Wednesday, 28 September 2022

The Socialist Green New Deal


From Green Left

Introduction

In this document, we trace the development of a Green Socialist New Deal (GSND) from its origins in the ‘New Deal’ of the 1930s, to the more recent Green New Deal.

We believe that the latter can only be effective in tackling the multiple crises of finance, climate change, environmental degradation, social and global justice and peace through an eco-socialist alliance of workers and trade unions that challenges the current capitalist order.

We outline a set of interim policies in our GSND, concluding that these medium-term changes would reduce climate change and also enhance our democracy and human welfare.

History of New Deals

The ‘New Deal’ was a package of regulations, financial reforms and public works in the USA introduced by President Roosevelt in response to the depression after 1929. It was designed to deliver “the three Rs” – Relief from poverty, economic Recovery and financial Reforms.

Whilst full employment was not restored until after the USA joined World War II in 1941, when public expenditure for the war effort doubled GDP, the New Deal led to significant economic recovery, major improvements in health and growth in employment. Some programmes continue today and the concept of a New Deal remains a powerful symbol of what governments can achieve when free market mechanisms fail.

In 2008 a group of prominent individuals in Britain (Economist Ann Pettifor, Caroline Lucas MP, the Guardian’s Larry Elliott and Tony Juniper published a set of proposals under the title 'Green New Deal' (GND) in response to the ‘triple crunch’ facing the world: the financial crisis in 2007-8, accelerating climate change and soaring energy prices. This concept of a GND has enthused radical movements across the world and versions have proliferated on both sides of the Atlantic.

Most of these are confined to technical measures for addressing climate change but few address the root causes of climate change; environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, poverty, inequality and injustice. For eco-socialists, a GND must involve restructuring societies and economies, through democratic discussion across all of society, including workers, unemployed people, pensioners, carers and their organisations.

By 2019, after ten years of Tory austerity, both Labour and the Green Party included versions of the GND in their General Election manifestos. Both featured imaginative proposals to rejuvenate Britain’s infrastructure, energy systems, housing, transport, environment, health and welfare. These were significant policy advances to build on but have been insufficiently radical to address our problems and their causes successfully.

Transition to an eco-socialist future

The survival of many species, including human, requires a transition to a postcapitalist, democratic, green socialist future, to be achieved by a new alliance of workers and eco-socialists. Our Green Socialist New Deal is properly understood as a stepping stone on the journey to that destination. The policies outlined here can be implemented swiftly in the context of Britain’s current institutions and economic framework. They begin the process of delivering radical change at local, regional and national level.

REDUCED ENERGY DEMAND AND EXPANSION OF RENEWABLES

Our GSND requires immediate government action to reduce the use of coal, oil and gas, consistent with Carbon Net Zero, by 2030. This objective will require a range of measures including:

Carbon accounting by companies: a requirement to measure and report the carbon emissions for which they are responsible

Carbon tax on industry and commerce, starting at £100 per ton and rising annually.

Carbon budgeting and rationing at national, community and household levels and the introduction of Personal Carbon Allowances starting at around ½ ton per month and reducing each year.

Reductions in energy demand through home insulation, energy conservation and modal shifts to electric mass transport.

Major investments in renewable energy sources -solar, wind, wave, geothermal, hydro and tidal.

Massive growth in material re-use and recycling of manufactured goods, clothing, commodities, metals, building materials and more, creating a near Zero Waste system and eliminating toxic landfill.

TWO MILLION PLUS CLIMATE AND GREEN JOBS

Studies indicate that moving to a carbon-free future can generate many good jobs, providing a Just Transition for those whose jobs are currently in carbon intensive industries. Under GSND we will:

Rapidly deploy workers to the fast-expanding renewable energy sectors (see above).

Create thousands of new jobs in construction and engineering as we shift from gas and oil to electricity with the attendant requirement to upgrade the national grid.

Employ builders, electricians and fitters in large numbers in insulating millions of homes to new energy standards and installing carbon-free heating.

Expand jobs in the care sector and in organic agriculture/agro-forestry as we transition from a profitdriven to a needs-based, sustainable economy.

Launch a National Climate Service to co-ordinate regional and local action on climate.

A JUST TRANSITION - PLANNED WORK TRANSFER

The process of decarbonisation will be disruptive, resulting in major and rapid shifts in economic activity, rendering millions of jobs obsolete and creating a correlative requirement to create new, well-paid and socially useful ones. We would create national and regional plans to guarantee the creation of well-paid replacement jobs, with training and skills development in new low carbon sectors.

It is vital that trade unions, workers and communities can design, lead and cooperate in these plans, as well as at all levels of government. We would ensure that new jobs provided safe and healthy working conditions in environmentally sustainable workplaces, as well as rights of workers to information on the environmental impacts of their work and whistleblower protection.

