It’s been a busy day on the campaign trail. Earlier today we covered the launch of the Conservative Party’s manifesto, following on from Labour’s launch yesterday. Our attention now turns to the Green Party, and leader Natalie Bennett published their manifesto in London this morning, sharing duties with Brighton’s Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.
The Green’s manifesto includes a positive emphasis on the role of charities and voluntary groups in society. Bennett commits her party to working as a strong enabling force for the sector in government, and also stresses the valuable role of civil society both in the UK and abroad. In a move that will be welcome across the sector, the Greens join Labour in committing to repealing the Lobbying Act, and Bennett’s party also wishes to increase spending on international aid from 0.7% to 1% of GDP.
Green plans include a focus on establishing a mixed economy, with support for social enterprises. A feature of the Green Party’s manifesto is a focus on the role of cooperatives. In addition to encouraging greater use of cooperatives as models, the Greens also want to see their status placed on a par with business, and the inclusion of education about the structure and usage of cooperatives within the education system. This emphasis would be backed by the creation of a Coop development fund, and in some instances employees would be given a legal right to buy out their organisation and turn it into a cooperative.
Finally, the manifesto acknowledges that there should be a role for not-for-profits in providing healthcare, even if the Health and Social Care Act is scrapped. One aspect of this would include partnering with charities that work in patient care and using their expertise to ensure that patients get personalised treatment. In another interesting policy pronouncement, the Greens also propose removing charitable status from private schools.
Commenting on the Green manifesto, CAF’s Chief Executive John Low said:
“”The Green Party manifesto talks extensively about valuing the contribution of civil society and giving not-for-profit organisations big roles in everything from energy to banking. There is certainly a huge role for charities to play in all parts of society and it’s important that all political parties bring forward such radical new ideas for harnessing the creativity and dedication of individuals and charities for the better.”
There is little prospect of the Greens being in a position where they would be able to implement their manifesto in full, but (if they are able to command the numbers to enter into a coalition) their positive intentions towards the sector would bring a welcome tone to any negotiations. Tomorrow sees the Liberal Democrats launch their manifesto, and we’ll keep you updated with what Nick Clegg’s party is saying about the voluntary sector.