Not one leader from any of the major political parties has visited Tyne and Wear or County Durham as part of the General Election campaign.
David Cameron is the only leader so far to even venture into ANY part of the North East since the dissolution of parliament.
He visited Northumberland’s Alnwick and Stockton, the two areas where his party has a chance of winning next month, but bypassed large swathes of the region.
Labour leader Ed Miliband – whose party is favourite to win EVERY seat in Durham, Tyneside and Wearside, most seats in Teesside and half of those in Northumberland – has failed to make a public appearance anywhere in the North East.
The Liberal Democrats are defending Redcar and Berwick-upon-Tweed, yet Nick Clegg has been nowhere to be seen.
Nigel Farage claims UKIP is targeting parts of Teesside and has a strong interest in Blyth, and yet the leader of the “people’s army” has not made a public appearance anywhere in the North East.
And despite evidence of a Green surge in pockets of the region, Natalie Bennett has not visited to show support for her party’s candidates, either.
The North East is widely-regarded as safe Labour territory and this may explain the lack of interest from the parties’ top politicians in campaigning in this area.
Nonetheless, voters will be disappointed when they compare the region to, say, the Greater Manchester area, where the parties are fighting a higher number of key marginals.
Nick Clegg has visited seats in Greater Manchester four times, David Cameron twice and Ed Miliband four times.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 25 Apr 2015
The Green Party admits this election is about building momentum for success at the General Election 2020.
At the North East launch of its manifesto at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle, parliamentary candidates and members running in the local elections said their support had quadrupled in the past six months, which had set the scene of the party becoming a serious challenger over the next decade.
The Newcastle party now has 400 members and has five times as many candidates standing in the local council elections compared to 2014, and four times as many General Election candidates since 2010 across the North East.
However nationally it holds just one seat in Brighton, represented by former leader Caroline Lucas, and the party is yet to make inroads on any local council in the region.
Former Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Peter Thomson, who switched from Labour to The Greens, said:
“We believe we are going to pick up a lot of support. We’re not so stupid to think we can win a raft of seats but there’s a distinct possibility of more than one. For us it’s a process of building and the next election in 2020 will be the one where we will see a significant Green breakthrough.”
“In much the same way the SNP have proved themselves much more attractive, you are going to see that in the country as a whole – people will realise that there is a viable opportunity.”
As a representative of those who have shifted from Labour, Mr Thomson said the Green manifesto this week had proven that the party is one of the true left.
“I was a former Labour councillor for Elswick, but I’ve moved across to Green in the last year. I drifted across from the Labour party because I didn’t believe that it really did fight for social justice anymore or recognise the really serious nature of the neo-liberal crisis that effects the whole of our international economy and until we face up to that we are in deep trouble.
“This means we need to start addressing climate change and the things that drive it like unbridled development. I would have found it very difficult to be part of the city’s Labour council as they put through their Core Strategy for building new homes and I would have found it very hard to have sat through the cuts that Labour has been forced to make.”
Joining the parliamentary and local election candidates at the rally was Peter Pinkney, who is running for MP in Redcar, and as the president of the RMT union, one of the Green’s most high profile candidates.
He said Green party leader Natalie Bennett was a ardent campaigner on the RMT’s behalf against the privatisation of the railways.
“Whenever we have a campaign about re-nationalising the railways, or there’s picket lines and demonstrations – she’s there.
She’s given us support all along, as has Caroline Lucas, who moved a private members bill to re-nationalise the railways which is more than any Labour MPs have done.”
He said the fact Labour has set up a task force to attack the Greens was telling of the party’s threat of swiping votes.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 17 Apr 2015
The Green Party today launched ‘For the Common Good’, the Party’s 2015 General Election Manifesto (1), which sets out a bold, ambitious plan for a fairer society and safer planet.
The manifesto focuses on the Greens’ commitment to restoring and extending public services and tackling climate change.
Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time and only the Greens are determined to tackle it by taking serious action to limit our emissions at home and fighting for a fair global deal that secures humanity’s shared future. The Green Party will invest up to £80billion over the next Parliament in renewable generation and energy efficiency.
Real action on climate change will create jobs, reduce energy bills and make life better for ordinary people.
The Green Party stands for a fair economy that works for all and will end austerity and restore the public sector, creating over one million good jobs that pay the Living Wage. The Green Party will introduce a Wealth Tax on the top 1%, a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ on the banks and crack down on tax dodging to raise £75billion a year by 2019.
The Green Party will take back our health service by reversing the creeping privatisation of our NHS and increasing health spending by £12billion a year. Healthcare must be publicly funded and free at the point of use.
The manifesto was launched by Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader of England and Wales, and Caroline Lucas, who was elected as MP for Brighton Pavilion in 2010.
“Austerity has failed and we need a peaceful political revolution to get rid of it.
“Our manifesto is an unashamedly bold plan to create a more equal, more democratic society while healing the planet from the effects of an unstable, unsustainable economy.
“This manifesto presents the Green Party’s genuine alternative to our tired, business-as-usual politics. We desperately need a more equal society and the policies we announce today pave the way towards a brighter, fairer future for all.”
“We urgently need real leadership when it comes to tackling climate change – and that’s what our manifesto delivers.
“From ending the scandal of cold homes to investing in a public transport system that puts the public first, our plans will make a positive difference to people’s lives, create new jobs and help protect our environment.
“We have put investing in a greener future at the heart of our manifesto and only Green MPs will demand Parliament delivers change that reflects the scale of the climate problem.”
Campaigners hoping to turn Northumberland in a Green Party powerbase defied dreary weather to officially launch their election battle.
Natalie Bennett’s party will fight all four Northumberland constituencies at the General Election next month, placing energy, anti-austerity, public services and transport at the heart of their strategy.
Taking shelter under bright green umbrellas, the candidates chose Druridge Bay Visitor Centre, near Amble, for the event, close to the site of a planned opencast mine, which the Greens are petitioning against amid fears it will damage the environment.
The party’s candidate for Hexham and chairman of the Northumberland Greens Lee Williscroft-Ferris, said:
“Today has been a huge success.
“Despite the poor weather, many Green Party members from across the four Northumberland constituencies have come to Druridge Bay to show their support as their candidates officially launch their general election campaigns.
“Although we are each fighting hard in our own areas, we share similar concerns. These include an urgent need to improve public transport and protect our public services, as well as a mutual objective of fighting against the unsafe exploitation of our natural resources through fracking, open cast mining and underground coal gasification.
“We offer a people and planet-focussed alternative to ‘business as usual’ politics and to the narrative of austerity – the number of people here today proves that there is a genuine appetite for a positive, Green vision of hope here in Northumberland.”
It comes as the Greens celebrate being the third-largest party, in terms of membership, in England as the party enjoys unprecedented exposure in the TV leaders’ debates.
While the Greens are not anticipating victory in Northumberland a surge of support for them could make a decisive difference in the key marginal of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Following the retirement of long-serving Lib Dem MP Sir Alan Beith, Conservative Anne-Marie Trevelyan is neck-and-neck with Lib Dem Julie Porksen, but the Greens’ candidate Rachael Roberts is holding her own.
Dawn Furness is taking on Labour’s Ronnie Campbell – who polled a 6,668 majority in 2010 – in the Blyth Valley constituency while Chris Hedley also faces a tough opponent in Wansbeck where Ian Lavery will stand for Ed Miliband’s party.
The Save Druridge campaign has a petition, which can be found online: http://www.savedruridge.co.uk
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 Apr 2015
We haven’t yet ordered our coffee and already Shirley Ford, a school administrator and lead campaigner for the North East Green Party, is racing through her lines.
“As of this morning, we had 22 candidates selected with another five possibles,” she says, as we find seats at a quiet South Shields seaside cafe.
