Saturday 3 September 2016

Guardian Says Green Party Should Move to the Right

On the first full day of the Green Party autumn conference, The Guardian newspaper runs an editorial piece entitled ‘The Guardian view on Green leadership: a challenge and an opportunity’ with the sub heading saying ‘The party should move on from broad-brush protest and offer practical environmental solutions that appeal across the political spectrum.’

On the face of it, the piece is a call on the new joint leadership of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, to set out the party’s political stall for the years ahead, but the underlying theme is that the Greens have become too radically left under the outgoing leader, Natalie Bennett. It describes the four years Bennett spent as leader like this, ‘with hindsight, like a period of steady growth and missed opportunity. Under Ms Bennett, the Greens stood on a platform of wide-ranging assault on austerity and free-market capitalism. This yielded a dividend in attracting defectors from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. It also cast the party as a vehicle for radical left protest politics – a role that Mr Corbyn has now usurped and seems unlikely to surrender.’

The paper concludes that Corbyn’s Labour has now taken up the space previously occupied by the Greens under Bennett’s leadership, and the Greens need a new pitch to the electorate:

‘Ms Lucas and Mr Bartley have a choice to make between the politics of generalised, green-tinged anti-capitalist agitation and a more strategically-minded deployment of arguments on energy and climate change that might resonate across the political spectrum. They could, for example, break an old taboo and acknowledge that an environmental conscience is not the exclusive property of the left.’

‘British voters are amply served by Labour if they want broad-brush complaint about the Tories and economic inequality. The Greens should not be jostling for position in a race to have the most radical-sounding exposition of every problem, but occupy instead the available niche for a progressive party, focused on the environment and trading in imaginative, pragmatic solutions.’

You might well expect this kind of thing from the Whig press. The Guardian, let us not forget, urged its readers to vote for the Lib Dems in the 2010 general election, and look how well that all worked out? And to argue that the Greens should ‘acknowledge that an environmental conscience is not the exclusive property of the left’ is complete nonsense.

Perhaps they have forgotten David Cameron’s ‘greenest ever government’ which was cynically used to detoxify the Tory brand, before the ‘green crap’ was ditched in government. There is not a viable right wing environmentalism beyond the limited landed gentry mind set, unless we include some form of ecofascism, which The Guardian hints is a Green Party tendency when it says that a Green approach ‘demands onerous material sacrifices from everyone else.’

To be fair, Corbyn’s Labour has taken over political terrain previously occupied exclusively by the Green Party, but it is not clear that Labour as a whole has changed that much from the Blair/Brown/Miliband days, and the jury is still out on who will prevail in the end in the battle for the Labour Party’s soul. But even now there is clear green water between Labour and the Green Party. On nuclear energy (and for most of Labour’s MPs, nuclear weapons), fracking, proportional representation at all elections and top down big state solutions, and much else.

The fact of the matter is we need radical solutions to the problems we face, not some sort of rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic, and if the Greens can influence political action, inside and outside of Parliament, in or out of a ‘progressive alliance’ then we are doing our job. If we had a fair electoral system the Greens would have probably more than 30 representatives in the House of Commons, and perhaps many more than that.

Why should we throw away such a position, in favour of some bland liberal, greenwashing policies that the establishment and mainstream media won’t be too alarmed about? 


  1. The Guardian is not the paper it was. Dumping Labour because they deem it too left, they are now trawling around for a party that is a bit like the Lib Dems, but not so toxic. Ignore them.

  2. This might might be the last straw for me reading the Guardian.

  3. This might be the last straw for me reading the Guardian.

  4. This might might be the last straw for me reading the Guardian.

  5. With the failure of progressive governments internationally and Smith and Corbyn trying to outbid each other with financial resources that they will never be allowed to have access to; we all need to move on from the dishonest position that progressive national governments can fully deliver in the current globalised environment. National parliaments are not fully empowered, that's blatantly obvious and yes that's revolutionary internationalism :) but somehow the desperately useless British revolutionary Left all managed to opt for Brexit?

    I'd like to see an internationalist Green Party taking over the territory of overtly radical progressive politics regardless of the ebbs and flows of the current political environment simply because objectively speaking that is the extent of the change that MUST take place and if we indulge in dishonest tactical politics we wont be able to communicate the need for those changes. We need to be the honest voice of Brtish politics clearly explaining the limitations of our current democracy while calling for democratic accountability over all of the major forms of economic and state power.

    Obviously this goes beyond the scope of the current Overton window and that is the political range within which the Guardian would like us to operate but does anyone believe that we will be able to stabilise our relations with the living world within that policy set? The status quo is not an option!

  6. It doesnt really say you should move right but be able to articulate the transition from capitalism that will appeal to a broad political spectrum. I agree with this.

    If liberalism is to be used to provide an ideological vehicle for tjis transition then the rights framework needs to be extended to all living creatures. This then provides the context to decide what lives and what dies (or what prospers and what does) in order to manage sustainability.

    To achieve this requires utilizing conservatism by using the cardinal virtues of wisdom/prudence, justice/fairness, temperance/restraint and courage/fortitude in order to determine what lives and what dies.

    Now this overall context has some moral/ethic shape, further aspects of conservatism can be used, namely distributism, subsidiarity and agrarianism.

    Distributism describes the economic system to replace capitalism.
    Subsidiarity is the means by which to transition from representative democracy to deliberative democracy and agrarianism is an essential component of creating low impact lifestyles and activities to counterbalance medium and high impact lifestyles and activities.

    Distributism, subsidiarity and agrarianism all have their roots in social Catholicism as does conservatism.

    With regards distributism, we need to give alot of thought to working out the path from capitalism.

    With regards subsidiarity, we need to start thinking which existing political procesess can be incorporated into deliberative democracy. Eg planning decisions, development plans, local council budgets etc.

    With regards agrarianism, we need land reform.

  7. Lots of useful info in Guardian stories but lets not kid ourselves they are any other than apologists for the capitalist system. The Zak Goldsmith of the media world