Ozzy's Corner

A view from the Libertarian Left. With no spin

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Moving From the Fringe

The Green Party is firmly established as a minor party in the United Kingdom. Currently it has 1 MP, 2 MEPs, 2 London Assembly Members and 147 Councillors [1]. The question it must face is how does it become a party of the mainstream?

Both the Conservative Party and Labour Party are in an ideological cul-de-sac. Since the financial crisis in 2008, neither has come up with a coherent alternative that can mend our broken economic system. Neither has come close to recognising the scale of carbon emission reductions required to ensure that CO2 levels do not rise above 450 ppm units, essential to capping global warming and preventing a global environmental catastrophe. Neither has a plan that that solve both national and international inequality.

The 2010 Green Party Manifesto [2] was a broad policy platform that provided a real alternative. It demonstrated that it had good policies for jobs, the economy and all the areas of concern to the citizens of the United Kingdom. It demonstrated a party that had moved beyond being just an environmental party, an image the probably still exists in the minds of many voters.

So how can the Green Party move onto the main stage of UK politics?

A new media strategy

The established media focuses heavily on the big parties. There is no national news channel or newspaper willing to give the party any sort of decent coverage.

However, the recent past has seen a growth in social media platforms, and this offers opportunities. Many of the people who would be attracted to the Green Party are young people, to whom Facebook, Twitter and others are a way of life. The Green Party should actively promote themselves in a viral-fashion, and this would get the message to huge numbers of people who probably do not watch many news programmes or read newspapers. This type of promotion is very cheap too.

Publicise itself on all issues

The party has a solid policy base in many areas, so when unemployment figures are announced the party should aggressively deploy it’s messages about how it would do things better that the Government. This would drive home to people that Green’s don’t just care about CO2 emissions, they care about their gas bill, their job and their child’s education.

Work the local community

The base for any party is its activists. Local newspapers and simple, cost-effective leaflets should be used to engage with local communities. If near to an estate is a waste ground that is used for fly-tipping, let the local Greens raise the issue, start petitions and communicate locally about getting it sorted out. This demonstrates to people that Greens don’t just worry about the rain forests, they want the local neighbourhood putting right.

This approach is an excellent base to win Council seats, which is a spring board to winning Parliamentary seats in the future.

Form alliances

The truth is that under FPTP the chance of getting Green MPs is virtually nil. In 2015, with just 600 seats to fight for, Labour will be desperate to hoover up the non-Conservative vote. No doubt people will be told a vote for the Greens is a vote that lets the Tories in. It is critical that Green voters do not allow themselves to be bullied into this. It should be made crystal clear – for Greens to support Labour (the best option at removing the Conservatives) Labour must commit to introducing proportionate representation. No commitment to PR, then no support.

PR would open the way for a better democracy, and if voting Labour in one election to get it is the price, it is worth it.

Overall, these steps would put the Green Party on the road to having a much bigger impact in the future. Of course, after years of fighting a guerrilla war from the fringe, the act of moving into the mainstream would be considerably out of the comfort zone of many people. However, if Greens want to turn their dreams and ideals into the policies of those power , these crucial steps must be taken.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Party_of_England_and_Wales

[2] http://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/policies_2010/2010manifesto_contents.html