Natalie Louise Bennett is an Australian-born British politician and the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales. She was elected to her position on 3 September 2012.
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Hello Reddit! I’m Natalie Bennett.
As our membership has increased by 62% in the ‘Green Surge’ of the last month, and our party’s policies are democratically developed by its membership, we’re becoming a strong vehicle for change in the United Kingdom! It’s an exciting time to be Green.
Policies: Our full list of policies can be found here— https://policy.greenparty.org.uk. (Short version here: http://greenparty.org.uk/values/.) For the coming election, we’ll release a manifesto in March that sets out how we can address our current economic, social, political and economic crises.
If you’d to get involved in policy development, join the party!— https://my.greenparty.org.uk/civicrm/membership/joining
And whether you agree with our policies or not - please make sure that you vote: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
About me: After growing up in Australia, I lived in Bangkok for five years until 1999. The information drought there ended when newspapers started going online. As a journalist that was transformatory, and ever since I’ve been a moderately early adopter of technology: I hand coded my first website in about 1997 (before I knew about CSS!)
Ask me anything!
Edit: Thanks everyone for getting involved! I’m doing this: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-01/28/sky-facebook-leaders-debate, “Face the Leaders”, tomorrow morning so I'm heading off now - the hashtag for that is #asktheleaders if you want to follow up today's questions. I've enjoyed this and I'm going to aim to come back again before the election.
I would really love to support the Greens, considering the real lack of progressive liberal parties in the UK at the moment; but I simply cannot reconcile the anti-science, anti-nuclear stance that the Greens take.
The end goal for the Greens is surely to become energy independent when it comes to fossil fuels; which is the biggest net contributor to environmental destruction on the globe.
Nuclear power is logically the only current alternative to our energy needs. Why not wean ourselves off the tit of fossil fuels by embracing nuclear power? Considering that the energy needs of the planet are going to continue to grow, and considering that other renewable sources of power such as dams and tidal estuaries create significant environmental disruption.. surely nuclear power is the best of a bad bunch?
Wind and solar currently is not in any state to provide the consistent power needs for the country, let alone the planet. Whereas Nuclear power, although hideously expensive, at least produces far less environmental destruction. Sure, nuclear waste is awful; but the advancement of science is showing that the new generation nuclear reactors are cleaner and safer than ever before.
I just cannot reconcile these two issues. We're going to need energy, we're going to need to get off fossil fuels, but unfortunately relying solely on renewables cannot in their present state give us energy security.
New generation nuclear reactors can. Especially the thorium-type which are laughably clean. Therefore my question is:
> Can you suggest any way that the Greens could embrace nuclear energy for the very obvious and clear long and medium term positives it has?
It really is my killer issue with the party.
The Green Party has long been opposed to nuclear on the basis of safety and the problem of fuel disposal. But I’m prepared to put those to one side - people tend to have very fixed views and aren’t often changed.
There’s also cost issues - but the big one for me is that nuclear is slow to get approval and build: way too slow for the urgency of our energy needs or our need to cut carbon emissions.
Solar energy is taking off and costs are plummeting, there’s exciting developments in tidal power, e.g. starting with the Swansea Bay lagoon proposal that’s part of a scheme set to provide 9% of the UK’s electricity demand via tidal in ten years—and hopefully we’ll soon get serious about energy conservation, which would also tackle fuel poverty.
The nuclear issue was debated at the last Green Party conference (a significant proportion voted to support nuclear power) - and it is worth saying that policy in the Green Party is made by our members - any four members can propose a motion to conference and it will be considered.
If you want to change it, I invite you to join the party and put your proposals forward.
Why should I not just vote tactically for Labour to ensure the Conservatives don't get in?
Voting tactically, often for the party or person we dislike the most, to stop the people we really dislike getting in, has given us the kind of politics we have now, where the rhetoric of Labour and Tory might sound a little different but there's little between their policies.
If voters keep doing this, we'll keep getting the same results (Einstein had something to say about this: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133991.html)
We are clearly now in a new age of multi-party politics (the one sure loser from this election will be the first-past-the-post electoral system) and there's a real chance for voters in this election to create a peaceful revolution.
The Scots showed us the way: with an 85% turnout in the independence referendum. If we could do that in May, with young people turning out in the same proportion as the over-60s, then we could be in a new political age.
It is in voters' hands.
How do you plan on making up the £270 billion cost of your proposed £70 per week benefits for everyone?
To bring everyone up to speed: the Universal Basic Income is a cash benefit paid equally to every member of society, which ensures that no one need fear being left with absolutely nothing - unlike today, where low wages, zero-hours contracts, insecure employment and benefit sanctions mean 1 million people last year had to depend on foodbanks.
