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.

Friday, 11 March 2011

“Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.” Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Mistakes, I've had a few! However, for those who want to know the types of experience I can bring to the Lords on behalf of the Green Party, I list them here:

  • Law and debating - I cut my teeth at the LSE/London University and still enjoy debating and can cope with hostile audiences.
  • Parliamentary Candidate for Norwich North - I had various hustings, in various settings, with various audiences. On one occasion I managed to take the brief and learn very quickly about business, economics and finance. I learned enough to debate and demonstrate GP policies as robust and sound.
  • City Councillor - Committees and groups - Twinning, Museums, Standards, Norwich Consolidated Charities, Housing and Co-Chair of Regulatory. I was particularly involved in the numerous applications made under the then new licensing laws.
  • Psychology - Assistant Clinical Psychologist for two years and one year Doctorate, not completed due to family circumstances. Skills involved assessment, counselling, co-running care in the community homes and planning and implementing 'rehabilitation' and more. Adult and Older Adult care; Child Psychiatry; Dementia Care - the skills set here is multi-faceted: report writing, time management; research; therapy and interventions; planning and carrying out interventions, including neuropsychological assessments for stroke, brain injury, dementias, motor neurone disease etc.
  • Lectures and talks - I have lectured to small groups and to large auditoria on mental health.
  • Media - my daughter and I have worked in TV and radio for 'Red Nose', Rethink and Blue Peter. I have had media training under John Morrell:
  • Other jobs  - I've worked supermarket tills, shelf stacking, fruit picking, toilet cleaning, making fridge seals, road gang 'stop-go' sign, factory and field work.
  • If there is anything else you would like to ask, please do.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

WhoseTurn is it to Clean the Loo? - International Women's Day

How I wish that this 'day' didn't have to exist, sadly it does and it needs to exist.

Women still earn in the regions of 17% less (full time work) and 36% (part time work), than their male counterparts for the same job descriptions. My union, 'Unison', regularly sends out reminders to "get your pay level checked".

Looking at our televisions, women are depicted as superfluous and fickle. Like male characters, this might be alright for mutual comic or near true-to-life depiction purposes, but when it seeps into every pore, I get angry. Women are only good for dodging chocolate muffins in the street; getting confused over which damn yoghurt to eat; musing over pebble shaped air fresheners and also the most important job of all - holding "compare-your-shopping-receipts-parties" - I must do that next week!

I get angry at having to buffer my daughter at every turn: at the corner shop, supermarkets, petrol stations, newspaper stands - so-called Lads mags, Sunday Sport, pornography and fickle displays of women are everywhere. What are boys and girls supposed to make of this?

The first time my daughter exclaimed in a petrol station queue, she was 5 years old: "What are big jugs mummy?" The queue members looked at me as if I was some permissive lax parent. I found the courage to point out that it was the shop that was wrong and that my child and I should have a right to buy a pint of milk without having to have the producers of milk thrust in our faces. I now challenge and have managed to get numerous shops to consider their responsibilities and change to dust covers and appropriate displays.

Women's bodies are for consumption everyday and in every conceivable way. Increasingly, this is now becoming a problem for boys and men, but not any where near to the same extent. If we saw men depicted in the way women are in local shops etc., there would be uproar.

Pornography: porneia - the lowest class of whore in ancient Greece; graphico/graphia - graphic depiction.

So, there we have it: The Graphic Depiction of the lowest class of Whores, every day, in every way. Think about what that means for a moment; it's truly horrible.

I am not so naive as to think that the porn industry or the depictions of women as fickle will disappear, but I do believe that each and everyone of us should consider our part in these depictions. Our daughters, our mothers, our girls, our women and increasingly boys - we should have their backs at every turn and demand a 'public' space in which we can all feel safe.

"Working It" do you intend to start being a Lord?

When asked this question, which I'd already asked myself, I thought I will take this on in the way I take on anything new...reconnaissance. From my military dependent background, "the reccie" is where one starts from. To know and map the way of the land, before entering fully with a strategy at hand.

You have to know your available possibilities, before you know what is possible.

  • I would spend time getting to know everyone and everything; as far as is possible. I would get to know porters, canteen staff, cleaners, support staff and so on. In effect, all of the staff who will be supporting me from the practical point of view, everyday. Support staff often work exceptionally long and unsociable hours, for very little and should be respected and known by name. Good morning and the odd conversation wouldn't hurt either.

  • I would enrol on the training courses provided for newcomers. This will allow me to know the practical procedures and protocols for the job at hand.

