Utopia, equality, and 100% unemployment. Photo: Getty
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Simulection: What happens when you run the 2015 Green manifesto through a video game?

We are running the parties' manifestos through Democracy 3, an election simulation video game. Here's what happens if the Greens win...

Natalie says: “The Green surge has carried me to… yes, Caroline, it’s carried us to the seat of power. It has shown that the common good is at the heart of the British people’s concerns… yes, Caroline, and that healing the planet environment thing too. OK, Jenny, and the thing about housing which is going to cost us, I’ve got this Jenny, $2.7bn. I mean pounds. 9bn of them. Sorry, I’ve got a cold. Let me just look at my notes, there’s got to be something about costings. Ah, yes, here.

I’ll read it out. ‘As leader of the Greens, I love trees. So we’ve not wasted any paper on, uh, working out the cost of our promises. We used this ethically-sourced slate and Manuka wax tabula and this organic bamboo stylus, and we’ve already wiped it clean so it could be reused, sorry.’ Incidentally, as an Australian, agricultural scientist and former Guardian editor, I’m also ethically-sourced, haha.  

Now I’m available for one-on-one photos, no interviews. Please, no interviews.”

Natalie Bennett's excruciating media performances aside, the Green party’s manifesto looks rather attractive to a lefty. It’s all for increasing the role of the state, pushing equality, and actually doing something about all those ethical issues the other parties just tut about and ignore. Their policy website is astoundingly comprehensive and has been kept up to date with their policies for several years. For them, the manifesto just meant they had to compress it a lot.

And their policies are ethical, coherent and radical. For example, the Greens do seem to be the only ones addressing the huge climate change issues, which everyone else in the country seems to be hoping will go away. In Democracy 3, there’s a background temperature increase that represents global warming and affects food production and the like. There’s also a user-created mod to edit it out of the game, presumably for the sort of reactionary fluffbrains who thinks that the 97 per cent of scientists who say climate change is real have spent too long in the sun. But we’ll talk about Ukip tomorrow.

(Incidentally, if you do like simulation games like Democracy 3 and want to try one that will utterly bloody terrify you about climate change, you should take a look at Fate of the World. It’s based on climate science and maps how humanity will survive the next 100 years. Or mostly won’t.)

It's also the party that’s the most radical about equality, and its manifesto is unashamedly redistributive. If I’m to succeed playing as the Greens, I have to hope the ordinary worker is enough to keep the mills of the economy grinding, as I reckon the rich are going to leave the country pretty sharpish.

Finally, it's the party that’s most radical on spending plans. It has a commitment to increasing public spending to nearly half the national income. That’s twice the starting budget in Democracy 3, though only a third as much in real life. I’ll aim somewhere between the two.

So, we start with taxation. It’ll take a long time to get our income up near to 50 per cent of GDP to match public spending, but I’m willing to try. We start with a punitive wealth tax, to represent their commitment to taxing the top 1 per cent an extra £25bn a year and raising the top rate of income tax to 60 per cent. Then we increase corporation tax by a huge 10 per cent. I represent a tax on financial transactions by limiting automatic trading, but I can’t find a satisfactory way to represent imposing controls on bank lending. All these measures will eventually combine to really, really piss off the rich. Which I also believe is a Green policy.

(I say eventually, because implementing policies takes a while in Democracy 3. Some of the bigger ones can take a few years to kick in, which is no good if you’re trying to win a second term.)

After annoying the rich, I raise the tax pledges that will piss off the poor and Jim Jarmusch  cigarettes and alcohol. Then we decriminalise cannabis and tax that too! These taxes actually start pushing poverty up fast, which is pretty awful. Turns out the demand of the simulated poor for these things is price-inflexible, presumably due to rampant addiction and misery.

