Below is the full transcript of Green Councillor for Cotham Cleo Lake's barnstorming speech at Saturday's anti-austerity March.
The speech is also available to watch online on BGP's Facebook.
We gather here today in our city of Bristol a city always at the forefront of trade and industry and
currently dubbed the best city in the uk to live in. Figures suggest that the various taxes and
contributions that Bristol makes into the national purse does not equal anything like the amount of money that we receive in return. We have had soundings of retaining our business rates but that has been muted of late. It is hard to see this attack of austerity as anything other than an attack on the poorest in our society going hand in hand as it does with welfare reform. As our party co leader Caroline Lucas said back in 2014, “It wasn't the poor who caused the economic crisis. It wasn't people on Jobseeker's Allowance who brought down the banks. It wasn't people with disabilities who wasted billions speculating on risky financial markets. So that's why we're here to say: stop punishing the poor."
The 2008 financial crisis led the UK government to bail out British banks at an estimated cost of
£141bn. However this is not unprecedented this state intervention was undertaken to prevent a
collapse of the British banking system in many ways similar to the only other major government
bailout in British history which occurred in the 1830s when the British tax payer without choice paid millions in compensation to the slave owners following abolition and as we all know the enslaved who were freed got nothing.
It disturbs me that we are the one of the richest countries in the world yet we are facing a situation that because of reckless mismanagement, greed and quite simply callous disregard, essential services are being reduced to nothing and other givens such as parks and libraries will likely close unless volunteers fill the void. It's almost surreal. Austerity isn't a necessity it's a choice. Where is the tax Justice? Where is the right to life for us as citizens?
It's a bleak picture which can only go in one of a few directions.
The Green Party is for the common good and believe me we are pushing ahead to make people
know that we stand for them and that they need to stand with us. We will be out with new plans
and efforts under the banner of Grass Roots Greens spearheaded by myself because the truth is
whilst we must demand what we are owed, we can no longer rely on any of these so called leaders propping up as they do the final dirty dregs of neo colonialism and self centered extortion.
The government will be continuing to cut money to Bristol and other core cities forcing them to be more commercial and enterprising which could easily mean that all public buildings will be sold that's your library your park your community Centre, frontline services will collapse, back room departments will collapse, people will leave work on long term sick and so on.
We are being told to do more with less with an unprecedented expectation on volunteers. Well that's all very well coming from those earning 30, 40, 50, 100, 200 grand a year who perhaps
can afford to give some hours or who simply aren't having to carry the stress of providing housing and food with no despots able income or on a zero hours contracts, but me personally I'm tired of the idea doing more for nothing. We are active citizens that's why we are here today's it's one thing being a doer but another paying to be a doer and that's what's on the table if Westminster keeps cutting and if council tax continues to rise without delivering anything for the money.
Pay more get less seems to be the formula.
I'm not down for their big society I'm all in for creating an alternative one. Where human beings are no longer commodities, where we don't have gated communities gentrifying areas, where we support ourselves and cut out the middle men as Grenfell has shown when push comes to shove poor people are pretty much on their on own anyway. A society that values workers with respect, one that pays public service workers adequately in recognition of the reality that society would not function without them, one that does not pay life changing bonuses to bankers, one that doesn't endorse tax avoidance by corporations and the super rich, one that doesn't sell arms and fuels conflict and creates refugees. We must plot our moves to another way. We must take climate change seriously and we must invest in the Green economy and green jobs - we cannot support growth for growth sake without an eye on the future impacts of various industries. Yes we need jobs and opportunities but we must also ask why we need certain jobs what purpose do they serve and this will become more necessary when we move to automation and many roles will become redundant and a universal basic income will have to be a reality.
This anti austerity agenda must unite all of us
Everyone should be asking the questions of where our money is going and we need more say in where it is spent instead of having no choice on their dictated priorities such as million pound upgrades to Buckingham Palace renewing Trident or DUP pay offs for example. Bristol gives way more than it gets and it's time to demand our receipt. It is also very hard to watch local authorities be the puppets in executing these cuts, bowing down and driving through this deadly agenda. This is a good day today but it's months too late as Greens we have lobbied for more action and until today we have to say to Labour who voted through these cuts on the fear of Westminster:
That in terms to standing up and defending us the people 'We ain't seen nothing yet'. In fact from Brixton to Bristol within your Labour led cities and boroughs all we see is raging inequalities and sell offs. Birmingham another Labour led core city has recently voted through a raft of redundancies to front line workers causing outrage and a strike on the ground by the refuse collectors.
Good luck with the green paper - sadly I have seen how playing by their rules has got us precisely nowhere. It is them and US. But I am now becoming clearer on the US and the THEM. In these desperate last days of neo colonialism they have succeeded in driving a huge wedge amongst the people. Reports of the rise of racism and arson in areas like Hartcliffe and Southmead - I ask that we reflect and remember our collective histories particularly as marginalized and oppressed people of all shades of skin colour. Whilst the press gang will no longer be out tonight to hit you over the head in the pub and drag you onto slave ships to administer the dirty work and whilst the whip and shackle are no longer in the physical, most of us remain subdued and dupped still being co opted on the grand plantation of capitalism and debt . So much chat about Colston and as a founder member of the campaign group 'Countering Colston' let me tell you this that until the young white citizens in areas like Hartcliffe and Southmead call for the statue to fall, then removing it means less to me because until a huge section of people wake up and smell the myths we cannot actually move on.