We’ll be releasing the full financial details in our manifesto in March, but it isn’t just us working on this issue. The Citizen’s Income Trust has released the costings for their plan, which is similar in scale but not the same as ours, you can find it here: http://www.citizensincome.org/FAQs.htm
However, I can tell you that about half of cost the Universal Basic Income (since we live in the age of UKIP I want to be clear that this would be available to everyone accepted as a member of our society) will come from existing benefits, including pensions. Also, the universality means that administration costs are very low, about 1% of total benefit paid out.
We don’t just see this as a humane policy, but also an economic boon. With a basic income, people who want to start a small business can have that security behind them to give it a go. I recently went to Building Bloqs (http://www.buildingbloqs.com/) in Enfield - a brilliant co-op where workers can use wood and metal-working tools (and they hope eventually lots of more high-tech gear): a basic income would make the lives of lots of the entrepreneurs there a lot easier. Also, benefits traps disappear tempting more into work - without the complex, probably impossible computer system that Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit requires.
Alternative Medicine is, by definition, medical treatment that has no proven clinical benefit. Does the Green Party believe in evidence-based policy, and if so, why does the Green Party want to promote alternative therapies within the NHS?
The Green Party supports evidence-based medical treatments, and says only these should be funded by the government. We call for an independent healthcare agency and say "effectiveness of treatments will be assessed by the agency using the best clinical evidence available". HE331 http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/he.html
In short we will be supporting whatever has been shown to work!
Why are you so against issues like nuclear power and GM crops, despite the scientific consensus that these may be much better and safer than the alternatives?
The Green Party is not against research on GM food, but has a policy to delay the release of it until it has been proven to be safe. We’re also very concerned about the power that ownership of the technology gives over a handful of multinational companies, and its link to large-scale industrial monocultures that have huge negative environmental impacts.
It is also our policy to lift public spending on scientific research to 1% GPD, when it is currently about half that. A much larger investment in science funding than any other party, along with additional benefits to science such as commitments to remove libel laws which stifle scientific advancement.
Find my answer to the nuclear question here: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2uez88/i_am_natalie_bennett_leader_of_the_green_party_of/co7t7zj
Thank you for replying.
You know: I really am hoping that solar power will become massively affordable and highly efficient (let's hope those recent tests with graphene prove mass-marketable); although we do have to ensure that we somehow revolutionise energy storage technology or it won't work that well considering that solar panels don't work for 50+% of the day. But I would love to see decentralised solar generation...but I'm still not sure it would meet our demands.
Glad to see that the issue was debated, and really glad to see that a lot of members supported it. That gives me hope that the party can modernise some of its views.
I'm still of the opinion that nuclear power is the only real stop-gap to energy independence, but, thanks for taking the time to answer!
A US-based news article, but I think you'll find lots of good news on renewables here.
The sad thing is that many countries in the world - China, the US Germany and many other European states, are powering ahead on renewables, while we are being left behind.
I was the OP of the request that invited you here and I'm so excited to see you sitting down for this.
Just wanted to re-iterate my questions from the request:
My 5 Questions to all of them:
Thanks for the invite! It inspired us to create this AMA.
Yes. We believe in zero university tuition fees - education is a public good that should be paid for from general progressive taxation (far more progressive than it is now). And young people shouldn’t face going through 30 years of their life with that weight of debt on their shoulders - debt that the latest figures suggest 75% of them will never pay off.
Our Scots, the Scottish Green Party (http://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/), went independent in 1990 - and they strongly backed the progressive yes campaign. So that shows where we stand - we believe in self-determination, so my answer would be “if the people want it”.
Our current drug laws, built around the “war on drugs”, have clearly failed. And as Green MP Caroline Lucas pointed out in a strongly-backed petition, there’s never been a systematic analysis of the impact of our drug laws: yet the government refused to back that proposal. We’re in favour of decriminalisation of marijuana and an evidence-based approach to all drugs that fundamentally treats use as a medical issue not a criminal one.
Renewable energy definitely. See my answer on nuclear: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2uez88/i_am_natalie_bennett_leader_of_the_green_party_of/co7t7zj
Protect the poorest: make the minimum wage a living wage and ensure decent benefits are available to everyone who needs them.
Credit to /u/Tophattingson for coming up with these questions last week:
My questions to nitpick on a ton of other things.
What future (if any) do you see for pharmaceutical research in the UK following a ban on Animal Testing, since clinical trials require that the drug has been tested on Animals and shown to be reasonably safe? According to AR415, you do list a number of potential replacements. However, of the technologies listed, two of them would use humans and the rest of them are completely inadequate for safety testing.
