Monday, January 11, 2010

Four Steps for Fairness Worth Fighting For


The Green Party slogan for the General Election is "Fairness is worth Fighting For".

The LibDem slogan is "Four Steps to a Fairer Britain".

Labour has A Future Fair for All.

Of the main parties, only the Cameroons do not mention fairness, relying on a vacuous "Vote for Change". (= NBG; Not Brown (Gordon)

I hope the BNP doesn't come out with "Fighting for a Fair Haired Fair Skinned Britain". That would make it really confusing.

As (Ex-) Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Weston-super-Mare, it is my duty to try to make some kind of distinction between our positions.

The Green approach to "fairness" (we prefer the word "equity", except it would put people off) is that it includes our full agenda:
  1. Fair distribution of wealth within a nation, because that is associated with a healthier, happier people.

    To achieve this, we need
    • a better electoral system, where more varieties of opinion are represented
    • redistributive taxation
    • a radically revised financial system, with new money created by the Bank of England as well as by the private banks
  2. Fairer distribution of wealth between nations.

    To achieve this, we need
    • to abolish the debt burden on heavily indebted poor countries
    • to solarise the world economy so that hot poor countries become energy rich
    • to tackle dictatorships which cause poverty, oppression and war for their people, through the Index of Human Rights
    • to get the UN to set up an agency to negotiate separatist movements (1/3 of current wars are based on separatism; Angola separatists attacked the Togo football team yesterday)
  3. Fairer distribution between present and future generations

    • -which brings in our whole sustainability agenda - climate change, reforestation, peace not militarism, economics based on ecology, respect for biodiversity and all the rest

      So that's what is implicit in the Green view of fairness (though I should point out that one or two points are not yet official Green Party policy).

What is the LibDem take on fairness?
I have highlighted the bits of Nick Clegg's Four Steps that catch my interest:
  1. Tax Reform: stop up the loopholes that the rich use, and give £700 to everyone else. OK.
  2. Reduce Class Sizes in schools. Cool.
  3. Spread the profits of the City of London, out to the country generally. Have community banks (good classic Green policy), invest in infrastructure and green technology, invest in reliable public transport, (I think)
  4. Political Reform - openness, transparency, 150 less MPs, local communities to control police and NHS (classic green policy), powers of recall.
So there we have it. Much overlap, as you would expect. So who do you vote for? Neither Party will form the next Government, so you are only voting for the principle in either case.

My case is that the Green philosophy, founded on the understanding of ecology, is more inclusive and sound than Liberal Democracy, which, like individualism and socialism is founded on the absurd notion that man is a self-existent being.

PS And another thing: Dave's slogan "We can't go on like this" would do for the Green Party too.
PPS Labour do not yet have a slogan afaik. May I suggest, free of charge, a simple

"Plod on",

or possibly,

"If you think we are bad, look at the Tories?"


Anonymous said...

Is it true that the Green Party in the Irish Dail-

"voted to support cuts of welfare benefits by an average of 4.1 per cent, while child benefit will fall by 16 per cent, Disability, widows' pensions, invalidity and carers' allowance are also to be cut by €8.20 to €8.50 per week"

and for-

"The creation of this “bad bank” will see the Government purchasing loans with a face value of up to €90bn from the banks."

and their leader said-

"Nobody comes into public life to cut public sector workers’ pay. Nobody comes into public life to reduce welfare payments. But given the scale of the public pay and welfare spending, there was no other option."

DocRichard said...

Hi JMac

I have no idea if it is true or not. A link would be helpful at very least.

As you probably know, I am greatly in favour of the creation of a Bad Bank or Toxic Asset Dump, but the devil is in the detail. Certainly the public should not be at risk of paying for the bad bets and bad decisions of uncontrolled bankers.The idea of a Bad Bank should be to identify, corral, and study the nature of Toxic Assets.

Anonymous said...

Well, the current distribution of seats in the Dail includes 6 Irish Green Party TDs (MPs) and the Green Party are part of the current Govt., holding two government posts, I think.
The welfare cutting Bill is a government Bill. A Bill created by the ruling coalition – the Greens are part of that coalition, so it appears that they aren’t just voting to cut these benefits, but that they helped create the Bill!!

News media seem more interested in the fact that one of the Green TDs swore during a debate in the Dail, so I have found it difficult to link to a straightforward news item about the Green support of the welfare cutting budget, but here are 3 links:-

DocRichard said...

