I am deeply disappointed with the Green Party over the lack of opportunity to discuss the referendum on Europe. Ever since the referendum has been called, the Green Party has refused to debate how we should campaign in the referendum. Indeed the Green Party broke its own rules on emergency motions to push through a pro-EU vote at the Autumn 2015 conference. A vote in which the vast majority of the 66,000 Green Party members were excluded. Fewer than 1% of members voted for the emergency motion and ever since all debate on whether or not to campaign for or against Brexit has been stifled by the leadership. There was a time when the Green Party refused to have "leaders" and I now understand why. This official censoring of debate is undemocratic and dictatorial.
Mainly because of the more democratic voting system, it is clear that the greatest success that the Green Party of England and Wales has had, has been at the European Elections. The Green Party now has three times as many MEPs than the Liberal Democrats. It does mean, however, that this Europhile tendency does tend to dominate the corridors of power within the Green Party, grouped as it is in the South and East of England.
However, I do feel that in their Euro-enthusiasm, our leaders do tend to forget their own rhetoric.
Perhaps I could remind you of some of the things mentioned in the Green Party manifesto in 2015.
• "We have lost half the wild animals on earth in the past 40 years.
• We lose between 20,000 and 100,000 species every year. This is between 1000 and 10,000 times faster than the natural extinction rate.
• We are causing a ‘sixth extinction’. The other five occurred naturally. This one is down to us.
• We have increased CO2 concentrations from a pre-industrial 280 parts per million (ppm) to about 400 ppm.
• Global temperatures are due to rise between 1.5 and 4.8 degrees C by 2100. And that’s just the internationally agreed range without feedback effects. Many experts are predicting rises as high as 6 deg C.
For the first time in the history of the Earth one species is changing it forever – the human species. They call this new era the ‘Anthropocene’. We now have our very own geological epoch."
Now, such Armageddon type predictions suggest some pretty drastic changes are needed quickly to avoid a global disaster. But:
• you do not get change by voting for the status quo;
• you do not get change by being part of an economic union with economic growth as its over-riding ambition;
• you do not get change by voting for trade agreements like TTIP whose only purpose is to encourage unsustainable economic growth and further domination of the world economies by the increasingly avaricious global conglomerates;
• you do not get change when alternatives to unsustainable growth are not even on the European Commission agenda.
The EU as it is currently constituted is run for and by big business. The European Parliament continues to be dominated by right wing parties, paid for by big business. Even the UK "Remain" campaign is organised and paid for by the bankers and financiers of the City of London. The BSE campaign is financed by Goldman Sachs and J P Morgan and led by the former chair of M&S Lord Rose.
Even the "Vote Remain" campaign material being given out at the Green MEP stalls at Harrogate was paid for by British taxpayers via the EU levy, upon which British people have no vote and no say.
What we need, as the Green Party said at the General Election, is nothing less than a Green Revolution. Again from the 2015 manifesto:
• Make achieving international agreement on limiting climate change to within 2 degrees of warming a major foreign policy priority.
Foreign policy in the EU has been led by un-elected and unknown appointees like Catherine Ashton, who led us into the creation of conflicts in the Ukraine, Syria and Libya, but did nothing to foster international agreement on climate change.
• Invest in a £85bn public programme of renewable electricity generation, flood defences and building insulation creating more than 250,000 good jobs (in the UK).
Such a policy would not be allowed under current EU rules as it would create state subsidised unfair competition to the energy companies, now dominated by French, German and Spanish conglomerates.
• Support local sustainable agriculture, respect animals and wild places.
Again the EU rules do not allow the active support by member state of local food, at the expense of imports. An increase in animal welfare needs cross-EU support, as does the protection of habitats, so will take much longer to achieve within the EU, than if we just did it ourselves.
• Cut emissions by providing cheaper public transport, and encouraging cycling and walking.
The re-nationalisation and subsidy of the railways and bus services is not allowed under EU Directive 2012/34/EU.
The EU is all about economic expansion and enforced austerity, not public investment. Look what has happened to those countries faced with having to have a bail out to remain in the Euro. Massive levels of unemployment in Greece, Portugal and Spain. Even Ireland, touted as a success story, has effectively turned itself into a tax avoidance fiefdom of big business, emulating Luxembourg.
The Green vision for Europe is laid out the Manifesto for a Sustainable Society: the policy of the Green Party written by its members, not its leaders. This says:
EU110 To achieve the Green vision, Europe will need very different structures from those currently in existence. Europe should be made up of overlapping, co-operative, democratic, decentralised groupings of nations and regions.
This is not the EU and will NEVER be achieved with existing EU structures.
EU111 European institutions must be designed with care and with mechanisms for correction, to prevent the drift towards centralism that has repeatedly been seen in history.
The drift towards centralism has been a constant in the sixty year history of the EU and continues today.
EU112 Part of the way to do this is to have a multiplicity of independent bodies with clearly defined areas of responsibility, and with the possibility of membership by different groups of nations and regions. An example is the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe for conflict resolution.
Again, this is not found within the EU and is not part of any European Commission policy being considered .
EU113 Europe must not become a super-state or global power bloc.
But this is precisely how the "Remain" campaign define the EU: as a global power bloc: it is at the very heart of their rhetoric. But a power bloc for whom, comrades? For you? For me? Or a power bloc for the military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about?
Why do you think Obama is actively campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU? A single European nation suits the US government, its multinationals and its military. One leader is a lot easier to deal with than many.
Finally, again from the Green Party manifesto (preamble page 8):
The Green Party knows that:
• It’s hard to be a citizen when life tells you that you are a consumer;
It is Green Party policy to persuade the UK to abandon consumerism and back conservation. Conservation of our environment by abandoning waste and the constant search for more and more "things" we do not need or really want. Never mind the quantity, look for the quality of life. Look for sharing the wealth we have, not concentrating it in fewer and fewer hands.
But concentrating power in fewer hands is precisely what the EU is designed to do. Getting change is such a slow process in the EU that in forty years of membership, the UK has failed to change any EU Treaty; absolutely essential if you are to change the EU in the ways envisaged by the Green Party.
So, please, Green Party members, do not just accept the propaganda put out and financed by big business and the EU. Please think for yourselves. Look at Green Party policies and decide whether you want a society dominated by the commercial interests across the EU or an independent UK, where we can campaign for that Green Revolution and the British people can decide for themselves whether to be consumers or conservers.