Saturday, 23 October 2021

Ecosocialism not extinction!

COP 26 unfolds against a backdrop of growing climate chaos and ecological degradation, after an unprecedented summer of heatwaves, wildfires, and flooding events. Climate change is upon us, and we face multiple interlinked and inseparable crises- of climate, environment, extinction, economy and zoonotic diseases.

As ecosocialists we say another world is possible, but a massive social and political transformation is needed, requiring the mobilisation of the mass of working people across the globe. Only the end of capitalism’s relentless pursuit of private profit, endless waste, and rapacious drive for growth, can provide the solution not only to climate change, environmental degradation, and mass extinction, but to global poverty, hunger, and hyper exploitation.

The big issues of climate change will be debated in Glasgow but whatever is agreed, capitalism can at best mitigate climate change, not stop it. Genuine climate solutions cannot be based on the very market system that created the problem. Only the organised working class, and the rural oppressed and First Nations of the global south -women and men - have the power to end capitalism, because their labour produces all wealth and they have no great fortune to lose if the system changes, no vested interests in inequality, exploitation, and private profit.

Action now to halt climate change! We demand:

• All fossil fuels must stay in the ground – no new gas, coal, or oil!

• A rapid move to renewable energy for transport, infrastructure, industry, agriculture, and homes

• A massive global programme of public works investing in green jobs, and replacing employment in unsustainable industries.

• A globally funded just transition for the global south to develop the necessary sustainable technologies and infrastructure.

• A major cut in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 70% by 2030, from a 1990 baseline. This must be comprehensive - including all military, aviation, and shipping emissions – and include mechanisms for transparent accounting, measurement, and popular oversight.

• The end of emissions trading schemes.

• An immediate end to the encroachment on and destruction of the territories of indigenous peoples through extractivism, deforestation and appropriation of land.

Sustainability and global justice

The long-term global crisis and the immediate effects of catastrophic events impact more severely on women, children, elders, LGBTQ+ and disabled people and the people of First Nations. An eco-socialist strategy puts social justice and liberation struggles of the oppressed at its core.

Migration is, and will increasingly be, driven by climate change and conflicts and resource wars resulting from it. Accommodating and supporting free movement of people must be a core policy and necessary part of planning for the future.

We call for:

• Immediate cancellation of the international debt of the global south.

• A rapid shift from massive ‘factory’ farms and large-scale monoculture agribusiness towards eco-friendly farming methods and investment in green agricultural technology to reduce synthetic fertiliser and pesticide use in agriculture and replace these with organic methods and support for small farmers.

• A major reduction in meat and dairy production and consumption through education and provision and promotion of high- quality, affordable plant-based alternatives.

• The promotion of agricultural systems based on the right to food and food sovereignty, human rights, and with local control over natural resources, seeds, land, water, forests, knowledge, and technology to end food and nutrition insecurity in the global south.

• The end of deforestation in the tropical and boreal forests by reduction of demand for imported food, timber, and biofuels.

• An end to ecologically and socially destructive extractivism, especially in the territories of indigenous peoples and First Nations .

• Respect for the economic, cultural, political and land rights of indigenous peoples and First Nations.

• A massive increase in protected areas for biodiversity conservation.

• End fuel poverty through retrofitting energy existing homes and buildings with energy efficient sustainable technologies.

We demand a just transition:

• Re-skilling of workers in environmentally damaging industries with well paid alternative jobs in the new economy.

• Full and democratic involvement of workers to harness the energy and creativity of the working people to design and implement new sustainable technologies and decommission old unsustainable ones.

• Resources for popular education and involvement in implementing and enhancing a just transition, with environmental education embedded at all levels within the curriculum.

• Urgent development of sustainable, affordable, and high-quality public transport with a comprehensive integrated plan which meets peoples needs and reduces the requirement for private car use.

• A planned eco-socialist economy which eliminates waste, duplication and environmentally harmful practices, reduction in the working week and a corresponding increase in leisure time.

• Work practices reorganised with the emphasis on fair flexibility and working closer to home, utilising a free and fast broadband infrastructure.

As eco-socialists we put forward a vision of a just and sustainable world and fight with every ounce of our energy for every change, however small, which makes such a world possible. We will organise and assist wherever possible worker’s and community organisations internationally, raising demands on governments and challenging corporations.

