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.