How do you feel about the fact that everyone now has their own ‘green new deal’, though obviously yours was the first one? How do you differentiate yourself from the others?
Obviously we are delighted that the idea has got some momentum behind it and people are talking about using this opportunity to put serious amounts of money into the economy in a way that would not only create jobs but would also have serious environmental benefits. The downside is that because everyone is now using this language it is very difficult to differentiate between what is a real green new deal and what is not.
Are there plans, then, to revisit the Green New Deal – in the light of everyone else having one now, to go back and review it and produce a real one, more radical than the original?
There are certainly discussions about that but then we are also trying to encourage more people to get involved. The original group of eight to ten of us are not experts in some areas. So, for example, we are working with other specialist organisations to develop groups around issues like transport and agriculture to produce a green new deal for these sectors. We have been talking to the Soil Association and Sustain about what a green new deal for agriculture would look like. We have been meeting with lots of other NGOs too because there is this sense that we want to mainstream this by getting people to look at the Green New Deal through the lens of their own sector or area.
My first impression on reading the Green New Deal was that it was written as a top-down governmental programme. I understand why that was, but it did seem to me that it could also have been written in a way to encourage people to do things locally in their own areas – similarly to how you describe these plans for sectors. I understand things are happening in some areas already on this front. Could we not use the Green New Deal as a way to build a grass-roots movement – hundreds of meetings round the country to generate local enthusiasm and innovation to pressure government?
Yes, you are absolutely right. I was in Norwich yesterday with the Green Party there launching their election manifesto, ‘A green new deal for Norwich’, about what the local authority could and should be doing. We have also been looking at the idea of local bonds, which local authorities could issue as a safe place to put money in these troubled times and whose funds could be used for local renovation programmes and economic activity. The returns might not be as high as in the heyday of the real casino capitalism but people would know that their money was benefiting everyone, local communities and sustainable projects.
How do you think this would link to the ‘transition towns’ movement?
The Green New Deal does have slightly more emphasis, I suppose, on how to get national and local government to help this process more by removing obstacles and roadblocks – EU trade rules, World Trade Organisation rules and so on – which will need governments and local government to be pressurising to remove them.
The transition movement, though, is one of the most inspiring movements around, with ordinary people just getting on and doing things without waiting for national or local government. And it helps create a space by showing that there are people out there willing to go further than politicians think they are. I passionately believe in that bottom-up process, like transition towns, but we do also need the top-down governmental approach, and of course the bottom-up pressure makes that top-down approach more possible anyway, so it is all related.
It is very rare that you have a moment in politics when ordinary people are more radical than the politicians – I think maybe the 1960s was the last time. You have people in the pub wanting to string up bankers while the politicians want to bail them out – it is extraordinary. Is there not a danger of us all self censoring and not being radical enough?
It is a wonderful opportunity in a sense and a huge responsibility on us all to use this moment well. If we had been told five years ago that this moment was going to happen, we would all have got very excited and started preparing for how best to use it. But because it happened so quickly and unexpectedly, I am worried that it won’t last forever. There will be a real movement to go back to business as usual and we might lose this extraordinary opportunity we have to change and reshape a whole range of things from the economic system to the whole way we organise society. We’ve got to seize that moment!
Grassroots posters giving an alternative take on the general election
Hundreds of people surrounded the fences this weekend. Hera Lorandos spoke to women who have suffered inside.
Laying out the case for Labour's leadership of a Progressive Alliance, Jeremy Gilbert argues that far from posing a threat to the Left, the Progressive Alliance offers a golden opportunity to end Tory rule and build a 21st century government committed to social justice
The Greens have stood down in Brighton Kemptown to clear the way for Labour, and the Lib Dems won’t stand in Brighton’s other seat, Green-held Pavilion. Davy Jones, who would have been the Green candidate in Kemptown, says this shows the way forward
The snap general election represents a unique opportunity to defeat this terrible government. We believe that visual artists have a crucial role to play!
Drax is the UK's biggest source of CO2 emissions – and we're paying for it, writes Almuth Ernsting
For the past 3 years, Barby Asante and members of London-based artists' collective, sorryyoufeeluncomfortable, have been responding directly to the vision of James Baldwin. Ahead of the nationwide release of a new film about the American activist and author, they reflect on the enduring relevance of Baldwin in Britain today.
Housing campaigners' gains in Bristol are spurring on a national movement to build a renters' union, writes Stuart Melvin
A new Espionage Act threatens whistleblowers and journalists, writes Sarah Kavanagh
We need an anti-austerity alliance, not a vaguely progressive alliance, argues Michael Calderbank
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While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports
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The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections
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Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines
Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.
West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective
How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences
The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally
Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change
Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces
Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond
On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network
Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter
#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement
Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.
Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees
Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides
The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari
Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next
Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace
Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill