Wednesday, 30 July 2014

As the justifications for gross inequality collapse, only the Green party is brave enough to take on the billionaires’ boot boys.
....................................................So here we have a perfect opportunity for progressive parties: the moral and ideological collapse of the system of thought to which they were previously in thrall. What do they do? Avoid the opportunity like diphtheria. Cowed by the infrastructure of purchased argument, Labour fiddles and dithers.
But there is another party, which seems to have discovered the fire and passion that moved Labour so long ago: the Greens. Last week they revealed that their manifesto for the general election will propose a living wage, the renationalisation of the railways, a maximum pay ratio (no executive should receive more than 10 times the salary of the lowest-paid worker) and, at the heart of their reforms, a wealth tax of the kind Piketty recommends.
Yes, it raises plenty of questions, but none of them are unanswerable – especially if this is seen as one step towards the ideal position: a global wealth tax, that treats capital equally, wherever it might lodge. Rough as this proposal is, it will start to challenge the political consensus and draw people who thought they had nowhere to turn. Expect the billionaires’ boot boys to start screaming, once they absorb the implications. And take their boos and jeers as confirmation that it’s on to something. You wanted a progressive alternative? You’ve got it.
Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Petition for a fair voting system

We all know that first past the post is an unfair electoral system that produces disproportionate results. First past the post elections in multi-member constituencies (such as the wards in London borough elections) are particularly disproportionate.

A good example is what happened to the Hackney Green party in this May's local elections. The party did extraordinarily well to finish a clear second in those elections in terms of votes cast. However because of the unfair electoral system they won no seats and finished behind the Tories and Lib Dems as well Labour where it counts in the council chamber. This cant be right or fair.

The Hackney Green Party has launched a petition to call on Government to adopt a fairer voting system for local elections in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland already use a form of proportional representation - the Single Transferable Vote).

I would urge you to sign this petition. 

The petition calls for the Government to adopt the same voting system for local elections as is used for the London Assembly (and Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly) - the Additional Member System. I've done some rough calculations (using some stylised assumptions) to calculate what the result in Hackney would have been under either the Additional Member System or the Single Transferable Vote. I'm sure you will agree that either form of proportional representation would be an improvement on what actually happened (and I agree with the Hackney Greens that AMS is the better form of system to go for even if it would not have delivered them as many seats as STV).

                          %age votes    FPTP seats   AMS seats   STV seats

Labour                     56%               50                  32              40

Green                      21%                0                   12              13

Tory                         12%                4                    7                3  

Lib Dem                    9%                 3                    5                1

TUSC                        2%                 0                    1                0

Monday, 28 July 2014


THE government’s presumption against fracking in designated areas, such as national parks, goes to show that the Coalition recognises that hydraulic fracking will harm the environment and presents significant risks.  
The Green Party calls on the government to offer all communities the same protection from dirty and dangerous fracking and shift energy policy focus instead towards clean, renewable energy sources and energy conservation.
The latest bidding process for licenses to extract shale gas from large parts of the UK is under way (1). About half the UK is open to exploration, but tightened rules cover areas of outstanding beauty. The Green Party is the only mainstream political party fighting to stop fracking (2) being pushed through by a government which consistently puts corporate profit over people.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:
“While the Government has signalled an intention to ensure some protective measures, we can have little confidence in promises of a robust regulatory framework.
“We know fracking can cause water contamination and shortages, as well as air and soil pollution. And this is an industry that’s made a catalogue of errors already. But legitimate concerns over its very real environmental and health risks are falling on deaf ears.
“By seeking to lock us ever-more firmly into fossil fuel dependence the Government is turning a blind eye to reason. It’s crystal clear that we need to be shifting to clean, renewable energy sources.
“We need a rapid shift to a zero carbon economy and that is not going to happen by pouring resources into establishing an entirely new fossil fuel industry.”
Natalie Bennett, Green Party leader, said:
"The announcement from the government this morning is further acknowledgement, forced from them by the passion of campaigners, that fracking would have a damaging impact on our countryside and environment.
"If fracking isn't appropriate in national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty, then it isn't appropriate anywhere in Britain's crowded, precious landscape.
"More, this decision risks focusing any fracking that happens in Britain in disadvantaged, poorer areas - Lord Howell's so-called 'desolate North'.
Bennett concluded:
"It needs to be stated again that fracking is a damaging distraction from our need to focus on energy conservation and renewable energy generation. We need to be working out how to deal with the 'carbon bubble', not looking for more fossil fuels to add to the problem."
Fracking, a controversial technique for extracting fossil fuels, is widely opposed in countries where it takes place (3).

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Greens and older people

Anyone who has canvassed for the Green party will recognise the truth in the statistics that form the basis of Harry Lambert's blog post for the New Statesman:



It is certainly the case that young voters are more open to our policies. Mind you they generally have longer to live with the consequences of not implementing them!


But there is no reason for older voters to be less attracted to the Green party. In fact our policies for older people are much better than those of the three main parties.


In particular our Citizen's Income policy of a simple, non-means-tested state income of  £170 per week would lift many out of poverty. Those questioning whether the policy is affordable should note that it is very similar to the reforms the Coalition Government is implementing from April 2016. But shamefully the Coalition policy will only apply to those reaching State Pension Age from April 2016. The Green party's policy would benefit existing as well as future pensioners. This is important because rates of pensioner poverty are highest amongst the oldest pensioners.


It is often stated that Greens want to increase the cost of energy and this might be a reason older people are less open to voting for us. But we actually want to help people with the cost of keeping warm by paying for the insulation of millions of homes and prioritising those on fixed incomes such as pensioners.


Older people have as much to gain from Green policies as younger people. We obviously have a lot of work to do to get that message across. That is one of the reasons I helped to found the Green seniors network. If you are a pensioner and interested in knowing more about our policies please get in touch!