Never in the last two decades of UK Green MEPs have we needed to send more Greens to the European Parliament; and yet at this moment of constitutional and climate crisis, we face the isolation of Brexit.
The planet is burning: every day we see more news of extreme weather events – floods and winds and droughts. And the people are beginning to rise up: on the streets with groups such as Extinction Rebellion, and in living rooms thanks to the testimony of David Attenborough. The scientists and the United Nations are clear: we have 12 years left to save the earth. As councils across the country declare a Climate Emergency, the EU Elections in 2019 should be returning a record number of UK MEPs to continue the inspiring work of Jean Lambert, Caroline Lucas, Keith Taylor and Molly Scott Cato. It’s difficult to reconcile the desperate need of our planet for Green voices, with the drawbridge pulling up of Brexit. But maybe, just maybe, a delay will allow for MEP elections, and as a party we have to be prepared.
It would be an incredible opportunity to build on the courageous work of our wonderful MEPs, and I believe I have the skills and experience to do so. On the Isle of Wight, I have stood up for environmental and social equality in two elections to be the Island’s MP and we have grown the vote significantly from 900 to almost 13,000 votes. I have campaigned against fracking, fox hunting and public service cuts, and for peace, refugees, migrants and the LGBTIQA+ community. As a party spokesperson on Education since 2016, I have appeared on national TV, radio and in the press to fight to put on the agenda those issues which other parties ignore: child-centred learning, publicly accountable schools, and prioritising well-being as the way forward for children and adults alike.
On the continent, like many I have been enthused by the spirit and resolve of Greta Thunberg. I was recently in Brussels when young people marched with her through the city and she addressed the politicians, telling them to ‘just listen to the scientists’! I’m also inspired by the civil liberties work of Dutch Green MEP Judith Sargentini and her report to the European Parliament to trigger Article 7 against Viktor Orban’s Hungarian government’s breaches of EU core values. Although the EU is far from perfect, for many years I have been encouraged by the determination of MEPs to speak truth to power and to build a better Europe. I have learnt from the best!
Our challenges of the future - economic disadvantage, political extremism, social inequality and the crisis of climate change – can only be tackled effectively on a global and continental basis. We have no time to waste. The EU is not perfect, but it provides opportunities for beneficial and lasting solutions: I would relish being a part of it as a Green MEP for the South East of England.
Within the European Union, Britain is better able to resolve some of the intractable challenges of our time - to build a secure, prosperous and sustainable future in a world awakening to the harsh reality of climate change.
Britain has a long-standing reputation as a creative hub. My own background, and doctoral research, is in creativity and cognition – the analysis of how we form new ideas. I have lectured in ‘Creativity, Innovation and Invention’ at Imperial College, London working with young scientists to build their skills and confidence in risk-taking, problem-solving and innovation. These are the skills we need to help Britain redefine itself in the wake of Brexit turmoil in order to build a new dynamic relationship with our nearest neighbours.
It is hard to say whether I was brave or foolhardy, but my first encounter with frontline politics was as the Green Party candidate in the 2015 General Election opposing Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP. The experience was both delightful and shocking. Delightful - spending time with my fellow progressives, and shocking – to see facts distorted and monetary value placed above social wellbeing.
Energised by this experience I co-founded, and now chair, South West Surrey Compass - a group of progressives comprising Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, National Health Action party and Independents. We are part of the movement to change our electoral system from ‘first-past-the-post’ to proportional representation. An interim stage in this process is to build progressive alliances on the ground in which local progressive parties agree not to compete against each other, to avoid splitting the vote. We are demonstrating that this can be a positive and productive process. In 2018 we published our book, A New Way of Doing Politics: working together to challenge a ‘safe’ Tory seat, and this year we are publishing a political newspaper.
In 2017 we set up a new local group - the Guildford and Waverley Green Party. We have over two hundred members and a vibrant and growing team of activists. This year we are fielding 15 candidates in the local elections and are confident that radical change can happen even in traditional blue territory. My experience of standing in Parliamentary, County, Borough and Town elections is that we can change the debates, we can shift opinions, and we are good mediators. Currently, I am a Parish Councillor - and take pride and joy in working at grass-roots level.
Asked recently by a student about freedom of speech – my thought was ‘whose freedom?’. We need our MEPs to advocate for the many moderates and under-represented communities currently drowned out in the rage of Brexit. As your Green MEP, I am committing to listening to all communities, learning from all sources, and seeking audacious solutions to the political, economic, social and environmental stresses that challenge our future well-being.
