Bennett: 'It is our human right to have a fair democracy that reflects our political will.'
Natalie Bennett's New Year’s message focuses on the urgent need for real action on climate change, and spells out how electoral reform can transform our democracy .
Speaking in response to the winter floods, the Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales said:
“I offer my sympathy and best wishes to everyone affected by the extreme flooding in northern England and also by flooding in Wales and Scotland. Huge thanks must go to all of the emergency services and military personnel who continue to help those affected over the New Year's period.
“This government’s environmental policies patently demonstrate that they have not grasped the reality of the climate change we’re already experiencing – which the experts tell us will result in more extreme weather, and extremes happening more often.
“We urgently need to not just consider flood defences, but land use across catchments, plus the protection of urban areas through sustainable drainage and similar management schemes, while restricting the development of new housing estates in vulnerable areas.
"And we urgently need the government to adopt the policies that will ensure we play our part in restricting climate change to a total of 1.5 degrees warming. Cameron’s warm words on climate change at the Paris talks must be backed up by real action at home if we are to reduce the risk of extreme flood peaks.”
In her New Year’s message, Bennett looks back over 2015, which saw the Green Party win 1.1 million votes in May’s General Election, more votes than in every election cumulatively since the Party’s first in 1974 (1,157,613 to 1,111,732).
Bennett says that, in 2016, the aim is to turn this Green surge, which also saw membership of the party more than treble, into more Green seats in the London and Welsh Assemblies and on local councils.
With only two years to go until the anniversary of the last significant change in the Westminster parliament – women getting the vote – Bennett says it’s time for not just electoral reform but transformation to a proportionally elected House of Commons and an elected House of Lords:
“It is our human right to have a fair democracy that reflects our political will.
“We've got a government that doesn't have a mandate for the hideous austerity it's imposing, for the disastrous environmental policies, for its threats to our human rights. This government only won the support of 24% of eligible voters. That's no kind of mandate.”
Text of New Year’s message:
It's almost 2016 and I want to begin by wishing everybody in Britain a very happy New Year.
For the Green Party, we're looking forward with optimism, confidence and determination. 2015 was a huge year for us. We saw our membership more than triple. We saw 1.1 million votes in the General Election, more than four times more votes than we've ever won before. We saw the return of Caroline Lucas as our brilliant Green MP.
2016 is the year in which we need to turn the Green surge into Green votes and that's what we're determined to do. What we need to do and will do up and down the country is provide voters with the real alternative.
So many voters, when we look at the local council elections that are coming up, are facing local government that's totally, or almost, an one-party state. They are finding that they're not having the tough questions asked. The local council isn't getting the scrutiny it needs.
Local councils are suffering enormously under the governments hideous program of austerity but be should always be asking can they do better? Can they look after particularly the more vulnerable in their community better? Can they do a better job with their local environment?
In the Council elections, we're looking to really grow our number of Green councillors across England and Wales.
Then we've got the assembly elections in Wales and in London. These are the chance where we can significantly grow our representation, win our first assembly members in Wales in what are fair proportional elections, in which people can be sure that their vote counts. If you vote for what you believe in, you can get it.
Our sister party up in Scotland is also looking forward with real confidence and enthusiasm to the Scottish Parliament elections.
One of the things we need to be getting out of 2016 is the same kind of elections, fair proportional elections all around the county, particularly to Westminster and of course getting rid of our un-elected House of Lords.
It was in 1918 when women got the vote. That was the last time we saw significant reform in the Westminster Parliament.
Now it really is time for us to think again, look again, plan again, and get real change in our democracy. To get to a situation where people know their vote counts, they don't have to make complicated calculations about what other people are going to vote, they can simply vote for what they want, and get it.
That's what I would urge everyone to make a resolution in 2016. To do your bit towards electoral reform. It is our human right to have a fair democracy that reflects our political will. Of course, in 2016, we're also going to have to be defending our human rights. Human Rights act is under attack from our government and we need to stand up and defend it.
A new year, new possibilities. We've got a government that doesn't have a mandate for the hideous austerity it's imposing, for the disastrous environmental policies, for its threats to our human rights.
This government only won the support of 24% of eligible voters. That's no kind of mandate.
Let's pledge in 2016 to ensure that we make real progress toward the real change we need, a political system that works for the common good, not just for the few of the richest and a political system that delivers a society where we're living within our environmental limits.
After all, at the end of the day, that's not politics, that's physics. We have to do it.
We have to have real change in Britain.