THE BLOG

To Stop This Government's Worst Instincts, Progressives Must Work Together

27/05/2015 17:41 BST | Updated 27/05/2016 10:59 BST

It's hard to pick out the most alarming part of Wednesday's Queen's speech. From the glaring omission of substantial concrete action on climate change, to proposals to further dismantle our welfare state, it's increasingly urgent that progressives come together - both to challenge the Government's destructive and divisive programme, and to establish the foundations for a long term alliance which will defeat right wing ideology.

Amid a raft of legislative proposals, one of the most pernicious of all the measures in today's speech is the proposed cut to housing benefit for 18-21 year olds. According to the homeless charity Centrepoint, these changes could affect nearly 20,000 people. This includes young people who are unable to live with their parents - who've perhaps been thrown out or forced to leave home after experiencing domestic abuse - potentially leaving them with no choice but to sleep rough. At the same time, the Government is selling off our social housing stock whilst doing nothing to protect renters from spiralling prices. This is a Queen's speech which will exacerbate the already serious housing crisis we're facing in this country - with young people's needs glaringly overlooked.

The Tories, styling themselves as the 'party for working people', are also aiming to curtail the right to organise as part of a union. Their proposals, which would require 50% of eligible workers to vote in ballots, are clearly aimed at crippling the power of the trade unions representing millions of hard pressed workers. Whatever the Government might claim, this is no way to protect public services and progressive voices must oppose any further erosion of workers' rights. It's also time to call out Cameron for using austerity as cover for selling off our NHS, our schools, and our police forces,whilst simultaneously eroding public sector pay and conditions.

We're also facing fresh assault on our civil liberties through a renamed 'Snoopers Charter.' The proposed Investigatory Powers Bill aims to hand more power to intelligence agencies to spy on our emails, phone calls and what websites we visit.

The proposed EU Referendum Bill, though welcome, is set to exclude 16 and 17 year olds from a vote which will deeply affect their futures. The scrapping of the Human Rights Act continues to be a grave threat to us all, and we must use this period of consultation to muster an unambiguous campaign to save this crucial legislation.

Britain is under attack. The Government is waging war on those who need support, taking out our hard won workplace rights and removing our right to privacy. But, in the face of such an assault, it's vital we fight back. Progressives both inside and outside of parliament must work together to defeat these latest proposals and, crucially, start our own radical democratic offensive. I have no doubt that MPs from across the political spectrum share my commitment to building a fairer greener future - it's time we put our differences aside and work together to that end.

Those of us who care about social justice, who are willing to fight for our civil liberties and, crucially, who recognise the urgency of the climate crisis - must reclaim the future and stop this Government in its tracks.

Caroline Lucas is the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion