A couple of days ago, the Green Party (GPEW) launched its manifesto for the GE in three weeks time. Indeed all the parties have been busy launching their manifestoes in the last few days. They make interesting reading.
A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the political party. A manifesto should usually accept previously published policy but can promote new ideas and prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author(s) believe(s) should be made.
I can assure everybody that the Green Party does this properly and rigourously (in part because I was responsible for a small part of it – yes, on fracking). I would like to publicly commend the work of Brian Heatley, in particular, and all the many other contributors, for providing such a well written, thorough document that is accessible to all (via the full range of versions available)
Lots of work has gone into costing the pledges within it, which makes it disappointing when we hear Natalie Bennett and Pippa Bartolotti floundering around for a few headline figures in interviews, and even more disappointing and disingenuous of some of the media to exploit these personal weaknesses when the figures are readily enough to hand. Sample pledges:
- Investment in renewables (£35bn)
- Increase in NHS budget (£12bn, then 1.2% p.a)
- Early years education (£8bn p.a.)
- Class size reductions (£1.5bn p.a)
- Abolition of tuition fees (£4.5bn)
- Cancellation of existing student debts (£30bn)
- Increase in Social Housing budget (£4.5bn p.a.)
- VAT reduction to 5% on restaurants/tourism and related + home renovation (£7.6bn p.a.)
Sample budget increases:
- Cancelling Trident and nuclear disarmament (£100bn+ over 30 years)
- Stopping landlords writing off mortgage interest against tax (£5.8bn)
- Increasing minimum wage to £10p/h (£2.4bn p.a. saved on tax credits + £1.5bn increase tax/N.I. revenue)
- Wealth tax of 2% on top 1% (£10bn in 2016 and rising)
- Robin Hood Tax (£5bn in 2016 and rising)
- Abolition of upper NI threshold (£14.5bn in 2016 and rising)
- Increase in Corporation Tax (£12.5bn in 2016)
- Reducing tax evasion (£12bn in 2016 and rising)
- VAT & fuel duty on aviation fuel (£16bn in 2016)
Over the course of a 5 year parliament, the manifesto details £672.7bn of revenue increases to set against £136.9bn of revenue decreases. This gives a net increase in revenues to fund our programmes of £535.8bn. Of course, some of these issues, especially regarding health and education, are devolved matters. Which brings us to Wales Green Party. Available in English and Welsh (of course), they have produced a kind of addendum designed to go alongside the GPEW manifesto. Sounds fair enough, but at the time of writing the links to it on the Wales Green Party website are not working – possibly due to an attempt at rectifying a bit of a gaffe (shurely not!) over the ever-sensitive issue of Welsh independence. The manifesto for the Green Party of England and Wales states:
“Greens have long supported the process of devolution in Wales. We believe that the people of Wales should enjoy the degree of autonomy, perhaps including self-government or independence, that they wish to have, as expressed in a referendum. “Up until such referendum, Greens in Wales will focus on improving and maximising the potential of the current settlement.”
Hear, hear! But the Welsh addendum doesn’t mention a referendum. Au contraire, their stated approach to Welsh governance is pretty much identical to the mainstream neoliberal parties with Wales having to settle for a ‘reserved matters’ form of devolution. The Welsh manifesto addendum states:
“We believe that the starting position should be that all powers are devolved from Westminster to the Welsh Government except for those that are best retained at a UK level.”
Not surprisingly, this discrepancy is already being jumped on to illustrate how out of tune WGP continues to be with GPEW. I had better stop here methinks!
P.S. The link to the Wales addendum became functional again a few hours later – unamended as far as I can tell. On reflection, it seems to be more of an early bid for support in the Welsh Assembly elections next year than having much relevance to the General Election this year, but that is fair enough and more realistic I suppose. Achieving some success in those WA elections would be all the more realistic with some form of pact with PC in place – but WGP’s position (at odds with GPEW) on Welsh governance makes it clear that this will not happen.