Political Support for the Green Economy
This has traditionally come from the more progressive parties. The natural choice, in the UK and in other countries around the world, would of course be the green parties. The Green Party of England and Wales has excellent environmental credentials and their policies are very much based on transitioning to a green economy, but as things stand they pose no genuine threat to the political establishment in our current ‘First Past the Post’ electoral system. Despite securing over one million votes in the 2015 general election, at least 5% of the votes cast, this only earned them one seat in parliament. A similar story has just played out in Australia.
As such, in government, policies that support the transition to a green economy in the UK in recent years have come from The Labour Party. It was the last Labour Government who in 2006 committed that from 2016 all new homes would be ‘zero carbon’; a policy that was scrapped by the Conservatives in 2015 after the industry had spent 9 years getting all its ducks in a row. It was Labour who introduced The Climate Change Act in 2008, setting a target of reducing carbon emissions by 80% compared to 1990 levels by 2050, with a reduction of at least 34% by 2020.
Continuing along the political spectrum from Left to Right, traditionally occupying the centre ground, the Lib Dems lost a lot of credibility after forming a Coalition Government with the Conservatives in 2010, but they have in the past been seen as champions of some mainstream environmental causes and at least support the idea of a ‘fairer’ Britain.
The Conservatives of course take up most of the right wing of British politics, but if you keep going you do eventually get to UKIP; a very right wing movement that has said it would scrap the Climate Change Act altogether. Though, thankfully, also a party with no hope of glimpsing power in the foreseeable future; again with only one MP following the 2015 election.
The Fractured Left
The problem here is that the Conservative hold power and Labour, as the main party in opposition, has suffered badly since the financial crisis of 2008 and their electoral defeat that followed in 2010. They’ve lost most of their support in Scotland to the Scottish National Party (SNP) and lost support in Wales to Plaid Cymru. In some of their traditional ‘northern heartlands’ they’ve lost working class support to UKIP and some middle class voters to the Greens.
To make matters worse, the Labour Party itself is starting to tear itself apart. Following the surprise defeat in the 2015 general election, the Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, stepped down and in an amazing run of events, Jeremy Corbyn from the left wing of the party stormed to victory as a result of a change in membership rules, which saw a huge number of grassroots activists sign up to vote for him.
Ten months on and most of his (more centre-left-leaning) cabinet has resigned and most of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) have voted in favour of a motion of no confidence in him. The difficult position now is that he doesn’t have the support of his MPs in parliament, but most agree that he appears to have at least retained, if not increased, the overwhelming support of the membership, which has risen to over half a million. Many of those grassroots supporters believe in his policies and detest many of the previous centre-left actions of the former Blair government; most notably, support for the Iraq war.
Angela Eagle has now mounted a leadership challenge, but who will support her after she has treated the membership with such disdain?
They say a week in politics is a long time. Never has that been so true. Just a couple of weeks ago we were told Boris Johnson would be the next Prime Minister and we would likely face an election in the autumn. Within a couple of days, Boris was confined to history and any talk of an election had turned to sometime next year.
By this time last week, it was becoming clear that the smart money was now on Theresa May taking over a Prime Minister – something that was confirmed yesterday when Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the race. May is already arguing that there’s no need for a general election and the public “does not have an appetite for it”, but MPs, including the Lib Dem Leader, Tim Farron, are now calling for a general election nonetheless.
Where do we go from here?
The recent coup to replace Corbyn was motivated by Labour MPs who thought he wouldn’t stand a chance of beating the populist Tory candidate, Boris Johnson, in an upcoming election. But The next prime minister is now going to be a very dour politician who faces the poison chalice of negotiating our exit from the EU. Could Corbyn win over the country and beat Theresa May in a general election, two, three, four years from now, if he continues to build his movement and get his messages across. Maybe!
For those who want a new kind of politics, a fairer Britain and a transition to a green economy, Corbyn does present a genuine opportunity. There is the chance to support a leader who might, for once, put the needs of the people and the planet before that of big business. If it can’t be done now, with thousands joining rallies, thousands joining the party, thousands actually getting involved in politics, it can’t be done.
This is why, after having many doubts over the last few weeks and doing my up most to convince others that maybe it’s time for Corbyn to go, I’m going to get back behind Jeremy Corbyn again. I want him to stay and fight for his supporters. It could well lead to a split in the Labour Party, but that’s a risk worth taking.
Let’s work towards a Progressive Alliance
One way to mitigate the risk of a break up of the Labour Party and to allay the fears of those worried about splitting the vote on the left and letting the Tories back in, is to support the proposal of The Green Party for the Labour Party, the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats to work together. Even if the Labour Party does fracture, the two factions will most likely need to work together to win power back from the Tories.
The Greens have put together a petition calling for progressive parties to begin talks about building an alliance ahead of the next election and need as many people as possible to add their voice to this call. So whether you’re Green, Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru of from either wing of the Labour Party, please add you name…