The Green party put climate change and a “fair economy” at the centre of their election manifesto launch this morning in east London.
The manifesto, launched by Green leader Natalie Bennett and sole Green MP Caroline Lucas, includes pledges to ban fracking, phase out coal fired power and halt the construction of new nuclear reactors. The Greens would also offer households £5,000 in free insulation and other energy efficiency measures and invest £35 million of public money in renewable energy projects.
Countering the current rhetoric of austerity, the Greens have vowed to create one million living wage jobs in the public sector, through spending £177 bn a year on health, social care, transport, social housing, energy and public works. In addition, they would lift the minimum wage to a living wage of £10 an hour by 2020 and introduce a citizen’s pension of £180 a week.
Their public spending plans would be paid for by a 2% “wealth tax” on those with assets of more than £3 million (i.e. the top 1%), predicted to raise £25bn a year, a tax on banks’ financial transactions (the so-called ‘Robin Hood Tax’) which would raise £20bn a year, increasing corporation tax to raise £12bn a year and an estimated £30bn a year from cracking down on tax avoidance. In addition, they would introduce a top rate of income tax of 60% for those earning over £150,000. The manifesto also proposes to abandon GDP as a measure of economic prosperity in favour of Adjusted National Product (ANP), which would take into account environmental degradation and resource depletion.
Other key green policies include renationalising the railways, ending the road building programme, abolishing tuition fees, introducing a maximum pay ratio of 10:1 between the top and bottom earners in any organisation, and cancelling Trident renewal.
Critics have questioned whether the sums add up on the party’s economic plans, especially the efficacy of a wealth tax. The Greens would end up borrowing £338bn to 2020, more than double the coalition’s plans to borrow £115bn.
The party has enjoyed a five-fold increase in support since 2010, the so-called ‘green surge’ which has seen them gain more members than the Lib Dems and UKIP. They enjoy particularly strong support among students, emerging as the second most popular party in both recent national student polls and Bournemouth University’s survey.
The full manifesto can be found here.