Azara Blog: Green Party manifesto is launched

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Date published: 2005/04/12

The BBC says:

The Greens say they can offer a radical alternative for voters who are fed up with the three main political parties.

They put climate change at the heart of their manifesto, saying it was a bigger threat than terrorism.

They pledged to fund public services and green policies with money saved by scrapping Labour's road building plan, Britain's nuclear arsenal and ID cards.

Labour, the Conservatives and Lib Dems all say they are determined to tackle climate change.

But the Green's main speaker, Keith Taylor, said their "privatise and pollute" agendas had led to soaring CO2 emission levels, and said flooding in Boscastle and Carlisle showed the effects of climate change.

"Climate change is happening and it's happening now. The only people denying it are those who make their money from burning fossil fuels," Mr Taylor said at the manifesto launch on Tuesday.

The Greens want to replace VAT with a new eco-tax and increase NHS investment to £90bn a year by 2008.

They would spend the £30bn saved from the roads scheme on public transport and use money from eco-taxes to invest in renewable energy and to create more skilled manufacturing jobs.

And they would use £3bn from scrapping Labour's ID cards plans to invest in community policing.

For some reason the Green Party gets more publicity than its share of the vote would justify, perhaps because the chattering classes who work for the BBC and other parts of the national media have some sympathy with the Green Party, or perhaps the media is just desperately looking for some interesting angle in this boring election.

The Green Party is the party of the comfortable middle classes, so much the same constituency as the LibDems. (Which is perhaps why the Green Party website seems to be attacking the LibDems more than the other parties.) As of tonight their manifesto is not available on their own website but was downloadable from the BBC website.

They start off their manifesto with one of the current middle class fixations: "High levels of wealth inequality contribute to poor physical health, as well as to crime and other social problems. Even those who are materially better off are not always happier or more fulfilled. When we include these factors in our calculations of economic well-being, we can see that our overall 'wealth' has been falling since the 1980s." Well you would be hard placed to find many people in Britain who think that the early 1980s were a high point in the happiness or wealth of the nation.

The Greens don't like GDP as a measure of anything, they prefer instead some fuzzy and arbitrarily defined measure "such as the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) or the New Economics Foundation's Measure of Domestic Progress (MDP)". Expect the thought police to not allow anyone to mention GDP if the Greens win power.

Oh, and don't forget, "production must by cyclical, not linear". And people complain about the gibberish that New Labour spouts.

Currently the top income tax rate in the UK is 40%. The Greens want to increase the tax rate to 50% above 50k pounds and 60% above 100k pounds. The message is clear, if the academic middle classes want something, the higher middle classes should pay for it. (The LibDems want a tax rate of 50% over 100k pounds. The other main parties are not advertising any change.) At least the Greens want to abolish National Insurance (NI), which is a nonsense income tax (only income from jobs pays NI, income from investments does not).

Currently inheritance tax is zero below a threshold of 275k pounds (2005/2006 tax year) and there is a 40% tax rate above that. The Greens want inheritance to be treated more as income by the recipients rather than as a lump sum. This would mean that a partner losing a partner could get hammered (although presumably the first complication in the Greens plan would be that this does not happen), and that if you have lots of kids then you could avoid inheritance tax completely by spreading the goods, which hardly seems fairer than the current system.

The Greens want to replace VAT with "eco" taxes. Well VAT is already a crude eco tax since it taxes consumption and as a rough rule of thumb the more something costs the more energy has gone into creating it. There are zero-rated VAT items in the UK (e.g. food, children's clothing and books) and low-rated VAT items (e.g. heating fuel and domestic electricity), so the link to energy usage is not perfect. But whatever the Greens would introduce, it is almost certain to be much more arbitrary and less linked to energy usage. For example, their manifesto for some reason in particular picks out plastic bags as worthy of being taxed. (And this is a perfect example of how middle class these people are, that this merits any specific mention.)

The Greens want to replace Council Tax and Uniform Business Rates with a "Land Value Tax" based on the rental value of land. Gee whizz, this is called rates, and was replaced years ago because it was causing so many problems, to be replaced with the even more unpopular Poll Tax and then the Council Tax. All are approximate land value taxes, the only difference is the exact algorithm used to assess the tax. So this proposal is nothing remarkable.

