10 Feb 2011

Caroline Lucas on the Green approach to deficit reduction

From Caroline Lucas MP, Leader of the Green Party


Re “Lib Dem council chiefs condemn cuts, Independent 10.2.11

“Deficit denier” is a very ugly term for those of us who have a positive and constructive viewpoint on managing the country’s financial and other problems.

We can make full acknowledgement of the deficit, and still identify different options for dealing with it. The response of ruthless cuts and austerity measures is an ideological choice made by the big three parties. For Labour and some Lib Dems to criticise the “pace and scale” of the cuts is still a pro-cuts, pro-austerity choice.

The Green Party, many unions and some economists have proposed an alternative choice. This would involve cracking down on tax avoidance and tax evasion, saving billions every year. It would involve the wealthiest people in society pay a fairer share. It would mean saving £100bn over thirty years by scrapping Trident and its proposed replacement. It would involve a windfall tax on bank profits as well as a heavy tax on bankers’ bonuses. It would mean reducing the deficit more slowly, and thus avoiding these savage cuts. It would mean smart switching of funds from high-carbon to carbon-reduction spending (for example away from motorway-building and into public transport), and other ways of generating funds such as a green investment bank. It would mean having enough cash to invest heavily in a Green New Deal – a major plan to kickstart the transformation to a post-carbon economy while creating a million new jobs and training places. And the new jobs would in turn bring in extra revenue to support public spending (whereas cuts will cost the country a million jobs).

Greens and many others who do not “deny the deficit” would prefer the government to make this ideological choice – based on fairness and sustainability – not the one based on destroying public services and punishing the poorest people in society.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Lucas MP

Green Party Leader


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