Saturday, 28 March 2009

Put People First

As you may have seen - perhaps you were even there - the Put People First coalition organised a demonstration today in central London, to 'welcome' the G20 to the city. The march, calling for action on 'Jobs, Justice and Climate', was attended by around 50,000 people and supported by over 150 different organisations - from NGOs, to trade unions, to grassroots community groups. For its part, the Green Party organised its members to attend, and numerous party placards with the inscriptions "Brown Out - Green Power" and "Workers for the World Unite" could be seen throughout the march.

Of course, demonstrations like this are important for many reasons - to bring together a movement that can often feel disparate - to call for change and make plain opposition to the status quo - and to provide a 'hook' to start building longer lasting alternatives for the future.

As you would expect, Greens on the march were pointing out at every opportunity that it makes no sense just to lobby politicians, when we also have the power to elect ones that we agree with in the first place! As the latest in our series of highlighted issue videos from Jean makes plain below, our current Green MEPs have a fantastic record on workers rights, and on standing up for ordinary people. Lets get them re-elected to Strasbourg in the next few months!

As ever, should you want to make a much appreciated donation to Jean's re-election campaign, you can just click on the button on the right. If you have more time to give than money, then please do get in touch via - there is always something to do!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Spring Conference and migration

Over this weekend, Jean is attending Green Party Spring Conference, which is being held in Blackpool. Among other things, she has been on the main stage leading the call to action for the European elections, taking part in a panel on the relevance of the green agenda to work on poverty, and highlighting our work on migration issues on the European level.

On a policy level, Conference voted on Friday to adopt the most recent European Green Party migration statement as official policy. While it is too long to repeat in its entirety here, a few 'tasters' should give you an impression of the human rights and social justice orientated approach of Green Parties across Europe on this issue:

"All migrants are entitled to fundamental human rights. Family reunification is one of those rights: we fully honour everyone's right to live with his or her family, as stated in the European Convention on Human Rights. There is a tendency of EU Member States to restrain people from exercising this right, making unreasonable demands to migrants who want to reunify their family in the European Union. Barriers such as having to pass a language test in their home country or requiring that they earn much more than the minimum wage are prejudicial. We Greens reject these requirements and guarantee the right to live in family."

"Every person who needs shelter according to the Geneva Conventions must have the possibility to get access to a fair asylum procedure in Europe. The Greens demand that access to a fair asylum procedure is always granted to those who need it, in a language the asylum seeker understands or with the help of translator and with free legal assistance at all stages of the procedure. In each case an individual assessment is needed, based on objective information of the human rights situation in the home country. Agencies should never use lists of “safe third countries” which rarely reflect the harsh living conditions in some countries. The agency responsible for processing the claim should be independent from the government."

"Gender reasons to escape the country of origin like genital mutilation, oppression and religious persecution because of gender, ‘honour crimes’, rape, forced abortion or sterilisation must be accepted as reasons to get asylum in all EU countries, as well as persecution on grounds of sexual orientation."

"There are now migrants, displaced persons and their families, who must leave their land because of environmental disaster that results from both incremental and rapid ecological and climatic change that includes sea level rise, coastal erosion, desertification, collapsing ecosystems, water contamination and weather events that are more frequent and unpredictable. As a result, inhabitants are unable to live safe or sustainable lives in their immediate environment. Some island nations may cease to exist. The word refugee has been used with strong moral connotations of societal protection in most world cultures, and it must now be extended to those who are forced to migrate because of climatic change."

"The European Greens oppose the principle of detaining persons not found guilty of any crime but who just violated an administrative rule (i.e. entering or staying without proper documentation in the European Union). Detention is a juridical paradox."

"The best way to attack the smugglers networks is to deprive them of their profits. There are policies that have indirect effects on the profitability of the trafficking business. Regularization campaigns, amnesties for illegal migrants, job training reduce the expected profits of traffickers as they reduce the enforceability of debt contracts between intermediates and migrants. In the legal sector trafficking agreements are harder to enforce, the migrant defaults and can turn to the police for protection once he or she receives legal status. In order to fight against to human trafficking, the victims of human trafficking who have been forced (or are meant to be forced) to work in the sex industry or in diplomatic or other households, who have been or are meant to be forced into marriage, etc. in the EU against their will should get the right to stay and get a regular working permit."

And if you want to hear Jean speaking directly on this issue - your wish is our command!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Jean's 'end of term report'

If any reader of this blog is still in any doubt about why re-electing Jean is an absolute imperative for a progressive London, perhaps they should check out this end of term report, produced by the Offices of Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas.

As the report makes clear, our Green MEPs have been working hard over the last five years (and, indeed, the five before that!) to embed progressive values into EU legislation, and to oppose initiatives that attempt to push forward socially and environmentally destructive programmes.

