About eighteen months ago, the 'Socialist Unity' blog asked the question 'Can the Green Party become the main party of the left?'. To be honest, I kind of expected some kind of 'yes, it can... but really what is needed is our kind of socialism' etc - not at all, and apologies for my own prejudice. Mind, the comments below the article are pretty vituperative! In a thoughtful and generous piece, the editorial team outline a significant change in focus for the Green Party from total - 'depressing and misanthropic' - focus on the environment to the incorporation of social justice:
‘Green politics and social justice are fundamentally dependent – without environmentalism, the planet will become uninhabitable; without social justice, the planet isn’t worth living on.’The article ends with 'Watch this space.'
Well, there's no doubt that the Green Party is clear that this indeed is the direction of travel for the party - the recent conference in Birmingham called for a Wealth Tax (on the top 1%) and for the minimum wage to rise to £10 an hour by 2020. On top of this, there are moves to reverse the calamitous privatisation of the railways and bring the network back into public ownership, as well as keeping the NHS free – no prescription charges, free eye tests and dental care. And opposition to TTIP. And an extremely progressive set of policies on Peace and Defence.
Above all, for me, every time I see Natalie Bennett or Caroline Lucas in action, I am just totally convinced by their passion and authenticity - they genuinely believe in what they say and have the courage of their convictions to stand in solidarity with vulnerable and disadvantaged people country-wide. And this is in such disappointing and marked contrast with the leadership of the Labour Party, who obsess so much on focus groups and sound bites that they forget how to be themselves, trying to mould themselves into something the media might find acceptable. That is not healthy for them as persons, and it is not healthy for our politics. And it's not for me. After many years holding on to some hope of socialism from the Labour Party, I just let go. It's not happening. The Effing Tories and Noo Labour are really just two cheeks of the same arse (© George Galloway) and - look away! - their pants are down showing their true face to the world.
Having met and been impressed by a similarly authentic Green Party member here in Great Grimsby, and then hearing about the startling new policies for social justice, I simply went online and joined the party. And it seems I wasn't alone - during the course of the conference, a number of announcements gave national membership as 17,000 and then 17,500, then 18,000 and then 18,500 ... a near-record. And now there is a new record national membership – 20,000.
I have attended my first local meeting and am very happy to be a part of this growing and very human movement.
The Green Party
Written by Billy Miller who blogs here