Refreshing British Politics

There are many good reasons for people to want see a change in British politics. A key way to achieve that is going to be refreshing the cast of characters who sit in Parliament.

The lead candidates in Brighton Pavilion offer three different models for change. Conservative Charlotte Vere represents a party who want to change our country to benefit the few well off people at the expense of the majority. (I know that’s simplifying things dramatically, but that is the overall end result of Tory policies)

Labour’s Nancy Platts offers an interesting alternative approach. By rejecting many of her party’s policies she implicity suggests that, if elected, she would be a rebel campaigning for reform from within the Labour party. That’s an entirely valid approach to take, but I’m not sure how much influence Nancy actually would have within her party if she did follow through on her personal policy positions. A good number of people have already tried and failed to steer New Labour back to its original roots. (As an aside, it’s really quite extraordinary how many policies on which Nancy differs from her party e.g. Rail privatisation, ID cards, Trident, Heathrow expansion and supermarket expansion.)

Caroline Lucas for the Greens is offering an alternative, more credible, approach in my view. By getting Greens elected the breadth of views in Parliament, the diversity of representation will be meaningfully increased. Us Greens have long standing policies on social justice, workers rights, health and much more. We’ve been getting messages of support from people across the country, from all party backgrounds, wishing us well. They express their hope that some Greens will get elected to Parliament so that they open up and improve debate. It’s down to the Brighton Pavilion as to whether that will happen.

10 thoughts on “Refreshing British Politics”

  1. I think one of the most likely outcomes of getting a Green MP elected will be that it will change the Labour party much more than Nancy Platts could.

    Labour will see that there are still lots of people who want social justice and environmental policies and will probably move to take up those policies, probably in a diluted form, that will probably take a lot of the Green vote.

    However, if the policies are being implemented that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

  2. The more literature I get through my door from the Greens, the more aware I become of the gaping gap between the image the Greens are aiming to present to Brighton Pavilion’s voters, and their own policies. No mention in anything I have read of the Citizen’s Income, for example, where everyone in the country is put on benefits. No mention of a new “department of alternative medicine” for the NHS, or the legalisation of prostitution and porn. I wonder if Caroline Lucas is really behind all these policies, or maybe she finds them a bit embarrassing and that’s why we’re not hearing a great deal about them just now.

    There’s no doubt that there is a range of opinions within the Labour Party, but I don’t think it’s the only party with different points of view. It’s just that we don’t get to hear about all of them.

  3. Some other interesting policies from the Greens include: a ‘communally based and relatively informal’ justice system’, and the removal of all restrictions on artistic expression for adults – i.e. allowing unrestricted pornography. Interestingly Caroline Lucas has told me that this last policy needs to be rewritten – as it doesn’t convey the right spirit of the policy – and indeed she was very robust on Question Time recently on the subject. However Alex Phillips, party co-ordinator in Pavilion, has also confirmed to me that her comments (against pornography) were not in line with Green Party Policy.

    Another, less important but revealing policy, is that the National Lottery would be abolished immediately. Now, I’m not a fan of the lottery, but I find it hard to reconcile the need to abolish the lottery to save the poor from themselves, whilst thinking that society is ready to manage the consequences of unrestricted pornography.

  4. Tracey — The Citizen’s Income isn’t about putting everyone on benefits. It’s about simplifying state support, ditching all these complex (underclaimed) credits, benefits and top-ups and replacing them with one form of support for the vast majority of people. It wouldn’t eliminate additional support for people with specific needs such as disabilities. Not only would simplifying the whole system make it more accessible, it would dramatically reduce the amount of taxpayer money spent on administration.

    Furthermore the Citizen’s Income aims to reverse the perverse situation where someone on state benefits can be WORSE OFF when they find a job. More info at http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/policypointers/ppcitizensincome.pdf

    Martin — You’ve slightly misquoted part of our policy which is from a conference motion relating to civil law which doesn’t say ‘communally-based’ but that ‘the basic institutions of Green justice should be community-based and relatively informal in nature.’ This was a preamble to a motion questioning the current use of ASBOs. (To read it in full search for “CLIPS” on this page http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/rops/rcj.html )

    In terms of artistic express for adults – yes that’s party policy, because we believe in freedom of expression. Free speech is a fundamental human right, and our policies support that, see http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/mfss/mcms.html for more info.

    As in all political parties, there isn’t 100% agreement by all members on all policies. We are coalitions of opinion and there are sometimes disagreements, for example on our policies regarding drugs or prostitution. Just as some Tories disagree with each other over Europe etc.

