Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Why the Green Party and the message of green politics must reach out to everyone

Last week's narrow Brexit vote was not merely the result of anti-immigration feelings. It was also the result of feelings of decades of disillusionment with politics, alienation from the benefits and wonders of a modern, advanced society, and mistreatment by an out of touch elite. It resulted in the biggest working-class revolt in Britain since 1945, when the Conservatives under wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill were decisively booted from office by the electorate just after he had helped Britain and the Allies win the Second World War and defeat the Nazis. The electorate wanted assurances that things would change and that there would be secure employment and opportunities, and it was Clement Attlee and Labour who gave it to them. And 71 years later, much of the working-class population (and many other people dissatisfied with the faults of the EU and the perceived narrow-mindedness of the current establishment) of Britain have played a key part in bringing about the Brexit vote as a result of the EU failing, in their eyes, to give them the change they want, to bring long-term employment back to areas that have suffered losses or declines of their traditional industries, or to be democratic and accountable in a meaningful way.

The strong Leave votes were not merely confined to areas dominated by the white working class, either. The London borough of Newham only voted to remain by a margin of 5% despite the fact it has the highest ethnic minority population in the UK, with the 2011 census recording that 2/3 of Newham's population defined themselves as either Asian, black, or mixed race. The city of Leicester nearly voted to leave as a council area even though only half its population self-defines as white. And class and wealth boundaries were crossed when it came to older voters turning out to leave-Christchurch and Eastbourne, for example, each voted to leave by a large majority despite having nicer and more genteel seaside resorts, due to the high number of over-65s living there.

The people living in these types of area can benefit from green policies and values just as easily as students, bohemians, intellegentsia and young people can. The mines and heavy industry may have gone, but community spirits and long-term employment can return to these areas if innovations in green technology are expanded in Britain and distributed fairly across the country. We can all benefit from clean and renewable energy investment, especially in hydro-electric power to supplement wind and solar power. Working together to create cooperatives and to bring our transport infrastructure back into public hands will also revitalise these areas, as will investment in environmental operations to keep pollution levels down, our beaches clean and safe, and a sustainable and eco-friendly tourism industry flourishing.

The Green Party has already shown how it can reach out to disaffected and alienated voters, a key example being Solihull where we are the official opposition and have councillors in the large council estates of Chelmsley Wood and Smith's Wood, which are populated by people who have benefitted from our fair and honest representation and those who we need to listen to. We must not assume that we know what they want-we need to get out to where they live, ask them about their concerns and wishes, listen to them, and then explain how our green vision can help them and bring new (and real) hope.

With a United Kingdom general election likely to occur by the end of this year, or at least early next year ( ,increasing uncertainty over Britain's future as a result of the vote to leave the EU, and with the people needing a voice for real change now more than ever, we Greens must get out there now, bring a message of hope, regeneration and unity in the face of danger and fear, because grassroots democracy, ecological wisdom, social justice can benefit everyone and everything and make sure Britain can have a secure future with or without the EU.

And I will ensure the green message reaches out to those voters, and the millions of young people who did not vote in last week's referendum and who have the most to lose from possible consequences of Brexit, if I am elected as the next Green Party Deputy Leader this year. Now more than ever, it is time that young and disabled people like myself come to the forefront of British politics and make sure that the voice of Britain's young generation is listened to and respected.


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