With the combined UK Green parties now having more members than the Liberal Democrats or UKIP, it seems a good time to talk about why I chose to join the Greens and ended up being a part of the so called ‘Green Surge.’
I’ve talked before about how I joined the Scottish Greens in the wake of the independence referendum but I could just as easily have joined the SNP, Scottish Socialists or become more involved in one of the non-party groups that supported Yes such as Radical Independence or Common Weal to sate my renewed interest in politics – so why the Greens?
In fact, the reasons I chose the Greens can be summed up in the tagline at the top of my blog – Equality, Freedom, Sustainability – which gives you an idea of where I stand politically but I’ll elaborate on each point.
We like to think we live in an equal society, but the truth is that many groups are held down as much by tradition and habit as by legislation and that the privileged are protected by all of these things.
Our country is run for the rich, by the rich, our society is dominated by white, straight men (privilege check: I am one) and the bent of our governments for the past thirty five years has been towards capitalist exploitation which has eroded the welfare state, widened the gap between rich and poor and now threatens our personal freedoms and such bastions of the country as the NHS.
The Greens are committed to redressing this balance, advocating ideas like the Citizen’s Income, rolling back austerity, promoting gender, race and all other forms of equality, increased investment in housing, overhaul of the welfare system, nationalization of public services and instituting wage caps for CEOs etc.
We talk about living in the ‘free world’ but in reality we have a distant, unrepresentative and unaccountable government which has a tendency to restrict our freedoms and I can’t really get behind a party who seeks to use ‘freedom’ as an excuse to oppress and control it’s population or a party who is obsessed with the idea of centralised power.
The Greens are committed to a decentralization of power, a fairer voting system, increased use of referendums and are wholly against excessive state surveillance, never mind being against the whole self defeating concept of ‘the war on terror’ and the policy of interfering in other nation’s business that leads to terrorism in the first place.
Last, but by no means least is the really ‘Green’ part of the equation.
Our world is a finite, closed system and we are close to using up irreplaceable resources and filling the planet with waste and poison. Yet we do nothing about it, because we have been conditioned to live in a disposable, consumer society and there is a lot of money to be made from exploiting the remaining reserves of fossil fuel and that seems to override the immediate public health concerns or the mid-to-long term effects it will have on the planet as a whole.
Environmental concerns are not a romantic, secondary notion. Quite simply, if we continue on our current path with regards to burning fossil fuels, pollution and cutting down forests with abandon our planet will become unsuitable for human habitation within our children’s lifetimes.
The Greens promote the use of renewable energy sources (which are by and large every bit as economically viable as ‘fracking’) and the limitation of unnecessary pollution via promoting public transport and cycling in the place of most families having one or more cars.
In short, the Greens were the only political party who came close to meeting what I would need from such an organization in order for me to get involved. I’ve only touched on the party’s policies here and I could have talked at length about other policy elements such as education for life, the commitment to animal welfare, the opposition to NATO membership and the possession of nuclear weapons.
It’s also worth noting that I have always been impressed with the party’s conduct, from it’s elected representatives being excellent advocates for change by putting forth reasonable, workable suggestions and debating with class and style (a rare thing in modern politics) to the way the party is run democratically and remains in touch with it’s grass roots support (again, an anachronism in modern politics.)
At the end of the day, I became a Green because I believe in the party’s policies, believe that they are sincere and believe in the way they go about working towards their stated aims.
People and planet before profit and power. Let’s make it happen.