We would implement distributive measures to ensure that other social groups besides workers, including unpaidcarers,  the disabled, pensioners and students, share fairly in the ecological and social benefits of the transition. The working week would allow more flexibility for workers and their families, in terms of timing and number of hours/days at the workplace and at home.

GREEN TRANSPORT REVOLUTION REDUCE-LOCALISE-DE-CARBONISE-ELECTRIFYINTEGRATE

Transport creates over 20% of carbon emissions. This must be reduced by over 90% by 2030. To achieve this we shall reduce the need for transport by localising work, commerce and services to each community. We shall ensure that essential services, like health, are available within 20 minutes of most people. We shall accelerate a comprehensive rollout of digital broadband technology, supporting the trend to hybrid working and achieving a major reduction in long-distance commuting.

We shall effect a major localising of public and private services in urban areas and villages. This will help repopulate rural areas and further reduce wasteful commuting. Further measures to make communities sustainable and food resilient will include:

Ensuring a rapid shift from fossil fuel vehicles to electric, battery, flywheel and hydrogen power over the next ten years, withdrawing all fossil fuel motors by 2032.

Developing an electric bus and coach network across Britain, connecting most towns and villages on an hourly timetable.

Integrating different public transport modes (bus/train) and ensuring that all are fully accessible.

Phasing in free bus travel, starting in inner-city areas.

Re-opening and electrifying many closed rail-lines to connect districts across regions and introducing a regional Travel Card.

We would complete electrification of railways alongside new urban tram networks by 2035 and phase out heavy lorries over 10 tonnes whilst transferring freight to rail.

We would permit only electric vans and lorries after 2030.

We would build new walkways (pavements) and continuous cycle lanes linking most towns and villages across the countryside (up to 10 miles).

We would incentivise electric car pooling and local car clubs and penalise private vehicle ownership through a series of measures including road pricing for private motor transport in cities (£1/mile). We would implement a carbon tax on all air travel and shipping (£100 per tonne).

The target for our GSND in the area of transport is to establish a clean, integrated, accessible public transport system covering the whole of Britain by 2035… for the first time.

LAND, AGRICULTURE and FOOD

Land ownership is currently highly unequal and many large estates are unavailable for growing organic food, for public recreation or for re-wilding that benefits the environment, climate and biodiversity. We would break up estates over 10,000 and introduce a Land Value Tax.

Britain is a fertile, temperate country which can feed itself easily. We would achieve a phased reduction of the 50% of food that is currently imported by restoring food self-sufficiency and replacing intensive or industrialised farming with smaller mixed farms.

We would ensure a policy mix of education, incentives and rationing of high carbon products to accelerate the shift in consumption habits towards a healthier, more affordable and predominantly vegetarian/vegan diet culture. Our target is 80% plant-based consumption by 2032. In addition, we shall ensure further improvements in animal rights and welfare.

Less developed countries that currently export food to Britain will be able to use their land and water resources to meet the needs of their own populations and we shall drive global initiatives to ensure that compensation is paid by rich countries to help in the transition to local farming by indigenous people. We shall legislate to ensure that commercial fishing uses only sustainable practices which benefit local small-scale fishing.

HOUSING FOR ALL

There are millions of poorly-housed and homeless people in Britain. To deal with this, our GSND will:

Protect public housing from sell-off or privatisation, by abolishing 'Right to buy’ and setting a target to build 1 million new homes for social rent.

Enable Local Authorities to identify, acquire and refurbish suitable empty buildings for local housing and to implement a new Vacancy Tax on private properties empty for over 6 months. This new tax to be related to the new Land Value Tax.

Make funds available to local authorities for building new social, affordable, ‘passivhaus’ homes (mainly on brownfield sites) and to refurbish existing ones.

We shall build 100,000 compact Eco-flats in the first 6 months to meet urgent housing need and create non-profit district co-operatives for Housing and for Energy.

NATIONAL SOCIAL CARE SERVICE

We shall ensure major public investment in free or affordable social care, generating many new low carbon jobs in which care workers are well-trained and well-paid.

The shift from a profit-driven to a needs-driven approach will improve the welfare of care workers, family carers and those needing care.

FAIR TAX REVOLUTION

The necessary changes will require investment of funds, partly from taxation and partly by other means. Our Green Socialist New Deal will involve:

Nationalisation of some banks and the creation of a new People’s Bank.

Widespread implementation of non-profit community credit schemes.

Capital controls to protect against harmful, speculative capital movements.

Introduction of a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions.

Closure of tax loopholes, such as transferring profits to low tax zones, hiding profits etc.

Increased corporation tax inheritance tax and capital gains tax

New taxes on high incomes, wealth, land value and pollution, including carbon.

Cancellation of the expensive Public Finance Initiative (PFI) debts held mainly by hospitals.

