Chris Jockel with Natalie Bennett
On October 17th 2014 Chris Jockel launched his campaign to become Stroud’s first Green MP, holding a joint press conference with Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.
Chris professed his love for Stroud, where he has lived for 25 years, and said he wanted to step up to present Stroud voters with a real choice at the next election. On his reasons for standing, he said:
“I can’t stand by and watch our country being hijacked by fundamentalists: market fundamentalists”.
He talked about how the current government was transferring power from those who have a little to those who already have a lot. Inequality is growing, with increasing numbers of people reliant on food banks while the excesses of our over-blown banking sector have not been reigned in. Chris will campaign for the minimum wage to become a living wage: people who work full time should earn enough to live on.
Chris spoke with great passion on the housing crisis: an issue with particular relevance here in Stroud. House prices have soared out of reach, and for the many people for whom owning a house is unaffordable, rental agreements are insecure and unequal. Rents and energy costs are high. Across the country, 60,000 housholds are in temporary accomodation while of the order of 1 million houses lie empty. The present governments “Help to Buy” scheme is only making things worse by fuelling house price inflation.
Natalie talked of growing disatisfaction, among the general public, with the “Neo-liberal” policies pursued by the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems. This shift has accompanied a surge in Green Party membership, with 1000 new members joing in the previous 5 days. She predicted that the current fascination with UKIP would actually turn out to be the “last gasp” for Neo-liberal ideology: an attempt to popularise it by “putting a pint of beer in front of it”. She said that people are starting to understand that privatisation tends to mean 3 things: transfers of money and power from the state into private hands; cutting pay and conditions for workers, and slashing the quality of services. Privatisation of the railways has been particularly disastrous, and the Green Party are campaigning to bring the railways back into public ownership; something that she explained was actually quite easy to do.
The Green Party are also committed to fighting the ongoing back-door privatisation of the NHS, which was started by the last Labour government and which is accelerating under the Con-Dem coalition. Our policy on this is simple: the profit motive has no place in health care.
Both speakers then fielded a range of questions. One questioner brought up their concern that a vote for the Green Party might be a wasted vote: they felt they should tactically against the Tories. To which the response was “a vote for anyone other than the Green Party is a wasted vote”! Labour and the Lib Dems represent similar versions of “business as usual”. UKIP represents an attempt to put a populist gloss on right-wing policies, climate change denial and a mind-set that incorrectly blames immigrants for our country’s problems. Voting for those parties will never result in the changes that are needed. The vote for policies web site shows that Green Party policies are the most popular among all the parties. If people stop voting tactically and start voting according to their true beliefs, then things can change. Natalie declared: “The Green Party is not a protest vote: we want to change things; we want to run things”.