Natalie Bennett was the leader of the Green Party from 2012-2016. Living in Sheffield, she is continuing with full-time Green politics – including with the European Greens – and she’s continuing the struggle to stop Brexit. A graduate in agricultural science, she has a particular interest in security of food, income, and housing. And she’s a champion of the universal basic income, which can ensure no one needs to fear not being able to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head. Natalie will be giving two talks in the Campaigns area over the course of the weekend.
Food and Farming:
When it comes to food, Britain lives in a monoculture. More than half our calories come from just four crops, grown from seed mostly supplied by a couple of giant multinational companies that also supply chemicals and fertiliser in quantities that are trashing our wildlife, waters and soils. Farmers are forced into this system by the handful of giant supermarkets supplying “cheap food” that costs us a great deal while they collect handy profits.
This has to change – and that’s good news because the kind of changes needed can not only create an ecological transformation of our countryside, but create huge numbers of small business and employment opportunities.
Universal Basic Income:
With zero-hours contracts, insecure employment and crippling benefit sanctions, many people are today finding themselves penniless, and dependent on food banks and friends for basic survival. “Bullshit jobs” occupy many of us, and automation threatens a job-poor future.
All of these issues have helped push the idea of a universal basic income to the forefront of public debate. Natalie argues that this is a policy that can achieve not only security, but much, much more: the opportunity for people to use their lives well – develop their skills and abilities as artists, as small business people, as carers and community workers.