12 May 2017
Statement written by Ivor Lobo, Green Party General Election candidate for Bexleyheath and Crayford, in response to the Bexley Times' request for comment.
I’m pleased to see that the swell in Green Party support across the country is encouraging Labour to adopt our policies. First they joined us with a pledge for free university tuition fees, and now they join us in wanting to nationalise our railways. It’s a shame they didn’t do this at any point between 1997 and 2010, when they were in government.
Having our railways under public ownership and control has been Green Party policy since the beginning. In 2013 our first MP, Caroline Lucas published a Private Members’ Bill to do just that.
Nationalised railways will allow us to ensure that this essential public service can be made much more affordable for fare payers; public transport should be one of the levellers for economic inequality, yet currently those on low incomes struggle to afford even to travel to work to generate that income. A wealth tax on our millionaires and billionaires and aggressive pursuit of tax evaders will allow us to increase government funding to keep fares low. 100% of the fares that are paid can be invested into the railways, rather than some going to shareholders. Nationalisation will also allow us to have a joined up network in which blame for disruption cannot be bounced around. We can also the accelerate electrification of our railways, creating jobs for manufacturing new trains and carriages, whilst reducing the nasty diesel emissions which are causing and exacerbating horrendous health conditions in people up and down the country.
Clearly there are some issues that aren't tied to nationalising, such as the complicated and unfair airline-style ticket price structures, which the government has full power to resolve now.
It’s typical that our longstanding Conservative MP David Evennett is only too keen to keep the railways in private hands, handing over increasing amounts of public money, whilst simultaneously watching our fares increase year on year.
It would seem that the only consistent challenge to this year, after year, after year, has been the Green Party; just one of the reasons I'm proud to be standing as the Green Party candidate for Bexleyheath and Crayford.