Martin Harrison’s conference motion (how to oust the Tories)

It really is important that the Green Party learn the unpalatable lesson from this election, and now we have a motion which will formally propose this at the Harrogate Conference in October.

Here is the text from Martin Harrison, which is on the Pre-agenda forum on the Green Party Members’ Website

Conference notes the collapse in the Green vote in most but not all places around the country at the 2017 general election. A change in strategy is needed, away from trying to attract Labour voters, towards appealing to all voters. Green politics should do this. In any case, as the Green Party we should be emphasizing green issues since that is our raison d’etre.

Conference therefore instructs the external communications team to provide research and resources to party members generally and especially our representatives to help them emphasise and explain Green themes and bring green issues into discussion of topics not normally associated with green issues.  “Abrupt climate change,” and “sustainability” as the foundation of a green economy to solve it and other environmental problems, should be the priority issues in this work.

For example on non-EU immigration we can talk about climate refugees as providing a practical as well as a moral reason for us to reduce our emissions.

The external communications team will provide GPEX a “Talking points” report which GPEX should present to spring conference with a view to allow GP to message green themes more closely.

Further to this, conference mandates GPEX to commission an investigation as to which constituencies hold promise for us to focus on once we have adopted this new strategy. For example, it may be that the most promising seats for us under the new strategy will be conservative seats like the Isle of Wight and Hertfordshire north-east. This report, I’ll call it the Target report”, will run in parallel with the Talking points report, to be presented to spring conference by GPEX.

It is vital that this issue is debated by the forthcoming conference. I have already pointed out that the 1.1million votes in 2015 were not Green votes. The green Party made only passing references to our core raison d’être. Instead we set out a stall far more appealing to Labour heartlands than anything Ed Miliband had to offer. The only wisdom after the event I admit to, is that it should have been obvious that a Labour resurgence would also hit seats into which we had put a lot of effort just as hard.

But the problem is not just our stance at both elections. The entire ‘Green Surge’ was of disaffected former, and now returned Labour voters, not people concerned with fracking, still less with the climate change against which all else may shortly pale into insignificance.

I used to joke, even before the Green Surge, that the Green Party was an ‘Old Labour’, i.e. pre-Blair refugee camp. It still is, only much bigger. I understand why these refugees from blairism find the notion of attracting Tory votes not just a bitter pill to swallow, they think it means sacrificing socialist principles.

The Green Party cannot avoid looking ‘left wing’ to anyone who isn’t, because ensuring social justice whilst preserving the ecosphere entails redistribution. But the difference between what the Green Party should be saying and what a Corbyn led Labour Party seems likely to say is over the issue of ecological footprints. Growth oriented Labour does not take them seriously. In the past, only avowed enemies of Socialism paid any attention to this, so the policies were not surprisingly unacceptable. The Green Party was trying to find answers to this problem before the Labour intake, but you will find possible answers in my blog which have not yet been taken up by the Green Party, such as a World Basic income reducing pressures to migrate, and helping women in desperately poor countries to have the same confidence as their European or American sisters that their first two children will survive.

All this has to come down to more immediate practicalities. The obvious place to start is the Isle of Wight, though there are other places where the green vote held, or at least did not collapse by 55%.They are all in Conservative (or Ulster protestant) areas. We shall have to take care not to frighten them off as we did after gaining 15% in the 1989 European Elections, and advice from those on the ground will be needed.

But we shall not be sacrificing any Green principles.

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2 responses to “Martin Harrison’s conference motion (how to oust the Tories)

  1. I agree in general, but am uncomfortable with categorising votes as ‘Tory’ or ‘Labour’. Many voters these days are truly floating, and vote according to the party, candidate, location and electoral climate. There are also MANY other voters who habitually don’t vote; often this is for lack of anyone addressing them personally, civilly, and without assuming that they’re stupid for not knowing much about politics. Very many of them have been disenfranchised over decades of ‘it’s complicated clever stuff and not for you’.

    I live in a broadly Tory area (a large village at the edge of a town), so I work to take votes from Lab, Tory, floaters AND non-voters. And the Green vote collapsed here too – including among some of my close supporters and friends who apologised but voted tactically. I am personallly hopeful that at next year’s locals I can build on last year’s 15%, however (this year was a bue year for locals here). And each passing year, more tribal Tory voters, who love the countryside and nature, and who will never vote Labour, will have become disillusioned with ‘their’ party, will have seen and felt the results of austerity, an will have seen our local Green campaign with its hands-on practical work.

    That’s the best I can see to do.

    • Your penultimate sentence could be a part of the explanation for the Isle of Wight result.
      You agree in general, but then criticize me for categorizing votes as Tory or Labour. That is just my point. The political divide from now on should be between those of us who think we should heed eco-limits, and those who think humans are too clever to need to do that.
      Actually, the shift goes much deeper than that. Once there has been a mind set change to accepting a steady state economy as the normal state of affairs, life will generally become more fulfilling, and certainly less stressful, though it does depend on the said steady state being underpinned by a Basic Income. If it isn’t, it will feel like a straighforward recession, and whoever brings that about will not last long politically.
      But it was the Green Party strategists, not me, who went for the Labour vote, with results that I have been dreading all along.

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