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November 14, 2014 / politicsbitesize

Voting for policies not simply personalities #greensurge

Vote4PoliciesWriting in the Independent this week the leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, asked us to imagine a world where the majority of people voted for what they believe in. She is urging us to forget the personalities and start thinking about the policies instead.

For too long we have listened to the Conservatives imposing austerity measures on us whilst Labour espouse a lacklustre rejoinder. Take for example the cap on welfare spending. In March this year, George Osborne set out his government’s plan to cap the welfare budget that was ‘spiralling out of control’. The Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, told the House his party would not oppose the plan, but that they would, ‘clearly … do things differently from the Government’ if they came back into power in 2015.

But, to be honest Ed, it isn’t clear to us that the Labour Party will ‘do things differently’ and repeal some of the more austere reforms made by the Coalition. So far your party doesn’t provide a viable alternative to the way that society is currently being structured. Another example of the identikit politics of the two mainstream parties is their stance on the issue of Transatlantic Trade Investor Partnership (TTIP).

In an open letter to Vernon Coaker, Ed Miliband and the MEP Glenis Willmott, Politics:bitesize asked the Labour Party to clarify it’s position on the controversial trade deal. So far only Mr Coaker has responded, and it seems fair to say that he is in favour of the ‘principles behind TTIP’, but concurs that the NHS should be ‘exempt from the agreement’ (which is at least one step in the right direction).

On the whole though, the Labour Party, like the Conservatives, seem to have swallowed the view trotted out by those proposing the deal that it will be beneficial for boosting growth and creating jobs. But in fact all it is really doing is enabling current neoliberal ideology to run amok by encouraging the belief that free-market capitalism is good and that the only profits worth reaping are economic ones.

What is really needed, as Natalie Bennett highlighted in her article this week, is an entire overhaul of the system. As demonstrated by the support for the People’s Assembly and the Occupy movement, people across the globe are calling for a fairer, equal and more transparent system that they can engage in and feel empowered by.

The message from the Green Party is a Copernican one: politics that people do rather than have done to them. In order to get this peaceful revolution underway the Greens have devised a number of policies: ‘an unconditional basic income for everyone, cooperative business models, the need to stop the proposed US-EU free trade deal (TTIP) … making sure rich individuals and multinational companies pay their fair share of taxes and start giving their workers a living wage, ending and reversing the privatisation of public services (particularly our NHS and bringing the railways back into public hands), defending the free movement of people in the EU and stopping the divisive, dangerous and damaging race to the bottom on immigration rhetoric.’

For a fresher way of looking at politics in the run up to the 2015 general election take a look at the Vote for Policies website, where you can compare policies from six UK political parties and decide what to vote for rather than who to vote for.

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