Stuart acknowledges ‘tough result’ but applauds desire for change

Stuart Tuckwood, the defeated Green MP Candidate for Cambridge, has acknowledged a difficult result for the local party but has applauded the high turnout amongst young people and the evident desire for change.

Stuart gained 1265 votes locally, a significant drop on the 4000+ the Greens gained at the 2015 general election.

Speaking after the announcement of the result, Stuart said;

‘It’s a tough result for us. We fought so hard and I’m extremely proud of all our members and volunteers who put so much in to help me throughout this campaign.

We’ve had great feedback from so many people who attended hustings or spoke to us on the doors. Unfortunately it was clear to me for quite a while that large numbers of our supporters were planning to vote tactically to send the strongest message they felt was possible about their rejection of Brexit or the government‘s agenda.

I can understand that and just wish we had an electoral system that allowed people to always vote for what they believed in.

Having said that, I take nothing away from Daniel and the Labour team in Cambridge, and nationally, who obviously fought an excellent campaign.

I’m so glad to see a high turnout amongst the young and am happy they’ve backed a message of hope and change nationally. Many of the policies and messages the Labour Party have campaigned are causes the Greens have pushed in recent years and so we should be proud of the influence we have had.

We won’t be going away. We have recruited many new volunteers and have much to contribute to politics in Cambridge in the future.’

Stuart will write more about the result and pay thanks to those involved in the near future.

If you want change, you have to vote for it

Finally, tomorrow is election day.

I’ve said throughout this election campaign and I’ll say it again, this election is so important for a number for a reasons.

Firstly, the next parliament will be the one entrusted to make decisions about our withdrawal from the EU. Brexit is not the only issue at stake in this election but how we handle it will have so much bearing on the future of the country, of our economy, our public services and our society.

Secondly, our public services are on the brink. I’ve been totally honest with people throughout this campaign. I don’t want to scaremonger but I know the NHS will not make it through another 5 years of underfunding and privatisation in the same form, nurses and doctors around the country have joined me in telling you this. We’re hearing the same from teachers and workers in our other public services.

Lastly, we need the next parliament to undertake a serious and dramatic shift in dealing with the threat of climate change. Research shows we have 4 years before we blow the carbon budget for keeping us to 1.5 degrees of global warming, the point at which climate change becomes rapidly uncontrollable. A high proportion of known fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned if we are to keep within that budget.

In Cambridge I understand you face a difficult choice. Both Julian Huppert and Daniel Zeichner are fairly popular, progressively minded candidates. But they both represent political parties which are unable to rise to the above challenges.

Labour are split down the middle on how to handle Brexit, promising controls on immigration and a pro-Brexit line in certain places and a very different line here. They remain committed to faster economic growth and more support for the oil and gas industry that threatens our future. They do not support the electoral reform that would allow you gain proper representation.

The Liberal Democrats cannot be trusted to provide the serious challenge to a Conservative Party they spent 5 of the last 7 years working with. Their legacy from their time in government is a shattered welfare system, more debt for young people and an NHS breaking apart.

In contrast, more Green MP’s at Westminster could be transformative.

I would wholeheartedly campaign for the changes to Westminster and our voting system that would give you real choice in the future.

On Brexit we would provide a tough challenge to whatever government we have. Caroline Lucas stood up for the rights of EU migrants and scrutinised the government closely on Article 50.

Other Green MP’s such as myself would focus on protecting what’s important, standing up for the free movement of people and the environmental and workplace protections we need. Green politicians like Molly Scott Cato, an economist, MEP and campaigner on international tax justice, are just what parliament needs now. We will fight for the public to have their say on the final deal, the best way of ensuring we get a future we genuinely want.

I would be a passionate and intelligent advocate for our public services. Greens understand that our NHS must be publicly owned and are the only party committed to the BMA backed ‘NHS Reinstatement Bill’ which would restore the public nature of the health service and ensure it remains comprehensive.