What answer do you have to give to those who will die due to your rejection of Xenotransplantation if you are able to ban it (AR428)?
Does the goal stated in CC100 have priority over human quality of life or rights? Will you protect the environment even in cases where protection requires the removal of human rights and drastic reduction in quality of life?
CMS206 and RR550 contradicts with your party member's campaigns against The Sun's page 3.
CMS611, CMS 612, CMS620, CMS 660 and CMS 662 contradict CMS206 by imposing state control over Mass Media activities, in particular increasing regulations on newspapers and journals. In particular, regulation of journals by OFCOM would stifle the sciences. What takes priority, censorship or anti-censorship?
CMS680 and the rest of your politics on advertising also contradict CMS206.
How will you implement EC658 without causing investors to abandon investing in UK Businesses?
EC663 states that you will implement Full-Reserve banking, despite it's effectiveness being completely unproven. Why are you willing to abandon your precautionary principle for this policy?
Regarding your taxation policies, you will expand corporate and capital tax, despite these being widely regarded by economists as taxes that cause the greatest amount of dead weight loss (and hence the most damage to the economy) of common forms of taxation. How do you intend to mitigate this?
The poor disproportionately buy environmentally unsound products due to their cheaper price. Your eco-taxes will target the poor disproportionately by increasing the costs of basic goods. How do you intend to mitigate this?
EC901 states that competitiveness is a zero sum game, but this contradicts parts of the theory of Comparative Advantage, where even if one country is better at everything than another country, that other country still benefits from producing in areas it's more capable at. Was an economist consulted on this?
How do you intend to gage the success/failure of your education policies following a reduction in standardized testing?
ED101 would lead to mass abandonment / demolition of existing school buildings if secondary schools are to reduce in size. In addition, the requirement of a wide range of specialists as required by ED165 and ED166 would actually benefit from larger schools which can support a wider range of specialists. How do you intend to balance these policies?
ED190 states that religious dietary requirements will be catered for. However, your animal rights policies suggest an opposition to practices such as Dhabihah, so how will dietary requirements be fulfilled without endorsement of slaughter methods you oppose?
With the abandonment of Fossil Fuel and Nuclear, there will be only a small amount of hydroelectric power available to supply the network's base load. How will you ensure that blackouts do not occur during periods of low wind, cloud or night time? Although importing from France is an option, why is it acceptable to use French nuclear power but not British nuclear power?
The "Terminator Gene" is a solution to FA711 A, B and E. Does your party have any opinions on this?
FA711 C is clearly a reference to Roundup Herbicide, and is based on research by widely discredited scientist Giles-Eric Séralini. Why is this part of your policy?
FA713 indicates complete ignorance of the scientific consensus on GM technology. Why do you ignore the scientific consensus on this yet follow it when it comes to Climate Change?
H326 covers regulation of medicine. Will regulations on 'natural' and 'alternative' medicine do the sound thing and implement a complete ban on both, considering these categories entirely consist of medicines which have not been proven to work?
PD205 states that nuclear weapons are disproportionate to any threat. Does this mean nuclear weapons are disproportionate to other nuclear weapons?
Have you analyzed potential threats to the UK following reduction in military strength, abandonment of NATO (PD513) and nuclear disarmament. PD302 appears to only consider threats to us in the context of our current military power, not with the level of military power you intend to bring us to.
How will you enforce PD400 without military threats? Dictators don't listen to pleas.
RR501 is redundant since that law has already been changed.
RR502 implies that you reject asexuality, by asserting that young people will feel either heterosexual or homosexual attraction, or both, but not neither.
Why did you go into the EU elections with an opposition to ITER, despite your commitment to research into new renewable sources of energy?
ST364 asserts that "comprehensive assessment of the safety of GMOs with regards to the environment, biodiversity and human and animal health" has not been done, despite it having been done. What, exactly, are your standards before you will accept that GM technology is safe?
As a followup question, why have you made assumptions that Organic technology is safe despite it being woefully under-evaluated due to appeal to nature? In particular, Rotenone and Copper Sulphate are two very dangerous and environmentally destructive chemicals used in Organic farming.
Does benign technology transfer include Golden Rice (ST370)?
I'm delighted that you've been reading our policies so closely! But to ensure I can answer questions from as many as possible, can I ask you to pick out one?
And I would point out that you can read our position on so many issues because our democratically agreed policies are fully available to anyone who wants to read them, unlike other parties... we don't sway with the views of the focus groups.
How do the Greens propose to ensure that the poorer members in society are not hit by the cost of switching to a sustainable economy?
What we want to do is make doing the environmentally friendly thing to do the easiest, cheapest and obvious thing to do in all areas of life.
