Thank You

thatsthat-reducedHaving mostly recovered from last week’s final exertions I’ve now had time to take stock of The Green Party’s performance in the Banbury Constituency and I have to say I’m very pleased with the result.

I am disappointed that we missed retaining our deposit by only 225 votes, but I think we have ample recompense in the fact that we nearly tripled our vote share from 2010! Indeed in Oxfordshire as a whole we retained 4 out of 6 deposits and showed voter shares up to 9.2% and in one local result we actually came second! Well done to Jenny Tamblyn!

In Banbury itself we knew we were never going to win, but we largely achieved the goal we had set ourselves of raising our profile in the constituency and showing people that the Green Party is the rightful repository of support from anyone concerned about real social justice and progressive politics.

Nationally, The Green Party has seen over a million people demonstrating that voting for what you believe in is never a waste of time.  Our share of the vote was nearly 4 times what it was in 2010 and our membership increased by nearly 2000 in the two days after the election.  In Oxfordshire we’ve had 56 new members in the last 2 days!

We now need to build on that support and engage more than ever with a local and national dialogue about how we want to see our society shaped for the future. The Greens have always been a party with long term vision and I think, as the next 5 years unfold, that vision is going to be needed more than ever.

In the meantime I’d like to thank all the Green supporters in the constituency that voted for me, and those who campaigned for me, put up posters, leafleted, knocked on doors and stood in the street with me. You’re some of the unsung heroes of this campaign and you should be rightly proud of your achievement.

My gratitude of course also goes out to my dedicated campaign team and members of The Banbury and Cherwell Green Party branch. In particular my agent and campaign manager John Haywood, researcher and adviser Colin Clark, our Chairman Chris Manley, the irrepressible Lisa Miller for her exertions on Facebook, and all those others too numerous to mention who have worked so hard over the last 5 years to get us where we are now.

A special thank you goes to our press officer and my partner Fiona Mawson, who’s practical and emotional support was invaluable to me throughout the campaign, even though she beat me in the local elections!

After the result of the general election we now more than ever need to see a continuation of the Green surge to offer the people of Britain an alternative to the Conservative agenda of austerity and cuts and the holding of the poor and vulnerable to ransom to pay for the lifestyles of the rich and privileged.

Moreover we need to re-double our efforts to protect our cherished NHS from the clutches of private healthcare providers that will now be given a free reign by a government ideologically opposed to free and comprehensive state health provision.

I’ll remain as our Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for the foreseeable future, unless my circumstances change or the local branch decide they want or need someone new.  So I’ll be keeping this website up and running as a place for me to drop the occasional post about local, national and global Green issues.  I hope people will choose to engage with me on them during that time.

If you’d like to read more I have two other blogs you might like to follow.  One on specific retail matters

and another on general political and human and animal rights issues

I also write regularly for Huffington Post

I hope we can keep the conversations going through what I think will be some very challenging years to come

Regardless of our differing ideologies I’m never one to miss an opportunity to quote Churchill in circumstances like these, so I’ll leave you with his well known words –

“This isn’t the end, it isn’t even the beginning of the end, but it might just be the end of the beginning”

Thanks again



VOTING DAY! Will You Be An Unsung Hero Today?

11183361_1446676078959705_979954336823572133_nToday’s the day when all the discussions, arguments, debates and campaigning ends and the decisions start.If we want to see change in this country, we have to vote for it.

Tactical voting and voting for the least worst party means you end up with something you don’t really believe in anyway, so what’s the point?

Banbury is a very safe Conservative seat, so voting tactically there will make very little difference.  So vote with your heart.  If your heart is with the Greens use your vote to send a message to the entrenched political elite that we won’t take this any more and we want real change, not just the ping-pong politics we’ve had for the last 50 years.

Here’s an article I wrote a few days ago for Huffington Post about the unsung heroes of politics.  The people who vote now to start a change that may not happen for years to come, but they are still part of that process.  They are my real political heroes!  I hope you’ll be one of them today.

