Monday, 26 January 2009

First London Euro Election Poll

Earlier this month, YouGov released the first of their polls on the European election. While the Green Party nationally is polling at 5%, in London it is polling at 8% - a credit to Jean's hard work over the last ten years, as well as the effort put in by hundreds of activists during the 2008 London Assembly/Mayoral elections.

However, 8% is only a base that we must build on! In 2004, the Green Party in London achieved 8.4% of the vote (159,000 votes) and Jean was re-elected - but we can do better this time...and we must, to continue building on the progress that the Party has made in the last five years. For example, in the 2008 London Assembly list vote, 203,000 people in London voted Green. Even better, 332,000 voters gave Sian Berry their second preference vote, and 409,000 people voted for her in total.

If all of those people voted Green again in June - we wouldn't just be talking about re-electing Jean....but also electing Ute Michel, the second placed candidate on the Green Party Euro list. A massive ask, no doubt - but since only the Greens have the courage and foresight to deal with the problems that we face, a result we should be aiming for!

Shahrar Ali on Israel/Palestine

While this blog is largely dedicated to the re-election of Jean Lambert to the European Parliament, Jean is actually at the top of an extraordinarily competent Green European list for London. If enough people vote Green, more of these progressive representatives would be elected.

A good example is Dr Shahrar Ali, who is third on the London list. Here he is, speaking out at Saturday's demonstration about the BBC's coverage of the Gaza crisis.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

A Progressive London is a Green London

This Saturday, Jean spoke at the Progressive London conference. The conference was convened by Ken Livingstone as an opportunity for a broad group of politicians and activists to discuss how to combat the reactionary policies of the Boris Johnson administration, as well as how to unite around progressive policies in the capital for the next few years.

It was quite fitting that there were four Green representatives on the various panels (Jean, Jenny Jones AM, Darren Johnson AM, and Cllr Romayne Phoenix), since even the London Tories agree that the Green Group is the driving force behind most of the progressive initiatives in the London Assembly at the moment.

Even more fitting was the fact that Jean was speaking on a panel addressing the shape of the world in the 21st century, and how those of us with progressive politics should be meeting the challenges we now face. As the Green Party's European Election launch in late 2008 made clear, one of the solutions to the tripartite challenges of the credit crunch, climate change and economic inequality is a massive programme to generate Green Jobs. One of the major themes of Jean's re-election campaign, the need for Green Jobs has never been clearer than it is now - and is a major plank of what progressive politics in the 21st century has to look like.

Of course, lots of the political parties are mouthing platitudes about this sort of thing these days - but only the Green Party has been following up, and turning rhetoric into action. This video from Kirklees Green Party, covering their district-wide free insulation scheme and job creation programme, is only one example of what Greens are doing all over the country...and what Green MEPs can support and evangelise for on a European level.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Jean on Heathrow

As you might expect, Jean has been speaking out strongly against the recently announced plans to expand Heathrow airport. It is madness, not only on climate change grounds, but also for the many hundreds of people whose homes will be bulldozed, and the many thousands who will suffer from increased air and noise pollution in London. Her full statement follows below.

In approving a third runway at Heathrow, the Government has shown a total disregard not just for the environment but for the lives of ordinary people who live around the airport, and many thousands of Londoners who live in the shadow of its flight paths.

It’s simply astounding that the Government lacks concern for the consequences of expansion when the facts are so clear.

Seven hundred homes will have to be destroyed to make way for the expansion. Nurseries, schools, care homes, an entire village are to be sacrificed, as communities pay the price for this decision.

The air around Heathrow already contains dangerously high levels of pollutants, notably nitrogen dioxide, far exceeding air quality standards set by the EU. Tougher standards are due to come into force in 2010, and yet the Government has just taken the first step towards allowing an additional 220,000 flights per year at Heathrow.

The planned expansion can only make a bad situation even worse, and could end up costing Britain millions of Euros in fines if the European Commission won’t agree to the UK’s call for a derogation, which would allow an extra five years to meet the targets. The Government cannot be allowed to get away with this, and I will be doing all I can in the European Parliament to fight its demand for a derogation.

Current estimates show that over 1000 Londoners die prematurely and a further 1000 are hospitalized every year as a result of air pollution. Further damage to citizens’ long-term health will be a direct and troubling outcome of today’s announcement.

Noise pollution from aircraft has disrupted the lives of Londoners for many years, and research has even found a direct link between increased noise from air traffic and delays in the reading age of primary school children. Despite this, the Government’s plans will leave generations of Londoners in the surrounding communities, and as far away as Camden Town and Tooting, disturbed by an inescapable soundtrack, day and night.

The Government promises that the third runway will bring thousands of jobs, and that it is essential to ensure that London remains competitive with other world cities. But, as leading opponents have pointed out, it has made no effort to calculate the costs of the environmental damage that the third runway will cause.

It also promises an economic boost from tourism, but here, too, the sums don’t add up. Heathrow is already just a waiting room for many travellers: 18 million passengers arrive at the airport every year simply to transfer to another international flight. That figure is expected to double by 2030.

With the critical threat of climate change there shouldn’t be a trade-off between priorities like this: the environment has to be the priority, to protect our quality of life, now and in the future. Ordinary people have been striving to change their own lives and go green, but in this single decision the Government has revealed its commitment to the environment is nothing more than throwaway.

