Thursday 1 December 2011

World Aids Day 2011

World Aids Day. Here's a good film related to the very early days when people were terrified; we had no idea what this 'new' illness was - tearful and fraught times:

And the drug companies:

The closing title tribute:

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Dale Farm - After the 'Fire'.

When the dust starts to settle at Dale Farm what have we learned? What of the future? What would I have done?

For me, this, (as with many issues), is often not a problem in itself, but a problem of ‘need’. Further, it is a problem of competing needs and yet it doesn’t and didn’t have to be.

Firstly, the process of eviction was protracted and our system of law, which can often help us, can also hinder us. The process was allowed to go on, with counter appeals and arguments, to such an extent that real people, with real lives and children had grown up on a site. It matters not if it is Greenfield when you talk about real people living lives – illegally or not.

Secondly, the local residents were also ostracised from a community decision to such an extent that two camps became locked in intransigence.

Thirdly, it is untrue that the majority of planning decisions go against Travellers and Roma, any more than any other applicant. Often, with the numbers involved, rejection will be based around the notion of impact, (traffic etc.), as well as the fact that we have laws barring Greenfield permanent building. However, because of the nature of applications often requiring more facilities and space and the fact that Travellers were encouraged to buy land for themselves; discrimination can be the inadvertent result of those rejected applications.

Moratorium. What would I have done? If I was in a position to do so, I’d have identified the ‘competing needs’ first and called for a moratorium.  Everybody ‘stop’; no more building; no more evictions. Take time to breathe and identify what it is that is actually needed. The European Union has its place at the centre of the moratorium.

A moratorium does not mean that existing decisions will not eventually go through.

There are very few ‘old style’ Roma; Gypsies and Travellers in Europe as compared to the general population or modern travelling communities – i.e. trailers and trucks, as opposed to horse and old style caravans. Communities hail from all over Europe and beyond and have very individual needs. So, any ideas that Travellers might be ‘stuck’ in the past are wrong.

I see this as a Europe wide ‘need’ and lack of inter- and intra- community understanding. We need to understand each other better and use a Moratorium to work for a modern mutually agreed outcome.

Travelling communities need to understand static communities and static communities need to understand Travellers. The competing needs have to be recognised and worked through for a Europe wide settlement.

My Ideal. I could be wrong, but I understand from the Travellers I’ve met that they want the option to travel. Travelling sites need to be essentially like a well run campsite – toilets, washroom and laundry blocks etc.

So, why can’t all of the numbers of Travellers be catered for via a Europe wide network of sites and travel coordinated between them? Some folk may want to stay on site or stay within one country. However, some travelling folk have links to overseas communities and properties in other countries and like to travel.

The network of sites can be paid for by local authorities all over the country and a levy charged, like a campsite fee for upkeep. Or on site Travellers could run the site and have sections open to the general public to camp on and charge a fee – run it like a business. I might be naive, but it seems a good idea for Traveller and non-Traveller to share the same space occasionally.

Above all, it’s about taking responsibility to break down prejudices from both sides and finally address the modern needs of modern Travelling, Roma and Gypsy communities.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Small steps of the Leviathan.

12th Sept: Here is the latest movement of the current House of Lords reform bill. When I use the term 'leviathan', I'm more referring to the size and seemingly unshakeable nature of the House of Lords, rather than any demonic gatekeeper of hell's mouth!

14th Sept: And here you can follow the path of the Reform Bill, (next stage is Committee Stage on 21st October), along with links to other bills of interest to you. It might seem like a fusty system, but it's almost a living-breathing thing. Democracy in action, even if it isn't one's own personal 'take' on democracy.

Members are thinking and debating and that has to count for something on the road to reform, though taking care of the partisan lines of the future in the bill, is embedding rather than re-forming.

16th Sept: I have to keep updating this page. On the referendum for reform.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Nearly In...A Big Thank You!

So, the results are in and here they are:
1. Jenny JONES
2. Emma DIXON
4. Shahrar ALI
6. Rupert READ
1st reserve: Jessica GOLDFINCH
2nd reserve: Rebecca JOHNSON
3rd reserve: Stuart JEFFERY

Well done everyone! I'd being lying if I said I wasn't a tad jealous not to be in the 'top 7' but, like many of the the relative rank outsiders, I feel proud to have been placed at all.

I found it amusing, if a little frustrating, that the AV system worked against me and some others. I was informed by my colleague Rupert Read that, (with first past the post), he'd have been in 5th place and I'd have been in 7th. AV: like insurance, sometimes pays out in your favour, sometimes it doesn't! I'm still voting "Yes" though.

Now we just have to hope that David Cameron et al don't use the latest take on the House of Lords,  as a reason to back track from their commitment to proportional representation.

Thanks to everyone for your support and who knows what will happen?

