Shahrar Ali selected as Green Party’s No.3 for London Assembly 2016: ERSL Recount result 12 Nov 2015

Shahrar Ali today selected as Green Party's list candidate No.3 for London Assembly.

Shahrar Ali today selected as Green Party’s list candidate No.3 for London Assembly.

Shahrar Ali selected as Green Party’s No.3 candidate for London Assembly list election 2016.

Deputy Leader confirmed as No.3 list candidate on London Green Party Recount at ERSL, 12 Nov 2015

Shahrar Ali, number three on the Greens London assembly list and Deputy Leader of the Green Party was the main beneficiary of a recount requested by London Green Party and conducted by Electoral Reform Services today. Shahrar said:

“I feel honoured and humbled that members have chosen me as one of their lead candidates and hugely excited at the prospect that Londoners could return their first BME Green to City Hall. It’s gratifying, and comes as a huge relief, to finally know the true result of a hotly contested ballot of over 12,000 members held over the summer, that had to be recounted due to discovery of a significant mistake in the count instructions given by us.”

“Amongst my priorities, I will give voice to tackling the everyday prejudice or downright racism faced by ethnic minorities. Greens will fight your corner, whether combating illicit racial profiling by police or confronting the Islamophobia in our schools and colleges fostered by the government’s Prevent programme.”

“As a lifelong Londoner, I would relish the opportunity to represent and serve Londoners’ interests from City Hall. As part of a great Green team, I would tackle the problems faced by ordinary people and the poverty-stricken, whether those marginalised by work which doesn’t pay, public transport that doesn’t come cheap, or by housing that banks on developers and investors at families’ expense. Only Greens are able to offer the radical vision and joined up approach that Londoners desperately need and deserve.”

Ronald Stewart, member of Haringey Green Party, who originally noticed the count error and raised the alarm, said:

“The quota for the election had been set lower than specified by the London Green Party framework, as a requirement of STV. This gave an incorrect result which did not proportionally reflect the voters’ wishes.”

Notes.

The results of the recount will be ratified at the next London regional meeting on 16 November 2015.

The full list of candidates is ordered now as follows:

1. Sian Berry
2. Caroline Russell
3. Shahrar Ali
4. Jonathan Bartley
5. Noel Lynch
6. Rashid Nix
7. Tom Chance
8. Dee Searle
9. Benali Hamdache
10. Andrea Carey Fuller
11. RoseMary Warrington

Reserve 1. Peter Underwood
Reserve 2. Michael Gold
Reserve 3. Barry Cooper

Electoral Reform Services Voting Report for London Green Party Londonwide List ballot

Electoral Reform Services Voting Report for London Green Party Londonwide List ballot

Posted in Uncategorized

Green BME Group Launched at Spring 2015 Conference: Plus Candidate Interviews

In September 2014, in my inaugural speech as Deputy Leader, I spoke about the need for greater ethnic diversity in the party. Still, a recent GPEW survey found that ethnicity is the main area where greater effort for representation is needed – over 97% of respondents were white in comparison to 86% nationwide. An article in the Evening Standard today claims that “Greens have fewer ethnic minority candidates than any other party including UKIP“. Their figures give us 4% to UKIP’s 6% with LibDem 10%, Labour 9% and Conservative 11%. The contention that one in seven of our candidates in London is from a BME background, is dealt short shrift in the public comments to the article – that’s just 14% when the capital boasts 55% BME.

Launch of the Green BME Group, Spring Conference 2015, Liverpool, 7 March.

Launch of the Green BME Group, Spring Conference 2015, Liverpool, 7 March.

I have always maintained that we must resolve as a Party to tackle this deficit of credibility collectively. It may not happen fast but it does need to happen. That means the issue has to be on everybody’s radar in consideration of daily political plans and organisation. I have been especially encouraged by the development of a national BME group within the Party – launched at the Spring Conference 2015 in Liverpool. The impact of this group remains to be tested, but if the vibrancy of the discussion at the first meeting is anything to go by, then we have a solid foundation for future work. I was invited to address the Launch event and spoke of what I took to be some key priorities for the Party at large, to do with BME visibility, recruitment, promotion and outreach. In the ensuring discussion there were some criticisms aired about how the Party does things, but an overall sense of optimism that some things could be rectified and others progressed.

I interviewed three candidates after the launch and am delighted to make the audio recording available here. Enjoy!

