New Prime Minister, same old policies

London – 27 June 2007

“Prime Minister Gordon Brown has backed every Blairite blunder,” said Peter Tatchell , the Green Party candidate for Oxford East. He was speaking on the occasion of Mr Brown taking over the premiership from Tony Blair.

“Brownism is a continuation of Blairism by another name. Different Prime Minister, same old policies,” added Mr Tatchell.

“It is time to move on from the tainted Blairite policies of the past, but Gordon Brown has given no indication that he will give a lead.

“The Greens offer a progressive alternative to Brown and New Labour. We are the anti-war party that champions public services, human rights, social justice and environmental protection. It’s time for Green, not Brown.

“Gordon Brown is planning to waste £100 billion on Trident nuclear missiles, ID cards, new road building, more nuclear power stations, further privatisation of public services, and the continued occupation of Iraq .

“This enormous sum would be far better spent on affordable housing, improved schools and hospitals, renewable power generation, and cheap, safe and reliable public transport.

“Climate chaos is the single biggest threat to British and international prosperity and security. The Greens are the only party with serious, credible policies to halt global warming.

“While Brown is making loud green noises, his policies to tackle climate change are weak and contradictory. Carbon emissions have increased since Labour came to power in 1997.

“Gordon Brown is supporting new motorway and airport expansion. He has allowed huge hikes in public transport fares, which discourage people from leaving their cars at home.

“As Chancellor, he imposed the air passenger duty but he is not using it to fund carbon cuts. The money raised by this tax – nearly £2 billion a year – is just disappearing into the exchequer.

“The hope that Brown will return the Labour party and government to its left-wing roots is, frankly, delusional. He has said there will be no back-tracking on Blair’s agenda. No surprise there. After all, he was the co-architect of New Labour.

“Look at Brown’s past record and his recent pledges to maintain Blair’s key policies.

“He was the prudent Chancellor who stuck with Tory spending limits at a time when the poor and public services were crying out for action.

“Gordon backs the unfairness of the council tax system, which does not take into account people’s income and ability to pay. It is hitting hard many elderly folk who have seen big rises in their property values, but not in their incomes.

“He insulted our senior citizens with his miserly 75p pension increase , at a time when the national insurance budget had a £7 billion surplus.

“Two years earlier, he abolished tax relief on dividends paid into pensions funds, which reduced their value by a staggering £5 billion a year. This contributed to dozens of pension schemes collapsing and resulted in many retirees getting much lower pensions than expected.

“Brown has promoted Labour’s creeping privatisation of health and education, including foundation hospitals and city academies. In contrast, the Greens believe public services should serve the public, not enrich consultants and private corporations.

“The new Prime Minister has acquiesced with the biggest-ever peacetime erosion of civil liberties. He not only endorses the police having the right to detain people without charge for up to 28 days (the equivalent of a two month prison sentence), he has indicated his willingness to consider extending the detention period, perhaps up to 90 days – despite parliament less than a year ago rejecting such draconian incarceration measures, and despite no evidence that longer detention will be useful in curbing crime or terrorism.

“We have witnessed Brown supporting the ban on protests near parliament without prior police permission; echoing the old Soviet system where citizens had to get official authorisation to demonstrate outside the Kremlin. This ban has resulted in peace campaigners being arrested in Whitehall for reading out the names of the Iraq war dead.

“Brown also backs the inhumanity of the asylum system; whereby innocent asylum seekers who have fled jail and torture are incarcerated like common criminals, with fewer legal rights that people charged with rape and murder.

“Mr Brown has reiterated his approval of the war in Iraq . He has no exit strategy; and no plan to rebuild the country’s shattered infrastructure – a devastation that has fuelled the insurgency and left many regions with no welfare provision for jobless and homeless refugees, and no fully operational phone and sewage systems, and water and electricity supplies.

“He lacks any proposals for a negotiated settlement to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The suffering of the Palestinian people is the major cause of violence in the Middle East and acts as a recruiting sergeant for international terrorism. Securing a just peace settlement is crucial for global peace and stability,” said Mr Tatchell.