Monday, 5 February 2018

Hunger strike to make votes matter

A leading member of the Green Party in Kent will be on hunger strike outside Parliament tomorrow as part of a national campaign for Proportional Representation to make votes count. The protest is 100 years to the day that some women were allowed to vote for the first time and has been organised by the Make Votes Matter campaign.

Stuart Jeffery, Co-Chair of Kent Greens: “Until 1918 70% of adults including all women were not entitled to vote. The campaigns by the suffragists and suffragettes changed that. While almost all adults can now vote, our current voting system means that 68% of us still do not have a vote that counts.

“The First Past The Post system gives us a huge democratic deficit where the will of the people is not reflected in the makeup of Parliament. Most western countries have ditched this system and it is time that the UK did so too.

“I will be joining hunger strikers in Parliament Square to send a clear message to Parliament that we will not allow this to continue. We cannot accept a system that sees governments elected by a small number of voters and that excludes people from being represented by a party of their choosing.”




On 6th February 1918 the Representation of the People Act passed into law, extending voting rights to some women and all men over 21 for the first time. Until then, around 70% of the adult population were not allowed to vote.

Today all adults are allowed to vote but - thanks to our First Past the Post voting system - most of us still don't have a vote that counts. In the 2017 general election, 68% of votes had no impact on the result, either going to losing candidates or piling up in safe seats without influencing the makeup up Parliament.

We're hunger striking to draw attention to the injustice of a voting system that denies representation to millions, returns Parliaments that don't reflect the voters, and gives us governments that most of us didn't vote for.

We're calling for Proportional Representation, so that seats match votes and everyone has a vote that matters equally. And we're calling on everyone who wants fair votes to join the movement and take action to win real democracy in the UK.

The passing of the 1918 Act was the result of decades of campaigning by suffragists and suffragettes. We recognise the severity of what these campaigners went through to win the vote, that for some British people hunger is a daily reality, and that sexism remains prevalent in the 21st Century.


Respecting this, we invite donations from participants (contribute the money you'd have spent on food for the day, ask friends, family and colleagues to sponsor you) and other supporters and shall split funds between a food bank, a women's charity and Make Votes Matter.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Hunger strike for electoral reform

It's been done before methinks. 100 years ago actions by the Suffragettes brought women the vote.

"On 6th February 1918 the Representation of the People Act passed into law, extending voting rights to some women and all men over 21 for the first time. Until then, around 70% of the adult population were not allowed to vote." 

Make Votes Matter have organised a hunger strike on the 6th February with a vigil on Parliament Square. I'll be there supporting the action throughout.

100 years ago the green shoots of democracy were seen in the UK. It is time that votes really start to matter and we join the majority of the western world by bringing in proportional representation.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Labour claims to be the only party to oppose the gyratory in Maidstone!

Well this is the bizarre claim in the Kent Messenger this week. At the Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee on 1st Dec 15, Labour leader Cllr Harper stated clearly that "overall (he) welcomes this scheme" - so I can only assume he has changed his mind??? As for the only party to oppose the scheme, frankly that's rubbish and he knows it see:

http://www.stuartjeffery.net/2016/09/good-coverage-on-gyratory.html and http://www.stuartjeffery.net/2016/08/getting-in-to-maidstone-on-foot.html and http://www.stuartjeffery.net/2016/10/response-to-lib-dem-attempt-to-shirk.html and https://maidstone.greenparty.org.uk/news/2016/08/28/gyratory-protest-new-traffic-flow-will-increase-pollution-and-congestion/

I have sent in a letter to the KM:

Dear Editor,
Cllr Harper's letter in last week's KM on Labour's opposition to the gyratory was disingenuous to say the least. While he raised concerns about cycle access (as the Greens did), he is on record on 1 Dec 2015 at the council's Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee as stating that "overall (he) welcomes this scheme".

His letter last week also claims that only Labour challenged the changes. While we welcome Labour's change of heart, Cllr Harper is ignoring the repeated challenge to the scheme by the Green Party in Maidstone.

We Greens stated very publicly that the gyratory changes were a phenomenal waste of money, money that could be spent making alternatives to travel by car easier and thus reduce the need to drive.
Once again the Greens were ignored by those in power but proved right.