Unlike Daniel and Julian I have direct, everyday experience of the NHS frontline. I have led thousands strong campaigns to protect treatments and as a UNISON steward have experience of fighting to protect services.

Locally I would stand against the plans to remove £540 million from the regional NHS. These plans will harm people and I will do everything in my power to stop them happening. You can trust my experience and commitment in this.

And whilst Brexit affects everything, the failure to prevent runaway climate change will undermine everything. Man made climate change is already having devastating effects, driving great migrations and costing hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

The environment has barely been talked about at this election, both locally and nationally. With Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement we must take serious action in the next parliament. Only the Green Party has the evidenced based policies to make the changes we need.

I fully understand people’s frustration with our voting system and the desire to vote tactically. I hear people’s concerns that a vote for me would be a ‘wasted’ vote.

I believe the only wasted vote is one for a party that won’t address these great challenges of our times. Voting tactically this time puts the Greens a further five years away from achieving the parliamentary representation the country badly needs.

At all the debates and hustings I have attended, people have heard my message and decided to vote Green. Floating voters interviewed after our recent BBC Cambridge debate decided to back me. Our backing surged and others dropped when we debated infront of university students. Green Party policies this time around have proven to be the most popular amongst the Cambridge public in an online survey yet again.

You can trust I would never support a Tory government and would work with others when needed to achieve what we believe in.

If you vote Green tomorrow you send a message that you want real solutions to our problems. You send a message that you want real change. You send a message that you want a better, fairer, sustainable country.

Vote for the future you believe in. Thankyou.

We can’t lose £543 million from the local NHS

The people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have suffered more than most from the reorganisation, underfunding and fragmentation of the NHS in recent years.

Our proud local Addenbrooke’s hospital fell into special measures, under intense pressure. The attempts to reorganise services for the elderly in the ‘Uniting Care Partnership’ collapsed with a huge bill for public. The experiment of running Hinchingbrooke Hospital with a private provider also failed disastrously.

I have consistently scrutinised these plans and campaigned for better funding and for services to be retained in public hands. I have led a campaign and a thousands strong petition to ensure IVF remains an option for couples locally (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-ivf-treatment-on-the-nhs-in-cambridgeshire-and-peterborough).

Plans being secretively drawn up around the country, known as ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’, with very little involvement from frontline staff or patients, are planning to make huge ‘efficiency’ savings from local budgets on top of everything that has done so far.

The slice demanded of our region? The plan says we will need to adjust services to make up a deficit of £543 million by 2020/2021.

I’ve been absolutely clear. Saving that amount is impossible without costing lives or the care that people need. I’ve said this before (http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/health/addenbrookes-green-party-nurse-cambridge-12935395).

In the longer term integrating health and social care budgets is an idea that has merit. We should be investing in public health and preventative services to relieve the strain on hospitals and help people stay healthy in the first place. But the budgets for these services, with local authorities, have been slashed in recent years by government. Sexual health and preventative health services have subsequently been cut back.

We cannot have genuine and beneficial transformation of health services whilst attempting to save hundreds of millions from local budgets.

No-one I have spoken to involved in this process, including some of those at the highest level, believes this is possible. They are being forced into this by central government.

Labour have said they will review these programmes. Only the Greens have promised to scrap them.

And out of your local candidates I am the one who has followed this process and challenged it at every step. I have seen the devastating effects of cutbacks in the NHS and social care. If elected I will do everything in my power to prevent them going ahead.

The climate must not be forgotten, the UK must lead

At the Paris Climate talks in 2015, agreement was reached to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

The agreement is a potential lifeline for many of the poorest people around the world. The poorest 2 billion people have caused less than 10% of historic greenhouse gas emissions, yet are most at risk from man made climate change.

