The Green Party today published its manifesto, entitled ‘For The Common Good’, in East London.
If achieving coverage and publicity was its aim, then the Party likely picked the wrong day to launch the document. Conservative promises to cut tax and extend the Right to Buy put paid to any chance of dominating the news agenda.
However of all the main political parties, it is the Greens that are arguably putting forward the boldest agenda for government. Launching the manifesto, leader Natalie Bennett said that it represented the ‘end of politics as usual’, highlighting its commitments to nationalise large sections of UK infrastructure; abolish the minimum wage in favour of a living wage; end austerity altogether; and abandon GDP and the pursuit of economic growth as a measure of success. Naturally, the Party also goes much further than its rivals on measures to tackle climate change. All of this would be paid for by a radical fiscal rebalancing, in which rich individuals and multinationals make considerably larger tax contributions.
Whether or not the Greens will have any impact on post-election policy remains to be seen. Certainly, large parts of the manifesto are much too radical to be palatable in a coalition scenario – to any of the other parties. But some level of influence should not be ruled out. As Natalie Bennett said this morning, the party now counts more members than either UKIP or the Lib Dems, and is standing in some 95% of constituencies in England and Wales.
Cicero Elections’ analysis indicates that the Green Party is unlikely to win more than one seat so this manifesto is quite incidental in the overall scheme of this election campaign, but it is encouraging that the party doing the most to defend the environment in the UK’s political sphere is still fighting so strongly for its causes.
A decent livelihood: A One-Planet Economy
- Abandon GDP and the pursuit of economic growth as a measure of success.
- Use instead a measure of Adjusted National Product (ANP) which would take account of capital and environmental depreciation and include things such as unpaid work at home.
Economy and Finance
- Increase the minimum wage to make it a living wage of £10 per hour by 2020.
- Phase in a 35-hour working week.
- End ‘exploitative’ zero-hours contracts.
- End unpaid internships lasting longer than four weeks.
- Make equal pay for men and women a reality.
- Introduce a maximum pay ratio of 10:1 between best and worst paid in every organisation.
- Give workers a greater say in running their organisations, including employee-elected directors in medium and large companies.
- Reduce employment tribunal fees.
- Move towards creating all national currency through a national monetary authority, answerable to Parliament.
- Separate retail and investment banking.
- Introduce controls on bank lending.
- Act to control payday lenders and offer alternatives.
- Use RBS to create a network of ‘People’s Banks’ in every city and region.
- Invest £2bn in a network of mutually owned community banks.
- Expand the role of the Green Investment Bank to offer green ISAs and pensions.
- Introduce a financial transactions tax.
- Work to abolish the City of London Corporation and end its special statuses.
Changing Economic Organisations
- Amend company law to ensure medium and large companies take account of their environmental and social impact.
- Ensure medium and large companies have employee and consumer representatives on their boards.
- Ensure Companies House holds data on beneficial ownership.
- Introduce a cooperative development fund managed by community banks to finance expanding cooperatives.
- Grant employees the legal right in certain circumstances to buy out their companies.
Small firms and the local economy
- Use the proceeds from a wealth tax to reduce employers’ National Insurance to 8% in the longer run.
- Maintain corporation tax for small firms at 20% while increasing it for larger firms to 30%.
- Allow local authorities to favour local procurement.
- Properly enforce legislation requiring small firms to be paid on time.
- Simplify PAYE through Basic Income proposals.
- Crack down on tax evasion in the informal economy.
- Give public telecommunications providers an obligation to provide affordable high speed broadband to every small business.
- Introduce a wealth tax of 2% a year on the top 1% of earners. To be phased in gradually.
- Steadily increase staff in HMRC by 15,000 per annum over the Parliament.
- Introduce a Tax Dodging Bill to reduce the tax gap and establish a general anti-avoidance principle.
- Consider a ban on the industry of designing, promoting and selling tax avoidance schemes.
- Introduce a ‘Robin Hood’ tax of 0.1% on transactions in bonds and equities and 0.01% on derivatives to replace stamp duty on share transactions.