I hope everyone will encourage as many people as possible to make the right decision when they go into the polling booth. I hope we all agree on what that decision should be.

I’ll be out touring as many polling stations as possible today so if you see me please say hello.  It would be lovely to meet you.

This is the day when everything could change FOR GOOD .  But YOU have to make it happen.  Be part of that change.



Cherwell or Fracking Well?

EPA-Fracking-may-cause-groundwater-pollution-TMMF9OP-x-largeHydraulic Fracturing or ‘Fracking’ is a new unconventional and controversial technique for extracting gas and in some case oil from the deep bedrock.  It has serious environmental and quality of life issues for all of us, but particularly for those of us who live in areas that sit on top of these deposits.  Unfortunately for us, that included large areas of North Oxford and Cherwell.

Fracking has been sold as being the answer to the UK’s energy problems, but in areas like the USA where it’s been widely used, this has not been proved to be the case.  What has been shown is that it contaminates water supplies and creates huge amounts of noise and disruption for local residents.  It’s also been implicated as the cause land movements and in some cases actual earthquakes.  Indeed when the first test drill was sunk in the UK near Blackpool, they experienced one of the strongest earth tremors recorded in the area in decades.

The main process involves drilling large bore holes, often sideways underneath properties not owned by the drilling companies (as right that has now been granted to them by the government) and pumping a cocktail of water and up to 90 different chemicals, many of them highly toxic, into the ground under immense pressure.  This cracks the rock and releases trapped gas.  The water is then recycled back into the normal water system where it’s treated and used again.  That is apart from the water that leaks into local water courses and along with some of chemicals and the gas.

If you want to see how this process affects local people watch the film Gasland and Gasland 2, clips of which are available on YouTube.

Another main method is something called underground coal gasification, which involved drilling into coal seams and then setting them alight.  The controlled burn then generates coal gas which is extracted.  This process is often hard to control and becomes every bit as horrific as it sounds.  This is the type of extraction that we could see being used in areas like Bloxham which sits on large coal deposits.

A national pressure group has also been set up called ‘Frack Off’.  They recently released a short video that explains what we may see in our area if fracking is allowed to go ahead.

government’s presumption against fracking in designated areas, such as national parks, goes to show that the Coalition recognises that hydraulic fracking will harm the environment and presents significant risks.

The Green Party calls on the government to offer all communities the same protection from dirty and dangerous fracking and shift energy policy focus instead towards clean, renewable energy sources and energy conservation.

The latest bidding process for licenses to extract shale gas from large parts of the UK is under way.  The government is also proposing to pay large amounts of money to local councils that support fracking, regardless of local residents wishes.

About half the UK is open to exploration, but tightened rules cover areas of outstanding beauty and large areas of Cherwell. The Green Party is the only mainstream political party fighting to stop fracking being pushed through by a government which consistently puts corporate profit over people.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:

“While the Government has signalled an intention to ensure some protective measures, we can have little confidence in promises of a robust regulatory framework.

“We know fracking can cause water contamination and shortages, as well as air and soil pollution. And this is an industry that’s made a catalogue of errors already. But legitimate concerns over its very real environmental and health risks are falling on deaf ears.

“By seeking to lock us ever-more firmly into fossil fuel dependence the Government is turning a blind eye to reason. It’s crystal clear that we need to be shifting to clean, renewable energy sources.

“We need a rapid shift to a zero carbon economy and that is not going to happen by pouring resources into establishing an entirely new fossil fuel industry.”

As your MP I would fight tooth and nail to prevent our wonderful communities and countryside from being torn apart by this ‘bottom of the barrel’ technology.  The Green Party is the only major party standing up against these proposals and we need support of local communities to help us stop these wells from being set up before it’s too late.  Once the process is begun we may all live to regret the fact that we didn’t stand up to be counted when we had the chance.