If you still aren't convinced, why not hear from Jean herself about her views on public services!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Updated Green Party Euro list

While this blog is dedicated to promoting the re-election of the excellent Jean Lambert, it is important to realise that the European Elections take place on a PR 'list system' - and that Jean is at the top of an entire list of excellent candidates for the European Parliament. If the Green Party equalled its best ever vote in the European elections, not only would Jean be re-elected, but the number 2 candidate (Ute Michel) would also be going to Strasbourg. A Lewisham councillor and originally a German national, Ute would be a superb MEP - and that quality extends all the way down the list, with number 3 being the excellent Shahrar Ali (London Green Party Policy Co-ordinator) and number 4 being Joseph Healy, who is also Green Parliamentary candidate for Vauxhall and a former Green Party International Co-ordinator.

The full list, along with the boroughs that the candidates are from, is below. Jean's campaign team can always be contacted at, and the next four candidates can all be contacted via email at electgreen[insertfirstname] I.E. etc.

1. Jean Lambert (Walthamstow)
2. Ute Michel (Lewisham)
3. Shahrar Ali (Brent)
4. Joseph Healy (Southwark)
5. Miranda Dunn (Barnet)
6. Shasha Khan (Croydon)
7. John Hunt (Hounslow)
8. Caroline Allen (Hackney)

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Jean in the New Statesman

Following on from the previous subject, Jean has an article in the latest edition of the New Statesman, on the subject of International Women's Day and equality at work:

International Women's Day

This Sunday is International Women's Day and as we enter headlong into recession we need to understand and act on the far-reaching impacts of the economic downturn on women.

The impulse to dedicate a day in the spring to campaigning, celebration and reflection for women can be traced back to March 8, 1857, which is thought to have been a day of protest by female textile workers in New York against poor working conditions and meagre wages.

This year marks the centenary of the first National Women's Day, celebrated in the United States on February 28, 1909. International Women's Day was first observed in 1911 and it quickly assumed a tone of commemoration as well as celebration, following the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in March of that year.

This disaster, at a New York factory producing garments for the emergent female consumer class, claimed the lives of 146 of its predominantly female, immigrant workforce. Poor safety provision and overcrowding at the factory premises undoubtedly increased the death toll. In subsequent decades the IWD tradition waned, but it re-emerged with feminism in the late Sixties. In 1975, designated International Women's Year, it received the official sanction of the UN.

While it understandably became a point of focus for feminists, it was, from the outset, intended to raise awareness of inequities that affected not just women, but all who were poorly paid, poorly treated and otherwise marginalised. The call of those early organisers of IWD was essentially for fairness.

We know that women are facing a disproportionately high risk of unemployment during this recession. They enter it from a position of relative economic disadvantage: women are more likely to be in part-time, lower-paid or temporary employment, filling the roles that are often the first to go when employers are forced to make cuts. Those returning to work after maternity leave will find familiar difficulties compounded as they compete for the opportunities that do exist.

And attitudes towards women on maternity leave don't help either. This week, a Government survey revealed that a quarter of men and a fifth of women feel that people on maternity leave should be first in line for redundancy. Yet a quarter of all households are now headed by lone parents, 90 per cent of whom are women. It's also been found that added barriers exist for women who seek to claim Jobseeker's Allowance.

The TUC has recently made clear the worrying reality of this recession for women. Parity in the British workplace has yet to be achieved, with the gender pay gap still as wide as 36 per cent in part-time employment. But new equality legislation, which includes measures to address inequality, is reportedly at risk of being scrapped to avoid further strain on business at this time.

There are wider problems for women too. Last month Superintendent David Hartshorn, a senior Metropolitan Police officer chief, told The Guardian that the police are expecting a "summer of rage" on the streets as a result of the downturn. However, we must also be alert to the rage and violence being played out behind closed doors, as financial strain on families and relationships mounts.

The Fawcett Society has reported an increase in the number of domestic violence referrals and Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General, has also warned that the wider economic climate is likely to create added pressures on women who already feel unable to leave abusive relationships because of limited access to finance or support.

This week, the Government has gone some way to acknowledging the risk of a rise both in employment discrimination, and in violence against women, with the publication of an advice booklet, Real Help Now for Women.

But for women who do find themselves in such a position, the system is often woefully ill-equipped to support them. The second Map of Gaps report, which was published last month, has highlighted the appalling inadequacies in service provision for women who have suffered domestic or sexual abuse.

The London Mayor, Boris Johnson, has already back-tracked on his promise to provide funding for Rape Crisis Centres. In his manifesto, he pledged to provide the £744,000a year to fund the one existing centre in London plus three new centres. But when questioned by Green Party London Assembly Member, Jenny Jones, he stated that he wouldn't improve on the original £233,000 a year budget. That amounts to providing less than a third of what was originally promised.

Specific service provision for women from black or minority ethnic backgrounds is particularly poor. Refugee or immigrant women are especially vulnerable, as they are more likely to be financially insecure and thus are at greater risk of coercion into personally dangerous or criminal behaviour. As the Government looks to make savings, the prospect of funds being diverted to these areas at this time looks increasingly remote.

In addition, we are not doing enough to recognise economic abuse. Refuge has produced important research on this manifestation of domestic abuse, whereby a partner exercises power through undermining a woman's financial independence, perhaps controlling or claiming wages or benefits, withholding money allocated for family or household needs, or manipulating her into feeling cheap and worthless. It is reasonable to conclude that more difficult economic circumstances will exacerbate this too.

