My application for a fringe on the Citizens’ Basic Income at the Green Party conference has been turned down. I think interest has been seriously underestimated, but has it?
My reaction is distress and anger, but I need guidance. As my blog explains, I think the Basic. Income is vital both to facilitate a sustainable economy, and to underpin a viable anti-austerity strategy. But that does not mean that Conference attenders would choose to attend such a fringe.
For me, there are two reasons why the Citizens’ Income needs a hearing. A Conference motion was passed requiring the Basic Income to feature in the election manifesto. It did, but the launch was badly handled. It is easy for me to wish that Natalie Benentt had chosen the briefing I gave her, but in the event she had chosen to be ready for the formidable Andrew Neil on other topics, so what should have been the springboard for a new idea instead became a liability to the Party.
But the failure was much wider than Natalie’s tactical choice of what to be ready for. The Guardian carried an article by Patrick Wintour which sad that Euromod, a computer with vast demographic information, had found that the Green Party’s Basic Income scheme would make some low income families worse off. That was untrue. The Green Party’s scheme for the election had not yet been published. It was true, but maliciously misleading, for the Citizens’ Income Trust scheme, on which the Green Party’s scheme was being modelled. Malcolm Torry swiftly published a rebuttal on behalf of the CIT.
But did the Green Party stand their ground, and use this attack as another opportunity to repair the image of what should have been the Party’s flagship policy? Did they respond, drawing attention to the CIT rebuttal? No, from then on the Conference instruction to feature it was ignored So it is clear that a thorough grounding in the policy is needed at the highest level. There is a long list of topics to which the Basic Income is relevant – and important., for example Tax Credits, the subject of the Euromod article, and to be targeted by Osborne, and the Failure of the Universal Credit. The Green Party should by now have made at least mention of the Basic Income mainstream.
But this really needs a different audience. If I can. I shall offer a seminar or whatever to anyone receiving media attention. This is separate from, but related to the need for the party as a whole to have a better grasp of the policy.
The main reason for the Green Party’s hesitation on the Basic Income is the belief that it cannot be put forward until detailed costings are available. Wrong. Dynamic Benefits: towards Welfare the works (scroll down to September 2009) includes an excellent account of the justification for it on social welfare grounds – the report which introduced the still almost non-existent Universal Credit.
So please give me guidance. If you agree with me, and especially if you are going to the Green Party Conference, then please tell Louisa Greenbaum, conference organizer so. But I shall only hold a fringe, which will presumably have to be off the conference venue, if I am correct in my belief that it will be popular.
A thorough understanding of the Basic Income is necessary for the uncertain future which may unfold from the Labour leadership election. As I have said in previous posts, no anti-austerity campaign, and that includes Corbyn’s, can succeed without an answer to means testing, but Jeremy Corbyn’s economic guru, Richard Murphy is in favour of a Basic Income scheme. I would far rather it was adopted, properly, by the Green Party, rather than being just another side issue in the chaos that looks like ensuing in the Labour Party, whatever the result.