Nothing has been so divisive in modern British history as Brexit. And when our country needed strong principled leadership to heal the wounds of the referendum, we have been let down by those whose priority was establishing their positions in their parties. Leadership has been confused with authority. Strength has been given more value than understanding. As a result, more than two years after the referendum, our country is more divided than ever. The opinion of the party conferences is seen as more important than the views of ordinary people and the health of our society.

It didn’t have to be this way. Let us imagine the speech of a true leader the morning after the referendum of 23rd June 2016:

“To my fellow citizens of the UK and of Europe. The votes have been counted and it is the preference of 51.9% of voters that we should leave the European Union. As we take pride in our democratic traditions, we shall respect that result and start the process of separation.

However, it was also the preference of 48.1% of voters to remain part of the EU. Democracy does not mean disregarding the hopes and needs of minorities – it is incumbent upon those elected to govern for everyone, not just the majority. Furthermore, this is a decision that will impact on future generations and we need to take their interests into account.

So it is our challenge, one that we take up willingly and with honour and humility, to navigate these rocky waters and negotiate an outcome that, as best as it can, meets the needs of everyone in our country. Because for Britain to be prosperous, we don’t only need a strong economy but we also need a strong society. A society whose foundations are mutual respect and understanding, a society that values our differences and cherishes what unites us.

When I say negotiate an outcome, I don’t mean negotiating with the EU. Before we go to Brussels, we need to be clear on what future relationship we want with them and what direction we want our country to go in. That means negotiating with different groups in the UK, bringing people together, seeking understanding of each other’s positions and trying to forge a consensus that heals our divisions.

In the course of this referendum, we have heard many strongly expressed views.

We have heard fears that immigration is putting pressure on jobs, housing, health and education. But we also heard how much people value the social and employment opportunities offered by the free movement of people across the European Union.

We have heard that many feel that they have very little influence over the decisions that affect them, decisions being made by people that are remote and out of touch with the realities of day to day life. And yet we have also heard from others how important it is for our mutual peace and prosperity that these decisions are made fairly and jointly, so that we have a level playing field across our common market.

We have heard some say that there is too much red tape, too many restrictions, while others fear us losing those regulations that protect our safety, our environment, our employment rights.

So as we leave the EU, we need to find a way of bridging those gaps, addressing those genuine concerns while retaining, as far as possible, the benefits that are valued so much.

I can assure you that we hear you, whichever way you voted.

We hear you, and we pledge to ensure that more homes are built and to invest more in our schools and the NHS.

We hear you, and we pledge to ensure that the minimum wage is a real decent living wage, high enough that there is no incentive for employers to bring in low paid workers from overseas. And we will ensure that our public services have enough money to pay that living wage.

We hear you, and we pledge that we will reform parliament so that MPs are truly accountable to their constituencies and have to listen to your views. We will be more transparent in what decisions we make in Westminster and, while we are still in the EU, how we vote in Brussels on your behalf.

Governments are elected to make decisions on our behalf, but we only elect them for no more than five years at a time. But some decisions will reverberate for generations to some, and when we make those decisions it is incumbent upon us to build a consensus on the direction to be taken, even if there are differences in the details.

So today I am announcing the establishment of a cross-party Commission for the Future that is charged with developing our negotiating position with the EU. A position that is founded on our shared values and traditions, based on mutual understanding and respect. A position on the way forward that is as near as possible a consensus between left and right, between the young and the old, between North and South, between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, between leavers and remainers.

Even though we have decided to leave the EU, our lives, our economy and our future are inextricably joined with those of our European neighbours. We still need to cooperate on security, on trade in goods and services, on protecting our shared environment. And so we want the new relationships between our governments to be strong and productive, and we want the friendships between our peoples to be close and lasting.

To this end, I can make one further pledge. To all those citizens of other European countries who are living and working here legitimately, I invite you to stay and continue to be a valued and welcome part of the mosaic that is a modern and successful Britain. I make this pledge willingly and without preconditions, and with every hope and expectation that our European neighbours extend the same hand of friendship and guarantees to British citizens currently living and working in their countries.

We have all been battered and bruised in this referendum campaign. It is the very nature of referendums to divide us – the system demands each side to make claims and counter-claims that will bring people to their way of thinking, dismissing all alternative viewpoints. But now that the referendum is over, then so must the attacks end. We need to let go of the rhetoric and learn again how to listen to each other. Some will find that a challenge and will see this speech as a betrayal, but it is my belief that the overwhelming majority want us to heal the wounds of the last year. It is down to all of us, politicians and citizens alike, to reach out to others, to rebuild our communities, to be the very best that we can be”.

Vote with your head and your heart

Over the past couple of weeks, the national opinion polls have shown a narrowing of the gap between Conservatives and Labour. This has been seized upon by Labour in a renewed push to get supporters of the Greens, Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru to vote tactically for them. In my constituency of Monmouth, that sadly seems to be Labour’s main message. But what do the facts tell us? Is a Labour victory in Monmouth possible?

