Green party

New year message from Caroline Lucas MP

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas send a new year message to all Green Party members and supporters.

 

I'd like to wish all Green Party members and supporters a very happy new year.

Unfortunately 2011 is going to be very difficult for a lot of people in the UK. In the very first week of this year, VAT increases have been announced that will hit household budgets hard, particularly for those on lower incomes, and could cost up to 250,000 jobs. Government cuts could put nearly a million people on the dole queue, while making it harder for many of them to claim benefits.

Meanwhile there are fresh assaults on the environment, whether from proposed nuclear power stations, increases in rail fares that will push more people into car-dependency, and new measures that will promote traffic growth in both city centres and residential areas.

Those of us involved in Green politics will need to keep on fighting against the Coalition's latest attacks on public services, on jobs and on the environment. We must keep pushing for the positive alternatives. We can't give up - because who else can claim to stand for caring, progressive politics?

Having ditched their principles in government, Labour want to reclaim them now they are out of power. But politicians must take some responsibility for their actions, and show some consistency over their policies. How can the party that introduced student fees now oppose them on principle?

Like the Liberal Democrats, Labour broke a manifesto pledge in doing so. But unlike the Lib Dems, they were not then the junior members of a coalition. Labour had a majority in the House of Commons when they ended the principle of free tuition in higher education. It was entirely their decision. Now Ed Miliband appears to believe he can airbrush that decision from the record.

Similarly, the ethos of the NHS as a public service, where patient needs come before profits, is taking another blow. Yet Labour is unable to mount a principled defence of the NHS since, when they were in power, they welcomed in private healthcare providers, and saddled the NHS with huge debts through PFI.

Across the board, Labour simply cannot oppose the Coalition's plans without laying themselves open to the charge of hypocrisy. Academies? A Labour idea. Selling off the Royal Mail? A Labour idea. Even the programme of cuts in vital public services is something Labour admit they would have done themselves, had they won in May.

But Labour's leadership, with a typical lack of humility, assume that students and others will meekly return to the party that betrayed them. Ed Miliband wouldn't be seen meeting students, let alone marching with them. Joining the protests or challenging heavy-handed policing in Parliament, as I have done, does not seem to fit with Labour's obsession with the fabled middle ground of British politics.

Politics does not have to be a straight choice between power and principles. In our election campaign in May, the Greens did not drop any of our radical policies. We stuck to what we believed in and against all the odds we won our first seat in Westminster. It shows that if you tell the truth and offer people something better, the public will respond.

And this is what we must keep on doing. We must carry our message to the growing numbers of people abandoned by the Conservatives, disillusioned by Labour and betrayed by the Lib Dems. We must grow the Green Party as the radical progressive alternative, and give ourselves a louder voice than ever before.

Yours sincerely

Caroline Lucas MP

Leader, Green Party