Why I am resigning from the Green Party… and where I’m going

Labour-logoEagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I’ve been relatively quiet in the last few months with my blog.  In truth, my motivation to continue writing about the ups and downs of Green Party politics has been diminished by a growing sense that the political priorities we should be focussing upon in the UK aren’t being served well within it’s ranks.

Consequently, (and with a lot of thought) I resigned today from the Greens today. This will be last blog post I will be producing for this site, at least in this form. Whilst I have applauded the steady move of the Greens towards a programme that has expanded beyond environmental concern to advocate social justice and the reduction of inequality in the last year or so, I have been disappointed by the side-effects of political power here in Brighton & Hove.

Let me be clear, I have worked alongside a good number of smart,  committed activists and local Green politicians who have inspired me and have become good friends in the last few years.  In spite of a hostile local press, Greens have pushed hard to shield the local community from the worst of the central Government cuts, have introduced the Living Wage to council workers and attracted inward investment in transport and internet infrastructure.  Caroline Lucas MP has proved herself to be a national figure raising issues that others ignore and the country needs to hear.

However, I have become increasingly disenchanted with a political party that proudly proclaims itself immune to internal discipline, perversely allowing vocal and aggressive voices to undermine the work undertaken by our elected representatives. As I have discussed previously, voices calling for consensus and civility (including myself) have felt bullied by an unrepresentative minority and are left worried that the reputational damage caused by what appears to be hard-left entry-ists will render the party unelectable.  I have detected an unattractive strain of thought that arrogantly presumes that the Greens have the monopoly on progressive ideals which troubles me. My political philosophy prefers to see the best motives in all those who enter politics and I reject tribalism of any sort.

As a national party, I’ve also talked about my concern that Natalie Bennett is unable to break through with a distinctive voice that appeals to the concerns of general voters. Our pitiful performance in the council elections and Natalie’s complacent response has fed into my fear that even with the stakes as high as they currently are in British politics, the Greens just do not have the pragmatism and language to appeal broadly.  I am not ashamed to be somebody prepared to compromise, to gain only some of what I aspire towards – and with austerity’s cuts falling more severely on the most vulnerable in society, I am not prepared to wait for leadership and inspiration to strike whilst millions remain in abject poverty.

Consequently, and after some soul-searching, I have decided to join Ed Miliband’s Labour Party. For many on the left, this is seen as selling out. I can’t disagree more. Behind the media monstering that he has received since being elected into his role, Miliband has quietly repositioned the Labour Party to ask itself and the country questions that under it’s previous stewardship were left unspoken.  Murdoch’s media stranglehold has been broken, utility company greed is being forced under the microscope, moves to bring fairness to campaign finance have begun with union reform that actively disadvantage his own party, the dominance of corporations at the expense of small community business is being reversed, gender equality remains not just an aspiration but a core foundation – and ill-thought out war-mongering has been prevented in Syria.

Whilst I have some issues with a few Labour policies of the past, I am seeing the outlines of a party that marries modern political campaigning with principles routed in communities around the country and I want to be part of a renewal of the way politics is done within it. I intend to bring the best qualities of fairness, equity and even-handedness that I learnt through my years with the Greens to my engagement with this party. I realise that I may lose some friends, colleagues (or twitter followers) in this transition, but I hope that the decent and courteous way I have tried to conduct my political activism isn’t forgotten and that I am still respected for standing up for the issues and values I have written about in this blog for the last few years.

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18 thoughts on “Why I am resigning from the Green Party… and where I’m going

  1. Shame you’ve decided to leave the Greens. Yes there have been problems, but the Greens need people like you to help build a “modern, inclusive and participatory Green Party.”

    I was a member of Labour and voted for them in ’97. What did I get? Iraq. Increasing income inequality. Tuition fees increases. Little to no council house building. Light touch regulation of the financial sector which helped lead to the financial crisis. Initial privatisation of the NHS. PFIs. Ignoring the Unions. Little real support to expand the co-operative sector. Basically, a neo-liberal model which the current ConDems have further entrenched. It’s little surprise that when Thatcher was asked what her greatest acheivement was, she answered “Tony Blair and New Labour.” I haven’t even begun to address the long list of things that they didn’t try to change due to their ideology.

    And let’s reflect on how democratic the Labour Party is. It frequently ignores votes which occur at its conference (unlike the Green Party). See the recent votes at its last party conference (under supposedly “Red Ed”) to renationalise the rail or Royal Mail – party leaders have said they will ignore them. That couldn’t happen at the Green Party conference due to its democratic nature. Although claims are made that Labour have shifted to the left, just look at how Ed Balls has said that he will continue austerity economics once in power, how Labour wont support an FTT because they are in bed with The City, how Labour will continue this demonisation of benefit claimants and the poor. I could go on…

    Again, the Greens have problems, but they are much more democratic than New Labour and there is much more scope for change within the party. It’s a shame you wont be sticking around to help with that…

  2. Stephen, you will be missed mate! But, I really do wish you the best in the coming months and years within Labour. I worry that you won’t find the internal structures there any more fulfilling but I understand a lot of your current frustrations and your desire to move.

