Wednesday Weltanschauung: Green Politics

In this week's Wednesday Weltanschauung, Samuel Juniper extols the merits of Green politics, which are not limited to the environment, but extend to society and the economy.

These are dangerous times for the planet. The world’s population currently consumes resources equivalent to 1.6 Earths per year. We would need four Earths per year to sustain the global population if everyone had the same lifestyle as the average United States citizen. Humanity has to scale back its consumption so as to avoid exhausting the ecosystem services (fresh water, fertile land, raw materials, decomposition of waste) that sustain civilisation. If we don’t cut our production of greenhouse gas emissions, a bleak future awaits our species.

The society that the Green Party want to build isn’t just green – its fairer and more just. This includes rejecting austerity, raising tax on the rich and the minimum wage for the poor, renationalising the railways and introducing board quotas to fight gender discrimination, amongst other policies. But the unique appeal and approach of Green ideology are best illustrated with reference to the basic income, drugs policy and electoral reform.

Alone amongst British political parties, the Greens support the introduction of a basic income, which would see the abolition of the minimum tax threshold and the replacement of the current benefits system replaced with a weekly payment to everyone- regardless of their income, which would ensure a basic standard of living for all. Supporting everyone’s basic needs will lead to a happier, healthier and more productive population, as more people work in jobs they find fulfilling, and with hours that are less strenuous.

Are you a roadman? Or like to pretend you are? Then rejoice! It is Green Party policy to decriminalise all drugs and treat drug addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal one. This will take money out of organised crime, allow drug addicts to receive the medical care they need without fear of prosecution or reprisal, and allow you and your really cool friends to share a blunt as you talk about ‘selfies’ and ‘chirpses’ and all compare your Meal Deals.

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Democratic reform is another longstanding commitment of the Green Party- it is grossly incorrect to describe our country as a true democracy when a handful of voters in swing constituencies are the kingmakers of Westminster and 5 million voters (for the Greens and UKIP) share two representatives between them. Electoral reform to a truly representative political system, a democratically elected upper house, abolition of the monarchy, and increased nationwide direct democracy (where appropriate) would be the fundamental changes the Greens would enact to bring about a society where the people’s views are more accurately represented. A further subtle, but significant change, would be to cap private donations to political parties and ensure state funding for all parties represented in Westminster. This will ensure that our nation’s democracy is no longer for sale, in turn making our politicians more accountable and preventing vested interests from hijacking our political system.

One approach to policy making which distances the Green Party from other political parties is their integration between sectors. For instance Green cycling initiatives would not only  reduce CO2 emissions and air pollution in cities;  but would also make people healthier, reducing the burden on the NHS, cut congestion in cities and thereby boost productivity, and stimulate the economy by boosting demand for bicycles. This sort of joined up thinking runs through the Green party’s political ideology- we are not just a single issue party dedicated to saving the environment, but a political movement who wish to radically transform our society for the benefit of both the 99% and the planet.