Groups

Green Left (UK)

Left Unity (UK)

Anti-Capitalist Resistance (UK)

Global Ecosocialist Network (International)

ecosocialist.scot (Scotland, UK)

RISE (Ireland)

Red Green Labour (UK)

Green Eco-Socialist Network (USA)

People Before Profit (Ireland)

System Change Not Climate Change (USA/Canada)

An Rabharta Glas (in English Green Left) (Ireland)

Climate and Capitalism (International)

Socialist Project (Canada)

Ecosocialist Independent Group (UK) Lancaster City Council

Socialist Action (Canada)

Anti-Fracking Nanas (UK)

Pittsburgh Green Left (USA)The 

Breakthrough Party (UK)

One Vote for the Planet (UK)

Individuals

Beatrix Campbell (UK) (OBE, writer and broadcaster)

George Monbiot (UK) (journalist, author & environmental activist)

Victor Wallis (USA) (ecosocialist author and professor of political science at the Berklee College of Music in Boston)

Professor Krista Cowman (UK), (Historian)

Peter Sainsbury (Australia) (Professor, School of Medicine, Sydney, University of Notre Dame)

Professor Julia Steinberger (Social Ecology/Ecological Economics) (Switzerland)

Romayne Phoenix (UK)

Jhon Giyai (West Papua)

David Schwartzman (USA) (Climate/energy scientist Member of the Global Greens COP26 Working Group-International Committee Green Party of the United States)

Dee Searle (UK)

Steve Masters (UK) (Environmental activist; Green Party District Councillor, W Berkshire)

Jim Petersen (USA)

Osver Polo Carraco (Peru)

Sally Lansbury (UK) Labour Party Cllr. Allerdale Borough Council

Rafael Arturo Guariguata (Germany)

Tina Rothery (UK)

Christopher Lozinski (USA)

Pat McCarthy (UK)

Clive Healiss (UK)

Felicity Dowling (UK)

Charles Gate (UK)

Emma Lorraine Coulling (UK)

Ken Barker (UK)

Stephen Hall (UK) (President, Greater Manchester Association of Trades Union Councils)

Lucy Early (UK)

Andrew Francis Robinson (UK)

Kevin Frea (UK) (Deputy Leader, Lancaster City Council)

Richard Finnigan (UK)

John Burr (UK)

Andrea Carey-Fuller (UK)

Paul Hutchens (UK)

Gordon Peters (UK)

Jonathan N Fuller (UK)

Nicole Haydock (UK)

Deborah Fink (UK)

Mary Stuart (UK)

Cathy Slaughter (UK)

Anna Moon (UK)

Oliver Charleston (UK)

William A Richardson (UK)

Tamsin Evans (UK)

Gordon Housley (UK)

Rick Evans (UK)

Geoff Bowman (UK)

Graham Wardrope (UK)


To support the statement and to keep informed about the Ecosocialist Alliance and these particular actions email eco-socialist-action@protonmail.com

Thursday, 21 October 2021

WATERMELON Conference Newsletter of Green Left Autumn 2021

WATERMELON

Conference Newsletter of Green Left Autumn 2021

Green Left is an anti-capitalist, ecosocialist group within the Green Party of England & Wales. Membership is open to all GPEW members, (see back page for details).


On Saturday 2nd October this year a group of Industrial and Unite Community members and friends from Dover, Deal, Ashford, and Margate braved the wet weather to raise awareness about the £20 per week cut to Universal Credit affecting almost six million of the poorest people in our country. Even in the wind and rain most people on that Saturday who stopped to speak to us and take our posters, leaflets and stickers were supportive and willing to engage in conversation. The action was planned for the week before Conservative Party Conference since Government continues to deny that their policy would cause significant harm.

The Minister for Work and Pensions demonstrated this when she declared that a working person losing £20 a week on Universal Credit would just need to work a couple of hours to make up the shortfall. In reality someone on minimum wage and Universal credit would need to work at least 9 hours.

Dover has a strange duality in its financial fortunes and little is said from the two main political parties, although Natalie Elphicke MP did have to apologise for her ill-advised comment about Marcus Rashford. As one of the busiest ports in the country the perception of a wealth generating infrastructure is illusionary when we see that a significant percentage of housing has been brought up by ‘buy to let landlords’ whilst the retail sector has shrunk significantly.

There is a visible disparity between the poorer and wealthier residential areas. Commuter routes to London have sucked the life out of the former agricultural, shipping and mining communities of Dover: former council housing has all but disappeared. Dover was one of the first areas used as a pilot for the introduction of Universal Credit.

 I am not optimistic of seeing a change in our political direction. everyone can see a growing gap between the rich and poor, but we can also see that the majority of the poorer members of our society are also increasingly disengaged with the political system. As a member of Green Left and a committed trade unionist I have huge respect for the people that I work alongside but less faith that our political system will deliver on even modest aspirations anymore and I am reminded of the words of Billy Bragg:

 ‘Outside the patient millions, who put them into power, expect a little more back for their taxes. Like school books, beds in hospitals and peace in our bloody time. All they get is old men grinding axes’ (Ideologies clashing – Billy Bragg)

 Beccy Sawbridge (Dover and Deal Green Party)


Beware the siren’s song by Danny McNamara

Watermelon congratulates Adrian Ramsay and Carla Denyer on their recent election to the leadership of the Green Party of England and Wales.

