Green Party leaflet, Rochford and Southend East

GreenleafletThere are elements of Green Party policy that I can happily subscribe to. I consider myself a friend to the environment, and on many animal welfare issues the Greens are very close to Labour. Of course, many Greens also describe themselves as socialists. Where Labour and the Greens usually depart is on economics.

The reverse of this leaflet includes this: “… as we seek to replace the unsustainable economics of free trade and unrestricted growth with the ecological alternative of local self-reliance and resource conservation …

I struggle to buy into this. Whilst sustainability is important, this does not preclude economic growth. I cannot imagine campaigning for a halt in improving living standards that this implies, and as an internationalist I wonder how local self-reliance fits into this. The implication is for a reduction in international trade – which suggests reduced choice if nothing else.

Simon Cross is not a fan of a fourteen-storey tower block being built on the seafront in Kursaal ward, and neither am I. He wants this site to become home to a small park, says that there are few attractive green spaces in Southend – which is not true. It is true that the town centre is less green than the outer wards, but Southend does have a number of nice parks and woods. Areas of greenery are slowly being eaten into and we should resist this where practical. I am on record as also wanting an urban wood established in the borough. However, whilst fourteen storeys is too high, it is a brownfield site and therefore should have some housing built on it.

Unfortunately Green politics is often NIMBY politics – which does nothing to address the chronic housing shortage. By all means seek green solutions wherever possible, but do not stop homes being built.

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2 Responses to Green Party leaflet, Rochford and Southend East

  1. Whilst sustainability is important, this does not preclude economic growth.

    But often growth is destructive or illusionary.

    This year our GDP has grown because we have included receipts from prostitution and drug-dealing. So if we all increase our use of prostitutes and drugs – the economy improves!

    When the Tories visited Gateshead for a week-end conference, they apparently boosted the local economy by £2M! (Say 2000 people – conference attendees, journalists etc. – visiting for 2 days – each must spend £1000 – all of which must then stay in the region! Unlikely.)

    Apparently late night shopping “boosts” the economy. How does spending money on Thursday evening rather than at the week-end boost the economy? The availability of late night shopping does not put more money in my pocket to spend. The increase in Tourism due to “late night” shopping has to be marginal at least – tourists can shop during the day. There will be a small improvement in employment (either evening staff or longer hours), but without an increase in profits, that improvement will be reflected in a cost elsewhere.

    I no longer “believe” that “growth” is our salvation. There has to be scope for making more efficient use of what we consume.

    George Monbiot yesterday is interesting on the “The Insatiable God“:
    Why are we wrecking the natural world and public services to generate growth when that growth is not delivering contentment, security or even, for most of us, greater prosperity? Why have we enthroned growth, regardless of its utility, above all over outcomes? Why, despite failures so great and so frequent, have we not changed the model? When the next crash comes, these questions will be inescapable.

  2. 0olong says:

    I’d strongly question the idea that stopping growth (defined as increasing GDP) necessarily implies a halt in improving living standards. GDP is a very poor measure of living standards, and tends to grow when wealth is transferred to the already-wealthy in sufficient quantities. GDP tracks consumption levels much more closely than it does living standards, and on a finite planet like this, ever-increasing consumption is a physical impossibility, and the assumption that it must continue can only be counter-productive in the long term. See http://impossiblehamster.org/ for a helpful analogy.

    You might like to look into Tim Jackson’s book ‘Prosperity Without Growth’, or the work of the New Economics Foundation in this area, or other measures of wealth besides GDP (I’m quite partial to Average Log Income, but it’s one of many alternative approaches).

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