Thursday, June 08, 2006

Green Progress

The beard and sandle count was very lowOn Sunday I attended the packed launch of Green Left, a new socialist current within the Green Party, supported by leading members of the party.

The launch declaration states that Green Left hopes “to raise Green Party politics to meet the demands of its radical policies. Green politics needs to be based on dynamic campaigning and hard intellectual groundwork to create workable alternatives.

The Green Party is an organisation full of contradictions. It's a clearly progressive organisation with a manifesto packed full of the policies of the left, yet its robustly decentralised structure allows space for the right to operate - like in Leeds for instance.

For some in the Green Party they are in the Party as much to fight for peace and social justice as the environment, but others can be attracted to reactionary and disempowering ideas like the Giai theory or even population control. The Green Party, like the green movement, has no single position on ASBOs, trade unions or even nuclear power - but it's this very openness that makes the Green Party one of the places that socialists can effectively operate, both in terms of winning progressives over to a more consistent left position but also to win those outside of any formal political organisations to progressive ideas.

In the Green Party you'd encounter a pluralist environment where people think, speak and act very differently to those in the organised left - which makes it a challenging, uncomfortable and rewarding place to be. Whilst it's easier to stick with the old formulations and old friends the left needs to become those little fish in the big ponds - in Respect, the Labour party, the anti-capitalist movements, the Green Party - in fact everywhere there is space for socialist ideas.

What impressed me about the Green Left meeting was that this was a group of down the line socialists who wanted to be a real assett to the Green Party and ensure it engaged with the trade union movement and other left activists, an area where the Greens are not always particuarly strong. Plus there wasn't a pair of sandals in sight.

Read the launch statement here


Matt Sellwood said...

How dare you use my photo without my permission! :)

Seriously though, I think that the new Green Left initiative has great promise. I would take issue with your assertion that 'the Green Party...has no single position on ASBOs, trade unions or even nuclear power' though. Yes, sure, there are people in the party who would disagree with the national position on these issues - but we do have national policy on them - and in every case, it is progressive, leftist policy, made with equality and social justice in mind...

Jim Jay said...

That's a fair point matthew.

Obviously I'm aware that the Green Party policy is, for example, completely against nuclear power. What I should have said was that the green *movement* has no single position on... and left the party out of it.

stroppybird said...


So have you joined the greens ? I am still in the Labour Party but probably not for much longer. I have considered the Greens, it would be interesting to talk to you more about it.

btw I assumed that was you in the photo, Andy has painted such a flattering picture of you on Stroppyblog :-)

Jim Jay said...

Of course it's me, as I'm sure anyone can verify! I didn't use to look like this - they wouldn't let me join until I had plastic surgery and had at least one bird living in my shrubbery like beard.

I have joined the Greens, about two or three weeks ago, although I worked for them in the last three elections so it's not 'new' on my part.

The Greens here are good people, although I'm not going to pretend they are all on the left. They certainly see themselves as part of the progressive movements rather than opposed to them but often aren't active, so part of my plan is to draw them into what I regard as proper political activity rather than just elections.

Having said that, I don't know what it's like where you live, but in my 'ward' the Greens are second place and could take it next year - and for Cambridge having their first Green cllr would be a big deal so that definately gave me a push as although I could still do work for the Greens without being a member that kind of barrier might give me less of a say if they decided to do something dodgy.

Plus the Greens being a decentralised organisation means I may actually be able to survive in it!

stroppybird said...

Apparently there is another photo of you doint the rounds in cyberspace .....

I sort of live in London and Brighton, but Brighton is my main base. So the Greens do well here.
I probably need to talk to some.

Do you think they would appreciate my sense of humour re shooting people I don't like .

Jim Jay said...

There are a few - the Weekly Worker had the worst photo in the world of me for instance, and the Cambridge Evening News printed one with the smuggest grin possible, they MUST have photoshopped it, surely.

There used to quite a good one of me in the Colchester Evening Gazette holding the Socialist Alliance 'People before Profit' Manifesto, but sadly I don't think they have it on their website anymore.

stroppybird said...

Not those, think it involved sandals and purple boxer shorts. perhaps Andy has been at the photoshop :-)

Derek Wall said...

I must say were bowled over to set up a socialist network and have the Party chair join and three four exec members.

Ofcourse there is a long standing ecosocialist tradition, see Joel Kovel and Bellemy Foster's book or even my Babylon title.

Sean Thompson said...

I'm very interested to read that you have just joined the Greens. I'm in a similar position to you - a former SA supporter and now an ex Respect member. I have a good relationship with our local Greens and assisted them - a bit - in my ward during the local elections (which went from 3 Labour councillors to two Greens and a Tory).

However, in their own way the Greens - even the best of them - seem to be just a sectarian as the old far left groups in that they see building their own organisation as synonomous with developing a broader mass movement.

I have no problem with the Green Party's formal policies (not that I agree with all of them of course) nor with its internal regime, which seems refreshingly democratic and open. It's just that after a lifetime of involvement with small left groups I don't want to spend my declining years in just another sect - no matter how nice its members are.

How confident are you that the Green Party is really a step towards a new popular politics of the left?

Jim Jay said...

Hi Sean, thanks for this. Sorry I didn't notice this comment until today.

The last thing I want to do is imply the Green Party is an organisation without faults. My advice is to get involved and see if it suits you.

The one big thing in their favour though is that as a de-centralised party you are not subjected to a beligerent command structure and even where you are in a minority it is very easy to keep plugging away at what you believe, something sadly lacking in the left groups.