UNIVERSAL BASIC SERVICES

There is a widespread perception in the west that public services are somehow predatory, financed as they are by taxes levied on “legitimate” private economic activity. This perception is expensively manufactured and sustained, and there is an implicit suggestion that the public sector is somehow less morally deserving than the private sector. Successive governments have promoted this misrepresentation in order to starve public services, especially the NHS and welfare services, of the funding they require to meet community needs.

In truth the community ultimately owns public sector assets - the commons that we inherit from our forbears - and should make the decisions about the level of economic resources invested in universal public services.

We shall ensure that universal services including housing, employment, health and social care, public transport, education and training, energy and water, receiving an adequate share of investment from the Treasury.

We shall provide a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for adults over 16, (with a child income managed by a parent), together with an enhanced National Minimum Wage. Taken together, these initiatives will greatly reduce absolute poverty especially among families with young children.

We shall ensure much stronger measures to limit air and water pollution, conserve biodiversity, and prevent soil degradation. We shall equip the Environment Agency with much greater powers of enforcement.

REPUBLICAN DEMOCRACY

We shall take rapid steps towards a republican model of government, with increased devolution to the regions and local authorities and proportional representation at national, regional and local levels in order to revive democratic participation.

Local and regional Citizens Assemblies will be used in developing public policy. We shall transform the House of Lords into a set of elected Scrutiny Committees or a Senate of Regions.

Conclusions

The medium term policies set out in this Green Socialist New Deal would be a major shift towards a truly democratic, equal and fair society based on human and environmental needs.

Implementing an ambitious agenda for change such as this will require co-operative action involving all Labour, Socialist and Green movements. 

Acknowledgments:

Green House Think Tank 

Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) 

Zero Carbon B

Campaign against Climate Change (CACC) Trade Union Group: 'Climate Jobs’ (2021)

Greener Jobs Alliance Green Party Manifesto 2021(US)

'Fight the Fire’ by Jonathan Neale

'What we need to do now' by Chris Goodall.

'Why we need a Green New Deal’ by Ann Pettifor. Monthly Review, US Eco-Socialist Journal.

Green Left London 

New Economics Foundation Think Tank. 

'Climate Strike-Practical Politics of the Climate Crisis’ by Derek Wall

'How to save our Planet’ by Professor Mark Maslin

With thanks to Contributors: Danny McNamara, Jay Ginn, Peter Murry, Anne Gray, Les Levidow, Mike Shaughnessy and several others;

Design: Lois Davis

Published by Green Left, c/o 151 Queens Drive, London N4 2AR. Editor: Mark Douglas.

Please send comments to the editor and to request hard copies, email: mdouglas@gn.apc.org

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Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Britain’s model of monarchy can never be green

 

Written by Dee Searle 

People speculating about whether Charles III will continue his apparent soft spot for the environment into his reign as king are missing the point. The UK’s secretive, massively wealthy, constitutional monarchy, with its huge influence and leadership of an established church, is the opposite of the equality, equity, sharing and openness on which green politics is based. 

While it’s true that the monarchy was modernised during the 70-year reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II, most of its power is still beyond public scrutiny. The UK Parliament cannot hold the royal family to account and the Commons Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, has blocked discussions about them on more than one occasion. 

This means that we will never know why Queen Elizabeth II, our constitutional monarch, failed to uphold the constitution when she agreed to Boris Johnson unlawfully proroguing parliament in autumn 2019, when surely her advisers would have spotted the illegality. Similarly, on another major recent constitutional issue, there appears to have been no attempt by the Crown to point out that the Brexit referendum in 2016 was supposed to be advisory rather than a firm commitment. 

Meanwhile there is the routine monarch’s job of rubber-stamping even the most damaging of government policies during the state opening of parliament. Stand by for Charles III announcing that ‘his government’ under new Prime Minister Liz Truss will soon be opening up more North Sea oil and gas fields and encouraging fracking across the UK. 

Even if Charles’s environmental sentiments might lead him to question the wisdom of such policies, his position as head of the British Establishment means he will publicly support our top-down, hierarchical system however suicidal their actions might be. There is no scope in such a system for exploring the radical changes to our economy, politics and society that are needed if we are to effectively tackle the escalating climate and ecological emergency. 

Several media commentators are suggesting that Charles III aims to slim down the monarchy and make it more informal. He might well try, but that doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in openness or democracy, going by the way the Duchy of Cornwall is run. 

The Duchy, which is worth more than £1 billion and owns huge large chunks of Cornwall, Dartmoor, Herefordshire, Somerset and almost all of the Isles of Scilly, plus a portfolio of financial investments, has generated millions of pounds a year for Charles and will do so for William, the incoming Prince of Wales. It benefits from a wide range of rights, powers and privileges, including the right to veto legislation that affects it, public immunity (including from Freedom of Information requests), exemption from leasehold rights, exemption from prosecution under several laws and  “Bona Vacantia” (which means where property within Cornwall becomes ownerless, it belongs to the Duke of Cornwall instead of the government). 

