Universal Basic Income, a workers’ right to turn their company into a co-operative, restore trade union rights, support Scottish independence, rebuild the banking system, oppose dodgy ‘free trade’ deals, crack down on tax dodging, free education, end austerity.
I bloody love all of those policies, particularly because I think all of them are in some way transformative – they shift power away from the powerful and so help achieve all the other justices we would want.
But it’s only nine. And the manifesto is around 25,000 words long. So I thought I’d do a quick follow up with some more of my favourite bits and bobs from it.
1) stand up to the immigrant bashers.
Here’s the introduction to the section on migration:
“Across Europe, as austerity has reduced living standards for ordinary people, politicians keen to shirk the blame for their own failures have reached for a scapegoat. All too often, they have settled on migrants But the Green Party has always been clear. It wasn’t migrants who caused the economic collapse. It’s not migrants who are cutting jobs and failing to pay decent wages. It’s not migrants who sold off our social housing and failed to replace it.”
While the other parties pander to UKIP, it’s important to have someone who’ll stand up to them.
2) Ban most derivatives, make investment productive
“Work for a tightening of laws banning irresponsible banking. All financial products should be screened. Those with no social purpose should be banned.”
There is a problem at the core of our society. We all create wealth together. When we create more than we need, we then invest it in the future. Only, rather than all deciding together what kind of future we want to invest in building, we leave that decision to banks. Rather than building the society of tomorrow, they funnel our investments into gambling on derivatives markets and making things we have already produced like food and old houses more expensive, because it’s easier to do that than it is to invest in building the future.
I wrote over on Novara about the kind of banking system that we should build. But it’s equally important to understand that the current banking system is sucking the wealth from our society and stopping us from building the world we desperately need.
3) Defend public ownership:
“Public services and natural monopolies ought to remain in public hands. Consumer co-operatives, worker co-operatives, community or local council control and other forms of democratic ownership should be supported to expand throughout our economy.”
The EU have a nasty habit of promoting privatisation or, sometimes, foisting it on countries. The manifesto has a bunch of practical proposals for how to do the opposite. The vast majority of British people support public ownership. Only the Greens agree with them.
I was weaned on this – my parents reintroduced beavers and wild boar to their farm in rural Perthshire, so it’s not a surprise I like it. But check out these stats from the manifesto:
“Between 2005 and 2010, the number of eels in the river Thames fell by 98%. From 2003 to 2013 there was a 13% drop in the number of farmland birds in Britain. Between 2003 and 2012, the British hedgehog population fell by a third. The wildcat is on the verge of extinction from the UK.”
If this was happening in a developing country, there’d be appeals all over the telly and the tube. But the people killing British wildlife are rich, white, and usually men. So their slash-and-burn doesn’t matter. The manifesto picks up on George Monbiot’s recent call to change the way the Common Agricultural Policy works so that farmers aren’t punished for allowing land to return to nature.
5) rights for Cornwall! (decentralising power)
Other than West Wales and the Valleys, West Cornwall is the only region of the UK to qualify for EU regional development funding, such is its poverty. Currently, the UK government get to decide what to do with that money. Greens are calling for it to be given directly to the Cornwall county council. In fact, Greens are the only party apart from Mebyon Kernow (‘left, decentralist, Cornish’) to support a Cornish Assembly. But this is a step towards that.
I think this is important for the same reason that I think Scottish independence is important – it’s about bringing power closer to people. If Cornwall won some degree of devolution, it wouldn’t only give them the power to tackle their own poverty, it would also set an example for regions of England. If the game is replacing the corporate-captured British state, this is a pretty good move.
6) “The Green Party is proud of its feminist principles”
From better regulations against gender discrimination in the work place to making it easier to take legal cases when equal work doesn’t mean equal pay to massively expanding parental leave and proposing a basic income to help recognise reproductive labour like care work, this is, I think, what a feminist manifesto looks like.
7) standing with Gypsies and travellers
Last year, Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP was slammed in the Daily Mail for producing a report in which she suggested that gypsies and travellers are humans. “Roma gypsies should be guaranteed cash hand-outs and police protection, claims London MEP” they screamed. Because apparently one of the most oppressed groups in society don’t deserve the police protection or social security the rest of us expect.
Jean doesn’t scare easily, and certainly doesn’t give a shit what the Daily Mail thinks of her. The manifesto promises that Green MEPs will continue to confront racists, and demand that marginalised groups, including Traveller communities, get their rights.
“In 2013, a Scottish trade union organiser and a holocaust survivor from Belgium were together awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics after a remarkable discovery at a Swiss research institute. By collaborating across Europe, Peter Higgs, François Englert and CERN had theorised and then proved the existence of a particle without which our understanding of the world around us would not make sense: the Higgs Boson. They also demonstrated something else. Academia has no borders. Discovery is a social endeavour.”
That’s the opening of the science section. It calls for a big increase in public funding for science, along the “Haldane principle” – that academics (within ethical bounds) not politicians, should decide what’s interesting. It calls for science funding to be de-linked from military infrastructure, and for a protection of the funding for the European Space Programme.
I’ve written before about Greens seeing the intrinsic importance of science. It’s one of those things which short termist capitalism can’t ever understand. The capitalist would rather sell you a sugar-pill with an exciting label than spend money on finding new antibiotics, and they certainly don’t get that humans are made for greater things than circulating plastic tat.
9) protecting our internet freedom
Coz the web is the new global commons, and we can’t let them claim it; it’s the new means of communication, and we can’t let them tap it; it’s where many of us spend most of our days, so we can’t let them control it; Greens will fight for net-freedom.