The election itself has prompted a deal of media coverage and it is instructive to watch the commentariat take positions on where the Party might be heading.

At time of writing the item most “hot off the press” is a piece in the New Statesman by Harry Lambert, sagely intoning on “why the Greens are missing their moment”. This was preceded a few days earlier by a Guardian piece from ex-Green Party worker Matthew Butcher, musing conversely that “Greens are perfectly poised to become a major force on the British left”.

The nub of Lambert’s diagnosis is that the Green Party in England and Wales is condemned to the margins of politics because (a) its organisation is member-led and (b) this member-led organisation generates policy positions that are unappealing to soft Tories.

More specifically, Lambert mourns that the Party is “not leader-run” and that recent attempts to “shift power away from its volunteer-run executive committee” have not met with success. Quoting Rob Ford (Professor of Politics, Manchester Uni.), he takes the view that the Party is “hamstrung by its own activists”. His prescription for this ailment seems to be an organisational shift that might allow an “enterprising outsider” (in the mould of Thatcher or Blair) to “take control of it and drive through a change in culture, policy or appeal”.

Lambert, of course, wants to assess the Green Party using solely the conventional yardstick of a mainstream political party in a western liberal democracy, as opposed to alternatives – for example, the recent European phenomenon of the “movement party” described by Herbert Kitschelt (Professor of International Relations at Duke University, North Carolina). Movement parties are characterized by ‘a negative consensus that the predominance of markets and bureaucracies must be rolled back in favour of social solidarity relations and participatory institutions’. Richard Gunther (Professor of Political Science, Ohio State University) and Larry Diamond (Fellow, Hoover Institution) add that this type of party “stresses ‘constituency representation’ over the logic of electoral competition”. Moreover, Lambert overlooks the deep-seated personal commitment held by many Green Party members that we “do politics differently”. Being member-led isn’t a tactical choice made in pursuit of another goal. Rather it is a consequence of how we see and think about the world. We could not do otherwise.

It is worth following through a little further with Lambert’s reasoning, however. What – if we were leader-led rather than member-led – might our policy platform then look like? Part of his advice seems to be that, quoting UKIP’s Patrick O’Flynn, the Party should “cut anything from its policy programme that ‘wasn’t popular’”. More specifically, he is concerned that what he calls our “red economic vision” may deter “small-c conservatives”, especially in rural areas. In support of his view that our “programme is not just green but deep red” he cites policies on universal basic income; a four-day working week; the shift from GDP as a measure of economic health; and “wealth taxes to pay for the transformation to a green economy”. Regular readers of Watermelon may find the notion that these policies represent a “deep red” programme to be amusing - not least because initiatives like UBI are frequently being considered by social democratic parties all over Europe.

Nonetheless, Lambert’s prescription at times seems to be that we should be “a party focused on the environment alone”. In this he completely sidesteps the central Green insight that multiple crises – environmental, social and economic – are not just interlinked but inextricably so. To focus on the environment exclusively would make us less, not more, environmentally effective. At the same time, he’d like us to be more like Greens in Germany, who he argues “are moderate and pragmatic…. empower their leaders…are unafraid to shed policies and positions that are likely to alienate the electorate”. Sounds like today’s Labour Party.

Ironically, Lambert concedes that what he perceives to be our “red” policies may mean that “as Labour moves to the right on the economy,…vacating space to its left…former Corbyn voters may drift to the Greens”. This is a point taken up by Butcher in his Guardian piece when he refers to the view advanced by the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush that Labour’s attempt “to shed its leftwing image…..means potentially losing a serious political constituency” – a constituency that Watermelon hopes will find a home with the Green Party.

There is more than a little of Lambert-style thinking in some parts of the Green Party. The current “Political Strategy to 2030” stresses that we shall achieve our goals “by focusing on winning elections”. Its number one objective is that “by 2030, we will have at least 30 Green MPs in Westminster, more members of the Senedd Cymru and the London Assembly, and hundreds more local councillors across England and Wales”. The choice of date is fortuitous because it naturally invites us to ask: would 30 MPs come even close to delivering carbon net zero by 2030? Or how many councillors, out of the 20,000 in England alone, would actually be needed? What’s more, the target is not just muddled but probably unachievable. Lambert cites Caroline Lucas as being instead “confident enough to predict at least five new Green MPs by 2030”, whilst Butcher reminds us that, despite all the excitement around the Bristol West parliamentary contest, we lost there in 2019 by a 37-point margin.

