4 May 2009

Green Knight, Green beer, a horse and European elections

Indeed Green beer, a Green Knight on horseback, speeches, quiz, storytelling and an Open Mic night launched the Green party's bid in Gloucestershire to get the first ever Green MEP in the South West - more details below re what Greens want to see in EU, but first more about Saturday...

Photos: First couple of photos from independent journalist John Hatton then pics from me from Saturday night incl Ricky Knight doing his number plus Phil Blomberg doing his. The last four are from our official photographer Ruth Davey

On Well Saturday Green party members were out canvassing all day in Stroud and Nailsworth then in the evening we were met in Nailsworth by Rose Hall as the Knight on horseback - we then made our way to The Village Inn pub - to launch the Green Knight beer - a specially brewed organic and vegan beer named after Ricky Knight, the Greens lead Euro candidate - possibly the first beer ever to be named after a European election candidate!

Infact I've been emailing CAMRA and other beer publications today about the event. Jon Kemp, the Nailsworth brewer (he's the one holding the horse in this pic) has also done us some bottles - see label further below - took ages to sort with Electoral Commission the wording and what needed to count as donations etc to election. Anyhow here is some of what I said to beer press re the beer: "It has been described by the local brewer as a light, hoppy organic vegan beer with hints of grapefruit and elderflower coming in at 4.4% abv. I'm not sure I can taste the fruit but it was very quaffable indeed. Several other venues in the South West have expressed an interest in stocking the beer."

We had some passionate speeches from Ricky Knight and also Nailsworth and Minch County Council candidate Sophie Barton. All the while the horse, Brecon, behaved wonderfully - indeed a total star even supping from a pint mug for the photographers.

Ricky spoke about the opportunity to get a Green MEP for the first time in the South West as the European Elections are run on a Proportional Representation system. About the changes that will be possible and so needed, about not being corrupted by the Brussels politics and lobbyists, about the ways he will represent Green views and more. He said that with the economy in a mess and the environment balanced on tipping points the best possible message to send to those that have failed to represent us, is to vote Green on June 4th.

Sophie Barton, the Green party's County Council candidate in Nailsworth, a mother of three who is studying a Master’s degree in Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies also made a passionate speech from the heart saying: "Six months ago, I had no idea I would be in politics, but I can no longer sit on the sidelines, waiting for the changes we so badly need. As my knowledge has deepened surrounding the issues that currently face us, I realise that a fundamental change in the way we do politics has to come about. And, as Gandhi once said, 'Be the change you want to see'.”

We then all went in the pub for the European Quiz - 30 questions - one team romped home with 21.5 out of 30 - I am afraid the team I was in came in at 16 correct answers - semi-respectable? The quiz was compiled by Ricky's partner L'Anne who also acted as Quiz Mistress and contained some virtually impossible questions....

We then had a completely spell-binding story of the Green Knight and Sir Gawain - Fiona Eadie, a Nailsworth storyteller had me on the edge of my seat with the tale - brilliant, magic, wonderful! Plus she even managed to apply lessons to the Euro campaign....

After that came the Open Mic night and what an amazing collection of artists that included the Village Inn's House Band, Edge of Blue (who played in Whiteshill at the local village performance), a young lad who played Mustang Sally and more, Shaun with 'I've been through the desert on a horse with no name', 'Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heaven's Door' and Tracey Chapman's 'Revolution' plus the amazing Katharina Heinrich with a ukelehle - how on earth do you spell that - plus County Council Rodborough ward Green party candidate Phil Blomberg (see pic below) and more...

Ricky Knight even took a turn at the Mic to passionately sing an old antiwar song without accompaniment - very moving powerful stuff - see photo.

It was a good night indeed and a fitting start to our Glos election campaign. I don't think I've covered the seven key issues for the Euro campaign so here they are...

Seven key Euro issues on which Greens are campaigning

> renewable energy from the wind, the waves and from biomass
> every home a 'power-station' with free insulation offered to every household in the SW
> energy security with connection to a DC European Super-Grid

> a £40 billion injection into real jobs in the energy market, not into bailing out failed banks
> re-regulation of financial and banking sector
> cap on salaries, bonuses, pay-offs and pension settlements and higher taxes on higher-earners

> massive investment in public transport, to encourage people out of their cars and onto busses, trains, bikes and feet
> put an end to uneconomical and unnecessary airport expansion and charge the true cost for aviation
> introduce joined-up transport solutions to urban congestion, with park and ride/walk schemes that link in with busses and trains, with safe pedestrian and cycling routes to work and a systematic reduction in parking spaces in town & city centres.

> encourage longer-stay home-holidays
> promote the South West as a UK holiday haven and destination of preference
> ensure quality of accommodation and environment, together with investment into entertainment and leisure options to ensure that longer-stays are memorable for everyone

> work towards a zero-carbon economy through systematic 'carrot and stick' legislation
> maintain the pressure on governments to achieve year-on-year CO2 emissions' reduction
> work towards a successful conclusion to the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December

> ensure that the issue of open, honest, transparent accountability is addressed
> ensure that the issue of MEPs' expenses is open to effective scrutiny
> ensure that bureaucratic overload, waste and corruption in the EU is effectively addressed

> invest in more allotments and encourage many more home vegetable-plots
> Local is Best - encourage farmers' markets and the production and availability of local produce to help break the monopoly of supermarkets and bring vibrant life back into dying town centres
> root and branch reform of the Common Agriculture and Fisheries Policies

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