Thursday, 8 June 2017

Why vote for Stuart!


While the Lib Dems continue to rule out supporting the Tories in government with another coalition and with Labour's support crashing and their refusal to stand up against Brexit there is now a clear voice campaigning for both PEOPLE and PLANET in Maidstone: Stuart Jeffery's.

Why vote for Stuart:
  1. Stuart continues to campaign against Brexit, backing calls for a second referendum on the terms of the final deal. If Brexit goes ahead it must maintain the environmental and social protections we have won through our membership of the EU. 
  2. He is a seasoned environmental campaigner, most recently setting up guerrilla monitoring of air pollution in Maidstone after the local council's continued failure to address the problem that sees 130 deaths each year here.
  3. He fund raises and volunteers for local homelessness charities.
  4. He is happy to speak truth to power, no matter how much trouble he gets into.
  5. He has lived in Maidstone for 17 years with his family and knows the people and place intimately.
The Lib Dems will try to claim that they can beat the Tories in Maidstone in an attempt to squeeze votes from other parties but their maths simply doesn't add up. In 2010 at the height of their popularity they threw the kitchen sink at this constituency and were still 12% short and by 2015 this gap had increased to 21%.

So please don't be fooled by their claims, voting positively for a party that you believe in will send a strong clear message to Westminster that people and planet matter!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Election launch

A huge thank you to everyone who came to the election launch last night - it was good to see so many people there and great to have new people too.

A special thanks to Matt, Susie, Siobhan and Catherine for your support, generosity and help in getting us this far!

We have a strong platform and we will be standing up for young people, the NHS, affordable housing, the environment, rights and democracy. I set out why I am is calling for a second Brexit referendum on the terms of the deal and I stated why people can vote Green positively and with confidence in Maidstone and the Weald.

It was great evening - thank you everyone!

Monday, 8 May 2017

Attempting to divert the course of business as usual politics

The day after the local election results came in and showed just how bad the Lib Dems and Labour had fared (did you know that we increased our seats - no, because the media continue to ignore us!), I wrote the email below to all the Lib Dem and Labour constituency leads in Kent that I could find emails for.

In addition to Labour and Lib Dems losing ground the Tories are polling at record levels and I believe it is time to do politics differently.

The aim is simple, work together to field a single ‘progressive’ candidate in each Kent seat, a candidate who is endorsed by all three parties. The candidates’ have two key promises, to fight for proportional representation and to stop Brexit.

Ideally the candidate should be selected via open primary, i.e. a vote by everyone in the constituency, but there is no time to do that now. Of course this approach was made a number of times across Kent and by the Green leaders too. On each occasion the Libs and Labs have said no, despite what to me is an urgent need to cooperate to win.

Sadly, as of 8am on 8th May there have been no positive responses. As none of us are strong enough to win any of the seats in Kent on our own it is almost as if they want another five years of Conservative government.  I hope the voters will remember this when they vote next month.

Email to Labour and Lib Dems in Kent constituencies on 6th May.

To Labour and Lib Dem contacts across Kent:

Nationally The Green Party have reached out to Labour and the Lib Dems to call for a progressive alliance to defeat the Tories, and at at a national level your parties have rejected this idea. Locally we have also reached out in some areas of Kent, but we have not been able to come to any meaningful agreements - although in other parts of the country grassroots agreements have been successfully reached.

The local election results have demonstrated how difficult it remains to beat the Tories while we continue to compete against one another.

Despite this being the 11th hour, we are not prepared to face another 5 years of Tory rule without one final call to bring Labour and the Liberal Democrats to the negotiating table.

Our proposal is simple - to stand independent candidates on a 'progressive' ticket with two key promises: to fight for proportional representation and to stop Brexit. We believe there is a good chance we can defeat the Tories in some Kent constituencies if all three of our parties formally back those candidates.

We live in hope that the critical situation we find ourselves in today is enough to demonstrate that continuing with tribal politics can only lead to defeat for all of us next month.

As we have only a few days before the close of nomination, we urge you to act now and talk to us.

Kind regards

Stuart Jeffery and Mandy Rossi
Co-Chairs of of the Confederation of Kent Green Parties

Friday, 28 April 2017

More money to be wasted on the town centre in Maidstone...

Maidstone Green Party are shocked at the news that Maidstone Borough council have opted to waste another £4m upgrading streets in the town centre. This comes after spending £6m of taxpayers money redesigning the gyratory system, with no real improvement to traffic flow, and a further £3m repaving the high street in 2012.

The Greens have actively campaigned in Maidstone for better uses of public funds, while the council continue to invest in business areas. They have called for the funds to be invested in schemes that help local people instead.

Stuart Jeffery, Parliamentary Candidate: “The Lib Dems who run Maidstone Borough Council seem to be only interested in spending money on business areas and anti-green schemes and the Tories are clearly comfortable with this too.