Butcher goes on to argue that “success shouldn’t just be measured in seats” and that Greens must “continue to be a credible part of the public debate”. This is closer to the kind of position advocated by Green Left, in which electoral success comes through a primary focus on political (rather than electoral) campaigns on the ground. Butcher says that the role of the Green Party should be “to keep open the window of political possibility – riding outside the political mainstream and dragging the debate to the left”, in part by channelling “the insurgency of Corbynism, the Climate Strikers and Kill the Bill protesters”.

Some recent polls suggest that, of those who’d consider voting Green at a future general election, 41% would do so principally because they perceive the party to be the left of Labour. At the same time, of those who would not vote Green, 46% find us too much focused on the environment. Imagine what could be achieved by a Green Party that held out a vision in which health, social care and education are guaranteed the resources they need; in which decent, secure accommodation is available to all; in which everyone has an opportunity to contribute to society free from the indignities and the privations of the gig economy; in which no-one is burdened by debt because they take up the right to education; in which we enjoy clean air and water, our soil is healthy and our lifestyles too. A world in which no-one can complain that all this is “unaffordable”, because the paradigm in which we tax “private” economic activity to fund “public” works no applies and is instead replaced by one in which communities decide what to produce sustainably, what to consume and how to distribute it, and what to invest for the future.

We are now 10-40 years away from the beginning of worldwide social breakdown and conflict arising principally from climate change. The sooner we realise the extent of the transition required the better.



The fight for The fight for PR needs to go through the unions


The most recent Labour Party conference saw 80% of its Constituency Labour Party delegates vote in support of adopting Proportional Representation (PR) as a future campaign pledge.  Yet affiliated trade union delegates used their powerful votes to vote in opposition to the majority of CLP delegates and ultimately see off the popular motion.

From a Green Party member’s perspective, and from that of a trade union member, it could not be clearer what we must argue for and where we must organise. All political parties except Conservative Party and Labour are committed to campaigning for PR and to replace the undemocratic First-Past-the-Post system (FPTP) that Britain currently operates for parliamentary elections. The Labour Party, historically, was formed by the trade unions as a representative political party for their interests. However, since the Labour Party’s formation in 1900 as the Labour Representation Committee, this historic link has often frayed and on occasions broken down. Today the Labour Party is down by an astonishing 430,000 members since Keir Starmer took over. Not only that, but its links with trade unions are being tested after decades of broken promises, most notably the failure to repeal the restrictive trade union laws during the Blair and Brown era.

Take one of the largest affiliated general unions and Labour’s biggest donor, Unite The Labour Party has faced harsh criticism from its former General Secretary, Len McCluskey, who stated recently that it would be “almost impossible” for Labour to win an outright majority at the next general election. Speaking during her successful leadership campaign to the Green Party Trade Union Group, its newly elected General Secretary Sharon Graham pledged to reorient Unite away from Labour Party internal affairs. While Graham has since taken pains to clarify that a substantial break with Labour is not on the cards, her campaign and conduct since have been characterised by an outward disdain for Westminster politics. Graham seized the opportunity to demonstrate her preference for industrial matters by conspicuously declining to attend the Labour Party’s 2021 Conference – choosing to spend her week on picket lines instead.

In other unions, the breakdown of relations with the Labour Party leadership has been more complete. The party’s recent conference saw the disaffiliation of Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) from Labour after months of outspoken disagreement with Keir Starmer’s behaviour. The BFAWU’s General Secretary Sarah Woolley announced the end of a 119-year affiliation between the union and the party writing that “the decision taken by delegates who predominantly live in what’s regarded as Labour red wall seats shows how far the Labour party has travelled away from the aims and hopes of working class organisations like ours“.

Just as members within the Unite voted for a General Secretary who campaigned to put distance between their union and Labour Party obsessions, and BFAWU delegates voted to disaffiliate from The Labour Party, members can also campaign inside their union to adopt a position of supporting Proportional Representation at union conferences.

It is clear now, that without solid campaigning across the country in our trade union branches and workplaces, the adoption of proportional representation will continue to be blocked and a major barrier for The Green Party to break through in Parliament will be upheld. Many unions are still affiliated to the Labour Party, but many also are not. It is of absolute necessity that Green Party members who are members of their trade unions work to push the rank and file of the trade union movement to vote to support of proportional representation.

We cannot ignore the importance of workplace democracy: after all, it is one of the key areas where we meet and work with people who are not Green Party members. It is an area where we must make the case for proportional representation, ecological justice policies and green transitional programs if we are to create a necessary left-wing alliance in this country that could remove the Conservative Party from power.

For Green Party trade unionists, it is important to seek out and join organised left-wing coalition groups inside their trade unions. These groups often consist of members of various left parties, and members of none; from the Labour Party through to smaller parties, with members of the Green Party being represented in all of them. They include Usdaw Broad Left, in my union, to Unite’s United Left, and many more besides in all different unions.

