Tag Archives: Molly Scott Cato

Note to the Telegraph: Green MEP is not an avid bee keeper

Molly

Molly Scott Cato MEP – not an “avid bee keeper”

I was pleasantly surprised to see in today’s Daily Telegraph (not the natural bedfellows of The Green Party) an article that seriously examined the idea that the 2015 General Elections will be a ‘5 horse race’. It wasn’t long however before I started to spot the usual stereotyping that blights so much of the media coverage of the Green Party.

As a precursor to the rest of this blog it is worth highlighting the notable rise in quality media coverage the Greens have enjoyed over the last 6 months. This is, at least in part, thanks to the recently re-elected leader Natalie Bennett, who worked as a journalist including a number of years as an editor at The Guardian.

And yet it still feels like they are fighting an up-hill battle at every turn.

Using this latest Telegraph article as a case in point…The article is generally positive towards the Greens highlighting 7 reasons why they will be a major factor in May 2015’s General Election and yet a patronising whiff exists over the article and manifests itself in the smallest of details.

Take for example the section on last May’s European elections:

While Mr Clegg’s party lost 10 out of 11 MEPs, the Greens not only held their two seats but added a third – Molly Scott Cato, an avid beekeeper who became the party’s first ever South West MEP.

Why on earth would Ben Riley-Smith, the author of the article, choose ‘an avid beekeeper’ as a description for Molly rather than say, ‘a published economics author’ or ‘a former district councillor’ or ‘a former Professor of Economics’…?

This was a point that earlier today I raised on twitter copying in Molly Scott Cato MEP.

Her response just makes this point even more remarkable:

Curious. Not only did Riley-Scott choose the frankly bizarre description of ‘an avid bee keeper’ to describe this acclaimed author and academic but, bizarrely, this then turns out to be a complete falsehood anyway.

I then googled ‘Molly Scott Cato beekeeper’ to see where this apparent myth might have come from and sure enough, it appears in a number of other media outlets from the BBC (including the pun ‘making a buzz of her own’) to our local rag the Gloucestershire Citizen.

As Molly said in her tweet… #stereotypes.

This type of lazy stereotyping by the press perpetuates the myth that Greens are only interested in the environment. Even when an economist is elected the media look to describe her in outdated environmental terms.

This is in turn reinforces the perception of voters that Greens do address the issues that most concern them. Of course the irony is that ‘the economy’ consistently tops the list of issues concerning voters and yet journalists, like Riley-Scott, think it more pertinent to mention a completely made-up hobby of Molly’s rather than the fact that she is acclaimed economist!

Things are improving for the Greens in terms of media coverage but to say this is an uphill battle is an understatement.

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Filed under Climate Change, EU politics, Gloucestershire, Politics

European election results – how very wrong I was

The European Election results are in (Scotland and N.Ireland coming in later today) and if there is one conclusion to draw it’s this: I got it a little wrong on a number of predictions.

So this is the overall picture from England and Wales:

european election results*Source BBC

UKIP have done very well like I predicted and Labour have done OK – but not well enough – also like I predicted. The Liberal Democrats have just avoided a whitewash unlike the BNP – all like I predicted.

I am pointing out what I got right, not to be smug, but to give myself some credit before highlighting how wrong I was regarding The Green Party (whose position I spent most time analyzing).

I predicted The Green Party would pick up 4-6 MEPs (in line with many polls). They have returned 3 (although still have an outside chance for a 4th in Scotland).

In the East of England I was confident that The Green Party would elect one MEP. This didn’t happen (although they did beat the Lib Dems into 4th). I was right in predicting Labour could not get a second seat there but I underestimated The Conservatives’ ability to get their core vote out (they dropped just 2.84% from their 2009 high – that is really impressive!).

Equally, in the North West with the collapse of the BNP and the Liberal Democrats I predicted a Green gain.  Once again the Conservative vote held up stronger than expected. This combined with BIG gains for UKIP meant that for the second election running The Green Party just missed out (although also beat the Lib Dems into 4th).

However, in my home region of The South West there was a pleasant surprise. Here I looked hard at the stats and just couldn’t call it. Would The Liberal Democrat vote hold up enough to gain the last seat or would there be a huge surge in Green votes? As it happened both the Lib Dems collapsed and The Green Party claimed a huge 11% of the vote.

european election results

That means Molly Scott-Cato is the first ever Green MEP for the South West. I am really delighted for her. I know her well enough to be able to say that she will be a real asset to both the South West and the green group in the European Parliament.

Anyway – this just goes to show two things: One, it is worth voting Green and two, it is also worth ignoring what I say a reasonable proportion of the time!

Full election results here (remember 27 other countries are also voting in this election!).

UPDATE:

Just seen this photo from the count of Molly – I think she looks happy!

Molly

 

UPDATE 2:

This on the Lib Dems performance

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Filed under EU politics, Politics

Fair fares: A protest in Stroud

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This morning I joined a handful of others outside Stroud train station to protest at the latest hike in rail fares and to call for the renationalisation of the First-Great-Western franchise.

