Sunday, 25 April 2010

Vote Green for Global Justice

Thursday’s second election debate was a real damp squib. So much for a big debate on international issues. A handful of international questions were asked, before Murdoch’s Sky decided that what was really needed was a return to the same old domestic questions as were asked in the first debate: are there too many immigrants and the like.

And this was a big shame. International affairs have played a big role in political debate in this country during the whole of New Labour’s term in office. From a positive start in May 1997 with the creation of the Department for International Development and the promise of an ‘ethical foreign policy’, goodwill towards Labour has been squandered on illegal or ill-advised wars, over-spun commitments to tackle poverty, and an approach to trade and economics (thanks to Mandelson and Brown) that would please Thatcher and Reagan.

That’s why it was heartening to read the World Development Movement’s new report Vote for Justice which rates the political parties’ manifestoes on global justice issues: trade justice; more and better aid; making the economy work for poor people; and repaying the global north's climate debt. Overall, the Green Party’s manifesto was ranked as best for global justice, with the Lib Dems, Labour, and especially the Tories, falling some way behind.

WDM marks us top on our commitment to fairer trade with poorer countries (an issue that Green Party leader Caroline Lucas and prospective MP for Brighton Pavilion has prioritised during her time in Brussels as an MEP), top on challenging institutions like the World Bank for the destruction wrought on developing country economies, and top for international financial reform (Gordon Brown has had ample chance to push this issue in the past 13 years and has failed to do so). The Green Party commitment to stop new dirty, coal-fired power stations wins us top marks, as does our policy to cancel immediately the debts of the poorest countries.

WDM marks the Lib Dems poorly on international financial reform, and also questions their commitment to improve the quality of aid too. And as for the Tories, they scramble home with a miserable 3 out of 10 score overall.

We are not perfect and WDM sets out where the Greens could do with tightening up one or two of our policies (especially on what we would do about ‘ecological debt’), but the report is proof that the Green Party is about progressive policies overseas - and that has to be a vote-winner.

Vicky Cann
Green Party Candidate
West Green ward

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