Question 4: Do you think protectionist policies are justified and necessary if we are to localise the British economy? And if so, how much emphasis would you put on such policies?

Leader candidates

Romayne Phoenix

Protectionist policies are currently seen as those that affect the values of the 'free market'. We need to work towards replacing organisations such as the WTO with our own policies for a World Localisation Organisation and the GATT with a General Agreement on Sustainable Trade. We need policies to protect us all globally, and localised trade will be the answer in many cases. We should work steadily towards a zero carbon economy and that will necessitate more localisation but we do not need to emphasise this as a separate issue now.

Natalie Bennett

Protectionism is a solution of the past. The Green Party has an international, co-operative vision; we need a global network of local production. We can offer Britons a better life – with more security and less stress - by restructuring our economy to grow food close to home, returning manufacturing to the UK, providing jobs in public services and cooperatives, and decent homes for all. That can be done within the limits of one planet. We need policies for that new economy, to push back against "market knows best" neo-liberalism and privatisation so that we can tackle the human and environmental waste of capitalism and ensure investment goes to productive uses, not financial speculation.

Peter Cranie

Yes. But at present a far higher priority is to challenge the Con/Dem/Lab austerity consensus. We need to win the argument that through Green fiscal policies (including redistributive taxation, Robin Hood Tax, crackdown on tax avoidance/evasion, Green New Deal etc) we CAN afford to protect public services and create huge numbers of meaningful jobs in the transition to a sustainable society.

Pippa Bartolotti

No, I don't think at this stage they are, because the real job is to strengthen our argument as to the benefits of localization such as jobs, transportation, community, minimization of waste and energy conservation. Protectionism can backfire, and we need to learn to support each other, not be in conflict.

Deputy Leader candidates

Richard Mallender

Yes if we are to build an economy based on Green principles. Enough emphasis to ensure jobs are created here in the UK rather than simply relying on imports from countries with lower environmental standards.

Will Duckworth

I have no problem with protectionist policies and had Southern European Countries been able to use them they may not be having the difficulties they are now. Local currencies are an excellent way of supporting local small businesses. The Bristol Pound starts using paper currency just before Conference there and I would love to see that being supported. Everything should be done as locally as possible.

I don't think that protectionism should be put high on our agenda.

When considering trade with other countries we need to think carefully about the situation in poorer countries.

Alexandra Phillips

I think we need to strike a fine balance here, but the financial crisis has underlined how crucial it is that the state regulates elements of capitalism to ensure fairness, the protection of small businesses from anti-competitive multi-nationals and to imbed sustainability in the DNA of job and wealth creation.

Caroline Allen

The 'race to the bottom' of globalised trade is a disaster. For the recent Agriculture policy rewrite we researched and carefully considered this issue. Currently WTO and EU rules make it difficult but we must push for policies that allow us to restrict imports on environmental and ethical criteria, which would include labour rights. This is worthy of a strong emphasis as it links with the vital need for more decent jobs.


Question 5