In Monmouth in 2015, the Conservative’s David Davies won 23,701 votes (49.9% of the total). Ruth Jones was second with 12,719 votes for Labour. The combined votes of Labour, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party was 18,719 (39.4%). So to defeat David Davies, there would need to be a very big swing away from the Conservatives towards Labour. So are the polls predicting such a swing?

The final opinion polls before the vote in 2015 showed the parties were evenly matched. MORI had the Conservatives at 36% and Labour at 35%, while YouGov had them both on 34%. The vote itself came in at Conservatives 36.8% and Labour 30.4%, with many pollsters explaining their underestimation of the Conservative vote being down to “Shy Tories” too embarrassed to admit their true intention.

Since then, the internal troubles in the Labour Party resulted in a massive swing away from Labour to the Conservatives. The recent narrowing of the gap means that Labour have recovered much of the support that they lost since the 2015 election, but at 42% Conservative to 38% Labour they are still behind the equivalent polls in 2015, although doing slightly better than the actual voting figures.

YouGov projections for Monmouth based on the latest national polling data suggest that David Davies will receive between 40% and 58% of the votes, most likely 50%. They predict a vote for Labour of 25% – 40%, most likely 34%. These wide ranges of projected vote shares do not even overlap. They also claim a 95% confidence rate in these predictions.

I am by nature an optimist, but I am also a realist. My ideal outcome would be for me to win. The next best would be for David Davies to lose and Labour win. But if you think that neither of those are going to happen, then every extra Green vote is going to have much more impact than an extra Labour vote.

I would never criticise anyone in a marginal constituency who takes the short term view and votes tactically to get the Tories out. But in a safe Conservative seat like Monmouth, a tactical vote is futile. It doesn’t represent the voter’s true beliefs. It doesn’t send a signal to the country that a change of direction (and a change of voting system) is needed. Vote for the future. Vote for what you believe in. Vote with your head and your heart.

Brexit blank cheque

A friend was having a quiet drink in a pub when he was approached by a couple of guys who tried to persuade him to buy a car. They kept pointing out all the problems with his old car, and it was true, there were quite a few scratches and it needed a bit of work doing to it, although it was a very reliable car and kept my friend and his family safe on the roads. But these two salesmen kept telling him how much better the new car would be and how much money he would save, although they couldn’t give him many details about the car itself. They were witty and persuasive, and eventually my friend said ok, I’ll buy your car. Great, they said, you can pay for it when its ready. It will take a couple of years to sort out, and we don’t actually know what it will look like or how much it will cost, and it probably won’t save you any money – in fact it will probably cost quite a bit more than your old car, but hey, you’ve agreed to buy it so you can’t back out now. Hold on, said my friend, I said I wanted the car you described, not just any old banger – I’ll wait and see it before I finally make up my mind. Too late, said the salesmen, we will deliver your new car in two years and take away your old one, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

And that’s pretty much what Theresa May, David Davies and the rest of the Conservative Party are telling us about Brexit. We don’t know what agreement she will negotiate with the EU, but she wants us to accept it anyway – a blank cheque with no discussion, no vote, no democracy. If elected, Green MPs will demand that the British people be given a chance to vote in a referendum once they have seen the Brexit deal negotiated with the EU. That referendum will give the public a clear choice: accept the deal, or remain in the EU and work with our European neighbours to make it better. So if you want a proper say in our future, free of spin and the facts laid out in front of us, then vote Green.

Positive voting or Tactical voting?

I was recently contacted by a potential voter who, frustrated by our undemocratic electoral system, was agonising whether she should vote for what she really wanted, or vote tactically in an attempt to stop David Davies being re-elected in Monmouth. She asked what is to be gained by voting Green if our chances of success in Monmouth are slim. In my reply I came up with five reasons no vote is wasted and every Green vote in 2017 is important:

  • First of all, we need to gain 5% of the vote to get our deposit returned. This £500 may not mean much to the other parties, but to us Greens it is a lot of money and will enable us to stand again.
  • Furthermore, every vote we gain across the UK increases the amount of “Short Money” that we are allocated in Parliament to carry out our role as an opposition party. This funding will support Caroline Lucas and hopefully other Green MPs to fight in Parliament for the policies in our manifesto.
  • The more votes we get in 2017 will increase the amount of media attention we are given in the next local and national elections. This will give us a higher profile and better opportunities to put our message to the British people.
  • Every Green vote cast is a signal to government, other parties, the media, business and the people that there needs to be a radical change of direction to tackle climate change, environmental destruction and social inequality. We are the only party with a positive vision for the future and are putting forward a number of progressive and innovative policies that we hope will soon become part of the mainstream. Votes help get our policies taken more seriously.
  • Finally, I know from talking to local voters and from national polling that there are large numbers of people who would like to vote Green but feel that there is no point. An increased Green vote will encourage other people to vote for us next time. Casting a Green vote next Thursday is planting a seed that will grow and grow and makes a Green victory here and elsewhere more likely in the next election.

So a Green vote is always meaningful and important, despite the outcome of this particular election (and I’ve not given up on winning on June 8th!).

On the question of whether to vote for what you believe in or vote tactically, you need to consider how realistic is the prospect of Labour’s Ruth Jones defeating the Conservative David Davies. In 2015, Davies received 23,701 votes and Jones got 12,719. It is possible for Ruth Jones to win but it would require a very large swing. So if she doesn’t win, is a vote here for Labour wasted? Would a Green vote count for more?

