Gallery

Being in Business Doesn’t Have to Cost the Earth [Video]

20191207_140334

I took a look around Banbury on Small Business Saturday at some of the great independent retailers and restaurants to discuss with them how we can equate conscious consumerism with being a small business while still fighting climate change!

Check out the Green Party manifesto for more information on how we plan to support small businesses as part of our Green New Deal.

Click to access Green%20Party%20Manifesto%202019.pdf

Gallery

Hands Up if you Want a Better Education System?

lisegagne

I’ve been surprised throughout this election at the lack of questioning during hustings and interviews about education.

With cuts being felt right across the county, we really should be more focused on this issue that we are.  I was tweeted tonight by a parent led group campaigning against cuts in school funding in Oxfordshire asking if I realised just how bad the situation was. 

At this point I’m the only candidate to reply.  But maybe the others will catch up later.

But playing catch-up seems to be the way for our education system, with a report coming out only a few days ago on the dire state of repair of some school buildings. As someone who went to school in the 70s, I find it shocking that we should have let our education system become so under-valued in such a short period of time.

My best friend from back in those days keeps in touch with me, and he has just retired as a senior head teacher.  He now does consultancy work for schools that are suffering under the same system he battled through.  Essentially the privatisation of our education system that does little to help students and puts a lot of money into the pockets of Academy shareholders.

The future of our children should not be for sale to the highest bidder, and we should not be seeing a situation where parents have to raise hundreds of pounds to subsidise books or pay for bus passes so their children can actually get to school.  Again, I remember free bus passes for school-children, but that seems like a long-lost utopia now.

We need an education system that provides opportunity to everyone. Schools that cater for all levels of ability and aspiration. The chance for everyone who wants to move on to further and higher education to do so without saddling themselves with a lifetime of debt.

We also need to value our teachers and educators, paying them a decent salary and ensuring they have fair conditions to work in.  Like doctors and nurses they are taken far too much for granted and expected to cope with appalling stress simply because they are dedicated people.

The Conservative’s promises of extra funding don’t come close to addressing the problems that have been stored up over the past 10 years.  Their so-called ‘extra’ spending amounts to nothing more than setting the clock back to the point before they imposed austerity on us all.

See the Green Party Manifesto by clicking here.  Go to page 55 to see our comprehensive range of proposals and policies about revitalising our education system and bringing schools into the 21sct century, whilst unlocking the potential of students and teachers at all levels.

A proper education for the next generation should be a priority for all of us.  Without that what kind of world are we building for our children and ourselves?

Gallery

Public Services Should be Publicly Owned and Funded

Wordle_Figure_11

For me this has always been an absolute red line in terms of how our society is organised.  I’ve never been opposed to the free market, even though in my experience in business the free bit is usually very far from free.

But there are certain services that society needs to function, and our economy is also dependent on.  These are broadly health, education, social care, welfare, transport, police, fire services, the military and local infrastructure.  I may have missed something but you get the gist.

Over the past 10 years we know that these have all been the subject of cuts, and we’ve all seen the results.  Not only has this left us impoverished as a nation, it’s also applied serious downward pressure on our productivity and our economy.

It’s analogous to the way that businesses are run when they start to get into trouble.  First you cut the things you don’t really need, then the things you think you can do without but would like to have, then you cut they think you do need but try to work around, then things you actually need to operate like stock and equipment and then finally you realise you’ve removed your ability to actually do anything productive.

We’re pretty much at the end of that process now, and we need to fix it.

Additionally, we know that many of the things that were cut didn’t need to be cut.  The Tories are never one to let a good crisis go to waste and used the financial crash as an excuse to decimate social services and welfare, dismantle the NHS and remove many of the support services for those in the greatest need.

This was driven more by ideology and the Tories obsession with reducing the deficit at all costs, even though this had very little discernible effect on the national debt.  When productivity and the economy stall, you end up with less money coming into the coffers and you have to borrow more.  That’s where we are now.

There should be a real end to the culture of austerity and public service cuts. We’re one of the richest nations in the world, with everyone paying their fair share we should be able to care for and protect all our citizens and keep the infrastructure we all rely on well maintained and working properly.

The cost of train fares for example is absolutely ludicrous at the moment and are some of the highest in Europe with some of the worst services being provided.  This gives lie to the idea that privatisation makes things more efficient.  That said, I know that nationalised services gained a bad reputation back in the old days, but I think that was more an issue of management culture.  There’s no reason why things can’t be run completely in the public sector by staff and management who are properly motivated.

Overall though there are vital services keep our economy moving, and they should be properly supported by government.  I’d like to see all of them eventually brought back fully into public ownership and run collectively for the good of the people who rely on them on a zero-sum gain basis.  If private businesses can make a profit out of these services now, there’s no reason why they can’t be revenue generating for society or provided at a reduced, subsidised cost where appropriate.  It may even be possible to provide some of them for free!  Hopefully much freer than the so-called free market!