The Green Party has only itself to blame for Dale Vince’s £250K donation to the Labour Party, though Green Left bears a heavy responsibility. Ecotricity will remain my supplier.
The Green Party started, at least this was how I envisaged it, as a platform to develop a coherent set of policies to deal with the possibility that indiscriminate economic growth was beginning to threaten the ecosphere. The party soon found a more realistic, i.e. easier goal to concentrate on – local issues.
Nevertheless it did develop a range of policies related to sustainability. One of these was the Citizens’ Income, to ensure that the coming recession due to resource shortages or some form of pollution whether planned, or accidental like all the others to date, would be bearable for whole populations. The Citizens’ income is radically redistributive, but it allows a number of ideas to make sense which are oppressive without it. It can form the basis for a reconciliation of former enemies, but only when both sides are ready for that.
Recruitment to the Green Party was from the outset mainly from those primarily motivated by social justice issues. As a rule, anyone who turned up at an inaugural local meeting concerned to preserve a planet fit for future generations would be in a minority. This being a first meeting, each side found only members of the enemy tribe, and the minority quietly went home.
But until the 15% poll in the 1989 European election, the Green Party received very little publicity. Mrs. Thatcher’s decision to claim the Green agenda for the Conservatives backfired, so that the Green vote came overwhelmingly from the leafy shires, even though the activists were almost all passionate socialists.
We should not be only taking votes from Labour. The original ‘Limits to Growth’ purpose is quite compatible with anti-austerity. We did after all envisage an economy without growth, and we have austerity because that happened anyway, courtesy of the bankers. But the Citizens’ income is an important element. A simple ‘fight the cuts’ message plays into the hands of Iain Duncan Smith’s myths about benefit claimants.
Zac Goldsmith is tainted with tax avoidance. Should I now cease my one man attempt to recruit him to the Green cause? When President Lyndon Johnson recruited to his US administration someone whom aides warned would be problematic, his reply was
“I want that guy inside my tent pissing outwards.”
Zac claims that he has not personally used the HSBC ‘facility’, but he is a beneficiary of a trust fund which does. He could probably change that, but the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ comes into play. What is the point of him reducing his income if all that achieves is him being disadvantaged as compared to his former position? However, given Zac’s prominent profile, it could have a significant effect, beginning the shift to a more inclusive (not egalitarian) culture. Even remaining a Conservative, he could point out that Harold Macmillan had a very different attitude to those trapped in poverty from any of his successors, and he wished to return that ethos.
But it is all very well me sitting here comfortably off with Superannuation and OAP, asking somebody else to make a sacrifice. So let’s try something less demanding. I have pointed out in recent posts that the founder members of the Green Party, whilst not in Zac’s league, would pay much more in tax than they gained from the Citizens’ Income, and they accepted that. In the Sedgefield byelection (2007), in Tory voting polling districts, my spiel was “The Green Party was formed to deal with things like climate change. We can’t promise success, but one thing we can be sure of is that people like you will pay more in tax than you do now. Society will have to be much more equal.” At least 60% of those who said they would consider voting Green after hearing that must have done so.
So I would settle for Zac saying simply that like his Uncle, Edward Goldsmith, (a member in 1973-75 of what later became the Green Party) he passionately wants a sustainable world, and he accepts the need to reduce inequality to achieve this. He would willingly pay more tax for this purpose. It would help enormously if he were then to endorse the Citizens’ income, as creating a work Incentive at the same time as it gave everybody security, and providing a basis on which the rest of the rules could be geared towards sustainability.
But Zac is a loyal member, by his voting record, of the most rapacious inhuman party in my living memory. That includes the Thatcher era, and I am old enough to remember Winston Churchill as war time Prime Minister.
Zac’s uncle, Edward Goldsmith was a key member of the green movement. He was one of the authors of ‘Blueprint for Survival’, a seminal book which recruited me to the Green cause. Edward launched the ‘Ecologist‘ magazine, and Zac edited it for a time, during which I agreed with every word he wrote. That there is still some vestige of the original Zac is shown by a recent speech in Parliament against TTIP, but the motion was not voted on. He has I believe been totally silent on fracking,
But above all Zac seems to have no inkling of the social justice aspect of a sustainable society. The founder members grasped it, and the Tory part of what had been Tony Blair’s constituency agreed, but not Zac. If he did, there are millions who would follow his lead. It is within Zac’s power at this election to transform the political scene, and set the world on the road to what he, his uncle and I have been striving for all these years.
And prove Dale Vince (and Green Left) wrong.