Some of these rights, powers and privileges are historic but many have been introduced or updated in recent times. Several locals have tried to challenge the Duchy, such as the owner of a mine made famous in the Poldark television series. But they are almost always unsuccessful and hushed up. 

The Green Party has for many years called for the UK to introduce proportional representation to provide a fairer number of green MPs in parliament. However, this won’t lead to more open, accountable governance unless we also tackle the unelected, embedded power of Britain’s constitutional monarchy. 

The widespread public mourning of the death of Queen Elizabeth II and (mostly) warm welcome for the new King Charles III and William as Prince of Wales demonstrate that the UK is not about to become a republic any time soon. However, there could be an opportunity to build a case for adopting a more ceremonial, apolitical status for the royals along the lines of most other European monarchies. 

This could be a practical way to help Charles and William implement their public declarations of support for tackling climate change and protecting the environment. 

Dee Searle is an ecosocialist activist based in London

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Life Expectancy: The US and Cuba in the Time of Covid

 

Written by Don Fitz

Recent data shows that between 2019 and 2021, life expectancy (LE) in the US plunged almost three years while for Cuba it edged up 0.2 years.  Yet, in 1960, the year after its revolution, Cuba had a LE of  64.2 years, lower by 5.6 years than that in the US (69.8 years).  As I document in Cuban Health Care, the island quickly caught up to the US and, from 1970 through 2016, the two countries were nip and tuck, with some years Cuba and other years the US, having a longer LE. But neither country was ever as much as one year of LE ahead of the other. 

Life Expectancy (LE) in US and Cuba, 2017-2021

Year    LE US LE Cuba US - Cuba

2021    76.1     79.0     - 2.9

2020    78.8     78.9     -0.1

2019    79.0     78.8     +0.2

2018    78.7     78.7       0.0

2017    78.6     78.6       0.0

This continued through the beginning of Covid, which sharply changed the pattern.  LE in the US suddenly dropped behind that in Cuba.  Bernd Debusmann Jr.of BBC News wrote, LE in the US fell “to the lowest level seen since 1996.  Government data showed LE at birth now stands at 76.1 compared to 79 in 2019. That is the steepest two-year decline in a century.”  From 2019 to 2020, “LE declined in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

How could a country with all the problems of Cuba, actually have LE almost three years greater than the US?  There were enormous differences between the way the countries responded to Covid.  

The Covid Contrast 

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data confirmed that “Covid-19 was the main contributing factor [to changes in LE].  The statistics show that Covid-19 accounted for 50% of the decline between 2020 and 2021. Between 2019 and 2020, the pandemic contributed to 74% of the decline.” 

A critical divergence between the two countries is that Cuba guarantees health care to all as a human right while the US system is based on profit and political grandstanding.  When Covid hit, the US dawdled for months as Cuba mobilized for medical action.

The Ministry of Health developed a national strategy before the island’s first victim had succumbed to the disease.  Cuban TV carried daily press conferences with detailed info on the status of new patients, results of cabinet meetings on Covid, and announcing the best way for citizens to protect themselves and others.  Social distancing, masks and contact tracing were universally accepted. 

Each day Cuban medical students knocked on doors to ask citizens how they were.  Students’ tasks included obtaining survey data from residents and making extra visits to the elderly, infants and those with respiratory problems.  Clinic staff dealt with issues that doctors were unable to cope with and sent patients they could not care for to hospitals.  Medical data was used by those in the highest decision-making positions of the country.  In this way, every Cuban citizen and every health care worker, from those at neighborhood doctor offices through those at the most esteemed research institutes, had a part in determining health policy.

This inclusive approach resulted in Cuba’s having 87 Covid deaths by July 21, 2020, when the US had experienced 140,300.  While the US population is 30 times that of Cuba, it had 1613 times as many deaths.

Two aspects of Cuba’s response to Covid stand out.  First, Cuba does NOT have more money to spend on health care.  It actually spends less than a tenth as much per person per year than does the US, but it spends that wisely on a holistic system.  Second, Cuba’s health care is global – it continued its practice of sending thousands of medical staff to other countries during Covid.

Over the past six decades more than 400,000 Cuban medical professionals have worked in 164 countries and improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people.  In addition to providing Cuban doctors with experience coping with diseases and medical issues they do not see at home, this action is positive global diplomacy.  US diplomacy, on the other hand, seems to focus on threatening to harm people and/or actually harming them. 

In Addition to Covid 

News stories also mentioned other factors associated with the shorter LE in the US: drug overdoses, heart disease, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis and suicides.  The corporate press also acknowledged racial disparities.

There had been progress in reducing LE differences between Black and white Americans.  This was reversed during 2018 – 2020 when LE went down 1.36 years for whites, 3.25 years for Hispanics, and 3.88 years for Blacks. 

