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Live webchat with Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader and MEP, Fri 26 Mar, 1pm

(60 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Mar-10 12:14:42

Message withdrawn

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:10:10

Hi Cakeywakey,

Firstly, thanks for the feedback re Question Time – I was biting my tongue a little!

If you look at the polls here in Brighton Greens are consistently ahead. We got more votes than any other Party in last year’s European elections and in the local elections of 2007. An ICM poll in December put us at 35%, 8 points ahead of the Tories, and 10 points ahead of Labour. All the electoral data shows that if people want to keep the Tories out of Brighton Pavilion, the best way to do so is to vote Green.

So, voting for us will make a real difference and I hope we can make history here by electing the first Green MP.

And even in constituencies were we are not so strong, voting Green sends a clear message to the other parties.

I genuinely believe that the only wasted vote is one for a candidate or party you do not believe in.

(PS Dusting not my strong point, I have to admit!)

aviatrix Fri 26-Mar-10 13:10:26

Message withdrawn

CaptainNancy Fri 26-Mar-10 13:11:24

Hello Caroline. May I ask what the greens position is on the UK Space Agency? (Rocket travel probably not being v env friendly an all!)

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:12:34

Hi policywonk,

Yes I have signed up to the campaign for libel reform already and have been encouraging other Greens to do the same. Protecting freedom of speech is vital to me and I think the law needs to get the balance right between that and protecting privacy and copyright, for example.

Unlike the other parties, our policies are all discussed and voted on by members at conference. We have been looking at our policies to make sure they are scientifically rigorous and at Spring conference updated some after really helpful debate. You can look at our main website to see all the details which I don't really have time to go into here smile

I am sure there will be a great party if we do win in Brighton Pavilion - and I am looking forward to it! Thanks for your words of support.

Take care,

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:14:52

Dear Clarissimo,

Really pleased to hear that you have joined the Greens and that your experience so far has been positive.

Being a politician can be tough and especially at the moment when there is a temptation to tar everyone with the same brush. But that’s why we need decent people to stand for election more than ever. People whose motivation is to really try and make a difference – who have a clear commitment to building a fairer and greener world. Whenever Greens get elected – as councilors, London assembly members, MEPs, - people seem to like what they see and our support grows and grows. I think that is because what they get is hard working, listening politicians with some integrity. If that sounds like you then you’d make a great councillor!

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:18:20

Dear choosyfloosy,

Selling arms to corrupt regimes makes a handful of people very wealthy – and a huge number of other people end up getting killed, maimed, made homeless and so forth. Greens at European level have played a key role in securing the current controls on arms exports but I think we need to go much further. Yes, that might result in some jobs being lost but the Green Party has a well costed plan to create a million new jobs in industries like renewable power, public transport and energy efficiency so I’d hope that the impact on individuals could be minimised.

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:22:43

Hello MrIC,

I do know about the Transition Movement and am a great admirer of it. Moving away from our dependence on fossil fuels is a huge challenge and it's very exciting seeing people coming together to take this on in their communities and neighbourhoods. I want government to do lots more too and provide a framework that makes it easier for people to take action, but that won't remove the need for us all to take responsibility as well. A movement like Transition Towns has so many added benefits as well, like putting people in touch with one another, helping us learn new skills and strengthening the local community. It also focuses on the positives associated with a greener lifestyle, highlighting that it is not about giving up things, and that is a message dear to my heart!

Take care,

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:24:14

Welcome greenbiscuit and congratulations on the imminent parenthood,

You are quite right that the Green Party is opposed to renewal of Trident – and that this is on both cost and safety grounds. If elected, I would hope to make the case to my fellow MPs (many of whom by the way already agree) that £97 billion is better spent on hospitals, schools, green energy etc. I’d try and work with people from Brighton Pavilion to send a strong message to whoever was in government and I‘d hopefully ensure that the committees looking at this decision got to hear both sides of the argument. There are some great examples of disarmament already taking place eg in South Africa so I’d like MPs to hear from there about why nuclear weapons actually make the world a more dangerous place. They also do nothing to protect us from genuine threats like international terrorism or climate change.

Each Trident submarine carries up to 48 nuclear warheads, each of which can be sent to a different target. Each warhead has an explosive power of up to 100 kilotons, the equivalent of 100,000 tons of conventional high explosive. This is 8 times the power of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, killing an estimated 140,000 people.