Through such groups, many candidates are selected democratically to stand for positions in the unions to represent our shared interests; many proposals to union conferences are drafted and submitted by such groups, to be debated in branches across the country.  If Green Party engage heartily in this key area, we will advance the cause of greater democracy and make PR harder to block in the future.

Written by Lee Booker, a Green Party member and Health and Safety Rep for the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw). The Green Party Trade Union Group publishes an array of different views and perspectives on both Green Party and labour movement topics, which represent the view of the writer and not necessarily GPTU. If you want to write for our blog, please contact us today.

The most recent Labour Party conference saw 80% of its Constituency Labour Party delegates vote in support of adopting Proportional Representation (PR) as a future campaign pledge.  Yet affiliated trade union delegates used their powerful votes to vote in opposition to the majority of CLP delegates and ultimately see off the popular motion.

From a Green Party member’s perspective, and from that of a trade union member, it could not be clearer what we must argue for and where we must organise. All political parties except Conservative Party and Labour are committed to campaigning for PR and to replace the undemocratic First-Past-the-Post system (FPTP) that Britain currently operates for parliamentary elections. The Labour Party, historically, was formed by the trade unions as a representative political party for their interests. However, since the Labour Party’s formation in 1900 as the Labour Representation Committee, this historic link has often frayed and on occasions broken down. Today the Labour Party is down by an astonishing 430,000 members since Keir Starmer took over. Not only that, but its links with trade unions are being tested after decades of broken promises, most notably the failure to repeal the restrictive trade union laws during the Blair and Brown era.

Take one of the largest affiliated general unions and Labour’s biggest donor, Unite The Labour Party has faced harsh criticism from its former General Secretary, Len McCluskey, who stated recently that it would be “almost impossible” for Labour to win an outright majority at the next general election. Speaking during her successful leadership campaign to the Green Party Trade Union Group, its newly elected General Secretary Sharon Graham pledged to reorient Unite away from Labour Party internal affairs. While Graham has since taken pains to clarify that a substantial break with Labour is not on the cards, her campaign and conduct since have been characterised by an outward disdain for Westminster politics. Graham seized the opportunity to demonstrate her preference for industrial matters by conspicuously declining to attend the Labour Party’s 2021 Conference – choosing to spend her week on picket lines instead.

In other unions, the breakdown of relations with the Labour Party leadership has been more complete. The party’s recent conference saw the disaffiliation of Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) from Labour after months of outspoken disagreement with Keir Starmer’s behaviour. The BFAWU’s General Secretary Sarah Woolley announced the end of a 119-year affiliation between the union and the party writing that “the decision taken by delegates who predominantly live in what’s regarded as Labour red wall seats shows how far the Labour party has travelled away from the aims and hopes of working class organisations like ours“.

Just as members within the Unite voted for a General Secretary who campaigned to put distance between their union and Labour Party obsessions, and BFAWU delegates voted to disaffiliate from The Labour Party, members can also campaign inside their union to adopt a position of supporting Proportional Representation at union conferences.

It is clear now, that without solid campaigning across the country in our trade union branches and workplaces, the adoption of proportional representation will continue to be blocked and a major barrier for The Green Party to break through in Parliament will be upheld. Many unions are still affiliated to the Labour Party, but many also are not. It is of absolute necessity that Green Party members who are members of their trade unions work to push the rank and file of the trade union movement to vote to support of proportional representation.

We cannot ignore the importance of workplace democracy: after all, it is one of the key areas where we meet and work with people who are not Green Party members. It is an area where we must make the case for proportional representation, ecological justice policies and green transitional programs if we are to create a necessary left-wing alliance in this country that could remove the Conservative Party from power.

For Green Party trade unionists, it is important to seek out and join organised left-wing coalition groups inside their trade unions. These groups often consist of members of various left parties, and members of none; from the Labour Party through to smaller parties, with members of the Green Party being represented in all of them. They include Usdaw Broad Left, in my union, to Unite’s United Left, and many more besides in all different unions.

Through such groups, many candidates are selected democratically to stand for positions in the unions to represent our shared interests; many proposals to union conferences are drafted and submitted by such groups, to be debated in branches across the country.  If Green Party engage heartily in this key area, we will advance the cause of greater democracy and make PR harder to block in the future.

Written by Lee Booker, a Green Party member and Health and Safety Rep for the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw). The Green Party Trade Union Group publishes an array of different views and perspectives on both Green Party and labour movement topics, which represent the view of the writer and not necessarily GPTU. If you want to write for our blog, please contact us today.




INTRODUCING...

THE SOCIALIST GREEN NEW DEAL

The Green New Deal remains the most potent political concept in recent years: it has undergone several phases and adoption by many political parties and movements. It has strong support across progressive trends in western Europe but has not been properly implemented anywhere.

