Natalie Bennett and the Green manifesto: zero growth, free condoms, no monarchy
Too wild to join a coalition? A breakdown of the Green manifesto shows them far more radical than Ukip
The Green party leader Natalie Bennett will seek to repair some of the damage caused by her disastrous LBC appearance last month when she appears on the BBC's Question Time this evening.
During the live interview with Nick Ferrari she struggled to articulate policies contained in the Green party manifesto and appeared to choke when asked where the money to pay for them would be found.
The Greens had been flying high in the early weeks of the year thanks in part to the row over whether they should be represented in the televised leader debates.
That question remains unresolved, but Bennett will appear alongside MPs Charles Kennedy, Anna Soubry and Lucy Powell on Question Time tonight.
Green party membership overtook Ukip’s in mid-January, and at their peak an Ashcroft poll had them on 11 per cent of the vote – higher than the Lib Dems (nine per cent) and not far off Ukip (15 per cent). Since then Green support has slipped back to around eight per cent in most polls.
But will even that popularity survive an examination of their policies? If they come out of the general election with more MPs, would any major party want to invite them into a coalition?
As the Daily Telegraph reports, the Greens have been dubbed the “Ukip of the left”. But their core priorities – listed in alphabetical order below – reveal a far more radical programme than Nigel Farage’s...
Advertising: The “overall volume” of advertising on TV and in newspapers would be controlled and reduced, as part of a war on the “materialist and consumption-driven culture which is not sustainable”. All alcohol advertising would be banned.
Animal welfare: Measures would be imposed to encourage a “transition from diets dominated by meat” to vegetarianism. Factory farming would be banned.
Beyonce tax: So dubbed because a tax would be imposed on “superstar performances” to raise funds to support “local cultural enterprises”.
Birth control: To prevent “overpopulation”, the state would provide free condoms and fund research for new contraceptives.
Defence: Britain would leave Nato and unilaterally abandon nuclear weapons. Army, navy and air force bases would be turned into nature reserves.
Economy: The only way to a greener future is for zero - better still, negative – growth. It leads to less personal consumption.
Europe: Free trade with the EU bloc would end because new tariffs would be introduced to reflect the “ecological impact” of any import.
Gift tax: In order to “prevent the accumulation of wealth and power by a privileged class”, inheritance tax would also cover gifts made while the giver is alive.
Healthcare: The NHS would return to full government-run status with an NHS tax brought in to fund it. Assisted dying would be legalised, abortion liberalised and “alternative” medicine promoted.
Immigration: Because richer nations should not “protect their privileges from others”, border controls would be “progressively reduced”. Everyone living in Britain, whatever passport they carry, would have equal access to benefits.
Income: Everyone would enjoy an unconditional, non-withdrawable income of £71 a week “as a right of citizenship”.
Jobs: The idea of the £71 hand-out (above) is to help people take up “personally satisfying and socially useful work”. Overall, paid work should be “less necessary”: sharing and bartering would be encouraged.
Schools: Private schools would lose their charitable status and pay corporation tax. RI would be banned during school hours. SATS, early years tests and league tables would be abolished.
Sex and drugs: Brothels and all elements of the sex industry would be decriminalised. Trading and possession of cannabis would be decriminalised, too, along with possession of Class A and B drugs for personal use.
Television: The BBC would be bound to show educational programmes during prime time, giving them “equal precedence” to entertainment shows.
The monarchy: Sorry, Your Majesty, it would be abolished.