I was a member of the Green Party for 12 years, a candidate in local and European elections, a member of the party executive and so on. I left it some 5 years ago, disagreeing with many of the policies, and spent some years allowing my head to clear of the party's culture before thinking about politics afresh or considering joining another party.
My principal disagreements with it are:
- It is essentially socialist, albeit not "central planning" but "local planning". Solutions to almost everything involve more government spending and more regulation. Appropriately for a socialist party, it is very middle class and anxious about it. Who noticed all the working class accents in the latest broadcast?
- Hostility to trade, and in particular an impractical vision for third world development that would achieve very little. (The desire to support development is genuine.) The evidence is that trade and prosperity go together, and evidence beats dogma in my book.
- Opposition to medical research on animals. I am clear that benefits to humans, and for that matter to other animals in the long run make this research a morally good thing.
- A lack of perspective where environmental problems may conflict with other problems, a woolly understanding of what makes a problem an environmental problem, a poor grasp of the science involved (much declined since 1990 or so). This is probably true of much of the wider movement, and to some extent of other parties too.
At the heart of Green thinking there are more problems. Ambition for spending on public goods and redistribution is not reconciled with a shrinking pie as the private sector is squeezed. There is considerable hostility to science, from various philosophical perspectives. Yet it is science that makes environmental problems comprehensible, and scientists who have led the way. "Conventional" progress is rejected, but there is little clarity as to what to replace the idea with - giving a somewhat directionless culture to an appropriately leaderless party.
So why do people vote Green? Here are some reasons:
- to send a clear message that the environment should have more priority
- if you are a socialist.
- as a protest vote
- in response to good local campaigning
- if you actually know and agree with the policies
And what do we do about it?
Well I think it is only fair that socialists have someone to vote for. And similarly if mice have a moral significance to you equal to or greater than other people, it may be a fair choice. Tactical considerations aside, these people are voting correctly, leave them to it.
As for the rest - we need clarity. Clear and effective green policies, not one snippet per page of the manifesto, but few, simple, substantial commitments. We need to make the case for trade - that millions of lives are at stake worldwide if development is impeded by anti-traders. We need an optimistic vision of the future.
Tag: Green Party