  • I would study, (or get help to study), each and every Lord in a paced, by-group, fashion. Get to know their strengths, their 'weaknesses'. Work out where our natural allies lie. I cannot believe that out of 740-odd Lords that there aren't any who we could do business with.

  • By rigorous study we may find a few surprises, e.g. people who we thought we couldn't do business with previously.

  • I would set up close liaison channels with Caroline Lucas's office, to enhance bicameral communications. This will likely need additional staff.

  • I would also set up channels of work with the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Greens. This would likely need additional staff. This will alert me to anything which I've missed, because I'm not thinking as an MSP, Welsh Assembly Member or from and Irish Green perspective. They will know instinctively, better than I, what is required and I will learn that 'viewpoint' over time.

  • I would also assert my independence. All politicians are not the same and that goes for Greens. I would promote 'green' policy, but I will not be afraid to challenge anyone if I feel it is 'just'.

  • I will not rush in; though I am sorely tempted to. 
  • I will be measured.
  • I will not be afraid to ask for help or to delegate.
  • I will be tenacious and brave.

  • I will make sure that I plan my timetable, which luckily falls around the school terms(!), so as to maintain my home life. In particular, planning around my daughter's welfare. I will use the expenses allowances to support my home life in my absence, e.g. a Housekeeper-Friend for Hannah.

  • I see my job as, initially, being a 'sower of seeds'. To gently and persuasively implant nuggets of 'green', with respect and kindness at all times.

  • Our core principles and philosophy will not be used as a battering ram. I will find friends and allies who will help me introduce the 'green' perspective into 'thinking' in the House of Lords. It will be a hard and  long journey, one which I will try to expedite when I can.

  • I am nervous and 'afraid', but the challenge is calling and I'm doing it anyway.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Post Office Queues' Muse

I have been collecting benefits from the Post Office since I can remember. It can be quite soul destroying knowing that before you even get to the counter window, you are going to struggle to pay the bills or at least be left with very little.

When I was a single working woman, I accumulated and afforded a lot of 'stuff'. A Berghaus walking jacket, a car, a pair of Scarpa walking boots and so on. However, for years I have now found myself in the world of good will and kindness. My parents have bought me replacement coats and shoes, a friend gave me a car, another an old TV and so on. I am very lucky, on an extremely low wage, but lucky. How come?

I have come to know many people in our post office queue and as I watched a fellow 'queuer' go to the window, I knew that like me she wouldn't have much left after paying her bills.

True to form she has maybe a fiver left, but then rummages in her purse and has 'enough' to put into the charity box.

Real politics, affecting real people, affecting real lives.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A Woman's Place is in the House...that's both the Commons and the Lords!

Oh Lord, what is it all about? Having watched the footage from both the Commons and the Lords on numerous occasions you can almost forget that what you are witnessing is a living, breathing process. The movement of bills, onto legislation and law given Royal Ascent.

My first thoughts were, what am I thinking, surely the call for candidates for the House of Lords didn't mean someone like me? I discussed the possibility with friends and family and came to the conclusion, "Why not me?".

How would I manage? Well being a single parent teaches you a few things about juggling, time management, loyalty, work, paying bills, DIY, gardening, cleaning, cooking, studying, volunteering, childcare, being a carer, a 'nurse', 24 hour security, admin, legal admin. The list seems endless and to pay for someone to do all of the jobs would set you back £400-800 per week and maybe more in some areas.

So, if you want information go to the source. I called the support team at the House of Lords and without giving away Green Party business, I gleaned information about how the staff are there to help you do the job.
That, as a single parent, I would get help with those jobs which need doing and that I wouldn't be on my own.

I was encouraged not to be put off by my circumstances. Suddenly my skills set looked even better, even to myself.

Have a look at the House of Lords website, it's very good and informative. You can even see live streaming of the progress of bills passing through.

Baroness King of Bow will be giving her maiden speech, marking the 100th International Women's Day.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

A Green member from Bristol asks...

"I would like to know which Committee(s), if any, you would be interested in putting yourself forward for if you were selected as a Green Party peer."

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, there seems to have been a printing error with regard to the omission of my contact details. Another candidate, Stuart Jeffrey, very kindly passed on your question.

It has taken some time to realise that I do indeed have levels of expertise and have considered carefully where I might best ‘fit’ with regard to committees. Given my background I feel that I would sit more intuitively into the following:
1) Armed Forces – having grown up as an army dependent I believe that I am well placed to balance the needs of soldiers, their dependents and the upper echelons within the Forces with that of non-combatants and the ordinary citizen. A ‘bridge’ if you will.