The fall in US life expectancy was even more pronounced among Native Americans and Alaska Natives.  Since 2019, it “dropped by 6.6 years, more than twice that of the wider US population.”

The US has multiple groups who reject government attempts to vaccinate or wear masks.  Most loud-mouthed, of course, are the right wingers who lividly despise the very idea of public health campaigns.  While their thought processes are hallucination-based, people of color have reality-based fears of being ignored, lied to, and used for government experimentation, such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.  There is a strong connection between vaccination hesitation and racism. 

What They Did Not Look At 

Among factors with increasing US Covid rates ignored by corporate media in the US are poverty, an acute rise in misinformation, abortion, the embargo against Cuba and preparation for climate change. 

Poverty.  The first task of the Cuban revolution was to simultaneously address poverty, food, sanitation, literacy, education, racism and housing, which the rebels saw as parts of unitary whole.  During the Covid crisis, many US corporations were determined to force low wage workers to stay at their jobs, spreading the disease.  Cuba told those with Covid to stay home.

Misinformation.  Discussions of Covid deaths must not ignore the deadly role of science denial.  At the same time Trump was foolishly downplaying mounting dangers of Covid, Cuba was far along developing its “Novel Coronavirus Plan for Prevention and Control.”  Trump was not and is not an isolated individual – he manifests a life-threatening movement toward lunacy.  Cuba has no significant group which confronts Covid with a bottle of Clorox or expects a cure brought by Q Anon on a flying saucer.

Abortion.  Cuba also does not have a “Women’s Lives Don’t Matter!” movement seeking to eliminate abortion rights.  Those who do not want an abortion do not get one and people do not seek to impose their religious and spiritual beliefs on others.  The Supreme Court’s allowing states to criminalize abortion will cause many women to die, due both from self-attempts at abortion and lack of its availability.  LE averages are impacted more by deaths of young than elderly; so, we can expect many abortion-induced deaths in US will be among teenagers and young women, which will affect LE. 

Embargo.  The “trade sanctions” or “blockade” or “embargo” have a special relationship with LE in Cuba: one might expect it to decrease LE; but it has not done so.  When Cuba was reeling from the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, the US passed laws intending to punish those who continued to trade with it.  This raised prices in the already impoverished country and has prevented or slowed the arrival of much life-saving medical equipment.  Yet, due to its prioritizing health care during the 1990s, Cuba’s infant mortality decreased while its LE showed a slight increase.

International solidarity movements have stepped in to help Cuba overcome many embargo effects. Lack of essential material prevented Cuba from performing liver transplants in children.  But, during May 2022, Puentes de Amor (Bridges of Love) delivered the vital chemical compound to the William Soler Pediatric Hospital. 

Resilience.  Avoiding the use of fossil fuels and enormous hydro-, solar- and wind-projects, as Cuba does, will cut down on global destructiveness but have very little effect on reducing climate change on the island.  However, preparing for resilience in the face of climate change can hugely affect its quality of life.

In March 2022 (p. 8) Scientific American editors wrote that most important in preparing for the next pandemic is “building new systems.” Unfortunately, this is what the US is avoiding as it becomes absorbed in making minor tweaks to outmoded, inadequate systems of environmental protection. 

Cuba has been holding BastiĆ³n (bulwark) events involving as many as four million citizens who carry out food production, disease control, sanitation and safeguarding medical supplies.  When a policy change is introduced, government representatives go to each community, including the most remote rural ones, to make sure that everyone knows the threats that climate change poses to their lives and how they can alter behaviors to minimize them.  They include such diverse actions as conservation with energy use, saving water, preventing fires and using medical products sparingly.

Another energy positive being expanded in Cuba is farms being run entirely on agroecology principles.  Such farms can produce 12 times the energy they consume.  Biodigesters break down manure and other biomass to create biogas (very different in Cuba than the US) which is used for tractors or transportation.  Vegetable and herb production in Cuba exploded from 4000 tons in 1994 to over four million tons by 2006.  This is why Jason Hickel’s “Sustainable Development Index” rated Cuba’s ecological efficiency as the best in the world in 2019. 

Where Are We Headed? 

The connection between LE and climate change is becoming increasingly evident.  US media stories typically focus on a given disaster such as a flood and mention how aging infrastructure is being neglected.  The implication is that if infrastructure were updated to its status of 50 or 100 years ago, that would be adequate.  It would not be adequate because climate change means that storms will be more frequent, more intense and more deadly in the future.

By 2017, Cuba had become the only country with a government-led plan (Project Life, or Tarea Vida) to combat climate change which includes a 100 year projection.  While Cuba is looking ahead and planning how to protect people from increasingly devastating storms, US politicians feverishly bury their heads in the sand in subservience to corporate interests, subjecting future generations to ever greater catastrophes. 

