Monday, 8 May 2017

2017: A short manifesto

A better world is possible. We owe it to our children and our neighbours. We even owe it to ourselves.

But we must start from what’s gone wrong. The UK faces a triple crisis:

  • An environmental crisis of climate change, species loss and polluted air.
  • A social crisis of an over-stretched NHS and growing poverty and inequality.
  • A political crisis where the power of money and fake facts undermine democracy.
Only the Green Party sees that all these crises are serious and linked. So only the Green Party will address all of them.

The environmental crisis
The last 50 years have seen an extraordinary loss of wild things. The rate of species extinction is 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than that in previous periods. Global temperatures are rising at an accelerating pace and the loss of much of the Arctic Ice shows that we have become the major influence on the planet's climate, flora and fauna. Planetary scientists recognise this by calling this period the Anthropocene.

In the UK the Green Party has led on climate change and air pollution. If elected I will work for the transformation of our energy and transport systems so they no longer poison our air and trash our climate.

These changes will improve our health in the short-term and our safety in the long-term - provided we can mobilise the international community to do the things it has already agreed to - like the Paris Agreement.

The social crisis
The banking crisis of 2007 ended a period of unfettered growth and public confidence in 'the system' and its leadership. We can now see that this period was not as good as we thought since most of the benefits of growth went to the top 1% of society. 

The banking crisis (due to the recklessness, still unpunished, of bankers) gave us a Coalition government that preferred blaming its predecessors to solving our problems. Pretending that national accounts are just like domestic accounts - only bigger - the chancellor set out to balance the books by cutting expenditure.

The Green Party understands that the cuts are self-serving ideology, not good housekeeping. The Green Party stands with leading economists in confronting the ideology and with campaigners in resisting the cuts. If elected I will defend the NHS and schools and protect local people from a welfare system that no longer cares about people.

Our priorities here should be to bring people out of poverty and restore our social and health services. It will not be cheap. Fortunately the Tories's obsession with cutting taxes provides a new progressive government with some headroom, ie space to raise taxes without trashing the economy. And, of course, its proper to borrow for investments in our future. 

More radical change will be needed beyond that - a Universal Basic Income and major upskilling of our people, especially with vocational skills. And I would focus on the sectors we need for the future such as electric vehicles, renewable energy and energy efficient construction.

The political crisis
Our political system is corrupt and dysfunctional. Votes in marginal seats like Enfield North have much more influence than those in 'safe' seats like Southgate so the major parties concentrate on them. We need a new, proportional, system to address this.

As their membership has fallen the main parties have become increasingly dependent on gifts from the rich. The Green Party, like you, knows that he who pays the piper calls the tune. That's one reason why all three main parties are so keen to help 'The City' and keep the people who created the 2007 crash out of jail.

If elected I will work to reform party finance and our voting system. 

Another crisis
Last year the UK voted to leave the EU in a campaign notable for floods of 'alternative facts' (which used to be known as 'lies'). The Leavers were as surprised as the Remainers and have struggled to produce a negotiating position. I would summarise the government's current position as ignorant, arrogant and short-sighted. The EU27 will NOT give us better terms than we have now. If our next government continues Mrs May's policies they may not give us any deal!

Two years is an extraordinarily short time for a negotiation of unprecedented complexity and would be even is we had a full team of experienced negotiators - which we don't. 

The decision is taken and the process has begun but no-one can foresee the result. Last year the people of the UK signed up to a contract whose terms they did not know. This is a once in a generation decision so its only right that the British people should be given a final choice once the terms are known.

If elected I will work to give you a vote on whatever BREXIT deal the next government gets. And the option to stay in the EU.

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