Pete Kennedy joins the Green Party class and ethnicity debate, kicked off by Caroline Lucas, and continued by Sean Thompson of Green Left, thanks Pete.
My argument is that the Green Party needs to position itself as the most obvious electoral ally and ultimately, servant to the varied ‘bloc’ of social forces fighting the realities of neoliberalism in the UK. This would go far beyond what parties such as Respect have aimed for and achieved, which involved focusing on a fairly narrow community. This indeed allowed short term electoral success in limited areas of the country, but did not involve the inclusion of a wider bloc of social groups/forces (although the successes it did achieve should not be denigrated or downplayed, and offers some lessons for The Green Party). Aligning and becoming a part of the energy, commitment and passion of the various social forces at work contesting the current political economy, while offering political coherence via an organised, yet democratic party could make the Green Party central to a nation-wide class struggle against the current status quo. In the process, the party will likely draw closer to and attract individuals from a diversity of gender, ethnic and social backgrounds.
In direct response to Sean Thompson, I believe the Green Party is already addressing many of the concerns of working class communities, namely cuts to their local services and livelihoods. These cannot be addressed in any serious way by Labour, which itself supports cuts, leaving the party to contest the pace and depth of said cuts, rather than the ideological rationale behind such policies. After 13 years in power, working class communities are both wary and distrustful of Labour regarding economic policies, offering the Greens a huge opportunity. If Greens become closer associated with unions and non-union movements against the cuts, they will be further identified with a defence of most people’s living standards.
The argument that Green’s should concentrate more on the ‘concrete issues’ that affect people’s everyday lives is fair, up to a point. However, I think this kind of narrow approach would do a disservice to workers, the unemployed and ethnic minority groups the party aims to mobilise and organise.
The mainstream parties no longer offer an alternative vision of society, which I believe goes a long way in explaining voter apathy and their lack of electoral appeal. If the Green Party doesn’t offer a vivid and attractive image of where we aim to take the country, then it will be lumped in with the Tories, Lab and Lib Dem position of making subtle changes to the status quo. Without such a vision, it is unlikely the party will be able to mobilise people to join our campaigns and vote for us on a mass bases.