- Reform council tax to increase contributions for those in larger homes and reduce it for those in smaller ones.
- Prepare to replace Council Tax and Universal Business Rates with a system of Land Value Tax.
- Abolish the employees’ National Insurance upper threshold.
- Raise the additional (top) rate of income tax to 60%.
- Abolish the capital gains tax personal allowance.
- Reform inheritance tax and convert it into an accessions tax.
- Counter avoidance by abolishing the seven-year rule.
- Reintroduce the fuel duty escalator.
- Make aviation subject to fuel duty and VAT.
- Levy eco-taxes on non-renewables or pollutants.
- Increase alcohol and tobacco duties.
- Support continued membership of the EU.
- Support an in/out referendum to allow voters to have their say,
- Prioritise local self-reliance rather than the EU’s economics of free trade and growth.
- Do not adopt the Euro.
- Abolish the policy that requires a British citizen to have an income of at least £18,600 before their partner can come to live in the UK.
- Make it easier for adult dependants of British citizens to come and live here.
- End restrictions on foreign students.
- Allow students to work in the UK for two years after graduation.
- Widen the Youth Mobility Scheme to allow those from poorer countries to participate.
- Aim to retain more of those trained in the UK in the health services.
- Review the rules for those wishing to set up a business here to ensure they do not discriminate against smaller firms.
- Take action to end tax evasion and avoidance through transfer mispricing by transnational companies.
- Support efforts to develop a fairer global tax system.
- Promote fair trade and ensure UK companies operating abroad respect international human rights.
- Oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and ensure that every country has the political space to make its own democratic choices.
- Fight for the writing-off of international debts for the poorest countries.
- Increase the overseas aid budget from 0.7% to 1.0% if GDP over the Parliament.
Science and Technology
- Ensure adequate government funding goes to research on major environmental issues.
- Ensure that basic research is adequately funded and not controlled by large corporations.
- Ensure that scientific research is conducted ethically.
- Publish freely the results of all publicly funded research.
Energy and Climate
- Seek to cut energy demand by one third by 2020, one half by 2020 and two thirds by 2050.
- Provide a free, nationwide retrofit insulation programme, targeting areas where fuel poverty is most serious.
- Require all private rented sector housing to meet Energy Performance Band C by 2025.
- Create a national college for training in energy home improvement.
- Invest in energy awareness programmes.
- Provide 4.5bn over the Parliament to research and development into less energy-intensive industrial processes.
- Prioritise public over private transport, electrification of the transport system and access over mobility.
- Give powers to councils to implement communal heating schemes where practicable.
- Establish mandatory standards for commercial building performance.
- Use carbon taxes to fund investment in energy-efficiency measures.
- Maximise opportunities for community and non-profit organisations to generate and supply electricity and heat at retail level.
- Require grid operators to give priority access to community energy projects.
- Split up the large vertically integrated companies so they cannot both produce energy and supply it to consumers.
- Secure public control over strategic direction and policies of the National Grid.
- Ensure progressive energy tariffs and support long-term stable fixed-price feed-in tariffs for renewable energy generators.
- Ensure a single scheme of regulation for the entire industry.
- Give the Green Investment Bank full borrowing powers to help fund substantial investment in renewable generation.
- Phase out fossil-fuel based generation by 2023 and nuclear power within 10 years.
- Ban all UK fracking operations.
- End fossil-fuel industry tax breaks.
- Have the government act as insurer of last resort where commercial insurance companies are refusing to provide flood cover.
- Prevent new building on flood plains.
- Restore education current and capital funding to the 2010 levels in real terms.
- Reduce teacher workload and introduce professional pay levels for all teachers.
- End the marketization and outsourcing of education.
- Cap class sizes at 20 pupils.
- Removal of charitable status from private schools, ensuring that no schools are run for profit.
- Integrate academies and free schools into the local authority system.
Further Education and Skills Training
- Oppose the privatisation of further education and return further education colleges to the control of local government.
