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Spirit Level co-author Richard Wilkinson concluded his lecture last Thursday with an impassioned plea for a reduction in the appalling and widening inequality in this country – stressing that another kind of society is possible, with more cooperation,trust and wellbeing. He was speaking at the Equality Trust event in Newcastle University to such a huge audience that they had to open a second lecture theatre for the overspill. Lots of Greens were there, asking two of the questions in the discussion after the lecture. We had a stall, with our latest leaflet “No to Austerity” which calls for higher and fairer taxation, as wealthy corporations and individuals should pay more to help create a more equal society.

I saw his co-author Kate Pickett speak on a panel on Inequality at the Green Party Conference a couple of years ago and she applauded our policies as being very much in line with the recommendations of their book. As well as our redistributive taxation policies, we also have policies on restricting top people’s pay to a ratio of only 10 times that of the lowest paid in their company or public body, and limiting bonuses to be less than the annual wage of the lowest paid.

There is now going to be a meeting to set up a local Equality Trust group in Newcastle, on Thursday 9th February 5-7pm at St John’s Church, Grainger Street, Newcastle (near Central Station). Greens will definitely be part of this new campaign group.

That meeting is going to be followed by a public meeting about the Core Strategy, a plan for the next 20 years of development in Newcastle and Gateshead, which will in fact increase inequality in our region! Tyne and Wear Left Unity have asked myself and David Byrne of Gateshead Green Party to come and talk about this, along with Rick Anderson of Newcastle Labour Party. You can download our full objection to this terrible plan on the North East Green Party website, which includes some of our alternatives. So that’s 7 – 9pm also at St John’s Church Hall.

As part of the campaign to get the two Councils to ditch this destructive plan, there is a Walk on the Wild Side – a mass ramble (echoes of the mass trespasses…) from the Gosforth Nature Reserve at 11am, down the course of the Ouseburn to the river Tyne. We are having a Green contingent on the Walk on the Wildside and a gathering for lunch at the Cluny. More info from Save Gosforth Wildlife campaign

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