Caroline Lucas talks fees and trees at Sussex
MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas dismissed Labour’s proposed ‘slash’ of student fees to £6000 as insufficient whilst speaking at The University of Sussex last week.
The MP was also critical of the other main parties saying that the Conservatives were simply “bulldozing through” legislation, the foundations of which were laid down by the Labour Party.
The Liberal Democrats were equally toothless, attendees were told, having “lost their identity” as the silent partners in the coalition.
The talk, in Fulton lecture hall A, was billed as an opportunity to continue an ongoing conversation with the local MP, giving students the opportunity to ask questions after an introduction to current key issues.
Lucas opened with a broadside on David Cameron’s approach to environmental policy.
The government’s attempt to sell off National Trust forests, cut solar energy projects and change planning and land development laws were all symptoms of an environmental policy gone wrong, Lucas said.
The heaviest fire was reserved for the decision to axe the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC).
The SDC was, according to Lucas, the only institution capable of confirming Cameron’s promise to lead ‘the greenest government ever’.
“If the planet were a bank”, stated Lucas, “it would have been bailed out a long time ago”.
Critical of the government’s approach to economic recovery, Lucas said that she expected the program of government cuts to be “socially devastating”:
“It will be the poor who are hit hardest by the cuts. The government’s claim that the private sector will pick up the slack has simply not happened”.
Lucas also criticised the government’s ability to deal with tax loopholes, costing UK tax payers £100bn pounds a year.
Turning to local issues, Lucas reminded us that, “until very recently Brighton and Hove had the reputation of the drug death capital of the United Kingdom”.
Lucas informed students of her collaborative efforts with “local police, medical professionals and other local stakeholders” to determine new evidence-based approaches to drug policies in the Brighton area.
The pricing of alcohol is another key issue for Lucas, who is lobbying parliament to close tax loop-holes which allow super strength white cider to be sold “cheaper than water”.
Lucas would also like to see more restric
tions on local supermarkets. However, after the event Lucas admitted: “it’s hard to make the legal argument that supermarkets shouldn’t be allowed to sell heavily discounted alcohol”.
Lucas took the time to thank the students for their part in her election, but plans to expand the Green Party ministerial footprint will have to be successful in the next election before Lucas can feel like less of “a lone voice in parliament”.