Yesterday’s Yorkshire & the Humber hustings in York were filmed, and so will be available on the members’ website, but I hope it is more decipherable than Birmingham was. For me there were no real surprises. Sian Berry was the only leader candidate not attending.
Although not as well attended as the corresponding occasion in Leeds 2 years ago, there were too many questions for the Chair to choose mine – the need to Get Vix Lowthion elected in the Conservative held Isle of Wight with a national effort, just as we did for Caroline Lucas in Brighton.
Shahrar Ali and Jonathan Bartley both specifically referred to the Basic (Citizens’) Income (UBI) in their opening presentations. But Jonathan then spoilt it by doubting its affordability, which Leslie Rowe challenged. I have said this all before, but I obviously need to repeat it:
The UBI gives everybody just enough to cover basic needs, unconditionally. If this is ‘unaffordable’, then the nation (or whatever unit) is already bankrupt, and is trying to hide that fact. Provided that is not yet the case, there are various ways of financing the UBI. Taking all from personal taxation may not necessarily be the best, but that is the most vivid way of demonstrating that, as shown by the graph at the top of this page
Any other system takes more in tax equivalent from those losing means tested benefits than from those paying real tax
Once this is understood, anything other than a UBI at that level becomes indefensible. The UBI can be presented as entrepreneur start-up friendly. This links up with my unanswered question: we can, we must attract votes in leafy shires without sacrificing social justice.
Why am I saying all this now? The straw I am clutching at is that Sian Berry might grasp this point better than Caroline Lucas or Jonathan. For too long they have failed to use the topical connection with the Universal Credit mess.
The candidates on whom I have expressed doubts seem to have a better grasp of the Basic (citizens’) income, so I am in more of a quandary than ever as to who to vote for as leader(s).
Most of the questions produced replies which did not help me to differentiate between the candidates, although there was one exchange between Jonathan and Shahrar on how much latitude a spokesperson should have where their personal opinion differed from party policy. I guess this will matter most where a novel problem calls for an immediate response.
On the Deputy candidates, I owe Rashid Nix an apology. Just why I did not have him on my original list of candidates I cannot now fathom. Unfortunately he was the only deputy candidate not present, due to this event clashing with another he had previously booked. I am aware that Rashid has charisma, and gained one of the more outstanding results in the 2015 general election. But his statement did not shake my overall feeling that Andrew Cooper is more likely to reach out beyond the Green Party’s current sympathisers.
Having heard Jonathan Chilvers in person, as opposed to just seeing him in the Birmingham video, I found him potentially quite impressive. Like Amelia and Andrew Cooper, Jonathan quite shamelessly (but reasonably) emphasises the advantages which come from his achievements and experience already. But again, it is Andrew who still has the edge in this respect.
The day ended with a spell of doorknocking in the ward surrounding the venue, where Greens already have one councillor (of 3). Quite like old times for me. I called on one old lady who has always voted Conservative. She may not do so in future. I pointed out how poor the Conservatives were on protecting the environment.