East Surrey Green Party members and supporters came together at a lively and well-attended meeting on the 5th of July, to discuss the many issues brought into sharp focus following the referendum vote last month.
With nearly 30 people in attendance, a wide range of concerns were expressed on the current and historic state of UK democracy, the economic impacts of leaving the EU and the single market, maintaining our environmental protections and our rights, and the failures of our own socio-economic system which has grown inequality, but for which many politicians have sought to blame others rather than their own policies.
We have brought together the views of the meeting, and would like to share the following statement from East Surrey Green Party members and supporters, regarding our current situation and our future direction post-referendum:
We would like to express our support for and solidarity with those facing xenophobia and racist abuse. Concern was raised that some seem to have considered the referendum as open licence to voice their intolerant attitudes, and others have aimed to legitimise this by claiming it to be ‘inevitable fallout’ of the vote.* East Surrey Green Party and supporters condemn this behaviour. All are welcome in East Surrey – xenophobia is not. We note that Surrey Police are urging people to report any such incidents by phoning 101, or 999 in an emergency.
The referendum has highlighted for many the failure of our democracy, and the dishonesty of some of our present politicians. Whilst the Green Party was (and is) committed to honest campaigning, we recognise that many felt that they voted ‘out’ after being misled by the Leave campaign, assisted by the mainstream media. For many, this calls the validity of the referendum result into serious question. A true democracy is an informed democracy, in which people can cast their votes based on accessible facts. Where people feel that they have given their vote to a person or campaign on the basis of false promises and misinformation, it is essential to UK democracy that they have recourse for this.*
We echo the call of the national Green Party for an Alliance of Progressive political parties. Greens are keen to work with other progressive parties to prevent an ultra-right-wing coalition using current political uncertainty to further incite social division or force more austerity on the British public. The Alliance must have at its heart a commitment to change the UK voting system to one of proportional representation – the present UK government was elected by only 24% of the electorate, and we must act now to ensure that all voices in the UK are heard and represented in future.
We urgently need change in the UK’s socio-economic system to redress gaping inequality. Our failed electoral system has led to many feeling disenfranchised; successive governments have used this to gain power and act against the interests of ordinary people by enforcing austerity on the poor while the richest still gain. Rather than allowing politicians and media to blame ‘the other’, Greens want to see inequality redressed and UK politics work in the interests of ordinary people. We need a more equal level of investment across the UK, not just centred on London, a fair tax system where the greatest burden falls on those who have the most, and a living wage and adequate support system to protect those who have the least.
We echo the demands made by Green MP Caroline Lucas’s for:
– A Parliamentary vote on any terms of exit before invoking Article 50, to prevent a small number at the top of Government determining Britain’s future place in the world alone;
– Protection of free movement within the EU, strong environmental protections and workers rights;
– An emergency law which guarantees the rights of non-British nationals already living here in Britain. A non-binding vote on this has taken place in Parliament – we now need firm legislation to provide certainty for everyone who has made a life here;
– The protection of young people’s futures. The majority of young people voted to remain in the EU; the government needs to guarantee continued funding for Erasmus, student exchanges, and EU funded schemes targeted at young people. Under a Green government, 16 and 17 year-olds would have the opportunity to vote in all elections, giving them a voice in determining their future.
The Green Party will continue campaigning for a fair, sustainable society, that works for the common good.
* Since our meeting, we are pleased to see that the #BrexitJustice crowdfunder campaign has launched and is doing well – the campaign is seeking to bring prosecutions against leading ‘Vote Leave’ campaigners based on on fraud, misconduct in public office, undue influence, and possibly inciting racial hatred. Read more here.