1 Dec 2007

Greens survive a split

Well the leader vote, 73% to 27% went through although sadly a few members including a councillor have resigned.

John P Johnson told me that his local party coordinater had resigned, he was upset by being cold called by Jim Killock prior to the vote, I think this kind of practice is bad but I fear it will continue in the future....hope I am wrong. Does piss people off!

In the 1990s we had turmoil, Green 2000 constitution and I must admit my energy went into my kids, my phd and a bit of direct action but the Party eventually became re energised.

this is from Green Left Weekly



FEATURES
British Greens survive a split

30 September 1992
At the annual conference of the British Greens, several prominent party activists walked out. Most of the press went with them. On the eve of the conference, well-known environmentalist Sarah Parkin publicly resigned her position as the party's chairperson. Despite this and the media obituaries, FRANK NOAKES last week discovered the party alive and discussing the way forward in Wolverhampton. A number of prominent party members spoke with him about the problems and the possibilities for the party.
In her letter of resignation, Sarah Parkin states, “I have been forced to the conclusion that the Green Party has become a liability to green politics. Instead of being a standard bearer, the Green Party, as it is now, only provides its detractors with regular proof of its unfitness to contribute to the rapidly evolving green political debate.” Parkin intends to remain a member, for the time being, of what in her view is an obstacle to green politics.
Since then, fellow green luminary Jonathon Porritt, who remains a member “largely out of nostalgia rather than anything else”, has joined Parkin in running a media campaign against the Greens. Porritt went so far as to address the conference of the Liberal Democrats -- a party that strongly favours the free market and nuclear weapons -- urging it to fill the “vacuum” left by the Green Party.
The media have been merciless: its two favourite green people versus a mob of radical ratbags -- no contest. So the Green Party is pronounced dead, and the press coverage is designed to bury it and radical green ideas alongside it. Ironically, this year's conference attracted more delegates than the past two, with more than 500 registrations.
It is true that party membership has declined, from around 20,000 in 1990 to just over 8000 today. It is also true that the party's vote tumbled from a high in the 1989 European parliamentary elections of 15% to about 1% in April's general election. But several of the personalities who have attacked the party in recent months have been part of the leadership of the party, even if only in a de facto capacity -- often appointed by the media.
Derek Wall, a radical green and unsuccessful candidate for the position vacated by Parkin, believes these people have a lot to answer for. “They got their constitution at last year's conference; they elected an executive, of which nine out of the 11 were strong supporters of their faction, Green 2000. What seems to have happened is that they've overplayed their hand. They haven't managed the party well; membership has fallen sharply, finances have fallen sharply, and even in an election year, when the Green Party usually gains new members, it hasn't. Basically they haven't been able to produce any kind of effective party, as promised, and they've pulled out in great bitterness. “You've got to remember that they have been running the party for a year and basically it hasn't worked. They've said it hasn't worked because of a subversive minority, which is the left and so on and so forth, when in fact they've simply imploded.”
Green 2000 encouraged unrealistic expectations -- Green government by 2005 for instance -- which it could not live up to. But while the leadership has singled out one section for blame, a recent authoritative report suggests objective factors are a central problem.
The detailed study of the Green Party, prepared by a team from the Strathclyde University, states: “It is difficult to see what more the Party could have done to avoid its decline in the opinion polls, its media presence, and its membership base”.
One of the main reasons that the Greens in Britain have failed to emulate the success enjoyed by many of their counterparts on the continent is the blatantly undemocratic, first-past-the-post voting system here. This has denied the party a media profile afforded to parliamentarians, and the financial benefits accruing from such electoral success.
The Strathclyde report concludes: “The British Greens are thus likely to continue their existence in a position of political marginality for the time being. While they are unable to change the electoral context which disadvantages them so severely by their own action, their mere survival as an entity allows them to wait for more promising opportunities in the future.” Some were not prepared to wait, in “marginality”, any longer.
In many respects, the illusions of a quick and easy road to influence, and eventually power, lie at the heart of the problems that have beset the Green Party. The British Greens are not alone in facing this problem.
However, there is much that is positive for the party. Its vote is better than in 1987, and its membership, much the same as in that year, makes it the largest progressive party in England and Wales.
The party went through a surge in votes and membership in 1989-90 and has since returned to its former position. Most of the members who failed to renew were not active within the party.
Derek Wall is very positive about the Greens' future. Like many other activists, he sees the resignations as an opportunity for the membership to regain control. “I think the party will become a lot more imaginative, a lot more radical. Over the last year there's grown up quite a large direct action movement in Britain: Earth First!, green anarchists, mass action against rainforest timber imports and against new roads etc. I am hoping and expecting that the Green Party will get a lot more involved with it and will knit its electoral strategy with direct action.”
One reflection of new initiatives was an informal meeting that decided to ask the party to seek closer relations with the trade union
And the prospects for the Green Party? Wall answers: “It's the Gramsci thing of pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will. The party isn't dead, it's not dying, it's got thousands of members. But having said that, given the objective circumstances and the electoral system, it's going to be very difficult.”

From: Archives, Green Left Weekly issue #73 30 September 1992.

2 comments:

Steve Barker said...

A shame, but not un-expected. Hopefully, we can leave internal matters behind for a while and get on with the Green Parties job.

Real said...

Are you saying, since you hounded out Porritt and Parkin and helped destroy the GP's credibility last time they disagreed with you, this is your plan this time?

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