Monday, 11 May 2015

Farewell and thanks for all the votes!

Now as all the fuss dies down and Labour and Liberal Democrats sit and lick their war wounds, it is time for me to say goodbye. This Blog has served its purpose so I will add no more posts, although it will be still here in the internet for posterity. I am naturally sad that we have a Conservative government, not as sad as my 4 year old granddaughter who apparently burst into tears when she heard the news, saying to her mother "But I want the Greens to win" (It must be genetic!). However, the Green Party did far better that ever before and I am very pleased to add my 1216 votes to the million that we clocked up.

I may have come last, but I still claim Victory. I was interviewed three times by Radio Derby, once on air live from the count and finally at the Studio for the breakfast show (6.45 on Friday Morning). At that interview I was introduced as the loser who was still smiling. I was very pleased with the out come because I achieved what I set out to do. I gave choice to South Derbyshire voters, I conducted myself with dignity and put forward the policies of the Green Party and did not stoop to making spurious claims or personal attacks on politicians of the other Parties. I was a little hurt when scrutinising the spoilt ballot papers that a few people had written things like "I don't trust any of them" but then I did enter a world where people who are good at manipulation rise to the top.

Overall, it was a positive experience. I was overwhelmed by the good wishes and support of family, friends, work colleagues, friends in the Open Access, Library and Information world, acquaintances, random strangers and particularly; Green Party members of South Derbyshire, Derbyshire Green Party and my little Green Team who trudged miles posting thousands of leaflets and supported me with enthusiasm. I have to thank Kim Collis, Derbyshire Green Party Nominations officer for her faith in me as a candidate; David Foster, seasoned Green campaigner and candidate for Derby South; Ash Corbett-Collins, my election agent and social media promoter and my husband Roger who supported me and could easily have told me that I was being very foolish. Most of all, thank you to each and every single one of the 1215 people who voted for me (yes, I did vote for myself!). This is a foundation where we can build a Green resistance to the policies of unfairness and inequality that the Conservative government will try to impose. This is not the end, it is a beginning ...

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Election Priorities: Why the Green Party is the right one for South Derbyshire

As the Election campaign is coming to a close and Party Leaders are winging their way to their constituencies it is time for me to sum up why I think that Green Party policies are right for South Derbyshire. First, I have had emails from voters wanting to know my views on such things as the NHS; arms funding; animal testing; nuclear missiles; overseas aid; fox hunting; badger culling; countryside and nature; assisted dying and fuel duty. These are the concerns of  people in South Derbyshire. I have answered some people personally and have written blogs about the common issues. All of the subjects are covered by Green Party policies.

We want to return the NHS to be fully publicly funded with patients being the priority. Arms sales will be strictly licensed, we will not spend billions of pounds on nuclear weapons but would spend more on co-operating with other countries. We are against fox hunting, badger culling and would keep or increase fuel duty, of course we would, oil is a fossil fuel and we want to use and invest in sustainable resources. We believe that humans have a symbiotic relationship with Nature and should spend time appreciating it for our mental and physical health. We believe in personal choice, not only of how to live but also of how to die. These are the things that constituents want, well apart from the fuel duty, we realise that, which is why the Green Party wants to invest in greener ways of transport and cleaner forms of fuel. We are motorists too.

Constituents fortunate enough to have received one of my leaflets (Sorry, we couldn't manage to cover the whole constituency) will see that I stated four election priorities. Education, Transport, Housing and Libraries. I could easily have added faster broadband. South Derbyshire has a number of good, small primary schools, but the provision for secondary education is not as good as constituents want, lacking in the right funding and needing one more school. The Green Party is committed to investing in local government schools and I would ensure that each child in the constituency would be able to have high quality education.

Transport does not only include better bus services, improvements to rural and urban roads but also better cycle tracks and cycle lanes. There are many people who cycle around the constituency through narrow country roads and alongside fast running traffic. The network of safer cycle ways and footpaths should be improved. The Green Party believe in a holistic approach, with subsides and planning giving the UK an accessible transport infrastructure and would divert funds from HS2, which it considers to be a vanity project, in order to pay for the improvements.

Affordable housing is an issue nationwide, not just in South Derbyshire. This covers rented accommodation as well as house purchase. The Green Party want to provide more council and housing association homes as well as encouraging small and medium building firms to create affordable houses where there is the need for them.

