Thursday, 30 April 2015

Why Greens should vote for Labour

The leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, has today stated that her party would support a Labour government on a vote by vote basis. Now that's not surprising given that the Greens have adopted a more socialist position with many elements of their manifesto echoing core Labour Party principles. However, there is clear green water that separates the two parties and with this post I have set myself the task of explaining my take on this.

But first I have to comment on this further statement by Natalie that every Labour supporter would heartily agree with, "we would do anything possible to stop a Tory government". I'm right with you there Natalie but have you taken that thought through to its natural conclusion? Where voting Green splits the left vote thereby giving a Tory candidate an advantage would you urge your supporters to vote Labour? This election is on a knife edge and the ConDems could sneak back in if the left vote is split. On that note I think it best I return to the Labour Green credentials.

Labour and those of us who think in a green way

Once upon a time, back when Thatcher was depriving children of their school milk and a couple of years later when Callaghan was rescuing the country from the ravages of the three day week we became aware that a new species had been discovered in leafy suburbia, bright of eye and bushy tailed ...... the Porritt. I liked the chap and thought he talked a lot of sense and at a time when many young people were trying to decide which way to go and what they believed in Jonathan Porritt was coming up with some interesting alternatives. We had already lost many potentially useful allies along the way, seduced by John Seymour and his book Self SuffiencyThe Whole Earth Catalogue and not forgetting the doyen of them all, Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring; many decided to opt out of the rat race, effectively turning their backs on what "mainstream society" had to offer. I myself was deeply influenced by Freddy Schumacher and his book Small is Beautiful, an amazing work from an economist who dared to be different. I was so keen on his world view that I even joined the Soil Association because he became its president; going so far as to attend a three day conference in Crewe just so that I could hear him speak. At that point I was on the cusp of opting out myself but several factors held me back. I was uncomfortable that even those who opted out still relied upon mainstream society for most of the basics and as a safety net; I was deeply influenced by Schumacher's thinking and, weighing it all up my innate socialist beliefs seemed to offer the only way of achieving a sustainable balance between an ever increasing tide of humanity and the planet upon which they lived. In the 1979 election we had a Labour Party poster in our garden but an Ecology Party poster in our window because we could see the link. There are some that claim that if Labour had been able to retain those who were seduced by these other leftist factions then Thatcher would not have been elected but a 44 seat majority is hard to explain away in this fashion. Of course, we voted Labour. I have never regretted that choice, always voted Labour and took my socialist and ecological beliefs with me into what became a successful career where I was able to directly influence energy use and effect a positive impact on harmful emissions.

Jonathan Porritt eventually moved on to other things from what became the Green Party but was not forgotten by the Labour Party because in the year 2000 they asked Porritt to chair the new Sustainable Development Commission  a body set up by Michael Meacher and John Prescot to advise the governments and assemblies of the UK, Wales, Scotland and N.Ireland on ......... well it's obvious from the name. This was an important initiative and led to the encouragement of alternative energy strategies and laid the foundations of many of the initiatives on fuel poverty and environmental building standards that had been sadly neglected by the Tories. Inevitably, the commission was closed down by the Coalition Government in 2011. Huskies from then on had to go un-hugged.

But what of the future?

I tried this morning to wade through the Green Party manifesto but opted in the end to read the cut down version they offer for those who are easily bored ............. such as me. The Green Party manifesto link is here.. As I mentioned at the start of this post there are many passages that look very familiar to a Labour Party supporter. So, turning to the Labour Party we find two key documents that contain our green thinking, first this very interesting Guardian article that lists the main points, foremost of which has to be the commitment to make UK electricity supply virtually zero carbon by 2030 (we still have to work within the party to get rid of the word "virtually"). I urge you to click on the Guardian article link where the reporter tries to keep a balanced view and the Tories are given a chance to pooh pooh the whole thing. The documents can be read here Energy Green Paper and here the SERA Labour Environment Campaign website.

Voting Labour would ensure that these policies become law in the next parliament.

We have so much in common. I would love to see the Green Party putting their weight behind the SERA initiative and making sure that Britain has a truly sustainable future.

I will keep digging and plan to link to other Labour policy documents in later edits of this post. I will also list the green credentials of selected Labour candidates for town and borough councils but, for the moment, that's it for today.

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