Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The Green Party in East Devon: looking forward to "a very exciting time."

The Green Party of England and Wales describes itself as one of the oldest Green political parties in the world and has been campaigning for social and environmental justice for more than 30 years.

It was founded in 1973 as 'People', became the 'Ecology Party' shortly afterwards and finally changed its name to the Green Party in 1985.

The Greens believe that it is human activity, more than anything else, which is threatening the well-being of the environment on which we depend, and that conventional politics has failed us because its values are fundamentally flawed.



Sharon Pavey in Morocco where she raised £2000 for Rainbow Trust Children's Charity in 2008

Sharon Pavey, 37, is the Green Party candidate for East Devon. Originally from North Yorkshire/County Durham she has lived in different parts of the UK, including Liverpool, Sussex, and Bristol where she met her husband Dan. Her various jobs have included working as a veterinary nurse, a library assistant, a student counsellor, and in the theatre. In 2008 she moved to the countryside outside Honiton, where Dan had grown up. They have two children: Natasha, 8, and Alexander, 4, and run a family business selling toys. Sharon's interests include fund-raising for Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity; she is also a keen communicator about 'green' issues at local and wider levels via her website at http://www.sharonpavey.org/

There is now an East Devon Green Party Facebook site at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&ref=ts&gid=391379385928





Pictured are founder-members of East Devon's Green Party









1. You joined the Green Party only in Autumn 2009. Which party had you supported previously, if any, and what made you change?

Like many people I'd followed politics in the news for most of my adult life, but never actually joined a political party. I'd voted Labour a couple of times but not in the 2005 election as I didn't feel particularly motivated to vote for anyone. Although I'd always been interested in 'green' issues, I think like most mums, having children and working has taken up most of my time over the past few years!

However, my ears started to prick up as I heard more and more about how serious the climate change crisis was becoming. The run up to the Copenhagen climate change conference saw increased coverage of environmental issues and I felt very strongly that I needed to 'do' something to ensure my children had a secure future. I decided that I could try to play a part in changing things politically.

2. This will be the first time that the Green Party has been represented in the East Devon constituency. Why now?

I think the Greens stood for East Devon back in the eighties actually, long before all the other parties started creating their own environmental polices.

I'm certainly the first Green prospective parliamentary candidate in East Devon this century though, and very proud to be part of the new East Devon Green Party.

Like many other local Green Party branches across the country, support is gaining quite a momentum lately, especially as we are expecting to see at least one Green MP in Parliament this year. It's a very exciting time.

Above: Sharon Pavey, right, with Isaac Price-Sosner of the Exeter Green Party, and Paula Black, Totnes Green County Councillor and Green Party candidate for Exeter.



3. The Lib Dems secured almost a third of the votes (30.7%) in the last General Election (2005) with an increase of 0.4%. They seem to be the main threat to the Conservative majority (46.9%) of sitting MP Hugo Swire. Given that the Lib Dems share many of the Green Party aims, aren't you in danger of reducing the 'green liberal' vote?

The Lib Dems have repeatedly shown themselves to be an ineffective opposition party in East Devon. I believe the Green Party will offer a more viable opposition.

Many political parties have now adopted Green Party policies to boost their own credentials. The Greens were talking and acting on the environment first and we are the only party who are serious about making this a fair and equal society with real commitment to the serious challenge of climate change.

4. I've looked at the Green Party policies website http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/index.html
It's impressively comprehensive. Do you think that there might be aspects of it which might not appeal in a largely conservative constituency like East Devon?

The Green Party Policies are impressively comprehensive. We are a serious political party with an inspirational leader in Caroline Lucas who is ahead in the polls over in Brighton, and should open the doors for the Green Party in The House of Commons.

I think there are many parts of Green Party policy which will actually mean something to all voters, irrespective of their political leanings in previous elections. We believe in providing more jobs, through investing in green industries. We will raise pensions and push for a 'living wage'. We oppose cuts to the NHS and would give free social care and support to older people. We would axe New Labour's ID card scheme and improve public transport and bring the costs of travelling on it down.

5. The Green Party, as opposed to UKIP, is probably the most internationalist of our political parties, with strong links to European equivalents. Do you have a special relationship with Green Parties e.g. in France? The Devon-Normandy twinning links would probably be worth exploiting from your point of view. What do you think?


A green 'entente cordiale' for East Devon?
I think this is a wonderful idea Michael, and although our East Devon Green Party has only been up and running since January 2010, we already have plans to 'twin' with another Green Party group in Europe. Our Green MEPs have done a fantastic job in Europe over the past few years and we can only build on that success.

Although the Greens are internationalist, we do believe that the EU should be transparent and accountable. It should respect the ability of people to make decisions about their own communities.

