4 Sept 2009

Green Party conference 'Where next for the Green Party?' asks Derek Wall

This is from my monthly newspaper column at the Morning Star.

The Green Party is meeting for its annual autumn conference in Brighton and I think this provides a good opportunity to look at the party to see where it is going and assess its potential for bringing real political change.

There is a growing ecological crisis on this planet. While climate change might grab the headlines, it is part of a wider set of problems.

Nature is being chewed up at accelerating rates to fuel economic expansion - and it cannot be sustained.

Green politics is about far more than the environment. Key Green values include social justice, grass-roots democracy and peace. Britain is failing on all these fronts.

Since Margaret Thatcher's election victory in 1979, neoliberal governments have rolled back trade union rights, promoted privatisation and inequality has grown.

There is a democratic deficit, with voters having less and less say, and the political class morphing into a group of policy-light careerists.

There is a huge amount of work needed to promote progressive politics in Britain and without proportional representation, it's tough for the Greens to introduce the necessary transformation.

We need major constitutional change, real powers for local authorities and a trade union freedom Bill to start rolling back the democratic deficit and giving citizens rather than corporate interests a real say.

We really need a constituent assembly to debate, design and implement a new democracy for Britain. Modest constitutional progress in Scotland and Wales has not been paralleled in England.

From rail nationalisation to higher top-rate income taxes, the Green Party has a range of progressive economic and social policies.

Strong trade union policies are also important.

Time is slipping away on the environment and, what with the government using carbon trading - where we can buy supposed cuts from another part of the world, rather than reducing emissions in Britain - real action is needed.

Green Party policies such as the Green new deal, based on a massive roll-out of renewable energy, have the potential to create jobs and cut greenhouse gases.

Our autumn conference is going to see a renewed emphasis on our policies of social justice, with leader Caroline Lucas calling for action to curb the bankers who are still threatening economic stability and funding eco-destruction.

For example, RBS, despite being government owned, is investing in the highly polluting Canadian tar sands.

There will also be important policy debates on childcare, the Afghan war and a rally where Green Party MEP Jean Lambert will call for stronger opposition to right-wing anti-immigration politics in Britain.

The party has a strong and dynamic eco-socialist wing based around the Green left.

In the European elections, the party pushed its vote above 8 per cent. We have over 100 principle authority councillors and membership has risen by 1,000 this year.

The party needs to put its energy into electing Lucas as its first MP in the coming general election. Showing that the party can win parliamentary seats, even without a fair voting system, is of great importance.

However, electoral success is only part of the process and even at this level, the Green Party cannot succeed alone.

The direct action work of the Climate Camp, where 1,000 activists gathered under a banner of "Less capitalism, more future," is another inspiring example of Green politics.

Greens need to put their energy into electing Lucas and other potential Green MPs. But to break the neoliberal stranglehold, it is important that other candidates from the left win seats.

The Green Party is a decentralised political party - it does not have bosses at the centre barking orders.

But I hope that local Green parties can talk to other progressive candidates such as Salma Yaqoob, who is on course to be a Respect Party MP in Birmingham.

British parliamentary politics is set up to make it difficult for parties outside the neoliberal big three of Labour, Lib Dems and Conservatives to win seats.

With a rise in populist politics, the press are diverting voters to UKIP and even the far-right BNP.

Those on the left of British politics need to talk and work together, even if this is sometimes difficult.

Democracy, social justice, peace and ecological sanity are vital issues and we must put aside relatively small differences to work for their realisation.

Derek Wall is former Green Party joint principal speaker.


novparl said...

Can you tell me where the democracy is in the one-party homophobic state of Cuba?

I note you plug the openly Stalinist "Morning Stalin".

You won't have any answers.

Derek Wall said...

I should be posting more on Cuba's excellent LGBT policies...if there is something in the Morning Star I will put it up.

Paul said...

Derek is Cuba a democracy (in which case its policies may or may not be praiseworthy) or as novparl said a one party state? These things do matter, what does HRW say about the regime in Cuba? Why are you so much in favour of the only authoritarian regime left in the Americas?

Paul said...

What a surprise you did not respond to criticism and a fair question on your blog! Derek just so we're clear if Socialism (as in the Cuban example), is accompanied by an authoritarian regime is that acceptable to you? My suspicions are that it is.

Derek Wall said...

well as this post isn't about Cuba...I shall put you down as a troll, have writen plenty about Cuba elsewhere...and the anti-Cubans generally don't care about human rights, plenty of my friends killed by Alan Garcia.

Paul said...

'Anti-Cuban?'-Please explain? Thanks for replying anyway even if you did not answer mine or novparl's questions. In fact novparl was right- 'You won't have any answers'.

Anonymous said...

Paul, I am a socialist and I am not a supporter of many things the Cuban government does. But to hear criticism of Cuba on the grounds that it lacks democracy and freedom from a pro-capitalist so-called 'libertarian' is the height of absurdity.

Paul said...

Well at least someone responded to the query Re Cuba. Albeit again with a heavy dose of obfuscation and relativity. I'm entirely willing to believe as a non-Socialist that Cuba has sound LGBT policies. I've also been interested to read about Cuba's situation, 'post oil'. The latter interests me as someone who wishes to see an end to western dependence on Saudi Oil. However I would still like to know is the price of all this, an authoritarian government worth paying? The fact you have a one party state which persecutes dissidents and rules by absolute decree is a high price to pay for good healthcare.

'But to hear criticism of Cuba on the grounds that it lacks democracy and freedom from a pro-capitalist so-called 'libertarian' is the height of absurdity.'

Er exactly how? I mean if I was for instance always posting on my blog glowing uncritical endorsements, of the economics of right wing authoritarian regimes you may have a point.

Derek Wall said...

This article isn't about Cuba, so looks like trolling to me...always pointless to reply to them and certainly they have contempt for human rights abuse in Latin America...blood soak Alan Garcia looks clean to those who think Cuba is a dictatorship.

Did they lift a finger to help Santiago Manuin when he was in hospital with eight bullets?

Paul said...

'...always pointless to reply to them and certainly they have contempt for human rights abuse in Latin America...blood soak Alan Garcia looks clean to those who think Cuba is a dictatorship.'

Always pointless to reply? Or is it because you cannot actually reply Derek hence the faux outrage? I mean saying 'look there's no democracy in X so it's pointless to criticise what happens in Y'. A very strange stance and incidentally not one I have ever adopted. Certainly not one HRW has adopted either in describing the Cuban regime 'as the last authoritarian regime in the Americas'.

True enough this post is not about Cuba. Two people including the author of this blog commented Re Cuba before I did however. So I just wanted to put the record straight. However a simple answer to a simple question was not to be found. Come on Derek you could answer the question in a single sentence if you wanted?

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