In the interest of full disclosure I should admit that I’m a member of the Green Party (albeit a very inactive one). I joined a few years ago because of the parties commitment to social justice. I have concerns about the environment and a particular interest in transport policy, but this isn’t my main thing. However, until writing this blog post I admit that I’ve never really reviewed Green Party policy with my work hat on. So I’ll do my best to be objective.
For the Common Good, the Green Party manifesto opens with a Foreword which positions the party firmly within a redistributive leftist tradition. There was a time when Greens used to claim that they were neither left nor right, but this no longer washes. The Green Party is clearly pitching itself to the left of Labour.
We believe that we can build a society that works for the common good – and that those with the broadest shoulders really should pay their fair share towards it.
The rhetoric in the manifesto is about equality, democracy and social justice.
The first section of the manifesto is about the economy, but the link with jobs and livelihood is made very explicit. The argument is made that looking at wellbeing and equality is more important than looking at the overall growth of GDP. This is then translated into a plan to end austerity, to tax more and to invest more in public services. Following this section there are unsurprisingly a couple of sections on environmental issues where the Greens play into their heartland of environmentalists.
One of the challenging things in analysing the Green’s manifesto for someone like me with wonkish tendancies is that they have not organised it under the main government departments. Rather the world is reorganised through a Green lens in which the environment, equality and so on become the main themes of the manifesto. This is undoubtedly good, but it does make it more difficult to draw direct comparisons.
The party will invest in youth. In particularly in the youth service and the delivery of extra-curricula learning opportunities. They will also improve funding to further education, remove higher education fees, abolish unpaid internships (I suspect that this might prove easier said than done) and expand apprenticeships. In schools they will support the idea of comprehensive schooling and bring schools back into local authorities (including private schools), increase funding and value teachers more highly and end SATs.
On the curriculum they will strengthen PSHE and vocational education (although no explicit mention of career education). They will also end single faith schools in favour of the pluralist teaching of religion.
On employment the Green Party are strongly focused on job quality. They will increase the minimum wage, support trade unions and other forms of workplace democracy, reduce the length of the working week and reform the tax and benefit system. In the welfare to work space they would end benefit conditionality.
This is radical stuff. There are lots of big changes proposed here. Many of them would have a big impact on individual’s lives and careers. However in terms of specific careers policies the Green Party manifesto is underdeveloped. There is nothing on career education and guidance in schools, very limited attention to adult career development, no mention of the National Careers Service and no ideas for the reform of the Jobcentre and Work Programme other than a welcome move away from benefit conditionality. There is clearly a need for the party to engage more seriously with these issues in the future.