Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Introducing...The Socialist Green New Deal

Written by Mark Douglas

The Green New Deal remains the most potent political concept in recent years: it has undergone several phases and adoption by many political parties and movements. It has strong support across progressive trends in western Europe but has not been properly implemented anywhere.

Social Democratic parties think it is some solution to their lack of real policy to deal with poverty and the climate challenge. Left parties know that it presents a challenge to capitalism, if properly implemented, because greedy corporations cannot adapt and de-carbonise to reduce climate destabilisation.

In Green Left we say that a Socialist version of the Green New Deal needs to be fought for as part of the transition to a new political economy.

 Labour conflict on Green New Deal

Labour had a scrappy Conference in September 2021. It continues to suffer from a controlling bureaucracy under Starmer’s dull 'leadership'. Weak, reformist social democracy continues to clash with Labour's radical socialist base which also reflects the split of generations. 

The millennial generation faces a rough future and demands socialist measures to deal with it. Labour continues to be the most conservative social democratic party in western Europe; still can't adopt proportional representation. It seems like the Corbyn revolution of 2015-2019 has not changed Labour’s grey spots.

 Labour and Green

Yet we have to engage with the Labour movement in Britain. It does have radical impulses mixed in with its traditional top-down culture. It has the support of over 10 million voters compared with Green Party's 1 million. 

Fortunately, public opinion is changing to face the climate crisis. Green support is growing, and we can expect it to double and double again during this decade, 4 million by 2030?  We are following the German Greens who have been ahead in Europe for decades. Greens are in governing coalitions across Europe e.g. Scotland, and Austria.

We have to ally with Labour and socialist movements to create a 'united front' against capitalism. The Green Party has, what we could call, a 'post capitalist' programme which has socialist edges. Some say that the Greens are well to the left of Labour. Greens need to drag Labour to the left and adopt our radical version of the Green New Deal as spelt out in the Green Party manifesto of 2019.

Green Left, in turn, works to pull the Green Party of England and Wales towards a clear socialist policy which is where our Socialist Green New Deal comes in. We have been working on it for over a year and hope we can publish it, after agreement, by the end of 2021.  

The central policy of our deal is a Real Just Transition for the millions of workers in Britain who face job displacement during the de-carbonisation transition which is under way and will continue for around 2 decades till the 2040s. All workers in high carbon industries like coal, oil, gas, power, cement, limestone, steel, iron, cattle and sheep farming etc, face retraining, re-skilling and transfer to the new renewable and green industries.

 New Climate and Green Jobs

Trade Unions will be central to planning this mass transfer of jobs in the next 20 years. Transition Teams will be needed in each sector and community to plan and invest in the new industries. At least two million workers may be affected.  There are 1 million Climate jobs needed to de-carbonise the economy in:

 *renewable energy,

*expanded national and regional electric grid,

 *20 million homes energy retrofitting,

 *integrated electric public transport,

* Re-open rail and tram links to many town and villages

 *Affordable Eco-homes programme, etc.

There are  another million Green jobs such as in the  * Green and Blue infrastructure (Tree lanes, local water services) *new agro-forestry, *Rewilding and Ecological renewal,

There will be 2 million jobs in the *expanded National Care Service, which we agree with Labour on. The Care Service will be managed in close association with the NHS and funded by progressive income and wealth tax (eg. 1% annually over £5 million).  We want to see a range of Universal Public Services based on decentralised, community run energy, housing, health, transport, land, education, communication, etc.

Land reform is centuries overdue in Britain due to the entrenched landed aristocracy, which has been abolished in most European states, but not here. It is one of reasons we have the worst food resilience anywhere. Introducing Land Value Taxation will be necessary but not enough. 

We want communities to 'reclaim' unused or vacant arable land from large absentee landlords, starting with the Duchy of Cornwall and covering all parts of England and Wales. This will free up land for local organic agriculture and arable market gardening, replacing the millions of food imports with their wasteful 'carbon miles'.

The Green Socialist New Deal is a radical platform of transitional policies which will transform our country into the post capitalist age. A mass public information campaign will be needed to convince working people of its implementation. It will need a strong alliance of Labour, Socialist, trade union and green movements united to implement it, with the peoples support.

Mark Douglas is a member of Hackney Green Party, and a Green Left supporter. email: mdouglas@gn.apc.org  

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