The Green Party is gearing up for one of the most significant elections in recent history with a bold and radical vision following the calling of a snap general election for 12 December.
The election was set for mid-December following the passing of a one-line Bill yesterday (29 October) tabled by the government to bypass the Fixed-Term Parliament Act (FTPA). The Bill received the support of opposition parties to give it a simple majority, rather than the two thirds required to call an election under the FTPA.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously tried three times to force a general election, but was knocked back by the opposition on each occasion, with Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, the Green Party and Plaid Cymru all calling for a no-deal Brexit to be taken off the table before backing an election.
Following Johnson’s request for an extension to Article 50 as required under the Benn Act, the EU has granted an extension to 31 January after Johnson withdrew the EU Withdrawal Act. MPs rejected the condensed timetable proposed by the government to debate the revised Brexit deal secured by Johnson as he bid to pass the deal before 31 October – the end of the previous Article 50 extension.
What will be the issues of this election?
Given this election is born out of Johnson’s inability to take the UK out of the EU, Brexit will likely dominate the election campaign, with the hard-Brexit Tories and Brexit Party on one side, Labour’s offer of a referendum once a new deal has been negotiated somewhere in the middle, the Greens offering a referendum and to campaign for remain, and the Liberal Democrats campaigning for revoke.
Classic election issues such as public services and crime will also be on the agenda, but a recent survey from ClientEarth revealed that climate change will be a serious influencing factor on voters this time around, with 54 per cent of adults saying it would impact on how they vote in the general election, with a further 63 per cent saying they want a Green New Deal.
Commenting on the importance of putting climate change at the heart of this election campaign, Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “The next parliament will be critical in determining whether we can turn away from our current path which is leading us straight to climate catastrophe. The Committee on Climate Change has warned that if the UK is to have any credibility on climate, action needs to be taken in the next 12 months. So there has never been a more important time to vote Green.
“Our record shows we are the only party that has consistently been on the side of the environment and can be trusted to tackle the climate emergency and decarbonise our economy in a way which is just and fair. We are the architects of the Green New Deal, having worked on it since 2007. We have specific programmes and ideas to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, while at the same time transforming the way we work, travel and heat our homes.
“We also know that it’s not only business-as-usual which is destroying our environment. It is the continuous pursuit of economic growth. An economic strategy which puts human health and well-being, and the health of our planet, at the heart of government is the only way to avert climate catastrophe and build a more sustainable society.”
With talk of a general election rife for months now, the Green Party has had time to prepare for this election with its boldest offer to the British electorate yet.
Offering a radical, progressive choice to those that want urgent action to address the climate emergency, that want the opportunity to have their say on Brexit in a People’s Vote to avoid a Conservative government undemocratically taking the UK out of the EU without a deal, that want investment in public services and a reversal of austerity, the Green Party is aiming high this election.
Greens will campaign for a People’s Vote on Brexit to allow the public to have the final say on the Brexit outcome and will campaign to remain in such a referendum, promoting the economic, social and cultural value of membership of the European Union.
The Green New Deal will be at the heart of the Green Party’s offering, calling for significant investment in green jobs and technology to facilitate a transition to a green economy that promotes well-being and environmental protection over unfettered growth and environmental destruction.
Other radical Green policies will include the introduction of a four-day working week, increasing the minimum wage to £10 per hour and ending the prohibition of drugs to create a system of legal regulation to minimise the harms associated with drug use, production and supply.
Biggest Green campaign ever
The Greens are seeking to select as many candidates in as many constituencies as possible right across the UK in pursuit of more votes than they have ever received before. The party is aiming to save more deposits in each constituency in which it stands as a real sign of progress across the country.
And the party has reason to be optimistic. At the local elections in May it won its highest ever number of councillors, winning in all parts of England to bring its total number of seats on principal authority councils in England to 364, while it doubled its number of MEPs at the European elections in June to seven, finishing fourth nationally, ahead of the Tories on 11.8 per cent.
The European elections in particular should provide succour to the Greens as they search for their second ever MP to join Caroline Lucas, former leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion since 2010. The party received more than two million votes across the UK, gaining the highest vote share in Bristol (35.1 per cent), Brighton and Hove (35.3 per cent) and Norwich (26 per cent) and strong seconds in Sheffield, Cambridge, Oxford, Exeter, the Forest of Dean and Stroud.
Many parliamentary candidates have already been announced, including the architect of the UK’s first Climate Emergency Declaration, Carla Denyer, in Bristol West, and Green MEP Molly Scott Cato in Stroud.
"The most powerful vote you can cast"
Commenting on prospects for the party in the upcoming election, Green Party Co-leader Sian Berry said: “Our record shows we are the only party that can be trusted to fulfil its promise on tackling the climate crisis, bringing carbon emissions down to net zero by 2030, decarbonising the economy with massive investment in green energy, clean technology and public transport.”
Green Party Co-leader Jonathan Bartley added: “We are the only party to be Remain from the start. Brexit means fewer protections for the environment, ends freedom of movement and tears up worker’s rights. We want a People’s Vote to decide our relationship with Europe based on what we know today, not what we were told three years ago.
“A vote for the Green Party is the most powerful vote you can cast. And every Green vote sends the message that we must push to remain in the European Union, do whatever it takes to tackle the climate emergency and radically transform the way we live and work for the better.
“With the growing awareness of the climate emergency the stakes in this election could not be higher. Every vote for the Green Party is a vote which says business as usual is no longer an option. The situation is urgent and the change we need to see must happen right now.”
You can register to vote on the government website.