Natalie Bennett: Why you should vote for my party

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In the run-up to the 2010 general election, Conservative Party Leader David Cameron was focussing on Portsmouth North, where his party was vying for election against Labour.

He told The News that he was committed to the Building Schools for the Future programme.

Eight weeks after his party took the seat, the then Education Secretary Michael Gove stood up in Parliament to announce the end of the programme – and the proposed rebuilding of King Richard School, Paulsgrove, with it.

Five years later, proposals to rebuild and redevelop the school are still on the table, rather than in operation, as debates over cash still take place.

It’s just one example of how the coalition has failed the people of Portsmouth.

You might recall that before and after the election that this government was talking about rebalancing our economy away from its over-reliance on the fraud-ridden, risk-taking financial sector, and bringing manufacturing back to Britain.

One area in which we could have done that was renewable energy and energy conservation.

Yet instead we have seen Britain being left behind, chasing the fracking fantasy that only the Green Party has opposed.

That’s while austerity has failed not only those directly affected – those hit by Iain Duncan Smith’s vicious benefit sanctions and cuts to the real level of benefits, and the savage cuts to the real value of public sector pay – but also squeezed the local economy, with less money to spend in shops and businesses.

And the privatisation of the NHS has been tearing ahead. We want to reverse this, see zero percent private profit in the NHS, and the abolition of the market mechanism that’s inflicted massive administrative costs.

This is a vital election, and one conducted in the new era of multiparty politics. (The Green Party now has more than 61,000 members, larger than the Lib Dems and Ukip). By voting for us you can have a real say in how the country is run – where your vote can make a real difference in delivering a new kind of politics.

In the Green Party, we know that austerity is hitting society’s least wealthy – those who deserve support – hardest of all.

That people with the least money are bearing the load for those with far more (the least wealthy 20 per cent were forced to bear 40 per cent of coalition cuts).

We are dedicated to making sure that every worker is paid a decent wage – the living wage – of £10 per hour by 2020. We’d introduce a Citizen’s Pension, £180 for singles and £310 for couples – that would ensure no pensioner lives in poverty.

And to decent benefits being available to everyone who needs them, not grudgingly but gracefully: as a decent, humane society, and the world’s sixth-richest economy, we can ensure that no one is fearing not being able to put food on the table or keep a roof over their head.

And how will these people get to and from work? Anyone who has spent any time in Portsmouth –including those from Gosport, Fareham and Havant – knows how congested the city can be. Yet the national discussion centres on road-building.

What we want to do is invest in cutting public transport fares (10 per cent across the board), and investing in walking and cycling – £30 per person per year, to create safe pleasant, convenient routes.

Portsmouth’s tight, compact road system, combined with the island’s flat geography, make it a perfect city for this. Combined with re-regulation of the buses and renationalisation of the railways, we could end up with an affordable, integrated public transport system would make Portsmouth a far easier and more pleasant place to travel, and live.

It would also be impossible to talk about Portsmouth without mentioning Pompey. The Green Party has a policy that would grant the right to supporters to turn sports clubs into community co-operatives – returning to the original spirit of the beautiful game.

This can be the change election, if voters chose to make it so: we can’t continue allowing the rich to get richer (as the Sunday Times reported yesterday) while the rest of us get poorer, and we continue to trash our one, fragile, planet.