“But things are changing so rapidly now. If you had asked me before Christmas, I would have told you something entirely different. We are a small party, we don’t have much money so it is all about candidates’ enthusiasm.”
She seems nervous, but it is an extraordinary time for the Greens. The so-called surge is in full swing.
Calls for Natalie Bennett to be included in the TV leaders’ debates intensified until the dam broke and broadcasters changed their stance in what has been celebrated as a watershed moment for the party. Now, after 20 years on the sidelines, the region’s handful of Green councillors find themselves in the spotlight and, sometimes, the firing line.
“Yes, but that is exactly what we wanted – to be taken seriously,” said Shirley.
And, it seems, times are changing. The party in the region has tripled its number of parliamentary candidates since 2010 and, Shirley, who is sporting a fern green jumper and matching coat, does not by any means predict a win, but she is brimming with optimism.
“Five years ago, we ran just seven candidates and that tells you where local parties’ strength was at,” she says, with a wry smile.
“We stood someone in South Shields, Gateshead, the three Newcastle seats, Tynemouth and Wansbeck. This time round we are looking at standing candidates in all but two seats. We might struggle to stand in Sunderland but things are changing every day.
“We didn’t think that Blyth Valley would have a candidate but suddenly we have had some key people joining there that have made it possible for members to select.”
The media glare, she says, is winning the party support but the Greens’ operation on the ground is gathering strength.
“I think that national and local media does make a difference as to what people think something is happening,” she said. “We don’t have very much money. It is up for members of each local party to raise the money for their deposit and for any research or materials.
“We have to be creative. We don’t have the resources to go and knock on everyone’s door or to carry out a poll of the constituency, but we are doing what we can.”
Shirley, who will stand in South Shields, was an organiser for the local Stop The War Coalition and has lobbied government as part of the Women in Black campaign against injustice, war and militarism.
“I joined the Green Party 11 years ago but I grew up in a family interested in politics,” she said. “I campaigned against apartheid when I was a student and I was always interested in human rights.”
She says people are finding the party via the Greens petitioning on specific issues, such their campaign against the Newcastle/Gateshead One Core Strategy, which could allow for homes to be built on greenbelt.
Greens are renowned for their passion for the environment and so have been smart in joining with organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage to organisation clean-ups.
But what does it all add up to? Where does she think the Green Party will do well in the North East?
“Newcastle East is one to watch – we have been focussing campaign work in the Heaton area and we are very active in Jesmond,” she said.
“We campaigned during local elections on local issues, including on transport and housing. We have been in that area for two or three years building that campaign level up.
“We have been championing more affordable housing and we have seen a good response in the Newcastle North area. I think in Northumberland, in Hexham and Berwick, we will do well. The two parties wanted to link up on energy campaigning issues, such as the Druridge Bay opencast coal mining campaign.
“There has been a lot of – what’s the word – a lot of synergy. They have been linking up on local issues that they are passionate about and I think that comes across.
“We want people to get the message across we want renewable energy projects that are small scale that are not going to be having such a huge impact.”
While it isn’t likely the Greens can unseat the former Labour Minister Nick Brown in Newcastle East, it shows which demographic supports the Greens – students.
“In Durham, the party had been quite dormant but in the county council local elections we stood 15 candidates and we came second in the City of Durham division of Neville’s Cross,” she said.
“A good number of student residents live there. We also did well in other wards in the city where there is a high proportion of students.
“We have maintained the momentum that that gave us.”
So, the Green Party is relying on the region’s student vote?
“That is part of the strategy, to engage students and to encourage students to stand. Some of our parliamentary candidates are students. Middlesbrough and Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland are students, while others are Young Greens.”
The Greens are also popular among socialists after announcing the party would scrap Trident, renationalise railways and offer everyone a single payment ‘citizens income’, though the party has yet to set out exactly how that will be paid for.
> Well, just scrapping Trident alone would save around £1.5 BILLION a year, not to mention the plans to spend over £100 billion on a replacement for Trident.
