Back in December, I read a rather good article on the Guardian which put forth the idea that the Greens needed to embrace their dark side if they were to snaffle up disillusioned Labour voters, but also to tap into the vein of anger running through people in this country the same way that Podemos and Syriza have elsewhere.
As a relatively newly converted Green, this interested me but it’s taken me a while to get my thoughts on the subject into line.
Now that I’ve thought about it, I don’t agree.
There are two real reasons for this, one which is personal and one which is more objective.
Objectively, there are reasons that the angry left has never really succeeded in British politics in recent times.
Firstly, they tend to quickly divide into an acrimonious, vote splitting, credibility sapping morass of factions and that does little political good at all.
Secondly, and it pains me to say this… there is a nugget of truth when Tony Blair suggests that ‘traditional left wing’ parties are unlikely to defeat a ‘traditional right wing’ government in Britain.
The fact that Labour only won successive elections when on a distinctly right wing kick in terms of policy and presentation only underlines that the UK hasn’t elected a remotely left wing government since 1974 (which incidentally coincided with the SNP’s best ever performance in a general election… just saying.)
There must be a reason for that…
Personally, I was attracted to the Greens as much by their conduct as their message and policies. They didn’t get involved in the nasty tit-for-tat battles of belittlement and smear that the mainstream parties do, they didn’t shout or froth or demand immediate unrealistic and scary change the way the traditional left tend to.
They put forward a positive message of radical change, yet did so in a reasonable manner, well and intelligently argued in a calm, inclusive fashion. That’s something I can get behind.
I believe the left in Britain has too often been it’s own worst enemy, succumbing to infighting and alienating those who are not informed, radicalized or desperate with vitriolic rhetoric of class warfare. It’s been shown (largely by New Labour) that you win elections in Britain by seducing the middle class (whatever that means nowadays) and you won’t do that by promising the immediate and violent redistribution of wealth…
The message should be one of a better future for all, not punitive redress for past inequalities
All that said, it’s true that the Greens need to raise their game and raise their voices a bit. The establishment is scared and is starting to stack the deck against the #GreenSurge by keeping them out of the TV debates, so we need to make sure that the message gets out there by being a visible as we can on the streets, in the media (both old and new) and generally holding the establishment to account, while offering a reasonable alternative.
If nothing else, I feel that HOW you win is almost as important as winning itself, because if you have to become the enemy to defeat them…what’s the point?
The Greens don’t need to find their dark side because if my memory serves, it’s the light side of the force that wins in the end…