Sunday, February 21, 2010

Party Conference: fair is worth fighting for

Now I'm back and conference is over I'll try to knock out a few posts to give a flavour of different themes going on over the last four days. I think it's only reasonable to start with the Greens theme for the election encapsulated in the slogan 'fair is worth fighting for'.

Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, made a very focused speech to conference on the prospects for victory, geeing everyone up and urging everyone to do their bit in the coming election (you can see some of it here).

I particularly liked this bit though on social inequality;

Inequality And it matters because it is the most vulnerable people who suffer first,and suffer most, from cuts and closures. We see it all around us, every day. Britain under Labour has become a country of inequality.

Those at the top, those with the power and influence, making sure that they get more and more of the cake. And those at the bottom having to make do with just the crumbs. The top 10% in this country now have 100 times more wealth than the bottom 10%. A hundred times.

Nothing - no amount of hard work or talent or commitment - can justify that. Those who have less aren't afraid of hard work.

People in service jobs, working night shifts to keep the country going, put in just as much as the captains of industry. Working with disadvantaged children needs just as much talent as serving privileged clients in private banking. And as to commitment - think of the difference between social workers, struggling with bureaucracy, hammered by the media and often by their own management, and trying to do the best for often difficult clients.

Compare that to the commitment of the bosses of the Royal Bank of Scotland, threatening to walk out if their bonuses were cut back too far. That is Britain today.

Deputy leader Adrian Ramsay's speech the day after was also on the theme of inequality but also trained the focus onto privatisation, PFI and the way market deregulation undermines public services and yet still costs us more.

He praised the Sure Start scheme and warned that the coming period will see the need to mobilise against savage cuts in public services.

This was my personal highlight;

The job market is failing young people and in my county it's hitting hardest. Norfolk has the highest unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds of the whole country. It has the highest number of 18-24 year olds on Job-Seekers Allowance, and the highest number of job losses per head of population against any other county. This is the legacy of Tory and Labour governments. And this is what we need to address.

Those people on the dole, will they be helped under Labour? Today Labour launched their General Election slogan- ‘A Future Fair for All'. How can they be trusted to be fair when bankers are still getting bonuses, yet the recession is still putting thousands of other people out of work?

The people who gambled with our money, who built the house of credit cards that now has crashed, get bailed out, but everyone else picks up the bill. That doesn't sound like Fair for All. That sounds like a banker's ‘Free For All'.

We believe in fighting for fairness- not crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. Our proposals would create a million lasting jobs- not ones dependent on cheap fossil fuels or financial bubbles. We want skilled jobs in public services, renewable energy and low carbon industries. We would nurture small to medium enterprises to encourage domestic manufacturing and local agriculture.

It's this economic inequality that goes to the heart of where we on the left must be going. For instance, when Darren Johnson passionately spoke in favour of the maximum wage (although as comments have pointed out we haven't called it that, but that's what it is) if we're not addressing economic inequality we're not serious about social injustice.

(pics from Barnet Green Party)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

Quite rightly agree.

The 'fairness' theme was evident throughout, especially from Caroline's and Adrian's speeches.

It is now clear what we do when we go back to our constituencies (no, not to prepare for Government...yet) but to prepare for the onslaught of cuts and privatisations and, in our target seats, to tell voters that the best way to resist these at the ballot box is by voting Green.

A Green vote is now a vote against the cuts consensus, against the rule of the market in peoples' services and against the growing inequality which is becoming increasingly visible.

In short, give Labour hell by voting Green.