4 Jun 2024

Leader Interviews – Adrian Ramsay of the Green Party | Election 2024

We talk to the Green Party’s co-leader Adrian Ramsay.

He’s been a councillor in his native city of Norwich and has run two national environmental charities, and is standing in the new parliamentary seat of Waveney Valley which straddles the Norfolk and Suffolk border.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Adrian Ramsay, this is looking like a change election. Most people have decided that if they want to be part of the change, they should vote Labour. Why are they wrong?

Adrian Ramsay: People do definitely want a change in this election, that comes up on the doorstep all the time. Yes, we are on track for there to be a Labour government. But rather than Keir Starmer having such a huge majority, where he can continue to take U-turns all the time, as he’s been doing on climate and on funding for public services, if we have more of a diversity of voices in parliament, including a group of Green MPs, we can push the new government to be bolder on the big issues that matter.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: So you want to be a left-wing pressure group in parliament basically, to the left of Labour?

Adrian Ramsay: I’m talking about the polls showing that we are on track to have a Labour government and we need to push that government out of its timid pledges that it’s making at the moment, for the real hope and real change that we actually need if we’re going to restore our NHS, build more affordable housing, tackle the scandal of sewage in our rivers. And by having a group of Green MPs in parliament, we’ll really change the political debate and push the new government to take the changes that our country so desperately needs.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Peter Mandelson has said that you’ve become the dustbin for disgruntled leftists. That’s true, isn’t it?

Adrian Ramsay: If you look at where the Green Party support is right around the country, we’ve just come out of a set of elections where over the last five years in a row, Greens have gained a record number of seats. We’ve increased the number of elected Greens right across the country.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: But your positions on most things are to the left, aren’t you? You’re high tax, high spend. You want radical action on the environment. You’ve got all sorts of weird and wonderful policies about how you are going to nationalise public transport and have £1 bus fares and all sorts of things that will never happen and cost a fortune. And they’re all to the left of Labour and they attract the left, don’t they?

Adrian Ramsay: They attract people from a wide range of areas, and if you look at the places where we’ve got a strong chance of winning seats at this election, places like Bristol Central and Brighton Pavilion in cities, places like North Herefordshire and Waveney Valley in rural areas, those policies appeal to people across the spectrum. You don’t have to be on the left to care about the environment.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Haven’t you fundamentally failed on the green agenda in that net zero has kind of fallen off. The Conservatives have gone back, Labour is talking about clean energy rather than net zero. I mean the central aim of the Green Party has been set back in the last two years, not forward.

Adrian Ramsay: What you’ve set out there, Krishnan, is how both the main parties have let people down on the action that’s needed on the environment. And yes, this is about tackling the climate crisis and it’s about creating a better society, and the Green Party is the only party going into this election being honest with people, that if we’re going to make the changes that are needed, we are going to have to ask the very richest in society, the multi-millionaires, the billionaires, to pay just modestly more in tax.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: It’s not just the very rich, is it? Because you want to remove the cap on national insurance, for example. That affects anybody earning more than £45,000? They’re not millionaires are they?

Adrian Ramsay: We think the percentage that people pay on national insurance should be the same, regardless of their earnings.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: So you want taxes to go up for everyone from £45,000?

Adrian Ramsay: At the moment, the people who are on the lower to middle incomes are actually paying a higher percentage of their income on national insurance. That doesn’t seem right. The place where we are looking for the vast bulk of funding that we are seeking to raise so that we can restore our NHS, we can tackle the dental desert, we can tackle the patients in corridors in our hospitals. The vast majority of that funding is going to come from asking the multi-millionaires, the billionaires, people with over £10 million in assets, to pay 1% on any wealth over £10 million.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Isn’t the truth that you’ve been caught on the hop, like many people, by this early election, in terms of both policy and candidates? You’ve had to take down a load of pages from your website of some of the more eccentric policies that you had in the past, and you haven’t got the new ones up yet and you haven’t sorted out all your candidates. You’re still facing that sort of problem of being a bit crazy in places.

Adrian Ramsay: Krishnan, we are better prepared going into this election than we have ever been before. Last time I checked, we had far more candidates selected than the Conservative Party did. We’ve got a clear strategy going into this election.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: But you ditched meat rationing, haven’t you? What else have you ditched?

Adrian Ramsay: The distinction you’re making there, Krishnan, is around policies that we had in place for a long-term vision for society. Compared to, as all parties do, we’ll be producing our manifesto for what we are putting forward for this next five years of this next parliament. That manifesto is coming out on 12 June. It’s been in preparation for a long time, so they’re fully costed elements of it that you were starting to refer to. We’ve been planning for some time, so we can show how we would get the funding that’s needed to restore our NHS, to transition to a green economy, to make sure we have affordable housing to tackle the crisis of affordable housing in this country.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Do you still want to rejoin the EU?

Adrian Ramsay: Our manifesto will set out our policy in relation to the European Union. What it will say is that we want to have much stronger working relationships with the European Union in a number of ways, and that there are some short term….

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Because it was to rejoin, you’re dropping that?

Adrian Ramsay: No, it will say in there that our position over time is to rejoin the EU when the conditions are right. Political and economic conditions.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Keir Starmer says he’s relaxed about people being rich and getting richer. Are you?

Adrian Ramsay: Greens have a vision for a future where we are investing in the transition to an environmentally-friendly way of living. So Greens want an economy that’s really thriving.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: But do you want people to aspire to be rich, as Labour does now?

Adrian Ramsay: What I want is a society where everybody’s basic needs are met, so that people are not having to choose between heating and eating, people can pay their bills, people have got good quality air to breathe, people can access an NHS dentist and doctor when they need to.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Isn’t the truth that since 2010, you’ve had one MP. You’ve been constantly talking about breakthrough and the truth is, this election could be the one where the Greens go from one MP to none?

Adrian Ramsay: What’s happened since 2010, and particularly in the last five years, is that the strength of the Green Party across the country has grown enormously. We’ve increased our number of elected Greens five-fold…

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: In councils, yes, but when it comes to Westminster, Caroline Lucas is stepping down and that kind of tells you everything. She’s had enough.

Adrian Ramsay: Caroline Lucas is very clear that she wants to see a group of Green MPs in this next parliament, because whilst people desperately want a change at this election, they see that Labour’s pledges are timid and that we need real hope and real change to tackle the challenges this country faces.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Give me one example where you would push Labour to be more hopeful, to offer more.

Adrian Ramsay: We need to put the investment that’s needed into the NHS. So we are arguing that we should ask the very richest in society to pay modestly more in tax so that we can afford to invest in our NHS. We desperately need more Greens as part of that political debate in parliament, and we can get that at this election by people voting with their heart and voting for the real hope and real change that this country needs.