This causes LE in the US to plunge down while LE in Cuba climbs slowly upward.  Covid did not create the LE divide between the US and Cuba.  Covid exacerbated trends which have become increasingly intertwined for decades.  The best guess is that these trends will continue well into the future. 

Don Fitz (fitzdon@aol.com) is on the Editorial Board of Green Social Thought, where a version of this article originally appeared.  He was the 2016 candidate of the Missouri Green Party for Governor.  His book, Cuban Health Care: The Ongoing Revolution, has been available since June 2020.  

Monday, 12 September 2022

How Identity Politics is destroying the Green Party

Written by Nicole Haydock

As reflected in the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 26) held in Glasgow the Autumn of 2021, Green Parties internationally have seen a surge in their popularity over the past decade with record numbers of elected members at local, regional and national levels.

The latest and greatest evidence of such popularity and significance is Germany’s Greens co-leader Robert Habeck called upon to serve as Vice Chancellor and Federal minister for climate, energy and the economy since 2021 and now tipped to become Germany’s Finance Minister.

When 7% of UK voters in the United Kingdom translates into just a single Elected Member in the House of Commons because of the unfair first-past-the-post voting system, one would have thought that campaigning for a system where every vote counts would have always been a top priority for the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW). Instead, it somewhat oddly, opted to entrust or “discharge”  the implementation of its own policy for Proportional Representation to ‘Make Vote Matters’, a neutral or non-party political quango.

The GPEW has manifestly also failed to position itself as a leader in the much wider climate change and environmental protest movement in the UK, whilst a substantial number of its more active members joined the ranks of anti-fracking local groups and/or the high-profile Extinction Rebellion.

Doubts have therefore been raised more recently both within the party and from sympathetic voters or organisations as to the GPEW’s capacity to offer a credible alternative to existing parties and the status quo.

Looking beyond personalities, the calibre of its “leadership team” and elected MP, surely the cause of such lack of credibility can be traced to the fundamental democratic deficit at the core of a constitution adopted half a century ago when its membership was less than one tenth of its present 50,000.

But as incapable of addressing its democratic deficit with a mere 12% turn-out for the leadership election, the fact is that the GPEW is more akin to a bicycle club than a regular political party. Like the branches of a club, local parties are autonomous. Participants to its Conference, ( AGM more like ) remain firmly self-appointed and therefore unaccountable to anyone else but themselves.

By being neither an incorporated entity nor a co-operative,  and stuck with a constitution that is unfit-for-purpose where the vested interests of seven single issue Identity Politics inspired Designated groups - or factions - have systematically blocked all attempts to instigate democratic reforms, the GPEW is a seriously dysfunctional organisation.

To all intent and purposes, and with Caroline Lucas, its charismatic MP whose re-election in Parliament depends entirely on the continued support from Brighton’s LTGBIQA+  community and its “transgender women are women” activists, the GPEW is nothing more than a large, multi-facetted,  “intersectional “ sect with local electoral ambitions.

It is certainly not in any sense a fully functional and modern political party.

Whether, in the state it finds itself in at present, after 6 years of internal disruption and diversion from its vision, values and purpose, the Green Party of England and Wales will ever be able to benefit from the proportional voting system trade unions have now delivered and when legislated for by a Labour government is in doubt.

Whether it can somehow extricate itself in the foreseeable future from the deadly grip of its self-inflected and alien “cancel culture”  ideology and thus free its potential to achieve political power in the UK on a par with its sister  European parties is, sadly, unlikely.  

If the GPEW is to have a future, any future, its members must ditch its dogmatic and authoritarian Identity Politics leadership, clean up their act and finally adopt a fit-for-purpose constitution where power and decision making is firmly anchored in its hundreds of thriving local parties. 

Nicole Haydock is a member of North East Wales Green Party and the Green Party Women’s Committee, in a personal capacity.

Monday, 29 August 2022

Maintain Green Party policy on withdrawal from NATO. It cannot be ‘reformed’ into a peace-building organization.

NATO’s official remit has been a defensive alliance for European peace & security, yet it has been a military aggressor for rich Northern nations against weaker nations, increasingly on a global scale.  For those aims, NATO uses the ‘special relationship’ with UK - a euphemism for its complicity with US military aggression.  NATO has become an ever-greater threat to world peace, especially given its policy on first use of nuclear weapons.   Let’s maintain the Green Party’s policy for withdrawal from NATO.

NATO exploiting the Russia-Ukraine conflict 

For all those reasons, many Green and Left-wing parties around Europe have opposed their own countries’ membership in NATO.  The pro-NATO lobby has recently softened such opposition by exploiting Russia’s unjust invasion of Ukraine and the necessary armaments for its self-defence.  This has become a pretext for a Europe-wide military expansion greatly increasing investment, production and trade in weapons.  This is driven by NATO’s increasingly global aggression, which also conveniently finances the arms industry. 