2)Culture, media and sport – I have been involved on a citizens level with ‘Mediawatch’, Ofcom and was on our local Twinning, Museums and Arts committees. I have been shocked at the lack of scrutiny in these areas and the mixed messages sent to the public with regards to the sexualisation of young people in particular. I have watched with interest the politicisation of sport and would be very interested in learning further about how the seemingly incongruent sides can be managed.

3)Education – I am retraining to be a teacher of RE and have been working in a very challenging school for five years. I am not religious, but see RE as encompassing many aspects of our lives – geography, medicine, arts, architecture etc. The current rush towards free schools and academies to me is the sticking plaster attempt to cover entrenched and endemic failings by successive governments. There appears to be, like many areas of political and social life, an ever growing ‘onion effect’ – the building of layers of remedies and ‘new’ drives. This has led to a huge ‘onion’ in which the layers are disconnected and no longer able to flow or catch up with each other and nobody can fathom where the current failings started. A macro approach is needed here, one which allows the teachers, pupils, support staff and parents to be really engaged with and above all listened to without fear of reproach. I recently formulated a research proposal on ‘Truanting/ Persistent Absence’ and after a literature review was perturbed to find none within the UK that had actually had pupils’ views at its heart, i.e. no interviews with pupils.

4)Health – as a trainee Clinical Psychologist, (unfortunately not completed due to no part time opportunity available to be on becoming a single parent – this would be illegal now), and as an Assistant Psychologist for two years, I have worked in many areas. Adult mental health; child psychiatry, secure ‘criminal’ units, older adults – stroke and Alzheimer’s, childhood cancers, autism, learning disabilities. I have worked at all levels, including some middle management.

I have worked for: Exeter & District; Cornwall & Isles of Scilly; Addenbrooke’s Hospital NHS Trusts. I have also worked as a nursing assistant in hospitals and care homes. I am a media volunteer for ‘Rethink’ and my daughter and I have completed joint work with ‘Red Nose’ and ‘Blue Peter’ and I have had media training under John Morrell. I have published research in the area of ‘The impact of disclosure of mental health status’

I was initially very impressed with Andrew Lansley’s take on mental health and he was coming from a place of personal experience. I too am open about my mental health status, Bi-Polar disorder – this has been well managed for nearly a decade now. However, Andrew Lansley’s manoeuvrings towards Consortia is to me a step towards privatisation and if my own, well managed GP practice are worried, that’s good enough for me to be worried.

As you can see, I have experience from all sides of health, especially mental health and believe that my expertise would be best placed in this Committee.

4) Science and Technology – this is an on going, non-academic, area of interest. I am particularly interested in the psychological impact of new and innovative technologies. Having minored in philosophy, I am also aware of the ethical considerations involved. However, I am not ‘anti-‘ technology or scientific endeavour and am fascinated by its pace and pursuit of excellence.

5) Ecclesiastical – I was surprised, moons ago, to find Bishops in our House of Lords - I like to watch proceedings from both Houses via the TV live feeds and recordings. My daughter has called me a fellow ‘geek’ for this!  - I’m not sure how I feel about that still. Yet, a the pragmatic part of me believes that we have to engage and encompass all comers. Again, I have an in depth knowledge of biblical and religious texts and how these impact on modern life. I would see myself, again, as the ‘bridge’.

I am essentially willing to try any Committee deemed appropriate or more pressing by our Party. I have a legal and debating background, having cut my teeth at the London School of Economics and as a member of the student union there for one year. I am adept taking a ‘brief’, doing my homework into the small hours and presenting it. Dealing with all levels and types of people is something I enjoy and excel at. I am an ‘all rounder’, quick to learn, grounded in the world the minimum wage and post office queues. I believe in respect and kindness at all times.

I noted, after having called the House of Lords enquiry line, that there is training and support available; I fully intend to take up those opportunities.

A Green member from Brent asks...

Candidate Name : Jessica Goldfinch – Norwich Green Party
A little about me related to the field of disability:
A BA(Hons)Psychology; two years as an Assistant Clinical Psychologist for:
1) Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Learning Disabilities NHS Trust
2) Exeter & District NHS Trust – Older Adult Care, specialisms – the dementias and stroke
3) Addenbrooke’s Hospital NHS Trust – Child and Adult Psychiatry for one year.
4) Additional – Red Nose/ Mental health media work; volunteer of ‘Rethink’; SEN Teaching Assistant; helper at Toddler Group for Children with Down’s and many more.

