Monday, 22 July 2013

The Green Party must be a radical party if it is to make real electoral progress

I started this post with an Internet search for the meaning of the word 'radical'. One of the first definitions I found was this: a radical is - "One who advocates fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions". In Caroline Lucas the Green Party has a fine radical campaigning MP who is trying to bring about real fundamental change in our society. One of the recent examples of this is her introduction of a bill into parliament which would bring about the re-nationalisation of the railways. Speaking about the bill she said:
 "Britain was once world famous for our trailblazing and hugely successful railways, but today’s privatised system is ripping off passengers, harming the economy and failing the environment. From my inbox, it’s clear that poor rail services and overpriced fares are amongst the biggest concerns for my constituents".
This is just one of many radical changes that Caroline has tried to bring about since she became an MP, and this has made her deservedly popular, so much so that she was awarded the title of MP of the Year. She was also willing to challenge the conventions of parliament by wearing a "No More Page Three" T-shirt at a select committee hearing.Like many people I think that Caroline Lucas is the best MP we have in the UK and that, if she is re-elected in 2015, as she deserves to be, it will be because of her radical approach.

If you spend any time watching the BBC, you might be tempted to think that all is well in the UK but is isn't. The savage cuts introduced by the government, increasing privatisation, and failure to tackle climate change or tax dodging by corporations have left many people in despair. The Labour Party has failed to challenge the Coalition government on any of these issues, and pledges to maintain the cuts if it wins the next election. Only the Green Party offers a real and radical alternative to "business as usual", to use Caroline Lucas's own words, and this alternative gives the party an historic opportunity to make a real electoral breakthrough in the next two years.

However, the Party won't achieve electoral success if it doesn't present itself as a radical party of change, and implement radical change when it gets the opportunity to exercise power. Simply being a slightly greener version of the Liberal Democrats, or promoting a bit more social justice than Labour just won't cut it with an electorate that wants real change. I've posted before about how the Irish Green Party followed the road to self-destruction by going into a disastrous coalition with Fianna Fail and collaborating with a neoliberal austerity cuts agenda. Why would any of the millions of progressive voters bother to vote for a party that offers little more than the alternatives, especially if you don't think that party can get elected anyway? You have to have a really good reason to take the plunge and vote Green, and that good reason can only be that you are confident in the radicalism the party stands for, and that it will be delivered. That is where the Irish Green Party manifestly failed.

If the Green Party is serious about getting into government, it has to be serious about radical reform of the UK's economy, institutions and infrastructure, and pursuing much much more than an ecological agenda, otherwise it will remain a niche party on the fringe of the British political scene. The Green Party has the right policies for radical change and Caroline Lucas is leading the way, now the rest of the party needs to follow her.