7 September 2017
As summer draws to a close, many politicians and campaigners have had time to deeply think about the future of their parties in the wake of the 2017 general election. Perhaps surprisingly, it is our party that has been considerably split in what direction to take.
The recent general election was always going to squeeze the Green Party’s votes and it would’ve been unwise to think otherwise. With the election of Jeremy Corbyn, the party has struggled to maintain its left-wing image and is slowly rescinding into a glorified pressure group. Perhaps my analysis is harsh - as politics has become an impossible game to win - but if we are to see success like that of the 2015 election, then we must fight back in unconventional ways.
You might conclude that I’m calling our party a failure, but by no means do I wish to promote the negatives, nor dictate our party’s direction based on defeats. We’ve had some great success in the local elections, where we increased our number of councillors and raised the need for cooperation through the progressive alliance strategy. Our key issues – which we can champion – lie in electoral reform and new, alternative policy.
It’s clear that First-Past-The-Post is an archaic, broken system not fit for purpose. 52.2% of the nation voted for progressive parties who oppose the Conservatives yet the deal to keep the Conservatives in power is being made by parties just 43% of the electorate. It’s like owning a gas oven – it works, but it’s far more dangerous than other options – and it needs to be replaced. First-Past-The-Post is unfair, not just to parties like ours, but to the electorate. 68% of votes had no impact on the result – that’s 22 million people. It prevented 6.5 million people from voting with their heart by forcing them to tactically vote. This unfortunate side effect of FPTP has damaged the Green Party’s chances of ever gaining more than a handful of MPs. To heal the wound, we must make the next general election about voting reform and we need to be at the head of the campaign.
The left is seen by people as tax, tax, tax. It frames progressives as untrustworthy in terms of the economy and it’s why the Conservatives can continue to hold onto power. The effects of the financial crisis are still being felt, and the Tories have used scaremongering and greed to insinuate austerity is the only way forward. Although we want to refrain from being just another environmental group, we must look at sustainability in relation to the economy. We, as environmentalists, understand how a sustainable future can yield a better economy, but many voters see it as a small issue that can be dealt with over time. There needs to be an in-depth analysis of new policies to differentiate us from other parties, especially regarding Brexit. If people want a second referendum on Brexit, they’re going to vote the Liberal Democrats. Ideas such as basic income, four-day weekends and the ban of single use plastics are good examples of policies that could make us stand out.
The great thing about the Green Party is that we have a wonderful system of internal democracy. No other political party can compare to how we, as grassroot progressives, have open debates where the future of the party is decided by its members. The party’s openness was one of the many reasons I felt this was the place for me.
While we continue to have a discussion around how to be a formidable foe on the political battlefront, let’s remember left-wing Labour figures like Jeremy Corbyn won’t be around forever. They’ll eventually be usurped by Labour centrists, and that’s how it is when a party becomes increasingly saturated with opposing views, especially if you shy away from the difficult debates. Our time may not be now, but we can begin to work towards a brighter, Green future.