|It is not just me that is banging on about Labour’s betrayal of their traditional core support:Peter Tatchell has recognised what has been going on longer than most (which is why he has switched, like many others with a primary focus on social justice, from Labour to the Green Party). Here is his 2009 Guardian article than was instrumental in getting me to join the Green Party:
Disillusioned Labour voters can vote Green with confidence now that social justice is front and centre of the party’s agenda
What are Labour voters to do? Party loyalty is understandable, but the party they once supported is no more. During 12 years of Labour rule, social inequality has returned with a vengeance, with a widening gap between rich and poor, including more children and pensioners living in poverty. By the end of last year, income inequality under Labour was greater than during the reign of Margaret Thatcher.
Isn’t it time for Labour voters to revolt? Why keep voting for a party whose government has betrayed its roots and values?
There is an alternative. The Green party embraces the social justice agenda that Labour has long abandoned. We are more than a party of environmental protection. We are also a party of fairness and equality, with progressive policies on jobs, housing, education, health and pensions. Unlike the Liberal Democrats, we don’t support free market capitalism or use dirty tricks during election campaigns and we don’t talk green in national politics only to do something else entirely at the local level.
Under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Labour lost its heart and soul. It has become the party of war, privatisation and attacks on civil liberties. The Labour government promoted the financial deregulation that led to the banking crisis, resulting in bankruptcies and mass unemployment. It refuses to take legal action against the corporate criminals who have pushed Britain to the precipice of a full-blown economic depression.
Labour’s policy rot was not caused by Brown alone. The whole Labour government including Alan Johnson backed the party’s rightward drift.
When a Labour government pursues anti-Labour policies it no longer deserves respect or loyalty from Labour members and voters. Arrogant, out of touch, complacent and authoritarian, Labour is not Labour any more. It’s time has passed.
For all these reasons, after 22 years’ membership I left Labour and joined the Green party. It isn’t perfect no party ever is. But compared to Labour and the other political alternatives, the Greens are now the most progressive force in British politics, with our visionary agenda for grassroots democracy, social justice, human rights, global equity, environmental protection, peace and internationalism.
The Greens now occupy the emancipationist political space that was once occupied by Labour. We offer the most credible progressive alternative to Labour.
To deal with the economic crisis, our agenda includes a Roosevelt-style Green New Deal to simultaneously tackle unemployment and climate destruction. The Greens would invest in new green industries to create a million green collar jobs. We would put money into energy conservation, which would lead to tens of thousands of jobs in double-glazing, loft insulation and the fitting of energy efficient boilers. This would also help cut fuel poverty and reduce household energy bills. We’d also invest in renewable energy, including wind, tidal, wave and solar. This would help revive Britain’s decimated engineering industry and establish new technologies that could be exported worldwide at great financial benefit to the UK.
Labour’s great, historic achievement was the creation of the NHS and the welfare state, but Blair and Brown sought to dismantle them. Their commercialisation and semi-privatisation of health and education is something that not even Margaret Thatcher attempted. They have out-Thatchered Thatcher.
While the Labour government has promoted a stealthy privatisation of public services, the Greens oppose privatisation and defend public services as essential components of a just society and a decent quality of life for all citizens. We reject Labour plans to close post offices and to privatise the Royal Mail.
Similarly, the Blair-Brown government sought an opt-out from key sections of the EU social chapter on workers’ rights. The Greens, however, have been steadfast in opposing the opt-out and insisting on the fair treatment of employees.
While Labour’s policies for senior citizens have been miserly, it is Green policy to end pensioner poverty by providing free social care to the elderly and raising the single person’s state pension to £165 per week and linking it to average earnings.
We are also pushing for a major house-building programme and the refurbishment of older and disused properties, in order to give low-income families the chance to have a good quality home at a rent they can afford.
These measures could be paid for by cancelling Labour’s wasteful and reactionary expenditure of more than £100bn on new Trident nuclear missiles, ID cards, two super aircraft carriers, the botched computerisation of the NHS and further motorway expansion.
This is crunch time for progressive politics. Labour has turned its back on its traditional values, torn up previously cherished socialist ideals, sidelined the trade union movement, waged an illegal war, tried to impose 42 days’ detention without charge, and made unsavoury pacts with big business and George W Bush.
The Labour leadership has pandered to prejudice and irrationality on issues including asylum, drugs, terrorism, Europe and crime. Principles have been abandoned for the sake of a few more sympathetic headlines in the Daily Mail and for another cup of tea with Rupert Murdoch.
Labour voters don’t have to put up with this rightwing nonsense. They can vote Green in the knowledge that they are voting for a party that offers a powerful challenge to neo-liberal economics and globalisation.
Greens put the common good before corporate greed, and the public interest before private profit. Our synthesis of the best of the red and the green integrates policies for social justice and human rights with policies for tackling the life-threatening dangers posed by global warming, environmental pollution, resource depletion and species extinction. The future is bright bright Green.