Moreover, NATO has played a part in worsening the Russia-Ukraine conflict. At the June 2021 Brussels summit, NATO leaders reiterated their earlier decision (at the 2008 Bucharest Summit) that Ukraine would eventually become a member.  In March 2022 President Zelensky indicated his willingness for Ukraine to be a militarily neutral country.  But the US government has preferred to antagonise Russia by continuing the prospect that Ukraine might join NATO and by expanding military installations near its borders. 

NATO aggression masquerading as defence 

Contrary to its official rationale as a ‘defence’ alliance, NATO has regularly used violence for political-economic objectives, especially against regimes resisting subordination to the US.  Since 1989, NATO supporters have sought its permanence by exaggerating ‘security threats’, while NATO has expanded its remit far beyond Europe.  It has used or threatened military attack for the USA’s political objectives.  (See Annex below for details.) 

Such intimidation includes nuclear weapons:  In NATO’s Charter, Article 5 maintains the option for the first use of nuclear weapons.  It has ‘nuclear-weapons sharing’ arrangements on the territory of five member states.  NATO poses a major threat to a peaceful world and global nuclear disarmament. 

Maintain the Green Party’s policy for withdrawal 

According to the Green Party’s Peace & Defence policy: ‘Much international conflict today arises directly or indirectly from the abuse of power by rich Northern nations.’  Indeed.  It advocates UK withdrawal from NATO: 

According to the Green Party’s Peace & Defence policy: ‘Much international conflict today arises directly or indirectly from the abuse of power by rich Northern nations.’  Indeed.  It advocates UK withdrawal from NATO: 

‘The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is a military-oriented body, which imposes conflict cessation rather than encouraging peace building. As such, it is not a sustainable mechanism for maintaining peace in the world. In the long term, we would take the UK out of NATO. We would also end the so-called "special relationship" between the UK and the US.’

Green Party, Peace & Defence policies, PD513, https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/pd.html 

This stance is contradicted by the spring 2022 conference Motion F02, sections PSD 317-319. They sanitise NATO's role as supposedly peace-building and security for weaker nations – the opposite of its real role. The Motion implies Green Party support for the UK staying in NATO, pending imaginary efforts at 'reforms'. 

Question for Green Party members: 

Do you want to sanitise NATO’s military aggression, weapons expansion and further militarisation of society?  If you do not, then maintain the current policy for withdrawal from NATO.

Oppose the NATO sections of Motion F02, as in the amendment being proposed. 

Article written by some members of the Green Party of England and Wales and Green Left: Martin Francis, Jay Ginn, Les Levidow. 

Annex:  NATO’s military aggression for US global political domination 

Since its inception in 1949, NATO’s claim for a defence role has been repeatedly contradicted by its military aggression and political domination.  Its official pretence  has facilitated the abuse of military power for rich Northern nations.   Consider these examples: 

Secret militias: After World War II, Operation Gladio was supposedly a defensive measure against a Soviet invasion of Western European countries.  Gladio established secret militias there, using far Right and neo-Nazi individuals.  Some carried out terrorist attacks.  The original set-up involved NATO, MI5 and the CIA. 

1961 Turkey: US nuclear-armed missiles, capable of reaching Moscow, were placed in Turkey. They were removed in 1963 as part of the deal for US to renounce any invasion of Cuba and for the USSR to remove its missiles there. 

Post-1989:   The Warsaw Pact was a key rationale for establishing NATO.  Although the Pact was disbanded in 1989, NATO continued.   It used the opportunity to expand the membership and militarise countries bordering Russia. 

1999 Strategic Concept:  NATO expanded its remit to justify military operations anywhere in the Eurasian land mass. 

2001 Afghanistan:  Led by NATO-member forces, the 2001 Western invasion devastated Afghanistan on the pretext of fighting back against the 9-11 culprits. Of course, they had come from Saudi Arabia, which conveniently wasn’t mentioned.  NATO took control of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in 2003, as a means to increase US government control. 

2003-11 Iraq:  Invasion and occupation by US-UK coalition, extending the Bush ‘War on Terror’ following the 9-11 attack.  Led to protracted internal conflict that continues today. 

2010 ‘Active Engagement, Modern Defence’ policy: NATO expanded its remit to encompass ‘counterterrorism, cyber-security, and the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons’. 

2011 Libya:  NATO members (US, UK, France and Canada) intervened in a civil war through naval and air bombing. This left the country in turmoil and division, which continues today. 

2014:  NATO agreed that a cyber-attack on any member state could warrant a collective response, including military action.  It can be difficult to identify the source of cyber-attacks.  So this NATO agreement provides a flexible pretext to attack any insubordinate country. 

2021 Outer space:  At its 2001 summit, NATO extended the Article 5 collective defence clause to include military attacks in or from outer space. 

2021 Iraq again:  NATO decided to expand its anti-ISIS training mission in Iraq.  This defied the country’s Parliament, which in 2020 had demanded that foreign troops leave the country. 

