16 February 2010
The story of a life yet to be lived will be told at the Green Party's spring conference in London this weekend.
It's the life of Norwich baby Martha McGuire, born just eight months ago. The man talking about her future in the world will be the Green Party's Deputy Leader and General Election candidate for Norwich South, Adrian Ramsay.
Adrian recently met Martha and her mother, who live on Britannia Road in Norwich, when he visited the Sure Start centre in Thorpe Hamlet. Adrian was inspired to focus his keynote speech to the conference on Saturday on the ways in which Green Party policies could influence the life of Martha and other children in the years ahead.
Speaking about the Green Party's General Election slogan "Fair is Worth Fighting For", Adrian Ramsay will talk about Green Party policies to ensure that all young people have a good start in life with access to high quality local services by:
* protecting the NHS from further expensive PFI schemes, like the one paying for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where there's a shortage of midwives to deliver future "Marthas", where lack of sufficient beds led to the maternity unit being closed on 22 occasions last year and where only this week the family of an elderly woman was upset at finding her bed in what appeared to be a store-cupboard. If the hospital were funded by conventional means more money would be going into improved healthcare rather than to profit private finance companies.
* maintaining funding for nursery care and outreach workers for children like Martha, whose own Sure Start centre at Wolfe Road in Norwich was only saved after the Greens worked with parents on petitions and demonstrations against Norfolk County Council plans to close it.
* seeing SATS replaced with a less formalised system of testing for younger children by the time Martha begins her education, and to end Britain's Academies programme. Green Councillors in Norfolk have called for a moratorium on turning more schools into Academies run by private sponsors.
* finding a better system of funding higher education involving a return to grants so that Martha does not have to worry about amassing huge debts as a student. The average debt of a UEA student upon graduation is currently £23,194.
* creating jobs for Martha's generation in 21st century industries. Green Party proposals would create thousands of new jobs in Norfolk by ensuring more of our foods and goods are produced locally and by promoting the use of more renewable energy and home insulation programmes.
* ensuring that a bigger proportion of affordable housing is included in every new development in order to reduce local authority waiting lists. Norwich City Council recently increased the proportion it requires to 40% following pressure from Green Party Councillors.
* taking action to address climate change so that Martha in adulthood does not witness dramatic changes on Norfolk's highly vulnerable coastline with the destruction of coastal communities and the loss of agricultural land.
*making sure the basic state pension is at a realistic level when Martha reaches old age. The Greens' proposal is that it should be £170 a week right now.
Adrian Ramsay said:
"We need to fight for a better future for our children. A future where all young people have access to good quality services locally. Green MPs will press for investment in maternity services, protection of SureStart nurseries and a less formalised system for testing young school children."
"Green MPs will also press for a fairer deal for young adults, involving a university system that does not leave students saddled with debt and far more opportunities for young people to enter apprenticeships and skilled jobs in lasting industries like public transport, renewable energy and local agriculture."
"And we need action to help older people too - a much higher state pension to help take pensioners out of poverty, and action on climate change so that today's children are not suffering as a result of our behaviour when they grow old."
The party's conference takes place at The Arts Depot, Tally Ho, North Finchley, London, N12 0GA , with Adrian Ramsay's keynote speech on Saturday at 15:30.
Adrian will also chair a discussion panel on Civil Liberties on Friday afternoon with Peter Tatchell (human rights campaigner, co-founder of gay rights group OutRage! and Green Party human rights spokesperson), Afua Hirsch (Human Rights teacher, barrister, blogger, and Guardian newspaper columnist), plus Phil Booth, (NO2ID National Co-ordinator).