Imagine a political system that puts the public first. Imagine an economy that gives everyone their fair share. Imagine a society capable of supporting everyone’s needs. Imagine a planet protected from the threat of climate change now and for the generations to come
Who are they?
In 1990, the Green Party amicably separated into three political parties: the Green Party of England and Wales, the Scottish Green Party and the Green Party in Northern Ireland. The Green Party of England and Wales is the largest of all three, and currently holds one seat in the House of Commons, occupied by Caroline Lucas, Britain’s first Green MP. The current leader of the Green Party is Natalie Bennett, with Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali as deputy leaders.
In October 2014, the major TV broadcasters – Sky, the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV – faced a deluge of criticism and threats of legal action when they proposed to include UKIP, but not the Green Party in the planned televised Prime Ministerial debates in the general election this year. In January this year, Prime Minister David Cameron said he will refuse to take part in the TV debates unless the Green Party is also included. The broadcasters clearly saw sense as the new plans for TV election debates were announced soon after Cameron’s fight for justice, now set to include leaders of seven UK political parties – the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green Party, UKIP, the SNP and Plaid Cymru.
It has been said that, in many ways, the Greens and UKIP are mirror images of each other. According to research, whilst most of UKIP’s supporters are older, male ex-Tory voters, Green voters are younger, mainly female and better-educated.
What are their values?
Although the Green Party has often been viewed as a ‘single issue’ environmentalist party, it also has a history of support for communitarian economic policies, tending to draw from the left of British politics favouring government intervention and high taxation to support public services. It takes a progressive approach to social policies such as animal rights, LGBTIQ rights and drug policy reform, and believes strongly in nonviolence, basic material security and democratic participation. One of the most important values of the Green Party is that of a “sustainable society” in order to guarantee humanity’s long-term future, given that physical resources are finite. This is of course why they feel it is imperative that we do not advance our well-being to the detriment of others in the future. For the Greens, decisions are to be made “at the closest practical level to those affected by them” to “emphasise democratic participation and accountability”. They take a Bhutan-type view, believing we should end the use of “narrow economic indicators” to measure society’s success, instead taking account of factors affecting the quality of life for all people. Their philosophy is that “a world based on cooperation and democracy would prioritise the many, not the few, and would not risk the planet’s future with environmental destruction and unsustainable consumption.”
What are their proposals for the upcoming election?
An Economy for the common good
- The Green Party support a fairer tax system, in which the wealthiest contribute more and no one can dodge their responsibility. They are strongly against austerity, and believe the poorest should not have to pay for a crisis that they didn’t cause
- Green MEPs will also work within the EU to ensure no tax evasion and avoidance and to end public fossil fuel subsidies as agreed in international commitments
- The Green Party are strongly against privatisation, and believe we should bring infrastructure such as water supplies, the national grid and railways back into public ownership
- The Greens support fair trade, not free trade, as they support the rights of impoverished countries to protect their industries and their workers and to determine their own economic futures
Preserving the planet
Climate change, more than almost any other issue, demonstrates the need for cross continental and global co-operation. No one country can solve this great challenge alone.
- The Green Party is prepared to lead a low carbon energy revolution, in which they will ensure that zero-carbon energy becomes affordable
- The Greens are completely opposed to fracking, deep sea oil drilling and the development of nuclear power stations
- Green MEPs are also fighting for a food revolution, wanting to increase support for small scale farming and farming co-operatives, and reduce support for agribusiness and supermarkets as well as banning Genetically Modified food
- The Greens have a number of strong policies on animal protection, aimed at putting an end to: cruel factory farming practices, the industrialisation of animal farming, all animal experimentation and the use of animals in any sport or entertainment that causes pain and suffering
Defending public services
- The Greens believe that the privatisation of the NHS will be “possibly the worst legacy of this government” and will fight to restore the NHS to public ownership
- The Green Party will support the right of all to healthcare, irrespective of where they are from
- The Green Party feel that the UK should accept the European norm and abolish tuition fees
- The Green approach to housing is radically different from that of the establishment parties, supporting the building of new council houses and the buying up of homes to make them council houses
Fight discrimination, opposing oppression
Greens have always been at the forefront in the EU into being every more ambitious in its drive to abolish discrimination from our communities
- The Greens support the free movement of people across the EU and continue to work to protect the rights of particularly marginalised groups
- The Green manifesto also includes proposals aimed at protecting both non-EU migrants and refugees, including the opposition of the detention of migrants
- The Greens were the first party in England to support marriage equality, which is reflected in their manifesto through proposals such as adopting an EU Roadmap on LGBTIQ equality
- The Greens are strictly anti-racism and are prepared to actively support marginalised groups and challenge institutional racism in all sectors
- The Green party is proud of its feminist principles and, if elected, will continue to support moves towards gender equality such as demanding legal changes to make it easier for women to take equal pay cases as well as expanding parental leave which is split more evenly between parents
Our Europe: governance for the common good
The European Union is vital because some issues are best resolved at a continental level. Solidarity between neighbours is key to our common future and sometimes, decisions are best made together because they affect us all or because it is important to work together rather than compete in a race to the bottom
- Although the Greens support a referendum on membership, they will campaign to keep the UK in the EU
- However, it will also work for radical changes to the way in which it operates, ensuring that it is not too captured by big businesses and that Parliament, the only directly democratic part of the EU, has more power over the Commission
Could they be successful?
Two years ago, polling on just under 2%, the Green Party was not on anyone’s mind. However, with Ed Miliband’s party since dropping 10 points on the poll, support for the Green Party has increased more than threefold to 7%. Whilst this 7% does not look promising for Labour, it also could be David Cameron’s best hope of remaining Prime Minister after the 7th May poll.
So, although the chance of the Greens being successful this election are very slim, the rise in support for the Greens directly hurts Labour’s electoral chances as it is coming mainly from ex-Labour supporters. Furthermore, according to an analysis carried out by YouGov’s Peter Kellner in October 2015, 50% of the Green’s vote is coming from the Liberal Democrats. This is another blow to Labour as former Liberal Democrat voters who were inclined to support the Labour party, are now choosing the Green party instead.