Dr Susan RylandSend question
I’ve been a Green Party member for 15 years and a City Councillor for eight years, with much of that time in a senior role. My reasons for putting myself forward for Green candidate in the European elections stem from a passion for Europe as a progressive political entity and from my political experience as a Councillor.
I was born in Germany and have lived most of my life in the UK. My politics has been formed by an activist upbringing, an academic background in natural environmental sciences to MSc level, and travel. Between the late 1980s and 2000s I travelled in and learned from most of Europe, Pakistan, the US, Central America and west and southern Africa. I spent two years as a volunteer science teacher in Guinea-Bissau, teaching in Portuguese. I worked for 8 years on Angola towards the end of the proxy cold war and maintain involvement with organisations there working on rural climate change adaptation. I joined the Greens soon after moving to Brighton and Hove and campaigned in the 2005 general election (GE), the 2007 locals, 2010 GE when Caroline won, the 2011 locals and thereafter.
Brighton and Hove elected the first Green Council administration in 2011, to the background of Coalition austerity. It was a difficult time but also a time of notable achievements, possibly driven by a sense of urgency as Greens lack the sense of entitlement to power that other parties have. But we have an unequalled passion for change. So in our city we’ve achieved a lot, even in opposition. As Group Finance Lead I recently led our amendments to Labour’s 2019-20 Council budget, putting almost £13m back into services without creating additional cuts. I’m hugely motivated by what has been achieved by Greens locally and would love to put that experience to use at a European level.
The Green Party position on Europe has been clear and prescient. Greens’ longstanding messaging on the environment resonates widely. We now clearly need to fight for a better European Union that addresses governance concerns that may have contributed to elements of the current populist backlash. But we also need to fight for the European Union itself, as with all its flaws it represents a critical bulwark for progressive environmental and social policies. As a natural scientist I identify particularly closely with EU environmental Directives on water, protected species and habitats, waste and environmental impact assessment. I have seen how effective these regulatory frameworks can be; but also how dependent they are on adequately resourced member state enforcement agencies.
With the mainstream UK parties in tatters over Europe, this is a huge opportunity for Greens to gain more seats in the European Parliament to strengthen the critical Green voice. The profile I have developed locally will help build the Green vote. My tenure as a Councillor ends in May 2019 and after that I will be able to devote all my spare time to campaigning for the elections. I hope you can support me.Send question
Our climate emergency will not be resolved by the goodwill of individual governments. We require urgent EU-wide action. We must work together to find solutions to a crisis already causing abnormal weather patterns, human migration and biodiversity loss. The European Union has its limitations and challenges but also a unique potential to solve these truly international problems. The Green Party needs skilled MEPs able to build and lead a more visible movement for change- not just within the EU but also to influence those outside of the EU to join the movement.
As your candidate, I would bring fresh energy and a modern vision for an EU where all people can live in dignity, in peace and within the limits of our planet. I bring a lifetime of commitment to the EU project, and 25 years’ experience working on social and climate justice and in peacekeeping, democratisation and humanitarian sectors across the European region.
I speak fluent French and Spanish and have worked in Portuguese. I have a Degree in European Law and Languages (1st Class), receiving an award for my study on the EU equal pay directive. I have spent ten years supporting the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In Europe, I have worked in Austria, the Balkans, France, Ireland, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Switzerland, Sweden, and the UK. I therefore bring a deep knowledge of issues affecting the European region.
I run a successful consultancy business, working to improve performance and accountability in relation to gender, equalities and human rights in 32 countries across the world. I have significant experience of working with multilateral organisations (EC, UN, OSCE), government (UK and Sweden) as well as international and national NGOs. I would therefore bring a strong understanding of the drivers and mechanics of policy making and organisational change, both from the grassroots and the government perspective.
My experience means I am extremely comfortable and highly skilled in working in a multi-cultural environment. I am an experienced negotiator and facilitator and would use these skills to establish a network of other change agents to ensure that we have a visible platform in which to deliver a coherent, visionary yet practical call for action, based on Green values.
I am a committed Green Party activist- local party leader for 3 years, leading numerous campaigns and events, including as part of the Remain campaign. I am currently a vice chair. I have been a local and parliamentary candidate and am currently the parliamentary candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham. I will be able to stand up to the scrutiny and challenge that being a candidate entails. I am very comfortable with public speaking- from hustings, to local community groups to high level government officials.