Does having this on our soil make you feel safe?

As a Green politician I am used to fighting unpopular causes but this one actually feels very winnable given the economic situation. If we get the hung Parliament some people are predicting it becomes crucial to have MPs who are genuinely independent and won’t end up sacrificing their principles on an issue like this – yet another reason to vote Green!

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:26:06

Dear StewieGriffithMum,

In a nutshell – yes it is illegal.

The international treaties we have signed include the 1968 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty which commits us to eliminating our weapons arsenal. This was reiterated by the UK in 2000 when global leaders met to review progress towards disarmament and we signed a further agreement to
reduce the operational status of our nuclear weapons, and to accomplish their elimination. The UK also signed a programme of action for nuclear disarmament, which seems to have been put in a drawer somewhere and forgotten….

I am pleased you are taking this up with all the Party leaders – and disappointed, although not surprised, by the mixed response you have received.

meriellenfestey Fri 26-Mar-10 13:28:07

Hi Caroline,

Do you think that the Green have an issue with the green image? I've recently launched an environmentally motivated website ( to let communities lend and borrow items, skills & spaces - thereby reducing their collective impact. Although our goals are green, we're playing to as many other motivations as we can to encourage uptake. These motivations include making money, charity fundraising and improved access to the things to make life better.

I just wonder if the 'greenness' of the green party is a put off to some people who have other agendas but might actually benefit if they could see through the green.


CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:29:03

Dear Maaster,

I think it is true that often women suffer disproportionately from decisions to eg go to war or tilt the work life balance away from family. I definitely want to see more women elected to represent us in Parliament and on eg boards of companies as this might well help create the kind of society I think we all want.

Thanks for joining us,

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:30:16

Hello mummy1973,
If I am elected here in Brighton my first commitment will be to the people I represent. However, I have spent several years meeting people across the South East and the country more generally, and know that on the whole people care about very similar things. I also know the people of Brighton well enough to know that they would want a little bit more than an average constituency MP.
So, I think that standing up in Westminster for Brighton Pavilion will also mean I can affect policies that touch you. In the first instance I am thinking about things like job creation, support for small businesses, warmer homes and lower energy bills, hospitals focused on patient care rather than making a profit, a regular reliable, affordable rail and bus service - and an increase in the minimum wage. All these things are important to people living in Brighton and elsewhere. And of course, as a Green MP I want to make a difference on issues like tackling climate change and scrapping Trident as we have been talking about – which impact on everyone.

whittingtonmum Fri 26-Mar-10 13:30:55

Hi Caroline,

thank you so much for answering my question and for speaking out so publicly against the proposed closure of the A&E and maternity services of the Whittington Hospital.

I really, really appreciate your support and I am sure so will many, many others in North London.

Thanks again and all the very best ! -on-mumsnet/

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:34:41

Hi Meriel,

Yes Greens do suffer from a fair bit of typecasting, I agree wink. However, what I see when I am out campaigning is that people are increasingly looking beyond that and are listening instead to what we have to say - and they like what they hear! Your website sounds interesing and I will try and take a look when I have finished here. I like the fact that you are focussing on the many benefits to being green - as I have said in another post it is all too often portrayed as being about giving up stuff, when for me what we gain is so much more worthy of attention. Good luck with your scheme.

Best wishes,

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:36:01

Dear CameraLady,

Thanks for such a lovely message and all your support.

I think you have summed up how a lot of people feel nowadays about voting. I certainly share your sense that the electoral system needs to be much fairer. I also think that voting is just one way of affecting change and constantly am inspired by people making a difference in their own individual and collective ways.

On using the John Lewis model worker owned model for public services I can certainly see the appeal. Greens are in favour of encouraging cooperatives like John Lewis in the private sector and, as you know, this kind of set up can help protect workers as well as companies when times are tough economically. I am not convinced, though, that this is the best approach to our public services – although I think we can take some of the best practice from co-ops and apply them elsewhere. So for example, the emphasis on workers having an equal say in decision making is definitely something I’d like to see more of, and it's a key part of Green Party policy.

Both the Tories and Labour have recently expressed an interest in public services being run as co-ops – on the grounds that it is good to massively reduce any kind of state involvement in provision. My fear is that this might be a distraction from the important issue of guaranteeing proper state funding for public services – a way of opting out and abdicating responsibility. After all, it would be much easier for a government of any colour to blame a cooperative if hospitals start to shut down.

