Why socialists should join the Green Party #2: Greens support the great strike wave
Where should socialists put their energy in 2023? This is a question facing many on the left.
There are some obvious answers. The wave of industrial militancy that has swept across the country has necessitated a solidarity movement alongside it. Campaign groups like Enough is Enough have provided a space for people to begin organising for the economic transformations the country needs. With the climate crisis getting ever more urgent and a socialist solution to it ever more necessary – leftists have an important role to play within the climate movement.
These are all vital movements for the left to be organising within. But most socialists accept that while the collective struggle of social movements and of organised labour are crucial to building a new society, these movements also need a political expression. They need a political organisation able to fight elections, assume political office and – ultimately – wield state power. Since Keir Starmer’s ascension to the top of his party, it is abundantly clear that political expression will not and cannot come from Labour.
Instead, it must come from elsewhere. For a growing number of people – including more than a dozen left wing ex-Labour Councillors, Jeremy Corbyn’s former spokesperson, and outriders and influencers of the Corbyn era – that political expression of the tsunami of rebellion sweeping across the country, the political expression of socialism, will come through the Green Party.
In light of that, our editor Chris Jarvis is writing a weekly column setting out why disaffected socialists should join the Green Party.
The Green Party supports the great wave of strikes
In pursuit of restructuring the economy around principles of need, redistribution and social good, socialists see the collective struggle of working people as one of the crucial mechanisms for securing that change. Since the summer of 2022, that collective struggle has manifested itself in the biggest wave of strike action in a generation. With trade unions fighting back against exploitation, low pay, job insecurity and poor conditions, socialists back their efforts.
Throughout the great strike wave, the trade union movement has had many allies, with public support for striking workers incredibly high. Attendance at picket lines, rallies and demonstrations has been strong. One organisation has been conspicuous in its absence though (at least through its leadership and its formal position) – the Labour Party.
Keir Starmer’s bungled handling of the strike wave is well trodden ground at this stage. He famously issued an edict to MPs instructing them not to join picket lines, with frontbenchers hiding behind the line that it would be wrong for ‘a party of government’ to do so. Labour’s spokespeople have consistently maintained that inflationary pay rises in the NHS are ‘unaffordable’. All the while, they make great pains to state that they support the ‘right to strike’ – a position which amounts to supporting strikes only in theory.
Labour’s position is an abdication of duty. When ordinary people are enduring a catastrophic cost of living crisis, compounded by rocketing energy bills, food prices soaring and wages stagnating, they need political leadership to support their struggle and articulate an alternative approach to our economy.
It is only the Green Party that has offered this support and solidarity. The Green Party’s leadership – both nationally and locally – has consistently offered its support to striking workers, stood shoulder to shoulder on picket lines and called for a genuine pay rise and real job security. At the party’s 2022 autumn conference, party members overwhelmingly voted to explicitly applaud the wave of strike action and call for pay rises which match or exceed the rate of inflation.
For those inspired by the uprising represented by the return of trade union militancy – yes, joining and getting active in a union in your workplace is crucial. But if you want a political party on the side of the trade unions too – the Greens are the party for you.
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Image credit: Matthew Phillip Long – Creative Commons