By Tom Scott, Green parliamentary candidate for Truro and Falmouth |
Candidate Voices: We want to give the opportunity for all candidates to voice their reason for running in this general election, in order to let voters find out how they plan to improve their constituency. The views are not those of The Falmouth Anchor, but of the candidates.
This election is unlike any other I can remember.
The UK stands on the brink of a catastrophic hard Brexit. The referendum of 2016 has resulted in a deeply polarised country, divided and embittered by a campaign of lies and systematic disinformation unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Our Parliament is equally divided, as are the large parties that have dominated it for nearly a century. Large numbers of MPs in both the Tory and the Labour parties are completely disillusioned with their own parties. Some have been driven to leave these parties, others have decided to quit politics altogether.
It’s increasingly obvious that there is no good way out of this mess except to go back to the people to consult them clearly on the best way forward. The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas was the first to realise this and has given outstanding leadership to the People’s Vote campaign.
But we’re facing an even bigger crisis than Brexit, a truly existential crisis: the climate and ecological emergency that threatens the future of every living being on this planet. This was why I joined the Greens. For years, it was only the Green Party that seemed to grasp the nature of this threat and how urgent it is to start taking serious action to address it.
That’s changed in the last year, not least because of the extraordinary success of the schools climate strike movement led by Greta Thunberg, and the amazing courage and creativity of Extinction Rebellion. And the tired old parties that have had their heads in the sand for so long are now scrambling to put together climate policies that might convince voters they’re finally doing something about it.
Boris Johnson has promised a so-called Green Revolution, though you’d have to be very “green” indeed to be fooled by that, or have a very short memory. Meanwhile, the Labour Party is offering a watered-down version of the Green New Deal. But it’s hard to take this very seriously when Labour is still failing to oppose the expansion of Heathrow, still supporting new road-building and the hugely destructive HS2, and even arguing that we need to see growth in regional airports. All these things are completely incompatible with addressing the climate emergency.
Only the Green Party has the joined-up policies to really tackle the scale of this crisis. If we’re going to get to net-zero carbon in the very short time we now have to do this, we need action on the scale seen when we were threatened by Nazi invasion.
That’s why the Green Party is saying we need to spend £100 billion a year on a massive programme of home insulation and renewable energy. That’s why we’re saying cancel HS2 and new road building and use the money to provide cheap or free public transport that can actually get people out their cars. And that’s why we’re calling for the creation of a new, key ministerial post – a Carbon Chancellor, tasked with overseeing this transformation.
The Green Party is also serious about tackling the social and economic inequality that has led to horrendous levels of poverty and deprivation. The welfare state that was created in the 1940s has not just been underfunded and deliberately run down over the past few years. A large part of it – the benefits system – has been turned into a cruel machine to actively penalise the poor.
Here too, the Green Party feels that tinkering around the edges of this system is just not enough. We need a total rethink – which is why we are proposing to replace universal credit with a universal basic income sufficient to cover the basic needs of every adult in this country. This would be at the centre of a major redistribution of wealth – without which we will never see an end to the poverty and inequality that blights so many lives.
It’s bold thinking by the Green Party that is setting the agenda we so desperately need for a fairer and more viable future. There’s much more in our manifesto, which we’ve titled ‘If Not Now, When?’
That’s a question I hope voters will be asking themselves on 12 December.