Greens believe in social justice. That's a big, banner heading with a number
Up till the 1970s the gap between rich and poor seemed to be narrowing steadily.
Then came the Thatcher/Reagan years, and ever since, the trend has reversed.
Much of Western society, and Britain in particular, is more unequal than
it has been for decades.
This matters not just because it's unfair - though it is - but because a
more equal society just works better than one in which a few people get all
There is plenty of evidence for this assertion, and it has all been collated
by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in their book
The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for
Everyone, in which they show that all sorts of completely
unconnected societal indicators get worse as societies become less equal.
They quote specifically (with evidence):
That's an impressive list - and it's not even comprehensive; if we can turn
around all those indicators just by reining in the rich and providing more
opportunities for the poor, it's a no-brainer.
If we can't, then we can probably look forward to more
As part of our drive for equality and fairness, the Green Party would do
away with Jobseeker's Allowance, most of the benefits system and the old-age
pension, and replace them with a
which every adult would get regardless of circumstances. The
only separate benefits we would retain would be disability allowances for
those with specific needs for extra care, mobility problems and the like
- and these would no longer be provided on the assumption that applicants
were cheating until proved innocent, as is too often the case
The administrative savings would be immense, and a further advantage would
be to do away at a stroke with the 'poverty trap', as getting a job would
no longer be the cause of losing your benefit. Any rises in taxation to cover
the gap between the administrative savings and the cost of the scheme would
be offset by a general lowering of salary levels to emloyees whose basic
needs were already taken care of. See Natalie Bennett's
blog on the subject for a more detailed explanation.
Decent housing, sustainable communities
a decent and affordable place to live, shops
close by, schools to send their children to, parks and all the other
infrastructure that most of us take for granted. We store up trouble for
ourselves if we permit those who have fallen on hard times, or who are not
quite up to the challenges of modern living, to be relegated to 'sink estates'.
We need more housing that those on low income can afford, and we need that
housing in all areas so that those with low-paid jobs are not
doubly-disadvantaged by having to pay for - and endure - long
Vibrant communities revolve around local shops, post offices, pubs and community
facilities. Out-of-town supermarkets and shopping malls are destroying
communities - as well as increasing car use and CO2 emissions.
Those without cars or unable to drive are left out entirely.
retailers are the heart of local communites, giving them character
and boosting the
scope for self-employment.
The Green Party has long advocated the fulfilment of the promise developed
countries made in 1970 to give 0.7% of GDP in aid. We welcome the recent
commitments by both the previous Labour government and the present
Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition finally to move towards that target.
This is not just a matter of justice but also enlightened self-interest:
poverty is one of the drivers of unrest and fundamentalism; it holds countries
back from necessary environmental commitments; it hamstrings moves towards
greater democracy and human rights, and it is the chief cause of mass emigration
and asylum-seeking. All that was written above about inequality within nations
seems to apply equally to inequality between nations. In extreme cases it can lead to
The current trend towards
and globalisation has been profoundly inequitable and we would
reverse it. Poor countries need to room to grow before exposing their industries
to international competition.
We would institute a much more humane system for asylum-seekers and others
seeking entry to this country, while simultaneously aiming to address the
causes of their flight from their homelands such as poverty and persecution.
It need hardly be said that Greens are supporters of human rights. We deplore
the erosion by both this government and the last of ancient rights:
'Extraordinary rendition', implication in the use of torture, 28-day detention
without trial (only kept from being 90 days by determined resistance!); the
introduction of double-jeopardy trials; ever-greater powers for the police,
cutbacks in legal aid etc, etc. All of these are symptomatic of a government
that does not trust the people - a deeply unsatisfactory and dangerous state