Eagle-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.