If a few more folk got off their arses,
The few of us would need less marches,
But on their arses they do sit,
While all around them goes to shit.
So once more we’ll march in their stead,
With hopes that they’ll heed what we’ve said,
And switch of the bleedin’ X Factor,
To pay attention to stuff that matters.
And though that hope might be forlorn,
For some of us it’s how we’re born,
Stand and fiddle as Rome burns?
Nah, bog that, it’s Parliament’s turn.
(I’m not actually inciting the burning of Parliament, even though the closing scene of V For Vendetta is quite amazing. It ain’t the building, it’s the folk inside it who do the damage.)
(And yes, that should be ‘fewer’ marches in the second line but ‘fewer’ didn’t scan.)
It seems like a bit of a rite of passage to write a ‘Why I joined The Green Party’ post on a blog after joining The Green Party. I’d guess it’s a rite of passage on joining other parties too. Not having joined any other parties I’ve never felt the need to write a ‘Why I joined another party’ blog post so I guess we’ll have to stick with the Why I joined The Green Party one.
To be honest, the following could probably be summarised in three words: Labour Party activists. I say this before actually having written the following but I suspect it will end up somewhere along those lines.
Righty, on with the shizz.
I’m a trade union rep, I’m a public sector worker and I’m a socialist. I’m fortunate enough to be a member of a trade union which doesn’t fund the Labour party. This is important to me. The Labour party have consistently failed to support unions, whether it’s through their failure to repeal the most stringent anti-union laws in Europe while they were in power or their failure to support industrial action while in opposition.
Labour are pro-austerity, pro-privatisation and anti-union, yet still they are expecting trade union funding and trade union members’ support. Alas, they get a lot of that support. Personally I wouldn’t support a party who’s main selling point was that they’ll cut my toe off rather than the other lot who’ll take my whole leg.
I won’t support, campaign or vote for a party which wants to remove any of my metaphorical body parts. I’m attached to my legs and my toes, much as I’m attached to the principles of public services being provided by the public sector, welfare existing to support those who need it (even if it means a few blaggers rinse it), workers getting a fair share of the profits they make for their employer and the right to fight back when the piss is being taken
The Labour party has done nothing to indicate that they support any of that yet they are still invited to TUC Conference, trade union rallies etc. Socialists campaign for them. The Morning Star carries articles from people saying ‘We have to reclaim Labour’. We can’t reclaim Labour. Labour isn’t ours to reclaim.
Why didn’t I join a socialist party?
My experience of socialist parties is that they are largely campaigning bodies. I respect that and think they have their place but, as a revolution in Britain is unlikely, I think socialists need to engage with the political system we are landed with. I’m a reformist, not a revolutionary. It’s one area where pragmatism outwits my idealism.
I know the above is simplistic but it does bring me on to the actual reason for this post:
Why I joined The Green Party
Labour have failed us. Every time I see a Labour supporter (or an SWP/SP etc member) going on about the ConDem government I think they’re missing the point. The enemy isn’t the ConDem government, the enemy is neoliberalism. It matters not if the rosette is blue, yellow or red. They are all parts of the same neoliberal hegemony.
I’m under no illusions that The Green Party are a wonderful, anti-neolib panacea. I’ve read enough about their decisions in local government, and the alliances their equivalent parties in Europe make, to know that there are issues but of the relatively mainstream parties they are the only one which, to my knowledge:
- has supported the PCS pledges (link is to the PCS website),
- supports rail nationalisation,
- supports the living wage
- supports fair pensions for all
- opposes privatisation of the NHS (and, as far as I’m aware, other public services)
- supports building council houses.
That is all stuff which I support. That is all stuff which, when I read it, made me think ‘Hang on, that’s me that is!’
Labour are relying on the good faith and dedication of their voters and activists to get them elected without doing anything to support those voters and activists. The Green Party are filling the gap Labour opened.
I joined The Green Party because we need a new left wing party, a party that can actually win seats.
I joined The Green Party because I’m fed up of watching the disaffected Tory right going to UKIP while the disaffected Labour left keeps propping up the neoliberal enemy in the hope that they’ll change,
I joined The Green Party because every neoliberal seat lost to the left, beit a Tory, Lib Dem or Labour seat, is a seat gained by the left.