"Maidstone residents have recently experienced a 4% increase in council tax rates, as a resident I am annoyed that the council continue to spend our money on aesthetic measures which will only benefit businesses and not the people of Maidstone.

“Maidstone has one of the highest levels of homelessness in the UK, which is shameful, and with more and more families relying on food banks, how can our council justify this extravagant spending? I want to see this money invested in schemes that will really help people such as reducing traffic, reducing rough sleeping, and insulating homes.”



Rough sleeping in England: autumn 2016

Clean air ruling is great news for Maidstone

I was delighted to hear that government's outrageous attempts to delay their plans to tackle one a the leading but preventable causes of death and morbidity in the country have failed. Attempting to use the general election as a smokescreen adds insult to injury so I am thankful that the courts have ruled against the government.

Air pollution, predominantly from traffic, is responsible for around 130 deaths in Maidstone each year. How this can be allowed to continue is utterly beyond me. The time for action is now, Maidstone's air pollution is as bad as central London.

The actions taken by Client Earth to bring this legal case are really welcome. The government had requested a 6 week delay a period during which 15 people in Maidstone would die as a result of air pollution.


Monday, 10 April 2017

Brexit: we need to listen to the working classes

We seem to be heading for the worst of both worlds with Brexit and the Greens seem to buying into an aspirational liberal narrative that might feel fine in Islington but doesn't resonate in Thanet.

On the one hand the environmental laws and workplace rights that the EU has given us look likely to be junked, on the other, government want free trade to continue to ensure that our capitalist economy continues. This is the opposite of what I believe to be a green direction but there is one area that is particularly contentious: the free movement of people.

This free movement of people in the EU, the right to live and work anywhere in the EU is much loved by those who benefit from it (of course). Others don't see it that way.

At our spring conference there was a EU motion which included a commitment to free movement especially for the young (although I can't see why they were singled out). A speech against the motion was given by a plumber (I think) from Yorkshire about how wages in his sector were being depressed by immigration. His speech was delivered calmly and rationally and he spoke eloquently about the feelings of his colleagues - normal working class people.

The return speech distressed me. A shouty rant from an Islington Green belittling the feelings of those working class people that the plumber had spoken of. I was tempted to object to the speech but I wanted to listen through to hear the full argument (which wasn't convincing).

These working class people are those who turned out in droves to vote for Brexit. They state they have been forgotten by the political elite and they state they don't have a voice. We surely need to hear their voices even if we disagree with them.

Those working class people are in a different world to the aspirational liberals. Some of them are accessing food banks - over 1 million food parcels were given out last year in this the fifth richest country in the world. The second largest group to receive these were working people on low incomes.

While there is rhetoric in Remain circles that immigration doesn't affect wages, this isn't really true. While overall incomes might not be affected, the impact on specific groups has been demonstrated. Dustmann et all 2008 stated that if capital is freely available then " the economy will absorb the additional labour force simply by expansion" but "the larger concern of the low-skilled population is indeed justified by the evidence" and "wage competition and wage pressure at the low end of the wage distribution"

A study for the Bank of England by Nickell and Saleheen found that immigration "has a small negative impact on average British wages" and "once the occupational breakdown is incorporated into a regional analysis of immigration in Britain, the immigrant-native ratio has a significant, small, negative impact on average wages. Closer examination reveals that the biggest impact is in the semi/unskilled services sector."

We simply cannot ignore the voices of the working classes and of those on benefits. We wouldn't rule out the opinions of any other section of society would we? We pride ourselves in our inclusiveness, we give people inclusion cards to highlight problems during debates yet we seem to be happy to dismiss the feelings of a group of people who clearly feel left behind and ignored.

We have some quite vocal left liberal people in the party, people in that aspirational group who talk of progress and progressive alliances, people now referred to as 'New Affluent Workers'. They have beautiful ideas, great policies and superb ideals but there is a huge danger that we may forget the 'Traditional Working Classes' and the 'Precariat', those people who are happy to be who they are, who don't seek the next promotion or a bigger house, those people who want an honest job and who just want to have some fun with friends and family.

N.b. I've changed the town in the first paragraph. Originally it said Ilkley but I have been informed that this is a rich North Yorkshire town. I have replaced it with Thanet which I'm quite sure has a high working class element and certain a large Brexit vote.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Fant Farm is safe

A huge sign of relief and hearty congratulations to everyone who has campaigned against the development of Fant Farm (in Maidstone). The planning inspector has dismissed the appeal by the developers and this grade 1 agricultural land can continue to be a farm (or a few farms). Having been heavily involved with previous campaigns to stop developers on this great piece of land, I am really pleased that once again Fant Farm is safe.