But, Peter Pinkney, the President of the RMT Union, is standing for the party in Redcar as a result, proclaiming that “the Greens are now the party of the left.”
Shirley said the move was welcome news:
“Peter has been a member for quite a long time now and he spoke at the Green Party conference 18 months ago on the whole railway issue. The national part is very excited about it.
“It is really exciting.”
It comes as the Greens announce membership nationally has grown by 120% this year. Now, their leader will share a platform with David Cameron and Ed Miliband.
“It gives people a sense of a change and there might well be a place for a smaller party,” said Shirley.
“This lets people hear our policies and gives people a chance to make their own mind up.
“Last time, we imported the American presidential debate but that isn’t how our system works. You vote for your local candidate on policies and the debates last time didn’t reflect that.”
And it is on local issues that the Greens stand to make the most ground in this election.
The Coal Authority has granted licences for companies to explore parts of the North coast to see if underground coal gasification is possible.
The Green Party is mobilising its forces and it is when talking about this that Shirley is most animated.
“We are going to campaign on this off-the-coast, underground coal gasification because this issue has been bubbling along,” she said.
“We are keeping an eye out to see if there are any actual planning applications for anything onshore for both the drilling rigs and the processing plants.
“The argument that is always made is that we have got to have jobs – jobs jobs jobs – but they don’t think about the jobs that will be put at risk, such as tourism jobs and fishing jobs.”
Shirley is keen for the party not to be seen as an extension of eco-charities but as a party with a social agenda.
“We have petitions on particular issues in lots of places,” she said.
“Here in South Tyneside we have a schools campaign to bring back glass bottles and in Jarrow we have a petition to save the walk-in centre.
“We are trying to find solutions to the things that really matter to people.”
Winning in a region where Labour is so strong will be tough. On this issue, Shirley found herself agreeing with the leader of Ukip, Nigel Farage, who branded the North East a “one-party state” ruled by Labour.
Shirley says because of this dominance by the big parties, the Greens’ long game will be to campaign on voting reform.
“It is sad,” she said “It is partly our electoral system. All of the focus is on those marginal seats and if you are in a safe seat then you are very much taken for granted.
“That is one of the things we want to change.”
She added: “In 2010, a lot of people in the North East told us that they support Green but that they were going to vote Labour because of fear that the Tories could get in.
“Well, the Tories did get in anyway.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 11 Feb 2015
The Green Party has committed to building 500,000 social rented homes by 2020 to tackle the current housing crisis, it has been announced today.
‘Urgent action is required to address the housing crisis that sees 1.8million people on waiting lists for social housing, while ‘ghost mansions’ lie empty’, say the Greens.
Just 5% of Government expenditure is spent on building more affordable homes, which the Greens have described as a ‘disgrace’.
According to the Greens, 30,000 social homes have been lost to Right To Buy since 2010 – with only a few replacements.
The Greens in Government would build 500,000 social rented homes by gradually increasing the housing budget from £1.5bn to £6n by 2017. This would be paid for by reforming landlord tax allowances, scrapping buy-to-let mortgage interest relief and removing local authority borrowing caps.
The Green Party’s Manifesto will include policies to address the housing crisis, including policies to bring empty homes back into use, a better deal for private tenants, ending Right To Buy, and action on rent levels.
Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader, said:
“We need to move away from regarding houses as primarily financial assets and go back to regarding them as homes. This policy is an important step in that direction.
“Landlords have been receiving massive public subsidies through tax breaks and housing benefits, and this is contributing to the rising, unsustainable level of inequality in our society.
“They do not deliver enough of social and economic benefit to the rest of society to justify their favourable tax treatment: it isn’t in the interests of our common good to continue this bias towards the wealthy at the cost of those struggling to survive with high rents and often low-quality housing.”
Tom Chance, PPC for Lewisham West and Penge and Green Party Housing Spokesperson, said:
“Social housing has provided decent, affordable homes for millions of people over the past 150 years.
