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.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Fixing the Economy:Tax Rises

Could William Hague be guilty of bribery or was it just a publicity stunt when this morning he announced that a new Conservative government would not only keep taxes low, but also would legislate to make rising  taxes illegal. This appears to me to be a shallow attempt to coerce the electorate into voting Conservative while imagining that the general population are avaricious and unintelligent. Firstly, even though a UK Parliament could make a law to not to rise taxes, the very same Parliament may also pass a counter law saying that it can, at any time that it chooses ( I simply do not understand why the idea of tax rises is so bad. I believe that you pay for what you get, tax less and you get less: less jobs, less nurses, less libraries, less homes, less high quality education, a less healthy, literate, informed and happy population. We all pay tax to receive services and if we want services that will provide a good quality of life for everyone we have to be prepared to pay for them.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) also think that taxes should rise. In their Manifesto 2015 ( They believe that "Vote winning policies will only serve to damage the public interest". They say that the current set of cuts and the "Austerity" model is unsustainable and that cuts during a growth period is unprecedented. It has not and will not reduce the deficit and that Government has to budget for the medium and long term. One of the major problems is the increasing proportion of people over the age of 64 to those between 16-64: it estimates that state pensions will account for around 16% of government spending by 2019. They emphatically state "If debt levels are to remain sustainable: either taxes will have to go up, substantial cuts will need to be imposed on other budgets such as education, or care and pension levels will need to be cut. There are no other options."

So, the Green Party are committed to raising taxes. At least we are honestly stating that, we are not giving hollow promises that we will or will not keep or taxing by stealth, such as student loans or uping VAT. We understand the reality and we know that by investing in public services tax payers will get value for money. More tax means more jobs, more nurses, more teachers, more buses, more affordable homes, more care and more equality. A common question asked of Green Party election candidates is "... and how will you pay for that?". The frank answer is "by increasing taxes". However, the tax increases are targeted on people who are well able to pay them. The Green Party 2015 Manifesto sets out in fully costed detail what taxes will be increased or introduced ( Some will be unpopular, for example the reintroduction of the fuel duty escalator, higher duty on tobacco and alcohol. Whereas other will be popular, reducing the tax gap between the highest earners and the general public with a new top level 60% income tax. This on its own could raise £120 billion per year. We will wage a war on tax dodgers with a new army of HMRC recruits, reinstating posts that have been cut. There will be some tax reductions, for example, employers' national insurance and VAT on housing repairs. We will take the money in, like every government does but then we will reallocate the money and channel it into the things that matter. We will give you back your money, as hospitals, trains, houses, nurseries and schools.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Badgers, Foxes and Nature and Wellbeing

I went for a walk today, that is I went leafleting again, and to reward myself after posting about 100 leaflets I walked around the lake in Melbourne (Derbyshire, not Australia!) in pursuit of the sight of some bluebells. I did manage to find some and I also found some very large mounds with holes that may or may not have been badger setts. I have only ever seen badgers once, at 11pm one night I saw two running one after the other down the road leading from the main road to the river in my little village. I was surprised by the speed and the power of the animal. Although their diet consists mainly of earthworms, the organic gardener's friend, and I saw badgers eating birds eggs on a television programme recently, I can forgive them because they are a natural part of British wildlife, another mammal living freely and untamed amongst us. This is one reason why they are important and should not be culled. I sympathise with cattle farmers who's herds have contracted TB and I consider it such a waste when cows are slaughtered to control the disease. However, killing cattle and culling badgers does not manage to kill the bovine TB bacteria ( A programme of vaccination is much more effective.

As for foxes, well in my innocent youth I thought that fox hunting was OK because foxes were clever and cunning and were hardly ever caught, but I learnt that that was not the case. Although foxes can be a nuisance in both rural and urban area's raiding bins, eating hens and they tend to raid my allotment and dig through the compost, they do not deserve to be ripped apart by dogs. Once again there could be more effective ways of controlling another member of British wildlife. I have discovered that covering newly planted and composted soil with pruned twiggy branches keeps the foxes off the allotment. We have killed off so many species so far, let us keep the ones that we have and treat them with dignity.