The Government says it will pump more money into public transport, and announced a study into a new high-speed rail link from Heathrow to central London today, but this ought to be an alternative, not an add-on to airport expansion. We need investment in high-quality, affordable rail travel so we can cut the short-haul internal flights which are clogging up our airports and taking a huge toll on the environment. One argument that has been made for the third runway is that it will reduce congestion. If the Government was serious about this it would be taking major steps to end the need for these short-haul air trips altogether.

Today’s announcement is deeply disappointing, but as opponents we feared it was inevitable. We can take heart from the imaginative and inspiring protests that have been taking place against the expansion of Heathrow – examples of people power at its best – and we must all keep up the pressure and continue to fight this scandalous development.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Day of Online Action to Re-Elect Jean

You might be visiting this blog for the first time today, due to seeing an article about Jean's campaign elsewhere on the Internet. We are trying to use our online presence to publicise the work that our Green MEP's are doing, because too often their excellent progressive achievements go unnoticed, simply because they occur in Strasbourg. Over the next few months, you can expect video interviews, online posters, blog posts about the issues that Jean cares passionately about, and lots of information about how to get involved with the campaign.

For now, if you're already enthused by the prospect of Jean's re-election - why not consider volunteering a few hours by emailing perhaps giving some money to this grassroots campaign by clicking on the Donate button on this blog?

We hope you'll check back soon!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A glimpse into the European Parliament

As mentioned before on this blog, one of the big problems with advocating the re-election of even the best MEP is that most people find the European Parliament incredibly confusing.

Therefore, this article from the BBC is a welcome exception to the usual media blackout on all things MEP. It's all the more welcome as one of the MEPs that the journalist follows is our very own Jean Lambert. And, if you read through it, you will discover this little gem:

"Victory for the Greens!

Group leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit has just succeeded in getting a resolution on Gaza. After a fiery speech from the floor of the chamber (never thought I'd be writing that), MEPs voted by 105 to 86 for a resolution to be passed on the situation there.

The Parliament is due to debate the issue on Wednesday but there were no plans for a resolution to be issued.

The Greens want the resolution to condemn Israel and call for an immediate ceasefire on both sides, although that may be watered down by the time an agreement has been reached with the other groups - that's how it works out here.

The Socialist group wants to model any resolution on the UN's recent statement, but the Greens want to go much further, including possible trade sanctions and a halt to plans to officially upgrade the EU's relations with Israel.

Should be interesting to see who wins."

Monday, 12 January 2009

Friday, 9 January 2009

Jean's statement on Gaza

Jean has been active in the efforts to persuade the EU to speak out strongly about the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Gaza:

"An immediate ceasefire is vital to prevent the further loss of innocent lives. Israel cannot justify this continued assault and the devastation it is bringing to the people of Gaza. The Greens called for an exceptional statement from the Council and Commission and an urgent debate on the crisis in the Parliament this week. It has been confirmed that the plenary debate will not take place, but an exceptional meeting of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee will be held tomorrow.

"Certainly this is not the time for the EU to be upgrading relations with Israel, indeed there is a case for examining the existing agreements. The EU needs a strong voice on this conflict, calling for a sustained ceasefire on both sides, since Hamas, too, bears responsibility for the deaths of civilians.

"Being in Gaza almost a year ago I witnessed the severe suffering of Palestinians as a result of the siege, and a lack of medical equipment and other essential supplies. The situation now must be unbearable, with many hundreds dead and thousands injured as a result of the air strikes and ground offensive.

"It is imperative that the provision of humanitarian aid takes into account the deficit of goods and services which existed prior to these latest attacks. As well as the emergency response, extensive supplies of health, housing and education resources will be needed to rebuild the lives and communities of those affected."

Thursday, 8 January 2009

A presence on YouTube

For those of you who want to hear from Jean in her own words, the videos below might be of interest. Alternatively, you can join the many thousands who will be hearing from her at the latest National March for Gaza, which will begin this Saturday (the 10th) at Hyde Park Corner from 12.30 pm.

And another video, which for some reason has its embedding function disabled:

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

D'Hondt and other complications

One of the largest problems that the European elections (and elections in general) face is a lack of understanding of what is at stake, and how ordinary voters can influence European policy.

Obviously then, it makes sense for the elections to be run using the extraordinarily complicated and non-intuitive D'Hondt method of proportional representation. While D'Hondt does have some advantages in the finer points of electoral mathematics, it also makes it extremely difficult to ascertain exactly what percentage of votes a party needs to elect its first representative, then its second, third, and so on. It also makes it difficult to work out just what the best strategy to keep an undesirable party OUT of the European Parliament might be...for example, the BNP.

However, over on The Daily (Maybe), the redoubtable Jim Jepps has given it a good shot, with this excellent explanation of how D'Hondt might work in London this time around.

Evading too much geeky electoral maths, basically what he finds is that the crucial battle in London is going to be electing a progressive representative to the eighth seat, rather than a fascist. Due to the way that D'Hondt works, votes cast for a party that has already gained a representative (as Labour, Tories and Lib Dems are likely to have done before the Greens, more is the pity) are worth less for the eighth seat than a vote for a party that is still striving towards the threshold - like the Greens.

Just another of the many, many reasons to vote to re-elect Jean Lambert as one of London's MEPs. Not only is she one of the most progressive voices in the European Parliament in her own right - but she's the best option to keep out the fascists too! It's rare to get a win-win situation in UK lets make the most of it in June.