Social Democratic parties think it is some solution to their lack of real policy to deal with poverty and the climate challenge. Left parties know that it presents a challenge to capitalism, if properly implemented, because greedy corporations cannot adapt and de-carbonise to reduce climate destabilisation.

In Green Left we say that a Socialist version of the Green New Deal needs to be fought for as part of the transition to a new political economy.

 Labour conflict on Green New Deal

Labour had a scrappy Conference in September 2021. It continues to suffer from a controlling bureaucracy under Starmer’s dull 'leadership'. Weak, reformist social democracy continues to clash with Labour's radical socialist base which also reflects the split of generations. The millennial generation faces a rough future and demands socialist measures to deal with it. Labour continues to be the most conservative social democratic party in western Europe; still can't adopt proportional representation. It seems like the Corbyn revolution of 2015-2019 has not changed Labour’s grey spots.

 Labour and Green

Yet we have to engage with the Labour movement in Britain. It does have radical impulses mixed in with its traditional top-down culture. It has the support of over 10 million voters compared with Green Parties 1 million. Fortunately, public opinion is changing to face the climate crisis. Green support is growing, and we can expect it to double and double again during this decade, 4 million by 2030?  We are following the German Greens who have been ahead in Europe for decades. Greens are in governing coalitions across Europe e.g. Scotland, and Austria.

We have to ally with Labour and socialist movements to create a 'united front' against capitalism. The Green Party has, what we could call, a 'post capitalist' programme which has socialist edges. Some say that the Greens are well to the left of Labour. Greens need to drag Labour to the left and adopt our radical version of the Green New Deal as spelt out in the Green Party manifesto of 2019.

 Green Left, in turn, works to pull the Green Party of England and Wales towards a clear socialist policy which is where our Socialist Green New Deal comes in. We have been working on it for over a year and hope we can publish it, after agreement, by the end of 2021.  The central policy of our deal is a Real Just Transition for the millions of workers in Britain who face job displacement during the de-carbonisation transition which is under way and will continue for around 2 decades till the 2040s. All workers in high carbon industries like coal, oil, gas, power, cement, limestone, steel, iron, cattle and sheep farming etc, face retraining, re-skilling and transfer to the new renewable and green industries.

 New Climate and Green Jobs

Trade Unions will be central to planning this mass transfer of jobs in the next 20 years. Transition Teams will be needed in each sector and community to plan and invest in the new industries. At least two million workers may be affected.  There are 1 million Climate jobs needed to de-carbonise the economy in:

 *renewable energy,

*expanded national and regional electric grid,

 *20 million homes energy retrofitting,

 *integrated electric public transport,

* Re-open rail and tram links to many town and villages

 *Affordable Eco-homes programme, etc.  

There are  another million Green jobs such as in the  * Green and Blue infrastructure (Tree lanes, local water services) *new agro-forestry, *Rewilding and Ecological renewal,

 There will be 2 million jobs in the *expanded National Care Service, which we agree with Labour on. The Care Service will be managed in close association with the NHS and funded by progressive income and wealth tax (eg. 1% annually over 5 million).  We want to see a range of Universal Public Services based on decentralised, community run energy, housing, health, transport, land, education, communication, etc.

 Land reform is centuries overdue in Britain due to the entrenched landed aristocracy, which has been abolished in most European states, but not here. It is one of reasons we have the worst food resilience anywhere. Introducing Land Value Taxation will be necessary but not enough. We want communities to 'reclaim' unused or vacant arable land from large absentee landlords, starting with the Duchy of Cornwall and covering all parts of England and Wales. This will free up land for local organic agriculture and arable market gardening, replacing the millions of food imports with their wasteful 'carbon miles'.

 The Green Socialist New Deal is a radical platform of transitional policies which will transform our country into the post capitalist age. A mass public information campaign will be needed to convince working people of its implementation. It will need a strong alliance of Labour, Socialist, trade union and green movements united to implement it, with the peoples support.

by Mark Douglas, Hackney Green Left  email: mouglas@gn.apc.org


THE COST OF FREE SOCIAL CARE AND HOW TO FUND IT by ANNE GRAY

Larry Sanders’ motion to the forthcoming autumn conference about free support and care for disabled people is a major step up for the party. But it also has major costs. Just as the party had to carefully cost a basic income proposal and how it could be funded, we would do well to consider the cost of free care.

The current inadequate rations of care support provided by local authorities cost over £23bn, of which £3.1bn was recouped by charges to clients. (There’s also – for a few - free ‘continuing care’ provided by the NHS). The value of privately purchased care outwith either arrangement was around £0.8bn per year in 2005, but may now have swelled to over £6bn for residential care alone as more people are hit by means tests, plus around £2bn for self-funded home care.[ii]  So if the state funded all the existing care services that aren’t currently free, that would be over £11bn. And this is before we add the vital upgrade in disability-related cash benefits.