    Ultimately I believe the National Lottery is a bizarre way to fund projects of importance to society & culture. We aren’t arguing to ban gambling but to stop a national lottery run at profit by a private company with funds handed out by unaccountable quangos.

    Finally I believe that what consenting adults do with each other (on or off camera) for consumption by other adults is not something we need to ban or censor.

  5. Would you confirm then that The Green Party would remove all restrictions the distribution of pornographic material between adults? How do you intend to protect children and vulnerable adults from the insidious effects of such material? Surely we must aspire to something better than that.

    Would your policy allow the sort of pornographic material that was instrumental in the death of Jayne Longhurst?

    In terms of criminal justice. Could you explain what ‘relatively informal in nature’ means.

    In relation to the lottery – is your issue that it makes a profit, or that the money is handed out by quangos? Why not ban gambling- which is is run for profit, but which gives nothing back? The lottery may be a strange way to fund projects – but my point is that you are comfortable with allowing the insidious spread of pornography whilst at the same time wanting to stop people having a flutter on the lottery. Which is the more serious threat to a fairer society?

  6. Just another thought Jason – If you are so committed to free speech why does your Party support the banning of homophobic and transphobic singers from this country. Personally I totally agree with the policy – but it does not appear to sit with your view of ‘what consenting adults do with each other (on or off camera) for consumption by other adults is not something we need to ban or censor’. Your Party seems to accept that there needs to be restrictions on those who offend and damage society – unless they are pornographers.

  7. Incitement to racial hatred and violence are not acceptable, and that is the thinking behind our campaigning against “murder music”.

    “Artistic expression by/for adults” is it exactly what it means. I’m not condoning or suggesting it should be available for children. Filters are, and should continue to be, made available to help parents manage their children’s access – as are various licensing laws around films and video sales. That is right and proper.

    There’s a real sense of “moral panic” about the banning of so-called ‘extreme pornography’ but from what I can see there isn’t a correlation between murder rates and the availability of pornography. For example Japan has low murder rates but widely available pornographic materials.

    On the lottery – my issue is both the profit & the quangos when it is government mandated and goes out on the BBC.

  8. You seem to be trying to face both ways on pornography. You want freedom of expression, but still want the limitations of licensing laws for film and video etc. Are you saying that the content should be unrestricted but we should still have classifications? The idea that unrestricted pornography can be kept from children simply by a classification system is naive in the extreme. A better example of the effect of hard core pornography on society would be the USA, with by far the largest porn industry.

    In terms of the lottery – you now throw the BBC into argument. Another prejudice exposed.

    Perhaps I can ask again – which is the greater threat to a fairer society – pornography or the lottery?

  9. I don’t think comparing apples vs oranges is helpful.

    My point with the lotteries use of the BBC is that it’s a further example of how the national lottery is a bizarre anachronism – it would be much better to just levy the funds for good works in a fairer way.

    All I’m saying on pornography is that just because I want freedom of expression for adults doesn’t mean I’m proposing children have access. If you feel that’s facing both ways then ok then – personally I don’t want to take my 4 year old to a movie if there’s going to be explicit sex in there, and so some level of ratings is needed. Rating is not the same as censorship.

    You have yet to point to any evidence whatsoever that correlates porn with any societal problems whatsoever. There has been porn in one form or another for centuries. Similarly sex toys have been tracked back at least 30,000 years.

    Women make & consume porn. Men make & consume porn. I don’t believe it’s a major problem – but am always open to alternative views.

    It’s not clear to me Martin what your concern is? Is it a feminist argument, a moral argument?

  10. I’m not sure why you raise sex toys as an argument – I can’t see anyone have a difficulty with them. What pornography does, which toys don’t, is to objectify people, and particularly women, and society is a lesser place because of it. Feminist or moral – it doesn’t matter – surely you can have both.

    Just because people make and consume porn doesn’t mean it’s good for society. Having worked in child protection for many years I can assure you that it has a damaging effect on the lives of people involved in the production and consumption of it. Most porn is not some cosy, fun activity where people just get off on watching themselves and others – it is a huge industry, driven by the kind of financial interests your party is so against in other areas, with close links to people trafficking and drugs.

    In comparison to your campaign against ‘murder music’ are you seriously suggesting that porn does not incite violence?

    By the way – I’m still interested in what ‘relatively informal in nature’ means in terms of your criminal justice proposals.

    Thanks

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