Finally, you may have gathered that I am an outdoors sort of person, enjoying long country walks and tending my organic allotment. It comes as no surprise therefore that I would wholeheartedly support a Nature and Wellbeing Act ( Walking in clean open air is more beneficial than working out in a gym, running around playing games on grass makes children fitter that playing with a Wii. Sitting in peaceful woodland, walking the dog or meditating next to a fishing rod is a great way to release stress. I believe this, and so does the Green Party and this is what they would do, and what I would push for if elected.

  • Significantly expand protected areas – National Parks, forests and land protected under EU Birds and Habitats Directives – and strengthen and enforce protections. 
  • Take a landscape approach to conservation using reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, improved agri-environment schemes and the planning system.
  • Reform farm payments so that they incentivise soil protection, wildlife conservation, flood prevention, water quality and carbon capture.
  • Reverse the presumption in favour of development and make sure developers cannot destroy unique habitats by ‘offsetting’ elsewhere.
  • Reduce pesticide use, ban neonicotinoids and strengthen planning guidelines to protect bees
  • Improve non-car access to green open spaces and natural areas.
I am so pleased that the Green Party agrees with me. 

Monday, 27 April 2015

Numbers are good, targets are bad

I received this reply to the previous post from a Maths student, and I thought that it was worth sharing

 "Something that is important to input here is that currently, the numbers approach isn't working. But much of the operational research (mathematicians who aim to make the world more efficient) cannot give optimal (or most robust) solutions to the end user because politicians come in and tell them that they have to input 5000 new nurses etc so they have something concrete to give to the constituents. I would like an approach that embraces the power of numbers, statistical models, predictive and prescriptive approaches but also has an element of the qualitative about it also.

 There should not be targets to be hit numbers, but using the numbers to better understand where things go wrong in conjunction with the doctors and nurses. Giving patient outcomes as a measure of performance, not numbers in and out. I think using numerical approaches but also perhaps learning a thing or two from customer service specialists would do well. And I mean to say this not in to get the suits in, but working how to perform at your best as a team, talking to people who may have good suggestions."

I think that the point is that numbers help us to understand how the world is, and that targets to make greater numbers do not change the world. Using numbers to make informed decisions will. Numbers and statistics are not the bad guys, it is the fairground "High Striker" approach that is.

Photograph by By Hedwig Storch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

National Heath Service

A voter has drawn my attention to a cross party Bill that Caroline Lucas MP (Green Party) presented to the House of Commons on 11th March 2015. It was supported by 11 other MPs from the Liberal Democrats, Labour, SNP and Plaid Cymru. I have read this National Health Service Bill to restore the NHS as a publicly funded and accountable service with very great interest. I am a passionate supporter of the National Health Service not only because I was born in Tredegar, birthplace, home and constituency of Aneurin Bevan, the Minister for Health commonly considered the architect of the NHS (  but also because my entire family have had good service from the NHS since it's outset. 

I think that sometimes people forget the concept of the NHS. It is not a charity, it not a gift from a rich donor, it is not a commercial body trying to make money for shareholders, it is not something that "The Government" provides from some imaginary pot of money. It is a service that each and every individual in the UK pays for out of taxes, and just remember that we are taxed in many ways, VAT, duties on alcohol and tobacco as well as income tax. We all own the NHS, we pay into it to provide a service to us when we need it, for going to the dentist, for having our eyes tested, for pregnancy and contraception services. Just imagine the cost of having a baby if you had to pay the midwife, doctor, surgeon, nurses. This treatment is given unquestioningly because it is equally available irrespective of job, class, colour, creed, gender or sexuality. It is neutral and judgemental because it is about improving the health of our nation as a whole, from cradle to grave. 

