Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley says political system is 'on its knees' in visit to St Albans

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 May 2019

St Albans Green committee member Ruth Farenga, Cllr Simon Grover, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and trustee of Sustainable St Albans Jack Easton. Picture: Archant

St Albans Green committee member Ruth Farenga, Cllr Simon Grover, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and trustee of Sustainable St Albans Jack Easton. Picture: Archant

Archant

The co-leader of the Green Party said Britain's political system is on 'its knees' and 'dying', during a visit to St Albans.

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley at the St Albans Sustainability Festival talk. Picture: Green PartyGreen Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley at the St Albans Sustainability Festival talk. Picture: Green Party

Jonathan Bartley, who shares the leadership with Sián Berry, said the comments before gave a talk to about 120 people at the Trinity United Reformed Church hall on Beaconsfield Road as part of the St Albasn Sustainability Festival.

Before the event, Mr Bartley spoke to the Herts Advertiser about climate change, the EU elections, and the political establishment.

He said: "I am going to say something quite controversial here - I will stick my neck out.

"The terms left and right, and even centre, mean less and less when you have got a system on its knees and a system that is dying.

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley at the St Albans Sustainability Festival talk. Picture: Green PartyGreen Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley at the St Albans Sustainability Festival talk. Picture: Green Party

"These terms, left and right, are very much in relation to a particular economic and social ideology which is just not delivering."

Mr Bartley recalled the dream growing up in an ever-prosperous country with an endless source of energy.

He said: "You know what, the economy is now three times as big, the population hasn't increased nearly as much, but we have three times as much wealth, we have had a phenomenal technology revolution, the world has been transformed, and we have discovered that endless source of renewable energy.

"But are we living the dream we were promised? Are we working shorter weeks? No. We are working longer than we ever have before."

He cited the refugee crisis, "rampant inequality", a "ravaged planet" and a hike in the use of food banks.

Adding: "Something has gone very wrong. The old left and right paradigm is built around that system, and neither have delivered.

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"The Greens are offering something beyond left and right and centre, it is something quite fresh, quite new, saying everything needs to change. We need a complete rethink."

Mr Bartley said the Greens would reinvest into public transport systems, cut spending on the Trident nuclear programme, change the welfare system, introduce universal income, and revolutionise schooling so children "flourish" rather than become "economic units".

He said: "It is about a vision for the country, and why we are passionate about being in the EU is many of the big crises that we face can only be tackled by working with other countries.

"We are at a cross roads as a country, we can either turn in on ourselves, say goodbye to the rest of the world, maybe become a tax haven floating off the continent where we are dependant on financial services and big money, or we can say it is time to push back and be an outward facing country that embraces the world, that builds bridges not walls, that works with other countries."

He is hopeful for the Greens' chances in the MEP elections, which are happening today across the country.

Adversarial politics has failed, he said: "That was the mistake of the referendum - that 52 per cent voted one way and 48 voted another.

"Forty eight per cent were therefore disregarded and the Government said 'We'll take it from here, you don't need to be involved anymore', and messed the whole thing up.

"Democracy is what happens between elections. It is what happens between referendums, it is about real meaningful participation."

However, he did say controversial US president Donald Trump, as an open sceptic of climate change, has a silver lining.

"In many respects some climate change activists say he is one of the best things that can happen for climate change because what we are seeing is many American cities responding to Trump by sticking two fingers up.

"They are saying 'We know renewable energy works.

"It provides cheaper, cleaner, electricity with more good jobs and we are going to invest in it'.

"They have been emboldened to come together and unite against him."

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