Elizabeth Ward, candidate for St Helens North

Elizabeth Ward, candidate for St Helens North with Shahrar Ali

Shahrar Ali with Abbey Akinoshun, candidate for Greenwich & Woolwich and James Chan, candidate for St Helens South & Whitson

Shahrar Ali with Abbey Akinoshun, candidate for Greenwich & Woolwich and James Chan, candidate for St Helens South & Whitson

Related links: A video of my inaugural speech is available here; a blogpost articulating some of my reasons for the topic here; and some twitter reaction here.

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Posted in Democratic Politics, Elections

Deputy Leader Shahrar Ali speech to Spring Conference 2015: Climate Change and Green Leadership

Here are some recordings and twitter reaction to my Green Party speech to Spring 2015 Conference. On Climate Change and Green Leadership.

Shahrar Ali Speech to Green Party Spring 2015 Conference, Liverpool

Shahrar Ali Speech to Green Party Spring 2015 Conference, Liverpool

Audio recording: complete with “We’re Alright!” gag.

Transcript of Speech:

You Tube video on GPEW channel

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Posted in Climate Change, Democratic Politics, Elections, Natural World

Green Party Crowdfunding Success: Deputy Leader TV interview

Green Party Deputy Leader Shahrar Ali interviewed Live on Russia Today on funding for political parties and recent Green Party fundraising success ahead of General Election 2015. 19 Feb 2015.

Main points:
GP Governing exec approved idea and fundraiser in party office promoted this way of raising funds, esp for deposits.

We want to be standing a maximum number of candidates in the General election.

Great way for people to get involved through social media. Lots of people putting a little bit in can get quite a lot.

We’ve never had a lot of cash and always had to run elections on a shoestring budget, but gives us a certain resilience.

Politics isn’t about money. It’s about ideas. One of the reasons people gravitating towards us.

Mainstream parties falling out of favour due to producing endless amounts of literature on voters’ doorsteps.

We aim to get our message across with less literature, better for the planet. But also using all other various media, eg. success of Vote for Policies website.

In the long term we do advocate state funding, but don’t advocate the way Conservatives increased expenditure limit that they slipped under the radar just before Christmas.

We need to take politicised nature of donations out of the picture. We need everybody on an even keel.

Even local elections don’t require deposit, a model which has worked very well wholesale in Republic of Ireland.

GP raised 195k through this model so far.

People want to see direct connection between money donating and what it’s going to do.

Clear connection here – just to put your money towards us to be able to stand is a great thing for people to want to be able to do.

ENDS.

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Posted in Democratic Politics, Elections

Green Party included in Election Book Series: Why Vote Green 2015

Press Release: originally posted here.

WVGcover_lowres

The Green Party is pleased to announce its inclusion in the Why Vote book series, aimed at introducing the general reader to party policies ahead of the general election 2015. In the Greens’ edition, out on 29 January, Deputy Leader Shahrar Ali has recruited some of the Greens’ leading thinkers and activists to explore how the party provides a credible left-wing alternative to Labour in 2015.

Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly Member said:

“Green politics in the UK has been gaining rapid momentum in recent times. Membership and public support for the party is growing and voting Green is becoming a viable option for more and more people. Read Why Vote Green 2015 to find out what makes the Green Party tick and what its vision for the future looks like.”

Among the contributors are Molly Scott Cato Green MEP for the South West on Economy, Sarah Cope, Chair of Green Party Women on Women’s Politics, Deputy Leader Amelia Womack on Young People and Politics, Adam Ramsay on Constitutional Reform, and former Labour minister Tony Clarke on International Affairs.

Baroness Jenny Jones, writing of the three crises in the Foreword, said:

“Increasing numbers of people are mobilising against climate change. Increasing numbers of people reject the austerity agenda. Increasing numbers of people see the inadequacies in our political system. These people often think that all the parties are the same and that there is no one to vote for. Fortunately, they are wrong. The Green Party sees the crises clearly and has the policies to address all three of them.”

Shahrar Ali, Green Party Deputy Leader and editor of Why Vote Green 2015 said:

“It’s vital for Greens to be included at every turn, from the leader debates to an election book series. I feel proud to share with you our party’s key policies, commitments and ambitions in the voice of some of our leading spokespersons and activists. Why Vote Green 2015 creates a compelling case for the Greens as a party of government.”

Dame Vivienne Westwood said:

“There’s absolutely no other choice but Green. The others are all the same.”

NOTES

1. Full list of chapters and contributors: Foreword – Jenny Jones, Green Values – Shahrar Ali, Climate Change – David Flint, Economy – Molly Scott Cato, Education – Martin Francis, Women’s Politics – Sarah Cope, Welfare – Noel Lynch, Home Affairs – Peter Cranie, Young People and Politics – Amelia Womack, Constitutional Reform – Adam Ramsay, Housing – Tom Chance, Transport – Caroline Russell, Environment – Shasha Khan, International Affairs – Tony Clarke, Animals – Caroline Allen.