Why? Well, where to start. Figures show that the average rail season ticket in the UK has now risen to £2,191. This, put another way, is equivalent to 8% of the median UK salary. Even more depressingly, this is considerably higher than the £1,441 average fuel cost of driving to work.

But it gets worse. There are sections of the UK rail network now where you pay as much as £6 a mile.

The trains in the UK are bloody expensive. This is at least in part due to the last 20 years of privatisation. The Rebuilding Rail report put the cost of the privatisation of the railways at £1.2bn a year. Or again, put another way, enough money to cut the average rail fare by 18%.

These ticket prices mean that for many trains are simply an unaffordable luxury. This restricts social mobility and also drives climate change as people opt for their own carbon intensive forms of transport.

So, the question then is not why was I stood outside a station protesting but more why were you not stood with me?

Never fear though…there is always something you can do. Write to your MP and ask them to support the recently launched Private Members Bill which, if adopted, “Requires the Secretary of State to assume control of passenger rail franchises when they come up for renewal”.

The last 20 year tell us that governments are happy for train services to be run for private profit not the public good. It’s up to us to tell them that we want our trains running for the public good.

UPDATE:

Soon after publishing Molly Scott Cato, The Green Party lead candidate for the South West European Parliament elections, contacted me to highlight this e-petition – please do also sign the petition.

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Filed under Economics, Politics

Molly Scott Cato: “The Greens are seeing a strong but steady increase, especially in the South West.”

Molly Cato Scott is a green economist as well as The Green Party’s lead candidate for the European Parliament elections in the South West of England. Molly passionately believes that at the heart of our environmental problems is a badly designed economic system. Steve Hynd recently caught up with Molly to find out why she thought standing for election will help solve either the economic or environmental crises we currently face.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you think you are qualified to represent the South West of England in the European Parliament?

I have been working as a green economist for the past 15 years. I have been involved in the Green Party for 23 years including standing in general elections and European elections and I am now leader of the Green Group on Stroud District Council, where we are part of the administration.

I hope that I can use this experience to best represent everyone living in the South West.

What way will a Green MEP for the South West look different to any of the others?

The Green Group in the European Parliament is doing great work challenging the interests of finance in Europe and resisting the increasing inequality between North and South. Oh and of course protecting workers’ rights and the environment!

I would like to be a part of that, helping to Green the Common Agricultural Policy for example. The EU spends a lot of money in the south-west of England but at present it does not have to achieve real environmental objectives, I would be seeking to change that.

Can you explain why the European Parliament elections affect ordinary people living and working in the South West?

There are so many ways. To give just one example, the rules that govern the single market that we operate within are made by the EU so it is vital that we are contributing positively to making sure that they achieve the best for the South West.

When people vote in the European Elections, they vote for a party, not for an individual. Do you agree with everything the Green Party stands for and if not, what will you do if you have to choose between personal beliefs and party policy?

I sometimes wonder if I might disagree, but when I read party policy I find that I agree. I used to be a bit tepid about the banking policy but I worked with a friend to change the policy so it’s fine now–no, it’s excellent!

I think we could do with emphasising the political economy implications of some of our policies a bit more. So for example on immigration we should, of course, be fighting the racist attacks on migrant workers but we should also be arguing for better global protection of workers’ rights in a globalised economy

How do you explain the recent rise in popularity in UKIP and the relative flat-lining of the Greens? Do you think this will be the same in the upcoming election? 

I don’t think you are right to say that the Greens are flat-lining. The Greens are seeing a strong but steady increase, especially in the South West. Our main problem is the media, who focus on the daft, shallow stories about UKIP and tend to ignore our more serious issues. It is incredibly hard to get journalists to deal seriously with either Europe or the environment. A shame on them and a pity for us all. I think Zoe Williams had it pretty much right with her analysis of why UKIP get such attention from the media.

What is the one thing you hope to achieve if elected to the European Parliament?

One thing? You aren’t very ambitious!

I will focus on the stuff where I think I can make the most difference: finance and the single market. It is hard to know how far I can go until I understand the politics better from the inside. I would like to take my understanding of finance into the parliament, because I am not sure how many of the Greens really understand what went wrong with the Eurozone crisis. I also think we should work for more local supply of food and against the endless increase in pointless and energy-intensive trade.

You have previously written on the importance of working shorter working hours and yet you are applying for a job with some of the longest, have you thought about how personally you are going to balance that?

I have thought about this. I think that it would be a sacrifice to be away from Stroud. I think that most politicians make a similar sacrifice and it is one reason that the attacks on politicians are pretty unfair. But there are times when the parliament is out of session when I will be delighted to jump onto Eurostar and come home.

If elected, will you continue as a Stroud District Councillor? 

Absolutely not, the time commitments would make it impossible.

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Filed under Economics, EU politics, Gloucestershire, Interview