Hammersmith & Chiswick parliamentary candidate: Green Party

Images: The Green Party’s Parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith & Chiswick Naranee Ruthra-Rajan, Green Party logo

“We’re the only ones being honest about the scale of need out there and how to invest in that properly”

The 2024 General Election takes place on Thursday 4 July. The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is defending the Conservative Party’s record in government after 14 years in power.

As polling day approaches, The Chiswick Calendar has interviewed the parliamentary candidates for the newly created Chiswick & Hammersmith constituency, which covers most of Chiswick.

There are eight candidates standing for election. Seventh on the ballot paper is Naranee Ruthra-Rajan, the Green Party’s candidate. Naranee’s career has spanned education and the arts, which she says at their best encourage critical thinking and creativity which helps to inspire hope for a better future. She currently works for a charity supporting young people.

The Greens have promised billions of pounds in extra funding for the UK’s beleaguered public services. While their spending pledges dwarf those of the other parties, the party says it is necessary after decades of mismanagement under successive Tory and Labour governments.

Unsurprisingly environmental issues are front and centre in most aspects of the Green manifesto. Big issues like nationalisation of public services and local issues like help for businesses and reducing congestion in Chiswick are all tied together with the singular goal: preventing the worst impacts of climate change by achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

The Chiswick Calendar’s Interview with Naranee Ruthra-Rajan – The Green Party

Let’s start off with healthcare. The Green Party have pledged a substantial £8bn increase to NHS funding in the first year. How can the Green Party ensure that this funding will effectively be used to reduce Hospital waiting times and improve access across the NHS?

“I think a big part of the um problems in the last few years that people don’t talk about as much as the effect that the lack of funding has had on service. What we’re looking for is having a significant amount of funding so people can have a certainty the hospital Trust can plan properly to be able to then reduce waiting times and they can make those decisions themselves, what works best for their institutions.”

Okay. With regards to Charing Cross Hospital, what steps would you take as the MP for the area to prevent ongoing damage to the hospital that’s happened under the Tories?

“In terms of the building? We’re planning to put £20bn into capital projects for hospitals as well which would include places like Charing Cross.”

Let’s move onto tax. There’s a bit of skepticism about the feasibility of raising the £15 billion annually through a new wealth tax… How do you want to prevent wealthier individuals from avoiding tax and what measures would you take to enforce it?

“Well for one we would properly resource HMRC, that’s in the manifesto. We also know that there’s actually a lot of people who want to pay their taxes there’s a group called Patriotic Millionaires who keep telling us this. But I think actually enforcing the law as it is would probably do the most them to make sure we get the money we need. There’s a lot of people who actually want to live here so I think a lot of the skepticism that’s being raised from people who would raise it anyway because it’s in their interests to.”

Onto education and the manifesto includes scrapping university tuition fees and reinstating maintenance grants, how can universities remain financially viable and continue to offer high quality education without fees?

“I think this is probably about funding the universities properly. I was in the last year to get free education before they got before they started charging tuition fees. So if they made it work then they can make it work now. I think we also would have… This government has done a lot to put off international students which has been a significance of income, so we’d also bring that back.”

Any other policies which would benefit young people more generally in Hammersmith & Chiswick?

“I suppose improving all of the public services would improve the lives of young people… Particularly around housing and education. Properly funding schools, funding local authorities so they can provide more arts and sports. That’s another part of the manifesto, I think we would back a like a cultural entitlement to make sure local organisations are empowered to work together and provide some really interesting provision for Hammersmith & Chiswick.”

Great thank you. Let’s move onto net zero, the Green Party hopes to achieve net zero emissions by 2040 – a target more ambitious than other parties. How do you plan to achieve this without while phasing out nuclear power, which currently provides 15% of the UK’s electricity?

“Because it would be about phasing it out. There’s significant amounts we can get from renewable energy… Sorry I’m just trying to find the details… For us we’ve got plans for wind to be 70% of the UK’s electricity and significantly increasing the amount of people who can work on green technology and so on.

