Tag Archives: Martin Whiteside

How environmentalism is like a sonnet

Jonathon Porritt, what an interesting chap!

On Thursday 4th March over 250 people packed Stroud Sub-rooms to listen to Johnathon Porritt talk on what a sustainable future would look like. I left feeling truly inspired after hearing speeches from Martin Whiteside (Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Stroud) and a young activist called Rhiannon.  As you may have noticed, I have been a bit busy recently, so I will try and condense here into one blog entry an overview of some of the more interesting points to come out of the evening. I’ll start with why Jonathon Porritt thinks that environmentalism is a bit like a sonnet (after all that’s what I’ve put in the title).

Johnathon talked about how we need to re-open the language of limits in politics.  This, he maintained, had slipped out of political discourse.  For a happy, sustainable future there needs to be limits.  Limits on how much banks should be able to speculatively lend, limits on how much of the worlds resources we should be able to use, and perhaps limits on the type of mass consumerism we all so love.  We as humanity, think, believe, and want everything.  This surely cannot be the case.   We cannot grow our economies forever, nor can we all consume in the same way as the West currently does.  He went on however, to challenge the very premise of opponents who see limits as something restrictive and bad.  He argued that limits could be beautiful.  A Sonnet is incredibly restricted in its structure and composition, but no one would maintain that different sonnets do not hold incredible beauty and insight because of this.  Indeed, he painted a picture of a world, where limited creative energy could be very beautiful.  He painted a picture of a world that is sometimes missing in green language – a positive future.

Martin Whiteside drew a second interesting point – focusing his speech on the central role of equality and fairness in a sustainable future. At the heart of this idea, is that a more equal society is one that is better and happier for all.  Based on the recent publication “The spirit level”, Martin argued, with great oratory skill, that’s it is not just the poor that suffer from more unequal societies, but it is the population as a whole.  Inequality causes shorter, unhealthily and unhappier lives; it increases the rate of teenage pregnancy, violence, obesity, imprisonment and addiction.  He argued, that the Greens are in a unique position to push our society towards a fairer future.

The Greens not only advocate a higher minimum wage, but also a maximum wage.  Martin talked from personal experience from his time at Christian Aid that has a maximum differential of 4 between its entry-level staff and its director.  The Greens also have a policy of increasing the national pension from 97 quid a week to 170 (inline with all major pressure groups).  These fairer policies, he argued, would best prepare us for a future that is going to be characterised by the distribution of the worlds limited resources and wealth.  Will we be the generation that holds onto disproportionate amount of the world’s resources and wealth while the rest suffer?

He went onto argue (and this is where it gets interesting), that a more equal society is not just better for the wider population, but also for the rich.  In the book “Spirit level” they show that the top earners are happier in fairer societies.  We could make bankers happier by taking their bonuses off them – a nice thought!

I left the evening excited, confused but most certainly motivated to do something! If there was one idea the evening cemented into me, was that the Green party are different.  They are coming up with alternatives to the evidently crumbling system.  I find it exciting and challenging.

If you fancy more of the same, Martin Whiteside is holding a Q and A session at the Prince Albert pub in Rodbourgh on 8th March at 7:30.  A good excuse to have a beer and a debate! Hopefully see you there!

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Martin Whiteside – The First Green MP for Stroud?

Martin Whiteside, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stroud.

Stroud has been a marginal seat now for as long as I can remember.  At the last election, Neil Carmichael (the Tory candidate that has now lost the last few elections for the Conservatives) ordered two re-counts of the papers.  In the end he lost to David Drew (the Labour and Co-operative candidate) by a difference of just 0.6% of the vote.  So with New Labour’s slow self-destruction, many people from my home shire are rightly worried that we might end up with Mr Carmichael representing us. 

With a Tory County Council and District Council, it is highly questionable whether Stroud would benefit from more of the same with a Tory MP.  I tried to find out if Carmichael represented something new within the Conservatives; well judge for yourself: http://neilcarmichael.co.uk/about.  As far as I can tell, it essentially says nothing. Stroud needs now, more than ever a fresh vibrant approach. 

Both nationally and locally, the Conservatives and Labour have put me off politics.  I find it hard work and dull to follow their increasingly blurring statements.  This is why I believe that voting Green makes sense.  Some people see it as a wasted vote (“he will never get in anyway”).  I think, it’s a wasted vote if you end up voting for someone (or a party) that you disagree with on really fundamental issues. 

I could vote Labour (David Drew) at the next election, but then I would be throwing my vote behind a party that has started illegal wars, increased tuition fees and have caused more chaos with our finances that any other post WW2 government. 

I could vote Conservative (Carmichael), but then I would be showing support to a party who is happy to sit in political alliances with other parties who support the death penalty and are openly homophobic.  I would be tacitly saying, that it is OK (and successful) for politicians to act and behave in the same smarmy way that Mr Cameron does.  I would be saying good bye to public spending on vital services.  I do not want to do this! I want to vote for what I believe in, both locally and nationally.

The Greens, are the only party who have always been opposed to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (see http://younggreens.greenparty.org.uk/AboutUs/Policy/WaronIraq). They are the only party with a real economic policy that tackles the core of the economic crisis (see http://www.greennewdealgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/The_Cuts_Wont_Work.pdf).  They are the only party who have a real progressive social policy, that will work to reduce inequalities (see http://younggreens.greenparty.org.uk/AboutUs/Policy/CitizensIncome). 

This combined with a candidate that I know and trust, means that on 6th May Martin Whiteside (http://www.glosgreenparty.org.uk/content/view/12/69/), the Greens candidate will be getting my vote.  I hope he gets yours too. 

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