Two years ago everybody said “Caroline’s election mustn’t be a coronation”. But it was. I think Caroline Lucas’s strategy all along was to give Jonathan Bartley an assured opportunity to show what he was capable of, and then go back to being a sole Green MP – more than a full time job.
Jonathan has indeed established himself as competent – a safe pair of hands. He is media savvy, and lives in London. I believe he would have steadily built up both his own and the Green Party’s credibility.
If either Caroline or Jonathan have misgivings about the strategy they publicly endorsed at the Bournemouth conference earlier this year they have chosen to hide them. It is in denial of the reason the Green vote collapsed from 1.111.603 in 2015 to 525,435 in 2017.
In 2015 we achieved several quite startling second places, but they were al in seats where voters could be sure that Labour would win. The clear message – to the Labour hierarchy – was “The Green Party is a better socialist party than the moribund one led by Ed Miliband”.
I confess, I too was taken by surprise not just by the emergence from nowhere of Jeremy Corbyn, but by the sheer size of his support, and his subsequent resounding re-endorsement. though with hindsight, it simply confirms the above message. Whilst I question Corbyn’s abilities as a leader, his skills as a campaigner are not in doubt. Once it became obvious that under Corbyn, Labour was going to do much better in 2017 than had seemed possible when the election was called, the Green Party’s fate was sealed. This is not wisdom after the event. I campaigned in the Isle of Wight because that was the Green Party’s best 2015 result in a Conservative seat.
I keep trying to point out in this weblog how the Green Party can, and can has now become must attract Conservative, or t least Lib Dem voters who look askance at socialism. We can do so without sacrificing either social justice or Green principles. As I say It is all somewhere in this blog, but two cardinal points are that in return for less taxation of the rich than the 1940s we might just preserve the ecosphere, and the basic income, far from being a scroungers’ charter, makes work pay better than the Universal Credit and gives potential entrepreneurs a springboard.
But Caroline, excellent as she is at what she does on behalf of the Green Party, is a Socialist. She cannot bear to think of Labour other than at least as allies, if not friends, against a common enemy. I agree that that common enemy is abominable, but I can see why the Labour Party regard Greens as at best as fleas sucking their life-blood, and at worst as potential vampires. Caroline, if we are ever to oust that common enemy, we have to take votes from them. An alliance of everybody else will not work.
Far from building on the outstanding 2017 Isle of Wight result, the current Green Party strategy completely ignores it, presumably with Caroline’s approval. But what will Jonathan Bartley do once he can be his own man? Up to now he has stuck to Caroline’s hymn sheet. Left to his own devices will he revert to his pragmatism as part of John Major’s team? I am afraid the current socialist complexion of the Green Party membership may loom larger for him than the need to change course.
I am assuming that Bartley will stand for Leader. and will be popular. Fine, but that means there must be a female and a male as deputies. I shall not be standing for either post. But I shall be extremely disappointed if Andrew Cooper does not apply for one or the other. He was the top male candidate for Deputy Leader in 2016. Here is what I said then about Andrew when I was musing on whether to stand as leader:
Andrew Cooper’s record is formidable – 16 [now 18] years as a Kirklees councillor. He has a firm grasp of the original Limits genesis of the Green Party. He has applied this approach locally making pragmatic arrangements as appropriate, and he has shown this understanding in speeches.
I see there have already been hits on my blog on 16th June 2016, on whether I should stand for the leadership. Here is the (slightly amended) narrative, also from my blog 2 years ago as the Green Party’s raison d’être if it is to reassert itself as a meaningful political force.
- We are in danger of exceeding the Earth’s capacity to cope
- This is now embodied in the Paris Climate Change Agreement [Dec 2015]
- All other issues pale into insignificance, and will become impossible [if economic activity is not restrained]
- This involves what will be called a recession [less serious than the one predicted by Limits to growth, but a recession none the less]
- If the pie is less than we thought, it will have to be shared – redistribution. [This is why we fell into the ‘socialist’ trap]
- The Citizens’ Basic Income is the best way to achieve this
- It is in any case an answer to this government’s nasty benefit sanctions regime [and the Universal Credit fiasco]