Budget fails to address today’s challenges

You might have thought that there was no one left on a trolley in a hospital corridor. That our social care system wasn’t on its knees. That climate change wasn’t a crisis that threatens our very future or that there was no air pollution epidemic linked to the deaths of tens of thousands.

This budget should have been an emergency intervention to end the chaos in health and social care and address the air pollution emergency, but instead it’s another resounding failure from a Government that’s got no ideas beyond an obsession with scaling back the state. With our NHS in peril and social care in crisis, this Budget was a chance for the Government to take a stand for the public services upon which we all rely. Instead they continue to push ahead with planned corporation tax cuts, and their handout to high earners, while unveiling woefully inadequate funding changes for the NHS and social care.

This budget is another climate failure – with the Chancellor failing to mention climate change even once in his speech. Rather than reversing the solar tax hike or ploughing money into renewables, the Government seems hell bent on drilling for more gas and oil in the North Sea, and handing further cash to the motor lobby with the fuel duty freeze. Britain should be leading the world in climate change technology and green jobs, but instead we’re lagging behind and laying the foundations for another dash for gas.

The time is now. Join us to stand for the Common Good.

100 days: a message from Caroline, Jonathan and Amelia

In the 100 days since we were elected as your leadership team, the world has changed.

2016 has been confirmed as the hottest year ever on record. A man who talks hatred and division is on his way to the White House. Thousands more refugees are fleeing for their lives from places like Aleppo. And the Government is negotiating our future relationship with Europe on the basis of having our cake and eating it. Literally.

We are better than this.

And in the last 100 days we have seen evidence of this far and wide.  Between the three of us, we have visited Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels, Calais, Cambridge, Canterbury, Dublin, Exeter, Glasgow, Grantham, Isle of Wight, Leeds, Lewes, Liverpool, London, Machynlleth, Malvern,  Manchester, Much Wenlock, Newport Gwent, Norwich, Oxford, Scarborough, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, Lancaster, Winchester, Witney and York.Everywhere we go we find passionate people who know the power of working together and are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with it. Millions who know that Trump won’t last and Brexit solves nothing. Who are already working for what comes next.

We stood for election on a promise to crack open the system and build a new modern politics, where power is redistributed and every vote counts.

That means having an ongoing conversation about progressive alliances – and we have been overwhelmed by the positive response. Local parties are rising to the challenge, asking themselves if this is something they should consider and exploring whether it might help them achieve their goals.

Over the weekend, we marked our first 100 days of leadership. And as part of this, we are pleased to announce the first of a special series of Q&A sessions with Green Party members to ensure this conversation continues and the whole Party has a say. On 23rd January 2017 you can join the co-Leaders live at 6.30pm on the Green Party’s YouTube channel for a live video Q&A. You’ll be able to ask us questions and we’ll try to answer as many as we can. You can also submit your question in advance.

We have always been open and honest about why we personally back progressive alliances and the chance to secure a fair voting system. And for us that doesn’t mean standing down, it means standing up for what we value. So we have travelled to Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP and Women’s Equality Party conferences to demand they stand up too – because all of us deserve better than we are currently getting.  Wales Green Party Leader, Alice Hooker Stroud, took the same message to Plaid Cymru conference.

Support is growing at a pace we never imagined, and in this final month of 2016, a year marked by division and despair, Greens took a small but important step for unity and hope.

Bold, brave Greens were instrumental in defeating a regressive alliance in the Richmond Park by election, showing that when we have more in common, it can make sense to work together.

The past 100 days have been historic. We live in a country where it seems people are feeling more insecure than ever before in our lifetimes. More frightened, more angry and more left behind.

But as 2016 draws to a close, we look to 2017 with hope and confidence.

Work for a better future always starts now and we want to thank you for being part of the change we all want to see. Together we can make sure 2017 is a different kind of year: Operation Hope starts now.  Please ask your family and friends to join us.

And please read our new blog to find out more about what the three of us have been doing on your behalf during our first 100 days as your leadership team.

Thank you,

Jonathan Bartley
Co-leader of the Green Party

Caroline Lucas MP
Co-leader of the Green Party

Amelia Womack
Deputy leader of the Green Party

Building a Better Britain

The new Green Co-Leaders set out their priorities for the next two years and explain how Greens do politics differently.