I believe that I am well placed to stand as a strong MEP for the Green Party and would put all my experience and passion into this role to ensure that we have a loud, strong and effective Green voice. For our Common Good.Send question
Better is possible, Better is necessary
The word ‘crisis’ is often overused. Not this time. The planet is overheating; the political leaders are failing; the owners of the world’s resources are winning short term profits at the expense of the world and most of its people. This is not new; the shift of wealth and income from the majority to the richest has been underway for 40 years. For 40 years we have known about the impact of carbon burning; we have had Green Parties for 40 years. What is new, of course, is that the consequences are rushing towards us. Anger is rising and, as usual, is being directed towards the others: immigrants, minorities, Moslems, Jews, black people, foreigners, uppity women, etc. Far-right parties are growing, massacres, increasing, Brexit voted for, Trump victorious… None of this is inevitable. We could have a society which makes much better use of our abilities and energy and would allow a decent life for all of us.
This is the context of the UK MEP elections which may or may not take place and in which I would like to be a Green Party candidate.
Waging a powerful campaign:
I have an unfair advantage, which I would like to exploit for the advantage of our party. My brother, Bernie Sanders, has won the attention of very large numbers of British people. I have been identified by the UK media as a person of interest, and they frequently invite me to their programmes. I will have a head start in getting our message before the electorate. We know that our policies are popular but often ignored by the media. I won’t be ignored.
We need to address those elements of policy which are specifically in the province of the European Parliament, but we can ask for votes to allow us to affect UK policy and a strong showing in the European elections will have a major impact on the national scene.
The key message I will be offering is that we can create a new and sustainable energy system, and at the same time create millions of good paying stable jobs. Our slogan can be: Zero carbon, zero poverty. Where we need resources to kickstart the energy investment we can take back some of the wealth, income and taxation which have been redistributed to the famous 1%. This fits well with the gains made by the European Parliament, often with the leadership of our own Green MEPs, making it harder for the rich to evade their taxes. We will oppose the regressive VAT required by the EU. We will argue for the effective use by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England of Green Quantitative Easing, which would support the Health, Social Care and Education we need.
Being an Effective MEP:
I was an Oxfordshire County Councillor and Leader of the Green Group for 8 years. I Hold a JD from Harvard Law School and have worked in private industry, local government, the voluntary sector and academia over 50 years.Send question
The world is changing very quickly, leading not only to unprecedented environmental challenges but also to many people feeling afraid, disenfranchised and angry – fertile ground for populist politics. Whether it’s ‘America First’, a significant vote for the far right in many European countries, or Brexit – we see people torn between the imagined security of popular conservatism – ‘roll back the clock’, ‘build a wall’, ‘pull up the drawbridge’ – or the courage of pushing forward into a new and uncertain world. There has never been a greater need for the voice of radical, hopeful, progressive politics.
The 2019 European elections, if they go ahead, will be dominated by uncertainty and by strong feelings from both progressives and conservatives.
Nevertheless the campaign affords us an opportunity to promote vital and radical Green Party messages of building sustainability and equity into the heart of a new politics, and to highlight the urgent need for transformative policies to keep global warming below 1.5°C.
If Brexit is delayed and British MEPs take their seats, we will have an opportunity to ensure that a post-Brexit UK maintains the greatest possible cohesion with the EU on issues of environmental protection, sustainability and equity. We can also use our influence in the UK to campaign for a People’s Vote and for our continued membership of the EU.
The challenges we face are now global; our solutions must also be global.
I have spent my life working for sustainable development and the protection of our natural world. I’ve lived in Africa and Asia, working on development and conservation projects. I’ve worked on climate change for WWF, on tiger conservation for the Zoological Society of London, and perhaps most pertinently on European wildlife conservation for the European Union. I’ve been a schoolteacher and, a long time ago, a lion keeper at London Zoo.
Through all of this time I’ve been an expert observer and advocate of UK and European political policy, particularly on environment and sustainability issues. But just over two years ago the twin shocks of the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election convinced me to switch from engaged observer to activist, and I joined the Green Party.
In 2017 I stood for the Green Party in the County elections, and I then ran part of the general election campaign to elect Dr Louise Irvine as a ‘progressive alliance’ candidate in South West Surrey. I’m an active member of the Green Party, and last year I was one of the authors of a book (‘A New Way Of Doing Politics’) that set out a new and positive path for progressive politics.
