27 May 2010
Austerity measures are not the way to build a more stable economy or a fairer society, said Caroline Lucas last night.
The Green Party leader and Britain's first Green MP told a packed public meeting at Conway Hall that "the government's cuts programme will result in greater unfairness, fail to tackle inequality and do little to build the kind of strong and thriving public sector needed to provide a steady and genuinely sustainable economy."
At the Can't Pay, Won't Pay rally, Caroline said that "Being part of [the] fight for fairness means looking at how we have arrived at where we are today - with rising unemployment and rising home repossessions, dwindling wage levels and dwindling aspirations, an unequal society riddled with unfairness.
"All of this hasn't happened by accident.
"It is a direct and inevitable result of years of financial deregulation overseen first by Margaret Thatcher, then by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. And now Cameron and Clegg have taken charge - and do we expect anything different? Not if they have their way."
The MP for Brighton Pavilion continued, "I think we need to be very clear that it's precisely business as usual that has created this crisis - and that we need a very different model as we go forward. A model that is fair and sustainable, and which is based on a steady-state economy, rather than chasing ever more economic growth for its own sake.
"Because of course we don't only face an economic crisis - we face a triple crunch, which includes the accelerating climate crisis, as well as the impending crisis of peak oil. And unless we address them together, we'll miss a vital opportunity to shift the economy in a truly sustainable direction, and we'll risk simply storing up an even bigger collapse in the future."
Instead of a programme of cuts, Caroline called for "programme of green spending that kick-starts the shift to green energy" which, she said, "will produce countless new jobs, and keep money circulating in the economy where it is needed most, when it is needed most."
The Green Party's 2010 general election manifesto contained a proposed £44bn investment package intended to slash CO2 emissions while creating over one million new jobs and training places in the UK. The investment would be funded by a package of measures to include scrapping such things as Trident and ID cards, switching £30bn from the roadbuilding budget to public transport investment, and a number of radical financial changes - including a redistributive tax reform that the Greens say would leave 87% of Britons better off.
Caroline's full speech is available here.