Green Party 2018 strategy – still in denial

I cannot find a report on the GP website of the 2018 Bournemouth conference strategy launch. Perhaps it must be kept secret from our enemies, so I won’t divulge details.

I wouldn’t bother. There was no acknowledgement of why the Green vote collapsed in 2017, so there could be no inquest as to how to make sure such mistakes were not repeated. Natalie Bennett is still spinning the drop from 1,157,630 in 2015 to 525,435 as “The second best Parliamentary result ever”.

It would not have helped to play Cassandra, but because it was obvious to me what was going to happen, I went to help in the Isle of Wight, our best 2015 result in a Conservative held seat, not Bristol West, nor the for me much nearer Sheffield Central.

It does not need hindsight to notice that in 2015, not only did the Green Party play down its environmental message, apparently on the no doubt correct grounds that not enough people were interested in climate change, but our policies as a Socialist party were superior to what Ed Miliband was offering.

We achieved a large number of saved deposits, and several second places. They were in safe Labour seats, where, without rocking the boat, those who in due course catapulted Corbyn to the top could send a message to the Labour leadership.

Meanwhile, in 2017, the Labour Party took on board several Green policies, so that there was no point in voting for a similar party which wasn’t going to be in government. Natalie is right in that the collapse could have been even worse. But once it became clear that May was making mistakes, and Corbyn, although not a natural leader was a skilled campaigner, the Green Party’s fate was sealed.

I did not hear anything in the Bournemouth strategy launch which would correct that serious strageic error, but I am hard of hearing.

So what should the strategy be?

Surprise, surprise, I think the universal, unconditional Basic, or Citizens’ Income (UBI) is the key. If we are to get rid of a conservative government, we must persuade voters not to vote conservative. The trick is to persuade former Conservatives, but especially Liberal Democrats, to vote Green without losing Labour sympathizers. Oh, but we have already lost them for the time being.

Perhaps this is tactics, but resources should be concentrated on the two constituencies which most clearly bucked the general collapse Hertfordshire North East and, especially the Isle of Wight – both Tory strongholds. Incidentally, the official strategy review made no mention of targeting known Tory climate sceptics.

Although the UBI is drastically redistributive, and so looks like a core socialist policy, as Philippe van Parijs, a guru of the UBI movement says, it is “A capitalist road to communism”.

My original reason for inventing what we now call a UBI before I knew it had already been invented for quite different reasons was what Kate Raworth now calls a planned soft economic landing to prevent an otherwise nasty economic crash due to exceeding ecological limits. The pity is that whilst Ms Raworth clearly approves of the UBI, she misses its relevance to her Chapter on being agnostic about growth. Will somebody please ask her to read my blog.

The UBI can be sold on Conservative (and Lib Dem) doorsteps. Consider a potential entrepreneur, just leaving school say. (S)he has no money, just a bright idea. The UBI allows them to try it. Many such ideas will fail, but no harm done. But for the few that succeed, the newly proserous entrepreneur will find that (s)he has to pay tax – to pay for the UBI, without which (s)he would not be where (s)he is today.

I am surprised to hear, even from some who have at some stage been on means tested benefits that workers will resent giving handouts to shirkers. It may need a campaign, but the poverty trap Is not difficult to explain. The benefit system has been taking money from taxpayers and giving it to the unemployed all along. For anyone on means tested benefits, and unlikely to obtain a high wage, the rational choice has always been to avoid the labour market. On the contrary, the UBI will make work pay (Where the ill-fated Universal Credit would at best do so only marginally).

But as I say, my original reason for the UBI was to save the planet from ecological destruction. At present many middle class (Cons and Lib Dems) rely on income from shares in transnational companies. They need those shares to produce maximum income now. If they had an adequate UBI, they could begin to think of the ecological consequences of how their money is made.


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