So far, the Liberal Democrats and Conservative parties have both generously responded to our two simple questions on what they believe are the similarities and differences between the parties and their policies. Now the Green Party tells us their points of view.
Dr. Jillian Creasy kindly arranged for this reply from the Greens:
The Green party is campaigning for a fairer society. To do that we need to get the economy right, reduce the gap between high and low paid, and do something real about climate change. These things go hand in hand. For example, our proposals to Sheffield Council were for investing over £10million of Council funds to create hundreds of jobs insulating and installing renewable energy in houses and council buildings across the city. Saving energy will save money, create jobs, and help tackle climate change. The other parties do talk about these things like they are a hobby on the side, for us it is the main challenge.
Our economic plans would fight the recession, halve the deficit, and build the real economy, not bail out bankers. The Green Party will put money into manufacturing, construction, engineering, agriculture and transport. The Green Party would reduce the gap between the low paid and high paid, recognising that everyone does valuable work. Often those paid the least, such as cleaners, shop workers and carers, do the work we could least do without. That means taxing those who earn most and closing down tax loopholes, so that everyone gives their fair share. In Sheffield we are pushing for a Living Wage that would benefit many of the lowest paid workers in the city.
Again, some of the other candidates will make similar noises, but for the Green Party this is about creating a fairer society. Many social problems have their roots in broken communities and people feeling they are not valued in what they do. That is where fairer taxes can play their part in improving everything from health to anti-social behaviour to teenage pregnancy. It is not just about being fairer, but understanding how we can create a better country.
The Green Party would keep the NHS publicly funded and make it accountable to local councillors, and through them, to local people. We oppose the creeping selling off of our health services that the other candidates seem happy with. The Green Party is particularly against the way hospitals and GPs are made to compete against each other instead of working together to improve services. We would bring in free eye tests and prescriptions, things like that make sure people have access to health care before it gets so serious they end up in hospital. The Green Party believes prevention is the best way of cutting costs.
On education, the Green Party is particularly in favour of having small local schools that are part of the community. Unlike the other political groups in Sheffield we fought against the closure of both Wisewood and Abbeydale Grange, working with and supporting local parents and offering real solutions. We would abolish SATs; not just scale them back as the other parties are proposing. The Green Party are also against people other than democratically elected representatives and parents having a say over what schools should do, which is why we are against Academies. Labour and the Conservatives are planning a massive expansion of Academies and Trusts, putting our children’s education in the hands of businesses and charities. Education should be in the hands of teachers, who are, after all, the people we train to teach.
The Green Party will work to help people live an affordable and happy day-to-day life. That means having policies that makes things fair for everyone, whatever they work as, whether at the end of their life or a newborn who might see in the next century. Our belief is that people are able to make their lives better if you give them the tools to do it. I don’t think any party other than the Green Party has really grasped that yet, although I hope they will be persuaded.
On what policies do you agree with the other parties?
Everyone wants to reduce the national debt, reform the banking system, and create more jobs – but we all have different ideas on the best way to go about it! On a specific point, the Green Party agrees with the Lib Dems and Conservatives that more needs to be done to help small businesses, through reducing tax burdens on small firms.
We agree with the Lib Dems that there should be proportional representation so that every vote counts. We agree with the Conservatives that the prime minister should not have as much power. We agree with Labour that power should be devolved to local people. It is essential that wherever possible, any decision is made by the people who that decision affects day-to-day.
All parties are wanting moving away from the national curriculum, some more than others. That means schools should hopefully have more control over what they teach. Another policy we are very happy to share with the other parties is for more flexible working for parents, so they have the time to take an active role in bringing up and educating their children.
The Green Party shares, with Labour and the Lib Dems, the belief that a positive way of tackling low level crime is to let those harmed by the crime have a say on what happens next, and let the offender do something to make amends. For minor offences, it has been shown to work, and it helps stop people slipping into more serious crime.
All the parties know that climate change, and our supply of energy, is a big issue. One policy we all share is encouraging people to save energy, and pay them for generating energy. Given it might be the biggest challenge we come to face, it’s good the parties are in agreement on at least some ways to tackle it.
All the parties want a fairer Britain. We do agree on a lot of what we would like Britain to be. But you can’t just hope that a rabble of half-hearted changes will make a difference, which is why the Green Party propose what we do – joined-up plans that will make a real change for the better.