2. Why Vote Green 2015 https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/why-vote-green-2015

Invite - WVG

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Posted in Climate Change, Cuts, Democratic Politics, Elections, Green Economics, International, Society, Transport

Bhopal 30 Years On: City Hall Appeal

On 21 November 2014, Navin Shah AM hosted an event in City Hall to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Bhopal Chemical Disaster, supported by the Bhopal Medical Appeal, Asian Voice newspaper and Amnesty International. Representatives from community groups, businesses and charities came together to reflect on the disaster, the injustice of Dow Chemicals walking away from their moral and legal responsibilities, but especially the scale of the human impact then and now. The event combined music and dance, delicious cuisine, speeches from campaigners, video footage, and a fundraiser auction.

I was particularly moved by the video of children from the Changari Rehabilitation Centre introducing themselves, several of whom crawled to the camera, full of smiles before saying who they were. This was their thank you to the Bhopal Medical Appeal, making an invaluable and necessary contribution to the lives of second or third generations still affected by intoxication during pregnancy or from water. (see facebook)

Navin Shah hosts City Hall event on Bhopal 30 Years On, 21 November 2014

Navin Shah hosts City Hall event on Bhopal 30 Years On, 21 November 2014

Navin Shah is to be commended for organising such a successful programme and to help to remind us what work still needs to be done. He spoke of  ”solidarity and conscience”.

Farah Edwards Khan, survivor of Bhopal and activist

Farah Edwards Khan, survivor of Bhopal and activist

We heard from Bhopal survivor Farah Edwards Khan, ten years old at the time. Her statements were telling and moving: “On the hill were lying people. Either they were dead or they were in great pain.” Speaking of the victims years later, “They didn’t want sympathy. They wanted human dignity.”

Amnesty International UK

Amnesty International UK

Amnesty director [ed. name check] spoke about Bhopal as an “institutional failure”, especially of Dow not being brought to justice. He compared the $20bn compensation awarded to the victims of the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster, and rightly so, to the fraction of that given to Bhopal victims. He called for an immediate clean-up of the site, and compensation, rehabilitation and proper remedy for the survivors. He warned that if those responsible for human rights violations were not held to account, then it was more likely to happen again.

Darren Johnson speaks of Bhopal as one of the reasons for his political calling all those years ago.

Darren Johnson speaks of Bhopal as one of the reasons for his political calling all those years ago.

Wonderful sitar and tabla

Wonderful sitar and tabla

View from London's Living Room, Tower Bridge

View from London’s Living Room, Tower Bridge

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Posted in Democratic Politics, International

Occupy Democracy: The Battle for Tarpaulin

Citizens, democrats, believers in civil liberty – all are perfectly right to get worked up over the ruse of police to confiscate tarpaulin from the hands of protesters in Parliament Square. In my visit – sorry, I was not one of the hardcore on this occasion, big respect to them, you – I wanted to get some insight into why this particular item had galvanised opinion so.

Suppose that sleeping equipment is prohibited under the 2011 Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act. Does a tough piece of hardy material count as thus and so? No more so than a screwdriver counted as a weapon; though it could be used for one its function is different. Similarly, the function of the tarpaulin was to communicate political messages – nothing less than the slogans emblazoned thereupon. Placing them vertically or horizontally did not automatically convert their usage from signage to sleeping equipment, any more than the words inscribed would equate to so much arbitrarily arranged ink splashes. A slight cock of the head would put paid to any suggestion that words became illegible as a result.

Deputy Leader Green Party addresses Occupy, Parliament Square 21 Oct

Deputy Leader Green Party addresses Occupy, Parliament Square 21 Oct. Picture @Louismignot

Free speech is about our ability to express meanings in the head, conveyed through signage should we so choose. The removal or threat of removal of tarpaulin was therefore an assault on this most fundamental of liberties. And yet it was more than that, too. For the police to confect a pretext for disrupting the peaceful protest – well, following Tony Benn, I prefer to call it a demand – was bad enough; acting neither to the letter nor the spirit of the law. The double indignation, I contend, resulted from the notion that people were not going to be allowed to use the tarpaulin as groundsheets, even though they were fit for that secondary purpose. So what of this prohibition? It was essentially dehumanising.

