RAZZ wants to encourage students to engage with politics to stay as informed as possible. We understand though that most political discourse is designed to exclude young people. Therefore, we’ve read the manifestos of the main political parties for the 2019 General Election and reduced them down to what we feel most affects and interests students. Here is a breakdown and brief evaluation of the Green Party manifesto. Remember to stay informed and vote on 12 December.
The Green Party are the leading party in tacking the climate crisis. Their key policy to tackle the emergency is ‘The Green New Deal’. This involves investing in improvements such as:
- Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy
- Delivery of major heating upgrades for 1 million homes a year
- Creation of 100,000 new energy efficient council homes a year
- A public and sustainable transport revolution, where people travel cheaply and safely on new trains, buses, cycleways and footpaths
- Support for businesses to decarbonise and the provision of training to give people skills to access millions of new green jobs
- Planting of 700 million trees and support for healthy and sustainable food and farming systems
The Green New Deal aims to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030, a vast and much-needed improvement on the Conservative’s policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the UK to almost zero by 2050. It seems that the Green Party can be trusted to commit to this pledge, continuously leading the conversation as apparent in how Green councillors have been the first in the country to declare climate emergencies.
The Green Party have pledged to fully fund every higher education student and scrap undergraduate tuition fees. This is a comfort to know that future generations wouldn’t have to shoulder the student debts we now have, but the Greens also promise to write off existing debt for former students who studied under the £9,000 tuition fee regime. This means current students at our University will not have to worry about student debt.
War on Drugs
The Green Party also prioritise ending the war on drugs, acting as one of the most proactive parties on this issue. They say that they wish to “treat drug addiction as a health condition, not a crime, building on the successful approaches pioneered in Portugal and other countries”. They want to pardon and expunge the criminal records of all individuals previously convicted for possession and small-scale supply of drugs; invest in education that addresses drug use as a health issue and not a crime; make cannabis, labelled according to laboratory-tested strength, available to adults from licensed small businesses; prohibit commercial advertising of alcohol (and all other drugs) and introduce minimum unit pricing; and set the Advisory Council for Drug Safety, comprised of experts, who will be responsible for monitoring patterns of drug use and advising the government.
The NHS is currently in crisis and needs vast improvement. The Green Party plan to tackle this through multiple measures including:
- Increase funding for the NHS by at least £6 billion per year each year, until 2030 (a 4.5% increase on the 2018/2019 NHS Budget), and a further £1 billion a year in nursing higher education, allowing for nursing bursaries to be reinstated.
- Roll back privatisation of the NHS, through repealing the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and abolishing the internal market.
- Focus funding to enable major improvements to mental health care and ensure that everyone who needs it can access evidence-based mental health therapies within 28 days. Tailored and specific provision will be readily available for the particular needs of Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer and Asexual (LGBTIQA+) and Black Minority Ethnic (BME) communities, children and adolescents, and older people.
- Focus funding to provide better reproductive health services, ensuring that all forms of birth control are free, to give women a real choice of the birth control that works best for them.
- Ensure that PrEP – a daily pill which prevents HIV infection – is provided by NHS England.
The Greens are a pro-European party and are “unequivocally campaigning for Britain to Remain in the EU”. The Green MP, Caroline Lucas, co-founded the People’s Vote and the Party will hold another referendum between either leaving on the terms of a Brexit deal or choosing to Remain and improving the UK’s membership terms in the EU. This is a similar Brexit stance to the Labour in terms of another referendum, although Labour will not campaign wholly as a pro-European party. The Conservatives will not hold a People’s Vote though and will instead leave the EU on Johnson’s Brexit deal.
The Green Party’s other policies include transforming the social welfare system by phasing in a Universal Basic Income (UBI): “an unconditional financial payment to everyone at a level above their subsistence needs […] Those excluded or overlooked by the current means-tested system will see the biggest benefits. This includes low to medium income families with children, young people and students, and some pensioners.” The Greens also wish to give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote and allow them to stand for Parliament and all other elected offices.
The Green manifesto proposes extra operational expenditure of £141.5 billion a year, paid for by a mix of tax reforms and savings measures and borrowing an extra £94.4 billion a year. Public borrowing can seem not ideal but the Greens reassure that “We appreciate these are large numbers. We are, however, confident in them. We have been deliberately cautious in our estimates. We have not included in full the increased revenues the government is likely to receive from an economy boosted by significant investment, or the reduced spending requirements arising from a happier, healthier society. These benefits are likely to accrue at an accelerated rate as our policies begin take effect, paving the way in the long term for an economy and that is far more stable than ours currently is.” They also say that, given the climate crisis and the fact the cost of government borrowing is at its lowest for decades, it is an unparalleled opportunity for public investment.
A lot of Green’s policies are attractive to young people, and it’s undeniable that a vote for them makes a statement of the younger generation’s priorities. However, it is worth considering what your priority is for this General Election. No vote is a wasted vote, but there are more effective strategies than others. The reality is that the Green Party will not have a majority government, meaning that these policies will not pass through unless the bigger political parties support them. The most similar manifesto is the Labour one, followed by the Lib Dems’, followed by the Conservative’s. A coalition government between the parties looks unlikely, so it may be worth checking out who to vote for tactically based on your preferences of government.
Make sure to check out RAZZ’s other coverage of the main parties’ manifestos and stay engaged with #GE2019.
–Charlotte ‘Fozz’ Forrester