Green manifesto shifts Lucas to left

'Robin Hood' tax policies put redistribution on equal footing with saving planet

Well, you can't say they're not different. The Green Party launched a manifesto yesterday, openly promising to take quite enormous sums from the rich and hand them over to the poor.

The party that for the past 20 years has put the planet first has found a fierce new focus to sit alongside its environmental concern: social justice and inequality. Yesterday it set out an eye-popping programme of redistributive taxation that would have been considered radical even by Old Labour at its most extreme period in the early Eighties.

To pay for a wide range of benefits for people on lower incomes, the Greens in government would seek to raise £73bn in new taxation right away, rising to £112bn in 2013, and increasing the tax take as a share of national income by 25 per cent in just four years. This would come from large hikes in income tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, financial transaction tax and a permanent tax on bankers' bonuses. The Greens would also increase taxes on motoring, flying, cigarettes and alcohol.

However, 87 per cent of the population would be better off under the Green soak-the-rich regime, the party claimed, as in return the public would be offered much higher pensions, higher minimum wages, free home insulation, free social care for the elderly, big tax breaks for people on lower incomes and reopened local post offices – not to mention large-scale improvements in public transport with renationalised railways, the scrapping of the Trident nuclear missile system, and a radical regime for fighting climate change.

Once single-mindedly environmental in its focus, the party is still passionate about the planet – it will still have nothing to do with nuclear power, for example, and wants "personal carbon quotas" to fight climate change – but it is now also espousing radically left-wing social and economic values. Its leader, the fluent and presentable Caroline Lucas, pointed out yesterday that these are policies of a sort associated with Labour, "before it became New Labour and forgot those principles".

Asked if they were now openly left-wing, she said the Greens were "A party of the left plus... We're not just trying to become a receptacle of what Labour once was. We're taking some of those best values, but putting them into a completely different economic framework."

The manifesto was launched in Brighton, which is a beacon of hope for the Greens, as it is the most "alternative" city in Britain and the Brighton Pavilion constituency is where the party scored its best general election result, securing 22 per cent of the vote in 2005.

Taxation in general

The Greens want to "rehabilitate progressive taxation", that is, bring back higher taxation on higher incomes. They want to raise taxation from 36 per cent of GDP in 2009-10 to 45 per cent in 2013. This would halve the gap between government expenditure and revenues by 2013-14, without having to slash public services. The party would support the idea of a "Robin Hood tax" on international financial transactions.

Taxes to reduce inequality

The Greens would impose a special tax on bankers' bonuses, which would be permanent, and a new higher rate of income tax of 50 per cent, on incomes over £100,000. They would raise the capital gains tax from 18 per cent to the recipient's highest income tax rate (ie up to 50 per cent) and increase the main rate of corporation tax from 28 per cent back up to 30 per cent. However, they would help lower earners by reintroducing the 10 per cent tax band and the 22 per cent basic rate, and raising the National Insurance threshold.

Taxes to protect the environment

The Greens would reintroduce the fuel duty escalator, raising the duty on motorists' petrol by 8 per cent a year, and they would replace vehicle excise duty by a new graduated tax to penalise gas-guzzlers. They would introduce VAT and fuel duty on aviation fuel, and tax plastic bags and other "unnecessary packaging", and bring in taxes on pesticides, artificial fertilisers and on the use of water by businesses.

Climate change and energy

The party would aim to obtain half of Britain's energy from renewable resources by 2020, and ensure that carbon emissions from power generation are zero by 2030. It would put £20bn over one Parliament into a large-scale programme for wind power and other renewables, and create 80,000 jobs in manufacturing and installing the equipment, but would phase out nuclear power. Most radically, it would introduce "carbon quotas" for every citizen. Once you have exceeded your quota, in air travel say, you will have to buy more units if you want to carry on flying.

Transport

The Greens would cut speed limits to 20mph in towns, 40mph on rural roads and 55mph on motorways. They would end the £30bn roads programme and reinvest it in public transport, returning the railways to public ownership.

Education

The party would move to smaller class sizes by spending £500m on another 15,000 teachers to get class sizes down to an average of 20 pupils by the end of one Parliament. They would create smaller schools, saying large schools are "alienating", and remove charitable status from private schools. They would phase out Sats tests and city academies, and abolish university tuition fees.

Health

The Greens oppose any private sector involvement in the NHS, such as PFI schemes. They would abolish prescription charges, reintroduce free eye tests and NHS dental treatment for all. They would also introduce free social care for the elderly, on the Scottish model, end mixed-sex accommodation in hospitals and provide complementary medicine on the NHS if "cost-effective and shown to work". They would support a ban on smoking on all enclosed public spaces.

Crime

The party would treat heroin and crack addiction as a health issue, and consider providing heroin on prescription. They would decriminalise the production, possession and sale of cannabis.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Investigo: management accountant

£250 - £300 per day: Investigo: Growing international marketing business requi...

Recruitment Genius: ORM / Online Reputational Consultant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ORM Consultant is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of educat...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore