The Norwich Radical aims to offer wide and fair coverage of both national and international politics, including elections, campaigns, and movements affecting local and wider scale policies. In light of this, we have contacted all the candidates standing in both the Leadership and Deputy Leadership elections for The Green Party of England and Wales, asking them to explain their vision for the Party and the country. We will be publishing their responses over the week leading up to the elections.

by Leslie Rowe

I am deeply disappointed at the current state of British politics. For too long we have allowed a Tory minority to undermine our NHS, social services, local government, emergency services and indeed the full plethora of public services. The Conservative policy of forcing up the costs of services by privatisation and then cutting those services in the name of austerity, is a fraud being perpetrated on the British people, which the mass media have singularly failed to call out.

Meanwhile the Tory record on management is extraordinary in its ineptitude. Our balance of trade deficit is not addressed, leaving our economy in an unsustainable position. Our public and private debt is at record levels, with Government borrowing now three times higher than it was when the Tories came to power in 2010, at £2 trillion.

Most publicly, the so called “Brexit” negotiations are nothing more than a cack handed attempt at negotiating a Free Trade deal, whilst ignoring the result of the largest democratic vote in the UK’s history. And where have the opposition parties been during this process? Cheer leading the interests of big business and the Corporatocracy.

The Green Party needs to re-focus on its stated priorities. To focus on climate change, localism, democracy and economic de-growth and not on the EU. Prior to the 2016 EU referendum we, in our 2015 General Election manifesto, faithfully promised to accept the result. We should do that now and move on. Look Forward, not Back.

The Green Party needs to re-focus on its stated priorities.

In particular to acknowledge that climate change is not a campaign for the future, its effects are being felt here and now. Our core message has long been of replacing a pro-growth consumer society with a society wedded to conserving our environment. We have been told many times that if the world wishes to avoid exceeding the 2°C rise in global temperatures that will trigger non-reversible climate change, then the wealthiest countries, including the UK, have to adopt a de-growth strategy for a limited period.

Having even a 50/50 chance of keeping the planet under a 2-degree level of warming is incompatible with economic growth,” author Naomi Klein said at the 2014 Leipzig De-growth conference. We should actively campaign for a UK de-growth economic policy, a beacon of sanity for the rest of the world to follow.

In the Green Party policy statement, EU100 we state “In our Green vision for Europe we seek to replace the unsustainable economics of free trade and unrestricted growth with the ecological alternative of local self reliance and resource conservation.” This is totally at odds with the declared aim of the EU for continuing Economic Growth. In his opening statement laying out his vision for the single market, the President of the European commission, Jean Claude Juncker put economic growth as the main goal. There is no evidence that this policy will change in the foreseeable future. Indeed the EU has just imposed new austerity measures on Greece that are designed to last until 2060!

Economic policy in the EU is controlled by the unelected and secretive Eurogroup. As Yanis Varoufakis said in his book “Adults in the Room” …”democracy had indeed died the moment the Eurogroup acquired the authority to dictate economic policy to member states without anything resembling federal democratic sovereignty” (page 237). It is the Eurogroup who continue to force privatisation on Greece and other EU states.

So it is time for the Green Party to campaign not for the EU and continued growth, but for a sustainable future based on de-growth and meeting the societal needs of the British people. We can carve out a unique position by opposing ALL UK free trade agreements (including the EU single market) and focus on reducing the out of control UK trade deficit by supporting sustainable UK manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries and reducing imports. It would re-balance the UK economy and give the Green Party a unique position in UK politics. Like Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece and the Five Star Movement in Italy: we can achieve GREAT political success by giving our country (and the world) HOPE that there is a real alternative to the neo-liberal economics forced on us since Thatcher.

This means:

  • Embracing localism in our procurement policies for schools, hospitals and other public institutions, making it a virtue of buying local, preferably organic, food and other supplies.
  • Step up our opposition to the creeping privatisation of the NHS, especially now that the Tories would no longer have the excuse of EU neo-liberal policies on procurement. Campaign to use the extra money for the NHS in tripling the number of training places for doctors and nurses, reintroducing bursaries and abolishing student fees.
  • Point out that leaving the EU does not mean that we have to leave the European Court of Human Rights, which is a separate and older institution. Indeed we can champion the Court in our opposition to Tory attempts to water down our rights.
  • Campaign for a Green UK Government, supporting universal basic income and Positive Money; to reverse the neoliberal economic policies favoured by all successor governments since Thatcher, both Labour and Tory.
  • Campaign to re-nationalise the UK railways and utility companies unhindered by EU Directives such as 2012/34/EU establishing mandatory competition in a Single European Railway Area.
  • Solve the Northern Ireland border issue by actively campaigning for a referendum for a United Ireland.
  • Renew our campaign for the abolition of the House of Lords and the creation of a new elected senate of the regions.
  • Actively campaign for more local democracy with proportional representation, a new independence referendum in Scotland and greater autonomy for Wales.

In this way we can renew and invigorate the Green Party by following a more radical agenda. I say to the other candidates, you cannot be a radical by defending the status quo. I can promise that by voting for Leslie Rowe, you will be voting for a radical Green Party, dedicated to taking effective action on climate change. NOW.

Featured image via Leslie Rowe

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