My bid to beat Brexit and become an MEP for London

190319 #MagidAndMe

“Kirsten would be an amazing MEP!

She’s totally committed to Europe and fights hard for what she believes in.”

Magid Magid, Lord Mayor of Sheffield

 

190323 BREXIT MARCH TOM & KDKParliament has been Brexit-browbeating the people for a thousand days. And so, fed-up we got up, and marched. Bloodied, but unbowed. I kept reminding myself that I am campaigning to become an MEP candidate for London, while at the same time taking to the streets of that very city, alongside over one million other Europeans, passionately trying to rescue the UK from crashing out of the EU.

All pretty unreal, to be sure.

Frankly, I am also ashamed that it had to get to the point where we now find ourselves staring wide-eyed and ashen-faced into the abyss, before I got off my **se and threw my hat into the ring as an MEP candidate.

 

Ok, so a couple of decades ago, a local party up-country did approach me to stand as an MEP for them, but I was too busy plate-spinning a job and two kids, so I passed on the offer. And anyway, everything seemed to be going just swimmingly down the road in Brussels. But this time it’s ‘now-or-never’ and I am going for broke!

The London Green Party held hustings a few weeks back. I always find it somewhat curious to stand up and loudly plead for the audience to ‘Vote For Me!’ during such events.

I mean, that’s straight from the Department of the Bleedin’ Obvious. Obviously I want them all to ‘Vote For Me!’, why else are we all there?!

190323 BREXIT MARCH DAD'S ARMY

So I prefer to tell a little tale about why everyone should agree with me instead. And here’s my story for the EU elections, which we may – or may not – be about to contest:

 

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Picture one of those fancy colouring books for grown-ups, popular a few years back, with a myriad of teeny-weeny segments to be meticulously coloured in using a pile of multicoloured Sharpies, scattered all over your kitchen table.

Now glance out of the window and picture instead a massive mural, in the process of being completed by armies of graffiti artists with suitcases full of colourful spray cans. The colouring book is complex and beautiful when you have painstakingly coloured it in. A stunningly vibrant mural is the awesome work of many hands.

190323 BREXIT MARCH CABINET OFFICE DOOR

So if you want to be part of that exciting bigger canvas, how do you make your mark? How will your contribution make a difference?

Here’s how. You locate a bunch of like-minded artists and join in with their particular theme. A beautiful garden, a striking cityscape, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel?

And then you pick your unique image, something you are really expert at, and which will make everyone’s work even better. Including yours, of course. That’s a result!

But what on earth does that have to do with Brussels, the EU and MEPs?

Well, it’s like this: Our usual stamping ground here in London is the colouring book. Brussels and the other 27 member states are the mural. Together they are very, very BIG and we are very, very SMALL. Get over it.

190323 BREXIT MARCH CABINET OFFICE SIGNSo we need to concentrate our limited resources on one small issue, but one that matters a helluva lot! Therefore, the work of our MEPs is vastly different from that of our local or national politicians.

And that is what the majority of our British MEPs never got, but what our Green MEPs Jean Lambert, Molly Scott-Cato and Keith Taylor have become such experts at.

Being an MEP is about being a diplomat, with all their quiet backroom cunning, and it’s about being a wily politician, brazenly pushing for your policies, forging supportive relationships. A complex combination!

The trick is getting the balance between the two just right. Get it wrong and you end up just plastered in paint, while everyone else walks off with the prized rainbow spray can.

The group I would join in Brussels would obviously be the European Greens. My issue of strategic focus, common to all 500 million EU citizens, is CONSUMPTION.

Consumption is the driver of all our ills. It is as simple as that. We need to use less stuff! LESS IS MORE. Let the fossil fuel industry do its thing, it’s just responding to demand. OUR demand. If WE stop demanding stuff, THEY will stop pumping, mining and fracking.

190323 BREXIT MARCH A EUROPEAN

And everyone can do this, everyone NEEDS to do this. We spend 50% of our resources making stuff and the other 50% getting rid of it again; recycling, incinerating or fly tipping on an industrial scale, in the sea or in our countryside. And that is insane.

We throw away two thirds of our food, for goodness sake! We wear our clothes an average of just three times. We each pour away hundreds of litres of clean, expensively treated water every day. It’s just not OK, people.

Growth purely to satisfy shareholders is immoral. We need a completely new set of incentives for workers and owners of capital alike.

