Thursday, 29 April 2010

Whittington Rally Today

Thank you very much to the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition for having me to speak at their rally today.

As I told the audience outside the hospital, whatever the results of the general and local elections on May 6th, we in the Green Party will be there on May 7th to hold the new government to account on the Whittington.

And elected Greens everywhere - including (fingers crossed) one or more Green MPs in the House of Commons for the first time ever - will continue to oppose privatisation of the NHS in all its forms. Keep our NHS public!

PS The Labour party issued a new pronouncement today (a week before the election) on the future of the Whittington. While this is being trumpeted as the hospital being 'saved', local people, who have already endured months of uncertainty, still don't quite know where they stand. According to the Labour health minister it is for 'clinicians' to say whether the A&E and maternity units should close. But which clinicians? While consultants at the Whittington have come out against the closures, Royal Colleges speaking on behalf of two-thirds of doctors today called for mass closures of A&E and children's departments in order to achieve the £20 billion cuts which Labour and the Tories say are required. We in the Green Party will be watching very carefully indeed to see how things develop after the election.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Voluntary Action Islington Hustings

An early start yesterday morning, as Voluntary Action Islington (formerly IVAC) were holding their hustings at 8.30am!

Pictured here are (L to R) Richard Bunting (Islington Conservatives), Catherine West (leader of Islington Council Labour group), me (Emma Dixon) and Terry Stacy (Lib Dem leader of Islington Council).

The hustings were a great opportunity for me to find out more about the challenges faced by the third sector in Islington, and to express my support for their excellent manifesto.

At this time of threatened cuts to the public sector, the Green Party has pledged both locally and nationally that we will protect front-line services - and that is equally, if not more, important where those services are provided by the third sector.

And for those of you who weren't at the hustings - you can catch up on who said what via Voluntary Action Islington's live Twitter feed!

Have you received your postal vote?

If you are registered to vote by post, you should have received your ballot papers by now.

If you haven't received your ballot papers, you should contact the Council's electoral services department on 020 7527 2000 or email

Don't miss out on your chance to re-elect Katie Dawson and elect more Green councillors in Highbury West and Highbury East.

If you have received your ballot papers - don't forget to cast (and post!) your votes.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A trip down memory lane

I've got three scrapbooks at home full of press cuttings about wonderful stuff that we have done since Katie Dawson was elected to the Council. I am prone to getting them out and making guests look through them - the political equivalent of holiday photos.. Anyway, this blog post is the electronic equivalent of that - some of the great, and funny, moments of the last four years since the election of Islington's first Green councillor, and my good friend, Katie.

Here, with a lovely photo of election night, is the Gazette in May 2006 when Katie was elected, suggesting that the Greens held the balance of power on the Council. Sadly, we didn't - quite - at that stage, as (rather unfairly!) the Lib Dems (with 24 members against Labour's 23 and our one) got to choose the Mayor - and the Mayor has the casting vote.

Trees have been a big issue over the years, including some 'killer pear' trees which eventually featured on the pages of the Evening Standard (and even the Daily Mail); I'm pleased to say our campaign to save the trees succeeded and the residents now harvest the fruit and make it into jam and even pear liqueur!

On a more serious note, Katie has worked year in and year out to stand up for residents against big property developers (including Arsenal) seeking to squeeze ever-bigger developments into Highbury without the necessary infrastructure (eg schools, doctors' surgeries, public transport) to cope with them. Islington is the borough with the least green space per head of population anywhere in Britain, and the situation in Katie's ward (Highbury West) is even worse, with the smallest amount of play space in any ward in Islington. Despite this, we have had to battle hard to prevent developers being allowed to concrete over the few remaining areas of green land - and, sad to say, with only one councillor among 48 we have not always succeeded.

There have been some bizarre moments too - Katie's been quoted in the press over the years on a variety of subjects from freshly-slaughtered polar bears to dominatrix shoes .. but I'll leave you to track those down for yourself!

