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Thanks Again

So ends my third and final candidacy for the Banbury constituency.

In a way I’ve come full circle in that my result this time was almost identical to my first one in 2015.  I was only 79 votes short of that figure this time with a final result of  2607 votes, giving me 4.1% of the vote share.

In 2015, I received 4.6% with only a slightly higher number of votes, but the turnout was lower then. Sadly this left me about 500 votes short of keeping my deposit this time, which means the Green Party loses £500, but we did our best.

Screenshot_2019-12-13 Banbury (UK Parliament constituency) - Wikipedia

On a personal level I’m fairly happy with that result.  It was more than double the last time I stood and represented a 2.2% increase in my vote share.  That’s the best increase of all the Green Party candidates in Oxfordshire, so that’s nice to have.  You have to look for the positives in these things!

Unfortunately though, positives on a national level are thin on the ground.  With a massive swing to the Tories representing such a shift in our national political landscape, I’m far more concerned about that than I am about my own result.  This is something I’m still processing at the moment as I’m sure many others are.  I have to say I’ve avoided news coverage of the election today as it is just too painful!  Maybe sleep deprivation has played a big part in that as well!

Where we go from here is difficult to say.  I think it’s fairly certain that Brexit will now happen, which I think we will mostly live to regret.  The debate around the referendum has become so polarised now that I’m not sure anyone really knows how we got here.  It’s become an argument about ‘honouring’ a vote that many people no longer really know the point of.  From most of the coverage I’ve seen it’s become about who ‘won’ and who ‘lost’.  It should never have been boiled down to such a simplistic argument.  Especially as I think most of us will eventually be the losers from Brexit.

The “Get Brexit done” slogan is also an absurd reduction of the true impact of one of the most seismic shifts in our fortunes since the second world war.  I still don’t think it’s something we should be treating so lightly.  With so much new information available to us now compared to 2016, we should have had an opportunity to think again.  Just ‘getting it over with’ really isn’t a logical motivation for carrying on with something that I think will be hugely damaging to this country and our economy.  Especially as the poor and the disadvantaged will end up feeling the most pain, which makes it doubly frustrating when so many news reports seem to suggest it’s those very people who voted Tory in this election.

Those of us on the remain side obviously haven’t made a strong enough case to those who seem so eager to jump into the abyss.  Boris Johnson’s lies will, I believe, show themselves to be exactly that when we finally push the button on Brexit.  Sadly it will be too late then to say I told you so to all those who think this will be a positive move.

The climate debate was for me equally as important as Brexit and bound up in the same argument.  This also applies to the other burning issues in the UK at the moment, including the NHS and public services.  I believe we will spend the next 10 years wasting parliamentary time dealing with the intricacies of extricating ourselves from the EU and negotiating disadvantageous deals with countries like the USA, when we should be dealing with the existential threat of climate change and the collapse of our health services.

The other issue exposed by the result is the desperate need for electoral reform.  Westminster has still been carved up by the two main parties who need so few votes to get a seat in the big house.  Whereas parties like the Greens with over 800,000 votes nationally only get on MP.  That really doesn’t make sense and certainly explains why so many people think that voting is a pointless exercise.  Moreover we need to have greater co-operation between parties to achieve electoral reform.  I hope that the one positive that might come out of Labour’s terrible results might be that they will finally be open to talking to other parties about co-operating towards that end.

But I will do what I can to help deal with the worst damage that Brexit and climate change will inevitably do to our society both locally and globally, even though I fear that, with at least another 5 years of majority Conservative government ahead of us, that’s going to be a very difficult task.

It’s not one that I will shirk from though, and I will use my position as a local councillor  to bring as much influence as I can to bear on what will no doubt be many more Tory excesses and attacks on the weakest in our society.  With a Tory dominated District council in Cherwell it’s always an uphill struggle to ‘move the dial’ but that’s not a reason to give up and I won’t be doing that.

Finally, an enormous thank you everyone who helped in my campaign and to everyone who contacted my directly, and through social media, to give me encouragement and support, and of course thank you for giving me your precious vote.  I can assure you that I value it enormously and it was not wasted.

For reasons I’ve explained in another post, no vote you believe in is ever wasted, and in terms of the Green Party it will help us carry on campaigning and, most importantly now, hold the national and local government to account on the environment and climate change.

The fight continues!

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

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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

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Hands Up if you Want a Better Education System?

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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?