I hope very much to be a candidate for the Green Party in the forthcoming elections; I believe my skills and experience make me a good representative for our Party.Send question
I would like to be selected to represent the South East in the European Parliament elections to be a voice for all young people everywhere. Young people seem to be forgotten about when it comes to politics, which is incredibly frustrating when it is our futures that are being gambled away and dictated for us. We are seen as lazy, disconnected, and uncaring towards politics – this is far from the truth. I have witnessed some of the most intense passion, motivation, drive and love from young people, especially within the Young Greens. From marches, to protests, speeches, and statements... young people truly are the future and I am so excited to see what is in store for the incredible activists we have in the party. It would be incredible to be a support to them, to motivate them and ultimately to represent them and the values we stand for. I am inspired by those around me, including everyone I have met within my time in the party.
I aim to tackle the biggest issue this generation faces – climate change. I am incredibly passionate about reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels, and instead investing in renewable energy sources such as offshore wind farms, biomass and solar energy. We need to do more to save the planet that we currently live on, not only to make it habitable, but to make it a happy, healthy and safe place for not only us but future generations to come.
I am constantly striving towards a more equal society. We should not only accept, but embrace other cultures and how beautiful the world is. We can resolve conflict through communication and respect & I believe I have the patience to do this.
To have a more equal society, we must tackle a few issues: it is vital that we end gender inequality and tackle some of the challenges women face everyday. From the pay gap, to the sexualisation of women's bodies, I would like to work towards ensuring women are given the same opportunities as men and are able to choose their own path in life. I would like to be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to fight for their rights. Everyone deserves to love who they love, and be who they believe themselves to be – and we should all respect that. As a white woman, I understand my privileges in life – and I would like to use this privilege to ensure that we are constantly fighting for the rights of POC. To my POC & LGBTQIA+ friends, I will never stand in front of you in the fight for your right to exist. I will however gladly stand next to, or behind you, and be who you need me to be.
I would like to do my bit to ensure we are making the world a better place, through tackling climate change, promoting youth engagement, and ensuring we live in a fair and equal society.Send question
I’d like to be a candidate with a view to strengthening our ties to the EU, and also to work towards reform of the internal processes that have been the subject of so much criticism during the Brexit debate.
I would also seek to increase engagement with UK voters and the EU parliament for similar reasons. I feel the disconnection between the EU and UK electorate has been at the heart of the whole Brexit ‘adventure’ and we need to see a better and more fulfilling relationship.
Moreover we need to be making it clearer to UK residents the positive aspects of our membership of the EU, not just in financial terms but also as part of a global co-operative society. If we are to remain in the EU in the long term, we need to be building a more consensual and trusting relationship within the UK to show people here that they do benefit from membership. We also need to dispel the myths and encourage positive democratic involvement with the EU parliamentary process.
As a fervent internationalist I want to see a coming together of all countries, not just in the EU, but all nations as part of an international network that looks forward to a more stable planet on economic, environmental and social levels.
Of course as a Green MEP I’d want to work towards greater international co-operation on measures to deal with climate change, reverse our reliance on fossil fuels and achieve a carbon neutral position. I’d also be looking to challenge the received wisdom on continual economic growth and whilst encouraging more sustainable forms of ethical entrepreneurism and small businesses. I’d also look to be an advocate for increased animal and human rights and social justice.
I’d like to work with other progressive parties within the EU parliament to place Europe at the centre of a global unification campaign. With so much political and religious division around the world and increasing levels of political polarisation and extremism, we need a united nations of Europe in both a notional and actual sense.
Huge socio-economic forces such as China, the USA and India are poised to become dominant without a cohesive European model of co-operation and leadership. Other states such as Russia and some of the middle eastern countries are potential sources of disruption that we will need to be wary of for the immediate future.
On a more positive note I’d like to be a part of an EU that encourages dialogue between nations and ensures that there is universal access to important human rights such as health, education and a safe place to live and work.
After the upheavals of Brexit and the associated undercurrents of discontent that seem to be emanating from some other member states, I think we should be moving the EU toward a position of a global exemplar of democratic progressiveness and an arbiter of justice and peace., carving out a pivotal political role for the organisation on the world stage.
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for North Oxfordshire