Global warming of 1.5 degrees will still have a damaging effect on the planet and all who live here. It will result in an increase in the severity of extreme weather, a reduction in the availability of water, falls in the yields of staple crops and sea-level rises. Drought across parts of Africa is currently putting 6 million lives at risk in Somalia alone. Some estimates suggest that 400,000 deaths per annum are the result of climate change.

At 2 degrees of warming, however, the risks increase dramatically and disproportionately. In areas such as North Africa and the Levant, water scarcity would become severe. In tropical and coastal areas, ocean acidification and sea level rises already disrupt the livelihoods of entire regions and threaten widespread coastal flooding, this would worsens severely. Feedback loops which prevent out of control global warming would begin to unravel.

New analysis has revealed that in the next four years, without serious change, we will burn enough carbon to make limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees impossible.

The general election here, whilst a climate change denier sits in the White House, must focus minds. By the time our next Prime Minister, whoever he or she may be, calls the next election (assuming no more surprises!), we will have blown our chance to prevent this disaster, unless they have enacted serious and urgent change.

There are reasons to hope.

The costs of renewable energy and cleaner technologies are dropping quickly. The UK electricity grid ran entirely without coal for the first time since the industrial revolution recently. Various cities around Europe and the world have set ambitious goals for becoming ‘zero-carbon’ in the coming years.

But we must be realistic.

Making this change requires serious decisions and bravery, of the type establishment politicians have not yet shown themselves capable of.

Ending further fossil fuel exploration. Stopping fracking. Making big changes to our homes, our workplaces and our transport system.

Developed countries such as ourselves must lead. And forward thinking cities such as Cambridge must drive change. Local institutions, such as the University, must immediately lead by divesting their money from fossil fuel companies.

Civic society in Cambridge must join our call for Cambridge to aim to be the country’s first ‘zero carbon’ society.

Don’t let climate change be forgotten this June.

What a Green MP could do for Cambridge

Tonight I’m giving a talk on our Green Guarantees for the UK (read here, https://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/gp2017/greenguaranteepdf.pdf) and what they could mean for Cambridge.

Here’s a preview of what I believe the main issues facing Cambridge to be and why electing more Green MPs will help us solve these problems.

At many of our hustings so far the focus has been on Brexit. What happens next as we negotiate our withdrawal from the EU will undoubtedly have significant ramifications for Cambridge, for our businesses, for the universities, for public services and for the wider city community.

In a seat where 74% of the residents voted to remain and where all of the Green, Labour and Lib Dem candidates are pro-EU it’s right that people should think about who is best placed to defend their interests.

I would argue that the focus should not be on the number of MPs that the candidate’s party is likely to return to Westminster. Labour’s toothless negotiation over the triggering of Article 50, which ended with them failing to win any significant concession, proves that the quality of scrutiny will not necessarily be related to the size of the opposition. The fairly poor polling of the Lib Dem means they are very unlikely to return MPs in significant numbers either.

In which case I believe what will matter most will be the focus of that MP and their party and what they fight to protect. The Green Party is united in defending the free movement of people, which has so benefited Cambridge, and in ensuring there will be no race to the bottom in terms of environmental or workplace regulations. We want the process to be accountable and so will demand a vote be held once the terms of the deal are known, with the option of remaining in the EU.

Importantly I have been very outspoken in favour of the rights of EU nationals and the benefits of migration, we need this said more than ever before.

80% of our environmental protections are derived from EU law and Andrea Leadsom at DEFRA has indicated up to a third of these could be lost during the withdrawal. I will join the campaign for an Environmental Protection Act to ensure that safeguards for nature and the climate are not lost and that sustainable food and farming are promoted.

But this is election is not just about Brexit, there are other huge issues at stake for Cambridge.

The privatisation and fragmentation of the NHS, allowed to expand at an accelerated rate by the decisions of the coalition government, which our former MP Julian Huppert was a part of, has caused huge damage to our local NHS. His party’s promise to increase NHS funding is hollow unless they commit, like us, to reversing privatisation.