Finally, I have a wild card: public libraries. These are vital places, static or mobile, which are gateways to knowledge, lifelines to the lonely, conduits of information where self motivated learners discover new ideas. They are equalisers of opportunity, they offer a service to anyone no matter what age, income, socio-economic level, colour religion or sexual orientation. They are places where staff can: help children with their homework; help people who cannot cope with computers and the internet; spot whether someone has financial, mental health or physical problems and can refer people on to the correct service. Our library provision is diminishing and I would fight to bring back the mobile service and improve opening hours.

I started this blog by saying that I am a trail blazer, being the first Green Party candidate for South Derbyshire, and through this campaign I have discovered considerable support for Green Party policies and now I am sure that Green is here to stay.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Parliament is not Government: MPs not MGs

In my new state of political awareness I have realised the difference between Parliament and Government and the importance of getting people with a diverse range of opinions into Parliament as possible. There are 5 reasons for this:

  • A varied and balanced Parliament means that every vote counts
  • A varied and balanced Parliament is truly democratic
  • In a general election the electorate are voting for Members of Parliament, NOT members of Government.  
  • A Parliament made up of a spectrum of opinions and ideals provides enough debate and checks and balances to ensure that extremes of thought or behaviour do not happen
  • An extreme Government will not be allowed to make damaging and extreme decisions
So, here is some explanation of the difference between Government and Parliament:


This is the the set of people who Govern the country on a day to day basis in the name of the UK monarch: the Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers, and they only have power when there is majority of that political party in the House of Commons. The wining party select the Prime Minister and he or she chooses their cabinet. They are basically the UK's executive management committee.


This is made up of the Monarch, the House of Commons (elected members) and House of Lords (non elected members) and these bodies are the ones that decide on the laws by which the Government Governs (and by which the population abide). The House of Commons has the greater power and the Monarch's rule is mainly formal, not active. The Government has to have the backing of Parliament because Parliament debates their ideas before ratifying their decisions. Parliament also supplies "Her Majesty's Opposition" with the Opposition leader and a shadow cabinet serving a function of making sure that the Government does not do anything too weird. Therefore whoever you vote for, whatever their beliefs, are the people who can control what is done in the country. Power is devolved through Parliament.

My point is, vote for who you want in your constituency, vote with your heart and your voice, vote for difference and your beliefs because in order to get the best for the country all opinions have to be aired and no-one will be able to take the UK into a extreme, all powerful, direction undermining the needs of the people of Britain. Just Vote.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Honesty, and I don't mean the flower

I listened to Radio 4's Today programme again this morning and heard John Humphrys' interview with Ed Miliband. John mentioned the word "Trust", more than once, and Mr Miliband seemed to skirt around the word, and the questions, and I don't know whether it was me in my state of semi somnabulance on a Bank Holiday Monday morning but I thought that nothing was said, nothing about the true convictions of the Labour Party and nothing about the benefits of voting for a Labour member of parliament. There seemed very little conviction of purpose and a lot of avoiding answering questions. So in my opinion nothing was said that would convince the electorate to trust. Now, I am not singling out Mr Miliband as an untrustworthy or dishonest politician, I am using the interview as an example of the way that politics is being conducted at the moment, politicians seem to expect not to state their honest views, they are not laying down moral principles, they are cajoling and wooing voters with murmurs of sweet nothings, with the exceptions of SNP and Plaid Cymru with their nationalist objectives. I just think that it is time to be honest, and stand up for your deep felt beliefs. Here is a definition of the word:

honest  (ˈɒnɪst)
1. not given to lying, cheating, stealing, etc; trustworthy
2. not false or misleading; genuine
3. just or fair: honest wages.
4. characterized by sincerity and candour: an honest appraisal.
5. without pretensions or artificial traits: honest farmers.

Being honest is what I am, I find it hard to be any other way, and this is where I think the Green Party wins. We are not afraid to say that we need to increase fuel duty, we are not afraid to say that we must raise taxes, we are not afraid to tell the truth about about the world and to encourage exclusivity and equality and kindness. some of the electorate may not agree with the policies, but at least all of the electorate can trust us.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Food, Food banks, Sustainable food production

It seems impossible that in Britain today anyone should be short of food, not when Supermarkets are throwing food away and selling so much that families also discard food that has just past a sell-by date. However, it appears that people are being referred to food banks more frequently than we can ever remember. Something is going wrong. The main reason that individuals have been given food vouchers is that they have problems with their benefits, and it appears that this means people on low wages as well as un-waged. According to the BBC:

"Nevertheless, the UK is not alone in seeing an increase in food bank use. The problem is also in evidence elsewhere in Europe and the US. As the UN has noted, the problem of food poverty is a reflection of greater societal inequality, not just fluctuations in a local economy." (

The economy may be improving, but wealth is not being filtered down to most people. So what can be done about this? The Green Party have many plans to redistribute the wealth of this nation, and they are committed to making sure that even a low wage is a Living Wage, the amount of money you need for the basics of life. We also want to ensure that nutritious food is available to everyone at prices that they can afford. The Manifesto also has a lot to say about food production and would encourage more sustainable farming methods as opposed to industrial farming.