So - after that whistlestop tour of my virtual scrapbook - what's the verdict at the end of Katie's first four years? Well, far be it from me to trumpet our successes: the last word goes to the Islington Gazette, which last week reported on ... Katie's Green revolution!

Photos from today's campaign launch

Above - Green Councillor Katie Dawson with our Islington manifesto. Below - the campaign launch, in the sunshine, outside Drayton Park station.

Remember, however you decide to vote in the general election on 6th May, vote Green in Highbury in the Council elections on the same day to keep an independent, strong Green voice on the Council. You can read more about the amazing amount our Green councillor, Katie Dawson, has been able to achieve here. As we always say, every Green vote really does count!

Manifesto Launch

Just arrived in the office after the launch of Islington Green Party's manifesto for the Council elections down on Drayton Park. It was wonderful to see everybody - and great that passing drivers honked their horns to show their support!

The manifesto sets out ten reasons to vote Green in Islington, but maybe we should add an eleventh - the wonderful photographs illustrating our beautiful borough! Huge thanks to our amazing photographer Maria Jefferis for that.

We all left the launch buzzing with excitement - a really great start to the day. Thank you to all our candidates, activists and supporters for making this happen.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Islington Pensioners Forum Hustings

I went to my first hustings of the Parliamentary campaign on Thursday. After a couple of tense hours preparing in the back room of Euphorium opposite the Town Hall, I took to the platform together with the Parliamentary candidates from the three other parties.

I'm happy to report that I was given a really warm welcome by the Pensioners' Forum - special thanks to its chair, George Durack, for that. There was a lively debate on issues ranging from the Olympics to renationalising the railways!

You can read all about our policies for pensioners in our Pledge for Older People, but here's a taster. The Green Party would end means testing for pensioners' benefits. Means testing is not working - there is currently £2.9 billion of unclaimed Council Tax benefit for pensioners - and it's unfair. We would introduce a Citizens' Pension of £170 per week (a figure supported by the National Pensioners' Convention) for all, irrespective of contribution record. Our proposals are fully costed, and the increase would be funded by progressive taxation and scrapping wasteful expenditure on (for example) Trident and ID cards.

Once I'd got over the first night nerves I ended up really enjoying the hustings - in fact I'm looking forward to the next one already!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Our Party Election Broadcast

For those of you haven't seen it yet, here's the Green Party's excellent Party Election Broadcast. Should you feel so inclined, you can create your own personalised version too!

And while I'm catching up on national party stuff, just a reminder that our manifesto was launched this week and you can download that from the national party website.

Right, I'm off for a quick rest while the rest of the family are out leafletting!

Highbury's going Green - be part of it!

This weekend we took delivery of a consignment of eye-catching "estate agent" style boards which we'll be putting up across Islington.

While I was carrying the wooden posts into the house, a young couple who were passing stopped me and asked if they could have one for their front garden. The guy marched off, with the sign (on a seven foot pole!) under his arm. It made my day!

Our leafletters will be out too this weekend - look out for the latest copy of Highbury Green News, on jobs, apprenticeships and education.

Thanks to everyone who's helping out, including those of you who have got in touch with Islington Green Party via the website by email to offer your time and effort on our behalf. And speaking of the website, don't forget you can download a window poster there too!

"What About Women?"

"What about women?" is the Fawcett Society's brilliant General Election campaign. As a Fawcett Society member, and sometime wearer of their lovely 'This is what a feminist looks like' t-shirt, I was absolutely thrilled this morning to receive my Election Special copy of the Fawcett magazine Stopgap. In the centre pages, the Fawcett's very own Leaders' Debate - with one very important difference! The first of the four leaders profiled is our very own Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party. As Caroline says,

as the only party with a female leader .. the Green Party has shown that we put our principles into practice. So when we say equality for all, we mean it.

My own interest in politics started with campaigning on women's issues, and human rights, back in my student days. Later, I wanted to see politicians getting serious about protecting the environment too. The really exciting thing for me is that the Green Party brings it all together. Fairness is not just part of the Green Party slogan - it's the common thread linking together gender equality, human rights, and the need to give everyone an equal share in the world's resources - now and in future generations.