Thanks. Yes. Embarrassing. Not so much the F*ck you sentiments of the Green TD, as the fact that they are cutting benefits. It is not for me to defend the decisions of Comohantas Glas (?sp). They chose to join Fianna Fail. on the basis that it is better for Greens to make the decisions than to sit back and criticise the decisions of others. Fair enough. But they immediately were given the poisoned chalice of the Tara decision, calculated to alienate their core vote, and now this benefit cut, which is in opposition to their great work in bringing Citizens' Income up the agenda in Ireland.

It's politics, but not as we know it, Jim.

Anonymous said...
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KRA said...

How refreshing to see a Green not do a hatchet job on the Liberal Democrats. We have more in common than some people like to admit.
I’m not sure your comment about the underlying philosophy is up to date: “We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of the Earth, and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for long-term continuity of life in all of its forms.” (Liberal Democrat constitution)

DocRichard said...

Hi David

Thanks for commenting, and for the update on the LibDem constitution. I am tempted to write that not all decisions taken by LD politicians are in line with that belief, but then again, the Ireland instance cited above shows that we Greens are not immune to bad decisions once our clothing is entangled with the machinery of political power.

I believe there is a light within everyone that connects them with Nature, but that it is obscured more or less by other beliefs and concerns.

I see that Marxist scholars are now discovering verses within the writings of the prophet Marx (prose be upon him) that show that he did in fact notice that Nature makes a bit of a contribution to wealth.

In the end though, there are a variety of ideologies (i.e. philosophies in action):socialist, individualist, liberal, libertarian, authoritarian - and ecological or "green", and I believe that it is this last and most recent that provides the widest framework in which the contradictions between the others can be resolved. Eventually.

Kind regards

KRA said...

The problem Doc, is the GPEW is fast becoming the new home for the hard left. Your idea of Green politics being beyond left and right, balancing individual freedom with human interdependence is an ideal rejected by most of the GPEW. You’ll find Schumacher getting mentioned by Liberals more than Greens these days.
I’m afraid it’s true that Lib Dems haven’t always lived up to our principles, however there are lot of stories that exaggerate or misrepresent what Lib Dems have actually done. I would argue the pluses far outweigh the minuses. I’ve been told, (but I’m suspicious about these sort of claims, for the same reason as above) Green Party councillors voted against Lib Dem plans to put more money into home insulation, Green Party councillors have voted against kerb-side recycling, Green Party councillors voted against Lib Dem proposals to plant 10,000 new street trees that would help fight the effects of climate change, Green Party activists have opposed tidal turbines. So no one is perfect.
Greens and Liberal have worked together successfully In 1995 a Lib Dem MP introduced the Home Energy Conservation Act, a bill written by the Green Party, (with Friends of the Earth and fuel poverty groups). The first time that legislation written by a non-parliamentary party ever made it onto the Statute books. The Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997 introduced by Don Foster, was another Lib Dem /Green Party /Friends of the Earth project. More recently Simon Hughes’ 10:10 motion and Richard Younger-Ross’ support for the Boiler Scrappage Scheme campaigned by Sion Berry are further examples.

So despite philosophical differences - we will always put freedom first, a Liberal Democrat victory in Weston-Super-Mare, is both possible and in your interest. Personally I’d favour us not standing against Caroline Lucas, and urging our voters in Brighton to ‘lend her their votes’ as a positive statement that notwithstanding our philosophic differences, we agree in the short term on the reforms the UK needs. We won’t break the ‘two party state’ in a first-past-the –post system by splitting the progressive vote.

DocRichard said...

We do indeed provide a warm home to the Green Left, but the term "hard" Left is questionable, since the real reds classify us as middle class middle aged middle of the road liberal reformist do-gooders.

It would be nice to source your cases of Green Party councillors voted against Lib Dem plans to put more money into home insulation, Green Party councillors have voted against kerb-side recycling, Green Party councillors voted against Lib Dem proposals to plant 10,000 new street trees that would help fight the effects of climate change, Green Party activists have opposed tidal turbines, but ars longa, vita brevis.

No one is perfect, I agree there.

Yes, there has been fruitful co-operation between LibDems and Greens. My own election onto Woodspring District Council was helped by a non-competition pact with the LibDems.

You raise the question of Weston super Mare. As you probably know, I am standing there as I firmly believe that the local Tory MP has made it a safe Tory seat. However, provisionally speaking, I would be eager to stand down in Weston in exchange for the LibDem candidate standing down in Brighton Pavilion. What do you say?

(Hark at us, discussing political wheelings and dealings in public like this).