Should Brighton vote Green?

Should Brighton vote Green?

With Caroline Lucas set to stand in Brighton this May [2010], many workers tired with the Labour-Tory status quo may be tempted. But is voting the path to change?

Elections rarely offer much choice between the mainstream parties, whose policies are closer to each other than members of the cabinet if the reports of internal feuding are to be believed. After 13 years of Labour government, many people want a change. The economy on which Gordon Brown staked his reputation as Chancellor has nosedived on his watch as Prime Minister.

It’s true that Labour can’t be singled out for blame for the recession. Its underlying causes stem from the very nature of capitalism and its tendency to swing from bubble to crisis. However having boasted of ‘no more boom and bust’, Brown certainly has egg on his face.

Nationally, Labour’s only serious rivals are David Cameron’s Conservatives. Much like Blair’s New Labour project the Tories – like all opposition parties – are promoting themselves as the party of change. However the main difference between Labour and Conservatives is the technicalities of when and not if to take the axe to public services, impose pay freezes and cut benefits for the unemployed and vulnerable.

Faced with such ‘choice’, the opportunity to vote for Caroline Lucas – in a town where the Greens have previously polled 23% against a national average of 1% – seems at first glance appealing. The Greens are perhaps the only left-wing party with a chance of getting an MP, and Lucas herself enjoys a certain respect amongst local activists and trade unionists.

However, we should sound a note of caution. It is true that Caroline Lucas shows her face at campaign meetings for more than just a photoshoot and some self-promotion (yes, we’re looking at you Nancy Platt), but history shows that wherever the Greens have got into power they have behaved just like any other capitalist party.

In Germany, the Green Party in government sent riot police against protesters trying to stop nuclear waste being transported through their communities – precisely the kind of green activism they had once supported. In 2001 they supported the invasion of Afghanistan as part of a coalition government. In Ireland too the Green Party went from vocal supporters of the ‘Shell to Sea’ movement against the Corrib gas project to actually implementing it. Green minister Eamon Ryan is now in charge of the project, the Greens having dropped their election promises in order to enter a coalition government.

Much the same can be said of the new Trade Union and Socialist Coalition. We all know what happened the last time a party of union bureaucrats got into power: the Labour Party. And we should dispel any nostalgia for ‘Old Labour’ from the off – they supported imperialist wars, opposed strikes and imposed austerity measures on the working class from their very inception: just like every other party that finds itself trying to balance the budget of the capitalist state.

The closer politicians get to power, the more like the rest they become, however well-intentioned and full of integrity they may start out. If Caroline Lucas does get in, she’ll be a lone voice of dissent. This will do her credibility on the left a lot of good, but will mean she’s not able to actually deliver any of her election promises. That would require a larger contingent of Green MPs… and if we got that, we’re back to the ‘power corrupts’ German/Irish scenario.

This takes us to the heart of the matter. The cuts will not be defeated at the ballot box, but on the picket lines and in the streets. Precisely because voting doesn’t really make any difference, we aren’t calling for a boycott. But if you are thinking of voting, don’t have any illusions in the political process. It’s a circus designed to give us the illusion control over those who rule us, when in reality the change we are promised is forever delayed.

If you want to make your voice heard don’t vote for a different ruler, vote to strike with your fellow workers. That’s the way we’ll beat the cuts, and start creating the basis for a world without politicians and rulers altogether.

From the Brighton SolFed blog.

Comments

Yorkie Bar
Mar 4 2010 21:32

This is a pretty good piece, me likee.

Steven.
Mar 6 2010 15:08

this should be a library article!Joseph, you can edit the content type to switch it...

JoeMaguire
Mar 6 2010 23:12

In case anyones interested in a case study of the Greens. The book The Subversion of Politics by George Katsiaficas charts in a detailed chapter the recuperation of the group from it professionalising its leadership to sponsoring the budget for domestic defence (which arguably contributed to a death of a protester) to its grand heights of supporting nuclear power.

simon27
Apr 8 2010 17:01

This is a very interesting article. Greens, left wing or right wing, it is all the same. It does not change anything. I agree with, the only way to make things change is to strike... casinos arnaques

Steven.
Apr 8 2010 17:44

Should that read "having dropped their promises NOT to enter a coalition government"?

no1
Apr 8 2010 18:57
Quote:
Should that read "having dropped their promises NOT to enter a coalition government"?

I'm not familiar with the situation of the Irish Greens, but I think what is meant here is that dropping their election promises was a condition to be able to form a coalition government. That's basically what always happens in countries with coalition governments - during the elections, parties need to raise their profile and differentiate from each other by promising different things, but then when they enter a coalition government they need to negotiate an agreement of what they want to do while in government, which obviously involves dropping some of those promises again.

