Ed West

Welcome to the completely bonkers world of the Green Party manifesto

Welcome to the completely bonkers world of the Green Party manifesto
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I was about to shut down my computer last night when I made the mistake of clicking on an article about the Green Party’s manifesto, possibility the scariest thing since Victor from The Returned.

Say what you like about the Greens, a party with support now at 11 per cent, but at least they’re not just the same as any other party. None of that ‘neoliberal’ nonsense here.

Here are some excerpts from the Daily Telegraph article 

  • Top-ups [will be] given for people with children or disabilities, or to pay rent and mortgages. No-one will see a reduction in benefits, and most will see a substantial increase. Parents will be entitled to two years’ paid leave from work.
  • The policy will enable people to “choose their own types and patterns of work”, and will allow people to take up “personally satisfying and socially useful work”. It will cost somewhere between £240-280 billion a year – more than double the current health budget, and ten times the defence budget.
  • Under Green plans, inheritance tax – “to prevent the accumulation of wealth and power by a privileged class” – will no longer just tax the dead.
  • Under radical reforms, it will cover gifts made while the giver is still alive – raising the prospect of levies on cars, jewellery or furniture given by parents to their children.
  • New resource taxes would apply to wood, metal and minerals, and steeper levies imposed on cars.
  • Crucially, import taxes will be levied on goods brought to Britain reflecting the “ecological impact” of making them – with tariffs reintroduced for trade between Britain and the rest of Europe, ending the free trade bloc.
  • All elements of the sex industry will be decriminalised, and prostitutes could no longer be discriminated against in child custody cases.
  • The Greens also want to see “significantly reduced” levels of imprisonment, with jail only used when there is a “substantial risk of a further grave crime” or in cases where offences are so horrific that offenders would be at risk of vigilantes. Prisoners will be given the vote.
  • SATS, early years tests and league tables will be abolished, and “creative” subjects given equal parity to the “academic”.
  • Independent schools will lose their charitable status and pay corporation tax, while church schools will be stripped of taxpayer funding. Religious instruction will be banned in school hours.
  • Tuition fees will be abolished - but state research funding for universities will increase to reduce a reliance on “biased” commercial research.
  • The “overall volume” of advertising on TV and newspapers will be controlled and cut, as part of a war on the “materialist and consumption driven culture which is not sustainable”.
  • The England football, rugby and cricket teams would no longer play against countries where “normal, friendly, respectful or diplomatic relations are not possible.” Football clubs would be owned by co-operatives and not traded on the stock markets.
  • No more new airports or runways will be built, and existing ones nationalised. All new homes and businesses must by law provide bicycle parking. Helicopter travel would be regulated “more strictly”. The sale of alcohol on planes and airports will be tightly restricted to prevent air-rage, and the air on inbound flights tested for disease.
  • Advertising of holiday flights will be controlled by law to halt the “promotion of a high-carbon lifestyle”. New taxes would be imposed on carriers to reduce passenger numbers.
  • Assisted dying will be legalised, and the law on abortion liberalised to allow nurses to carry it out. “Alternative” medicine will be promoted. Private healthcare will be more heavily taxed, with special levies on private hospitals that employ staff who were trained on the NHS.
  • It will be a criminal offence, with “significant fines”, to stop a woman from breastfeeding in a restaurant or shop, and formula milk will be more tightly regulated.
  • In order to prevent “overpopulation” burdening the earth, the state will provide free condoms and fund research for new contraceptives.
  • Merely being a member of al-Qaeda, the IRA and other currently proscribed terrorist groups will no longer be a criminal offence under Green plans, and instead a Green Government should seek to “address desperate motivations that lie behind many atrocities labelled ‘terrorist’,” the policy book states.
  • Terrorism, it adds, “is an extremely loaded term. Sometimes governments justify their own terrorist acts by labelling any groups that resist their monopoly of violence 'terrorist’.”
  • Britain will leave NATO, end the special relationship with the US, and unilaterally abandon nuclear weapons. A standing army, navy and airforce is “unnecessary”. Bases will be turned into nature reserves and the arms industry “converted” to producing windturbines.
  • “Richer regions do not have the right to use migration controls to protect their privileges from others in the long term,” the party’s policy book states.
  • A Green Government will “progressively reduce” border controls, including an amnesty for illegal immigrants after five years.
  • Access to benefits, the right to vote and tax obligations will apply to everyone living on British soil, regardless of passport. The policy book states: “We will work to create a world of global inter-responsibility in which the concept of a 'British national' is irrelevant and outdated.”
  • Political parties will be funded by the state, and the electoral system changed. The monarchy will be abolished.

I know Ukip are accused of wanting to bring us back to the ‘50s, but at least it’s not the 1750s, before pesky economic growth ruined everything. All parties are based on inherent contradictions: Labour has the progressive dilemma, whereby the party’s social liberalism destroys working-class solidarity; the Conservatives have the inherent contradiction that free-market capitalism inevitably changes rather than conserves society. Ukip, being in its adolescence, is full of contradictions at the moment. But the Green Party is like an Escher painting of political paradox.

It wants pre-industrial economic policies mixed with 21st century radical sexual politics mixed with a strong hostility to pleasure, especially if someone’s making money out of it; it supports hard secularism and population control policies combined with open borders and pacifism (let’s see how that works out!); immense levels of state control over our private lives alongside moral relativism towards things like terrorism and crime. Its support base is mostly the educated, squeezed middle yet its economic policies would certainly ruin them.

If Communism had been designed by middle-class women, this is what it would look like: a sex workers’ paradise with more emphasis on tax and telling-off and less on gulags and terror.

Still, I’m with them on the negative income tax and their high-minded idea that the BBC should be forced to broadcast educational programming during prime time; although I suspect that the Greens’ idea of ‘educational’ might differ to many people's.

Anyway, the commentariat will universally sneer at the Greens and it won’t make the blindest bit of difference to their support: voting is irrational, and the more parties we seem to have the more irrational – or at least less self-interested – it gets. Still, I would be keen on seeing how a selection of voters for each party did on rationality tests. I would hazard a guess that supporters of the Greens would come out bottom of the big five.