Inequality is not inevitable

Pippa Bartolotti shares the Green Party’s vision for equality, strong local economies and a green future for Wales and the UK.

Membership of the Green Party is now greater than UKIP and the LibDems.

General Election Series

Ahead of the general election each of the six main parties were invited to contribute to Click on Wales about why they should have your vote on the 7th May. This series will run an article from one party each day up until the general election. Read all of the articles here.

Greens stand for new jobs in the industries of the future; a clear signal to business to invest in clean energy; closing tax loopholes and much greater equality.

Politics as usual has brought people and planet to its knees. The top 1% in the UK are now worth more than the bottom 55%. This level of inequality is not natural and it is not inevitable. It is certainly not the way to run a successful society.

Women managers in Wales earn on average £4000 less than their male counterparts for doing the same job. Greens would outlaw the gender pay gap by asking all companies, by law, to publish their pay data.

In Wales we have more than twice the amount of renewable energy we can use. This is an enormous opportunity for our economy. By harnessing clean energy we can use what we need and export the rest, thereby putting many generations in Wales on a sound economic footing for the future.

The Welsh economy needs to be more local. Transporting basic foodstuffs all over the planet, when they can be grown and sold near to home, adds to greenhouse gas emissions and reduces security of supply. Creating strong localised economies will protect our rural communities, our farmers, and our language.

Greens will make it easier for small businesses to employ people and contribute towards paying the living wage by using receipts from a wealth tax to reduce employers’ National Insurance in the longer run to 8%.

We will also give a much needed boost to Welsh tourism by reducing tax on conviviality and helping small businesses in the Welsh tourism and restaurant industry by lowering VAT to 5% for cooked food, entertainment and accommodation.

Our online manifesto has been fully costed. Much of the money raised to safeguard an excellent NHS, free at the point of delivery, will come from genuinely progressive taxation, such as a financial transaction tax of 0.1%, a wealth tax, an additional rate of income tax for those earning more an £150,000 a year, and of course eco taxes on polluters.

In a Green economy, businesses emitting very little pollution would pay very little tax, but those who pollute the most would have to pay their share of what it costs to clean up the mess, and repair our health.

The Green policy of keeping trade local by allowing local authorities to favour local procurement to help their local economy, is good for our health, and our carbon footprint.

The economy is a set of inter-related activities. Local supplies of food and products keep the carbon footprint low, and at the same time enhance our communities. Less pollution from transport and packaging waste keeps our health in better shape, and our countryside cleaner.

Greens would also ensure that legislation requiring that small businesses should be paid on time is properly enforced. In the longer run, we would simplify PAYE through our Citizens Income proposals.

Encouraging greater diversity among entrepreneurs, including young people, women, ex-service people, the previously unemployed, people who are disabled and older people means that business can properly represent the society it serves. Greens want local business to be at the heart of our communities.

The jobs of the future are not in the failing fossil fuel business model, they are in the design, engineering, maintenance and growth of home grown energy, excellent public services, low carbon transport and affordable warm homes.

In this election, people are concerned that their vote will not count. That is because the electoral system of first-past-the-post is rigged towards a 2 party system. If millions more votes for the Greens, and other smaller parties, produce very few extra MP’s, then it will be clear to all that the voting system has to change. We stand for Proportional Representation, and by 2020 – if people really vote for what they believe in – we will have it.

So if you want better health, a sound economy, secure energy supplies and a strong local economy, you have to vote Green. Your vote will count!

Pippa Bartolotti is the leader of the Green Party in Wales.

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