Speaker’s Corner: The Green Party - Against austerity, for the common good

Darren Bisby-Boyd, Green Party candidate for Peterborough
Darren Bisby-Boyd, Green Party candidate for Peterborough
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The Green Party has enjoyed much attention, media coverage and a huge surge in the polls and membership of late.

It is no coincidence that a mass movement of people are ready to stand up and challenge the systems that rule us.

A common misapprehension, still held by a large section of the population, is that Green Politics is about environmentalism. On the contrary, from very early on the Greens recognised that the system under which we live is the root cause of all our problems, and that no amount of reforms could improve anything until that system is changed. For decades, the Green Party has been perceived by most people as a single issue party. Whenever it was approached for comment by the media, it was always with respect to an environmental issue. Few people were aware that the party has a comprehensive set of detailed policies covering every aspect of life, a radical programme advocating a total transformation of the social, economic and political systems that currently prevail.

Syriza, the anti - austerity movement turned political party has shown that when people have austerity forced upon them with devastating effect, people can use their voices and their votes to effect change. Britain is one of the wealthiest nations on this planet, it is not the people who should be bailing out the bankers and we should not be forced to bow down to a super rich who care little for our welfare. Until politics can tackle the root cause of these issues, there will be no change and it will remain business as usual.

Our parties’ aims are to safeguard our environment, to preserve our planet and to protect humanity. We believe these elements are combined. No longer can economics, military spending, inequality, agriculture, biodiversity loss, mental health, crime, poverty, education and so on be treated as separate, independent issues. When I (Darren??) implemented ‘20s plenty’ policy around roads in Hampton it was with the ethos of protecting both local people that use the pathways and roads as well as the local environment, landscape and surrounding houses and homes in the vicinity. People’s health will also benefit due to lower carbon emissions, cycling and walking leads to less pressure on the NHS as people become healthier and happier. Walking also encourages dialogue with other local residents and therefore a sense of belonging and being part of a wider community.

The Green Party have introduced a ‘Nature and Well Being Act’ that is based on this idea of belonging and health, Caroline Lucas MP frames the argument clearly “There’s an urgent need to reconnect people - not least our children - with nature and give people a meaningful say over their local environment.” The Act protects threatened species, our seas and encourages young people to find out more about the outdoors. Leading British Environmentalist, Tony Juniper adds: “Nature is essential for health, wealth and security and we need clear policies so that all the values that nature provides remain intact”.

Equitable societies are healthier, happier and more likely to undertake large scale changes needed to ensure sustainability. Other parties hanker after economic growth, but we have seen the devastating effects of growing our economy to far and too fast: we have seen rocketing house prices, bad debt and economic collapse. How long will it take to break this destructive circle? Sustainability is our key concept. Community spaces are needed that encourage us to shop locally and grow our own food across our local communities.

Why would someone on minimum wage, in a dead end job worry about the social and environmental consequences of their mode of transport if there are no decent public services? Whilst being fed that accumulation of sufficient wealth to buy the latest car is the measure of success.

In terms of employment, The Green party offers a minimum wage pledge of £10 per hour to be implemented by 2020.and it is no less than we deserve, by 2020 will this even cover the cost of food and energy bills as we struggle to make ends meet in our households? The Green Party breaks from views on working too, we define work in the full sense, not the traditional limited definition as employment in the formal economy. Green thinking recognises the latter as one part of the whole - a large part, but not the only one. Work exists in a variety of forms, each related to and often affecting others. Work covers all the activities people undertake to support themselves, their families and communities. The Green Parties’ long term aim is to end the oppressive and exploitative nature of economic relations and develop a society of equality and economic justice.

In contrast to the Green Party’s joined up thinking, the headline policy of the three main parties is more austerity, with a massive £55 billion of more cuts announced in last years Autumn Statement. These measures will deliver an endless stream of negative, counter productive results, including increased levels of inequality, which exacerbate a whole range of problems from social mobility to mental health, drug use and dependency on food banks.

Green Politics is fundamentally different from other political ideologies because it is concerned with the relationships between people and planet, as well as between people and people. It can seem hard in times of forced austerity to absorb these ideas, when we are struggling to top up our gas meters, or pay for basic food items or take our children to places. It can always seem like no one is on your side, when your long working hours do not cover the basics, when your job is threatened, or redundancy looms, when you lose employment or cannot find work, that everything is pitted against you, it can be gut wrenching and very upsetting.

Fortunately we have real, workable solutions. We are here to help; there is a positive way ahead. And its colour is Green. We ask, kindly, for you to vote Green in 2015.

http://greenparty.org.uk/news/2014/09/09/green-party-introduce-a-nature-and-wellbeing-act/

http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/wr.html