We are living in an emperors new clothes situation where the sell is that everything is important apart from each other and the planet. The planet being the ultimate elephant in the room because without her we are no more. Climate change is real and it isn't any of us to blame, sure we can adjust our lifestyles here and there but no, capitalism is to blame, the war on want is to blame, the pillaging of land for capital gains is to blame, the over riding dismissal and continual genocide of First Nation people is to blame, the love of money above all else is to blame. We need a values overhaul and we need it fast.
Now is the time to choose our own clothes and wear them.
End austerity or else.
Stop the cuts or else.
Social justice now or else.
And I predict that the all else will have to be boycotts strikes and a return of the occupy movement.
I am a proud Bristolian honored by standing here today to say these words which you can take or leave. History is made by the brave and by the bold and the history that we want to write is in our hands.
Green response to the parks and green spaces consultation
Green response to the parks and green spaces consultation
"The Tories plans are a tiny drop in a plastic filled ocean" says Bristol's Green MEP
Responding to Theresa May’s speech on the environment, and the government's 25 year plan, Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato said: “The Tories plans are a tiny drop in a plastic filled ocean. Of course action to reduce plastic waste is welcome, but this provides a useful diversion from the many government policies that are trashing the environment. In particular the £5bn in subsidies to fossil fuels since 2010 and kick-starting a whole new fossil industry in fracking.
Green councillor objects to Broadmead Car Park plans
Bristol Green Councillor Jerome Thomas has put in a statement to one of the council’s planning committees objecting to the continued presence of a large multi-storey car park in city centre development plans.
Standing up to racism in our city – Green Group leader Eleanor Combley responds to claims the National Front will return to Bristol
In response to claims that the 'National Front is back in Bristol', the city's Green Councillor Group leader has responded.
Bristol Green councillors welcome progress on clean energy from Pension Funds – but it’s still not divestment
Following a long-running campaign by Greens and other activists, Martin Fodor (Green Councillor for Redland) met with representatives of the Brunel Pension Partnership to hear about the fund’s new investments in sustainable and renewable energy.
Bristol let down by MPs’ failure to back Final Say referendum on Brexit
Green Party MEP and Brexit spokesperson, Molly Scott Cato, claimed the people of Bristol have been let down by their Labour MPs who failed to back a significant amendment last night that would have given the people a final say over the EU/UK Brexit deal.
Green Councillors: Let's Build Bristol's Arena at Temple Meads
Green Councillors Jerome Thomas and Stephen Clarke submitted a statement to Full Council of 12 December 2017, calling for the Mayor to support original plans for an arena in Bristol city centre.
Bristol Labour rejects Green amendments calling for stronger action on austerity
At Full Council today Bristol’s Green Councillors called for Labour Mayor Marvin Rees to back up his words on austerity with actions. However, the Labour group rejected an amendment to their ‘anti-austerity’ motion which called for ‘loud and active resistance’ to austerity.
Greens help deliver Council motion on single use drinking cups
Bristol Green councillors say they are delighted after a Full Council motion they worked on to address the environmental impact of ‘single use’ drinking cups has passed with cross party support.
Councillors propose planning policy to protect music venues
In response to a spate of local music venues raising the alarm about being faced with closure, Green Party Councillors in Bristol have called on the city’s elected Labour Mayor to adopt a planning policy known as the ‘agent of change’ principle. This principle, recently adopted by London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan,(1) puts the onus for soundproofing on new residential developments, which must shoulder responsibility for compliance when situated near an existing music venue. Similarly, if a music venue opens in a residential area, it too would be responsible for complying with residential requirements. According to the London Mayor, “developers building flats near existing venues will need to ensure that residents are not unduly affected by sound from the venue, and that may include paying for soundproofing.”
Brexit ‘breakthrough’: Comment from Bristol's MEP
Commenting on news of an apparent breakthrough in negotiations between the UK and EU and that Brexit discussions will now move on to the next phase, Molly Scott Cato MEP, Green Party speaker on Brexit, said: “Brexit should not be about winners and losers but about ensuring that all citizens currently in the EU, including the British ones, are safe and secure after March 2019.
Bristol MEP and QC launch legal proceedings against government over Brexit sectoral studies
Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP and Jolyon Maugham QC of the Good Law Society, have today applied for judicial review in the High Court over the government’s refusal to release sectoral studies carried out by DExEU into the impacts of Brexit, and a Treasury study into the effects of leaving the customs union.
Bristol's MEP respopnds to David Davis claims that Brexit impact studies do not exist
Responding to this morning's evidence session of the DExEU committee and David Davis's comment that the Brexit impact studies do not in fact exist, Molly Scott Cato, and MEP who is about to launch judicial review proceedings to force the publication of the studies, said: "I have been seeking to know the content of these studies since April and in September Brexit minister Steve Baker responded to my letter demanding release explicitly on behalf of the Secretary of State and acknowledging that the Department had 'conducted analysis of over 50 sectors of the economy'. Now David Davis claims these studies do not in fact exist.