Wherever we go in Britain – from Brighton to Birmingham, Durham to Dulwich – we see the same picture. The country is in a crisis. From a creaking health service and environmental chaos to a crumbling politics and a broken economy – we live in an age of insecurity. The Conservative Party Conference was a real low point, with a Prime Minister attempting to put on sheep’s clothing while preaching the politics of the wolf pack. In the face of all that’s wrong in Britain, the Tory leadership’s main messages appeared to be that migrants were to blame and that we need to go back to the failed education system of the 1970s.

In recent weeks, it’s fair to say that the Labour Party has attempted to shift onto our territory by joining us in calling for a ban on fracking – and rolling out a pledge for the same £10 minimum wage we had in our manifesto. Of course, huge differences still exist – from Labour’s support of both nuclear power and weapons, to their leadership’s failure to support a fair voting system, their wavering on airport expansion and their reluctance to oppose the government’s reckless ‘hard Brexit’. But, overall, the change of direction is extremely welcome, particularly because it gives us space to put forward the truly bold Green policies that unite our party, and are so desperately needed in Britain.

The truth is that this country is at a fork in the road. The politics of anger and despair are knocking at the door, and people are clamouring for something new. That’s where we come in.

Take, for a start, the state of our economy. We are a rich nation plagued by poverty – with millions of people living paycheck to paycheck, without any real job security. We work all of the hours in the day, yet wages have stagnated for a decade now. We can do better than this. That’s why the Green Party goes beyond calling for wage increases and pay ratios within firms – and looks to a future where people can work less and know that a genuine safety net exists to support them when they’re not working. Our long-standing policy of a basic income – a universal payment to everyone in Britain – is gaining traction precisely because the economy is failing to deliver for so many people. It shouldn’t be radical to say that everyone deserves time with their friends and family, or enough money to live on.

Then there’s our environment – the lens through which we see every issue. Climate change is accelerating and our most precious species face being wiped out. We’ve known for a long time that the situation is critical, but now it’s getting desperate. Both the government and opposition talk the good talk when it comes to climate change – but their actions fall short of what’s needed. Laying down new tarmac for airports, ploughing billions of our money into Hinkley Point and ripping through the countryside with HS2 send us in entirely the wrong direction and are applauded by both Conservative and Labour MPs. The recent decision on fracking was the latest in a long line of backwards steps from a Conservative cabinet seemingly hell-bent on driving us off the climate cliff.

This is about the kind of Britain we want to build – and whether we want to invest our resources in oversized, overpriced projects and starting a whole new fossil fuel industry in this country or the clean renewable technologies of the future. We can build a better country – but that means saying ‘no’ to twentieth-century solutions to twenty- first-century problems, locking fossil fuels in the ground and embracing a real energy democracy.

And then there is the state of our democracy. It’s utterly dysfunctional. We have a government elected by less than a quarter of those eligible to vote and a Prime Minster who has never won a general election. The House of Lords is unelected and unaccountable to anyone. The EU referendum showed that people across the country come out to vote when they know it means something, but we can’t hand back control to the people unless we radically reform a Parliament that systematically locks them out.

Britain is a tough place to live for many people at the moment, but perhaps those facing the worst time are people who have come here from other countries. The mood is toxic and the streets feel unsafe for many migrants and for many others who feel scapegoated by this government for its policy failure. The rhetoric from the government and, sadly, some in the Labour Party too has only inflamed an already tense atmosphere. As Greens, we’ve always welcomed people who come here to make a life – it’s a big part of what makes this country what it is. That’s why we’re fighting to keep free movement within Europe, and pushing the government to take in more refugees and give local authorities the resources they need to welcome them. Ultimately, in the face of rising division across our continent we need to be building bridges, not walls.

The challenges we face – as a country, as a party and just as people trying to make sense of all that’s happening around us, are immense. But we’re resolute that we won’t let this time be de ned by those who want us to be a smaller, more closed country.

We’re proud to be leading this party at this most defining moment in history – we know how much it matters. Thank you for being part of this movement – without you, none of what we do would be possible.

This article was originally published in Green World.