Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Natalie Bennett

GET UPDATES FROM Natalie Bennett
 

The Green's Radical Alternative

Posted: 04/09/2012 00:00

As I write it is about eight hours since I was elected as the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales. It has been, happily, a whirl. An ITN interview, two BBC television slots, the BBC World at One, Sky TV, Australian radio, chats with a string of national newspaper journalists... And there is bound to have been something I missed out on that list.

One of the striking aspects of my first hours has been the encounters with rightwing hosts, whether their commitment is personal or professional it is hard to tell, who are determinedly, aggressively sceptical about the Green message.

One said to me - and I paraphrase, but it is true in meaning - "but of course people's only real aim in life is to buy more stuff, so why would they like what you have to say?"

It has been a struggle sometimes to carve out the airspace to explain the radical alternative that the Green Party offer British voters - not the Coalition's failed, economically illiterate austerity (which even the IMF is now criticising) - but investment in the future, in homes, jobs, public transport, renewable energy and energy conservation, with the purpose of restructuring our economy for the low-carbon future we have to reach very soon.

That means relocalising our economy - bring manufacturing and food production back to Britain, replacing giant multinational companies with small local firms and cooperatives, reining in the out-of-control financial industries, ensuring no company is too big to fail.

And it does mean less "stuff", but an economy based on consumerism and casino finance hasn't in the past two decades of growth delivered the decent, stable, secure life that is what most people want, even while it has delivered lots of "stuff".

Britain has the unhappiest children in the developed world, huge levels of mental ill health and stress, and pervasive sense of insecurity infecting all but the mega-rich.

And that was all based on treating the planet as a mine and a dumping ground, acting as though there were another pristine planet earth sitting just the other side of the Moon ready for us to move to once we'd trashed the air, the soil and the water of this one.

Of course there isn't, and there's no way we can go back to 2006, pull a few different levers to avoid then coming crash, then steam on as before.

I find on the doorstep, and just talking to people wherever I go, that there's a pervasive sense that we do need a profound, rapid change of direction. We do need to find a new way to live that meets human needs, both the basics like food - and it is worth noting that the global price of food has leapt 10% in just the last month, but more emotionally a sense of security and hope for the future.

We have seen experiments and action in that direction from groups as diverse as the Transition Towns movement and Occupy, but it is only in the party political arena that the Green Party offers a new way forward - towards an economy that meets everyone's needs within the limits of this one planet of ours.

Rightwing radio and television hosts might struggle to understand that, but I believe that increasing numbers of voters will.

 
FOLLOW UK POLITICS