But actual  budgets are nowhere near what is needed.  Local authority services have been drastically cut since 2010. Service levels and the share of users who get care free have declined, and with longer waits for assessment. Recent budget uplifts still don’t pay enough per user or meet the rise in demand. Some of this comes from population ageing, but the most rapid increase in requests for care reaching local authorities is from disabled people of working age. That’s partly because they are fortunately living longer, but also because pollution, poverty, bad diet, bad housing and insecurity damage people’s health; existing chronic conditions get worse and mental health issues, diabetes, heart disease are all increasing.

Most care is offered by relatives, not paid workers. At the current miserable wage rates of the care sector, unpaid care from family and friends across the UK would be  worth over £59bn[iii].  If unpaid care doesn’t expand with the number of people needing care, paid-for care will have to fill the gap. Unfortunately, the scale of unpaid  care has only been maintained in recent years by a few people shouldering more (and often very large) unpaid care hours per week whilst less of the population are providing any. That’s partly because  the ratio of non-disabled adults to potential ‘care needers’ fell from 4.45 to 3.66 over the period 2006/7 to 2018/19[iv]. But also, zero hours contracts, unpredictable shift patterns, and the rising retirement age all impede caring for others. More people in future will be without children to help them in old age; 19% of women  aged 65 in 2040 will be childless, compared to only 11% in 2020.

Most care workers don’t even get paid the national living wage.[v] To give them that would cost £1.4bn. Another 5% to match the planned pay rises in the NHS would cost £3.9bn. So how much would free care and support at a reasonable standard cost ? Right now, added to the £23bn councils currently spend:-

* £3.1bn to abolish charges for care levied by local councils

* at least £5.3bn to raise care workers’ wages[vi]

an extra £9bn to restoring the care ‘rations’ and ‘clinical’ eligibility thresholds to how they were in 2009/10, or £14bn to assist all those estimated to have needs above the current eligibility threshold but who are paying for their own care because of the means test[vii].

Looking forward, current health and ageing trends mean the demand for care will rise rapidly. To provide merely the level of service currently offered by local authorities, budgets would need to rise by almost 4% per year in real terms. And since the care sector is highly labour-intensive, ‘real terms’ means counting on a rate of inflation faster than in most of the economy.

If the unpaid care ‘supply’ does not keep pace with rising demand, budgets would need to rise even faster. To avoid this, inclusion, co-production and empowerment must provide the basis for a major expansion of community mutual aid.

But reform of care and making it free also requires  re-structuring of the care sector, currently almost all privatised. Large corporates which increasingly dominate residential care provision often place the homes’ buildings in  separate companies which milk the home operating companies for high rents or loan charges, taking large profits from the actual care-provision arm so it appears to barely cover costs. We need more non-profits to run homes and visiting-care providers.

 Along with basic income and the ‘green economy’ transition, social care is one of the most expensive policy proposals the Green Party needs to cost and work out funding for. Clearly a major rise in tax revenue is needed. This is all the more difficult if we are also encouraging ‘de-growth’ of carbon-intensive or un-necessary forms of production that none the less generate tax revenue (e.g. gas extraction, aviation, Trident and the car industry). We should not shrink from taxing profits or wealth for fear of capital flight or choking off investment – real estate at least cannot move.  And we need to consider all major policy proposals in a costing exercise, otherwise they will  compete for the same good idea about new ways of raising money.

As new tax sources, accountancy professor Lord Prem Sikka estimates £14bn to £18bn per year could be raised by reforming capital gains tax[viii]. He also suggests an inequality tax on companies, and a super-VAT of 30% on luxury goods. The Green Party needs to be more imaginative about its tax proposals and tread new ground in order to fund all its policies.

 

[1] Wanless review of social care 2006

[1] Author’s estimate

[1] https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/POST-PN-0582/POST-PN-0582.pdf

[1] Author’s calculation from Family Resources Survey and Health Survey of England

[1] https://www.tuc.org.uk/blogs/living-wage-care-workers-wales-start-not-enough

[1] Health Foundation, cited in a Parliamentary Health and Social Care Committee report on social care; (https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/3120/documents/29193/default/ ) of October 2020

[1] Bottery S et al (2018) A fork in the road: Next steps for social care funding reform, The King’s Fund and Health Foundation, https://www.health.org.uk/publications/a-fork-in-the-road-next-steps-for-social-care-funding-reform

[1] Briefing Note; ELDERLY SOCIAL CARE (INSURANCE) BILL [HL] by Prem Sikka, 14 July 2021




Green Party Autumn Conference 2021 is set to be the first conference for over year with an ‘in-person’ dimension. So, what is the Green Party Trade Union Group and where it is going?  