Only you can decide how to cast your vote, and best wishes for whoever you decide to vote for on the 8th.

Hunting and Animal Welfare

I have received several hundred emails from voters in the Monmouth constituency asking my views on a range of issues. By far the largest number of these have concerned fox hunting and the Conservative plans to overturn the ban and resume chasing defenceless animals and tearing them to death for fun.

Let me make this clear. If elected, I will fight for the ban to be strengthened not repealed. I will support measures to deter and prosecute animal cruelty and promote animal welfare. I will protect our wildlife.

The Green Party is the only party to have an Animal Manifesto – it can be downloaded here. If animal welfare is important to you, then your only choice is to vote Green.

Climate Change

It’s the elephant in the room that none of the other parties want to talk about. If we don’t reduce the amount of carbon being burnt, then our planet will heat up causing catastrophic climate change. The seas will rise, crops will fail, extreme storms and droughts will become more common.

This is not inevitable. The solutions are simple. We can generate our energy from the wind, the sun and the waves, as well as making our homes, factories and transport systems more efficient so we don’t need so much energy. After lots of difficult negotiations, countries got together in 2015 and agreed to do just that.

But for some reason, the Conservative government seems determined to ignore that agreement. Through its actions over the last two years, it has shown that it is more interested in preserving the profits of the big fossil fuel energy companies that it is about our future. It has slashed support for renewable energy and given the go ahead for ‘fracking’ to extract more fossil fuels from under our homes and parks, risking the safety of our water supplies. It has committed billions to building a new nuclear power station just 40 miles from our constituency that will take decades to complete and will produce electricity that is more expensive than renewables.

David Davies has repeatedly ignored the scientific evidence, denied climate change and blocked attempts to reduce carbon emissions. Monmouth doesn’t need an MP who buries his head in the sand. As a science graduate, I understand the urgency of the problem and can see what needs to be done. I am committed to resisting the vested interests who put their profits before our children and taking action to build a sustainable energy future for all our sakes.


I want my garden and the surrounding neighbourhood to be beautiful and safe, with plenty of bees pollinating the flowers and birds singing their songs. But nature is so interconnected that what happens here affects, and is affected by, the environment in Wales, Britain and the wider world. The decisions that are made by our local council and our national government have a profound impact on the world we live in and that our children will inherit. For example:

  • The UK government’s slashing of support for renewable energy generation and energy conservation is wrong in so many ways, not only fuelling global warming but also undermining our economy and the development of jobs in the green energy sector.
  • The UK government has been at the forefront of defending the bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides that the rest of the EU want to ban.

If elected, I would use my voice as a County Councillor to call for more action locally, nationally and globally to preserve our beautiful and diverse planet.

Public Transport

For many of us, public transport is useful but not essential. We have got used to not having any buses, and have invested in buying and insuring a car so that we can get around – to our jobs, do the shopping and have a social life. But many don’t have that option and the lack of public transport in our area means social isolation and unemployment.

The redundant bus shelters on our roadsides are a symbol of the failed policies of our council. Once they were the gateways to opportunities. Now they are simply the destination for young people with nowhere else to go.

Environment promises

Concerns about the environment are not limited to climate change. Our physical, mental and spiritual health is greatly affected by our connection to the natural world around us. But we don’t see the environment as a resource just for our own benefit – we see that nature is valuable in its own right.

We want to make sure that our air is clean, our water safe to drink and our food healthy. We want to protect our precious wildlife and preserve their natural habitats. We see that our ancient forests and woodlands have a value that is greater than the timber that can be cut down.

If elected I will work hard for a ban on the bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides. It’s simple biology – if we kill all the bees, they won’t be able to pollinate the flowers and blossom, and then where will we be? The rest of the EU want to ban them – why has the Conservative government been trying to stop the ban?

I will also vote against any attempt to bring back the cruel practice of hunting foxes with dogs.

Our future is not set in stone

Our future is not set in stone, despite what the rich and powerful tell us. We have real choices and need to ask ourselves: What type of world do we want to live in? What type of future do we want for our children? Do we want to live in the Tory/UKIP dream of a deregulated sweatshop economy or do we want to prosper in a country that is proud of the standards it upholds? Do we want to destroy every last bit of our natural resources to help make the rich even richer, or do we want to build a sustainable economy that nourishes rather than depletes the environment? Do we want to turn our back on international agreements to stop catastrophic climate change, or do we want to build a low carbon future where everybody benefits? Do we want our schools, NHS and social care to be run further into the ground, or do we want them properly funded?

We also have a choice about who we want to represent us in Parliament and to the rest of the country. The people of Monmouthshire are kind and compassionate. They want the vulnerable to be protected and supported. They see the beauty in our natural environment and want to preserve it. They value the relationships with have with other countries. They need an MP who reflects those values, those aspirations. Since the last election, David Davies has shown himself to be a heartless MP who is out of touch, playing politics with people’s lives. It’s time for a change, for some common decency, for forward thinking, for a green and brighter future.