The Future of Bright Green
Those with eagle eyes will have noticed things have been a bit quiet at Bright Green as of late. Since July, we’ve been on a hiatus, reviewing what Bright Green is, and how we can most effectively play a role in shaping the future of progressive politics and media in the UK and across the globe.
Over nearly a decade since launching, Bright Green has played a significant role in debates within the UK’s green and progressive movements. We’ve been for some years the UK’s most read independent Green Party blog and one of the very few places where radicals could keep UK Green Parties in check. We’ve published over 800 articles and had almost half a million page views. We’ve contributed to creating the political space for radical and progressive politics to become the norm within the UK’s Green Parties.
In that time, we’ve also seen radical shifts in the political landscape. When Bright Green was founded, progressive politics in the UK was in relative retreat. Despite the financial crash laying bare the contradictions of neoliberalism, and the ever growing evidence of impending climate catastrophe, radical and progressive solutions were far from the mainstream. The Labour Party remained wedded to third way capitulation and then to austerity. The climate movement was despondent – with key organisers and institutions facing burnout from the failures of Copenhagen and the inability for Climate Camp to foster a new wave of climate activism. The media failed to effectively hold power to account, dominated as it was by right wing and establishment voices. All the while, the economic crisis was being weaponised by the right to drive an ideological attack on the state, on welfare and public services.
But while 2010 brought us a Tory-led government, it also brought us the start of a fightback. The likes of UK Uncut and the anti-tuition fee protests sewed the seeds for later upsurges in resistance, from Occupy to the People’s Assembly to Reclaim the Power. Each of these groups saw thousands of people stand up to resist the dominant political and economic forces of the day, and fight for a better future.
Alongside this, new media institutions were established helping vocalise the growing opposition. Outlets like Left Foot Forward and Another Angry Voice emerged in the ashes of the financial crashes, and Novara Media grew from the social movements. While these are now a crucial element of the ecology of progressive politics, during this time they were in their infancy.
And these shifts began to take place in mainstream politics too. Increasingly radical Green Parties in the UK rode the wave of disaffection. The SNP capitalised on Labour’s failures in Scotland. Organisers within the Labour Party worked to get left-wingers, like Clive Lewis and Rebecca-Long Bailey selected in key target seats.
Once more a blessing and a curse, 2015 brought us a Tory majority government, but also the most left wing Labour leader in its history. Two years later, despite an emboldened far-right fresh from the racially charged referendum on the EU, and the weight of the establishment media opposed to him, Jeremy Corbyn reversed a 20 point poll trail to force a hung parliament.
That sensational achievement was possible only because of the groundwork set by the many people who have worked tirelessly to build an effective alternative to the status quo. And without those people, and without the institutions that support them, the gains they’ve made may be short lived. Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party has been targeted constantly by his opponents on the party’s right. A counterbalance to those forces is vital.
It is also needed outside of the Labour Party. Although the Green Party of England and Wales has moved significantly away from its liberal environmentalist past, internal discussion still rages as to how it relates to movements for social justice. Politics in the north of Ireland remains gridlocked, as its parties – of both left and right, unionist and nationalist – are unable to overcome the impasse and realise the practices of the Good Friday Agreement once again. The SNP and Scottish Labour regularly speak to notions of radicalism, but their actions in government and opposition don’t always marry with them.
Beyond party politics too, there are fierce battles being fought. The state has actively sought to dismantle social movements, evidenced most clearly through the use of political policing and the criminal justice system against anti-fracking campaigners in Lancashire, and the recent trial of the Stansted 15. Revelations of long term police infiltration of progressive movements have shown the extent of this too. Meanwhile new movements, such as Extinction Rebellion have emerged, decrying the failures of those that came before them. In doing so, they have sparked robust debate around tactics, strategy and goals.
Bright Green has a clear role to play in this context. The reasons for our existence have not gone away in the ten years since our birth. Indeed, in many ways they have become more acute. Our independent, radical and pluralistic approach is crucial, and we have a key role to play in shaping the future of green and progressive movements.
That’s why in 2019, we’re coming back strong. We’re building ambitious plans to steer conversations on the left. And we’re rethinking how we do things. To start, we’re narrowing our focus to hone in on the central discussions that will shape the future of the left in the UK and further afield. In doing so, we’re relaunching with the following four sections:
- Green Parties – providing analysis and comment on the Green Parties of the UK, and across the globe.
- Labour Movement – offering insight into the labour movement, both domestic and international.
- Social Movements – showcasing, critiquing and analysing new and emerging social movements and people organising for change.
- News – delivering all the latest news on the UK’s green and progressive movements, including a weekly round up of news in the UK’s Green Parties.
In 2019, we’re opening the next chapter in Bright Green’s history. And we’d like you to be a part of it. You can apply to join our team, becoming a regular contributor to the site. You can share this article and help us spread the word about the relaunch. And you can donate to help fund our future. We look forward to you continuing to be a part of the Bright Green family.