Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Andrew Cooper for Green Party Deputy Leader - Official Video



So here it is and thanks to Susan Jones for putting it together. It was a lovely sunny day  in the Lickley Hills looking over Birmingham. Filming had its challenges. Drones buzzing and hovering nearby, a dog owner shouting for his mutt.Yours truly may have had one or two takes and the outtakes would probably be quite amusing if they ever see the light of day.

Feedback so far has been great so a good start. A few weeks to go now in the campaigning period and like in our Local |Elections it is a case of keeping your cool, focusing on your own messages and not get distracted by things that niggle or annoy you. 

Friday, 29 June 2018

Brockholes to Budapest by train

Brockholes
Huddersfield
I'm no stranger to international train travel in my role as a member of the EU Committee of the Regions. Usually its Brockholes to Brussels for Committee and Plenary meetings. I've also travelled to the South of France by train a couple of times and to Bonn in Germany for the United Nations COP23 Climate Summit. This particular meeting was looking at different approaches to tackling plastics recycling and local community energy schemes among other things so particularly interesting and a lot to learn there from others.


Leeds
Wherever I can the train is my default position not just for environmental reasons but also as it is much easier to work on the move on trains. I used to get seduced by the speed and technology of planes but the inconvenience and unpredictability of air travel has been a significant reason for me to fall out of love with jet travel as well of course the significant climate change impacts.


Eurostar in 'That London'
Travelling to Budapest by train has been my furthest adventure so far. From Brockholes 'International' to Budapest is around 1300 miles. I used the very helpful website 'The Man in Seat 61' to plan my journey. Setting off from Brockholes at 6.38am to Huddersfield on
Paris
the most elderly train on my trip courtesy of Northern Rail. From there Huddersfield to Leeds, 10 minutes late but I factored in some UK slippage. Leeds to London on the newly nationalised LNER which I reckon must stand for 'Lovely Nationalised Electric Railway'. Across the road
Munich
from my Kings Cross to St Pancras station and the Eurostar then onto the train to Paris Gare du Nord station. A 10 minute walk by a tree lined Boulevard to Gare Du L'Est Station then onto the ICE train to Munich arriving around 9.30pm. I then had an hour or so at Munich station which was well provisioned with food outlets for my evening meal. At 11pm it was the Sleeper service to Budapest and a couchettee where hopefully my snoring wasn't too disruptive for other passengers.    

Budapest
The point for me was that I had the time to get to my  meeting this way on this occasion and doing the green thing was also an enjoyable experience and prefereable to the tedious processing and frequent delays you can experience at airports. Of course this is my view as an individual traveller but it is Government's job to make the positive experiences of international rail travel easier for more people. Instead it chose to back a climate wrecking 3rd runway at Heathrow and with the support of a majority of Labour MPs and very sadly the abstentions of SNP MPs. 

As Greens we need to promote and highlight alternatives as much as we can but not from a 'holier than thou approach' but by showing what can be done, showing how it could be made easier for more people and showing what barriers we need to overcome to make making the right choices easier and cheaper for more people.

Here's 'Pop Music' by M from 1979 which is only relevant because it mentions London, Paris and Munich but also New York but I didn't go there!



Friday, 22 June 2018

Humanity 'on the slab'

In Brussels today I saw a 10 foot tall slab of multi coloured concrete erected in a Park between the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions. There is a small plaque nearby explaining that it is cut from the Berlin Wall and was sent to Brussels in 2014 to commemorate the wall's  demise following the end of the Cold War.

As I stood there and looked it up and down I pondered its significance. My immediate thought was how reminiscent it was of the black slab in the film '2001 - A Space Odyssey'  That rectangular slab (or Monolith) was created by a benevolent alien intelligence that had been subtly but significantly influencing the progress of humanity towards the advanced technological species that we are today.

This slab however was not created by anything benevolent at all. It was part of a wall designed to divide people, to provide a physical barrier between 2 different political ideologies. The significance of this particular part of the walls relocation to Brussels was to show by its very presence that the wall did not exist any more in its previous location. Its purpose had been lost, that people divided were now united. So why relocate it to Brussels? As Europe's Capital, Brussels represents the blurring of national boundaries and a recognition that people beyond nation states can have common purpose, that walls and boundaries had less relevance than they once had.

Of course that positive vision has taken a bit of a battering in recent years. We have seen the subject of walls and barriers between nations rise as people seek to move from areas of war and poverty to countries where they see the opportunity for safety, opportunity and a living. Their actions are completely understandable. Politics has failed them, often in the most dramatic of fashions, and they are on the move. The reactions from the countries that they are moving towards has been mixed. Some have acted with humanity showing the best of what we can be. They have welcomed people often from cultures different to their own and  have understood that many have skills, abilities and knowledge that can add to their own and give some positive benefits to society. Then there are those who have been less welcoming. Donald Trump's recent actions on the Mexican border have shown him to be a 'borderline Fascist' in more than one sense and I am not one of those politicians who call someone a 'Fascist' at the drop of the hat. He has  truly 'earned' that title. In Hungary the barbaric move to make helping migrants illegal has also shown that some Governments are quite prepared to make common humanity a crime. Being a Good Samaritan has become a risky business in Hungary.