What is your understanding and view of the social model of disability? I came across this during my Community Psychology option and work within ‘Older Adult’ care, in particular with people who had Alzheimer’s and pre-senile Dementias.
The medical model has its place, but it is the advent of Community and Social Psychology which has changed people’s, (disabled and non-disabled), thinking about disability in general and their own disabilities.
In Older Adult care the Social Model’s influence, for me, most likely helped create ‘The Bradford Dementia Care Model’.
This revolutionised the way carers saw and worked with dementia. The Social Model talks about how ‘we’ as society inflate, exacerbate and collude with accepted norms of disability and that this is a major player in keeping people isolated and ‘more’ disabled than they would ordinarily be.
In Dementia Care this is called ‘social malignancy’ and boy does it make me mad! The infantilising of people, the tone of voice, not thinking or even being mindful of environments: sound, colour, patterns, flooring, texture, gradients and so on. This is so of all disability.
When I’ve stopped being mad, I can say I have witnessed some fantastic changes and moving experiences. A lot of people are simply not aware of these things and not deliberately prejudiced and so it is up to us to coax, cajole and sometimes demand!
What is your understanding of the current and future issues affecting disabled people? 
There is so much so I will concentrate to a few:
I am in receipt of Disability Living Allowance – I have a ‘fibromyalgic/neuropathic’ type condition, previously thought to be MS. Thankfully, it was not; my cousin is not so lucky. I also have a diagnosis for Bi-Polar Disorder, very much managed for the last 10 years as can be seen by my work experience. DLA is on the chopping block and it is as simple as this – if DLA is cut, I don’t go swimming any more, (£7.20 per session), or at least as much as I do now. This is the self-help which saves the NHS thousands and would cost thousands if I now deteriorate. This is politics and its grassroots consequences and there are thousands like me.
I am open about my mental health status, so it is alright for you to discuss this with others.
The Equality Act, to work, has to implemented at all levels. It needs to be in people’s minds as a natural state of being in planning services, buildings etc. Some exemptions may have to apply for rickety old buildings, but compromises should be struck as if it were the norm not the exception.
GP Consortia – the current moves towards a GP led NHS, may work for some, but my very competent GP practice is worried and so am I. It is people with disabilities, of all types and of all ages who will be disproportionately squeezed, as has been deomnstrated in the past. I have a horrible image in my mind of us fighting over resources and GPs having to advocate for ‘their’ patient against another within the same practice.
What are your views on bioethical issues – please include assisted dying here?
Again, through my Alzheimer’s work I was directed to the Belmont and later Beauchamp and Childress reports from the 1980s, these reports have been criticised of course, but I believe that the four principles still hold true: justice (in all decision making); respect for each person’s integrity (autonomy) and non-maleficence (not to inflict deliberate pain) and ‘beneficence’ (to do things for the benefit of others). Essentially, in my view, a reworking of the spirit of the ‘Hippocratic Oath’.
With regard to assisted dying; I used to be very pro- and now I feel the following: My mother and discussed it, in the event she needed ‘help’. I’m not sure I could, but can see therefore the need for choice and a method by which people can end their lives if they so wish and do it here in their own homes without having to go to Switzerland and possibly end their lives sooner than if they could have stayed at home.
However, and this relates back to the Social Model, what if we go down that road and change the very ‘culture’ around death towards the negative? Will we not be bothered with further innovation in palliative care; research into cures; good older adult care and will disabled people become further demoted by a new prevailing attitude which will permeate into all of us whereby we end up thinking “I’m a burden; I’d better go then”?
A minefield indeed and one of many reasons why I would like sit on the Health and Science Committees or other more pertinent one, should I enter the House.
What has been your experience (include evidence please) of how you have promoted the views of disabled people and their organisations (run by them) during public office or political role (e.g.  assembly member, councillor, Green Party policy committee)? 
I ran a political cafe at a centre for people with mental health problems. This was to get folk thinking about other things and encourage action and self-determination.
My daughter and I have been on TV and radio with Blue Peter and Red Nose to help ‘normalise’ the nature of living with mental illness. My daughter has given talks and I have given talks/lectures on the subject. Having been a working professional and finding myself on the other side was painful, but humbling. I do not have a link, only a CD/DVD recording, which I cannot locate, but it maybe still archived on their websites.
I have co-published a paper with a psychiatrist and occupational therapist on “The Consequences of Disclosure of Mental Health Status”; led by the Social Model and Medical Model. Again, I never got an actual copy but the lead researcher was Dr. Rebecca Martinez.
A Special Educational Needs Green Paper which we believe will be the basis of new legislation –    what do you think would be the key issues from the perspective of disabled people?  if you are appointed to the House of Lords would you work with ALLFIE and if so  how will you work with us.
It is supposed to be more weighty than the Warnock Report and the measures set out are all well and good but,
1)   12 weeks public ‘consultation’ is not enough and there appears no indication that children themselves are being consulted; at least the ones who are able and there is no advocacy for those who are not. The Social or Bioethical Models are not being implemented here, which is ironic.
2)   The notion of ‘choice’ I believe is bogus. Concentrating resources into well run SEN establishments should not be seen as necessarily segregative. I would like to see school campuses which included SEN schools within them. My daughter attended a primary where a SEN school was right next door and they shared common facilities and played together. I’m more a fan of ‘Extra Needs’ because pupils of all skills and abilities, (including high achievers), have ‘special needs’ and they should be viewed as needing a ‘leg up’, not as ‘special’ or ‘apart’. I believe that some schools are becoming specialist centres for certain conditions such as autism.
As parent, I don’t want to be given competing choices, I just want a well run local school which my child can walk to or be easily transported to and which caters for her needs.
There is no place for children with disabilities, or any child for that matter, to become victims of ‘social malignancy’ in schools.
I hope Sarah Teather can present this well.
ALLFIE – I must confess I had to look this up. I must be a bit behind, because it does not appear in any of my books. Then when I did I realised I did know it, I’d remembered it as its full name!
The Alliance for Inclusion in Education, I would have thought could and should be a leading light in informing legislation.
How would I work with you?
For me working as a Councillor, or maybe a Lord isn’t all about talking, it’s about doing and experiencing. I have a lot of SEN experience, across all of the age groups. I had isolatory experiences myself at school and my daughter experienced intense loneliness and bullying– thankfully, she has found a niche, which we had to fight for and for me it took until adulthood to find some equilibrium.
One of your members put it beautifully, as I have just read:
"I think that when you don't have real friends you can't experience real life because real life is how you get on with people. I can't do anything on my own so I am completely dependent on people helping me, so if I am not going to be surrounded by only personal assistants, I have got to find a way of making friends."
Maresa Mackeith
If I had the time, and there is lots of non-sitting time in the Lords, I would have to come and actually experience your workplace, join some activities and/or observe if that was preferable.
Then to listen and ‘feel’, followed by guidance and advice from your team. Then sit and work out what is that is missing?
Then act!
I hope I didn’t go on too long and please feel free to contact me further for any clarification or omissions.
To be mindful of: People, the Environment, Respect and Kindness in everything I do and in every decision I make.
This is the type of politician I am and want to be. Lofty ideals that I’ve never let go of.

