Through a Welsh Lens: The Green Party’s Vision for Wales

We asked the key parties for their solutions to address the challenges facing Wales. Here’s how the Green Party answered our questions.

Reinvigorating Wales’ Economy

Question: How do you plan to reinvigorate Wales’ economy? What steps will you take to boost productivity, increase living standards, and reduce regional inequalities?

Answer: Greens ask the question: ‘invigorating what kind of economy?’ The old economy, as a wealth creation machine which used up nature and communities, has left a legacy of pollution, inequality and industrial disease. The austerity project cannot be allowed to continue to wreck the life chances of working people, women, the disabled, carers and marginalised groups. The Green Party is the only party that is really calling for proper funding for our services through progressive taxation. All wealth has been built from nature and people’s effort and elected Greens in Westminster support a yearly wealth tax for the super-rich. We also want to see new forms of finance raising billions for the scale of change that is needed to meet the climate and nature crisis and create a fairer economy. For example, through the creation of a Green Economic Transformation Fund which can support retrofitting of sub-standard housing to reduce energy poverty and improve living standards for the majority. 

Greens that are elected to Westminster understand that ‘returning to growth’ that destroys nature, climate and communities is not an option. The economic model itself is broken, with wealth ‘trickling’ up not down and massive increases in inequality, poverty and the return of Victorian levels of destitution. The housing market is broken, with many renters being ruthlessly exploited. Essential infrastructure is crumbling across a dysfunctional privatised UK, handed over to asset strippers. Years of Tory rule has leveraged this model, delivering for the rich and bringing the UK near to a failing state. In the face of this situation, we must have a Government that is fit for the challenges of the 21st Century – not one pretending we can carry on as usual with slightly better economic management. A whole generation feels betrayed by inaction on climate and nature and increasingly will not accept tokenism.

Greens work for a new kind of Wellbeing Economy that involves utilities and the NHS returned to full public ownership, new business models, more business with social and ecological and leveraging public expenditure for sustainable and green economic development as in the Foundation Economy approach. We need a new model of what we mean by ‘successful economy’, comprising a linked set of policies working together for wellbeing outcomes. 

A Wellbeing Economy (to which the Welsh Government signed up last year, but little action has been seen so far), is based on refuting the notion that GDP is an adequate measure of ‘living standards’. Our standard of living has to include reasonable hope for the future of our children and young people, and this means radically addressing climate change and nature loss. Our standard of living has to include clean rivers and seas for wellbeing and the regeneration of nature. Our standard of living has to include good public services and adequate benefit systems that support us when necessary, without stigmatising people in need. No economy can work for long without a well-functioning society and repairing and supporting the social fabric is an investment in the future. 

Greens work for a fairer economy and a Just Transition is the process to get there.

Greens support Wales having more control over its own economy and resources, with greater powers for the Welsh Government. As climate and biodiversity crises bite with more flooding, infrastructure damage and increased food prices, we in Wales will need to take local action. For example, there is currently no plan in place to respond to the climate threats identified in the latest climate risk report for Wales, which includes impacts on health. The fully costed manifesto of the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) supports extra money for Wales under the current settlement with parity with Scotland. For example, this would increase funding for Health and Social Care to further extend the advances made in Wales, supporting the standard of living for the majority, as we will all need these services at some point in our lives. 

A green economy is more than ‘just’ energy transition. Greens tell the truth about the realities of Transition to a new economy and the degree of change needed to give our young people a future. Elected Greens at Westminster will hold the next government to account and push for more action. Greens work for a fairer economy and a Just Transition is the process to get there. This means supporting people through difficult change, as all sectors of the economy and our public systems have to transition to work better with climate and nature. In order to have a more stable and productive society we have to address the gross inequalities that blight our societies. Our policies include a Charter of Workers’ Rights, mandatory recognition of Trades Unions and working towards a pay ratio of 10: 1. A Greener economy has to be a Fairer economy. 

This overview of policies working together for wellbeing outcomes is what we mean by a successful, green and fair economy.

Wales’ Net Zero Journey and the Economy

Question: How will your party ensure that the opportunities offered by Wales’ net zero journey are felt in Wales’ economy, in its broadest sense?

Answer: The communities of Wales have often not benefitted from development which has sucked out profits from the communities and left behind industrial pollution and dangerous waste tips. It is well known that money generated by local small and medium size business tends to stay in the community, whereas the pattern with larger companies is to arrive, take subsidies, employ at low rates and money made flows out of the community. 

Elected Greens will campaign for Universal Credit to be increased by £40 a week and to lift the cruel two-child benefit cap lifting many thousands of children out of poverty.

Greens support more involvement of communities in local economic decision-making to ensure benefits from net zero transitions. These include renewable energy, but also major social house-building with high eco-standards. All these initiatives would create jobs locally provided: 

  • Planning regulations demand community engagement for new renewables and related infrastructure
  • A major training programme for the transition to net zero to create the workforce of the future, locally accessible with support for re-training.

