There will be a Green Party candidate in fhe by-election in Batley & Spen due to Tracy Brabin’s election as West Yorkshire Mayor. I shall offer to be ‘it’.
I lived in Batley for 46 years, and I represented the Green party in every parliamentary election from 1980 until I moved to Leeds in 2011. At 86, I am far too old. but I never expected to get elected anyway. My purpose was, and still is, to alert people to the growing risk of climate meltdown, and to test the strength of that awareness. Not only does that still apply,I believe all other issues pale into insignificance..
I fear that is not how the voters in Batley & Spen see it. They voted 55% to leave Europe, despite Jo Cox’s passionate ‘Remain’ stance. (The national vote was 52.8%,) That issue apparently still dominated nationally at the December 2019 election more than the danger to the Ecosphere.
Some media pundits see Batley & Spen as ‘the next Hartlepool’. The Labour majority was reduced in 2019, but not reversed. The constituency had been Conservative (Elizabeth Peacock) throughout the Thatcher years.
How much does immigration matter? Although Hartlepool has a lower immigrant population than the nagtional average, it is claimed that it was the sheer volume of immigration which produced that 70% ‘Leave’ vote in 2016, and seems to have been a part of the ‘red wall’ collapse. The main immigrant increase in Batley was some years ago, but 75% of Batley & Spen are ‘White.
I hesitated to join the fray due to the identification of the Green Party as anti- Tory. On current trends, a more typical Green Candiate than me will simply split the anti-Tory vote, and hand the result to the perceived enemy. I too am anti the present Conservative party, but instead of splitting the social justice vote, we should be eroding what is in practice support for climate denial. To be honest, one more Con MP now is neither here nor there, but
A by-election is an opportunity to test for a new direction.
To be successful, such a campaign should have been long term. The most formidable difficulty will be persuading the ‘haves’ who would lose maginally now, rather than much more later, that they will like climate breakdown rather less..
But, and I make no apology for repetition, this is a by-election – one new MP among 630. GretaThunberg is right, but ‘System change not climate change’ is empty verbiage without some specific new policy proposal.
My specific proposal is twofold: Taxes based on the ‘ecological footprint’ of resource use, backed up by an unconditional basic income to everyone. It will, as in 1940, mean swingeing taxes, but as these will partially take the form of Land Value Tax, Income Tax may well be lower than it was then. Remember, this is only a by-election. This change can only happen after thorough discussion,. and probably not before the next general election,
In 1940 we faced a dreadful enemy – NAZI Germany. So dreadful that enemies who hated each other co-operated for four years. Due possibly to my self (internet) diagnosis as Asperger’s syndrome, I do not understand why climate breakdown is not seen as a greater threat than NAZI domination. Why does Boris Johnson persist with his neoliberal, scrounger-bashing agenda, rather than inviting his enemies to fight a common enemy? Because voters with more normal minds than mine do not see it in these terms.
In 1940, Winston Churchill offered ‘Blood, sweat, toil and tears’. What also happened, and nobody objected, was taxes on high incomes close to 100%.
My platform will not necessarily be whatever the Green Party currently says nationally, though it will not be hostile. I repeat, this is the election of a single MP. I do not even need to win to establish that saving the Ecosphere is vital, All I need is a much bigger vote share than everyone expects.
If the ‘1940’ mind set can be re-created, redistribution can be presented as what chessplayers would recognize as a gambit – an apparent false move which produces a surprise advantage.
But my main divergence from the current Green consensus is its hostility to Conservatives. The seccurity given by the basic income means that market forces, a staple of ‘right wing’ policies will make sense to every one.
I seem to be pleading in vain to bring about Wolfgang Sachs’ premature assertion that the ‘haves’ versus ‘have nots‘ conflict has been replaced by who does, or does not recognize planetary limits.
All I want to do is save the Ecosphere.