Election 2015

Natalie Bennett: Green vote 'sends climate change message'

Natalie Bennett Image copyright Reuters

Green Party in England and Wales leader Natalie Bennett has urged voters to support her party to "send a message" on climate change.

She said the Greens would "hold a Tory government to account" and have "effective influence" over a Labour government on environmental issues.

The party has also set out its policies to support disabled people.

It promised increased funding, free social care and an end to work capability assessments.

The Green Party gained its first - and only - MP, Caroline Lucas, at the 2010 general election, winning Brighton Pavilion.

The party is currently registering about 5% in the national polls.

'Effective influence'

In a bid to urge voters to help boost the party's influence at Westminster, Ms Bennett pledged her party's commitment to putting pressure on the next government to tackle climate change.

Speaking from the Cambridge Solar installation, she said: "By voting Green, you've got a chance to show whoever the next prime minister is just how much the fight against climate change matters to you.

"You've got a chance to send a message, loud and clear, to whoever is negotiating on your behalf [in international talks on climate change in] in Paris."

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Ms Lucas became the part's first representative in the House of Commons, in 2010

And Ms Bennett pledged: "Green MPs will do all they can to stop a Tory Government taking office, but if they do get back in you can rest assured that Greens will be on their case, holding them to account and exposing their shortcomings.

"But, with a Labour minority administration looking increasingly likely, you've got a chance to elect a strong group of Green MPs who can have an effective influence on Ed Miliband on issues like fracking, home energy efficiency and breaking up the influence of the big six energy companies."

Sign language

In a separate event in Oldham, Green peer Baroness Jones launched the party's disability pledge, which includes a promise to scrap work capability assessments, provide free social care to those who need it and to increase funding for supporting disabled people.

She also outlined the party's deaf manifesto, which commits to recognising British Sign Language as an official language and improving education for deaf children and adults.

Ahead of the launch, Baroness Jones said austerity had had a "dreadful" impact on disabled people, who had "suffered disproportionately from the bedroom tax and cuts in care funding".

"The Green Party is fighting back. We're calling for the bedroom tax to be scrapped, for the Independent Living Fund to be reinstated and for the recognition of British Sign Language as an official language," she said.

More on this story