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Green Manifesto Sets Out Our Vision of a Fairer Society

16/04/2015 08:27 BST | Updated 15/06/2015 10:59 BST

On Tuesday we launched the Green Party of England and Wales 2015 general election manifesto: 'For the Common Good'. It is shaped by our vision of a future Britain, and our principles and values which say that no one in this, the world's sixth richest economy, should fear not being able to put food on table, or pay the bills that keep a roof over their head.

It is shaped by a politics founded in humanity. We want to create a Britain that cares. But it is also based on a fundamental principle that the other parties deny and ignore: the need for us to build a stable and sustainable society that protects our planet now and for future generations.

This is a new kind of politics. It's an end to the business-as-usual politics that accepts the economy and society being exploited and run for the benefit of the rich few, rather than the many.

It is a vision of an end to the disastrous policy of austerity that is making the poor, the disadvantaged and the young pay for the error and fraud of the bankers.

And it's a vision which is taking hold of an increasing number of Britons. Polls suggest that while in 2010 one in 100 voters choose the Green Party, in this election at least one in 20, and maybe many more, will be voting Green.

And of course this is a unique election for the Green Party - our first as a parliamentary party - following the election of the wonderful Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion in 2010. Voters have seen what just one Green MP can achieve and we're looking to send a strong group of Green MPs to Westminster on May 8. Imagine what they could achieve. Imagine how different politics could look.

That prospect has been hugely boosted by the Green surge, a storm in membership that's seen our numbers far exceed those of Ukip and the Liberal Democrats, and have us standing in nearly 95% of seats in England and Wales.

At the heart of this manifesto is a vision of a fair economy.

That fair economy demands the end of austerity: our plans restore and enhance the essential public services that we all - but particularly the most vulnerable - need, from social care to early childhood education, luncheon clubs and libraries to arts funding and legal aid.

That restoration of our public realm, combined with investment in renewable energy and energy conservation, would create one million good quality stable, well paid jobs. Four hundred thousand of those are in the NHS and social care.

That fair economy is paid for by a rebalancing that sees multinational companies and rich individuals pay their way in taxes, which they are not doing now. That means a crackdown on evasion and avoidance by a restored HMRC, a wealth tax for those worth more than £3 million, and a Robin Hood tax that can also help to contribute to financial stability.

That fair economy demands that every worker is paid a living wage. It's really not a radical statement to say that if you work full time you should earn enough money to live on. Yet we're the only UK party saying that the minimum wage should immediately be lifted to a living wage, with a target minimum wage of £10 an hour by 2020.

And at the heart of this manifesto also is the protection of the NHS, our NHS.

The manifesto sets out our vision of a publicly owned and publicly run NHS, with zero percent of NHS money, our money, going into private profits, and the expensive, destructive market removed from the health service structures.

Privatisation has meant the slashing of the pay and conditions of workers, the cutting of the quality and breadth of services, and the shovelling of public money into private hands. We can't go on like that.

And of course we want to bring the railways back into public hands, to see this essential infrastructure run for the benefit of passengers, not shareholders.

And finally, we must protect our planet.

Many voters have noted how in the first leaders' debate, I was the only speaker to focus on the issue of climate change. None of the others, in two hours, could find space for two words to acknowledge this acute threat facing our world, which demands urgent action.

The exciting plans this manifesto presents would ensure Britain is leading the world in cutting carbon emissions whilst tackling acute social issues like fuel poverty and energy security. It would mean creating quality jobs and opportunities for businesses to thrive and communities to invest in their own futures.

On May 7, voters face a big choice. We have the kind of politics we have now because voters have felt pushed by the electoral system to vote for what they see as the lesser of two evils - two barely separable parties that were jostling for the middle ground.

But the opportunity for real change is in voters' hands - by voting for what they believe in on May 7 they can deliver a peaceful political revolution, and the economic and social transformation towards a Britain that works for the common good set out in this manifesto.