Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Greenpartywatch: Greens admit their policies are weak

Anders Hanson picks up a story in the Times covering some blogging covering the various parties positions on science related policy questions, and generally bemoaning the Greens' medieval denialist attitude to any science that doesn't support their agenda.

Anders quotes Green MSP Patrick Harvey, and it is worth repeating

I recognise that the Green movement has taken some time to develop from a single issue group, and perhaps in some areas we’ve some way to go yet… The best way of supporting our continued development is to subject us to parliamentary scrutiny, so that our policies can be tested alongside the rest.

Oh dear. And Adam Ramsey [Edit: not Adrian Ramsey, a Green PPC in Norwich]
I am an active member of the Green Party, but this policy is frankly moronic. It is not a manifesto commitment, so MEPs elected this year will not be pushing for it. Please consider what Greens parties are going to prioritise rather than some out dated policy the party hasn’t got round to changing.

Oh dear. Make some allowances please, for a movement in its infancy. Except that it isn't. Founded in 1973, with policies of nuclear deterrence, anti-immigration, women should stay at home, etc, etc, it has clearly been a long road to here. 

Let's put that aside. Let's regard the Green Party as beginning with that big 15% vote share they got in the European elections of 1989. By then they had more or less the policies they have today. Perhaps they would support some roadbuilding, but not very much. That's 20 years ago. Since then there will have been 40 party conferences, and therefore probably around 80 to 100 major policy papers agreed.

Now the body of "outdated" policy that Ramsey refers to is called the Manifesto for a Sustainable Society and can be found here. This is where those 80 to 100 policy papers will have ended up. How many sections does it have? 37. So each of them has been updated on average 2 to 3 times since the party's coming of age in 1989.

Riiight. And you've still got some way to go. OK. What could possibly be the problem?

Well, I suggest that the problem is a great deal of incoherence at the heart of Green Party thinking. The core value, that economic activity is the cause of all our ills, is not reconciled with the desire for increased public spending on everything. The demand for social justice is not reconciled with their opposition to the economic and technological innovations that have freed or will free millions from serfdom and servitude. Their demand for a whole different kind of economic system is not tempered by any kind of detail on what that system would look like - not least because they can't agree.

Denialism on science, denialism on the benefits of free trade, wishful thinking on energy; they may not understand what is wrong with the world, but at least they have their comfort zones.


Tinter said...

Its Adam Ramsay, not Adrian Ramsay. Adam Ramsay is a Scottish Green Party candidate.

The Scottish Green Party is seperate from GPEW, so those aren't their own policies they are discussing.

No disagreement other than you have used the quotes to paint an internal debate that has not visibly occured, mores the pity.

Joe Otten said...

Whoops, will correct. Yes, the SGP got independence from the EWGP in the 90s. I don't recall whether they took the MfSS with them or ditched it - they don't seem to have it or anything similar on their website. That much policy work for little progress would be a big burden to a small party like the SGP.

Tinter said...

That being the case, they then haven't admitted their policies are weak. Its more like if the alliance in NI were to slam Lib Dem policies. We may be best buddies and all, but it still wouldn't be Lib Dems admitting to failings. So your post is misleading in that regard.

Joe Otten said...

Nice try, but I suggest the Scottish Greens are still Greens.

And there was I generously using the word weak rather than moronic.

Tinter said...

I'm a Lib Dem so I'm not trying anything. Sure they are still Greens. The German FDP are certainly Liberals: would it be reasonable for a tory to write up critcisms from them of us as "Liberals admit their policies are weak"? Clearly not (and substitute FDP for ALliance if you wish to complain about geography).

Its not their policies, it the GPEW's policies. To call it otherwise is inaccurate.

Of course their policies are weak, which is partly why I am unhappy to see a good post lose accuracy in a couple of parts.

Joe Otten said...

That's fair enough, although they are somewhat closer than we are to the FDP. In 1989, my year 0 above, the SGP were part of the UKGP, and signed up to the MfSS. Since then they may have quietly dropped it - not wanting to commit the resources to maintaining it, or suffer the humiliation of rubber stamping whatever the English happen to decide year after year.

But they are still coming from the same place, and haven't solved the same problem.

Anonymous said...

Broadly Agreed. I can only imagine they have dropped it, SGP has under a 1000 members so I don't see how they could sustain that maze of documents.

Adam Ramsay said...


further correction: I am a member of the Scottish Greens, but I am not a candidate in this election.


Adam Ramsay

Adam Ramsay said...

Oh, and if you want an argument about free trade, then I'm game any time. Lib Dem policies on this are not only moronic - they force millions into poverty every year.

Joe Otten said...

Adam, you're on.

I'm not sure who you think is implementing these Lib Dem policies, but never mind.

You talk about forcing millions into poverty, but surely, through economic growth (boosted by freer trade), millions are escaping poverty. Year on year, a smaller percentage is poor and starving.

Where are these extra millions in poverty because of free trade?

Adam Ramsay said...


OK, yes, its fair that they are not policies enforced by the Lib Dems, just supported by them.

Also, obviously it is over simplistic to solely blame trade laws for a broad range of systemic problems. But it is also massively simplistic to say that free trade = growth = lifting people out of poverty.

Where is your evidence that free trade is the best way to deliver growth? There is a massive difference between unregulated free trade and trade. Free trade leads to monopolies who exploit both workers and consumers. Free trade creates information asymmetries, which leads to the exploitation of consumers (as seen with the credit crunch). Free trade creates power imbalances, which allow for massive corporate influence over government. Free trade doesn't allow entry into markets, which entrenches elites. etc. Trade is highly inefficient without regulations to ensure markets are competitive. For markets to be competitive they require homogeneous products - which is impossible if you support patents.

Sure, growth in many sectors of the economy lift people out of poverty. Regulated trade is a good way to deliver some of these kinds of growth. But there is a massive difference between competitive markets and free markets, and the countries which have succeeded most in lifting people out of poverty are those which have succeeded in controlling markets.



Joe Otten said...

Adam, please answer my question first - these extra millions in poverty, where are they? And what freeing of trade caused this misfortune?

It is not very clear what you are talking about when you say 'free trade' - I don't recognise free trade from your rant.

I don't have a problem with anti-monopoly regulation, or even, in principle at least, with single market regulation. (I would characterise both these types of regulation - if they work - as removing barriers to trade.)

But I suggest, for example that tariffs should be reduced or abolished. Are you suggesting that the abolition of tariffs would cause all these ills you describe?

Surely you are dead wrong to suggest that markets can only be competitive in homogenous products. Aren't restaurants competitive? Yet they don't all serve the same menu.