Once we’ve got cash, we can splash it on our environmental commitments. First, we spend 50 per cent extra on recycling, around £4bn. We put a plastic bag tax in there too, as it seems to fit. The Greens are committed to cutting energy demand by a third by 2020 and to providing £4bn for R&D into less energy-intensive industrial processes. I represent this by raising clean energy subsidies sky-high, and subsidising smart meters in every home. Their commitment to less energy-intensive industrial processes is similarly represented by a green electronics initiative. And we double government science funding, as promised.

We’re now a year in, and something unusual is happening. The inevitable global recession isn’t really affecting the UK. It’s happening, no mistake, but our huge surplus seems to be fending it off, somehow, perhaps because capital is rushing to us as a low-credit risk  or the game might just be misreporting it. Whatever, we’re in an astoundingly healthy situation for this part of the cycle.

We spend our second year fulfilling the Greens’ food and farming promises. A ban on antibiotics in meat agriculture hits farmers hard and pushes up food prices, again increasing poverty. The food standards agency tightens regulations while we add massive subsidies to organic food.

The Greens have also pretty much pledged to get rid of the military and sink trident. So I quietly let all the military go, save for ceremonial duties. We also totally loosen border controls, so Natalie’s family can come visit.

That pays for education. We bump up the schools budget a little and abolish tuition fees (here represented by huge student grants to the tune of £8bn a year).

As we go along, random dilemmas show up. That superhero who kept rescuing those under the Lib Dem regime pops up again. We reject a ban on the hijab in schools (in line with Green policy) and enforce the ban on fox hunting. And we curb banker’s bonuses, in line with our policy on CEO pay caps (which we also impose). I have to say, it really makes a difference in this sim having a searchable policy database. I’d say every political party should do it, but that would mean they’d need to be consistent between elections.

Then something totally unexpected happens. Our credit rating is upgraded to AA. This has never happened to me before, especially not in the middle of a global recession. It reflects my frontloading of taxation commitments compared to putting off big spending commitments, that’s let us pay down the national debt frighteningly quickly.

Despite this, only 8 per cent of voters support us, presumably because they’re being taxed to death. We really need to spend some money to promote growth to get the population back on side and not just the ratings agencies. As evidence of this, two ministers are annoyed over our treatment of capitalists and threaten to quit, so I quickly reshuffle the cabinet.

We establish a national network of electric vehicle charging points (or the closest representation thereof). We can’t renationalise the railways like the manifesto says – but I subsidise them so heavily they may as well be. We cancel all road-building at the same time – another Green policy that saves tons of money, but pisses off half the country.

Next we hit inequality and racism. We put up generous funding for an equality and human rights commission. We maximise the racial equality funding that was already in place, and generously boost the disability allowance. And we impose diversity quotas for companies, to fulfil the commitment to get more women into the boardroom. And we follow the core policy of gently phasing out VAT, which falls mainly on the poor  or rather, cancel it in a day.

A dilemma pops up. Should we ban violent video games? The Greens are opposed to all forms of censorship, so this is fine. Whether we should ban Democracy 3 so I don’t have to stay up all night reading manifestos is another thing.

There are tonnes of other Green policies that would make a huge difference, but that the engine just doesn’t support. I can’t do any electoral or political reform  dissolve the House of Lords, say. We don’t have the legislative power to impose 35-hour weeks or to ban zero hours contracts. We’ve probably achieved a million new public sector jobs from various programs  and lost twice that many closing the road-building programme and the military.

I can’t control bank lending, or break up energy companies, or prevent building on flood plains. I never managed to afford the £20-50bn needed for flood defences. There wasn’t a simple way to prevent airport expanson, dirty power plants or fracking or animal experiments, or to lower the voting age, or to allow euthanasia, or crush private education. But I think we made a good fist of it.

I’m talking in the past tense, because I’ve realised we’re pretty doomed. Our credit rating has been downgraded to BBB, but that’s the least of our worries. Our GDP has collapsed  I thought it would recover but it hasn’t. This is due to the twin problems of a brain drain and a corporate exodus. We have 100 per cent unemployment, which is making GDP drag along the bottom of the graph, so low that the axes markers get in the way of seeing the line. My head honestly just goes down at this point  I genuinely thought this was in the bag there.

