Food blogger, Jack Monroe, complains (rightly) that it is “easier to launch personal attacks than political arguments”. (Jack Monroe [20 03 2015] ‘I didn’t leave the Labour Party. It left me’. The Guardian). But what are her political arguments? Where’s her political analysis? Hers is a victim statement, a personal gripe about not getting what she wants. But the urge for democracy is not individualistic and progressive politics is crucially about power and power relations, about adjusting structural disadvantage and exploitation, for example, beyond the individual self.[i]
With no publicly funded NHS, for example, democracy itself is fatally wounded, and dare I say it? The environment will be an irrelevance in a political environment that allows poverty, social divisions, inequalities, conflict and violence to rule untrammelled and unregulated for another five years. Health, dignity and education, the ability to participate, socially, culturally and politically, will fall away.
Green denial presents several contradictory faces:
- Green votes will be a good thing because they will take votes from Labour and so help stop Labour from forming a government.
- Green votes will not allow the Tories through.
- However, if that happens, it doesn’t matter: Greens are not responsible for the social, economic and political consequences of our electoral actions.
- As Greens we don’t care about the consequences of a further five years of Tory-led government for the people and the environment.
- Our priority is the long-term electoral future of the Green party.
There must be an order of electoral priorities and action that ensures a Labour government is elected in May, in order then to tackle environmental issues and sustainability as essential components of the transformation of our society and economy, hopefully supported by MPs from other political parties.[ii]
Nor is damage limitation, which is where a Labour-led government would have to start, a mere negative, a feeble response. Ask those most severely affected by this government’s slash-and-burn policies. Ask those in communities and local government currently struggling to limit Tory damage. We may not be able to “get what we want” at a stroke, but we do know for certain what a second-term Tory government has in store for society, especially its poorest and most vulnerable members.
So first identify the enduring source of your political fear and loathing. Second, vote strategically. Third, pile on collective political pressure after the election. Or as award-winning British singer, Paloma Faith, put it recently: “Vote first. Then complain!”[iii]
[i] See ‘Friends, comrades, strangers: especially those feeling apathetic, cynical, confused, disillusioned and/or angry. Pre-election reflections as May 2015 looms’. In category ‘essays 2015’. togetherfornow.wordpress.com
[ii] See Val Walsh (09 08 2014) ‘Reflections on climate change, sustainability and democracy: prioritizing renewal, equity and justice in the Liverpool City Region’. Submission to Mayor of Liverpool’s Commission on Environmental Sustainability. In category ‘conference papers 2014.’, togetherfornow.wordpress.com
[iii] See ‘Food blogger Jack Monroe joins the Greens’. Unpublished letter to The Guardian (20 03 2015). togetherfornow.wordpress.com
val walsh / 22 03 2015