You might have noticed that I haven’t mentioned environmental issues yet. Environmental issues are important to me, and the Greens’ environmental policies could help us out of recession, but that isn’t why I joined the Greens. I joined the Greens because they’re the best chance we have of taking seats from neoliberals.
I’d like to think disaffected Labour activists will join me.
I won’t be attending World Pride tomorrow as I would rather not support events which accept sponsorship from (in other words, advertise) companies which use subsidiaries/suppliers who threaten trade unionists with death (namely, Coca Cola).
As a trade unionist I think it would be inappropriate for me to do so. When it comes to a trade off between workers’ rights and LGBT rights (which Saturday unfortunately does) my priorities lie with the former. I’m dismayed that the TUC and many of Britain’s trade unions (including my own) are willing to promote and support an event which counts among its sponsors Coke and companies like Tesco, who aren’t well known for sharing their wealth with their workers or their suppliers.
I am saddened that this year’s Pride has had to be cut back but personally I’d rather see a much smaller day with morals intact and the political message writ large.
Having said all that I hope all those who do attend have a cracking time. Pride’s important, both as a celebration of how far we’ve come and, more importantly, as a message to those who can’t have prides that things can get better.
I love your subscriptions,
I love your dedication,
I appreciate your efforts,
Helping the weakest in our nation,
I love the Labour badge that you wear,
I love that you fight on despite despair,
That I’m not listening and really don’t care,
Your commitment to the party gives me cheer,
Because your commitment will get us back in power,
The rosettes you wear will bring us our hour,
And when we stab you in the back we’ll do it with pride,
Because we know you’ll stay by our side.
With love, Ed Miliband.
This evening’s London Evening Standard, published before St Paul’s voted to suspend legal action against the Occupy London Stock Exchange (LSX) protest, carried this sentence on its front page:
‘Tent City’ could mar Olympics and Queen’s Jubilee’
Mar? I can think of few better ways to mark the Olympics than a protest against the worst excesses of capitalism. › Continue reading
(Beware – although it’s short it packs in a fair bit of swearing.)
That’s bullshit about, not from, trade unions. It would of course be disingenuous to suggest that there’s never any bullshit from trade unions. There is. It’s good bullshit though. Well intentioned bullshit. The bullshit of the righteous. To say trade union bullshit smells of roses would be pushing it but it smells a lot less rancid than the bullshit about trade unions. › Continue reading
A lot of my friends are Labour party members. A fair few are in the LRC. To them I say this: if a party appeared tomorrow which was pro-cuts, pro-privatisation, pro-tax havens and attacked benefit claimants and immigrants would you support it? Would you join it in the hope of changing it?
I have some sympathy with the argument that Labour are the only viable political alternative to the Tories but I don’t think that it justifies being a member of the enemy. Labour won’t change. At present their manifesto seems to consist of ‘Support us because we’re not the Tories’. That’s not good enough. We need a Labour party which actually stands up for workers, a Labour party which turns up to vote against the opposition and a Labour party that shuns the neo-con agenda which is inflicted on us in Parliament and the media.
We don’t have that Labour party. We have a Labour party which is barely distinguishable from the Coalition arseholes sitting opposite in the House of Commons. Have a look at your Labour MP’s voting record. Unless you’re in one of thee or four constituencies it tends to be sobering reading.
Labour need to change but they won’t change. They think that they won’t have to win the next election because they assume the Tories will lose it. I think they’re probably correct. That’s why I despair of my friends who are Labour members. Labour need to be taught a lesson. Fighting from the inside clearly doesn’t work.
This is not a call to revolution and it’s not much of a hope to be honest:
My hope is that Labour lose a shit load of members over the next few months, enough to make them ask why they’ve been deserted. They get told,
‘It’s because you abandoned the workers you numpties!’
Labour then start listening to the people who are being hardest hit by the Tories, start listening to the trade unions and start listening to folk like Richard Murphy before coming back in a year or so with policies for fair taxation, public services kept public, economic growth and a welfare state that actually supports, rather than demonises, those who need it.
Then their support builds, people rejoin, activists become active again and Labour win the next election by just enough seats to form a majority, preferably in a house without a single Lib Dem MP and plenty of Greens and independents.
That’s what I think I’d like to happen.
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