21 February 2016
Wandsworth Green Party has raised the alarm about government attempts to ban local authorities from ethical pension and procurement policies which the group sees as an attack on local democracy.
On Tuesday 16th February 2016, Cabinet Minister Matthew Hancock announced new guidance attempting to ban publicly funded bodies from ethically based procurement policies. This combines with government moves to stop local authority pension schemes divesting on ethical grounds.
Wandsworth Green Party have submitted a response to the Enquiry by the Department for Communities and Local Government outlining detailed objections to the government changes. In the submission, the group argue that “When public funds are spent and invested, thrift and profit cannot be the only criteria. The effect on human rights, economic welfare and the environment must be considered”. It highlights the role of public authority boycotts in the anti-apartheid movement, challenging the tobacco and armaments industries and opposing illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The Party shared this submission with all of the Borough’s councillors, urging them to oppose the proposed changes as an attack on local democracy. Several supportive replies have been received from councillors including Andy Gibbons, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan and Tony Belton. Members call for Wandsworth to join Newcastle City Council in formally opposing the changes.
“From the sugar boycott that helped end the slave trade to the ‘Fossil Free’ divestment campaign, British campaigners have a habit of putting their money where their mouth is” said Esther Obiri-Darko, Green Party candidate for Wandsworth and Merton in May’s London Assembly elections.
“The government’s efforts to gag councils not only undermines its own localist agenda, but shows an intolerance for democratic initiatives they disagree with.”
Green Party members are now asking whether local Members of Parliament Justine Greening, Jane Ellison and Sadiq Khan (also the Labour candidate for London Mayor) stand on this question of local democracy.
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