Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has highlighted her party's radical policies in an interview with The Times newspaper.
The interview came during a week in which the party has achieved its highest ratings in the polls since campaigning for this May's general election started. The party is now regularly beating the Liberal Democrats – which up to now has often occupied third place – in opinion polls. The Greens have been invited to join other main party leaders in TV debates. Meanwhile, membership of the party is set to break the 50,000 barrier.
During the interview, Bennett defended commitments to decriminalise membership of terrorist organisations, possession of drugs, and prostitution, as well as promising to abolish the monarchy and remove the Queen from Buckingham Palace.
Bennett said that: "I can't see that the Queen is ever going to be really poor, but I'm sure we can find a council house for her." The remark appeared to be a clumsy attempt to gain media attention, given that the Queen's private wealth makes her one of the world's richest women.
The Green Party's stated policy on the monarchy is that it should cease to be an office of government and that the property held by the royal family should be divided between that required for the private life of current members of the family with the remainder to become public property.
The Greens also propose wealth taxes, enforced by confiscation powers to finance policies including a "citizen's wage" for all adults of £71 a week, at an annual cost of £280bn. Inheritance tax rules would be made more stringent, to prevent wealth being passed on. "Sin taxes" would
"Sin taxes" would imposed on meat and other items deemed to be socially damaging, while fur and foie gras would be banned altogether.
Bennett brushed aside criticisms that her party's policies would lead to economic catastrophe, emphasising the Green's stance against materialism. "People don't just want to work to earn more and more money," she said. "They want to do other things that often now aren't recognised and valued."
"People don't just want to work to earn more and more money," she said. "They want to do other things that often now aren't recognised and valued."
Many of the policies originate within the historical remit of the radical left, prompting suspicions that much of the Green's polling success comes from disenchanted Labour supporters making their views felt. And the extent of Green support should not be overestimated.
Despite its surge in popularity, Bennett expects the Green Party to remain on the fringe of British politics, saying she expects the party to win just six seats at the general election. Nevertheless, winning any seats at all could give the Greens access to power, either in another coalition government or in a scenario in which a single party government has a slim majority.
Nevertheless, winning any seats could give the Greens access to power, either as part of a new official coalition or by becoming a deal-broker if major party has a slim majority.