So what are we to make of the multicoloured slab in a Park in Brussels? First of all it is important to note that it remains. It may be silent, it may be inert, its purpose may not be immediately apparent but whatever turmoils happen in the political world it will stay there in the park.  As walls rise it will remain as a reminder of a more hopeful time when barriers between people were removed. The influence it has will not be of a super advanced technological basis such as the black slab in 2001 but more of a more subtle nature. It will  make people ask questions, it will demonstrate that there was widespread hope for the future once and that common humanity and a sense of a bond across national boundaries was a view held by many millions. Any piece of concrete that can make people ask questions is a one important piece of concrete.

For those of you who are desperate to understand what '2001 - A Space Odyssey' is all about but can't be bothered to read the original Arthur C Clark's short story 'The Sentinel' here is an explanation of what went on in in the film. Some folks found it a bit cryptic understandably




Thursday, 21 June 2018

Councillor Andrew Cooper's Speech to European Parliament's ENVI Committee 21st June 2018


·       
Thank you Chair ,  
Members of the ENVI committee, Let me first thank you for giving me the opportunity to present the Committee of the Regions opinion.
We welcome the ENVI draft motion for resolution on COP 24 as well as the adopted report on the role of EU regions and cities in implementing the Paris Agreement as they highlight the key role of local and regional authorities in the fight against climate change

·        Local and regional authorities are responsible for the implementation of 70% of climate change reduction measures and up to 90% of climate change adaptation measures. When national governments struggle to deliver, cities and regions take the lead.

·   Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, we have seen a rising status for local and regional governments. This was evident last year in Bonn with the launch of the Talanoa Dialogue and the Bonn Fiji commitment of Local and Regional leaders' from around the world.  It's now time this form of multilevel governance is acknowledged and the role of LRAs formalised in global climate governance.

·  Nationally Determined Contributions fall short in reaching Paris Agreement goals, of limiting global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees, let alone 1,5 degrees.  In order to bridge the emissions gap, we need a system of locally and regionally determined contributions (LDCs) that would complement "Nationally Determined Contributions.

·        A wealth of action to mitigate climate change happens at the local level and we know that action that is not measured is not acknowledged nor encouraged or valued. Yet, these local actions can be the most important actions of all. Making the difference between success and failure. That's why we call for the transparency framework to include, in national inventory reports a dedicated section on mitigation actions undertaken at subnational levels of government as a way to help track the progress towards achieving NDCs.

·   The Talanoa dialogue is of great importance for local and regional authorities as it allows them to make their ambitions, positions and intentions heard. It is also of vital importance to the UNFCCC and national Governments as the feedback we provide from the coalface of action on climate change will help them shape future policy initiatives. A dialogue is not a monologue. We need genuine 2 way communications. Yes we need to be heard but we also need to be responded to as well. We need to integrate the outcomes of the Talanoa Dialogue into the COP negotiating text. And it must also continue beyond COP24.

Members,
Cooperation and inclusivity are part of the solution to address climate challenges. It is essential that the EU and its Member States engage directly with democratically elected regions and other non-party stakeholders, civil society and the private sector. And it is crucial that we speak with a strong single voice at COP24.  As elected members at the closest level to the citizens we are ready to partner with you and contribute to make the world a better place.

 As a UK member of the Committee of the Regions I am clear that Brexit or (I still hope) no Brexit we should continue to work together to achieve the carbon reductions we need and to be frank this may help the UK Government to not slip further behind in our actions. If the UK is in a League of its own it will have no meaningful way of comparing its progress. Together with you we have a much better chance.

Thank you for your attention  

Friday, 18 May 2018

More reflections on the 2018 Kirklees Elections

The headline news was that Labour has taken control of Kirklees Council as well as Plymouth. In reality Labour has pretty much had control anyway in any meaningful sense due to a politically divided opposition. Some times we have used our votes to influence Labour but generally the Cabinet System gives them a disproportional amount of power over the day to day running of the Council. This is of course compounded by the electoral system which means that Labour with 43% of the votes gets 100% of the power.

So what about the notable individual contests. We know Labour had higher ambitions than their achievements which of course is not a bad thing. Certain currently high ranking Labour Councillors had said they were going to win Newsome but of course that didn't happen. More surprising to me was Almondbury. You really got the impression from social media that Labour had thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Almondbury. Shadow Ministerial visits, lots of activists flooding the place, a personable candidate. I mean with a slogan like 'Peace for Almondbury' how can you not win? They didn't and I guess all credit to the Lib Dems for holding on. I remember bumping into a now former Lib Dem Councillor who expressed what I thought was undue confidence about Almondbury, clearly he was right. So my former Kirkburton Parish Council colleague Alison Munro is the new Councillor for Almondbury. She must have worked and walked her socks off, so much respect to her in what must have been a fairly tough contest.

