West Midlands: Ellie Chowns

Ellie Chowns is the Green Party’s lead MEP candidate for the West Midlands in the 2019 European elections.

 

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Ellie Chowns, MEP Candidate for the West Midlands
Ellie Chowns

 

Greens are not tainted by association with austerity or the old political parties; we’re a genuinely fresh alternative.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I’m a mum of two wonderful teenage boys, and I live on an organic farm in Herefordshire. I spent 15 years working in international development charities like VSO and Christian Aid, and now I work as a lecturer at the University of Birmingham, teaching Masters students from all over the world – a job that I love! I’m also Leader of the Green Group on Herefordshire Council, where I’ve been a councillor since 2017.

Why did you decide to stand as an MEP this year?

Because these are the most important EU elections we have ever had. I got involved in politics four years ago because I simply couldn’t stand on the sidelines any more, grumbling at the radio. I was so frustrated at the rise of nastiness in our politics, the rise of UKIP especially, and felt I had to get involved, get out on the streets knocking on doors and talking to people who might start off with a different view from me. I’ve really enjoyed it, and I’ve found that people really do change their minds as a result of those conversations. Here and now, I just feel it’s vital to stand up for what I believe in and for the sort of world I want my kids to live in. It’s absolutely clear that the UK is better off in the EU – and it’s vital we stay in the EU and work together to tackle the really big issues like climate change.

How has campaigning been so far? What level of enthusiasm are you seeing for these elections?

Actually it’s been a really great campaign so far! There’s a fantastic energy around – we did so brilliantly in the local elections and there really is this sense of a gathering wave of support. I’ve had so many people from all sorts of political backgrounds – Labour, Conservative, and Lib Dem, too – come up to me and say ‘I used to vote for X party but I am voting Green now because I agree with you!'

What is it like campaigning to be an MEP when it’s not clear that UK MEPs will take their seats in the European Parliament?

It’s true there’s lots of uncertainty about what will happen in the coming months – and that goes for UK politics too! I don’t feel distracted by it to be honest. I want to be elected for two reasons: to continue to campaign for a People’s Vote to stop Brexit and stay in the EU, and to work within Europe to push forward Green ideas. Campaigning gives me the opportunity to talk to people of all backgrounds and to change their minds and convince them to vote Green!

Why should people vote Green in the European elections?

People should vote Green in the European elections to get MEPs who are not only absolutely clear that we should stop Brexit and stay in the EU, but who also have really clear principles and a track record of getting things done! We’re not tainted by association with austerity or the old political parties; we’re a genuinely fresh alternative. We’ve got three times more MEPs than the Lib Dems and those Green MEPs have done brilliant work and had real influence on key issues like clamping down on tax evasion and improving animal welfare across the EU. I think people all across the political spectrum have really woken up to the climate emergency and they want to vote for a party that has led on this issue and that always calls the big issues right!

If elected, what would your priorities be for your region on the European stage?

Three things. Firstly, my region, the West Midlands, has a proud industrial history – it was the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. I want us to be at the centre of the new, clean, green industrial revolution, creating good jobs we can all be proud of! Secondly, I want to see reform of agriculture subsidies so that they work to protect nature much better, as well as supporting growing healthy food. And thirdly, of course as a Green I will be pushing for much more urgent action to tackle the climate crisis and help us move to zero carbon as soon as possible.

Find out more about the other Greens standing in the European elections.