Saturday, 5 September 2015

My refutation of Michael Chessum's recent article

In a recent New Statesman article, Michael Chessum, a prominent left-wing student activist who like me was a frequenter of NUS conferences, has claimed that in the event Jeremy Corbyn becomes Labour leader, 'the Green Party should shut up shop'.

This incorrect perception is based on a serious misunderstanding of the real position and the fundamental differences between Labour and Green supporters and members, no matter which wing they stand on.  

First of all, the four fundamental values of green politics, environmentalism, non-violence, social justice, and grassroots democracy mark greens out as different from the 'traditional' socialists and social democrats Jeremy is trying to win over. The fact Jeremy has spoken out in favour of re-opening coal mines, and his concentration on nationalisation, marks him out as not that green after all, despite making other pledges greens would be happy with such as scrapping Trident and withdrawing from NATO. As a Green, I believe in cooperative ownership of energy and transport instead, where the people themselves have real power rather than their government, and also in favour of a Green New Deal and better investment in green technologies to help rejuvenate employment across Britain.

Secondly, we arose from the grassroots, not the labour movement. This means we empower people first overall, and do not believe special interest groups should be able to have more leverage than individual human beings. We also believe decisions should be taken as locally as possible, that everyone should have a basic safety net (a Citizen's Income), and in disconnecting traditional notions of economic progress (e.g. GDP, GNP) from real quality of human life.

Thirdly, it must be said that not all greens set out to be socialist, which is also demonstrated in other Green Parties in Europe. Finally, Michael's claim that 'if the Green Party were part of a hypothetical British Syriza, it would be unique in Europe' is also incorrect because in Portugal the Portuguese Communists and Portuguese Ecologists already work side by side (in the Democratic Unitarian Coalition, or CDU); similar arrangements exist in Catalonia, Spain via the Initiative for Catalonia Greens (ICV), which is part of United Left (IU), and also Italy where the Italian Green Federation has often worked with left-wing parties.


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