So make sure that public transport is cheap, convenient and runs when it is needed (a huge issue with the slashing of local bus services that we’ve seen over many years). And yes - we do want to bring the railways back into public hands and run them for passengers not shareholders, as you might have heard...
And to tackle the enormous issue of fuel poverty - I was told recently at the National Insulation Association conference that our levels are only beaten in Europe by Lithuania - we want a programme like the Energy Bill Revolution (http://www.energybillrevolution.org/) - to cut bills by improving the really poor quality of our housing stock, some of the worst in Western Europe.
What do you think of the notion of a four day work week?
Aside from the obvious benefits of a four day work week for the health and wellbeing of workers and the fact that they would have more time to dedicate to their families/friends/communities/hobbies/etc, it seems to me that it would also have a great affect on the our economical footprint.
There would be a lot less commuting so we’d see a reduce in carbon emissions and non-renewable fuel usage, and people would finally have the time to move away from the convenience-led consuming that most of us are guilty of, and focus more on living within our means.
Green Party policy is to make a 35-hour working week as standard.
In Britain we have some of the longest working hours in Europe and that’s really unhealthy for individuals, families and communities.
Many people are working too many hours, and a lot of people are under- or unemployed.
Personally, I’m very taken by the New Economics Foundation work on very gradually working towards a much-reduced working week (http://www.neweconomics.org/publications/entry/21-hours) - instead of counting progress by the failed model of GDP, we could all get more time in our life.
N.B. Yes, I do acknowledge that I’m writing this, at work, at 6.50pm on a Sunday evening!
And does it include new migrants since the Greens plan to 'progressively reduce immigration controls'?
There would be a qualifying period for UBI, but this is probably a good place to briefly talk about both immigration policy and the Policies for a Sustainable Society (PSS).
On the PSS, it contains both policies that we’d want to immediately implement and a broader vision of a future world in which Green principles held sway (the heading above that is “medium-term policies”) - in a more equal, fairer world.
And on immigration, we celebrate the free movement of people in the European Union (there’s a roughly equal number of Britons on Continental Europe and Continental Europeans here), and want to respect the rights of those who should be able to live here that are currently denied: refugees and UK citizens with non-EU spouses and partners in particular. And we are horrified that last year the number of foreign students applying to study at UK universities went down for the first time.
Hesitant but probable Green voter here. Your policy on nuclear energy is a little brief:
> EN261 We will cancel construction of new nuclear stations and nuclear power will not be eligible for government subsidy; the Green Party opposes all nuclear power generation and is particularly opposed to the construction of new nuclear power stations, electricity from which is likely to be significantly more expensive per unit supplied than other low-carbon energy sources, and too slow to deploy to meet our pressing energy needs. Cancellation will avoid the costs and dangers of nuclear energy and waste being passed on to future generations long after any benefits have been exhausted.
> EN262 Money earmarked for new nuclear plant research, development and construction will be reallocated to energy efficiency measures and renewable energy infrastructure, but sufficient funding for decommissioning redundant power stations, and for research into the safe storage or disposal of existing radioactive waste stockpiles will be retained.
Has the Green Party published any more detailed documents on this point that go into specifics (both for the reasoning behind avoiding nuclear, and the proposed alternative)? What's your take personally?
Best of luck in the election. If you get in, don't be Nick Clegg. :)
Just to pick up on Nick Clegg! - I could just say I'm not, but what would keep anyone in my position on the straight and narrow path of Green Party principles is the fact that conference is the supreme decision-making body of the party - policy is set by it, not by the whim or inclinations of the leader.
Natalie I have just joined and made a contribution to the Green Party. You will be getting my vote and the votes of many people I know.
What I fear locally is that the tidal lagoon here in Swansea where I live is simply another handing over of potential profit, the power of energy supply and likely public money/ infastructure to "god knows who" as we see time and time again.
Also they are considering fracking in that very same part of the Bristol channel so many people here see the tidal propsal as a distraction from what they really want to do- which is fracking.
I made a video a while ago about these concerns as I live in Swansea and wake up to a view of the bristol channel every day, I dont want to see it disturbed by rigs or more pollution and I dont want to see the only potential 'green' idea (the lagoon) given away to feckless developers and owners.
What would you do to stop fracking in this area and what would you do to make sure this lagoon has a positive local impact aswell as a national one in terms of providing energy?
And would the Greens support something like this campaign I have set up? It demands the support of government to facilitate localised production of critical resources, starting with good food for every person whether rich or poor.
As you probably know, the Green Party is totally opposed to fracking.
In speaking to the Swansea developers I tried to encourage them to include a community ownership element, and that's something that's growing despite the best efforts of this government: it was great to see Repower Balcombe get started this week: http://www.repowerbalcombe.com/