It was an absolute pleasure to attend Ms. Natalie Bennett’s, the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, evening sharing the Green Party’s political ideology on the 19th November, 2013.
To be honest, it was a surprise to see that the lecture hall was filled with such a wide variety of attendants which included university students, middle-aged couples and elderly ladies and gentlemen. Some came with their families, some came with their friends and some just came alone. If people had told me it was a fun fair, I would definitely have believed it.
Green Parties are often perceived to be based on principles of social justice, grassroots democracy, peace and environmentalism, in particular the use of clean and renewable energy resources.
Ms. Bennett kicked off with a long list of devastating statistics about the UK’s economy. 47% of the graduates are not able to find graduate jobs. Increasing figures of under-employment and food bank reliance. It is more difficult for young people who left school after GCSE or A-Level to find jobs. University graduates have more debts to pay off after they have finished university. People, in the 6th richest country in the world, are not living at a standard that is proportionate to the economy.
This all seems to suggest that the UK’s economic model is inefficient. The UK relies so heavily on its financial advantage, but the typical residents’ lives are telling a different story. Faced with so many social and environmental problems, what should the country do? If we, the people, want to change the system and social structure, how can we achieve that?
Green Party suggests that the nation should pay for the university’s tuition fee. If the number of tertiary education students increases, which means that young graduates will be equipped with better skills and deeper knowledge, the nation will benefit on the whole. As a matter of fact, more than half of university graduates never manage to pay their student loans back and this, to some extent, explains the trend of the national debt figure. Under the current system, regardless of the nature of the job, the amount of repayment is proportional to the salary graduates earn; if you earn more, you will have to pay more. It sounds profoundly unfair. We should, nevertheless, remember the inflation in housing estate and energy bill. And worse, the market is suffering from a lack of graduate jobs. Social mobility is at a very low level because a lot of the middle jobs are gone.
Green Party suggests that the boom of multinational companies has squashed away a lot of middle level jobs as well as eliminated opportunities. Roughly 95% of the jobs in the big companies are paid at the minimum wage level or slightly more. Their weekly income implies that they cannot contribute to their national insurance. It is not difficult to relate the exploitation of workers we read from the news with the cheap product price we are enjoying. Green Party suggests that the government should restrict the economy and set the minimum wage in accordance with the national income level so that people can earn higher wage and ease the public burden of keeping NHS up.
The solution is, as Ms. Bennett puts it, to vote. Ms. Bennett does not demand people to vote for the Green Party, but most importantly, people should make the government be aware of the dissatisfaction. It could be some rude words or simply a cross on the vote, to let the government know that you are not ‘happy enough’ with the situation. Some surveys count people who vote into the ‘happy enough’ group. A lot of people just believe that their voice will not be heard and their objection will eventually go unnoticed. They also dislike the first past the post voting system which, to a very large extent, discourages them to vote.
Caroline Lucas, member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, has proven the belief that it is always Labour/Conservative untrue by becoming the first Green Party’s MP. It is now for the British to live decently and use only one-planet resources.
Ms. Bennett then moved on to talk about the daily life problem that should be tackled at no time. Regarding political representation, Ms. Bennett suggests that the structure of the Second Chamber of the House of Lords, which is appointed, should be considered as well as the single transferable vote system.
Considering HS2, the planned high-speed railway between London Euston and the Midlands to the Northern part of the United Kingdom, Ms. Bennett thinks that more money should be spent on improving the transportation policy in the country, from local buses to regional trains. In her opinion, the government should take more away from the rich so as to compensate for the poor.
Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, should be handled with care. It is important to clear the impact it brings to the local environment and for that reason, underground water policy should be carefully reviewed.
It is predicted that the price of Gas will go up by 40% soon. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveals that climate change is getting worse, the world doesn’t have many fossil fuel reserves left. That is why we have to look into the management of resources and consider the environmental impact cost. Fracking, is definitely an issue the UK has to look into carefully.
Talking about globalisation and the impact it brings forth, it is obvious that China is expanding and becoming one of the leading countries in the world. Yet, the recent figure seems to suggest that China is rebounding. It is then a good chance for the UK to consider its reformation. Ms. Bennett suggests that capitalism will collapse eventually and it is now time to bring up localism and small business economy in order to eliminate monopoly. With more opportunities offered at a higher wage, national income will rise and abuse of unemployment benefit will fall.
Energy is an important part of going ‘Green’, Ms. Bennett suggests that the first step to gain public approval with new energy is to prove its efficiency. Wind turbine is being trialled and will hopefully prove to be a success.
In order to deal with the poor transportation policy, the government should re-nationalise the railway and some local buses systems. In the meantime, schools should advocate creative education and both private and public bodies should eliminate gender policy. Parliament should act in accordance with people’s voice and represent the people, not just the upper-class.
The incident in Syria has given us a good chance to rebuild our external policy. The UK should not be the world’s sole police, and the government should learn from what happened in Afghanistan. Syria is getting rid of its nuclear weapons, and the UK should never develop or use nuclear weapon. We should support new instruments to build a better world and abandon weapons.
At the end, Ms. Bennett emphasised the importance of re-localising the economy and protesting against big-stores. Now is the right time to support local business and focus on environmental issues.