Recently, I have been concerned about reports in the media of hospital failures of hygiene, lack of nursing care and overloaded emergency services and I believe that these issues have come about through the internal market system imposed on NHS services. This focuses far too much on financial outcomes and achieving statistical targets as opposed to real care for the patients. As a service for all more energy should be spent on co-operation, open science and working together in order to improve health. I do therefore fully support the inclusion of the National Health Service Bill in the first Queen's Speech of the new parliament,
Incidentally, I was campaigning at the weekend for the NHS to be kept as a public service.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Paying for petrol

I admit it, I do tend to be a bit of a petrol head, I do like little sports cars, ever since I had an MGB GT; my very first car in the 1980's. However, I know that there is a cost to consuming petrol, the cost to the planet as well as to my purse. This is why I use trains for long distance journeys instead of Desiree, my current love (Street KA). This is why I walk for short journeys and made sure that all my children could ride a bike. This is why I try to drive with fuel saving technique and would prefer to work at home instead of getting stuck in fuel consuming traffic jams.

The Green party manifesto states that we will restore the fuel duty escalator, which of course is hard on our pockets. However we will prioritise investment in places where public transport is currently poor, making it clean, cheap and reliable. We will invest much of the new roads budget into public transport without affecting road maintenance budgets. In the interests of safety we want lower speeds in urban areas and country lanes, this will lead to more efficient fuel use. A 'fair fuel' policy should also consider what is fair to future generations. I want to see investment in good and safe cycle lanes and paths foot paths encouraging people to make more use of them.

We will invest in recharging points for electric cars and the production of future vehicles and in renewable energy in order to power electric vehicles and find alternative fuels to fossil fuel in order to power heavy good vehicles and buses. The technology to stop relying on fossil fuel is out there, and this needs to funded because one day soon the oil wells will run dry. So, although the financial cost of petrol as we know it may increase, the ultimate cost to our environment will go down. I know which cost I would prefer.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Choosing to when or where to die

If we consider humans as sentient, thinking beings, then I believe that generally they have the right of individual choice of when and how to die. That is not to say that some individuals make choices about ending their own lives without considering the thoughts, well being and emotions of others, but then in some frames of mind people do not realise how much they are loved, needed and will be missed. Suicide is sad for those that are left, but is not a sin.

Assisted suicide is another matter. I can understand that someone may well want to die with dignity if they are fearful about an intolerable physical deterioration. I know that death is a release for people who have struggled against long term terminal illnesses, I saw my own mother fade away from breast cancer. I also know that a lot can be done in hospices to give terminally ill people a peaceful and serene death, but again I think that legal euthanasia would allow people choice. I also consider that if we went down the route of legal euthanasia we would need a whole load of checks and balances to ensure that no-one took advantage of the situation.

Both of these issues, death in a hospice and assisted death are covered by the Green Party Health Policy in the section End of Life Care ( Palliative care and assisted death with strict criteria and guidelines are supported in order to allow individuals to choose the nature of their death.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Arms and the Woman

I have been approached by a number of campaigners who are interested in my views about arms, armaments, defence and warfare, so this post is about my feelings on the matter.

I grew up in the 1960's during the cold war with the threat of nuclear war hanging over us. I felt a huge amount of relief once the cold war ended and I consider that having nuclear weapons are just as much an attraction for attack as a deterrent. Nuclear war is mutually assured destruction a situation that is realised by most major powers. I consider that warfare is evolving into other forms, biological and chemical weapons and cyber warfare, which could bring a nation to its knees with having to shoot a singe missile. 

I have always supported unilateral disarmament and I am in favour of not replacing trident missiles. I believe that the money would be better spent and save more lives if it were spent on the NHS, on schools and public libraries and information points. I am a pacifist and believe that there are many ways to resolve conflict rather than by aggression with military might. 

The Green Party considers that many current conflict situations have resulted from competition and exploitation by rich Northern countries and it is time that we all learned to co-operate with each other, to improve local economies and the environment. War is not good for such improvement. Global interdependence will engender common security and there should be a progressive reduction and the eventual abolition of offensive weaponry. This concept is of course an ideal for which to aim, and reality is a little grimmer. It appears that there is something in the nature of humans to be aggressive and provoke war.