    I cannot imagine wanting to take the same action but I do understand why you might!

    May your voice of progressive politics be heard wherever you go regardless of the colour you’re affiliated to!

    Don’t let the system grind you down!

    Good luck!

    Steve

    • Thanks for the thoughtful response Steve, and sorry that we will be on other sides of the aisle in the future. That said, I hope you know me well enough to know that I have nothing but respect for all sides of political debate.

      Good luck to you and the others back in Lambeth!

  3. I wish you all the best in your future plans. I left the labour party a few years ago as I like many tried to change the parties direction with little luck.

    A year after leaving I joined the Green Party and I do share some of your concerns. The party needs more drive when it comes to campaigning and pushing its message. It also needs more structured and communicate more with members. However, it the only party that represents my views so I still support it. If Labour went further and became more bold, I would be joining you. After 5 years with Labour I cannot see that happening.

    I hope the Greens improve with their campaign drive and connecting more with members over the years. I guess they do not want to be like mainstream parties yet they may have to compromise a bit in order to get a voice.

  4. Good luck your future plans. I was a member of the labour party for over 5 years and sadly had little luck in changing the party. If I thought members wanted real change then I would be joining you.

    I joined the greens 2 years ago and pleased with their move towards social justice ect. I do agree with you that as a party they need to do more to become a active in campaigning. I feel their is little drive or structure in getting the message across with little communication with members. It was 4 months after I joined when I got a contact from the party welcoming me!!!!!!.

    i have seen some progress but we need a clear broad message, proactive campaigning and better party structure and communication.

    at present it is the only party that speaks for my views so I remain a supporter

  5. Pingback: Leaving the Greens to join Labour | Hynd's Blog

  6. Glad to see you’ve still got the “Green Party – Join today” button on this blog…. Please remember that the Labour Party still has Peter Mandelson and Liam Byrne etc in its ranks…

  7. Welcome to Labour. I look forward to meeting you and hope you may decide to join our enthusiastic activists in our campaign to form a Labour administration in 2015.

  8. “Please remember that the Labour Party still has Peter Mandelson and Liam Byrne etc in its ranks…” Not for that much longer I suspect – theyre already finding it too left wing for them, bless.

    Anyway Steve, good luck with the move. I’m a Labour councillor oop nurth and the Greens are the only opposition party I’ve got much time for. But I’d far rather Labour keeps up the leftward movement – which chimes with public desires in many cases – and pulls more Greens into the fold. We shall see.

    • No offence, but your comment is a little patronising. British politics needs more voices, rather than to continue a 2 party, us-versus-them mentality and see everyone interested in politics under 1 of those 2 roofs. Its not healthy for the decisions politicians make in the UK.

      I’m Scottish, and its probably the number 1 reason I’m pro independence. The UK political structures won’t deliver a proper, 21st century democratic system fit to make the decisions required in the modern world. If there was a change in the duopoly in westminster I’d be less pro independence, but as long as people like yourself who believe there are only two sides to politics then the UK parliament is only going to triangulate further into a race to the bottom as both sides constantly try to appease the low tax demands of the middle classes.

      Politics needs more voices. Its why the Greens are, although very small, very important to the democracy of the United Kingdom.

  9. Stephen: it’s not easy to leave one political party and join another. As someone who left the Labour Party after 30 years and decided three years later to join the Green Party, I’m naturally surprised that you’ve decided to move in the opposite direction.
    The arguments as to why Labour is an ineffective opposition at best and part and parcel of neo liberalism at worst are well rehearsed, and here is not the place to repeat or enlarge on them.
    Most political activists find short comings in organisations and individuals who they find it difficult to work with, I guess in the end we all try to find the best fit. I’ll be interested to read how your move to Labour progresses.

  10. I have enjoyed your blog and think it’s a shame that your voice calling for concensus and civility will be lost to the party. I too find the arrogant presumption that Greens have the monopoly on progressive ideas to be unattractive, but cannot understand why you would then join the most tribalist party of the lot. I hope that GP members will remain civil to you, as a former Labour member I can confirm that would not be the case if you were going the other way. So far as they are concerned, if you are not with them you are an enemy, and not one that deserves their respect.

  11. Hi Stephen, welcome to the Labour Party. Hope to see you at some local events. There is loads going on at the moment, including a drop-in for new members and supporters. If you send me your email I’ll give you more details.

  12. I have neen a Labour Party member since the early 90s. I agree with every word of every Green Party manifesto I have bothered to read. It is when I read their leaflets and letters to the press that I realise the party is mot yet able to break out of the ‘monopoly of progressive ideals’ you refer to. Labour does not know what it is doing and tolerates people like me as well as people I can’t stand. A refelection of all of society, not just the few who think like me. Good luck, and I hope we can continue this dialogue between both parties.

  13. Pingback: Brighton Labour VS Brighton Greens – some immediate challenges? | Stephen Wood

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