The Trade Union Group is the group for all trade unionists, supporters of trade unions, and allies of the labour movement in the Green Party. As a party-affiliated group, we are proud to make the case for the Green Party as the natural home for radical trade unionists. We agitate to establish and strengthen relationships with workers’ organisations.

The emancipation of labour from the dictates of capitalism, and the salvation of the natural environment can only be achieved by bringing Greens and the labour movement together. We want to enhance the very best in our respective traditions – a Green movement that extends its hand in solidarity with others, and a labour movement that prizes social and ecological justice. We welcome all Green Party members, and if you have not already joined us, we warmly invite you to do so through our website, http://gptu.greenparty.org.uk.

This past year has seen significant struggles, the result of which may define the fortunes of the labour movement for years to come. The Trade Union Group has sought to get Greens behind workers in these fights and add a vital Green voice to the debate.

One such fight is for a real pay rise for NHS staff. We enthusiastically supported Sheffield activist Rebecca Mulvaney’s emergency motion to Spring Conference this year, which made the Green Party the only major party to back rank-and-file NHS workers’ demands for a 15% raise. Since then, we have helped dozens of local parties join demonstrations in support of NHS Workers Say NO! and offer practical support to trade unionists. Raising the profile of the group and establishing the party as a trusted ally of the labour movement is a key objective – for us, and for the party’s agenda for winning power.

We signed the Free Our Union/Earth Strike UK statement, emphasising the importance of asserting our right to strike and democratise our workplaces, transforming them for a zero-carbon world. We were delighted that Green parliamentarians Caroline Lucas and Natalie Bennett joined us in supporting this important campaign.

During the election of Unite’s General Secretary this year, we conducted written interviews with each candidate – helping our members in Unite to dig deeper into each platform and reach a considered conclusion on who to support. In the aftermath of Sharon Graham’s victory, our interviews received additional attention and helping us to build our credibility as a space for labour movement debate and discussion.

On top of these activities, we have had the pleasure of supporting a broad array of different events and meetings. From aviation workers campaigning for a just transition, to Pennsylvania steelworkers, to food workers pushing for a right to food, we have benefited greatly from the contributions of dozens and dozens of brilliant activists. An overview of these events can be found on our website.

We intend to shape policy debate within our party. At Spring Conference 2021, our motion D01 ‘Working with trade unions’ restated the party’s support for the trade union movement and our resolute opposition to the anti-union laws that restrict workers from taking industrial action for ecological justice and other political objectives. At time of writing, an emergency motion is being brought to Autumn Conference (pending approval) commending the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) on their assertion of political independence, supporting their campaign for a £15 per hour minimum wage, and calling on our party leadership to extend their solidarity.

This is only the beginning. If we are to be the ally that the labour movement needs, we need to go further and faster. Soon the Trade Union Group will elect a new committee to build on this work and bring their own unique skills and dedication. We hope that you will consider putting yourself forward at this interesting and exciting time.

In a moment when the Labour Party is distancing itself from its own best elements, and when liberals shrink from supporting the radical changes we truly need, the Green Party must step into the breach. We hope that together we can play our small part in meeting that historic responsibility.

 


Green Left is co-sponsoring an ecosocialist broadsheet (along with Left Unity and Anti-Capitalist Resistance) for use around the COP26 events and nation-wide demonstrations on November 6th. 

 The paper has a poster / placard cover- "Ecosocialism not extinction- stop the capitalist carbon machine" and contains a jointly drafted statement of ecosocialist principles and articles on the development of XR, the importance of trade unions in the climate movement and the need to maintain the unity and dynamic of the movement beyond COP.

 Copies are available from Green Left supporters or MidlandsACR@outlook.com 


My toothpaste comes from Romania,

 My bed comes from Vietnam,

 My coffee was packed in Spain,

 My hand sanitizer originates from Utrecht,

 But my headache pills are British,

 Handpicked by local pillpickers,

 In the paracetamol orchards of Devon.

 I am about to eat some Polish garlic sausage,

 I have just eaten some French jam,

 And sadly, my international consumption

 Could be threatened by a container ship,

 Which is as long as my street,

 Loaded with containers, that are full of containers.

 Which is jammed in the Suez Canal.

 I need more vaccine from Belgium,

 To ward off infection by a virus,

 Allegedly originating in Chinese bats.

 In fact, I am so globalised that,

 I am becoming spherical in shape.

 Nonetheless I remain.

 Stubbornly almost monolingual 

 And forced to inhabit a xenophobic island.


DETAILS OF HOW TO JOIN GREEN LEFT AT https://greenleftblog.blogspot.com/p/how-to-join-green-left.html