Thursday 24 March 2011

e-Hustings for Green Party Members

House of Lords e-Hustings: Jessica Goldfinch (Total words: 350)

Question 1: The purpose of the House of Lords is to scrutinise and amend legislation drafted by the House of Commons. This is highly technical work, as are the rules governing procedures and processes within the House.
Could you tell us how your background and work experience have given you the skills to work with draft legislation as a Green peer, and what those skills are?
Transferable skills: reading, assessing, critical analysis, scrutiny, research and application of documentation, reports, research – including legal documents. Experience from: 1 year bi-lingual Law/LSE and King’s College; BA (Hons) Psychology/Exeter and three years’ postgraduate; charity work with Rethink, (scrutiny of mental health legislation) and Mediawatch, (legislation of media); Chair of Regulatory – Norwich City Council.
I intend to take full advantage of the non-partisan/ impartial advice and training offered to new peers.
 (words – 70)
 Question 2: Are you in favour of abolishing the monarchy?
No – “The Marmite Monarchy” - agree with much of the Republican argument, ( I prefer to use these arguments to reform the monarchy, e.g. transparent auditing and fair taxation. The psychological and financial impact of a living breathing monarchy is underestimated. I am persuaded that the smallest of businesses rely on income from its existence e.g. Royal Wedding estimate, £100 million including security; revenue estimate 1 billion.
Open to persuasion.
(words – 70)
 Question 3: Do you agree that promoting workers' co-operatives is an important aspect of laying the foundations for a green society? If you do, how would you work for this in the House of Lords?
Yes – bicameral work/collaboration are essential. Both Houses, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and London Regional Assembly have Cooperative Party representation. Likewise NEF, (, would be an excellent starting point.
Members can promote a particular issue within the House in a variety of ways:
·         Ask the government a question
·         Request a short debate
·         Introduce a Private Member’s Bill
(words – 59)
Question 4: How would you support growth in renewable energy provision and wide-spread conversion to electric cars?
Using methods as described in question 3 – Lord Reay’s criticisms (11/01/11 ), notwithstanding!
Building on the work of the Science and Technology (03-04) EU(07-08) and Economic Affairs Committees (07-08) and advice from e.g. Friends of the Earth, Norway Communicates.
I would not support conversion to electric cars unless impact of battery cell production and energy source assessed.
(words – 58)
 Question 5: If elected, what will you do, if anything, to further the cause of the immediate abolition of the House of Lords and the creation of a democratically-elected second chamber of the British parliament?
Bicameral liaison with Caroline Lucas (MP)/other members.
The Committee, led by the Deputy PM/Cabinet Office, is independent of the Lords. To change House of Lords reform legislation, the Government has to amend current legislation or introduce a new piece of information. The Lords would consider this through the same procedures as would apply to all legislation and/or use methods Xref. Question 3.
FYI: Lord Steel Private Lords Reform Bill - at the Lords’ Committee stage; a response to omissions made in Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill 2009–10 (Royal Assent April 2010).
 (words -93)

Thursday 17 March 2011

'Only Connect' -"Howard's End" (1910) E. M. Forster, 1924-1925

This epigraph pretty much sums up my approach to politics.

Any group, political or otherwise, can have its policies, its focus, its raison d'etre. It can protest, shout, lobby, petition. A political party can doorknock, hold hustings and spend thousands on election campaigns.

But, it is all pointless if you cannot 'connect' with the people you are seeking to win over. Sometimes it can mean just 'sitting with' feelings or behaviours we find uncomfortable or alien, but above all it is about listening; really listening. This will include hearing lots of things which you don't want to hear.

And then you must act.

Contrary to popular belief I don't believe members of the House of Lords to be 'alien', although practises, history and behaviour might be! In any event, a Green Lord will have to work with up to 740-odd other Lords and I believe that the vast majority will want to work with us. There is a wealth of dedication and expertise in the House of Lords and it would be foolhardy to dismiss it.

Learning policies and protocols is the "easy" bit, delivering them in an enticing way is the "clincher".

Measured, calm, respectful, with kindness and fire in the belly: this is how I intend to 'connect'.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Out of the mouth of babes.

My daughter, Hannah, asked me about 'the old days'! About Margarate Thatcher, unemployment queues and so on.

I told her about the song 'Enola Gay', which really switched me on to politics.

I told her about the 'Thatcher milk snatcher'; the miners' strikes, (xref'ing to 'Billy Elliot'). I told her about UB40s and then UB40's song '1 in 10'. She felt that not a lot had seemed to change, but that there were lots of good things in the world and the Green Party seemed really hopeful about the future.

When I go out to GP meetings or doorknocking, we often joke, (whilst I stand in Superman flying pose), - "There goes Supermum...changing the world one person or doorstep at a time!"

We talked a lot and this, (in the run up to last year's elections), was the result. This encapsulates why I do what I do and who I do it for. Enjoy.