Notes from the Green Party MEP for East of England. Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Thursday, 10 October 2019

What I did in August

During August we had a period of parliamentary recess, which was an opportunity to return to the UK for a reasonably long period at home, and get some jobs done.

In the periods when my staff were not on their annual leave breaks, I was able to work with the staff in my UK office on compiling events for my diary, both for August and for the Autumn period. In addition I spent time recruiting to a trainee (Stagiaire) position in my Brussels office: advertising, shortlisting and interviewing for this position was time consuming since we had many highly qualified and interesting applicants, but I was pleased in the end that we appointed the person whom I had initially had at the top of my own preliminary listing. Her name is Zulekha Hassan, and she has been working with my Brussels team now since the beginning of September. Besides my own appointment, I also contributed to the task (with my fellow Green MEPs) of advertising and recruiting to two posts to assist the group of us together in Brussels, to provide coordination on our collaborative work and media work.

Other tasks in my diary for August included speaking at a new members's day for Norwich Green Party, a day of media training with my fellow Green MEPs in London, followed by an away-day for team building for the group of us together in Herefordshire, some strategic meetings in the East of England relating to General Election strategy, and, of course, much effort and engagement with the crises in the UK political scene during what was an unusually silly silly season.

On 15th August I attended a fascinating event held in North Walsham, the North Norfolk Environment Forum, where the council and experts and representatives of various groups were brainstorming together in a fruitful way concerning how to address the very real threats to the region from climate change, and the radical changes to practices and responses that are needed in the region to meet the challenges.
There were some fruitful exchanges and many good and ambitious ideas were floated, so I look forward to seeing the council implement them as soon as is practical.

Later in August I visited the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, where I met the distinguished Nobel Laureate John Gurdon, and other amazing researchers, and heard from a number of younger scholars working at the institute as PhD students or postdocs. I was given a tour of the labs and had a look into the microscopes. But the purpose of the visit was to discuss with the Director, the researchers, the representative of the Wellcome Trust and others what we can do about the severe threat that Brexit poses to the research environment, and especially to the freedom of young scholars to pursue a career in research in the UK.

Later that day, also in Cambridge, I had the pleasure of going with the local Green Party to present an award to the Pipasha Bangladeshi restaurant,
in honour of its excellent vegetarian cuisine (of which we enjoyed some excellent examples) and then I spoke at a meeting of Green party members at the Maypole in the centre of Cambridge where we took part in an event on the "Breathing Cities" theme and spoke to the press about the threat to the continued existence of the Maypole pub from the plans to redevelop the car park next door to it.


At the end of August I spoke at the Greenbelt Festival at the Boughton Estate in Northamtponshire, where the line-up included Russell Brand and the Archbishop of Canterbury (not that I went to hear either of them). I spent two nights there and took my nephew Anthony to sample the experience (he has recently graduated from University and was in the process of preparing to start his Masters degree this Autumn). After that I went to Oxfordshire for a couple of days of holiday before returning to Norwich.

On Sunday 1st September I attended the famous Burston Strike School rally with Another Europe is Possible and the Norwich Green Party. It is a big event in the Trade Union calendar and many rousing speeches and musical events were running on the stage, and there was an impressive march of banners. It was a warm and sunny day, for the most part, and we were glad of the Green Party canopy. And then that evening I caught the ferry back to Brussels again, and September's political work began again.