Comment - Policy Miscellany
What Green policies? by David Flint
When faced with a government as appalling as this one it's very tempting to trot out the old slogans. No
privatisation! Defend the NHS! No cuts! Dump Trident! End racism!
These are our policies. They follow our principles and they are good policies. Yet it sometimes feels as if
the Green Party is the only party, apart from the Left sects, to defend the public sector and public service.
The Labour Party - which started Academies, increased faith schools, loosened bank regulation and started the
NHS internal market - gave that up years ago.
We are not alone
Here's the truth. The public does not accept the grey parties' neoliberal agenda. A recent
poll by YouGov
found "voters...united in their support for nationalisation of
rail...66% support nationalising the railways. [They also] prefer a publicly-run National Health Service and
a publicly-run Royal Mail".
Most strikingly, majorities of voters for all the main parties, yes, even UKIP, support nationalisation of the
So we can be clear. These 'leftwing policies' are popular policies. We can put them before the public with
How 'green' are we?
And yet, though Greens should support the underdogs and oppose ill-natured folly, that's not enough. The Green
Party is not another Left sect. There must be more to Green policies than defense of an aging status quo when
we know that radical change is essential if we are to create a sustainable society.
And there is. Lots more. Take health. The NHS is caught between funding cuts and rising demand and must either
cut wages or degrade services. The funding cuts follow from the Coalition's austerity agenda, that is, from the
Tory preference for cuts and Coalition's refusal to address tax avoidance and excessive pay. A Green government
would be so different!
And yet, as life expectancy increases the demand for healthcare will keep rising and public resources are not
infinite. That's particularly true for a party that sees growth as unsustainable. Growth is not a magic bullet
that will solve all problems. We have to find other approaches based on the causes of ill-health. Some of the
causes are well-known: smoking, air pollution and obesity for instance. Others, such as inequality and the
misguided war on drugs, are less well-known (or at least more controversial).
We would address all these causes with policies such as:
This combination of policies would transform the health landscape. It would raise the averages and reduce the
disparities between rich and poor, west and east, in our borough and elsewhere.
- Plain packaging of cigarettes
- Less coal burning
- The Living Wage
- Higher income taxes and pay restraint for the rich
- Treating drug addiction as a medical not a legal problem. See
- More walking and cycling but less car use.
It is what the country needs now.
First published in the EGP members newsletter, December 2013