My speech at the Green Party conference September 2015

Hello conference, Prynhawn Dda
We have had an incredible year in Wales. Our membership has gone up 10 fold since the last Assembly elections, we have 9 new Local Parties, making a total of 14, and we gained six times more votes in the General Election than last time.
We took part in the televised Welsh leader debates, had unprecedented coverage in the press and media, and gained new support from right across Wales.
Yes we are feeling buoyant! And with the Welsh Assembly elections coming up on May 5th 2016, we have every reason to be so, because we are tipped to get as many as 3 Welsh Assembly seats.

Continue reading My speech at the Green Party conference September 2015

Swansea Syrian Refugee Crisis (September 2015)

In 2010 I stayed, pretty much accidentally, for 3 weeks in Syria, and I want to paint you a picture:

Of the beautiful souks of Aleppo, the silks, the spices, the smells and the lamps and the jewels, a fabulous Aladdin’s cave running for miles under the city.

All gone now. Just ruins.

Of the young people crowded into the café’s of Lattakia at night. Chatting over their pizzas and coffee without a care in the world…

Of the shoe shop owner who would not let me pay for shoes because of the tiny Palestinian badge I wore…

Of the families who took us in and fed us round their kitchen tables, who offered us hot showers because ours were cold…

Of the orange groves and the beaches, and the glorious daily markets bursting with food in this self-sufficient land…

And the livery companies, the carpenters, the bakers, who fed us every night for almost 3 weeks when we could not get visas to Egypt…

All gone, almost everything gone. I have seen the pictures.

These people did not want a war, were not prepared for war. They were just like us, living their lives. They were not especially unhappy with Assad, but they did draw my attention to the US sponsored TV stations. Propaganda they said, shrugging their shoulders.

Now, as a result of our government medalling in the Middle East, as a result of WMD which did not exist, and the cruel war on the people of Iraq, followed by the disbanding of their army and police force, a vacuum was created. And there is nothing a vacuum likes more than to be filled. That’s elementary science, and ISIS filled the vacuum, and they grew.

Now, millions are on the move, and sensibly they are moving to lands of peace. Sensibly mothers are sending their sons and daughters first, the ones who are fit and able, who can work, and build a new life. The ones most likely to survive the journey.

But lately it has got worse. With the Syrian army bombarding on one side, ISIS indiscriminately cutting throats, and now the UK bombing from above, nowhere is safe. We have seen whole families, desperation in their faces, turn to traffickers for help, because no one else would. We have stood by and let them drown. Worse, our government has enacted policies NOT to rescue people coming across the Med. So we have been forced to watch helplessly, wringing our hands as little bodies are washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean. We could launch a modern day Dunkirk to rescue them, but we have not. We could extend a corridor of humanitarian help across Europe, but we have not.

People talk to me about looking after our own homeless first. But I tell you that the plight of our own homeless is a political choice. Our government chooses not to help them, just like it chooses to let innocent families drown. Our government chooses to bomb Syria, knowing full well that pouring violence on to violence has never been a solution to anything.

The money is there, just ask the 10% who own almost half the wealth. The money is there, just look at the £375 billion in QE to bail out – not flimsy little boats full of desperate humanity – but to bail out the already rich bankers.

I want to live in a country which looks after the homeless, the disabled and the old. I want to live in a country prepared to share its riches evenly as a matter of course.

This is our chance. This is our chance to forget the soap operas, the racism, the phobias and the selfishness. This is our chance to be human.

We can make room for more than 20 Syrian families. We can make room for 20,000 Syrian families. Forget the Thatcherite selfishness that has been drummed into you. Move over a little and take these war torn people into your hearts.

You know, and I know, that David Cameron’s 5 a day is barely a drop in the ocean. Let’s not build a fence around Wales; let’s not put barbed wire round our hearts; let’s be the best we can be, and open our arms to those in their hour of need.

I know it’s not just Syrians in trouble. People are escaping war in Iraq, in Libya, Eritrea and more. But the UN says the Syrians are the most vulnerable group of all

Today we are asking for 20 Syrian families to come to Swansea. No one can refuse that – but we can do so much better!

Budget Day Speech Newport (8th July 2015)

If the budget was about working people, it was only about rich working people. Those on low incomes are going to lose billions from tax credits. Some of those tax credits will be halved.

You never want to be poor under a Tory government, or young, or disabled.

The National Living Wage ( new national minimum wage by another name)– sounds good, but not if you are under 25. Let’s remember the Living Wage Commission included Tax Credits in their calculation, so this is not the gift it seems at first sight. In fact it could make some families up to £3000 a year worse off.

Welfare spending cuts will hit Wales hard, Climate Levy abolition and more road building will make it almost impossible to cut carbon emissions. It certainly won’t help the 50 coastal communities in Wales already earmarked by the WG to be abandoned to the rising sea.

This was an awful budget for the Under 25’s. No wonder the Tories don’t want to lower the voting age. The scrapping of student maintenance grants on top of exorbitant tuition fees, will bring a depressing new level of debt. Young people courageous enough to invest in their own education will be paying too much for an education from which society will ultimately benefit.

This was a budget for rich people running rich companies. Nothing for carers who save the Health Service billions a year; nothing to give us good public transport and help us lower our carbon emissions.

It was a definite heads up to roadbuilding, yet the £1b to be spent on the M4 in Newport is just creating more emissions and devastating the Gwent levels. The money should be diverted to the SE Wales Light Rail network where it will help us all, and the climate.

If the budget was about security, it failed on every count. Pouring more money into warfare and weapons of mass destruction has a horrible habit of backfiring into violence on our doorstep. Pouring no money into climate change measures will increase the tide of immigration from war zones as other countries become uninhabitable.

Climate change is here to stay, and we should morally and practically be doing our bit to stop its worst effects. But Money is God, ethics and morality have become unaffordable.

The Greens stood up to be counted, and costed a manifesto which not only mitigated the effects of Climate Change , not only put in place a £10 Living wage, not only decreased the deficit, but kept our precious welfare system intact whilst improving and expanding our Health Services.

Wales is a poor country. £1m Inheritance tax thresholds are not going to affect us, but we are not going to let the poor take the pain again. Where is the opposition? Where is Welsh Labour when it’s not busily doling out the Tory cuts?

There is an election next year. Look at our manifesto. Next time vote for a party with a bit of spine, and Vote Green.