Monday, May 03, 2010

The Green backbone

It probably wasn't too difficult to sense my anger and disappointment at the main parties lack of honesty over cuts in my last post.

In fact, their lack of honesty and imagination in trying to explain some of the big changes we need has been shocking. Although there are significant differences between the parties it's not surprising that they're not always easy to spot through the mud slinging fight for the middle ground.

If you've read some of my other posts you'll know I'll be voting Green on Thursday. One of the reasons for this is their upfront clarity on some radical, expensive, but just and necessary policies.

Take inequality. Money doesn't make us happy, but study after study shows that the more unequal societies are the less well they function  and the more unhappy they become. Have a look at the Equality Trust. The Green Party would tackle this head on. Imagine the reduction in inequality if we:

  • raised the minimum wage towards £8.10 per hour to reward working rather than benefits (saving £6bn in tax credits)
  • abolished the upper limit for National Insurance (you currently only pay 1% NI on earnings over a certain figure) - raising £9.1bn
  • Help lower earners by raising the lower National Insurance limit to the personal allowance rate costing £3.9bn.
  • Help lower earners by reintroducing the 10% tax band and the 22p basic rate, costing £14.9bn.
  • Reform inheritance tax, so that the level of taxation depends on the wealth of the recipient rather than that of the deceased, raising £3bn by 2013. This will encourage people to distribute their property widely. 
Other parties claim that they want a fair tax system, but mess around at the edges.  The Greens are prepared to say that: yes, taxes would rise for the much better off,  because someone working 60 hours a week to get by on the current minimum wage as a security guard shouldn't be earning 5 times less than a high flying barrister for the same hours. These are big, controversial changes, but it'they're not impossible to achieve. They're costed upfront and as the Green Party say in their manifesto "All it requires is political courage – and popular democratic backing for that courage."

Take communities. All the parties want to 'support communities', but wouldn't dream of challenging the vested interests in the status quo that relies on consumerism, greed and squeezing employees dignity and supply chains till the pips squeak.

Only the Greens are prepared to say that they'll restrict planning laws to make it harder for Tescos etc. to build outside of town and to create local business zones within walking distance for everyone. Only the Greens will enable more companies to become mutual or cooperatives so that they have space to build in local social and environmental benefits into their business model because profit is not the only bottom line. Only the Greens are prepared to stand up and challenge the culture of long working and commuting so that people can spend time with their families and being involved locally.

'Supporting Communities' isn't wishy washy idealism or empty rhetoric. It takes backbone and sustained conviction. The Green Party have consistently shown on their campaigning on the environment that they're prepared to lead the way and stand up and say the difficult, unpopular things to those in power and where necessary, the public.

 I could go on, but I hope you're beginning to get the picture!

It's time to lift our vision and know that as a country it is possible to challenge the social and economic injustices and binds that we take for granted. It is possible as a nation to stop obsessing about greedy economic growth and materialism at any cost and to take more time to value and enjoy our relationships and support those around us.

I'm fed up of waiting for the main parties to show the leadership, vision and substantive policies we need. I'll be voting Green.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jon, that's interesting. The Greens are too far left for me, but I didn't know there was an upper limits on NICS. I would certainly like to see the lowest earners keep more of their income, so I support the Lib Dems' ideas on abolishing tax below £10k. But I can't deny I'm a Conservative at heart, so they have secured my vote...