We lose, convincingly  though still perform much better than the Tories. I probably could have pulled back a few million votes there at the end, by desperate measures, but it would have been worthless. The Greens were sunk, despite their early victory. Many of their policies inadvertently increased poverty as a small side effect, and it really stacked up, feeding into unemployment, then alcoholism and crime, killing health and productivity.

By contrast, the Greens really did mean to offend the rich, and it worked as I predicted; both rich individuals and corporations fled the country, which destroyed GDP. Despite a huge, ongoing stimulus package, it stopped growth getting off the ground for the last 18 months of the term, which ultimately killed our vote.

It’s a pity, because I was won over by the ease with which everything was funded when you know who the enemy is and the thoroughness of your vision. Despite everything, the Greens made the country better-educated, more productive, healthier and more equal than ever before  indeed, the game deemed the nation a "Green utopia". And we managed to hit our Kyoto goals, by the way. I think Natalie would be happy with that.

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Chuka Umunna calls for "solidarity" among Labour MPs, whoever is voted leader

The full text of shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna's speech to Policy Network on election-winning ideas for Labour's future, and the weaknesses of the New Labour project.

There has never been an easy time to be a social democrat (or “democratic socialist” as we sometimes call ourselves in Britain). Whereas the right can demonise the poor and extol the virtues of the market, and the hard left can demonise the market and extol the role of the state, our position of constraining the domination of markets and reforming the state is, by definition, more complex.

It is nonetheless the case that social democracy has a historic responsibility, in every generation, to renew democracy and preserve a civic culture. This is achieved not through soundbites and slogans, but through the hard-headed development of a progressive politics that reconciles liberty and democracy, new comers and locals to our communities, business and workers, in a common life that preserves security, prosperity and peace.  This historic mission is all the more urgent now and my determination that we succeed has grown not weakened since our election defeat last May.

But, in order to be heard, it is necessary to make balanced and reasonable argument that both animates and inspires our movement, and which is popular and plausible with the people.  The first is pre-requisite to the second; and there is no choice to be made between your party’s fundamental principles and electability. They are mutually dependent - you cannot do one without the other.

We are in the midst of choosing a new leader and it is clear to anyone who has watched the UK Labour Party leadership election this summer that amongst a significant number there is a profound rage against Third Way politics – as pursued by the likes of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder and others - as a rejection of our fundamental values.

In the UK there is a view that New Labour accepted an uncritical accommodation with global capital that widened inequality, weakened organised labour and we were too close to the US Republicans and too far from the European left.

I do not believe this is fair, not least because we rescued many of our public services from the scrap heap when we came to office in 1997 and there were very significant achievements  we should celebrate.  New Labour renewed our National Health Service in a fundamental way; we built new schools and improved existing ones; we set up new children’s centres all over the country; we brought in a National Minimum Wage; we worked with others to bring peace to Northern Ireland; we introduced civil partnerships.  Just some of our achievements.

However, though we may take issue with the critique, I do not think we can simply dismiss out of hand those who hold critical views of New Labour. Like any government, the New Labour administration made mistakes - it could and should have achieved more, and done more to challenge the Right’s assumptions about the world. In the end, it is not unreasonable to be ambitious for what your party in government can achieve in building greater equality, liberty, democracy and sustainability. It is far better we acknowledge, not reject, this ambition for a better world, as we seek to forge a new politics of the common good fit for the future.

Realising our values in office has been disrupted by globalisation and the surge of technological forces that are displacing and reshaping industry after industry.

Some argue that globalisation as an ideological construct of the right. But we must recognise that we live in an increasingly integrated world in which markets have led to an unprecedented participation of excluded people in prosperity, a rise in living standards for hundreds of millions  of people and a literacy unprecedented in human history – this is particularly so in emerging economies like my father’s native Nigeria. And the internet has led to a level of accountability that has disturbed elites.

