British politics needs to be about hope – not just fear

GP2014_Peter-Cranie-002By Peter Cranie North West Green Party MEP Candidate

With the local and European elections just days away, the campaign is in full swing.

Out on the doorsteps of Manchester people are telling us that they’re fed up with politics. Politicians don’t understand their lives and their concerns.

They see them on the telly bickering with each other, trying to score points and bring each other down. They hear a lot about what each party is against. But not much about what they’re for.

Over in America, Barack Obama won his election with a buzz of political activism and an upbeat message of ‘HOPE’.

So where is the hope in our elections? This campaign has been dominated by UKIP and their negative politics. We all know that UKIP is against the EU and against immigration.

They’ve invested huge amounts of money in billboards to tell us that. But what exactly are they for?

They tore up their old manifesto and don’t seem to have any policies. Yet they are gathering support by exploiting people’s fears.

You can understand it. We’ve been pushed through a punishing six years of spending freezes, then spending cuts.

In times of uncertainty people look for simple answers to their worries. Will I keep my job? Will I keep my home? Will I be able to feed my family? People need to know that they can hope for a certain future.

They need a confident, bold and positive vision that they can believe in.

Earlier this week we launched the North West Green Party’s campaign for the local and European elections.

Like you, we want a better world for ourselves and for our children. It’s outrageous that the 5 richest households in the UK have the same total wealth as the poorest 12 million people in our country.

Inequality is not inevitable, but it takes a bold political party to make the case for redistributing wealth.

The Greens have been brave enough to take on the political establishment on this. We have backed the Robin Hood Tax that will take a small percentage from the banking industry across Europe, and enable us to redistribute that money back to the people.

£3.5 billion in profits for the big 5 energy companies while thousands are faced with a choice of “heat or eat” every winter is not inevitable.

A scheme implemented by Greens on just one council in Yorkshire now saves households nearly £4 million a year off their bills. Our energy priority is to lower our energy consumption to save householders money and to reduce total carbon dioxide emissions.

But we are also the party who stands up to the powerful fossil fuel industry and says “we will oppose fracking”. Unfortunately the parties with red, yellow, blue and purple rosettes all back the frackers.

Politics is a serious business. You elect someone and trust them to spend your money and make the best decisions.

When the government launched the High Speed 2 rail project the Greens looked carefully at the proposal, the business case and the environmental claims.

They just didn’t stack up. We were told that we were wrong. UKIP even went so far as to include three High Speed Rail lines in its 2010 manifesto.

Now, as more people are coming out against HS2 and voters realise that it’s going to cost every British household £1,500, there is a growing realisation that it may do very little to improve travel for the many.

The benefits will be limited to business people when what we desperately need is more affordable local transport.

What happens at the ballot box later this month is not just about electing councillors and MEPs.

It’s about sending a strong message to our current government ahead of next summer’s general election. If the only story is about UKIP and fear, then that sets the debate and the agenda for the country.

The Greens want to change the story. In the last European elections in the North West we were just 0.3% short of gaining an MEP.

We think May 22nd really can offer Britain some hope, not just fear.

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