Is the Green Party now the natural home for disaffected lefties?

With the Lib Dems in Coalition with the Tories, the Green has policies to please those who feel abandoned by other left-of-centre parties.

Following Caroline Lucas’s historic victory in Brighton Pavilion at the last election, there was an understandable air of celebration surrounding last weekend’s Green Party conference. The general election saw an end to three decades without a political presence in Westminster, which made for a good amount of collective back-patting.

Lucas herself appeared keen not to dwell on her victory for too long, instead making a point of extending a welcoming hand to all those Labour voters who might feel disillusioned by their Party’s place in the current political scene:

“There are Labour members who’ve finally realized that, even with the passing of Brown and Blair, they are still stuck in the New Labour nightmare. Many Labour supporters know that the Party will never again truly represent them, for all those… who still believe it’s imporant to defend the vulnerable, to stand up to big business and vested interests… the Green Party is your natural home.”

She had a similar message for Lib Dem voters, welcoming to the Green Party all those who felt “anguish and betrayal” at Clegg’s decision to turn his supposedly equality-orientated party into “an apologist for the most brutal, savage cuts in a generation.”

Could Caroline Lucas be right?  Time will tell, but the Party certainly has policies to please those who feel abandoned by other left-of-centre parties. The Greens’ policy on banking reform, for example, could find approval with those put off by the larger parties’ ‘soft’ approach towards financial institutions which precipitated the worst collapse since the Great Depression, were then rescued by public funds, and now prosper again, virtually unreformed.

Similarly, the Party’s opposition to the use of terrorism law may appeal to many liberal-minded voters. Lucas said:

“The Government has used [terrorist] attacks to introduce ever more draconian measures that undermine all our civil liberties.”

Policies on a ‘living minimum wage’, promoting workplace democracy and improving gender equality in the professional sphere represent real progressive politics, and – if nothing else – the Party is undoubtedly the natural home for those voters who want to see concrete action on climate change. Labour’s poor environmental record and the Coalition’s almost complete disregard for even the most basic green initiatives are more reasons why the Greens stand in a well-placed position. Indeed, Lucas’ party is now the only one that reflects public opinion in opposing the renewal of the costly Trident nuclear program.

The Green Party certainly has a long way to go before it is a real force in Westminster, but in these confused political times of LibCon coalitions and backpedalling Blairites, they are better positioned than ever to forge a real campaign to reignite the lost British left.

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105 Responses to “Is the Green Party now the natural home for disaffected lefties?”

  1. Clive Booth

    RT @CarolineLucas: RT: @leftfootfwd New post: Is the Green Party now the natural home for disaffected lefties? http://bit.ly/9w0tR9

  2. jonathan

    just noticed this article. Nowhere did I see the fact recorded that the Greens in Norwich in council elections actually lost votes in most wards. So perhaps the green party is not the home for disaffected lefties. If the Greens and Labour combined it would be an interesting combination.

  3. JohnG14

    The answer is that it both is for some and isn’t for others. Offered the choice of a Labour Party place-man to replace the unlamented John Heppell in Nottingham and the Greens, I voted Green. The Greens do articulate some of the traditional concerns of the libertarian-left tradition, and at their best aren’t ashamed of their radicalism. After looking at the Green Left, I seriously considering joining, but changed my mind when I encountered some of the Green Party’s local activists. Caroline Lucas is very impressive but not typical of the mixed bag of naive sunday school radicals in their ranks. In contrast, the Labour Party has become a party so soaked in managerialism that even that old social democrat Roy Hattersley sounds radical. I don’t think this will change in any essential way even with 30,000 lefty reverts going back into its ranks. However, what matters at this time is not that we compete for the brand ‘natural home for socialists’, but that we start the hard work of trying to construct effective coalitions linking activists of different political affiliations and interests around concrete issues – defending against the cuts whilst reviving democratic socialist discourse / culture. This means finding areas around which we can co-operate, whilst having the political imagination to allow for different (sometimes contradictory) courses of action by different participants. In my experience, it was always the independent, non-aligned left who did best in that sense. In the context of this discussion, it means that Labour Party suits – including Ralph Miliband’s youngest son, will have to (re)learn the arts of grass-roots political engagement if the Labour Party is going to be anything other than the least worst option come polling day.

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  5. joe oneill

    RT @leftfootfwd: Is the Green Party now the natural home for disaffected lefties? http://t.co/qEvVJxCg

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