Caroline Lucas' open letter to Jeremy Corbyn published in the Independent LINK has created a lot of discussion and comment, not all of it complimentary.The old politics is crumbling, not just in Britain but across our continent. We now have the chance to embrace a movement based not on greed or fear, but on resilient local communities, people working together and a stable economy that works for generations to come. I truly hope you win the contest on 12 September – and I look forward to continuing to work with you to bring about the progressive politics that has inspired us both for so many years...
When members of the Labour Party have asked me to join the party I have often replied, only half-jokingly, 'I can't. I'm a socialist!'
Now it looks as if that is what the Labour Party itself is saying to some of those who have joined recently as a result of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaign.
I haven't because I am committed to eco-socialism and a member of Green Left. This is what we said in 2006:
“Activists in the Green Party have founded Green Left because many Greens believe the only path to an ecological, economically and socially just and peaceful society has to be based on an anti-capitalist political agenda.”You can read more about Green Left's political position HERE but for me a key issue is that climate change as a result of human activity is such a threat that we have to change that activity. We cannot continue expanding industrial production without limit as the processes involved will accelerate climate change and eventually threaten humankind and other species.
To change to a sustainable economy requires separating wants from needs, ending the artificial creation of demand through advertising, stopping the plundering of the earth's finite resources, and creating an economic system based on cooperation rather than competition and exploitation.
This is the opposite of neoliberalism which monetises everything from education to water and has no regard for the damage it causes to people and planet.
Corbyn's campaign although sharing many of the Green Party's policies does not address this fundamental issue at the heart of the planetary crisis. The Labour Party he will inherit as leader, if elected, is still committed to the neoliberal agenda, albeit a slightly softer version than the Tory one, and it will be a huge battle to change that commitment as the reaction of the Blairites, the bulk of the media, and the Establishment have shown.
The Labour leadership campaign has highlighted one issue for me regarding democratic policy making. All the candidates seem to be putting forward policies as individuals, reflecting the party's move away from the sovereignty of conference when members can put forward motions about vital issues and principles, debate and vote on them - it is now a top-down process. The leadership campaign, rather like a General Election, gives rank and file members just one chance to vote on policy through choosing one of the candidates rather than a say in formulating policy.
The Green Party still makes policy democratically at its two Conferences a year with a process that includes pre-agenda discussions, pre-conference prioritisation, conference workshops culminating a debate on the floor of the Conference. The leader has no more say in these debates than rank and file members. The Autumn Conference will be after the winner of the Labour contest is announced and any alliances or pacts will be subject to Conference debate and decision making.
The process means that our leaders cannot make up major policy on the hoof without it first having been decided by the membership. This probably led to some of the difficulties experienced by Natalie Bennett during the General Election campaign when the media expected her to have the same freedom to make policy as other party leaders.
These differences in the process of policy making will present some difficulties if a Corbyn led Labour Party and the Greens set up some kind of 'progressive' alliance ('progressive' is a vague label claimed by many often conflicting groups - anti-austerity or socialist alliance may be better as a guide to action in this parliament).
The undemocratic structures of the Labour Party, the dominance of the far from radical Parliamentary Labour Party, the behind the scenes machinations of the Establishment and intelligence services (cf my previous article on Harold Wilson and my prediction of dirty tricks over Corbyn's support for Palestine LINK) and media hostility all lead me to fear that Andy Burnham will end up as Labour Party leader but, along with Caroline Lucas, I wish Corbyn well.