Tag Archives: Stroud

New Labour, New Tricks

David Drew's confusing advert in the SNJ

New Labour is famed for its spin-doctors and deceit.  Their 13 years in government will be remembered for misleading the public over the case to go to war, for covering up the BAE scandal and most recently for trying to convince us that police officers spend 80% of their time on the beat. Recently however, our sitting MP looking for re-election, David Drew, has also been peddling his own kind of deceit.  A full-page advert has appeared in the Stroud new and Journal along with its sister paper the Gazette (see photo).

The advert, which at no-point mentions the word “Labour”, starts by saying, “Dear Green (and other) voters in Stroud…if you want a “Green MP” who campaigns against…”.  It is, in my eyes, a cynical attempt to miss-lead and/or confuse the voters. Local Green Party members have been furious thinking it was the Green Party is telling them to vote Labour! Green tinged voters have been baffled when they have seen Green activists on the streets (“I thought you were telling us to vote for David?”).  There are a few points that should be drawn out about this advert.

One, this is part of wider campaign by David Drew to distant himself from his party.  He is enough of a politician to spot that after 13 years of deceitful politics the word “Labour” is toxic in the voters mind.  He is pushing for his loyal supporters to come out and vote for him despite his party affiliation (if there is one thing that defines Drew’s 13 year stint it is his constituent case work).  On this front however, this advert has to be considered an own goal.  David presents himself as an ordinary chap, who does not sink into these sorts of “nasty” politics.  I think a number of voters will be severely put off by this latest move.

Two, David Drew is not a “Green MP”, in the sense that he neither truly represents an environmental agenda nor a full political agenda that the Green Party does.  Lets be clear, a man who supports Nuclear Power (and holds no answer to waste) and who voted against including shipping and aviation into the climate change bill cannot be an environmentalist.  Equally, he cannot be considered a “Green” (in the Green Party sense of the word) as he supported the war in Afghanistan, supports ID cards, has opposed equality by voting against progressive legislation on LGBT rights and obviously, is a big supporter of Nuclear power.  This is not a “GREEN MP” by anyone but Ron Baileys standards!

The Green Party continues to make a case for change.  As good as any MP is (and lets be honest Drew is one of the better ones) they cannot bring about change when they work in a rotten system.  David is still obliged to follow his party whips (the Greens do not have party whips), David is still tied to a party who refuses to bring about real electoral reform (a promise from their 97 manifesto).  Only the Greens can truly bring about the change this country needs.  This is why it is so exciting that the Greens look like they will be getting their first MP’s this May.  It is time for people to start voting for what they believe in, I want Green, not Grey!

SNJ have produced this follow-up piece

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Video Launch – Green MP for Stroud

The Green Party in Stroud has launched their official campaign video.  It is a short overview of what the Greens in the local area have done, and what they aim to achieve through the elections.  More importantly however, it is an attempt to reach out and engage with potential voters who feel disconnected with conventional politics. 

With 57% of 17-25 year olds are not even registered to vote.  It is more important than ever for political parties to embrace youtube, facebook and twitter (generalising massively).  More importantly though, it is essential that politicians embrace these forms of media with a more genuine approach to politics.  People are being turned off conventional forms of media because of the spin and lack of honesty.  With instant forms of communication such as twitter, politicians have the opportunity to lay their thoughts on the line.  We have seen the “airbrushing” of most media forms; in the world of facebook and twitter we have a chance to tell it how it is. 

We can also see some politicians using it just because they have been told to by their PR staff who have just finished reading about Obama’s success story.  We should approach this with caution.  It is better to not tackle the world of You-tube at all, than it is to post tired and uninteresting comments.  Equally, we can see some politicians chucking up tweets every week or two (probably after a nudge from their PR guru).  No-one should be forcing politicians to come talk to us, they should have the will and the insight to understand that this is the battle ground for the “young” vote, not the high street.

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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. 

Join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=268102979503&ref=nf

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The dark side of real ale

This is a matter close to my heart.  The slow death of the local pub and the real ale drinking that goes hand-in-hand with this.  In the UK around half of our 60,000 pubs are owned by just 10 operators.  This is not a healthy situation to be in.  39 pubs are closing every week!  The names of Green King and Fullers are becoming household names and yet micro-breweries are reliant on government subsidies to survive.  Meanwhile medium sized breweries such as Harvey’s in Lewes have neither the government support nor the operational capacity to compete with the giants at Green King. 

We can see from the Lewes Arms controversy how Green King is willing to put profit above consumer demand.  It is only after petitions and a strong campaign did the pub revert to stocking the local beer (Harveys).  This example however, also highlights what real grass-roots pressure can do.  If you are sick and tired of being offered the same old generic beers then do something about it!

The British beer culture (different to the drinking culture in general) is something that we should all be very proud of.  We produce some of the best quality beers in the world.  I currently have the pleasure of living in Belgian and people often ask me what I think of the beers here. The simple answer is that they often rely on crass flavours and offer none of the depth and subtlety that some English ale holds.  It is only when you don’t have something do you really miss it!

If you are like me and enjoy spending a considerable period of time (and money) in your local then choose wisely.  Follow my golden rules:

1) Choose a free house.  Green King especially is in danger of creating a monopoly over the pub industry. This has negative repercussions for the diversity of real ale that is being produced (and consumed).  If a pub has a big green sign hanging outside of it stay well away!

2) Choose a pub that stocks its beer from a local micro-brewery.  You might think this is hard to find, but increasingly micro-breweries are popping up left right and centre.  If your local free house is not stocking the local breweries then ask why!

For those of you based in Gloucestershire (my beloved shire) here are a few ideas for you to check out if you haven’t already!

  • The Woolpack in Slad (Stocks Stroud Brewery and Uley)
  • The Blackhorse in Amberley (Stroud Brewery and changing guest ales)
  • The Prince Albert in Stroud (Stroud Brewery)

For more information check out the good beer guide or the CAMRA web-site (http://www.camra.org.uk/home.aspx)

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