Labour represents the status quo. The Green Party is the real opposition to the Tories.
The Tories are descending to new lows as their policies no longer simply flirt with far right politics – but proudly contravene human rights conventions and flaunt it. Yet the Labour Party have a long history of anti-immigration rhetoric too – from the ‘controls on immigration’ mugs in 2015 to shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock tweeting an awful graphic this week trying to compete with the Tories.
And whilst there was a brief respite from courting the right wing vote during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, we see that the Labour Party has very much returned to a populist position – refusing to make the humane principled argument for safe routes in favour of knee jerk reactionary politics. To out Tory the Tories.
Make no mistake, the last decade of Conservative rule has been brutal for this country. From real wage cuts for workers, to public service decimation and the extremely cruel treatment of migrants – the party in charge has used their time in power to inflict suffering on so many of us. Thankfully, and after a series of cataclysmic economic and political disasters, that time in charge looks likely to come to an end.
What comes next is uncertain, but what’s clear is that the challenges we face require bold solutions – and the polling suggests that the public wants big changes too, with huge support for wealth taxes, pay rises for workers and a climate proofed economy. With workers on strike across the country and young people in particular looking to a potentially bleak future on current trajectories – there’s a huge opportunity for a politics of hope and real change to take hold.
The Labour leader at times was making the right noises, especially when running to lead the party. He promised activists public ownership, he was the party’s biggest Europhile, he said he’d continue the party’s socialist legacy. But then he took the reins of power and turned his ire towards purging the left from his party, banning picket line attendance and pledging to be the party of ‘patriotism, not protest’.
He then said he will have a relentless focus on the things that matter most. We should all be doing that – but that can’t just be for a small amount of people. It’s important political parties stand up for minorities too – and Labour’s solutions always seek to maintain something close to the status quo. And when the status quo means CEO’s and shareholders receiving huge amounts of money whilst proving a service resulting in, for example, sewage in our rivers – it seems inconceivable that a party would choose this moment to row back on pledges around nationalisation.
Recently in London, where I’m an elect member of the Assembly, I clashed with London Mayor Sadiq Khan on opposing airport expansion. He said that he wants to be very clear that he’s not in favour of shutting down airports. Yet in jumping to the easy convenient response – Labour are completely ignoring the vital conversation that needs to happen on aviation. We must absolutely reduce fossil fuel industries and not expand them – and it’s only by having that important conversation we can create a just transition. Ensuring that there are good, decent jobs in new industries that our society needs to transition to where people are not just paid a decent wage but are treated fairly too. You can’t say you’re a party that cares about the environment if you’re not willing to be honest with people about what environmental protection actually means.
After 13 years of austerity, some people will say there’s nothing more important than stopping the Tories – but don’t we deserve better than the worst option? Young people in particular are looking on mortified by the duopoly in British politics which sees neither of the ‘big two’ represent their views – which are shown to be more radical on both social and economic issues than the generation before, and that radicalism isn’t declining as they get older.
The Green Party have been demonstrating locally for years now that when people support and vote for us, that we win elections. We have more councillors now than ever before and the solutions that Green representatives have been proposing for decades are now being seriously discussed. Insulating every home that needs it, a wealth tax on the super rich and the nationalisation of our public services.
Labour are demonstrating in opposition that they’re not ready to step up to the challenge that this moment calls for. At every real political test, they are lacking. The need to stand with refugees and vote compassionately. The need to stand for a fairer voting system where every vote matters. The need to support taxing the super rich. The Labour Party won’t, have not and will not.
It’s threaded throughout our Green politics that there’s no way of tackling the climate crisis without ensuring social justice too. The way we treat our environment and the earth must be commensurate with how we treat each other – with care and compassion and a willingness to challenge the status quo.
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Image credit: Rob Browne – Creative Commons