We heard rumours about Crosland Moor and Netherton Ward and the challenge from Mike Forster of TUSC and 'Hands off HRI' but the challenge from him fell short and he came 3rd. A consistent, dedicated campaign from a Party willing to put 2 to 3 years of quality work into the ward could take it off Labour I would have thought, as things stand given their level of visibility in the ward. But a short term campaign is not the way these sort of things happen.

A word or two about Kirkburton and Denby Dale. The Conservatives got re-elected to both with less than 50% of the vote. In Kirkburton Greens are the main challengers and in Denby Dale it is Labour. We had at one time sought an arrangement with Labour on this but culturally &/constitutionally this does not seem possible for Labour so no 'Progressive Alliance' here. Not entirely sure I like the idea anyway. Commiserations to our Kirkburton  Candidate,  Derek Hardcastle who was unsuccessful on this occasion.

Holme Valley North Ward, where I live, proved to be an interesting contest. The Labour Candidate was definitely putting the effort in and was door knocking earlier in the year than is common among many. I was disappointed to get a letter from her with an endorsement from the Independent Councillor Edgar Holroyd Doveton who said he was supporting the 'person' not the 'label'. The only problem was that he didn't reveal that the person was his partner. When I pointed this out on Facebook. I got a bit of abuse from Labour folks who equated what I was saying with 'anti Corbyn smears'  and the other bizarre comment was about a person 'not having to be defined by who their partner was'. Sure but not revealing the relationship and trying to appear objective when you simply couldn't be was obviously a mistake.

Labour won, and the Lib Dems lost both Colne Valley and Golcar Wards, which is where Labour got their Council majority. It was very close in both and the Lib Dems will be kicking themselves over what they could have done. I guess these will continue to be hotly contested Wards.

From a wider Green Party perspective I was pleased to see us achieve 8% of the vote in Greenhead and Holme Valley South Wards with no campaigning. This does make you wonder what would happen if we actually were able to put in a decent effort there. Worth thinking about.

Of course in many of the wards in Kirklees the toughest part is getting selected usually by the Labour Party and there are unfortunately no real contests in those wards. Labour had a leaflet go out in  North Kirklees wards which had an unfortunate reference to the 'Tories shitting on us' due to a bit of cut and paste from a website so I understand. Happy to agree generally with the sentiment but it just shows how unprofessional Labour can be and still get away with it. 'No one person should be blamed' for this error apparently according to the Labour Agent who was responsible for producing the leaflets. Now who was that?






Green Mayors Aplenty!

Cllr Magid Magid Lord Mayor of Sheffield

With the new Municipal Year starting it's a time for ringing the changes in our local Councils. New Leaders perhaps, new people on Cabinets and or Committees and also the role of the Civic (as opposed to elected) Mayors. Now most Greens I know never went into politics thinking of wearing the chains of office, the bling, the robes, the ceremony, the function after function hectic schedule for a whole year but most people regard it as a valuable and unique experience giving an insight into the vast amount of work carried out by volunteers in the community. Then of course there is the fundraising for the Mayors Charity.

Our very own Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner was an enthusiastic and memorable first Green Mayor of Kirklees. Where Julie and others trail blazed we now have a clutch of Green Party people taking up the Civic role this year. This reflects the growing presence and longevity of Greens in Local Government. Headlining most, and virally on social media, is Sheffield's Cllr Magid Magid, a young muslim from Somalia who came here as a refugee and most importantly is a really nice guy. It's been a turbulent and punishing few years for Sheffield Greens but this month they have notched up 1 hold with Alison Teal and 2 new  Green Councillors making a new high of 6 Greens on Sheffield City Council. I've already had a request
Magid with Sheffield Green Cllrs
from a Huddersfield School wanting Magid to speak which would probably upset a whole load of protocols about Mayors being on each others patch. So I'm guessing its not on really.

Also in Yorkshire we have our own long standing Councillor Dilys Cluer who is Deputy Mayor of Scarborough who I've worked closely with recently in Scarborough election campaigns. I doubt she thought much about civic office in her years of campaigning but next year she will no doubt step up to the top job.

In the rest of the country, outside 'Gods Own' , there are quite a number of others. Cllr Cleo Lake will be the Lord Mayor of Bristol. Cllr Susan Murray will be the Mayor of Lewes. Cllr Alex Phillips Deputy Mayor of Brighton City Council. Cllr Martin Schmeirer in Norwich. Elfreide Brambly-Crawshaw, Mayor of Beccles, In Oxford Cllr Craig Simmons is taking on the role of High Sheriff. Ron Gaffney will be Mayor of Knowsley and Cllr Linda Baxter of Stowmarket.

One light hearted theory I heard today for why we have this conjunction of Green Mayors was that the other parties are trying to tie up all our Councillors in ceremonial duties to keep us off the streets. That's not going to happen. If anything they'll be out and about seeing even more people. Good luck to them all. Enjoy your years and enjoy the adventure.