I’ve met a lot of people who felt the council failed them during the bad weather earlier this year and Green councillors were active in trying to get priorities changed, so that people could get moving again. An MP doesn’t have very much say over how the council runs things but we have a good number of Green councillors here in Brighton & Hove now who are really trying to make a difference. Hopefully in the future they will be in the majority and can really push a Green agenda on transport, schools and so forth. Obviously if I am elected I’d work closely with the councillors we have here, and would press for legislation nationally that would make it easier for councils to provide better public services – including getting the funding right.

Lio Fri 26-Mar-10 13:37:09

No question as such, but v impressed with super-speedy typing and wish you huge success in the general election.

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:37:32

Hi ZephirineDrouhin,

thanks for feedback and hope you read my reply to CameraLady about John Lewis

meriellenfestey Fri 26-Mar-10 13:38:17

Thanks Caroline - I couldn't agree more.

The secret is all about making green living as, or preferably more appealing than the lives people live now.

I'd love to hear what you might lend or borrow to those around you.


CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:39:25

Hello CaptainNancy,

My initial sense is let's get things right on this planet before we turn our attention elsewhere!

It's got to be about priorities too - I think I'd rather see money spent on the NHS and schools but I am open to persuasion. What do you think?


CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:40:30

thanks Lio smile I have been practising!

darcymum Fri 26-Mar-10 13:43:40

Hi Caroline,

How would the Green party make in easier to be 'green'? I have recently bought a new house which doesn't have any heating. I live in a small village with no mains gas and it is a 300+ year old detached cottage.

I have spent quite a few months looking into all our options regarding heating and am now planning to get oil. When we bought the house we knew we would get a heating system but oil was the last on the list. Other options such as wood pellet and air heat pumps proved to be many many thousands of pounds more expensive than oil, with payback times of decades.

We really wanted to avoid oil mainly for environmental reasons. I know that our cheapest and greenest option would be to leave the house unheated but having been here through the last winter I don't want to be that cold again.

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:44:24

Hi bank,

The Green Party has made two specific policy commitments when it comes to health visitors. Firstly, that baby clinics are open for adequate hours, so that women can get access to health visitors and take their babies for regular check-ups at a location and time that is convenient for them. Secondly, that health visitors will make regular visits to all early years establishments. Continuity of care from health visitors over time is also important.

Both of these rely on proper funding and training which we are also committed to providing across the NHS.

I know that investment in health visitors has declined since they are no longer ‘in statute’ and there is a chronic shortage of health visitors in some parts of the country. Greens are opposing cuts to public services, as - unlike the other parties - we don’t think this is the way to tackle the recession, especially when it can be the most vulnerable people that suffer from cuts and closures. Our general health policy focuses on opposing privatisation and on promoting well being – and we see a cruical role for health visitors and other community based advocates there.

I want to see health visitors operating fully within the NHS and getting the support they need and deserve. I am worried particularly by the way that insurance cover works, and was involved in amending some EU legislation that would have worsened the problem by only allowing health visitors to be covered by private personal insurance.

So much comes down to funding and priorities but, for me, taking care of children’s health in particular has to be up higher up the list – and higher up than eg ID cards or building new nuclear power stations. I’d like to learn more though about what people on the forum think and you personally – are we headed in the right direction or do Mums out there actually want something different?

CameraLady Fri 26-Mar-10 13:45:07

Hi Caroline

Thanks for your reply. I agree that a co-op system would not work as a whole. I think what i took from the John Lewis model was the way the pay system is a ratio so the person at the top earns say 5(?) times the person at the bottom.
Some way to control out of disproportionate pay checks at the top.

Maybe i should join the Green Party and get involved with the local council.......

Thanks again, you've got my vote.

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:52:34

Hi Lulumaam,

One of my personal bugbears is that being green is not made much easier. As you say, it can be time consuming and a bit of a struggle, so I’d like to see government get it right - they seem to manage it perfectly well in lots of other European countries

It’s very frustrating to feel your rubbish is not collected often enough and that the alternatives don’t work. In Germany there are recycling facilities on pretty much every street corner so I’d like that to be the case here.

In the European Parliament, I've been doing everything I can to put the responsibility on producers to use less packaging in the first place.

Finally, if you have a garden, composting or a wormery is probably greener than the council collecting your food waste.

CarolineLucas Fri 26-Mar-10 13:55:43

Message withdrawn

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