“After 40 years of sales, demolitions and budget cuts, the Green Party will put social housing back at the heart of housing policy.”
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, added:
“In my Brighton constituency the cost of buying a home is 44% higher than the average. That’s pushing my constituents into debt, into poor quality rented housing, and into homelessness.
“There’s no silver bullet that will magic away years of failure by successive governments to invest in ending the housing crisis, but increasing the supply of sustainably built social housing, as we are announcing today, will start to make a real difference for tenants, homeowners, and anyone wanting to buy a home.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 05 Feb 2015
The Green Party, Plaid Cymru and SNP have announced their intention to unite against the austerity agenda followed by Westminster’s main political parties.
Callous and vicious austerity measures have impacted heavily upon benefit claimants, low-income families and disabled people.
Policies such as the hated ‘bedroom tax’ and other welfare reforms have led to substantial and significant falls in income for some of Britain’s poorest citizens.
The Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats have all reiterated their pledges to continue spending cuts, of various levels and guises, if they win a majority in the 2015 general election.
Party leaders from the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party say they will “unite whenever possible to battle the Westminster parties’ obsession with austerity”.
Speaking during a meeting at Westminster, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said:
“I am delighted to have the chance to catch up with two other female leaders of anti-austerity parties in the UK. Together, we represent, with the Scottish Green Party, a new way of doing politics, a move away from the business-as-usual model of the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems that no longer represents public opinion.
“We are the voice of real change – a voice that must be represented in the leader debates next year.
“The ‘Green surge’ that has seen membership in England and Wales more than double, and Scottish Green Party membership nearly quadruple in 2014 is a sign of the shifting political landscape.
“Collectively the Green parties will be standing in more than 75% of seats in the UK, reflecting the advance of our political philosophy that rejects austerity and believes that everyone should have access to the resources for a decent quality of life, with certainty, without fear, while we all live collectively within the limits of our one planet.
“And in thinking about future financial stability, we have to focus on the reason for our current difficulties, the near-collapse of our fraud-ridden, reckless, over-large financial sector.
“Green MP Caroline Lucas is an outstanding MP as shown by the numerous awards she has received including the prestigious MP of the year for her work with disadvantaged communities. Electing more Greens next year will help to bring about a peaceful revolution in British politics, towards a government that works for the common good, not just for the few.”
First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said:
“There is no end in sight to the Westminster cuts that are already hitting Scotland hard – the Autumn Statement earlier this month set out another £15bn of cuts that are coming our way. Not only will these cuts continue to hit hard-working families, women and the vulnerable hardest – they will also put growth and competitiveness at risk.
“But despite the deeply damaging impacts of failed austerity, the Tories and Labour have made crystal clear their determination to carry on regardless.
“And after four years propping up the Tories, the Lib Dems have no credibility. It is time for a new approach to UK politics – and for our parties to use our influence to bring about progressive change at Westminster.
“Following the referendum in Scotland, the political landscape has changed utterly. The SNP is now the third biggest political party in the UK in terms of membership.
“Last month we sent this message to the BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 – to exclude the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru from general election TV debates would be to wilfully ignore this new political landscape. Put simply, it is just not on.
“Electing a strong group of SNP MPs will ensure that Scotland’s voice is heard at Westminster. Along with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, we will work to do everything possible to tackle inequality and bring about sustainable economic growth.”
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said:
“Plaid Cymru and the SNP provide an alternative to Westminster’s promise of austerity and cuts to public services. As the only parties, together with the Greens, to reject the cuts consensus, it is unjustifiable and undemocratic to exclude our three parties from proposed leaders’ debates during the forthcoming UK elections. I reiterate my calls for Plaid Cymru’s inclusion in those debates in order to ensure the people can exercise their right to question and scrutinise all major parties.
