Green Party publishes 2024 London manifesto

Green Party publishes 2024 London manifesto

The Greens chose Lloyd Park in Waltham Forest as the location for launching their 2024 London elections manifesto, congratulated themselves on providing decent weather for the occasion, and talked up their chances of both a strong showing in the mayoral contest and adding to the three London Assembly seats they already hold.

Billed as a plan for a “greener, more affordable London” the manifesto contains pledges about housing, community safety, transport and reducing the cost of living, all under an umbrella promise to “put climate at the heart of everything we do”.

Introducing the event, London Assembly member (AM) Zack Polanski placed the Greens’ London campaign in the context of the coming general election, saying people are “ready to see the back” of the Conservatives in government but claiming Labour’s policies are little different.

“That is where the Green Party are ready to step up to the mark,” he said, describing Green national proposals as being at the centre of a London manifesto that would “make a difference to the lives of everyday Londoners, workers, renters LGBT people, lots of people across London”.

Mayoral candidate Zoë Garbett’s speech highlighted “renters facing the choice between paying more rent or leaving the homes and communities they know and love” and also “young black people used to police harassment as a normal part of their routine of getting the bus”.

On renters, she said Greens “will work with community organisers to demand powers from whatever government we have to bring in rent controls and introduce a two-year rent freeze as an essential first step”. She would also set up a commission to look at “the best model” for rent control and means for regulating the sector better, and “oversee a huge project for insulating our homes”, which would cut bills and reduce carbon emissions.

She said the police would have to “earn the trust and confidence” with her “working alongside black and global majority communities” to secure this, including “de-prioritising stop-and-searches of young people and the policing of drugs”.

She accused Labour and the Conservatives of sticking to “the same imaginary fiscal rules which only favour the super rich” and said Greens, embedded in their communities, “believe in a London that’s not for rogue landlords, bankers or corporate egos but for its people – for us”.

A London Living Wage of roughly £16 an hour would be championed by a Mayor Garbett. “Every person as the right to survive and thrive in this city,” she said, emphasising that the Green Party is about “being on the side of workers”.

There was a decent media turnout, with ITV London’s Simon Harris and BBC London’s Tim Donovan and Susana Mendonça in attendance. The Greens have long established themselves as force in London politics and have finished third in the last three mayoral contests with increasing shares of the vote – Siân Berry’s 7.8% in 2021 was their strongest showing yet – albeit a long way behind the runners-up.

The three Assembly seats they won in 2021 was also their highest total ever, achieved with a 12% share of the Proportional Representation section of the Assembly ballot. If they win four seats through that route this time, Garbett will join the current three, Polanski, Berry and Caroline Russell, at City Hall.

Taking questions after her speech, Garbett ruled out arguing for reforming Green Belt rules to enable more housebuilding. She included what Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has dubbed “grey belt” land, which is protected but often already developed and left neglected, saying “even the areas where’s overgrown petrol stations we know tare good for biodiversity”. She would much prefer to enlarge Sadiq Khan’s policy of providing funds for buying existing homes for conversion for low cost rent, a scheme Greens at City Hall campaigned for.

Greens also called for ballots of residents before City Hall funding was allocated for demolish-and-rebuild estate regeneration schemes, a requirement Sadiq Khan eventually adopted. Given that every such ballot so far except one has produced a vote in favour of such approaches, doesn’t that suggest that the social housing tenants are keener on them than greens had expected?

Garbett said residents having more control over their lives remains a Green principle, but “we did think there are examples of bad practice on behalf of developers who are over-promising as part of that ballot process”. She would want to make sure ballots are “used in a proper way”.

Conservative candidate Susan Hall has been claiming that crime in London is “out of control”. What does the Green Party candidate think? “I’m hearing that people are feeling incredibly unsafe,” she said. “I think there’s a lot to do to reform the Metropolitan Police so that people have a service they can trust.” Hate crime, violent crime and domestic violence were three areas she picked out where trust needs to be improved so that policing can be more effective.

Local level police accountability is another theme Garbett has been stressing. She spoke this morning about the forum she has set up the the Hackney ward, Dalston: “Even the police said ‘this is a great way of working, because we get intelligence from the local area and we know we’re working on what residents want us to’.” As Mayor, she would encourage such bottom-up initiatives from the top. She would also like to see “more policing on the roads” to improve driver behaviour.

Summing up, she described her party’s London manifesto as being about “the redistribution of wealth” in what, overall, is a very rich city: “I think we need to challenge the idea of growth. It’s about asking who benefits. I think at the moment not workers, renters, people just living in our city. So I think it is challenging that premise.”

Read the Garbett and Green Party 2024 London manifesto HERE.

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