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Big wins for Greens in Local Elections

Although Stroud District didn’t participate in local elections this year, elections across the rest of the country saw spectacular gains for the Green Party.

Nationally we made a net gain of 194 council seats, which means we now have a total of 362 councillors on 122 councils: the best results in the party’s 46-year history.

Here in Gloucestershire we have six new Green District Councillors! The Forest of Dean Green Party not only secured the re-election of their two existing councillors, Sid Phelps and Chris McFarling (with impressive increased majorities); but they also won four additional seats on the District Council, taking their total to 6. The Cotswolds Green Party, which formed just 4 years ago, won their first seat on Cotswold District Council, beating the Conservatives (who also lost overall control of the Council). In Tewkesbury, Cate Cody won the first seat for the Greens on Tewkesbury Borough Council.

Voters were expressing their contempt for the Tory mis-handling of Brexit, and Labour’s ambiguous position on it; but in addition, there is a ground-swell of public recognition that it’s the climate crisis, not Brexit, that should be our greatest concern. (And by the way, the climate crisis demands more international co-operation, not more nationalism).

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrations, the un-swerving, brave and principled stance of Greta Thunberg, and the intervention of Sir David Attenborough have forced climate chaos into peoples awareness like never before, and forced the government into declaring a climate emergency. While this is a very welcome step, let’s watch out for hypocrisy here. De-carbonising our economy by 2030 requires policies that run completely counter to everything the Tories have done so far:

Recent and Current Tory Policies

  • Heathrow airport expansion
  • Planning restrictions that massively curtail onshore wind
  • Fracking promoted
  • Incentives for Carbon Capure and Storage (CCS) scrapped
  • Severn tidal power plans scrapped
  • Increased financial support for North Sea oil and gas; and reduced support for renewables
  • Obsession with Brexit and the need for economic growth

Policies required for carbon neutral 2030

  • Major investment in public transport
  • Massive expansion of renewable energy and energy storage
  • No new exploitation of fossil fuel reserves
  • Serious energy efficiency programs
  • Major tree-planting programs
  • Carbon rationing to ensure that the rich don’t monopolise the remaining carbon emissions
  • Recognition that constant economic growth is incompatible with sustainability

While your local Green councillors can’t change the world, they can help make our local communities more resilient, hold the Tories to account, and call out their hypocrisy. By voting Green you send a powerful message about your priorities; and once voters see that Greens can act sensibly and responsibly in local government, this opens the door to national success.