In the lead up to the elections, Gair Rhydd’s Rhiannon Tapp interviews Green Party candidate for Cardiff Central Chris von Ruhland
Why would you encourage students to vote for you as the Green candidate?
Firstly I would encourage students to vote anyway as a principle. A lot of young people are disengaged from politics which is why they don’t get the hearings they should do from politicians while elderly people get very good deals indeed.
Why should students vote for the Green Party? We’re going to abolish tuition fees. We see education as a fundamental right and a principle of a civilised society and we will replace that initially with a grant system and then ultimately with a citizens income scheme. In the Green Party we think education should be free to everyone the same way the NHS is.
Do you see a substantial future for the Green Party?
Yes. We’ll need to move towards a sustainable society. It’s the only way we can continue civilisation as we enjoy it. Our current system is geared towards economic growth but of course we live in on a planet so we are restricted by this fact. Unless we move towards sustainable economics we’re going to encounter more of the problems we’ve already seen like global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer.
We’re simply exceeding our planet’s capability to absorb our waste products so ultimately we need a more sustainable society and that is green politics. Whether the other parties will pick up on that and become more green remains to be seen but there is definitely a requirement for green politicians.
Who would you prefer to see in power Ed Miliband or David Cameron?
I wouldn’t like to see either of them. This is an issue of the way our parliament works. It’s this confrontational politics that disingenders. There are politicians of all political persuasions who work together and are beginning to move away from this confrontational politics. To move towards a system of cooperation where we find a common ground is good.
Most politicians want to make the world a better place and that’s why I stand and that’s why most of the other candidates have stood. We need to move away from this idea of ‘the opposition’ and ‘the government’ and towards a genuine parliament.
What do you say to people who think that voting green is pointless?
All votes count. Just because we have a first past the post system doesn’t mean that other voices aren’t heard. We’ve seen that with UKIP. They currently have one MP but they gain disproportionate amount of influence on the big parties because of the support that they’ve managed to engender, so they might ultimately not receive any MPs but just because you’re not going to get elected doesn’t mean you don’t have an influence.
If you believe in Green policies, vote for the Greens. Don’t be cynical and use tactical voting. This is something which is exploited by the two main parties and it perpetuates the system. We should encourage people to vote for what they actually believe in and that’s the only way you’re going to get change.
How do you think Jenny Willott has done so far as MP for Cardiff Central?
I think like all MPs she has worked very hard. She’s certainly been very loyal to the coalition and looking at her record she’s voted for the policies which the coalition has drawn up to agree on. She did vote in favour of a better investigation of the Iraq War which ultimately failed in parliament. She opposed tuition fees. That was where she was actually in the whips office and she stepped down from that so that she could do that so that was one of her highlights I think.
Many students take issue with what job prospects and the economy would be like under the Greens?
Well we’ve got a fully costed economic policy. We’re going to create one million jobs by investing in green technology. We want to improve the prospect for apprentices. There’s too much emphasis I think on academic qualifications at the expense of technical ones and there’s a serious shortage of technical staff in the UK. This we can overcome by investing in technological prospects.
Really it’s thinking about the future: what sort of future do students want to grow up with? At the moment we have an economic system which, certainly in the West, takes more than its fair share of resources of the planet. There will be consequences if we carry on which we’ve already seen with climate change. A move towards a more sustainable society will create jobs in order to achieve that and it is a challenging situation to deal with this. The Greens also want to reduce the hours people work, there’s a lot of emphasis placed on the acquisition of material goods but there are other very important things like happiness and health which aren’t really measured to any significant extent at the moment. I invite students to think much more longer term.
Why does the Green Party oppose nuclear power?
Uranium is a finite resource. This is something advocates of nuclear power don’t mention. Current rates of consumption mean we have about 40 years of uranium left worldwide so it’s going to run out. At the same time we have this huge legacy of nuclear waste which nobody knows what to do with and we’re just leaving that to future generations to sort out. That’s just morally wrong. We have no idea what to do with it, it’s going to last for tens of thousands of years. To continute creating nuclear reactive waste seems to be a spectacularly stupid thing. It’s only for short term gain. There seems to be no consideration of future generations in a lot of current party politics.
According to Welsh MEP Nathan Gill, climate change is not man made. Is there any truth to this?
Global warming is a result of increasing anthroprogenics in the atmosphere. In the Green Party we are pro science. People think we’re a bunch of hippies but we’re not like that at all. Science underpins all of our policies. The simple scientific fact that we live on a planet and its rescources are finite is something only we as a party have recognised.
Over 95% of scientists agree that global warming is man made and they are getting very, very concerned at the intransigence of which Western nations have been.
The Green Party has always said we need renewable energies in order to preserve resources for the future and now people are only just starting to notice this is true.
We’re melting the Greenland ice sheet and this is terrifying. There are, I don’t know how many, cubic kilometers of ice melting on a slope. It’s obvious what the consequences of this will be. If we continue as we are, in the next five hundred years we will be as hot as the Cretaceous period. The biosphere can’t cope with a transition of that rapidity.
We’re going to see serious problems, crop failure, drought, worsening weather and it’s going to impact on our descendents. What I find astonishing is the sheer lack of urgency amongst governments. There are many developing countries who are switching to 100% renewable and we’re just dragging our heels which is absolutely outrageous.