Zack Polanski

This is the moment the Green Party has to break through – the country needs us to. During my campaign to be deputy leader, I often said there’s no environmental justice without racial, social and economic justice too.

It’s time to deliver this but what does it practically mean? It means that everything is connected. The same injustices we face through the cost of living crisis hitting the most vulnerable are borne of the same challenges that we need to overcome to tackle the climate emergency.

It means when we think about air pollution, for example – it’s the same pattern across our cities that far too often the worst hotspots where people are literally dying of toxic air, are the same spots with disproportionate amounts of people from communities of colour and the working class. Or that when we talk about climate catastrophe recognising that this isn’t a new phenomena but something that’s been affecting global majority countries for decades causing untold levels of tragedy and destruction.

And it means – and there’s never been a more relevant moment for it – showing solidarity with striking workers who are far too often bearing the brunt of a capitalist system that is lurching to yet another inevitable crisis.

The Green Party has always stood with workers and trade unions. Far too often though we have ceded ground to other parties who have been louder or more brash with their solidarity. We’re making that change though – and as we see more and more elected Green Party representatives, members and supporters out on picket lines – the case for Green solidarity is being understood more coherently by the day.

We are in this crisis because of expensive, dirty fossil fuels and a lack of accountability from politicians in power who far too often have vested interests. Those in power are terrified of organised groups outside of their cliques because that’s where real power and genuine movements lie. The Green Party has long understood for real change to happen it won’t happen solely in the corridors of power in a top down approach – but it will happen at the grassroots level. In every conversation that we have in our homes, on our streets and in our communities. And yes – that includes on picket lines. It’s not good enough to claim that governments or governments in waiting shouldn’t be seen out in solidarity with workers – it’s even more important for those who claim to want to represent people to be willing to understand their needs and go literally be with them side by side.

For too long – the government of the day has tried to scapegoat communities against each other. Blaming refugees, trans people and now the workers – but we all understand instinctively the need for collective solidarity.

We also understand that it’s not good enough to just diagnose the problem – although coherency and transparency about that is always a step forward. Yet – the Green Party has been offering solutions for a long time. There’s never been a more obvious time in an energy crisis for people to wake up and notice that the Green Party have been sounding the alarm on this for literally decades – and we’ve been the only party offering the immediate solutions. We need to insulate homes – and train enough people to make it work whilst making sure that we source enough materials for the massive effort that needs to be done. A call for energy efficiency – after all, the cheapest bill is the one you don’t have to pay. And the Green Party has been calling for a long time for nationalisation of those services which have been privatised and are far too often giving shareholders huge rewards whilst so many suffer even just to get by.

The Green Party faces an enormous challenge with the first past the post voting system yet we’ve demonstrated on councils all across the country record gains at every set of elections recently. There’s a clear trend in the country towards wanting a different kind of politics and being willing to vote differently. As deputy leader, I intend to continue passionately making that case alongside Carla and Adrian, with our members and supporters to see our party grow from strength to strength.

Just imagine one day we could have a Parliament made up of politicians like Caroline Lucas – people who are unafraid to speak truth to power and be honest about the solutions our country urgently needs. Let’s make that happen.

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Image credit: Rob Browne – Creative Commons