Stuart Jeffery, Maidstone Green Party

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Plastic

I've just been on KMTV talking about plastic. Theresa May's announcement that she will get rid of all unnecessary plastic in 25 years time is frankly ridiculous. As Greenpeace have suggested, 25 months would be more reasonable.

Plastic has only been around for a very short time. Injection moulded plastic was invented in the 1920's and plastic shopping bags have been around since the 1970's. The use of plastics is a one generation thing so it can be reversed. Easily.

People will have seen the plastic soup in Blue Planet 2 and the news that China has stopped importing the 4 million tonnes of plastic that we were sending them is welcome news. It means we have less opportunity to off-shore our crap.

There are easy wins. Just look through the veg shelves in the supermarket. Open plastic bags around cauliflowers is a real bugbear for me - what is the point of them? This is just one of hundreds of examples of course.

Will it cost more?

  • Will it cost more to fill your own bottle from a drinking fountain or tap, or spend £1 on a new one. We will have to make tap water and drinking fountains available again. 
  • Pay an extra 25p for coffee or bring your own reusable mug? More and more people are bringing their own. Also some of us fill it with coffee before we leave home if we are getting on the train. 

So no, it shouldn't cost too much more. But even if it does we can't carry on as if nothing was wrong.

Finally, sorry about the dearth of posts recently. I will try harder!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Become a Trustee of the Earth

This is great! 
A vitally important message from Mission Lifeforce:
Right now, ECOCIDE (destruction of ecosystems) is legally permitted, while resisting it is criminalised. But we can change this. Become a Trustee of the Earth to:
  • gain an additional legal defence as an activist
  • support earth protectors worldwide
  • help fund a law to make ECOCIDE a CRIME – protecting our planet, our communities, and all those who take action as conscientious protectors.
WATCH THE ANIMATION BELOW for all you need to know in 2.5 minutes. For more information and to get involved please visit the website

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Lords reform backed by 63%

A poll out today showed a significant increase in support for reform of the Lords, i.e. for it to become an elected chamber. This is very welcome - it may be a few years since I posted on Lords reform but my views have not changed, we urgently need to elect our upper chamber rather than have it appointed to by parties or occupied by others by virtue of their job or position.

UK democracy is a sham and it is clear that the public are starting to realise this. It is not just the Lords that need reform, the Commons does too. Today's debate on PR was sparked by a 100k+ petition yet it seems difficult to persuade people who are elected under one system to agree to another. Turkeys and Christmas spring to mind.

Of particular disappointment is Labour's position. Despite the Jenkins Commission under the Labour government recommending PR in 1998 and it being in their manifestos, they now refuse to back it after failing to deliver on their manifesto commitments 15 years ago when in power.

To quote the Brexiteers, we need to take back control. We don't have a democracy in the UK and we won't have until our antiquated parliamentary and local government voting systems are brought into the 21st century.

I have put myself forward for the Council of the Electoral Reform Society. If you are a member, I would appreciate your vote.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Maidstone councillors adopt an unsustainable local plan

On Thursday Maidstone's Local plan was agreed by the Borough Council. The plan sets out where housing is to be built, predominately on farm land around the town. Much of the building is underway as those of us who have been down the gridlocked roads of Hermitage Lane and Sutton Road demonstrating clearly what happens when you build high numbers of houses on the edge of town. The plan also puts industry at Junction 8, where we fought the KIG development 10 years ago.

Residents in west Maidstone are particularly angry at the developments along Hermitage Lane. There is near unanimous condemnation of them with at least two campaign groups fighting them.

Let us hope that the residents of Maidstone check how their councillors voted. The evidence will be in the minutes and is captured on film here (go to 1:15).

Of particular note was the Lib Dems' keenness to second the motion to approve the Local Plan but here in Bridge Ward where feelings run high, both the Lib Dems voted in favour of the plan. Indeed all the councillors in Bridge, Heath, Fant and Allington wards voted in favour, one Tory, two Labour and 7 Lib Dems.

The KM has a write up here: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent-business/county-news/council-backs-maidstone-homes-plan-134278/

We urgently need homes, affordable ones, social housing and so on, near to jobs and transport links. We don't need large houses built on farm land that require cars to get people to their jobs or shops.