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?