Greens discuss the power of voting
The hall at Palace Green Pavilion was filled to capacity last Saturday, for a cross-border event organised by Berwick Greens to mark the centenary of the first votes for women.
Guest speakers were the leader of the Scottish Greens, a noted Northumberland historian of the women’s suffrage movement and the former leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.
The three had come great distances: Patrick Harvie from Glasgow; Penni Blythe from Epsom, where she had been commemorating the centenary at the spot where Emily Davison died; and Natalie Bennett from Lancashire, where she had been supporting protests against the start of fracking there.
The talks highlighted the steps forward in democracy that have been taken in the past, and what still remains to be done –the lack of equality of representation by women in parliament, or on councils, and the lack of equality on the boards of companies and other decision making-bodies.
Tom Stewart, of Berwick Greens, said: “We can only look with envy across the border at their established use of proportional voting systems, and votes for 16 and 17-year olds, and the level of political engagement that these changes have brought about.”
He added: “In Berwick we are given meaningless votes on the police commissioner, and (next year) on a puppet mayor for Northumberland, but at the same time so much control over our lives and communities is being lost to London and to corporate HQs.”
Berwick Greens, which hosted the event, hope that it will be the first of many conversations in north Northumberland, dealing with how we wish to strengthen our own control of our future.