Green Party ‘the one alternative’
Friday 13th September 2013, 2:11PM BST.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett today claimed her party was the only credible alternative to “three virtually indistinguishable neo-liberal parties”.
Addressing the Greens’ autumn conference in Brighton, Ms Bennett predicted a “big shift” in British politics in the next few years as voters abandon the mainstream parties in the search for “new answers”.
Ms Bennett rejected suggestions that the rise of the UK Independence Party had sidelined the Greens from their former position as the fourth party in British politics, insisting that it marked a general shift in politics away from traditional party loyalties.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, she said she had been told that in many cases voters were “talking about Ukip and Greens in the one breath”.
“Obviously our policies are very different, but people are looking for new answers, and we are going to see big shifts in British politics in the next few years,” she said. “What we are seeing is very much a shift away from the three largest parties.”
In her speech, Ms Bennett ranged far beyond the Greens’ traditional environmental priorities to denounce the involvement of private sector “corporate bloodsuckers” in NHS healthcare provision and promise to campaign against the “aching poverty” reflected in growing use of food banks.
“When history looks back on the Coalition, what will stand out is its failure to find a new economic model for Britain”, she said.
“You’d expect the Labour Party, at this point in the political cycle, to be soaring in the polls. Yet they aren’t. And that’s not surprising. They are not a credible alternative to the Coalition. What does Labour stand for? It’s perhaps easier to say what they don’t stand for.
“There is one alternative to the three virtually indistinguishable neoliberal parties. That alternative is the Green Party.”
Ms Bennett added: “Food bank volunteers and donors are not the answer to decades of policies that have limited people’s access to fresh food. They cannot – and should not be asked to – solve the real problem, which is aching poverty. We will keep fighting and keep campaigning until the last food bank in Britain closes its doors, because it’s not needed any more.”
And she warned that the NHS was being “torn to shreds and handed over to a corrupt, fraudulent, profits-at-any-cost handful of multinational health companies and dubiously stitched-together local consortiums run by ‘entrepreneurial’ CEOs”.
“We in the Green Party are fighting with every ounce of its strength against these type of contracts,” she said. “The NHS is a national jewel that must be grabbed back from the jewel thieves, polished, and set back again in pride of place. The profit motive has no place in the health care system. And we will not rest until we’ve expelled every last corporate bloodsucker from our NHS.”
Ms Bennett predicted that opponents of fracking – the innovative technology which extracts gas from underground shale deposits – would win the fight against energy companies currently investigating potential drill sites around the UK.
“I think very much that fracking is an argument we are going to win,” she told Today. “David Cameron was running round saying this is going to give us cheap gas and everyone from Lord Stern to his own Energy and Climate Change Department are pedalling away from that at great speed.
“The fact is if we go for the ‘dash for gas’ that George Osborne has been saying we should, we are going for a high-cost, uncertain energy future, whereas if we go for renewable energy and energy conservation that’s the way we can ensure our energy supplies and make sure they are affordable.”