6. The Green Party website states: "On inspection, there is little or no threat of direct invasion of the UK by any nation. Commitment to a large standing army, a navy of large warships around our coastline, squadrons of fighter planes and a cripplingly expensive missile defence system is therefore unnecessary." Do you think that the future for Britain lies in being a middle or low-ranking power, alongside the likes of Italy and Spain, with no pretensions to a world leadership role?

Picture: The Royal Navy's HMS Somerset
"The Green Party do not want to abolish our armed forces."

The Green Party believes that the first objective of all government policy should be to provide real, sustainable human security, however this cannot be achieved through military aggression. The defence budget needs to be sufficient in order to ensure security. We do not agree with the Government's plan to spend more than £25 billion on renewing the nuclear weapon system.

As for power, it depends how you define it really. I'd like to see a powerful UN with Britain as a strong part of that. I'd like to see Britain at the forefront of securing binding global agreements against all weapons of mass destruction. I'd like to be part of a powerful and humanitarian Britain which uses its military force in conflict resolution situations and emergency relief.

7. Do you think that the Green Party's relatively pacifist stand might not go down well in this part of Devon with its strong military traditions - retired service people, strong Royal British Legion, Royal Marines base at Lympstone and so on?

I understand Devon has strong military traditions and my own family are no different from many other families with current and retired family members in the armed forces. Waiting months for my younger brother to return safely from Afghanistan made me think much more about why our forces were there in the first place.

The Green Party do not want to abolish our armed forces but we do think that the billions spent in this area are simply not necessary. Let's invest that money elsewhere.

8. Do you anticipate picking up votes from people disillusioned by the main political parties and the expenses scandal? Would the Green Party be 'whiter than white' in that respect?

Picture: Prime Minister's Question Time in the House of Commons
Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament
© Parliamentary copyright

The Green Party wants to fundamentally change the way the political system works in this country to make it a fairer, more open and more accountable system. As for who is going to vote Green in the General Election, I've already met quite a few people who are fed up with the all the other 'grey' politicians and want a change. I'm very excited to be the only female candidate in East Devon too. In fact the majority of the Green candidates in Devon are women, which is very important in this day and age where only one in five MPs are women.

9. What plans do you have for making yourself better known in the constituency? I'm following your blog, and I'm impressed by your commitment to an internet presence.

Thank you Michael. I've been writing blog articles for years now so it seems only natural to channel my thoughts on local issues into the http://www.sharonpavey.org/ blog.

It's a great way of letting everyone know what I'm involved in especially in a predominantly rural area, where many people are keeping connected online.

We've already been holding open meetings in the East Devon constituency and we have more meetings and street stalls planned, in Ottery St. Mary, Sidmouth and Exmouth. The local papers have picked up on our presence and I've already been invited to local events and to support local groups and issues. I think our MPs should be listening a lot more so I'm getting out and about to hear what the people of East Devon want from their prospective MP.

Unlike the other main parties, we do not have a large campaign budget so we're relying on our wonderful members and supporters to let East Devon know the Greens are here!

10. Wind farms in Devon's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty? How do you really feel about this issue?

As someone who lives in the AONB area, I feel very strongly that we need to do all we can to preserve our beautiful countryside but we also need to do all we can to preserve our amazing planet. Fossil fuels are running out and the temperature of the earth is rising due to an increase in greenhouse gases. We have to incorporate renewable energy (and energy efficiency) into all our communities.
The AONB areas may not be suitable for large scale wind farms, but we can support any efforts to invest in small scale (microgenerators) wind turbines.
I know a few of the East Devon village halls for example are looking to converting to solar or wind power to replace their use of oil and electricity and farms are being strongly encouraged to invest in renewable energy.

2 comments:

  1. The last parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in East Devon was Alan Toothill, who stood in 1992. He did a splendid job campaigning on Green issues locally and some of the issues he raised attracted the attention of national press.

    Since those days, the Green Party has matured and is no longer viewed with amusement and ridiculed. It is good to see that the pioneering work of Alan and others has eventually lead to Green party candidates having a realistic chance of being elected. No longer should candidates be greeted with “ I agree with what you say but you will not have my voted because you have no chance of being elected”.

    Having met Sharon I think that if elected, she would make a good MP.


    Mike Rosser

    ReplyDelete
  2. The last parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in East Devon was Alan Toothill, who stood in 1992. He did a splendid job campaigning on Green issues locally and some of the issues he raised attracted the attention of national press.

    Since those days, the Green Party has matured and is no longer viewed with amusement and ridiculed. It is good to see that the pioneering work of Alan and others has eventually lead to Green party candidates having a realistic chance of being elected. No longer should candidates be greeted with “ I agree with what you say but you will not have my voted because you have no chance of being elected”.

    Having met Sharon I think that if elected, she would make a good MP.

    ReplyDelete