Monday, 31 March 2014
Is the Green party a left wing party and should the left support them?
Is the Green party a left wing party and should the left support them? I like the Green party know a fair few of their members and all seem genuine to me. A fair few are what I’d even describe as socialist and left wing. But are the greens a party that the left could rally behind and more to the point are they even left wing at all? All very interesting questions. I would say personally from my experience they’re on the left without a doubt where you place them after that becomes a big debate. I’d almost compare their politics today as almost old labour style politics of public ownership and higher tax’s on the rich as a basis to go forward. I see the greens as an interesting party with lots of variety and some very forward thinking individuals including their on single MP in Caroline Lucas who I like a lot and have heard speak on a number of occasions. I think she is independent and speaks out on things she believes in and is not tied to a party line like many MP’s are. Whether you are in favour of parliamentary politics or not you cannot fail to notice the green party of late having taken control all be it in a minority fashion in Bright and Hove. Yes the ruling group fronted by the greens have passed on cuts and no amount of hand ringing can get away from this fact for me. Having been a socialist party member and previously stood for TUSC this did not go down well in the anti cuts movement when the green lead council in Brighton passed on the cuts and look to again this year too. But do we therefore right off the greens as a party and a wider movement all because of Brighton city council? Maybe if you are a dogmatic sort I suppose. I tend to look at things a bit more rationally these days in a sense. Those of us outside the party often point to the record of the Greens in Germany, where the party joined a neo-liberal coalition and voted for the Afghanistan war, and in Ireland, where they joined a right wing government and cut healthcare and benefits while saying it was OK because they were creating new cycling schemes. Against this we are told that the Green Party of England and Wales is different – the most left wing Green Party in Europe, even. Does this all stand up ? Well the Brighton council thing does not want to go away it seems and the greens will be judged on this their claims to the contrary. Of course that is not the whole story of the Green council in Brighton. As you might expect, it has been pursuing many sustainability initiatives. More significantly, it has just declared that no Brighton council tenants will be evicted if they cannot afford their rent because of the bedroom tax. And councilors have been active in supporting all sorts of other local campaigns. But when it comes to the key issue of fighting austerity, there is scarcely even a cigarette paper between the Greens’ “fairer” cuts and Labour’s. The bogeyman of Eric Pickles’ administrators coming in and making the cuts is used to justify… making the cuts. Spotting the pattern After the first Brighton budget, the Greens held a vote at their conference on whether it was the right to make the cuts. It wasn’t even close – two thirds backed the Brighton councilors. It was at this point that Joseph Healy, one of the founders of internal left wing grouping Green Left, quit the party on principle. As he noted “A few days later at the party’s national conference, despite vigorous objections from Green Left, the party voted to support the Brighton decision. Pragmatism had defeated principle, realpolitik triumphed over radicalism. While the Green Party has many good socialist members, and some radical policies, it is not a party of the left – deliberately so. It has always included different wings of the green movement. Quite a large element of the membership are devoted to an agenda of ‘cycling and recycling’, with a narrow focus simply on environmental issues. While there are many who see themselves as part of the left, they are happy to work alongside those who use the phrase “neither left nor right” with a straight face. Open expressions of leftism are widely seen as a turn-off to voters, and class is generally not thought relevant. The party just voted to put a commitment to “social justice” in its constitution, but that’s as far as it is willing to go. The consequences of this are that Green politicians’ positions can be all over the map. I l have a lot of time for the greens but are they ultimately the answer. I am not sure. I do think they have much to offer and have some very good genuine members but I’m just not sure managing the left side of capitalism is a goal worth fighting for. . Of course we’ll all work with Greens in the battles we face against austerity – and with the many people in Labour, too, who want to oppose the Tories’ destruction of everything we’ve worked for. There is too much at stake not to. But the Green Party offers no solution to the problem of working class representation, or a left alternative to the mainstream consensus. After all, if the Greens are the answer, then why are so many crying out for something new?