What Do I Stand For?

cropped-2014-october-badger-march-ian-and-ruthi8.jpgI’m not a natural politician but being asked to be a Parliamentary candidate made me think long and hard about where I stood within the process we call democracy. I eventually decided I should probably put my principles where my mouth was, and at least try to do something constructive about some of the things I’ve been banging on about for years.

I’ve never really been much of a joiner, and before joining the Greens hadn’t really been involved in any sort of political activity since I left the young socialists in 1973, just after our treasurer was found to have run off with most of our funds – Maybe that’s where my distrust of politics started.

Even so I’ve voted Green for a number of years, mainly because I could no longer bring myself to vote for any of the usual suspect parties, and not voting has never been an option for me.

I saw the Green Party back then as the only one that at least cared about some of the things that were closest to my heart. As most people usually do, I saw the party as principally concerned with the environment and the biosphere. You know – tree hugging and all that sort of thing.

But I came to realise that it was a party that was also trying to tackle many of the social justice issues that are only being paid lip service by the traditional parties. In short, it made more sense than all the others.

I eventually joined the Party in 2012 after meeting our then Mayor, Elise Benjamin, who also happened to be a Green, during a period when I felt the need to nail my colours to some kind of political mast.

My love of the outdoors, my concerns over human and animal rights and a long held belief that the human race only has a few more generations left to run, if we carry on treating the planet and each other as we are, seemed to suggest that those colours were most likely to be green.

That said, I don’t agree with all Green Party policies.

Some of them I’m probably completely at odds with, like my views on nuclear power. But I think it’s testament to the nature of the party that some dissent is tolerated amongst the ranks – in private anyway.

As a businessperson, a long time retailer, and now a retail commentator and journalist, one of the most difficult things for me to reconcile is my involvement in the promotion of consumerism. That’s at odds with my more recent conviction that we can’t continue to squander the world’s finite resources on wants, whilst ignoring the needs of most of the planet’s population. It’s still a work in progress for me.

But I think the answer probably lies with balancing these two factors whilst mixing in a healthy portion of social entrepreneurism.

Like it or loathe it, the world needs businesses to keep what we like to call civilisation running. And if those enterprises remember that they need to put back into society at least as much as they took out, we might have the makings of a sustainable economic culture. I’m grossly over-simplifying of course, but I won’t bore you with the details now.

I hope though that my entrepreneurial background might help inform some of the key policy issues surrounding our relationship with businesses, large and small.

I’m a vocal advocate of social enterprise, and believe that there are many big businesses out there that can be made to take a more ethical stance if we create the right conditions to encourage it.

I certainly think that if The Green Party is to obtain any significant of power on a national level, we have to be prepared to work with business, rather than be seen to be totally against it.

And we do need to achieve power at the Westminster level if we’re going to halt the inequities of the current coalition and their attacks on the NHS, the poor, the disabled and the disadvantaged.

It’s clear that without The Greens, whatever flavour of government we get next time round, we’re going to see virtually the same policies being pursued. A continuation of austerity, further attacks on health and education and an erosion of social justice and the environment in favour of enriching the elite few.

If you have any issues you’d like me to take on, or something you feel  I should be aware of, please contact me using the links on this website.  I’d also encourage everyone to follow me on Twitter and on Facebook, if you do that sort of thing.

I look forward to meeting and interacting with as many of you as possible, and hopefully persuading those that need it that the Green Party offers a genuine and workable alternative to the status quo in Oxfordshire and the country as a whole.

Ian Middleton

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