These problems, of course, are not new, and the downturn did not cause them. But it could make them worse. We need to increase support now to organisations working with families and those suffering or at risk of abuse. This would be money well spent.

Our response to this recession is going to shape life in Britain for decades to come and we must ensure that any response adequately provides for those who may be disproportionately affected in ways that are perhaps not immediately obvious.

Friday, 6 March 2009

London Green News

The new edition of London Green News is out, going to hundreds of thousands of homes across the capital in the next few weeks. Jean is on the front page! Check it out, here.

P.S. If you are having trouble downloading the file, please do visit and download it from the front page.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

International Women's Day

Over the next few days, Jean will be speaking at and attending a series of events to celebrate International Women's Day 2009. In keeping with her Parliamentary focus on employment rights, she has released a press statement on gender equality in the workplace, and tomorrow (Friday 6th March) she will be speaking at a public meeting on international solidarity for those struggling for women's rights across the world.

Meanwhile, Jean's office is supporting the One In Ten campaign against sexual violence, and this afternoon Jean was speaking at a protest for equal rights organised by the Dalit Solidarity Network (see press release below).

All of this on just one issue - and we haven't even blogged about Jean's work in other areas over the last week - a public meeting on climate change in Hackney, speaking at the Convention on Modern Liberties and the '6 Billion Ways' conference on the same day, and all of her work in Strasbourg too!

If you'd like to see Jean continue this work for another five years, don't forget - you can donate by clicking on the button to the right, or volunteer your time by emailing


- International Women's Day event at Indian High Commission

Jean Lambert, Patron of the Dalit Solidarity Network and Green Party MEP for London, will be speaking at a protest at the Indian High Commission on Thursday 5th March at 4pm to call for dignified work and decent wages for Dalits.

The protest marks International Women's Day, since the majority of the 1.3 million people of 'untouchable' caste status in India are women, and are forced to earn their living by doing dangerous and degrading work in appalling conditions. Many have no choice but to earn a living by collecting human faeces, using only their bare hands and simple tools.

The protest will call on the Indian Government to release a substantial pot of money that has been set-aside for providing these 'manual scavengers' with education, healthcare and decent jobs.

Jean Lambert MEP, who is a member of the European Parliament's South Asia delegation and who frequently highlights the situation of the Dalits, said:

"We must show much more support to the struggle against such discrimination. This requires action at all political levels, both across the EU and in the countries concerned.

"I reject the idea that some human beings are considered "impure" or "polluted" just because they were born into a certain caste. Everyone is entitled to basic human rights. In the 21st century, no human being should be considered "untouchable"."

For more information about the event please contact the Dalit Solidarity Network UK at dalitsnuk[at] or 020 7501 8323.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Videos of Jean at 'Greening Work' meeting

As covered in an earlier post on this blog, Jean recently spoke at a meeting addressing the subject of Work-Life Balance and the Greening of Work, and the particular role of trade unions on these issues. This post at the Green Party Trade Union Group blog has a lot of further details, including a full video record of Jean's speech, and her responses during the Q+A session. The press release from the GPTU follows below.


London's Green MEP, Jean Lambert, speaks of a hopeful future at Green Party Trade Union Group public meeting.

With the world facing a "triple-crunch" -- climate change, peak oil and the credit-fuelled financial crisis - Jean Lambert, London's Green MEP, told a public meeting organised by the Green Party Trade Union group in Euston on Saturday Feb 21 that the Party was working, in consultation with unions, non-governmental organisations and experts - towards a complete model for a new economy - a complete Green new deal that was "international, intergenerational and inclusive".

Some aspects of what were needed were clear, she said. First, Britain had to make a large investment in green jobs: "There are 22 million homes in the UK that need a comprehensive package of energy efficiency. A complete retrofit of Britain's housing to Green standards would create more than half a million jobs. More jobs could be created by improved public transport."

She continued: "The whole focus of trade policy has to change to focus on production methods and the outcomes for producers, rather than just prices to consumers.

"And there has to be a recognition that we cannot rely on the private sector to delivery core public sector services. Even Peter Mandelson is talking about a post office bank. That's great, if you can still find a post office."

In moving towards a low-carbon, environmentally friendly economy, an effective framework was particularly necessary for vulnerable industries such as coal and vehicle-manufacturing, she said. Those workers needed a structured system of retraining, of subsidies to redirect production. "The rule is to make resources redundant, rather than people."

It was essential to acknowledge that many people were now suffering a deep fear and insecurity about the future, she said. "We have to give them hope that the economy and society can be managed better, that Britons can feel their life belongs to them, rather than their being tied on to a daily treadmill whose speed they can't control. People need to feel that their life is grounded in family and community, rather than a cycle of money chasing non-existent money."

Other speakers at the meeting were: Tony Kearns, CWU senior deputy general Secretary; Sian Jones, a member of the Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee Working Group; and Ann Elliot-Day, PCS communications officer.