“The other part is with house insulation and a whole insulation programme, you can also reduce the amount of energy we need in the first place. So the cheapest bill is the one you don’t have to pay.”

The manifesto includes nationalising the five big energy firms as well as plans to nationalise the railways, the water companies – what specific steps would the party take to manage the transition from private to public and ensure the services can still be run efficiently?

“Ooh I don’t know that particular detail… Sorry give me a second… … … Oh so it’s about public investment which gives equity in this utilities. I think it would still be about working within the industry, like with anything it’s about just transitions.

“It’s about work firms helping to skill up people if there isn’t enough of a workforce and just finding out what the issues are with those individual industries. Utilities. Yeah.”

Okay. We’ll move onto some local issues in Chiswick now, air quality and traffic congestion are significant concerns for a lot of residents in Chiswick, what policies would you propose to reduce traffic and air pollution especially along Chiswick High Road? It’s a nightmare sometimes for people using even public transport.

“Essentially it’s not about stopping everyone using their cars, some people need them but we need the roads to be clearer for buses and those people, and for emergency vehicles and delivery vans and so on.

“I think it’s about making active travel more attractive, I think the cycle lane helps people feel a bit safer to travel in that sense. It’s also about improving the frequency of the buses for example so more people can feel that they can rely on them. I think there’s been a lot of cuts back but I think that’s more to do with Transport for London than something the national government would cover. But we would definitely support increasing the amount of buses here.

“I think things like supporting schools as well with what they do to look at the journeys young people are making to schools would be another part of the jigsaw.”

Chiswick is known for it’s parks and green spaces. How would you protect and enhance these areas and ensure they’re acessible and well-maintained?

“I think it’s about funding local authorities to do that more rather than the national government. So a big part of the manifesto is increasing the investment to local authorities to make those local decisions.”

Okay thanks… Affordable housing is a pressing issue in Hammersmith & Chiswick. How would you balance the need for housing with maintaining the character and heritage of the area, as well as meeting environmental needs?

“Again for us it’s very simple, it’s about properly funding local authorities to be able to make those decisions. That would be about it being in-keeping with the local area. We would encourage local authorities to try to have smaller places scattered rather than on large estate – social housing for example.

“We would be changing planning laws you could make sure that new-builds are built to new standards. And so they have solar panels, are well-insulated and so on. We’d also be looking at how you and retro-fit a million houses across the country back into use. But again that would be through the local authority.”

And, how would you support people who are renting privately? Because people who are renting of course prices are going through the roof constantly. Would you implement any form of rent controls?

“Yes. We would support putting in rent controls. I think we’d be empowering local authorities to do that. We’d also be scrapping section 21 no-fault evictions. We have to get better at supporting people who rent in this country. We don’t do that at the moment but a Green Party government would.”

Local businesses have also faced various challenges over the past few years. How do you plan to support small businesses in Chiswick, particularly in the wake of economic challenges such as the pandemic and and Brexit?

“Um… There’s a number of things. We back the setting up of regional mutual banks so that you can have investment locally and also focus on decarbonisation. These regional mutual banks could be capitalised through the co-op development fund. These are some of the funds made available by the UK Development Bank.

“We’d also give local authorities £2bn a year, specifically for grants to help businesses decarbonise. We’ll also look at ways to help companies be transformed into mutual organisations… we’d encourage much greater community ownership through government funding.

“Another thing is around trying to support them avoiding debt. So we would help them to manage their cash flow and look at the small businesses commissioner to investigate instances of poor-payment proactively.

Thank you. Really just on other question, why should voters choose the Green Party than another left-of-centre party?

“I think because we’re the only ones being honest about the scale of need out there and how to invest in that properly. We have planned to do that, it’s one that’s recognised and has been described as economically credible.

“We know how stretched people have been, we’ve seen it ourselves. It’s about supporting all the people who need all of these services and supporting the people who work in those services because people need certainty now and we’re the only ones to do that.”