Not everyone wants to leave this to politicians, however. Today I met a group of people in Melbourne (Derby's) who have formed a Transition Group ( who want to take action as a community to counteract the effects of climate change and fossil fuels. One of their projects is Whistlewood Common, a co-operatively owned piece of land where they are practising Permaculture (, planting edible trees with crops below them, making multiple use of the land. I am not suggesting that the people using food banks should get out their trowels and start digging, that may not be practical where they live. But if politicians cared about equality; supported the sustainable use of land; gave incentives for small farmers, small businesses and local food supplies as well as giving a living wage, then more people would be able to afford to eat and food banks would no longer exist.

Friday, 1 May 2015


During this campaign I have discovered that there are plans afoot to build 1000 new houses between my village and the next and a possible 500 in a nearby village. I have been asked to say how I would "Unequivocally stop speculative building", which is a hard thing to answer. On one hand I certainly support keeping countryside as countryside; we need to green spaces to be the lungs of our planet, but I also have a sympathy with people who want to move to a nice area, farmers who may need the money from selling their fields and the tradesmen who would be employed. I also want to know "Why?" Why do the three villages need so many houses? We do not have employment here, just a handful of farms, some small schools and a few shops. There is not major industry close to us. We are near the M1 and the M42 and have good rail links to London, and will not be too far away from an HS2 station, should the line ever be built. Is it then for commuters?

One of my election issues is the lack of affordable housing in the constituency; in both the rural and urban areas there is not sufficient housing for people of low wage, or for first time buyers. As the developments are "speculative" I suspect that they will not include genuinely affordable houses. The Green Party wants to increase the quantity of social housing, owned by local councils and not private landlords because everyone has the right to a home, whatever the income or age, young or old. We may have a small number of people in need of social housing, the problem is not as great as in the higher populated and more industrialised part of the constituency. So although the villages need social housing they do not need that many.

The Green Party is committed to local communities making their own decisions and state that they will "Support local aspirations by introducing a community right of appeal against speculative development which conflicts with agreed local or neighbourhood plans". The Green Party Manifesto sets out the details of our housing strategy and it includes:

  • Bringing empty houses back into use
  • Minimise development on greenfield land
  • Reduce VAT on housing repairs and extensions
  • Break up the big housing cartels and support small and medium sized builders
And these and other strategies are designed to put off mass speculative housing, allowing communities to choose what and how much development they need. 

The full strategy can be found in Chapter 8 of the manifesto:

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Solar farms and the environment

The day started with me being, well outraged is perhaps too strong a word, decidedly miffed at a minimum. I have listened to and respected the BBC Today news and affairs programme practically since its inception but for the first time today it let me down. Sarah Montague seems to believe that the Green Party is a one issue party judging by the way she was perusing Natalie Bennett about climate change and the environment in today's interview. The Green Party has been around long enough (at least 40 years) to have developed a well rounded set of policies which cover the vital issues of living in the UK, all tempered with the concept of being good to the planet and the people on it. The manifesto does not have to shout and scream "Save the Whales" or "Ban Fracking", I suspect that Ms Montague was confusing Green Party with Green Peace.

Environmental issues are still key to the Party. Non fossil fuels and clean, renewable energy are area's in which we would like to invest. Later on today I visited a proposed Solar Farm consultation and exhibition in Overseal, Derbyshire. I wanted to find out more about the proposal, the company's plans and the benefit to the local community. Although the company's main aim was to develop the site to produce power, they suggested many areas whereby the community could gain a better environment by duel use of the land, for example grazing, bee skips, wild flower meadow. It appeared to me that there is a distinct opportunity for South Derbyshire Greens to broker the possibilities of duel land use to local individuals, ensuring that it is just not a field full of Solar Panels. It doesn't need to be in our manifesto for us to be involved.

I really think that Ms Montague's researchers let her down today, she only quoted the "Mini-manifesto". Our full manifesto includes such  policies as: Decarbonising Transport; International Agreement on Climate Change; invest in an £85 billion public programme of renewable electricity generation, flood defences and building insulation. If that is not tackling climate change, I'll go sunbathing in December, between the Solar Panels.