Greens will push for finance for net zero initiatives to be raised in Wales to ensure that profits stay in Wales. We will push for more community-owned renewables and other developments, along with easier access for people in Wales to develop new smaller and medium sized social and environmental businesses, serving such larger developments, and contributing to more ambitious circular economy and zero-waste goals. A major source of finance for such developments in Wales should be income from the profits of offshore renewables, currently going to the Crown. Greens support devolution of Crown Estates in Wales to help to fund the energy transition that has to be at the heart of a new economy.

Rebalancing the Economy and Improving Living Standards:

Question: How will you seek to rebalance the Welsh economy to lift people out of poverty and improve living standards for low-and-middle income households?

Answer: This General Election is taking place during a very difficult time for many people in Wales. We have the highest levels of poverty and social exclusion in the UK and the legacy of years of Tory austerity is continuing to make things worse. The fallout from Brexit is also contributing to worsening conditions and rising prices. 

With the right political choices, we can do so much better. Elected Greens will campaign for Universal Credit to be increased by £40 a week and to lift the cruel two-child benefit cap lifting many thousands of children out of poverty. Greens would seek to introduce a minimum wage of £15 an hour for all over the age of 16 with the costs to small businesses offset by reducing their National Insurance payments. Greens would also campaign to introduce rent controls and end zero-fault evictions.

Greater transparency of funding is needed for parties and ‘think-tanks’ that can be conduits for powerful interest groups.

Our plans for a mass retrofit of the housing stock would reduce people’s energy bills and create thousands of new green jobs.

Reinvigorating Wales’ Democracy:

Question: How will your party look to reinvigorate Wales’ democracy, overcoming its current democratic malaise?

Answer: Proposals discussed above give everyone more of a stake in our economy and this also means more of a stake in our democracy. 

There are many reasons for loss of public trust in democracy. It is all too easy to blame apathy. On the doorstep, we find that people are still very concerned about a wide range of issues. In our view it is the decrease in wellbeing and the failure of our politics to find new ways to deliver improved wellbeing that is a key factor. Together with the failure to solve climate change and nature destruction, this has brought a loss of hope in democratic governance. This is dangerous and allows in the extreme right with divisive policies. Real change and real hope are needed to counteract this. Many people also feel disenfranchised by our political system and voter suppression tactics. Greens support extensions of democracy through a reformed voting system where every vote counts. We support votes for 16-year-olds in all elections and residence-based voting rights. 

The legacy of years of Tory sleaze have also left people very angry with the lack of accountability in the system. The PPE scandal should not be possible in a democratic system. We believe in directly confronting the issues of political corruption in the governance system that led to so much public distrust. Greater transparency of funding is needed for parties and ‘think-tanks’ that can be conduits for powerful interest groups. We have also found that people want parties to work together for the common good and not do ‘politics as usual’, using important topics as political scoring games. Greens believe in working with good people in other parties, our problems are far too serious to play around with voters’ lives. 

Greens are internationalists who believe in localism. To really reinvigorate democracy, we need more power devolved to the local level. Democracy needs participation but also good information and more citizens’ assemblies, citizens’ juries and other forms of active engagement are needed, in addition to revived forms of local media. We support universities to up their game contributing to social value, with more outreach and co-creation on research that matters, contributing more directly to an informed democracy. Recent issues with support for farmers’ have highlighted the need for new forms of ‘policy co-creation’ with stakeholders that really can take account of local conditions and avoid a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that works for no-one except bureaucracies. This is a recipe for disengagement from democracy. ‘Green’ measures without more democracy will not work. 

On an international level, Greens know that to solve our common global problems of climate change, nature destruction and inequality within and between countries, we require a level of cooperation that is unprecedented in human history. This is why we propose supporting the Global South, together with others, to adapt to climate change and transition to green energy. We would like to see Wales having more power to draw on its tradition of peace-making and sanctuary to contribute to these wider goals. For all these reasons elected Greens at Westminster support re-joining the EU when the time is right. After years of centralised government, many people in Wales now do not believe that Westminster can deliver the changes Wales needs. Wales Green Party believes that independence is the solution to this democratic deficit.

Strengthening Wales’ Media Ecosystem:

Question: If in power, what actions will you take to strengthen our media ecosystem – ensuring that it is fit for purpose in supporting democratic engagement across the nation?

Answer: Elected Greens at Westminster support scrutiny of internet and social media organisations and changes to regulations to support alternative and public interest platforms, like those initially suggested by the BBC. We support the proposals of the 2012 Leveson report, so that no single company or individual can own more than 20%.  

Media questions link to a missing debate in this election about cultural issues in Wales. The arts and culture have been downgraded by years of Tory emphasis on crude wealth creation for the richest. Support for the arts and opportunities for all to engage with arts, music and drama is a really essential part of ‘standard of living’. The cultural industries in Wales, including bilingual, in English, and in Welsh, need to be supported, with an end to VAT for cultural activities. Sports provision for all is also a key part of standard of living. The GPEW costed manifesto includes money for arts, sports and culture support.

Elected Greens in Westminster will fight for these policies and work with other parties, but also hold them to account, stressing the need for real hope and real change. 

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