Defence is therefore a consideration, but the Green Party believe that there are better and cheaper ways of defending the realm. To read the Peace and Defence policy in full see:
I would certainly support a review of the UK's approach to security, I do not approve of the promotion of arms sales and I certainly agree that research and the expansion of the renewable energy industry is preferable.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Education is not a soundbite

A local newspaper reporter asked me to outline my views on Education, briefly - only in two sentences, which is not nearly enough for me to say what I want to say about Education. And neither is this blog post, so I shall spare you the lorry loads of academic evidence and arguments that I could produce to illustrate my point of view. I have researched literacy and educational theories for a long time. I have chosen "Support for Education" as one of my election pledges not only because the subject is one of my specialisms, but also because the voters of South Derbyshire have concerns about Educational provision in the district: the secondary schools in the western part of the district are working hard to achieve Ofsted standards and adequate funding, while the eastern constituents are asking for another school to be built to accommodate an increase of population brought about by new housing.

A recent article in Derby Evening Telegraph reported that "children from poor backgrounds" in South Derbyshire are the least likely children in the UK to "succeed in life" according to a survey by the Sutton Trust ( The article does not examine the reasons for situation or blame any of South Derbyshire's schools but does call for government intervention to end educational inequalities. So, why are South Derbyshire children such apparent failures? I was a bit puzzled because I think that my South Derbyshire educated children have succeeded in life. I decided to read the original research to pinpoint the problem and find out what can be done to improve the situation. 

It turns out that the Sutton Trust was researching social mobility, the way that a child can move from one socio economic class to another, and the children that were studied (or rather, the statistics of the children that were studied) were those defined as "disadvantaged", meaning those receiving free school meals. Their GCSE results were examined as well as if they went to university and finally if they found a professional job. The study stated that it had nothing to do with the intelligence of the children. The study can be found here ( So, what the study seems to be telling us is that there are some children in South Derbyshire that are not not fulfilling their potential, for whatever reason, and the question now becomes how can Education help?

Successive governments have introduced schemes and strategies to measure and dictate what teachers teach with rigid targets and quotas to achieve. This sausage factory effect has not helped children to develop a sense of the love of learning for the sheer delight of learning. They have learnt to pass exams and reach, or not reach targets. Life-long education is vital for an informed, creative, literate and socially mobile population. To achieve this, the fully qualified staff of early years provision, schools and libraries should be allowed to inspire children in publicly funded establishments free from the dictates of targets and league tables.The Green Party intends to end academies and free schools and to fund local government adequately to provide for their schools. All children have a right to go to university and the Green Party will end student fees, allowing even the most disadvantaged children to achieve their potential. I believe that students should not have to pay £9000 for their education. I believe in scrapping the student fee. I went on student marches in the 1970's for all students to get full grants for their studies and I am distressed that it never happened. Education is not a sound-bite, education is a right.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Stimulating the local economy

The Green Party has a long term goal to promote sustainable local economies, encouraging people to shop locally and for business to source their goods and materials from as locally as possible. You will not be surprised that the Green Party favour Co-operative groups and in the constituency we already have Whistlewood Common; community owned and managed woodland and orchard,  ( The Green Party also want to develop local currencies, such as the Bristol Pound, which is a way to make sure that people invest in their local businesses (

The Green Party believe that stimulating a local economy improves the life, well being and vigour of a community. An example of this can be found at Wirskworth, where one member of the community took it upon himself to improve the main commercial area, getting residents together to regenerate the town ( Now the town is thriving.

If I should be elected to South Derbyshire I would instigate and support a shop and source locally campaign, encouraging both residents and businesses to invest in their locality. As an example, it would mean making sure that home improvements, such as double glazing is done by a local firm, or a pub or restaurant sources vegetables from a local grower.This has the benefits of finance staying within the economy, an increase of local jobs as well as saving on transport costs. As the slogan says, Green Party... for the common good. 