2022 Kurdistan:  For several decades, NATO member Turkey has sought to delegitimise and destroy the Kurdish freedom movement as a ‘terrorist’ force.  This year the Turkish military has intensified its illegal attacks in predominantly Kurdish areas across the Iraqi border, with tacit support from NATO.  It sees the movement as a threat to Western domination of the region. 

Saturday, 18 June 2022

TUC Cost of Living Demo - Photos and Report


Thousands of people turned out for the Trade Union Congress (TUC) demonstration today in central London. The protesters assembled at Portland Place and marched to Parliament Square, where many trade union leaders spoke to the rally. I estimate about 25,000 to 30,000 attended.


 


All of the unions were well represented, with each union forming colourful blocs of inflatables, flags and banners.  Music featured too, with sound systems, brass bands and drummers.



Union leaders gave speeches in Parliament Square to a crowd of thousands, calling for higher wages, increased taxes for the rich, better working conditions and in support of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union strikes next week.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC was met with applause and cheers as she gave a speech criticising the Transport Secretary and the Prime Minister. 

She said: “I have seen the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has threatened rail workers that they will strike themselves out of a job. 

“Well you are wrong Mr Shapps: if you keep stirring, come the next election, you will be out of a job.” 

Ms O’Grady added: “Let me say this to Boris Johnson, don’t you dare shift the blame for inflation onto working people. Ms O’Grady added: 

“Don’t you dare, not after a decade of austerity, privatisation and pay cuts. Don’t you dare tell working families we have to put up with more pain.

“What about bankers’ bonuses? What about the boardroom raking it in? What about corporate profits? 

“It is time to raise taxes on wealth not workers.”

Unfortunately, we didn’t have the numbers to leaflet and carry the Ecosocialist Alliance banner on the march. The text of the leaflet is here. But here is a photo of our Ecosocialist Alliance comrades, Anti-Capitalist Resistance’s banner.   


Friday, 10 June 2022

TUC Cost of Living Demo - Nationalise to De-Carbonise Energy & Transport

 

This is the text of Ecosocialist Alliance leaflet which will be circulated on the TUC demo on Saturday18 June, 11am start, Portland Place, London, W1. Come along and support us if you can, look out for the banner pictured above. Ecosocialism not Extinction!

The media is full of headlines about crises: cost of living, energy prices, health and social care, pandemics - and, less frequently, climate collapse. Mainstream politicians see these as separate crises, while ecosocialists recognise these are interrelated crises of the capitalist system itself.

Insulate Britain activists have been jailed for trying to get the Westminster government to begin a massive programme to insulate homes and Just Stop Oil activists also face jail for their protests outside the Kingsbury oil depot.

Simple measures like insulation and renewable energy would take millions of people out of fuel poverty and would greatly reduce the numbers dying each year because they cannot afford to heat their homes. Britain has the worst record in Europe for this: in 2020, fuel poverty charities estimated such deaths as around 10,000 a year.

Government funded insulation programmes, combined with putting taxpayers' money into renewable energy, would greatly reduce our carbon emissions as well as create thousands of good green jobs.. In addition, our reliance on the profiteering and polluting fossilfuel giants – posting record profits, while continuing to drive the climate and ecological crises – would be massively reduced.

The Tories' record is appalling with millions of working families living below the poverty line. The hike in energy prices will see well over 25% of UK households – 15m people – in fuel poverty. Johnson and Sunak’s subsidies and rebates barely touch the sides.

The British government gives the fossil fuel industry £10 billion a year in tax breaks and subsidies.

The Tories finally bowed to pressure for a windfall tax on dirty fuel producers but we would go much further. All subsidies to oil and gas companies must end now and be switched to renewables. We must take energy companies and road and rail infrastructure into public ownership and rapidly de-carbonise the whole economy. We stand for a rapid ecosocialist transition led by, and in the interests of, working people.

Ecosocialist Alliance is a network of organisations and individuals. We campaign for ecosocialist and ecofeminist solutions to the multiple crises of the system. We are internationalist: the climate crisis will not be solved by any one country, but by collective global action.

We stand firmly with the global south in seeking ecological and social justice.

We reject green capitalist “solutions”, which are unworkable under a capitalist system of infinite growth and accumulation. The planet will only be saved by disposing of this system and replacing it with ecosocialism.

This leaflet is sponsored by:

Left Unity:

leftunity.org

Green Left:

greenleftblog.blogspot.com

Anti-Capitalist Resistance:

anticapitalistresistance.org

Red-Green Labour:

redgreenlabour.org

Breakthrough Party:

breakthroughparty.org.uk

RS21: rs21.org.uk

EcosocialistAllianceUK

Facebook: ecosocalgroup

Contact Ecosocialist Alliance: eco-socialist-action@protonmail.com