Elections 2014: Greens – pushing for the common good

Comment

Although the Green Party – of which I’m a hugely proud member – draws together people from a vast range of issues – feminism, animal rights, ecology, social justice, gay rights, nuclear disarmament to name a few – we all have one thing in common: we will fight tooth and nail for the vulnerable, the oppressed, and the marginalised and always push for the common good.

So a little about myself:  I graduated from Corpus Christi (Oxford not Cambridge of course) in 1994 in maths. I then went on to get a masters and a doctorate in water and wastewater engineering which took another 5 years, and in 1999 threw myself into the job market.   Since then I’ve run a double career following my passion to provide safe drinking water – working as an engineer in the UK and as an aid worker abroad.   I’ve worked with Oxfam in South America and Indonesia as an emergency engineer, and in Ethiopia helping the government meet its Millennium Development Goals.  With the arrival of my two daughters, overseas work has quite rightly been put on the back burner, and for the last two years I’ve been the principle water engineer with a firm of international engineers. .

I spend a lot of my spare time helping out with various social action projects here in Oxford, many of them with strong student links, like Disco Soup, Project Soup, and Oxgrow.   Over the years I’ve volunteered at night shelters, drop-in centres, credit unions, and been a visitor at Campsfield Detention Centre, and for the last 12 years I’ve been coaching rowing at Linacre college (managed blades twice and spoons once!)

For most of my life you could have safely described me as apolitical. Although I wanted to see the quality of life of those around me improve, I never felt any political party really had the interests of the vulnerable placed at the heart of its policies.  That all changed when Caroline Lucas became this country’s first Green MP.  On every issue that mattered to me, I realised Caroline was voting exactly the way I would have chosen to vote.  So on my 40th birthday, rather than buying a Ferrari, I joined the Green Party.  That was two years ago, and this year I decided to stand as a councillor in Holywell Ward.

Whether, nationally,  ending university tuition fees, building affordable housing, standing up to the stomach churning rhetoric of UKIP, championing the rights of migrants, or protecting the most vulnerable from cuts, or locally pushing for ethical investments and affordable housing, you can be assured the Green Party will be using its influence to hold those in power to account.   And nowhere is that more so than in Oxford’s City Council.  Oxford City Council has been dominated by Labour for so many years now they seem to have forgotten how to listen – knocking down council houses in the city centre and replacing them with expensive flats, and driving local traders out of the Covered Market are just two recent examples.

With your help, all this can change.  The Greens can’t take control of the City Council on 22nd but we are poised to become the official and – I promise you – a very effective opposition.  We have five councillors at the moment, and are working hard to significantly increase that number at this year’s elections.

As your councillor, I would work hard to improve the standard of student accommodation, help restore funding to cuts in vital services like homelessness and care for the elderly, and work with you shoulder to shoulder to advance the many social justice issues I know you care so passionately about, such as divestment and food justice.

I have a lot offer, knowing both the city and the university as a student, a parent and a local resident.   Working with other Green councillors, I will bring the Green Party’s influence to bear in getting results for Oxford.  I will also take a very vocal position against UKIP – particularly with the 2015 election looming – and make it clear Oxford has no time for their vile policies.

In the last two years the Greens have won the city centre local elections, and we can do it again this year.  Please vote Green on May 22nd

David Thomas is the Green Party candidate for Holywell Ward

PHOTO: Tony Hisgett