Job Advert: Local Party Organiser in Bristol
The Local Party Organiser will be responsible for supporting Bristol Green Party officers and volunteers in the implementation of Bristol Green Party strategies, plans and day to day operations. The role will support the officers and volunteers to coordinate their work, check on progress and achievements.
Bristol Mayor scraps cross-party cabinet - Green Group Statement
Today, Bristol’s Labour Mayor has decided out of the blue to end the cross-party cabinet, effectively firing Green Cabinet Member Fi Hance and Tory Cabinet Member Claire Hiscott.
Bristol's MEPs unite to challenge Commission over allegations of Russian influence in referendum campaign
Three of the city's MEPs are raising concerns with the European Commission about Russian interference in the EU referendum in an ‘unprecedented display of unity’. Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, has teamed up with Labour’s Clare Moody MEP and former Conservative MEP, Julie Girling, to write to the Commission about their concerns.
Bristol and South Gloucestershire Students debate Climate Change in City Hall
Over eighty students from Bristol and South Gloucestershire secondary schools are taking the lead in debating the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement, and discussing with local leaders what more can be done in their area to reduce carbon emissions.
Challenge to Bristol's MPs to unite against the folly of Hinkley
Bristol's Green MEP has accused government ministers of saddling consumers with higher energy bills because they have had their ‘heads stuck in the radioactive sand’ over Hinkley and has issued a challenge to Bristol's MPs to unite against the folly of Hinkley and back a renewable energy revolution.
Bristol MEP begins legal proceedings to release Brexit studies
Lawyers representing Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP, and Jolyon Maugham of the Good Law Project have written again to David Davis and Philip Hammond giving them 14 days to release in full government studies into the economic impacts of Brexit. If they refuse to make the documents publicly available, they will start judicial review proceedings in the High Court.
Green Party Cabinet Member represents Bristol at COP23 climate conference
Councillor Fi Hance today attended the annual COP23 climate conference in Bonn and spoke on behalf of Bristol. As Cabinet member for Energy, Cllr Hance was there to represent Bristol at the Climate event and was asked what action the city is taking on climate change.
Greens call on Council to support ‘Robin Hood Tax’ to fund public services
On the same week that Bristol hosts its annual Festival of Economics, Green Councillors in Bristol have put forward a motion for Tuesday’s Full Council supporting a Financial Transactions Tax, also known as a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ or ‘Tobin Tax’.
Greens challenge Mayor to protect Council Tax support until 2020 -- administration won’t commit
At Cabinet today Green Councillors challenged the Labour administration to commit to protecting the Council Tax support scheme for the remainder of the Mayor’s term to 2020.
Council must call in external auditor to shed light on CEO’s departure
In an unprecedented step, Bristol’s three opposition parties have united in calling on the Council’s External Auditor to step in and investigate the circumstances surrounding the controversial departure of the former Chief Executive, Anna Klonowski.
Bristol's Green MEP responds to #ParadisePapers leak
Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, who is also a member of the European Parliament’s Panama Papers committee, comments on the latest big tax leak, the Paradise Papers saying: "These leaks offer another disturbing glimpse into the murky world of offshore finance, used by wealthy individuals and big business for tax evasion and tax avoidance".
Investigate Bristol links to alleged illegal spending by Leave.EU campaign says MEP
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset should investigate alleged illegal spending in the lead up to the 2016 EU referendum, claims Molly Scott Cato, Bristol's Green MEP.
Going green: Bristol City Council smashes carbon targets
Green Councillor and Bristol City Cabinet member responsible for energy policy, Fi Hance, has today welcomed the news that Bristol City Council is ahead of its targets for reducing its carbon emissions.
Opinion: Why we need an 'Ad Free Bristol'
Writing in Bristol 24/7, Cllr Stephen Clarke explains why he thinks we need an 'Ad Free Bristol' arguing he "prefers a visual environment which reflects the unique identity of our city, the values of local communities, and the local economy".
Bristol's MEP demands to see official findings of investigation into Brexit Leave campaign
Bristol's Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, is demanding the Electoral Commission reveal the extent to which they have investigated alleged illegal spending intended to influence the 2016 EU referendum result. She has written to the Commission asking if their enquiries are now complete and, if so, asking it to publish the findings.
Green MEP to Theresa May "support an EU-wide suspension of arms exports to Saudi Arabia"
Following calls from leaders of four political groups in the European Parliament urging the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, for an EU-wide ban of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Green parliamentarians including Bristol's Green MEP Molly Scott Cato have written to the UK Prime Minister urging her to “immediately suspend all arms exports to Saudi Arabia until the human rights of the people of Yemen can be fully guaranteed”.
Green MEP defends Bristol's universities against ‘challenge to academic freedom’
Molly Scott Cato MEP, has made clear she will stand by universities in Bristol that refuse to respond to the request made by Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris, asking them for details of names of those ‘teaching European Affairs, with particular reference to Brexit’. The letter also asks for ‘the syllabus and links to the online lectures which relate to this area’.