The next Green Party leader must embody a fresh Green class politics
The Green Party is a radical party. The nature of our dual struggles – for social justice and for climate justice – demand we stay that way. With nominations for the new leadership of our party opening at the start of June, there is no better time than now to restate that truth.
Social justice and climate justice are intrinsically linked: to fight for one without the other is to accept abandoning the world’s worst-off. So Greens fight for both, and this fight requires radicalism.
We’re not going to defeat the twin evils with business-as-usual politics. Radical change to save the planet means a politics radically different to the status quo; a clean break from the decaying virus of neoliberalism.
As co–chairs of our party’s youth wing, that’s something we know is deeply felt by young members. Over the last few years we’ve seen the sheer energy of the climate strikes as a beacon for the green movement: young people are on the streets demanding justice for people and planet.
The youth strikers are not just the green movement’s future, but our present too. Their boundless spirit in the fight for the common good is something we’ve felt keenly in our organisation. We want a new, just politics, and that radical energy is even more alive in the Young Greens.
So what do we want to see from our party’s new leadership? Radical green principles. Our party and our leadership must continue to recognise just why social and climate justice must come together. They must emphasise the need for the world to diverge from a dead capitalist consensus and move to a new type of society.
The fight must not just be for an economy that saves the world, but an economy that protects the security of everybody on it, global north and global south. In the face of this, our new leadership should recognise the need for a fresh green class politics.
It is desperately wrong to say that we can fight for social justice while lacking a comprehensive analysis of class in a country and on a planet built on deep class divide. Call it ecosocialism, call it something else, but our principles require it.
But Green radicalism demands more than just a powerful class analysis. Our politics should be aimed at radicalism across society. The new leadership should work hard to ensure our party is fighting for that. This includes, for example, demanding radical democracy: more than a focus on PR, Greens must demand votes for all, stringent localism, participatory budgets, and so on.
With Labour’s shift to centre now clear, we think it would be a mistake to move with them. Not because continuing to hold a left position will attract Labour’s former young and radical voters, but because that shift underlines something we’ve always known. That truth: the ruling classes will never accept the radical changes we need to make for people and planet.
In the face of big business and political elites who become ever more desperate to cling onto the system that made them rich, even as that system’s very premises crumble away, our position as a principled, visionary and, yes, left-wing party is something to be defended with vigour. We ought to feel pride in our refusal to accept the vacuous centrism that other so called progressives are succumbing to.
That does mean ensuring we take a critical look at our past actions. The 2019 general election’s Unite To Remain pact, although aimed at winning seats under our deeply unfair electoral system, did us little good. In fact, it had the effect of turning off many who hold the very politics we need.
Too many Young Greens told us they felt let down by the decision to join with a pro-austerity party in the name of anti-Brexitism. For sure, kicking out the Tories has never been more important, but alliances to do so must involve a coalition across the left, and shouldn’t involve capitulating on our priorities.
Party leadership must stand strong against any reactionary elements who from time-to-time make their anti-green views known within the party. The current leadership’s unwillingness to accept any regressive and ecofacist viewpoints must continue. Within as without, Greens must be against injustice.
Our fight must be a radical one: a fight for social justice and climate justice together. The energy of our party’s young members is directed towards that struggle, and so must be the energy of our new leadership. We look forward to joining them in our struggle in August.
This article is the first in a series on the forthcoming Green Party of England and Wales leadership election. Bright Green has invited a number of Green Party members and activists to contribute their views on what the next Green Party leader should deliver. The articles in this series can be found here.
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