We can find humanity in the most dehumanising, demoralising of situations. Take the solider who hesitates to pull the trigger when his target suddenly slips and loses their shoe. Their target becomes a human being for that moment. To prohibit the use of tarpaulin as groundsheets had the opposite effect – of dehumanising the protesters, as though they weren’t fit to provide for themselves a minimal comfort when the legs grew tired. What after all was the alternative? The square was damp from rain, the grass became sodden and soily in part. People therefore resorted to laying directly on the ground, and this would only contribute to more wear. The retort came back from the police that we were therefore damaging the Square. Perhaps this was the object all along, for the police to be able to raise another prohibition on the back end of a proscribed behaviour that would only result in more damage to the grass.

In truth, the grass would repair itself. But our democracy has been tested. Tarpaulin Revolution signifies defiance in the face of a state apparatus that has lost its temper with the citizens it was meant to serve.

Tarpaulin Sign: We Didn't Vote for Fracking [vertical orientation]

Tarpaulin Sign: We Didn’t Vote for Fracking [vertical orientation]

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Posted in Democratic Politics, Society

Heywood and Middleton By-Election: Greens Affirm Public & Political Rights

Green Party out in force in Middleton Town Square, 4 October. L-r: Jean Smee, Roger Pakeman, Jean Betteridge, Mike Smee, Shahrar Ali, Abi Jackson (candidate), Anne, Nigel Rolland, Christine Clark, Nicole Haydock, Chris, Hannah Clare, Miranda Meadowcroft

Green Party out in force in Middleton Town Square, 4 October. L-r: Jean Smee, Roger Pakeman, Jean Betteridge, Mike Smee, Shahrar Ali, Abi Jackson (candidate), Anne, Nigel Rolland, Christine Clark, Nicole Haydock, Chris, Hannah Clare, Miranda Meadowcroft

The Green Party was out in force on 4 October 2014, in the final weekend of campaigning in Heywood & Middleton, greater Manchester. Shahrar Ali joined Abi Jackson and local Greens in the town square of Middleton to meet with and canvass Saturday shoppers and other passersby.

Our political resolve was redoubled when security staff sought to intervene in our campaigning activity. We were allegedly interfering with people’s access to the trading stalls lining the market square and moreover did not have permission from the Council. A couple of us entered into discussion with the security, and we were later on joined by the self-professed manager of the square. Apparently we were going to be given permission to be there only on days when the stalls were not in operation, the majority of the days of the week, and this was something to be grateful for, we wouldn’t even need to put in applications and what not. To the contrary, I asked, there was a matter of principle at stake. Firstly, what was the manager’s relationship to Rochdale Council. By her own admission she was not the Council. Indeed, she was responsible for supervising aspects of the town square as sanctioned by a lease with the Council. However, we did not have that document before us and could not confirm what protections were in place for activity such as ours. Even without knowledge of those details, we were quite certain that ours was a claim worth fighting for, quite independently of the pretensions of a lease and the subcontracted nature of the challenge against us.

It was upwards of an hour before satisfactory resolution and reaffirmation of our rights to political association was achieved, and not without the assistance of the police. The management company got their lobbying in first, after all, it was they who had called them and the police first went over to the stall of our neighbour, “Don’t vote UKIP – say no to racism!” Our friends were in equally trenchant mood and quite prepared to pick a fight on the issue. Incredibly, the police had been given some false impression that Don’t vote UKIP and the Greens were not getting on with one another. Was this some desperate attempt of the management to cook up some artificial grounds for having us all moved on?

We debated some points of law and finally I got a very clear response from two officers. Firstly, we had every right to congregate there and our entitlements were granted as political organisations not as traders. The officers qualified their affirmations of my leading questions, with “so long as we weren’t harassing anybody.” The last part of the conversation was overheard by the security and management. We tried not to rub their noses in it, but clearly they left with egg on their faces. Moreover, it felt like it was we who should have been complaining of undue harassment. However, we were content to exercise our rights of freedom of political expression, just days ahead of the by-election. We also spoke with a resentful looking trader, and promised of course to leave her plenty of room for shoppers. In truth, trading was inevitably down that morning due to the damp nature of the start to the day. We had no desire to be seen to be impeding their trade. However, it was good for all to know about our entitlements to be there.

