Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Audio: May elections – Jenny Jones interview

Jenny Jones, the Green Party candidate for London mayor, speaks to Red Pepper's Tim Hunt and Michael Calderbank

April 10, 2012
6 min read


Michael CalderbankMichael Calderbank Red Pepper co-editor and parliamentary researcher for trade unions. @Calderbank


Tim HuntTim Hunt is a Red Pepper commissioning editor.


  share     tweet  

Last week we travelled to Green Party HQ in Shoreditch, London to interview Green Party mayoral candidate Jenny Jones. We wanted to get her views on some of the big issues facing Londoners – and her broader worldview.

While she did little to refute the case of those who call the Green Party’s understanding of capitalism ‘wishy washy’, she did have some interesting things to say about housing and pay ratios.

Below you can listen to the interview in five bite-size sections and read our commentary and responses under each one:

The City, anti-capitalism and the Occupy movement

It’s fair to say that Jenny was a little evasive over how she might begin to change the relationship between the City and the rest of London. She did say that she wanted do away with the City of London’s ‘Corporation’ status (which make it a borough with its own separate rules), but she gave little detail of how this might be achieved. She also mentioned supporting loans to small businesses.

On the Greens as an anti-capitalist party she said ‘we are anti-capitalist because we believe in fair trade not free trade’. According to Jenny, when the Greens’ leader Caroline Lucas said the party is anti-capitalist, what she meant was that she ‘just wants a fairer society’. This doesn’t necessarily suggest, in and of itself, that the Greens are in any sense anti-capitalist at all. Jenny admits that this sounds ‘wishy washy’. (Perhaps we should ask Caroline?)

She wants this fair society because in an unfair society, ‘even the rich aren’t happy because you have riots’.

When she talked about the Occupy movement, we asked how she reconciled the contradiction between being part of this non-hierarchical movement that has spoken out against political parties and being part of the Green Party.

Jenny argued that party politics is a different route to the real democracy which the Occupy movement believes is the problem, and added that ‘you can’t get more non-hierarchical than the Green Party’.

Police and protest

On the police force, her big concept was politeness (Excuse me, sir, do you mind if I arrest you, knee you in the chest, strangle you and racially abuse you?) She also said the police should have showed kindness to Mark Duggan’s family.

In her final analysis, the problems could be solved by more lefties joining the force. Hardly heavyweight.

Transport

This is the area where Jenny seemed strongest. A Green mayor would reduce bus and tube prices and keep any future increases below the level of inflation, she said. This, she added, would be funded by putting up the congestion charge, particularly for the most polluting vehicles, then after three years introducing a pay-as-you-drive system.

Boris cut the road safety budget and this has lead to more injuries. Ken Livingstone, meanwhile, has offered Jenny the job of promoting walking and cycling.

She added that air pollution is currently shocking in London and that it’s way over the EU limits. She would ask that fines be imposed by the EU to help combat the problem.

Housing

This was another strong suit. Jenny described the current housing system as dysfunctional and called the government’s council housing sell off ‘stupid’.

She believes social cleansing is ‘already happening’ and that the government is ‘making it worse’. To tackle the problems, she wants to build 15,000 affordable new homes every year – but these would only be affordable for those on around £23,000 a year.

Those at the lower end of the income spectrum, she says, would be helped by encouraging councils to build more social housing. She would also encourage the use of community land trusts, which Boris promised but did not deliver.

Greens in power

In this final part we talked about the Greens’ record in office here in the UK.

She admits that the Greens have the luxury of opposition almost everywhere – but where it’s possible to act like all other political parties, they’ve done just that. She admits this in as much as she argues that the only other option than following the mainstream agenda is to resign.

She says the difference is that only the Green Party has a philosophy, and that this ensures that they stick to manifesto promises when in power. But at the moment we’re seeing the results of the Tories’ neoliberal philosophy – and the Lib Dems’ Orange Book philosophy too.

Finally she addresses the Greens’ performance in Brighton. She said it was important as it demonstrated the Greens’ ability to take tough decisions. And she defended the council on their decision not to challenge the government over its cuts agenda, adding that challenging it through an illegal budget would have been ‘good for no-one’.

This left the question of how the Greens are different once in office largely unanswered. She was, however, categorical when she said that council tax levels in London would be kept at current levels on her watch.

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.
Share this article  
  share on facebook     share on twitter  

Michael CalderbankMichael Calderbank Red Pepper co-editor and parliamentary researcher for trade unions. @Calderbank


Tim HuntTim Hunt is a Red Pepper commissioning editor.


Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power

What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains

The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme

Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it

The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going

A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism

Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase

Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields

Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton

Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi

A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain

Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank

Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded

West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens

Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age

Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today

The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics

Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.

Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making

Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show

The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services

With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas

Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world

A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle

Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune

Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali

To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi

Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun


2