Martin Deane: Greens deserve fair hearing in election debates

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IN this region, the number of Greens is up over 140 per cent – it’s unprecedented growth.

Across England and Wales, Greens doubled their number in 2014 and predict membership to top 30,000 next week. Over 270,000 people have supported the petition to allow the Greens into the TV leaders’ debates for the General Election.

But far from welcoming a new voice, BBC Daily Politics recently excluded the Greens from a graph, even though they were a percentage point above the Lib Dems in the poll. Ukip was there despite only recently gaining a MP – whereas Caroline Lucas has been representing the Greens for four years in the House of Commons.

Allowing the Greens into the leaders’ debates will bring a refreshing voice into politics. It will enable people to hear a real alternative to the greyscale politics we’re being sold, be they Conservative, Lib Dem, Labour or Ukip.

People badly need to hear that it’s possible to keep the NHS, to renationalise the railways, to take back public ownership of the utility companies, to have education at university level free again, to eradicate poverty in Britain – all things the Greens have stood for for decades, let alone the environment for which they’re well-known.

Greens like David Malone in Scarborough, a former BBC filmmaker, and author of Debt Generation. His message is that the banks’ abilities have changed out of all recognition in a generation – and that they are now out of control. How on earth can we mortgage our children’s futures to the banks? At the very least, what’s needed is banking regulation back, to safeguard us from international speculation.

For most people the NHS should be funded nationally by all in the background and free at the point of need. But little known, beyond 36 Degree campaigners, are the implications of the giant TTIP trade agreement between the US and the EU. Dr Jillian Creasy of Sheffield Greens says: “Secretive trade deals such as the TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, threaten the NHS because they would allow global corporations to sue Governments if commercial interests were threatened.” What are we doing risking our sovereignty to banks and multinationals, never mind the EU? But who’s really against it?

Greens will tell you about this government of the wealthy, yet devoted to causing poverty: the Trussell Trust now tells us a record 913,138 were given food bank help over the last year. The ‘bedroom tax’ has been pursued relentlessly by the Tories, helping to cause recent record numbers of homelessness, of home repossessions, of trauma for kids not knowing a home.

Greens are not bought or funded by finance companies. We don’t have politicians who gain from privatising the NHS. We want a country primarily run for its citizens, not for corporate, financial, utility company, or other, profit. A Green voice will remind us that onshore wind is now the cheapest source of energy. And a Green voice will ask, how many excess winter deaths will there be this year …?

Fracking is a con! America has gone for it wholesale. But there’s evidence you have to overlook. Last year the US fracking industry spent about $700bn to get about $600bn back in income. Yes, those figures are the right way round! And that’s without bringing in how fracking wells are comparatively short-lived, nor that it’s yet more fossil fuel burning, nor the far more important health impacts now swaying whether areas accept fracking or not. In this region, already a number of councils across have come out against fracking, and with Green prompting.

Record numbers of people are in work and needing to claim benefits. The sweat of their brow is not enough to keep a roof over their heads. But it should be. The Greens’ Citizens Income values people by making it possible for them to have a basic standard of living. It’s to rid ourselves of poverty and to acknowledge people who want an alternative to formal work.

Yet what do we do? We pursue a 19th century victimisation of those who don’t do formal work.

So that’s why we want Greens in the leaders’ debates. Instead of four men rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, you’ll get a woman saying let’s miss the icebergs.

We need to build a better society based on hope, not on fear. We are in politics for you and the planet, not for ourselves.

Martin Deane is a member of Yorkshire and the Humber Green Party