Abi Jackson and Rochdale, Oldham & Saddleworth Greens on the move for canvassing

Abi Jackson and Rochdale, Oldham & Saddleworth Greens on the move for canvassing

Coverage of Greens in Rochdale News
What happens when police get the wrong end of the stick: Taking back the streets, Liverpool story in Red Pepper 2009

Abi Jackson, Green Party candidate for Heywood and Middleton with Shahrar Ali

Abi Jackson, Green Party candidate for Heywood and Middleton with Shahrar Ali

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Posted in Democratic Politics, Elections

Letter in Brent Times: Brent Council Guilty of Racism against Ex-employee

Exclusion
Racism ruling: Investigation by outsiders needed [Letter published in Brent Times series, 2 Oct 2014]

The seriousness of the judgment against Brent Council and Ms Davani, in favour of the claimant, can hardly be overstated. Judge Henry records that Ms Clarke was directly discriminated against because of her race. The maltreatment related not only to her dismissal but extended to her subsequent victimisation.

The judgment reads as a catalogue of misconduct within the Council and by key functionaries, including the findings that, the claimant, when in post, was “undermined” when they failed to consult her on matters central to her job; unreasonable requests were made regarding her right to access union advice; and her sick pay was discontinued despite all due medical documentation confirming her work-related stress symptoms.

One could be forgiven for concluding that the problem was institutionalised. In the words of the Judge, “No employer will admit to it [unlawful discrimination] and, indeed, discrimination is often operating at an unconscious level.” It is untenable, then, for Brent to appoint Michael Pavey, lead member for equalities, to investigate his own department, just as it would be for the police to investigate their own wrongdoing.

Does this not demonstrate of Brent management institutionalised denial of the highest order? How many staff are having to contend with this culture even now? We commend Ms Clarke for bringing this case but deplore Brent’s latest response, which only compounds their failure.

The money that Brent Council will be spending on their appeal would be much better spent on an independent investigation into the Corporate Management Team of the Council and the Human Resources Department as demanded by Brent Green Party, Brent TUC and many individuals. Such an investigation could begin the process of putting things right.

Shahrar Ali, Spokesperson for Brent Green party

See Wembley Matters for extensive citizen journalism on this story.
Brent Times (22 Sept): Brent Council found guilty of victimisation and racism against black worker

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Posted in Democratic Politics, Elections

Clacton By-election: Greens for the Common Good

I joined Chris Southall and Tendring Green Party in Clacton on Saturday 20 September. We donned our rosettes and went for a walkabout armed with the campaign leaflet. The morning was spent in the town square, distributing leaflets to shoppers and striking up conversations on all manner of topics: NHS, pensions, jobs. I took up the megaphone at one point, “People of Clacton! Meet your local candidate, Chris Southall. Greens offer a positive vision for you! Open air surgery here! The listening party!” The reception and uptake was good. We entered into a steady stream of conversations.

Tendring & Eastern region Greens on the campaign trail with Chris Southall, byelection candidate and Shahrar Ali, Deputy Leader Green Party

Tendring & Eastern region Greens on the campaign trail with Chris Southall, byelection candidate and Shahrar Ali, Deputy Leader Green Party

We crossed paths with UKIP early on. Indeed we were going in opposite directions. They seemed upbeat in their assessment of their chances, if not a little arrogant: “Good luck. You’ll need it!” I was struck by how few women were in their team.

UKIP team crossing paths but in opposite direction

UKIP team crossing paths but in opposite direction

It’s true that Clacton has not been a hotbed of Green party electioneering (previous 2010 result) but I was keen to support our local Greens in their determination to offer a positive vision for Clacton at the ballot box. Greens have never just been about standing where they can realistically win, but to have the courage of their convictions to make inroads incrementally. One voter wanted a poster. Others were really upbeat about seeing us. These were all seeds that could be grown. We were operating on a shoe-string budget but Chris was determined to get the word out through local media and the promise of a political hustings.

Shahrar and Chris engaging with voters in Clacton Square

Shahrar and Chris engaging with voters in Clacton Square

Quotes from the local press release:

Chris Southall, Green Party candidate for Clacton, said ” Greens across the country are fighting for workers’ and family rights which may be lost if we leave the European Union and for a minimum wage which people can live on. Add the fact that the National Health Service is being dismantled by privatisation against everyone’s wishes and there is much that the Green Party needs to do.”

Dr Shahrar Ali, Deputy Leader of the Green Party, said:

“The people of Clacton have been granted a terrific opportunity in Chris Southall and I am proud to be campaigning alongside him. The Green Party offers a positive vision for society well beyond the next electoral cycle. We will replace the shock and awe tactics of government austerity with investment in Green jobs and public services that deliver a better deal for all.”

David Egar with magisterial megaphone

David Egar with magisterial megaphone

Full list of nominations for this by-election.
Coverage by BBC.

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Posted in Democratic Politics, Elections
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