1. Are you in favour of Britain renewing its Trident nuclear weapons system ?
Absolutely not – this is a matter I feel really strongly about. £100billion is a huge amount of money that could be spent on a vast array of public services that will benefit everyone.
Trident is irrelevant to modern security threats. We are spending huge amounts of money on weapons that we will never use and we only keep to be seen as some form of international superpower. Today we face threats such as climate change, cyber warfare and terrorism – Trident acts to solve none of these and, in fact, likely makes these problems worse.
In this time of failing austerity money being spent on these weapons is, quite frankly, disgusting. We need to be looking at ways that we can save money and put it back into our much loved and needed public services. Education, healthcare and welfare should always come before weapons of mass destruction.
2. Do you think our country is right to be involved militarily in the Ukraine, even if in a training and support role?
I am generally against military action and think the way that the UK government has mobilised its forces in recent years have been much worse than questionable. I therefore do not think that we should play a military role in the conflict. Instead I believe we should call for international assistance on a humanitarian level with reconstruction and medical aid.
I believe that we should leave NATO – the requirement that we spend 2% of GDP on defence is ludicrous and it is not a group we should support. I am a strong advocate of peace and this will always be reflected in my politics.
3. Do you give full weight to the urgency of minimising global warming? In the light of this, do you accept that much of the known fossil fuel reserves should be left underground, especially the most environmentally damaging such as tar sands and Arctic oil?
Completely. I am fully committed to tackling the huge threat that is climate change, acting where other parties have failed to. The traditional parties are being conducted by the powers of big business who want to frack our countryside or pollute our waterways and who produce vast amounts of CO2. I want to make sure that the next government takes action on securing a sustainable future by investing in renewable energy technologies and standing up to the energy companies – removing tax breaks for North Sea oil companies and move towards more community based renewable energy generation.
4. What is your attitude to fracking?
I have pledged on a couple of different platforms to always vote against fracking. Fracking has been banned in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Spain, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Australia, Canada, multiple US states… the list continues. Why then, does the coalition government still think it is a good idea? These other countries have banned fracking due to the risks such as the potential for water quality damage & shortages, soil & air pollution and livestock sickness.
Not only does it come with these risks to our health and our environment but it is also failing to address the real issue with our energy supply. We need to be moving to clean, renewable sources of energy. Locking us into gas power will make us increasingly dependent on other, often unstable, nations for our energy as soon as we need to move away from shale. Shale gas is also likely to be used as well as coal and this means that even more harmful greenhouse gases will be released to meet our energy demands and this is completely out of line with the UKs commitments on climate change.
5. Many people can’t afford to heat their homes over the winter. We can’t afford to ignore climate change either. How would you tackle fuel poverty in a long-
This is such an important point. We all use energy and our lives depend on it. Everyone should be able to cook and keep warm. We need to improve energy efficiency, reorganise the electricity supply industry and invest massively in renewable generation. Renewables will be able to supply all the energy we need but only if we manage our demand more sensibly now and invest wisely.
The Green Party will provide a free retrofit insulation programme, concentrating on areas where fuel poverty is most serious, designed to insulate 9 million homes to EPC Band C standards as a minimum – this will create well over 100,000 jobs. We will require all new homes to be built to high efficiency standards and establish standards for commercial building performance. This will massively bring down heating bills for people and reduce the amount of CO2 they need to produce.
Tackling the dominance of the big six suppliers is crucial in my opinion. We want to encourage community owned or cooperative organisations to generate and supply electricity. It is vital that we secure public control over the national grid and ensure long term stable fixed price feed-
C. ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
6. Do you think our economy can or should go on growing indefinitely?
No, our economy cannot grow indefinitely. We are constantly told that we need growth, not matter what the cost of achieving that is. This simply is not true. Everything we buy or use comes from the planet – and we only have one of them. We have finite resources and the promotion of a fair, just and more equal society needs to come first. We are often called unrealistic – but what is unrealistic is the belief that we can continue at our current levels of consumption.
