This week Breitbart London (BL) has been interviewing party leaders at the European Parliament ahead of next months elections. Today we asked Keith Taylor MEP, from the Green Party, to take a minute out and answer some questions.
Green politics may not be to everyone’s taste but it’s certainly a major force in European politics. The Greens are one of the largest groups in the European Parliament and in the UK they won their first parliamentary seat in 2010, and currently control one local council: Brighton and Hove.
BL: What has been the greatest achievement of Green MEPs since the last election?
Taylor: As the fourth largest group in the European Parliament Greens are hugely influential. Our top achievements in the last few years include a cap on bankers bonuses, a new common fisheries policy which protects our seas for the future and securing a youth guarantee scheme for jobs to give hope to the millions of young people facing unemployment across the continent.
Greens in the European Parliament often hold the balance of power and use their influence to ensure that new laws work for people, not big business.
BL: You are very opposed to trade deals between the EU and USA, why is this?
Taylor: Greens are opposed to the new EU/US trade deal for a number of reasons. Our first concern is that this deal, which could affect our sovereignty here in the UK, is being done behind closed doors and away from any democratic process.
Greens are deeply concerned about the potential threat of an EU/US trade deal to vital legislation in the UK that protects our rights at work and our environment. The deal is aiming to ‘harmonize’ rules between the US and the UK – this could lead to a race to the bottom on environmental protection and workers rights.
Finally Greens stand fully opposed to the part of the proposed deal which could allow private companies to sue elected Governments over laws which they think they threaten their profits. This part of the deal, known as the Investor State Dispute Settlement, would see secret tribunals making judgements that could acquire the status and precedent of international law.
Greens aren’t opposed to trade, but we think that it should be of benefit to workers and consumers, not just the multinational companies who are desperate to pass this new deal.
BL: Do you think the problems with the Green Party’s running of Brighton and Hove City Council will cost you votes?
Taylor: Brighton and Hove City Council has, in the face of extreme hostility from the other parties and swingeing government cuts, done a tremendous job. They’ve brought in a Living Wage for council staff and contractors, they’ve invested in green spaces and parks, and they’ve taken radical steps to make the city safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
I’m confident that many people will want to vote for a party whose first ever council rejected the bedroom tax, brought abandoned homes back into use and made the streets of Brighton safer.
BL: 70% of British electricity is produced by burning coal. If this was all converted into shale gas we would cut pollution. Would you be opposed to that and why?
Taylor: Greens are opposed to fracking because we think it’s time to dismantle the UK’s fossil fuel infrastructure, not just tinker with it. To tackle climate change we need to radically rethink the way we power this country. That means investing in renewables and energy conservation, not drilling under our homes for a new type of fossil fuel that won’t even lower our energy bills.
BL: Do the Greens believe in closer political and economic union across Europe? And do you believe Britain should adopt the Euro?
Taylor: Greens believe that Britain is better staying in the European Union, but we also think that power is best held locally wherever possible. That means that we support Europe wide action on international issues like climate change, protecting our seas and regulating finance, but we oppose great political and economic union otherwise.
Greens are opposed to the Euro.
BL: You have fought for caps on Bankers’ Bonuses how will this policy improve the environment and the country as a whole?
Taylor: Greens believe a cap in bankers bonuses is necessary for two reasons. Firstly because we believe that top bankers are overpaid for the work to do, and that no bonus of more than 100% of salary is ever justified. Secondly we want to cap bankers bonuses because we want to tackle the corrosive levels of inequality that exist in our society. That means working to raise wages for those at the bottom as well as tackling a culture of rewards for failure at the top.
BL: How well do you expect to do in these European Elections?
Taylor: It’s clear that people in the UK want to see real change at these elections. The Green Party offers a genuine alternative to business as usual and I expect voters will show us their support.
What’s interesting about this election is that people are abandoning the Lib Dems and looking for a new home. If the London Mayoral elections are anything to go by it seems very possible that Greens will be beating Lib Dems right across the UK.
BL: Are you hoping to improve your number of seats in Westminster next year and where are your key targets?
Taylor: The General Election of 2015 is the first time The Green Party will be defending a seat at Westminster. With Labour pouring resources in Brighton our first priority is to secure Caroline’s seat there. But we also hope to build on five years of gains for the Greens across the UK.
BL: What do you think is the number one issue facing Europe today and how would you solve it?
Taylor: Across Europe we are seeing the effects of decades of free market economics. Not only has a European obsession with the market led us to a huge financial crash and severe recession, but it’s also left the majority across the continent struggling to get by for years while those at the top continue to make millions. Greens want an economy that works for the common good, not a free market that only benefits those at the top.
BL: If you could only enact one Green policy what would it be and why?
Taylor: The pressing issue of our time is climate change. We know that the human impact on our climate is likely to have devastating consequences unless we act soon but we also know that the situation isn’t all doom and gloom. Indeed the latest UN report makes it clear that we still have time to act on climate change, and doing so sooner rather than later will save us money in the long term. We need to rapidly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, invest in renewables and build a green economy that works for generations to come.