Who am I and why politics? Why did I choose the Green Party?

I remember watching my brother, a man I much admire, being involved in 'Windscale' protests. He was so passionate and hopeful and this has left an indelible mark. A good mark.

I was turned on to 'world' politics again by a song, "Enola Gay" by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark sorry if an advert pops up.
The lyrics resonated with me and I realised how a flick of a signature or press of a button can change everything forever.

At the London School of Economics and King's in the mid-80s, (where I took one year of a bi-lingual German and English Law degree, before changing to Psychology at Exeter), I was introduced to the 'bear pit' of debate and cut my teeth there, also being a temporary member of the Union and mooting as part of my course.

I have been involved with the Anti-Apartheid movement, which had both good and bad aspects. I had also experience of the German Greens from having lived in Germany, (then West Germany), for eight years. How forward they were, even in the 80s! Feminist politics was also a large part of my life.

I've worked in Israel-Palestine and at the time Gaza. I did the 'Kibbutz Experience', I lived and co-ran a cleaning business with a friend in Tel Aviv after having completed a religious course, (I was religious for awhile, but now more cultural), and went on to work on peace projects - water projects, circus skills (a failed tight rope walker!), theatre, music, politics. I worked with and observed peace negotiators in some very extreme circumstances - happy to share off blog. I am moved to say, that despite what happened, I saw people never give up and minds changed. I still maintain relationships across the divides and I am sure the situation would be a lot worse without these brave and compassionate people.

