Snap 2017 election notes

Another solid performance by Jonathan Bartley on ‘Any questions’ last Thursday, but again, that little extra was missing. He got applause, but opportunities to insert climate as what the election should be about were not used. I am reminded that our 1979 election manifesto had a positive vision of a future without risking the planet’s life support systems.

Winter fuel payments are to be means tested. Neither Theresa May nor Jeremy Corbyn seem to realize that any form of means testing creates a disguised form of taxation on a low income.  A Basic income for all, paid for out of taxation, so that those who don’t need it pay more than it is worth solves this problem. (This was another point JB could have made.)

I wonder how many of those former Labour voters who are expected to give May a majority have noticed that Labour will scrap the benefits sanctions regime. That should be more important to many of them than the supposed benefits of Brexit.

But although the Labour manifesto states that the Tories have failed to ‘make work pay’, it does not explicitly point out that the Universal Credit has still reached only a small fraction of its intended recipients. Yet no one, not even Caroline Lucas to my knowledge, has called for sanctions to be ended at least until the UC is comprehensive.  Yet another unused opportunity to point out the relevance of a Basic Income.

I suppose the Conservatives are brave in trying to tackle the issue of end of life care. [though since this was written, this has turned out to be one of many U-turns.] This is yet another issue, and quite a large one, where a reduction in inequality will have to be a part of the answer – higher taxes in some shape or form on the better off. One point Jonathan Bartley did make was to remind people  that when the NHS was set up, it aimed to give everybody care whenever they needed it.  With an ageing population the sums involved now are much more formidable, but the principle remains the same.

But it should not be presented in ‘class war’ terms. We make no bones that an ecologically sustainable society must be much less unequal. Therefore a Green Party must look ‘Communist’ to the better off. But we do this more in sorrow that in anger. All we ask is that everyone, everywhere has enough not to need to damage the ecosphere.

But this is a snap election. Jonathan Bartley made a rousing speech in defence of foreign aid. He could have mentioned the World Basic Income Movement, but there is no time to explain that it is in our interests to pay whatever it takes to give women in poor countries the same confidence that their better off sisters have, that their first two children will grow up.

I am thinking of offering to spend the last few days before the election in the Isle of Wight. I keep saying that if we want to defeat the Tories, we have to take votes from them. It looks like a long shot, but the IoW is one place where we should be able to draw attention to the government’s environmental record.

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