 

Let’s be bold! Let us tax company travel out of existence, and make video conferencing tax deductable instead.  Stop flying flowers from Kenya, use flowers from Kent instead and give Kenya the funds saved to invest in stuff for their own utility, so they can stand on their own two feet. Or however many millions of feet there are in Kenya – 100 million?

Let’s eat less meat. Let’s stop making thousands of gallons of almond milk, using up millions of gallons of precious water in the process. Let’s drink less almond milk instead! LESS IS MORE!

Let’s make bling unfashionable. Just like the fur trade became practically extinct when enough trend setters turned their backs – in very graphic terms. Together we can stop the grotesque over-consumption which is killing us and killing our planet. And we must.

190323 BREXIT MARCH MARGOT POSTER

As Greens we alone have the means and the morals to get that ball rolling. No other EU group of politicians has the guts to tackle growth. European Labour parties are wedded to the Trades Unions, EU Conservative parties are in hock to corporate funding. Both camps are slaves to growth.

Only the European Greens are clean. We are not dependent on funding from vested interests. That makes life hard, but it also hands us a unique political asset. One we must maximise to the full. Our bigger European Green colleagues will launch plenty of Green policies we can join and support, and if we concentrate on championing reduced consumption, they will join us too.

So let’s start painting that big mural. Today!

190323 BREXIT MARCH EUROPE INNIT

Past, present and future: Kirsten de Keyser for London Green European election candidate

190129 Campaign CUArticle from Bright Green 14 March 2019

Somewhere last week, someone said

“The UK could leave the EU without ever knowing what it was all about”.

And in the immortal words of Terry Pratchett:

“If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going.”

So to be a solid winner, our message for the 2019 Campaign for Europe must be delivered in three parts; The Past, The Present, The Future.

The past: Shaped by traditional media

Traditional media was hostile to Europe, not least because journalists felt linguistically inferior. Only a tiny minority could understand European television, and most could not read continental newspapers.

Despite the fact that Europe’s political operators spoke several languages, and spoke English fluently, researching European stories was a chore and a bore. To satisfy the British audience’s craving for sensation, the media therefore simply settled for mocking and jibing myths of bendy bananas, curvy cucumbers and the demise of the British banger.

The population was none the wiser, this was all the information it got and its opinions were therefore entirely shaped by such tripe.

The present: Shaped by social media

But that cosy slumber was disgraciously disrupted by the screeching handbrake-turn arrival of social media. Suddenly, a world of energetic, international chatter and info-sharing crowded out the dead-tree-press and the old five-channel-television landscape.

For good – and for ill – the people, and primarily younger people, were now in control of the media and they shaped the debate.

The unforgiving nakedness and immediacy of these new communication paths exposed the total rot in the British political and institutional systems. It seemed that the only healthy shoot was the Green Party.

Whistleblowers blew their whistles on all manner of institutional corruption and fiddling of the public finances. Citizen journalists with smart phones provided a whole new and revealing gallery of the lifestyles of the few.

And rising out of all that, Europe finally became able to speak directly to its voters. And their young voters listened. And in 2016, they voted firmly to remain with Generation Europe.

As a last throw of the old dice, the 2016 In/Out referendum was totally corrupted by two warring establishment flanks and the message was swamped in a barrage of lies and deceit.

The future: Shaped by us and the Green agenda

In the meantime, the Green agenda is steadily and inevitably taking over the international debate and that is where we come in. We will hopefully be faced with fighting another EU election in May. And “in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.”

Meaning that if we can’t even be bothered to vote, we’ll most likely get a self serving bunch of politicians, in love with the sound of their own voice and with little ability to run even a beverage convention in a brewery.

And on an even more serious note, abysmal voter turnout means that the result lacks democratic legitimacy. If politicians are elected by a mere handful of voters, they cannot claim to have a mandate.

So, here’s my message to you: The Green Party is your party and this election belongs to you.

We are lucky to have a formidable field of truly impressive Green candidates. Read their engaging manifestos. You could literally vote for any one of them and be sure of a truly solid MEP candidate, who would champion our Green Party agenda in the EU.

So, whoever you entrust with your vote,

for goodness sake Greens,

Vote! Vote! Vote!

Kirsten de Keyser is a Green Party activist based in Camden. In 2018, de Keyser was selected to fight the seat of Holborn & St Pancras in the event of an early general election, and narrowly missed out on being elected as a Highgate councillor in May of that year, losing by just 200 votes.