Labour or Green - A Student's choice

1 May 2018

green signs

 

Until recently, there were big differences between the Green Party and Labour. Privatisation of public services, austerity, Trident renewal and an easy-going tax system were all Labour policies. Since the advent of Jeremy Corbyn this has changed. We have witnessed the adoption by Labour of many Green Party policies. Greens welcome this – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

So why would today’s student vote Green? There are still major differences:

  1. Europe – Labour has finally announced that it has a policy on Brexit. This is to join a customs union. Whether this will work is anybody’s guess. The Green Party wants a second referendum to ratify any deal with the EU. After all, in 2016 no-one knew what they were actually voting for. And we were systematically lied to by the Brexit lobby.
  2. Fair votes – the Green Party has consistently called for a proportional system of voting. In the 2017 election Greens polled more than 500,000 votes – result: one MP. By contrast, Plaid Cymru polled less than one third of the Greens’ total but got 4 MPs. Labour has repeatedly fought against a fairer voting system.
  3. Greens are serious about the environment. Jeremy Corbyn’s party wants to spend £56 billion on a white elephant HS2 train. Greens would spend that money on improving regional railways. Labour are committed to spending billions on a new nuclear power station at Hinkley. At a local level, Labour-controlled Sheffield council made a deal with a multinational corporation which has resulted in a chainsaw massacre of healthy street trees. In Leeds the Labour council is years behind the curve when it comes to providing cycle lanes so that people can safely bike to the city centre.
  4. You can’t get infinite economic growth from a finite planet. Labour remains a party committed to economic growth. Greens know that we have to live within our environmental means.

The Green Party takes a long view – we act now because we care what happens to future generations: our children and the next generation. But political movements are built from the ground up. That means that the Green Party needs to build a strong base of local councillors. We ask you to help us do that. Give us your support at the local elections in May – vote for your Green Party candidates. The longest journey begins with a single step.

Our future – our choice

What kind of world do you want the next generation to inherit? You could choose a toxic, overheated rubbish dump with oceans full of plastic. Or you can choose a living planet that’s capable of supporting us for the indefinite future.

Humanity is already pushing up against some natural boundaries:

  • Climate change
  • Deforestation
  • Loss of biodiversity
  • Overfishing
  • Acidification of oceans

Yet there is hope. There is abundant evidence that, in developed countries, further economic growth is not making people happier. As one writer put it “we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like”. He might have added that we then throw those things away a few months later.

Or consider the words of Senator Robert Kennedy: “… gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.  It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Of course we should work to eradicate poverty, both at home and in the wider world. But the best way to do that is to challenge the grotesque inequalities that have grown up with 30 years of neo-liberal Thatcherite policies. The richest 1% now own half the world’s wealth.

We believe that happiness is more likely to come from living in places where people have access to parks and green spaces, where there are trees in the streets, air that is breathable, where there is a decent health service and where education is free. None of this is impossible: we can do it now. The choice is ours.