Fast forward - Adrian Ramsay and I met via our work on the 'Wright Stuff', then recorded in Norwich. Norwich Greens look away now - they've heard this story a million times, but I never tire of it!). He was too young to stand as a candidate and asked me if I would. Paraphrase and thoughts to myself: 'You must be joking I'm not Green, I smoke, drive a car and drink beer...'. I said I would only do it if I read the manifesto first. He gave me an abridged version, but being thorough and a bit of 'geek', I found and read the whole MfSS.

I realised that I was not 'stupid' or 'naive' or 'silly' for having dreams. Dreams of a future, especially for my little girl. Yet here was a group of people who had the same dreams and the expertise with which to effect that change. Greens weren't organic yak's milk weavers, they were smart, eloquent and above all compassionate.

I rang up Adrian and said something like, 'Yes, I'll be proud to stand for you'. People came from all over the country, doorknocking, leafleting, cooking, laughing, singing. It was amazing and the result? (see photo if I manage to up load it).

We won. I took over from our out going Councillor Sara Ronneke and took my place a long side Steve Land; us two against the rest of the Chamber and the rest is Green history...we now hold the balance of power. I am proud to have been a part of that, a real Green quiet revolution.


Dissolution, Reformation and Overhaul.

A few members have asked why statements didn't include a view on abolition. All I can say is that with a 350 word limit, it is hard to cover everything. I took the view that I would offer 'tasters' of my background and experience and then be open to more searching questions - this may have been a mistake.

My view is in line with GP policy which is essentially for total reform. I am somewhat old fashioned in that I do think old establishments have had and may continue to have a purpose in  providing continuity and point of focus and in a lot of cases a draw for tourists for our economy.

I also believe that having some kind of second house offers scrutiny and a set of reins on the Commons. Like insurance policies, it mostly works in our favour, but sometimes it really doesn't.

However, like all 'old' things, we have to move and change otherwise there is no hope for innovation and new thinking. In an ideal world, I'd like to turn up and say 'everybody out, we're starting again'! However, total revolution does not always bring the desired outcome and sometimes situations worsen. Also, our country would miss a chance on negotiating the outcome and we would lose many current dedicated Lords and all their expertise.

I am not for a fully elected house. Only because I don't want more of the same as in the House of Commons, what would be the point? The Lords has to offer a different flavour and slightly different purpose. Also, I don't subscribe to the notion that democratic elections are always democratic. There is still favouritism, tactics, dealings and money involved; we don't always get the 'right' person.

What would I like to see? Well there are many ideas out there and I for one would be up for discussing all of them. I'm not sure on the percentage make-up, that could be negotiated, but I'd like to see something like this:
1)Existing group of life peers to be allowed to fade naturally or offer the chance to leave on maybe health or other grounds.
2)A partially elected House on normal election lines.
3)A 'body' to decide and offer places to known contributive citizens from across our countries. Bearing in mind that there is lots of expertise 'out there' which is never recognised and a lot of people would never have a hope of being elected in any other way. We need to find these people and offer them the chance.
4)A section to be offered on a 'lottery'/ jury system, (a friend, John, ran that by me - thanks).

The time limits set on how long someone sits could be negotiable, but I think a large proportion should be lengthy stays, (5-10 years), to offer continuity and stability.

Anyone who has worked at even local government level, as I have as a Councillor, will know that it takes a substantial amount of time to learn the ropes and too much change in members could destabilise the House.

I hope this clarifies my position.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


This is my first blog, so will be added to over the next few days. I discovered from the Green Party House of Lords Statement booklet that my contact details had been omitted in error and thought it best to offer a contact point for anyone who wishes to e-mail me directly with questions or endorsements.

As I get to grips with the options, more features will become available to you.

For now I would simply like to offer you the opportunity to ask questions and get to know more about me before casting your vote.

I will be following this 'Welcome' post with posts on the following:
Who am I and why politics?
What is the House of Lords all about?
My casual and formal work experience.
How do I propose to work and function in the second House?
How does the single parent manage?

and much more.

My daughter and I are currently preparing for 'Spring Conference'; this is the first conference to have fallen in a school holiday and not clash with work for a long time. My daughter, Hannah, will be helping in the creche - a lovely twist in that she used to be a toddler in the Green Party Creche herself!

I shall be running for the Disputes Resolution Committee and I will be scheduled for hustings. I do not have the timetable yet, but do come a long and ask questions there if you wish.

I look forward to catching up with old friends and maybe meet some of you there.

Do visit our Norwich Green Party stall and feel free to stop me, (I'll be wearing my name badge prominently), and ask questions.

Many thanks,
Jessica Goldfinch