“The people of Wales face a real choice at the election. All three Westminster parties are committed to slash and burn economics. That means cuts for the sake of cuts rather than balancing the books by investment and spreading opportunities. It is likely that there will be another hung parliament after the election. In that scenario, Plaid Cymru could hold the balance of power alongside our colleagues in the SNP. Should that happen, Plaid Cymru will seek a rebalancing of power and wealth in the UK: transferring powers away from London to Wales so more of our fate is in our own hands; spreading investment away from the booming City of London to areas in most need of investment.
“If the people of Wales return a strong contingent of Plaid Cymru MPs in May, then Wales will be best placed to secure an outcome to improve the prospects of our people and communities.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 15 Dec 2014
Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett has repeated calls for the Living Wage to become mandatory in response to the release of new Living Wage Foundation figures.
The Greens say the minimum wage should be lifted to a minimum of £10 per hour by 2020, £2 more than Labour’s pledge of £8 per hour. Current inadequate wage levels mean too many workers are on ‘grotesquely low wages’.
Natalie Bennett said:
“The latest update from the Living Wage Foundation could not have come at a more significant time. Workers are currently experiencing the most sustained and painful squeeze on their wages since the 1860s. The target set by the Foundation has once again highlighted the growing divide between the wages employees are taking home every month and the amount they need to live, pay the bills and provide for their families.
“That’s why it is so disappointing that the Coalition and Labour opposition have refused to make the commitments necessary to improve worker pay and bring it in line with inflation. Their plans offer nothing except a continuation of our current inadequate wage levels.
“The Green Party would not allow this situation to persist. We are calling for the minimum wage to be made a Living Wage today, and for a target to be set of a £10/hour minimum wage, outside of London, by 2020. We are serious about taking the steps necessary to reduce inequality, tackle low pay, and create an economy that supports everyone.”
Green Party research has revealed how nine in ten big businesses (employing 250+ people) in London are not signed up to the London Living Wage scheme, eight years after the policy was launched.
Baroness Jenny Jones said:
“It’s horrible to think that nine in ten big businesses are holding out and paying poverty wages, while many pay their top executives multi-million pound bonuses. The Living Wage campaigners have been brilliant at getting some employers to voluntarily sign up. But we can’t leave more than half a million Londoners on grotesquely low wages, so we need the London Living wage to become mandatory.”
The new Living Wage rates for 2015 were announced this week. The UK Living Wage Rate is £7.85 and the new London Living Wage rate is £9.15.
Rhys Moore, Director of Living Wage Foundation, said:
“As the recovery continues it’s vital that the proceeds of growth are properly shared. It’s not enough to simply hope for the best. It will take concerted action by employers, government and civil society to raise the wages of the 5 million workers who earn less than the Living Wage.
“The good news is that the number of accredited Living Wage employers has more than doubled this year – over 1,000 employers across the UK have signed up. In the last 12 months the number of Living Wage employers in the FSTE 100 has risen from four to 18 including Canary Wharf Group and Standard Life.
“Those businesses that can should follow the example of as well as hundreds of smaller, independent businesses like CTS Cleaning and Hodgson Sayers Roofing, who pay the Living Wage.
“Low pay costs the taxpayer money – firms that pay the minimum wage are seeing their workers’ pay topped up through the benefits system. So it’s right that we recognise and celebrate those employers who are voluntarily signing up to the higher Living Wage, and saving the taxpayer money in the process.
“The Living Wage is an independent calculation that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day’s work with a fair day’s pay.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 06 Nov 2014
Green Party Media Release:
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s plans for a two year benefits freeze will once again penalise the most vulnerable in our society, says the Green Party, the only Westminster party committed to transforming the economy so that it works for the common good, not just the 1%.
“It is obvious our current economic model, as inexplicably praised by the Chancellor today, has failed. Tackling the deficit by ruthlessly targeting the poor and vulnerable is not what constitutes an economic recovery.
