6 October 2017
Whether Corbyn becomes Prime Minister, whether we Brexit or not, the Green Party must remain as radical as ever. We must prove undaunted in our mission for comprehensive action on climate change and continue to press for a fairer country for all. Whilst Labour’s factions bicker over quite how “lefty” they want to be, the Greens must stridently pursue policies that ensure a future worth living in and have no qualms about championing ideas which seem outlandish to other parties.
In Naomi Klein’s recent book No is Not Enough, she calls for her readers to not just reject the regressive politics of Trump, May and their ilk, but also to suggest positive and optimistic alternatives. She tells us to say ‘no’ to bigotry, climate change denial and governments that choose business over the working classes, but also to say a very loud ‘yes’ to diversity, climate justice and a truly meritocratic society. In short, it isn’t enough for progressives to stand in opposition to the right, we also have to iterate an alternative vision to take its place. Whilst Klein’s book largely focuses upon defeating Trump, the same methods can be used to push out the Conservatives in the UK.
We can already see the success of this tactic when looking at Corbyn’s Labour. By leaving New Labour behind and adopting socialist policies, Corbyn brought the Labour vote up to 40%, an increase of ten percentage points. Particularly amongst young voters, Corbyn proved that a manifesto based on overhauling the neoliberal status quo can have huge success, even for a party that was notoriously lambasted as weak before the snap elections. Labour said ‘no’ to Conservative and Blairite politics and ‘yes’ to a politics that works for us all.
The Green Party can take this platform and move it a step further forwards. Corbyn proves that there is an appetite for progressive politics, so the Greens should seize this opportunity and propose truly radical solutions to our country’s (and the world’s) problems. In fact, it often doesn’t take long for ideas lambasted by the establishment to be accepted; free education – supported by the Greens since the introduction of tuition fees – was found in the 2017 Labour manifesto, and universal basic income – part of the 2015 Green manifesto – is being trialled in countries across the world with much success. Importantly, the Greens must propose comprehensive environmental policies, the kind that fail to be taken seriously in all other political parties despite the growing urgency of climate change. Our party is unafraid of angering big energy companies by setting up locally owned, sustainable alternatives and there would be no flirting with fracking or coal mining as has been seen from Labour. We’re not afraid to say that or policies could negatively impact economic growth, because we believe that people and planet are far more important than that. The Green vision questions why other parties don’t put the planet first and wakens the electorate to the plethora of actions which can be taken to safeguard the environment.
This bold, optimistic and uncompromising vision is what will keep the Greens relevant in today’s political scene. Though good on paper, the progressive alliance didn’t work, so until other parties are more willing to play ball we must embrace everything which makes our party unique. We should oppose Conservative austerity and hypocrisy, making plain the self-interest of the main parties, particularly when it comes to their reluctance to embrace electoral reform. And at the same time we will continue to illustrate the radical vision of the society we could live in, gaining support as lacklustre alternatives fail to pass muster.