If the aim of politics is to help us flourish then growth has failed. Levels of happiness and content are decreasing whilst average GDP increases. I want to abandon the pursuit of growth and move towards an economic system that gives everyone a fair share.
7. Are you opposed to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership? If so why; if not, why not?
I am fully opposed in its current form. This secretive and undemocratic agreement going on behind closed doors threatens our NHS, our public services, food quality, banking regulations and the rights of workers. We have fought long and hard for these services and protections of our rights and I refuse to allow bureaucratic political structures take them away from us without a fight.
My personal experience with TTIP came from within a campaigning group that I chaired for 2 years whilst at University, the Students Stop AIDS Campaign. One of our main campaigns is looking at Access to Medicines. In the UK people living with HIV have the same life expectancy as someone without the virus and transmission rates to a sexual partner are reduced by 96 %. If everyone in the world had access to these it would be the end of AIDS. However, patents and intellectual property law that mean that giant pharmaceutical companies have complete monopolies over these lifesaving drugs for 20 years and they can charge whatever they like for them.
TTIP and trade agreements like it generally mean any flexibility in these laws is removed. Large corporations hope that TTIP will set the benchmark for all future free trade negotiations. TTIP will not only threaten our citizen rights here in Europe and in the US but will set a standard that will mean other countries around the world will be forced to jeopardise their safeguards in order to compete in global trade.
TTIP would erode the kind of civilised protections for which Europeans have fought long and hard. I will work with the wider Green Party to do everything in our power to prevent this damaging, dangerous and undemocratic agreement from coming into force.
8. Do you intend to help shrink the yawning gap between rich and poor and check the extraordinary concentration of wealth in very few hands? If so, how?
Absolutely. That is one of the main reasons that I am standing for the Green Party in the General Elections. We are the 6th richest country in the world but we have levels of poverty not seen since the Victorian era and the richest 1% has as much wealth as the bottom 55%.
The Coalition has governed for those who think prestige and personal wealth are more important than fairness and a decent life for everyone. In austerity Britain, the poor and the disadvantaged, the young and the old are being made to pay for the fraud and errors of the bankers, and small businesses are trampled by bullying, parasitical giant firms that don’t pay their fair share in taxes, wages or for the goods they sell. This government has allowed giant, tax-
I want to move away from the system that prioritises growth in company profits over the wellbeing of society. We need to redistribute wealth through taxation and make sure that tax loopholes are closed so that everyone pays their fair share of tax. I want to see the implementation of a wealth tax of 2% pa on the top 1% to raise £35bn pa by the end of parliament and of the Robin Hood tax of 0.1% on bank to bank transactions, raising up to £20bn pa late in parliament. Raising the top rate of income tax to 60% would make extremely large salaries pointless.
We want to ensure that everyone has a decent, secure job paid at least the living wage. This means that people would be better off and would increase the amount that we receive through income tax. We would move towards a 10:1 pay scale ratio. Meaning that the highest earner in a company couldn’t earn more than 10x what the lowest earner makes. I think this would be effective and is necessary – no one is worth more than 10x anyone else.
9. Do you recognise that low wages and benefits, plus harsh and arbitrary stoppage of benefits, is causing serious and unjust hardship? Do you want to restore the safety net which ought to protect British people from serious want?
We have seen horrendous measures of austerity and cuts to vital services that many members of the public rely on. The government has incited hate towards the most vulnerable in society by blaming the deficit on ‘scroungers’, healthcare and immigrants. I am fully against austerity and would refuse to vote for any budget that continued with austerity. We need to restore the safety net. People should not be relying on foodbanks when we live in one of the richest countries in the world.
We need to get rid of the ridiculous system we currently have where you can lose 4 weeks of payments simply for missing an interview, where delayed payments and sanctions are the norm when there are changes in personal circumstances and people experience constant discrimination. Our system is broken, we spend more on regulating it ad people are increasingly falling through the net. We would enhance child benefits, reform the working age benefits regime and introduce a universal citizen’s pension.