- Reinstate the government’s duty to provide apprenticeships to all qualified young people age 16-19 but extend that age to 25.
- Provide the further education sector with £1.5 billion a year extra funding.
- End the anomaly whereby schools and academies can reclaim VAT on goods and services.
- Prioritise training in the skills needed to build a low-carbon economy.
- End undergraduate tuition fees.
- Cancel student debt issued by the Student Loans Company and held by the government.
- Reintroduce student grants costing £2.2 billion over the Parliament.
- Reintroduce the block grant to universities.
- Encouraging universities and pension funds such as the Universities Superannuation Scheme to divest from fossil fuel companies.
- Give the Bank of England the powers it has requested to limit the size of mortgages in relation to the property value and the borrower’s income.
- Ensure that development is more evenly distributed across the whole of the country, reducing pressure on housing in the South East.
- Introduce new higher Council Tax bands for more expensive homes, with higher rates for empty homes.
- Scrap the government’s Help to Buy scheme.
- Take action on empty homes to bring them back into use.
- Gradually phase out Stamp Duty Land Tax and consider a Land Value Tax.
- Reduce VAT on housing renovation and repair work to 5%.
- Provide 500,000 social rented homes to higher sustainability standards.
- Devolve Housing Benefit budgets to councils, so they can design packages that improve access to housing their local market.
- End mass council house sales and the Right to Buy at a discounted price.
- Oppose new arm’s length management organisations and ensure genuine tenant participation in existing ones.
- Reform the private rented sector by introducing a ‘living rent’ tenancy and smart rent control that caps annual rent increases linked to the Consumer Price Index.
- Introduce a mandatory licensing scheme for landlords.
- Abolish landlord perks, such as tax deductions against variety of expenditures.
- Abolish the bedroom tax.
- Bring Housing Benefit for all age groups back in line with average market rents.
- Change the definition of affordable rented housing to depend on local median incomes and not on local market rents.
Social Security and Welfare
Tax and Benefits System
- Support Universal Basic Income.
- Reform the existing working-age benefits regime.
- Pay an enhanced Child Benefit.
- Introduce a universal citizen’s Pension.
- Halt the implementation of the Universal Credit programme and carry out a thorough review of its structure review of its structure and implementation.
- End Work-for-benefits programmes, or workfare, and ensure a fair choice of wage worked opportunities or voluntary training for jobseekers.
- Ensure that all those on training or work placements as part of the benefits regime are either in college-based training or at work earing at least the minimum wage.
- Restore Council Tax Benefit at the equivalent of 2012-13 levels for low-income householders.
- Cancel the Department for Work and Pensions contracts with the private sector benefit entitlement assessment.
- Restore the link between state benefits and earnings.
- Abolish childcare tax credits and tax reliefs.
- Pay students maintenance grants until Basic Income is introduced.
- Raise the minimum wage and outlaw exploitative zero-hour contracts.
- Raise child Benefit as from 2016 from £20.70 a week for the oldest or only child and £13.70 a week for additional children in 2015-16 to £40 a week for each child.
- Abolish the National Insurance upper threshold.
- Bring the railways back into public ownership.
- Scrap HS2.
- Seen electrification of the railway system to achieve the levels found in Germany or Sweden.
- End the national major roads programme, saving £15 billion over the Parliament.
- Spend part of this £15 billion on improving and subsidising public transport, with an average fare reduction of 10% costing £8 billion over the Parliament.
- End the favourable tax treatment of aviation and have a separate target for aviation emissions.
- Stop airport expansion, in particular no new runways at either Heathrow or Gatwick, and ban night flying.
- Incentivise consolidation of white van deliveries so that last-mile deliveries can be made by cargo bikes and electric vehicles in local areas
- Prioritise affordable local public transport, accessible to all, including those with disabilities.
- Support free local transport for pensioners.
- Extend free local transport to young people and students.
- Develop regional smart payment systems with integrate ticketing.
- Extend networks of public transport to include rural areas.