My Dad was a Socialist. For him defeating the Capitalists was number one priority. I am as passionate about social justice as he was, but two things have changed.
My Dad died in 1964. He was already disillusioned with the Labour Party, but I remember him in his prime, out doorstepping for the Commonwealth Party in 1944 (I was 9). When Clem Attlee’s Labour Party swept into power in 1945 he thought the millennium had arrived. Well no, but he did think they would remove once and for all the evils which Capitalism had visited on the working class pre-war.
But within 7 years there was a Conservative government. To be fair, under Harold Macmillan the formerly, and soon again to become the Nasty Party did present a human face. But Capitalists did not stop being capitalists. They used to be nasty, vicious and ruthless, but they didn’t get into positions of economic power through being stupid, and they were resilient.
In due course Maggie Thatcher felt able to tear up the post-war consensus on social welfare. Did Tony Blair reinstate it? On the contrary, he thatcherised the Labour party. His success was due to appealing to aspirations, regardless of the effect on the weak and vulnerable. It was Blair, not Thatcher who first introduced PFI.
Far from being defeated, Capitalism has a firmer grip than ever. This is the first thing which has changed since my Dad’s day. I explore possible reasons why and how this has happened in two earlier blog posts: “The Problem of Capitalism, 6.7.2013, and “The origin and Future of Capitalism”, 16.11 2014. The central problem is the Tragedy of the Commons, but at all events I do not see credible plans of how Green Left hopes to achieve their aim of defeating Capitalism after all.
The second thing which has changed is the reason the Green Party was founded – the need to protect the ecosphere. A major weakness in Jeremy Corbyn’s plans is oddly similar to one of the reasons for Donald Trump’s equally unexpected success – they both promise rust belt regeneration as though threats to the ecosphere were as distant as they were in 1945.
All right, I will come clean. I know full well that the above will cut no ice with Green Left. I am really appealing to the Green Party membership whose starting point was, like mine, social justice, but who, like me see the urgent need to combine this with preserving the ecosphere. If we fail, the emergency measures taken by those in power will not be socialist.
I have set out my case in the last few blog posts since the 8th June, but basically the Green Party strategy is in tatters. It may be my inability to understand websites, but I cannot find anything on the Green Left website on their analysis of the election result. At the Leeds GP meeting since the election, a GL sympathiser took the view that the Corbyn project would collapse (soon?) and when it did the Green Party could resume where it left off in 2015. The Green Party Members’ Website even has a suggestion that we should capitulate and join the Labour Party.
My rather different analysis must be a very bitter pill for anyone who still thinks that Green thinking is very close to Socialism, and that Conservative or Lib Dem thinking is alien. If the need for drastic redistribution makes us Socialist, then yes, the Green Party is socialist.
But I must also remind readers that the Green Party was founded by a former Conservative councillor and an estate agent and that it gained four figure votes right from the word go up to 1989 in Conservative constituencies. That stopped abruptly when they found out about the redistribution: they had been voting for a cunning version of the enemy tribe!
That blight is still with us. Half a dozen, all Conservative constituencies bucked the general collapse. We need to find out why, and build on that. I believe the candidate in Hertfordshire North East is a local businessman. Belfast South is DUP territory, and they are said to be climate sceptics, though that did not seem to help in neighbouring DUP constituencies.
BY comparison 17.4% in the Isle of Wight stands out as a freak result. The candidate’s agent says that the IoW is beginning to turn away from consumerism. I hope she is right, but why is the same trend not happening elsewhere? I suspect that another reason is that Vix Lowthion is a credible enough candidate to attract Lib Dems, and perhaps up to 1,000 Conservative votes. I fear that if the Isle of Wight voters have forgotten the redistributive implications of sustainability, Vix’s votes could disappear as quickly as Molly Scott Cato’s or Natalie Bennett’s
But this is a nettle which must be grasped. If,as I believe, Capitalism is too strong, we must persuade them that it is in their interests to preserve the ecosphere. But wait, they actually agreed that in Paris in December 2015.
Meanwhile, we approach those who will pay more taxes with the plea that all we ask is enough to make sustainable policies realistic. They will inevitably produce what will feel like a recession in conventional terms, so the consensus which occurred at the end of the second world war, and lasted for a few decades, needs to be reinstated.
Would anyone in Green Left care to take on my bet that Vix Lowthion will be our next Green MP?