Part 9 of our Pre-Election guide. Today, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell explains why it's time to give the Green Party a chance.
Labour has lost its heart and soul. It has become the party of war, privatisation and the erosion of hard-won civil liberties. The Lib Dems support free market capitalism, use dirty tricks during election campaigns, and when they get into office they always drift to the right. The Conservatives are split between modernisers and the reactionary old guard. Their green-friendly image is contradicted by their anti-green policies of supporting new motorways, aviation expansion and more nuclear power stations – just like Labour.
As I see it, the Green Party is the most progressive force in British politics, with a visionary agenda for democratic reform, social justice, human rights, global equity, environmental protection, peace and internationalism.
With an empowering new political and economic paradigm, the Greens offer the best hope for radical reform, as set out in our Manifesto for a Sustainable Society.
Unlike the far left, the Greens often win. We’ve got elected representatives in local councils all over Britain, and in the London Assembly and the Scottish and European Parliaments. Opinion polls suggest that the Greens are poised to win their first MPs. Caroline Lucas is leading in Brighton Pavilion and the Greens are also polling well in Norwich South and Lewisham Deptford.
The Greens are not just an environmental party. We are also a social justice party, with commitments to industrial democracy, workers cooperatives and trade union rights. Our aim is a democratic economy, which gives all employees a real say in how their institution is run and which utilises their accumulated skill and experience to improve private enterprises and public services.
We want to make society fairer and more equal, and to redistribute wealth and power. This democratisation and socialisation of the economy is necessary, we argue, to improve productivity, prevent a repeat of the reckless decisions that led to the economic meltdown and to reorient production to meet people’s needs. This includes switching from weapons production to the manufacture of renewable energy and advanced medical technologies, which are socially useful and have huge export potential.
The Greens are not retreads of the old Left. Traditional socialism is flawed. It is based on a left-wing version of big business growth-driven economics, with the goal of producing more and consuming more. This uncritical drive to maximise economic expansion is destroying our planet, causing life-threatening pollution, climate chaos and species extinction. It is also dramatically depleting reserves of natural resources, such as oil, that are vital to the global economy and to the long-term maintenance of a decent standard of living. This old-style growth-fixated economics, which is shared by both the left and the right, is outdated and reactionary. It is time for fresh thinking.
The Greens argue that quality of life and fair shares for all are more important than the left’s simplistic agenda of spending more on public services. Greens would, of course, invest more in health and education. But we also believe that government needs to radically rethink basic premises, like shifting the focus in the NHS from curative to preventative medicine. Our aim is to ensure that many fewer people get sick in the first place, rather than merely throwing more money into treating people once they become ill.
The Greens realise that the whole economic system has to change, in order to meet people’s needs and to ensure the survival of life on this planet. We propose a synthesis of the best bits of red and green, combining social justice with sustainable economics.
A good example of how we would do this is our proposed Roosevelt-style Green New Deal. It would stimulate the economy through large-scale government investment in socially and environmentally valuable energy conservation, renewable energy and cheap, hi-tech public transport. This would slash carbon emissions and tackle climate change, as well as creating hundreds of thousands of green jobs.
We’d fund the Green New Deal by axing Labour and Tory plans to waste £160 billion on Trident nuclear missiles (£76bn), super aircraft carriers (£4bn), Eurofighter aircraft (£20bn), A400 air transporter (£3bn), national identity register (£10bn), the Afghan war (£5bn), motorway building and widening (£30bn) and NHS computerisation (£20bn).
The Green Party rejects the failed neo-liberal economic policies that are backed by the three main parties - policies that recently pushed the world to the brink of a second great depression and which leave billions of people malnourished, illiterate, homeless, diseased and impoverished. But amid the gloom, we say: A different world is possible. The future is bright – bright Green.
Peter Tatchell is a human rights campaigner and a member of the Green Party. Read more about his work at: http://www.petertatchell.net
[Tomorrow: the Conservatives, by M. Jackart]