Monday, 20 April 2015

Reply to a question about aid to developing countries

This is a summary of a reply that I gave to a constituent about debt traps and the morality of the UK giving aid as loans instead of grants:

It could be argued that the UK  is actually quite a rich nation in global terms. It would seem only right and proper that we should give aid to nations who are struggling. But then the counter argument is some recipients of UK aid would feel more empowered to have a loan, rather than a gift of money, accepting a loan can allow you to keep your self respect, whereas a gift may make you feel worthless.
 However, the aid that you speak of is not from one person to another, it is large sums of money between nations, with loans accumulating interest, perhaps faster than can be repaid. I have therefore come to the following conclusions. It is not right that a relatively wealthy country such as the UK should make money from lending to a country which would struggle to pay the debt and therefore should not give loans to such nations. Aid, as a gift or grant, should be given but in ways that it could be used by the local population to help them make a living, for instance to pay for education, or tools, or community projects, or even access to the internet. I am a qualified librarian and information scientist, and one of the concerns in my profession is the digital divide, and the lack of Information in developing countries. By Information, I mean things like healthcare, for example knowing about how the Ebola virus spreads, or how to keep your child hydrated, as well as finding out about your own history or scientific breakthroughs, just knowing about things. Access to information allows people to become self motivated learners and provides a country with a discerning and literate population. But I am getting onto my own hobby-horse now.

The Green Party policy on debt in the developing world is that the UK should lead an international initiative to write off all debts, and I would support that policy. The Green vision is that global economy should change, with a greater emphasis on local economies, and it would therefore encourage counties in the South to trade with each other, instead of exporting to the North as it does now, often to the detriment of their population. Fortunately, the Green Party policy on aid accords with my ideas (I do tend to be a bit of a free thinker) and basically it believes that UK aid should be given out according to internationally agreed objective criteria to support locally designed and managed projects which will lead to a sustainable way of life and long term development. You can read more of the policy at:
 What would I do to stop a new debt trap being set in the global South? I would press what ever government is formed after the election, to write off the debts from countries who cannot pay them and to persuade other countries to follow suit. I would argue that aid from the UK is targeted at projects that stimulate a local economy and  ensure that the recipient country will gain a long term sustainable economic future. 

Friday, 17 April 2015


I am a trailblazer, I always have been even in my childhood in South Wales when two friends and I started a trend in the valleys of dressing in Welsh costume for St David's day. I was born in South Wales at Tredegar, the birthplace of the National Health Service, a hot bed of Socialism and exporter of politicians. It was the home of Aneurin Bevan and Neil Kinnock. My father was a steelworker in Ebbw Vale and my mother was a Baptist Lay Preacher. I was taught to think for myself and to vote for the best person to represent the constituency rather than for the party they represented. I learnt about social justice and basic human equality and to make changes in this world you have to be pro- active.

I slipped down the valley to study Art at Cardiff College of Art, then went on to Leicester Polytechnic to gain a BA(hons) in Fashion and Textiles. I was trailblazing again, I was the first one in my family to get a degree and go to University, now all my three children have gone to university. I have had a full working life being a wool shop manager, a teacher and a librarian, and carried on my studies, eventually getting a Doctorate in Information Science in 2012. This was also trailblazing, there is no other Dr Bamkin, not even on my husband's side, but my son-in-law and nephew are following in my footsteps.

So, what has this to do with Politics? It shows that I am not afraid of being the first, of setting a path for other people to follow, of changing the world to give others a better chance. I am the first Green Party candidate for South Derbyshire. There is a "Green surge" and I am blazing a trail in South Derbyshire to allow people to vote Green and to support the only Political party that is prepared to fundamentally change the current system, to give democracy back to the people and is working for the common good. I am blazing the trail for sustainable growth and economic stability. I am blazing a trail for you.