Green conference – monetary reform and citizens’ income
Green Party Spring Conference is this weekend in Cardiff. This is some continued coverage from this afternoon.
The first big debate of the afternoon was between Bright Green co-editor Alasdair Thompson, and regular contributor, and Norwich Councillor, Rupert Read. Rupert was proposing reforms to the monetary system, banning banks from creating credit. Claiming support from Mervyn King, he told us that ideas that had been radical were now becoming mainstream. Ali denied the central banker had supported the idea, but rather included it in a list of ideas that should be discussed, and pointed out that those who do support such ideas include Hayek, Friedman, and others on the far right of the economic spectrum. The motion – which proposed radical changes to the monetary system along the lines of the campaign group “positive money” – fell narrowly.
Next was a discussion about whether we should actively campaign now for a citizens’ (or ‘basic’) income. Citizens’ Income is a proposed system where benefits would be paid as one lump sum to every citizen, and then taxed back progressively from people as they earn – ensuring that no one lived in cash poverty. The motion was supported by Clive Lord, and Bright Green regular Alex Wood, and effectively opposed by Caroline Lucas MP and Darren Johnson AM. Despite two prominent opponents arguing that the policy is currently unaffordable, Alex won the day, by arguing for higher taxes on the wealthiest. For me, you can tell a party is truly democratic when its most prominent members can be defeated by those using the quality of their argument alone.
Likewise, congratulations to Alex, Clive and co for instigating active campaigning on the Citizens Income issue. It strikes me that the governments new ‘universal credit’ idea gives us a perfect chance to argue for a real, sustainable and equitable alternative – a full Citizensd Income. The Citizens Income Trust have had some interesting discussion on this in the pages of their newsletter recently.
Warmest congratulations to Alasdair on ensuring that the crank money motion was defeated.