The Norwich Radical editorial team has asked candidates for the constituencies of Norwich South, Norwich North, and Broadland, Norfolk to contribute a short piece regarding the upcoming General Election on 12th December 2019. We have contacted all candidates belonging to parties that reflect or adhere to our values as seen in our Founding Statement, highlighting what role they see their candidacy playing in the coming years in a changing political landscape, their vision of what Norwich’s role should be, and how they will approach that in practice. These are the responses from the candidates who replied.
Dr Catherine Rowett
I have been serving as the Green Party MEP for the East of England since May last year. Most impressive in that election were the rise in Green Party representation (up from three to seven MEPs) and the spectacular result in Norwich, where the Green vote outstripped all other parties—with a lead of over 3,000 votes over the Labour Party.
Norwich has always known that voting Green is a serious option. Under proportional representation, and in local elections, voting Green gets results. In the Vote for Policies websites, Green policies score highly. One of our key policies—perhaps the most important reason to vote Green, next after the climate—is voting reform. Had this country had Proportional Representation by 2015, we would not be in the pickle we are now in, I submit. And if we don’t get PR now, much more is at risk: the unity of the United Kingdom, for instance; even our representative democracy as such.
In my eight months in office in the European Parliament I have worked on files that affect the whole continent. I’ve spoken on issues from factory farming in Suffolk, to human rights in Hong Kong. I understand ever more clearly how much more powerful we are while we remain in Europe. We need to be agents of change across Europe, at this crucial turning point in the history of our planet; we must transform not just our country, but the whole world. The EU has a powerful role to play here.
My role over the next four years is surely to continue in Europe – to grow in stature and influence there. Should the Tories run off with a majority this week, and push us off the cliff in January, that will be a total disaster. The next struggle begins then.
Suppose I do get elected to Westminster? If so, I would hand over my role in Brussels to the second Green on the list. I’d be glad to work with other like-minded politicians in Westminster to realise as much as possible of our radical and transformative political agenda for the UK. This would enable Norwich to be represented for the views it really holds: proudly pro-Europe, proudly green-minded—but not with an uncritical love of the EU, but rather the desire to work across borders to make something much better, something greener and fairer, kinder and more generous. Green politics is about a desire to bring everyone into harmony with the natural world, with their own better selves, and with the things that restore mental health, physical wellbeing, and a good relationship with others.
What is the Green Party’s political agenda at this election? It’s been called the Green New Deal because in the face of the climate crisis it offers a solution that makes economic sense, and ensures prosperity, not austerity, for all. It’s a Keynesian economic model in that it seeks to borrow, invest, spend, more ambitiously than any other party, to stimulate a lively local economy in which business can flourish. State funding will support green energy, green housing, green transport and good agriculture, fisheries and forestry, but our aim is not economic growth but sustainability and fair distribution. There will be funds for research and development, well-funded schools with small classes freed from the regime of testing, an end to student debt; a universal basic income will provide security for those undertaking a risky venture, creative or self-employed activities, and self-betterment. We’ll have warm dry houses at affordable rents. Low cost public transport will enable people to travel easily to work and school, and roads will be for cycling and walking, not stationary queues of cars
This scale of transformation, scheduled to deliver a carbon-neutral economy by 2030, is tough but not unmanageable. We have a list of ten parliamentary bills to present in the first two years. They include plans to take back the NHS into public hands, ridding it of the privatised services that are leeching its funds; a bill for rent reform, a future generations bill to ensure that all legislation is checked for its effect on lives in the future, and a bill to deliver a sustainable economy. Replacing the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a Carbon Chancellor, and setting the annual budget in terms of the carbon allowance, not a monetary target, will radically change the way we measure success. To solve the mental health crisis we need not just proper funding, short waiting times and full parity of esteem but policies to address the root causes of stress and misery: eliminating Universal Credit, providing an unconditional Basic Income, transforming drug policy, full maintenance for students, freeing up the school curriculum, and redesigning a society in which the gross inequalities of wealth and opportunity that we see now can become nothing more than a tale about a horrendous past we once lived in.
Featured image by Sara Harrington
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