I guess we’d expect the Greens to know something about green issues so it is reassuring that they do. After the Conservatives treated the countryside as the place that their mates own where they go to kill things at the weekend, and Labour treated it as the place which the Tories own where there are no votes for them, here at least is a manifesto which makes the links between all of our wellbeing, future health and happiness and the farmed, forested and fished environment. Thank heaven for that – pity they won’t be in government!
This is a very good document – not because I agree with everything it says (although I agree with a lot of it) but because it deals with the issues and sets out a philosophy of dealing with them. I guess the bigger parties don’t think it’s worth doing that for a number of reasons – they don’t have coherent philosophies any more, they are afraid that they would each look rather too much like the other lot, and everybody thinks they know what they stand for anyway (right or wrong) and there’s little point in trying to talk us out of it.
But this manifesto asks ‘What is the economy for?‘ – good question, and the answer here is good too.
This manifesto states that ‘It’s hard to be a citizen when life tells you that you are a consumer‘.
This manifesto invites us to imagine a world in which ‘we protect the planet, its land and its oceans, and the plants, animals and people that live on it‘.
And it has so many eye-catching policies that I am just going to pick out a few:
- Make good the coalition government’s unfulfilled promise to protect forests through a Forest Protection Bill
- All farm payments should be designed to protect the soil, reduce flood risk, conserve wildlife, improve water quality, increase recreation and assist carbon capture
- Prohibit developers from being allowed to destroy unique habitats by way of biodiversity offsetting elsewhere
- Produce a strategy for capturing carbon and reducing greenhouse gases through improved land management, for example by encouraging and preserving peatlands.
- Work to reduce food imports and increase home and local food production where feasible
- We should encourage eating less and better meat
- End the use of the whip in horse racing and conduct a full review of the sport
- Increase transparency and ensure publication of all findings of animal research, including negative findings
- Publish freely the results of all publicly funded research
- Provide a nationwide free retrofit insulation programme
- require all new homes to be built to the Passivhaus standard
- Closure of all coal-based power stations by 2023 at the very latest
and, I did notice this one…
- End the practice of grouse shooting and other ‘sport’ shooting (as noticed by the Daily Telegraph)
…but there are loads. I guess the greens are trying to reassure us that they know what they are talking about, they have solutions, and they aren’t a bunch of idealistic nutters. Well, their manifesto convinces me, although I was well along the way to that conclusion already. In fact, as they say, it reminds one that it is the other parties that aren’t dealing with the fundamental issues facing the planet.
Rather than a manifesto written by a bunch of politicos this looks like one written by a load of scientists. Now, honestly, which would you back as the right way forward given that choice?
It is the lack of seriousness given to the fact that we are living as though we have three planets to clothe and feed us by the other main parties that has created the gap for the Greens to enter. What does a mansion tax do to address that? What does increasing the spending on the NHS do to address that? Labour and Conservatives are dealing with us, and what we want in the short term. The Green manifesto is dealing with the strategic issue of how we have to live to enable future generations to have a decent life. So it is a refreshing change and a much needed perspective – and I’d vote for it.
This is not the place for me to go into the Health, Education, Immigration etc sections of this manifesto but they are similarly specific and detailed. Give them a look.
We aren’t going to have a Green Party government on 8 May. I do wish we might although, crikey, they’d have a lot to learn very quickly. What I hope will happen is that the Greens will make real progress this time around, perhaps in Norwich South or Bristol West.
Other political party manifestos are available: