In the children’s story, Tweedledum and Tweedledee had a battle over a rattle, but stopped when they had a fright. I am frightened of the message that 98.4% of scientific research confirms the inexorable advance of climate change, and the consequences if this is not halted. The Green Party was founded in response to this concern, and I am doing what I can to raise the profile of the Citizens’, or Basic Income principle as a part of the answer. But is this the main issue which currently preoccupies the Greens? Apparently not. The rattle that some see as more important is the actions of Jason Kitkat, the Leader of the Greens on Brighton Council. I understand an open letter calling for his resignation has even been signed by Caroline Lucas.
I do not wish to become involved in the details. Some criticisms may be justified, though his defence does seem to make some valid points. This government have put all councils under intolerable pressure and in an impossible position, and where most saw resistance as vain, or even doing more harm than good, a Green council is expected to resist regardless of the consequences. This government is the nastiest in my long lifetime. At least Thatcher made no bones about her intentions. But why have so many fallen for their ‘Set our opponents at each other’s throats’ strategy? Even if Cllr Kitkat has made a wrong decision in a ‘can’t win’ situation, that does not justify the intemperate attacks on the Green Party in general which have been based on this issue. They say more about the attackers than they do about Cllr Kitkat – or the Green Party.
I understand the motives of critics who are not members of the Green Party using this issue to undermine the credibility of the Green Party generally. What I do not understand is Green Party members explicitly allying themselves with these outsiders. Well no, I understand some of them all too well. I have expressed concern in previous blogs at the push by new members to shift the Green Party away from its roots, into a purely anti-capitalist vehicle. Even I cannot imagine the GP ever being pro-capitalist, but some long term GP members who have signed the open letter to Cllr Kitkat always made no bones about what they really wanted.
As I write, the People’s Assembly is taking place in London. Lots of speeches protesting against the government’s austerity programme. But I understand Boycott Workfare was expressly excluded, apparently on the grounds that he criticised some of the unions involved. So do I. Why are they bothering, when along with the Labour Party leadership, they have swallowed the government’s ‘anti-scrounger’ rhetoric lock stock and barrel? This is yet another success for the government strategy.
But that brings me back to the relevance of the Citizens’ Income. Even Polly Toynbee, who dissents from the Labour Party line on welfare cuts, fails, so far as I can see, to realize that means testing is the key. Of course in the long term, the CI will play an important part in resolving the dilemma the government has deliberately set for local authorities, but I realize that might be difficult to explain in the heat of battle in Brighton. At least Caroline Lucas should have it at the back of her mind.
David Taylor (I believe there are at least three such GP members. I am referring to the one who joined as a schoolboy in 1973), calls for a return to coalition building, as intended by the Green Party founding members. A lot may depend on the response of those who see smashing capitalism as the primary aim, and I am not optimistic. The coalition partner which I see as the most important is the kind of people who voted for us in droves in 1989, but who ceased abruptly to do so at subsequent elections. My explanation has been dismissed as ancient history by one fairly new member, but here it is anyway. In England the Green vote in elections up to 1989 was more or less directly proportional to the conservative vote. The only inkling most people had was that the Ecology Party was about the environment. A few may even have known about the ’Limits to Growth’ connection. The Party used the publicity from the 1989 Euro election success (15% overall) to explain the close ties between sustainability and social justice. So we revealed ourselves as distinctly un-conservative long before the recent membership intake. These former Green voters, or their now adult children, are still there. They need to be educated about the necessity for a fairer approach to wealth sharing as not merely right per se, but essential to a sustainable society. Did I ever mention the role of the Citizens’ Income in this – if only as a thought experiment? But they are essential members of a coalition to save the planet.
The attitude of recent recruits to the Green Party to the population issue is highly relevant to the foregoing, but this blog post is long enough. Meanwhile, Calgary in Canada is the latest place to have an ominous, frightening freak weather event, but in Brighton Tweedledum and Tweedledee still . . .