municipal heating projects in every town and city.
  • Democratise energy ownershipby reforming tax-relief for smaller-scale projects, introducing Green ISAs, promoting Green Bonds by allowing tax-free bonds for green projects, and issuing government backed Green Bonds.
  • Introduce progressive energy tariffs so that small consumers pay less per unit than large ones, special needs are recognised, people are not cut off when they can’t afford to pay, and nobody is forced to have pre-payment meters.

This would also mean keeping fossil fuels in the ground by banning fracking and phasing out the £6bn a year subsidy given to the fossil fuel industry. To promote jobs in the renewables sector and help the transition from fossil fuels, a new Green Investment and Innovation Centre will be created.

Darren said: “As a voluntary director of a local community energy cooperative I can affirm that the Conservatives have been undermining progress towards a renewable future with the drastic cuts to FiTs, the removal of Renewable Obligations Certificates, applying the Carbon levy to renewables and savage increases to business rates if a company has installed solar panels.

‘In stark contrast, the Green Party offers a sensible, sustainable, and democratic alternative for decarbonised energy generation that would benefit consumers, local communities and the environment.”

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Darren Woodiwiss

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And so it begins…the alarming prospect of five more Tory years

Yes, an alarming prospect; and aided by our winner-takes-all electoral system. We need a better democracy, based upon proportional representation…

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And so it begins…The general election campaign kicks-off officially today with when the current parliament is dissolved. As it currently stands, we face the alarming prospect of five more Tory years taking us towards a hard Brexit, with continued austerity, and the underfunding of our public services.

Calling the election has been a cynical, and well-calculated step by Theresa May. She knows things will get ugly as Brexit day approaches. I predict that she will not have secured a good deal (if any deal at all), the pound will fall further, inflation will be rising, and international companies will begin pulling out of London and elsewhere.

But she knows she has a massive lead in the polls, due in part to the continued in-fighting within Labour ranks; and a media, including it seems our BBC, that presents the Tories in a favourable light . Not only that but she…

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Your chance to vote Green on Thursday

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Darren Woodiwiss, Green Party candidate in Harborough West

This Thursday Leicestershire’s voters have a chance to elect a new county council. Harborough Greens’ four candidates join 15 others from across Leicestershire seeking to provide a strong green voice at County Hall.

The party has made a five-point pledge for its this election. Green councillors will fight for:

Local green spaces
Decent social care
Air fit to breathe
Affordable homes
Action on climate change

We also want to attract businesses to Leicestershire that focus on recycling, generating renewable energy, energy saving and home insulation. This would bring investment and new jobs to the area.

Darren Woodiwiss, who is standing in Harborough West, said, “We are pleased that voters in Harborough will have the opportunity to vote for Green Party candidates. We need a green voice at county level to fight austerity and protect jobs and services. We also need to promote sustainable local action on preventing air pollution, tackling climate change, and protecting wildlife.”

Candidates for the other county divisions in Harborough are Jamie Ackerley in Harborough East, Karon Phillips in Launde, and David Green in Gartree.

At a national level, the Green party is fielding a record number of candidates in the elections on May 4, with 1,561 standing across England, Scotland and Wales.

Jonathan Bartley, Co-leader of the Green Party said,

“Our message today is clear: vote Green on May 4 and our councillors will stand up for the environment, whether they are fighting fracking, improving air quality, investing in renewable power and natural flood defences or divesting council pensions from fossil fuels.

“Wherever they are elected, Green councillors make a meaningful difference in their communities, by working with other progressive parties to improve people’s lives and oppose unnecessary cuts to local services. Everyone deserves proper social care and to live in their own home.

“The Green Party is the only party fighting both an extreme Brexit and Tory Government cuts, protecting public services locally while strengthening relationships internationally.”

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