The Greens don't like global trade. They also don't like corporations. (So if by some miracle they took power in Britain, sell your UK assets quickly and leave the country.) They say: "As the benefits of trade go to corporations not individuals, it also undermines local economies." Huh? Corporations have shareholders, who are individuals (well, some of them are pension funds, etc., but those in turn are owned by individuals). It looks like they want to go back to command and control, which rather went out of fashion in the world back in the 1980s. They want to "reverse the process of economic globalisation" and in particular they say they therefore have to oppose the Euro. Boy, these guys live in cloud cuckoo land. If any of the major parties put this kind of rubbish in their manifesto they would get hammered, why did the BBC give the Greens a free pass?

The Greens hate carbon and love "renewable" energy (except for nuclear power, which they hate). Well there's a surprise. They want to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010, 50% by 2020 and 85% by 2030. More cloud cuckoo land. But it's easy to do, just shut down the UK economy, which is what the Greens really want. The Greens want a carbon tax. Only they know that this would hammer the poor the hardest, so the tax rate will be different for different people (their manifesto says "tariffs will be structured in favour of smaller consumers"). So when you go to fill up your car with petrol, or buy food, or buy anything, then you may well have to tell the sales person how much you earned last year before you pay.

The Greens (like all the political parties) think that non-parents should hand over even more money to parents.

The Greens want to end Britain's opt-out of the EU Working Time Directive, so they know better than you how many hours you should work each week. They say we should be like the French and aim for a 35 hour week. Only France has Germany as a sugar daddy, and the UK does not.

The Greens want to reduce "dependency" on the car. Far better for the working population of Britain to be dependent on so-called public transport. Forget going from A to B when you want, you will have to ask permission from the Greens before you can go.

The Greens want to "factor in the true cost of motoring". Well driving is the only economic activity in the UK which pays (more than) its "true cost", in particular it is the only economic activity which already pays a carbon tax. (Clue for all you Green Party supporters. It's called the petrol tax.) The Greens want to take money from road building and spend it on so-called public transport. Amazing, eh, that something which is supposedly "sustainable" needs a large government subsidy in order to sustain it. Perhaps people on buses and trains should pay the "true cost" of their journeys, now that would be a radical proposal. (No political party would suggest this because London commuters run the country, and they would make trouble for any government which tried to take away their transport subsidy.)

The Greens want to tax air transport (more than currently happens). Well it is fair enough taxing all forms of transport, including air travel, but air transport is "public transport" as much as bus and train travel is, so why do the Greens hate the former and love the latter. They state they want to make "air transport reflect its true environmental costs" but do not say the same about bus and train travel. The Greens obviously think too many working class people can now afford to holiday abroad, and they want to return to the good old days when only the rich (like the Greens) could do so (there's nothing worse than flying to New York and having to share the plane with some horrid working class slob).

The BBC says:

[ London Assembly member Jenny Jones ] also offered an insight into the ethical dilemmas faced by party members, saying she was flying to New York to give a speech on peace.

"As a rule, I don't normally fly," she told reporters, but this trip was within her "personal carbon limits".

She's taking the piss. By going on some obviously pointless junket to New York she is going to cause more problems for the environment than your average UK car driver does in a year. Go to the bottom of the class. But the Greens, in line with all the other UK ruling elite, think there is one rule for the rulers and another one for the little people.

The Greens want to recycle 60% of domestic waste by 2010. This is classic Green middle class silliness. It does not matter how much waste you create, as long as you "recycle" a certain amount. And by "recycle" they mean hand it over to the State to "recycle" (which takes a huge amount of energy in transport), so woe betide any citizen who drops below the 60% target, as officially counted, by recycling their own green waste in a compost bin. This is recycling for recyling's sake.

The Greens want to "adopt the 'precautionary principle' with regard to any alleged benefits of new technologies such as genetic modification, xenotransplantation and nanotechnology". What this means is that the Greens hate new technology and have no reason to hate it so will just argue to ban it using a faith-based approach. The 'precautionary principle' also says we should invade Iraq just in case they have WMD. And then Syria, Iran and North Korea. So George Bush and the Greens at least share one principle in common.

The Greens want "organic" food production to be 30% of the total by 2012. Well "organic" is an arbitrary definition (and try to find an exact definition) made up by people who hate modern food production technology (anything less than, say, a hundred years old). In particular, for some reason GM food does not qualify as "organic", and the Greens will go so far as to ban that (as would most of the UK parties).

The Greens also love the NHS, foreigners, world peace, proportional representation, etc., etc. But all that stuff is boring and irrelevant in comparison to their economic and energy proposals.

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