15 April 2010
The Green Party today launched its general election manifesto Fair is worth fighting for at the Brighton Metropole Hotel. The manifesto (1) was launched by Caroline Lucas, the Green Party leader who is tipped by pollsters and bookies to take the Brighton Pavilion seat on 6th May. Deputy leader and Norwich South candidate Adrian Ramsay also addressed the lively press conference, as did Darren Johnson, Green Party candidate for Lewisham Deptford and current chair of the London Assembly.
Speaking today to assembled journalists, Caroline Lucas said:
"This is an exciting time - we are on the brink of getting our first seats. People are crying out for real change, as the other parties become increasingly alike. Our key messages are those on the environment, on the economy and on fairness. We believe that the choice between safeguarding the environment and the economy is a false one - if you want to see how 'green' a party is, look at its economic policies.
"We are calling for a major change, for social and economic justice that would see 87 per cent of the population significantly better off. Now is the time for radical tax reform, with those on higher incomes paying more, and those on lower incomes better off. For example, we have pledged to provide a citizens pension of £170 per week. At the moment, a quarter of pensioners are living in poverty. Thirteen years ago Labour promised to link pensions to earnings - and we're still waiting."
A living wage, higher income tax for the well off, and support for small businesses
Caroline Lucas continued:
"We would bring in a national minimum wage of £8.10 an hour, and reduce corporation tax to make it easier for small businesses to thrive. But this is not fantasy politics - our manifesto is fully costed. We would pay for it by, for example, scrapping Trident which would bring in around £80 billion. We would cut the £30 billion to be spent on road building, and use the money to invest in public transport. We would raise income tax for those earning over £100,000 a year - that is just 2 per cent of the population - to fifty per cent. We support a Robin Hood tax. And we would ensure a permanent tax on bankers bonuses.
"Under Labour society is less equal that is has ever been since the Second World War - a damning indictment of the Government. In less equal societies, there is more violence, more crime, more health problems. It is in the benefit of all that we get society back on its feet, and make it more equal for the good of all."
No more PFI hospitals – and keep schools, post offices and surgeries local
Adrian Ramsay, who is standing in Norwich South constituency against Charles Clarke, said:
"We want to ensure that every child has access to a good local school. We want teachers to be free to do their jobs, and we would scrapping SATS tests, as the NUT suggests. We want every single talented student to be able to go to university, regardless of family income, and would scrap tuition fees for all students."
"Our manifesto sees money going to improve health services, not to line the pocket of private finance companies, which is why we would end the practice of using PFI to pay for hospitals - akin to paying for your house on a credit card. We would keep our health services, along with our schools and post offices, local, and we would support local businesses who form the bedrock of our economy."
Darren Johnson, who is the candidate for Lewisham Deptford constituency and who chaired the launch event, said:
"This is the first time we go into a general election with the real prospect of winning our first Westminster seats. In Brighton Pavilion, where Caroline is standing, she is the first ever candidate in that constituency to be odds-on favourite with the bookies, as the seat is usually so marginal. We are fielding more candidates than ever before, currently 328, with a full slate in London."
Mr Johnson said the "fully costed manifesto... would see the creation of one million new jobs and investment in public services to avoid a 'double-dip' recession."