This privatisation and underfunding has led to Addenbrooke’s being placed in special measures, to the collapse of the Uniting Care Partnership, to the disastrous running of Hinchingbrooke Hospital by a private provider. Now ‘sustainability’ plans are being drawn up which are asking for a further £543 million worth of savings annually by 2020.

I am the only candidate in Cambridge to have direct experience of these failings and what they have meant for people. I have called personally for the region’s ‘Sustainability’ plan to be scrapped and for urgent funding for the local health service. Only Green MPs will be committed to the NHS Reinstatement Bill, backed by the British Medical Association, which would roll back privatisation and reinstate the Government’s duty to provide a universal, comprehensive health system.

People in Cambridge will also rightly be asking what their MP will be able to do to address the unavailability of affordable housing locally. This is a question I hear very regularly.

As someone with direct recent experience of the private rented sector I understand the frustrations of many people who have no other choice, who face insecure tenancies, rising rents and often poor quality housing. We would aim for a ‘living rent’ through rent controls in high pressure areas, introduce longer term tenancies and support mandatory licencing of landlords to ensure homes are up to the right standards.

Unlike Labour, who had 13 years in Government to do so, I would push for England to follow the example of Scotland and Wales and end the ‘Right to Buy’ policy to stop the sell off of council homes.

This would ensure council and social homes in Cambridge remained an option for young people and those on low incomes in the future.

We are committed to ensuring the mass building of social, rented homes, and intend to balance the housing market by reducing incentives to buy to let and supporting community led approaches to house building.

I’m also often asked what we would do to improve transport locally. Regionally we have put a lot of thought into our strategic vision for the transport system (https://cambridge.greenparty.org.uk/site/Cambridge/files/Transport_Policy_2017.pdf) but there is a lot I would expect our next MP to campaign on nationally which could help improve transport in the city.

We need to deal with air pollution as a matter of urgency, it’s a problem that
causes up to 250 excess deaths in and around Cambridge every year.

We want a Clean Air Act which enshrines people’s right to breathe clean air and would look at fining the large car manufacturers involved in cheating emissions tests, as in America, and using the money to invest in cleaner and active transport. I would campaign to increase vehicle excise duty on new diesel vehicles and use the funds to target a scrappage scheme for older diesel vehicles.

And we need a dramatic improvement in public transport to help people out of their cars and make the alternatives more attractive. We would fund free public transport for young people by switching subsidies away from aviation, helping the young get in the habit of using public transport. As your local MP I would campaign for local authorities to be able to re-regulate local buses or even operate their own services. This would end the monopoly held by Stagecoach and improve the affordability and effectiveness of local services.

As the MP for Cambridge I would also stand up for what’s important to local residents. This city shouldn’t be subject to unlimited, uncontrolled growth that drastically changes its character or makes it impossible for local people to live here affordably.

I’ve campaigned against the City Deal busway plans for the West Field and would insist on proper consultation with residents if I was our local MP. We also need investment in resources for communities such as libraries and community centres.

There is so much more that a Green MP could deliver for Cambridge. Hope and help for young people, better support for those on low incomes in the city, real action to prioritise home insulation and reduce fuel poverty. You can read all of these and more in the full outline of our ‘Green Guarantees.’

I know that, as ever, people are concerned about tactical voting. However, with the Conservatives not holding a single council seat in Cambridge there is no fear they can win this election in the City.

Around the country we have been grown up and committed enough to stand down to allow Labour or the Liberals the best chance of beating the Conservatives. That is the right decision to make with our broken voting system.

But in Cambridge you can vote Green without that fear and help us build towards victory. Caroline Lucas would not have been elected in Brighton in 2010 without voters being brave enough to back the Greens in previous elections. She is now extremely popular in Brighton. I am confident we can do the same for Cambridge in the longer term, we have lots of support in this city, but we need people to be brave and vote for what you believe in.