“We should acknowledge that we are a wealthy economy that can afford to pay decent benefits to everyone who needs them, as a decent, humane society should. That must be paid for by rich individuals and multinational companies paying their way – something that this government has notably failed to enforce.”
Responding to news that a future Conservative government would freeze working-age benefits and make further public spending cuts of £25bn, Molly Scott Cato MEP said:
“Public debt is greater now than when the Tories came to office, demonstrating that public spending and welfare cuts have failed spectacularly in tackling the deficit. The truth is, austerity provides an excuse to punish the poorest in society, which is not only morally indefensible, it is also a false economy.
“Policies like the bedroom tax just push more people into the private rented sector which then costs the public more in housing benefit. Likewise, the increasing levels of poverty and inequality under the Coalition government impact on health and so pile more costs onto the health service. Greens believe in positive alternatives to austerity that would tackle the misery of poverty and address inequality; policies such as a citizens income, rent controls and a massive home insulation programme.”
Since the May 22 European elections, the Green Party has announced a string of progressive economic policies, which would deliver real change for the common good.
The Green Party’s 2015 General Election manifesto will include a Wealth Tax, and plans to deliver a £10 minimum wage for all by 2020, a Living Wage for all immediately, and a People’s Constitutional Convention to deliver meaningful constitutional and electoral reform.
The latest YouGov results for the Sunday Times have the Greens and Liberal Democrats both at 6% in voting intention.
Source – Welfare News Service, 29 Sept 2014
This article was written by Rowena Mason, political correspondent, for The Guardian on Thursday 4th September 2014
The Green Party will on Friday call for the minimum wage to be raised to £10 an hour within the next parliament, in a move that appears to be aimed at stealing support from Labour.
In a new manifesto pledge, she will call for the different levels of minimum wage for young people and adults to be abolished, leading to a £10 minimum wage for all by 2020. The Greens said the rate should then be linked to living costs to ensure that it rises alongside inflation.
Raising the minimum wage to living wage levels would benefit an estimated 5.2 million people – 17% of the working population – and bring in a “fairer society where fewer workers are trapped in poverty pay conditions”, the party said.
Pitching the Greens as the only anti-austerity party, Bennett will say there is very little between the policies of the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats.
Bennett told the Guardian: “We need to offer people hope for the future – a living wage, secure employment and no more zero-hours contracts.”
Like Ukip, Bennett said the Greens were also a party that was “not offering people business as usual”.
“Under our plan no one would be paid less than £10 an hour in 2020,” she said.
“It is a scandal that under the coalition government the number of workers earning less than the living wage has risen by a staggering 50%. It makes a mockery of David Cameron’s 2010 statement that a living wage is ‘an idea whose time has come’.”
“The fact that the Green party are consistently polling at some of our best numbers since 1989 goes to show that our message of the need to reshape our politics and economy to work for the common good is really hitting home.
“It is our policies such as making the minimum wage a living wage, a wealth tax on the top 1%, re-nationalising our railways and having a publicly owned and run NHS that are both encouraging people to join as members and vote Green in growing numbers.”
The Green party has not managed to replicate the surge of Ukip but it came ahead of the Lib Dems in the European elections. The party, which is targeting disillusioned ex-Lib Dems as well as traditional Labour voters, had support of about 6% in a poll of polls last month, while the Lib Dems were on 9%.
Another key focus of the party conference will be on protecting the NHS from privatisation. Bennett argued that the Conservatives and Lib Dems have been responsible for a creeping sell-off of the NHS under the coalition, while Labour started the process under the last government.
Labour has promised a higher minimum wage linked to average earnings but has not put a not figure on how much it should be. Ed Miliband has also promised to tackle abuse of zero-hour contracts by forcing employers to put staff on permanent hours after a certain time but he has not pledged to outlaw them completely.
Labour sources argued a vote for the Greens was a vote for higher taxes, new restrictions on drivers, higher benefits for people who choose not to work and soft laws on drugs.
Source – Welfare News Service, 05 Sept 2014