Joseph Kay
Apr 8 2010 19:37

^ yup, they dropped their election promises in order to enter a coalition government. a bit ambiguous as it stands though, i'll edit.

Steven.
Apr 9 2010 01:24

okay I see what you mean now, thanks for the clarification

Cosmillogica
Apr 22 2010 14:54

Last EU election I actually voted for the very first time in my life (couldn't be bothered the previous 19 years of my adulthood). I had previously met Caroline Lucas at the Transgender Day of Remembrance and she was the only politician there to leave a good impression on me (most of the others simply made me feel sick with their falseness).

After the elections I thought the whole scenario through logically and realised exactly the same that you have stated above: that it doesn't matter whom we vote for. So next time I'm not going to waste my energy and would rather be counted among those who refuse to be drawn into silly political games and to be brainwashed into believing that their voice actually counts.

Only exception would be if the Pirate Party stood a similar chance here in the UK as they do in Sweden.

Steven.
Apr 22 2010 15:07

just because they're called "pirate" doesn't mean they are qualitatively different from any other political party...

Cosmillogica
Apr 23 2010 00:40

... however copyright laws are far outdated and it is good to see this issue being addressed. The MAFIAA is part of the enemy. But then I probably don't give too much of a toss whether what I and my friends do is legal or not ...

Steven.
May 7 2010 10:18

looks like the people of Brighton didn't listen to Solfed:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8666445.stm

Joseph Kay
May 7 2010 10:24

sad

Joseph Kay
Nov 11 2010 13:38

Caroline Lucas yesterday:

@CarolineLucas wrote:
V. sad to hear of violence at #demo2010 after gd atmos earlier. Actions of minority distract from real msg of 50,000 peaceful protesters

but that was topped by Jenny Jones:

Jenny Jones wrote:
In my 40 year experience of going to protests, the violent people aren't real protestors at all. They are criminals who use the cover of a demo to do as much damage as they can. Real protestors want to make their point and get good headlines for their cause.

Scum.

Entdinglichung
Nov 11 2010 13:55
Jason Cortez
Nov 11 2010 14:37

In the end Derek knows which side he is on, and events like this polarise opinions. In the coming months hopefully we will see an upsurge of class anger being demonstrated in strikes, occupations and angry protests that move to more focussed actions like yesterday student and education workers march. This will change the terrain apon which we act and pull more and more on to our side, making clear the class lines.
Hardly surprising to find the 'spokepersons' for the greens acting just like the politicians they are. So yes scum!

GBF23
Apr 12 2012 23:45

B RIGHT ON ! circle A

no1
Apr 13 2012 00:39

2 years later, a big surprise: the Greens are implementing cuts in Brighton, lots of hand-wringing http://www.redpepper.org.uk/brighton-debate/

the button
Feb 11 2013 13:43

Here's the response that the Greens are sending out in response to the GMB petition:

Quote:
Dear

Thank you for your message via the GMB petition. I'm sorry for the concern
being caused, but we are not seeking to cut council pay.

As a Green administration we unfortunately inherited roll eyes what the unions admit
was a 'mish-mash' of allowances
. These need to be resolved and that is what
we are seeking to discuss with unions and staff. I am very hopeful for a
positive outcome. The unions also acknowledge the urgent need to resolve
these allowances. The most recent staff survey flagged them as an area
which made career progression less clear and payslips hard to verify.

This only relates to locally negotiated (part 3) allowances, not basic pay
which was dealt with a few years ago.

More background on the challenges Brighton & Hove City council has faced in
this area can be read at:
http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/10203353.Equal_pay_claims_by_council_workers_top___32_million/

At this stage it is impossible to say what figures are involved in this
round of negotiations but it is likely some will gain and others may lose
income. We expect to provide recompense for any staff who would be at
detriment through the changes, but that of course will be subject to
negotiation and consultation. As a result I don't believe the numbers
quoted by the GMB are reflective of the likely outcomes.

We are not seeking to cut the pay bill, and we have categorically and
consistently made clear this is not a budget saving process. Indeed costs
of recompense mean that short-term our costs will likely increase while in
the long term we remain committed to keeping pay spend roughly the same as
before allowances change.

Negotiations are just getting underway which I hope will lead to a positive
agreed outcome. I have every confidence that it will be through negotiation
that a solution will be found, so I do not want to prejudge or hamper what
the negotiations will cover, which is why I have not ruled anything out.
Not because I have any desire to do anything other than find agreement
wherever possible with staff and unions.

All the best,
Jason
--
Cllr Jason Kitcat

Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council
Green City Councillor, Regency Ward

Rob Ray
Feb 11 2013 14:15
Joseph Kay
Jun 18 2013 09:30

So, this piece was written 3 years ago but turned out to be pretty accurate... http://libcom.org/news/caroline-lucas-green-scab-17062013