Yet, this has been combined with a concentration of ownership that needs to be challenged, of a subordination of politics that requires creative rather than reactive thinking, and these global forces have exacerbated inequalities as well as helped reduce poverty.

So it is important that we understand the sheer scale and impact of new technologies. At the moment we are engaged in a debate about Uber and its threat to one of the last vestiges of vocational labour markets left in London, those of the black taxi cabs and their attainment of 'The Knowledge'. But the reality is that within the next decade there will be the emergence of driverless cars so we have to intensify our exploration of how to support people in a knowledge economy and the realities of lifelong learning, as well as lifelong teaching. As people live longer we will have to think about how to engage them constructively in work and teaching in new ways.

Once again, I'm addressing all of this, Social Democracy requires a balanced view that domesticates the destructive energy of capital while recognising its creative energy, that recognises the need for new skills rather than simply the protection of old ones. A Social Democracy that recognises that internationalism requires co-operation between states and not a zero sum game that protectionism would encourage.

Above all, Social Democratic politics must recognise the importance of place, of the resources to be found in the local through which the pressures of globalisation can be mediated and shaped. Our job is to shape the future and neither to accept it as a passive fate nor to indulge the fantasy that we can dominate it but to work with the grain of change in order to renew our tradition, recognising the creativity of the workforce, the benefits of democracy and the importance of building a common life.  Sources of value are to be found in local traditions and institutions.

This also requires a recognition that though demonstration and protest are important,; but relationships and conversations are a far more effective way of building a movement for political change.

One of the huge weaknesses of New Labour was in its reliance on mobilisation from the centre rather than organising. It therefore allowed itself to be characterised as an elite project with wide popular support but it did not build a base for its support within the party across the country, and it did not develop leaders from the communities it represented. It was strong on policy but weak on strengthening democratic politics, particularly Labour politics.

Over half a million people are now members, supporters or affiliated supporters of our party, with hundreds of thousands joining in the last few weeks. Some have joined in order to thwart the pursuit of Labour values but many more have joined to further the pursuit of those values, including lots of young people. At a time when so many are walking away from centre left parties across the Western world and many young people do not vote let alone join a party, this is surely something to celebrate.

So it is vital that we now embrace our new joiners and harness the energy they can bring to renewing Labour’s connection with the people. First, we must help as many them as possible to become doorstep activists for our politics. Second, I have long argued UK Labour should campaign and organise not only to win elections but to affect tangible change through local community campaigns. We brought Arnie Graf, the Chicago community organiser who mentored President Obama in his early years, over from the U.S. to help teach us how to community organise more effectively. We should bring Arnie back over to finish the job and help empower our new joiners to be the change they want to see in every community – we need to build on the links they have with local groups and organisations.

I mentioned at the beginning that in every generation Social Democracy is besieged from left and right but the achievements of each generation are defined by the strength of a complex political tradition that strengthens solidarity through protecting democracy and liberty, a role for the state and the market and seeks to shape the future through an inclusive politics. Solidarity is key which is why we must accept the result of our contest when it comes and support our new leader in developing an agenda that can return Labour to office.

Yes, these are troubled times for social democrats. All over Europe there is a sense among our traditional voters that we are remote and do not share their concerns or represent their interests or values.  There is surge of support for populist right wing parties from Denmark to France, of more left wing parties in Greece and Spain and in Britain too. There is renewal of imperial politics in Russia, the murderous and abhorrent regime of ISIL in the Middle East, volatility in the Chinese economy and in Europe a flow of immigration that causes fear and anxiety.

But, the task of Social Democracy in our time is to fashion a politics of hope that can bring together divided populations around justice, peace and prosperity so that we can govern ourselves democratically. We have seen worse than this and weathered the storm. I am looking forward, with great optimism to be being part of a generation that renews our relevance and popularity in the years to come.

Chuka Umunna is the shadow business secretary and the Labour MP for Streatham.