Can the Green Party be the UKIP of the left?

Realprogress

The rise of UKIP in this country has made us ask ourselves a lot of questions, is this country inherently anti-immigration and anti-Europe? Or are these parts of a wider problem? With UKIP in the headlines again due to Douglas Carswell’s defection it is time to ask ourselves some deeper questions about the current state of British politics.

Why are UKIP doing so well and why does it appear that the left has been utterly out manoeuvred? It is of course a very difficult question to answer. Surely when the financial crisis started in 2008 many (myself included) believed this was the left’s moment; there seemed to be real evidence that the neoliberal economic model we have pursued in the west for the last thirty years had failed. But this anger and frustration never developed into a coherent political movement.

It was UKIP that have since the crash really made inroads into changing the state of the British political establishment and there does not seem to have been much of a response from the left. The reason that UKIP have done so well is a question of narrative; they are able to answer people questions and concerns with a coherent story about why they have the issues they do. If you listen to most of UKIP’s rhetoric is can basically but summed up in one sentence ‘The EU is responsible for all our major problems, immigration being the biggest, if we leave many problems will be instantly solved’ it is as simple as that.

This of course is, as many believe would agree, a vast oversimplification of the problems we face as a country. But people like simple answers. What is also concerning is that one would believe that as parties that disagree with UKIP’s narrative such as the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats they would have made some sort of effort to challenge this narrative. Unfortunately they have instead decided to chase the UKIP vote by appeasing it – this has been a disastrous move.

Instead of taking UKIP on, they have instead watered down their own positions to appeal to would be UKIP voters. It seems strange to me that two parties left of the Tories would do this, surely they would realise that the proportion of the electorate that find UKIP reprehensible as a party would be put off? It seems they have not. So this leaves the would-be Labour or Lib Dem supporter in a bit of a pickle – who can they know vote for? As there does not seems to be a UKIP of the left. But there is another option – It’s called the Green Party.

Now many commentators including Helen Lewis who writes here that the Green Party are not the UKIP of the left as they do not have the popularity or the momentum, seem to believe that a UKIP of the left would have to look more like a new Labour party. Although I am sympathetic towards those who wish for the Labour party to once again represent working people – or a new Labour party to form – the Green Party has become the main opposition towards UKIP’s ideas for one reason: they actually challenge UKIP’s narrative.

As someone who really doesn’t agree with 99% of the positions UKIP takes it is important to me that the party I support challenges these positions. I do not hear Green politicians appeasing the disgusting demonisation of benefit claimants for their own poverty or the blaming of immigrants for a government that is unable to create sufficient employment for the country.

If you support the Labour party because you believe that they are not as bad as the Tories then I urge you to switch to vote Green.

We have since the impact that the UKIP vote has had. It has shifted the Labour and Lib Dems positions over immigration, the EU, energy policy and welfare cuts. To restore any kind of balance or better to put more social democratic proposals back on the political agenda you must vote Green. The Green’s are not the UKIP of the left because they are not reactionary, they were there before UKIP and their policies are based on shared values not a few single issues. Personally I find this reassuring but if you don’t, until a ‘UKIP of the left’ emerges the Green party is the best we have.

7 Comments

  1. Armitage
    23 September 2014 - 19:42 GMT

    One word: Brighton.

    Vote TUSC!

  2. Raddiy
    24 September 2014 - 09:42 GMT

    You identify the Greens as a possible UKIP of the left, on the basis of what exactly.

    UKIP love them or hate them are responding to a democratic deficit caused by an overly powerful political class who ignore the electorate and drive forward their own agenda.

    The agenda of UKIP is populist or listening to the people, which seems to be a dirty word in lefty world including the Greens, where the imposition of party doctrine seems to take precedence over the needs and desires of the electorate.

    There is a UKIP of the left, it is called UKIP.
    UKIP appeals across the political spectrum, because the objection to wasting £12 billion of our money on Overseas Aid for example makes ex Labour, Hacked off from Huddersfield, just as annoyed as ex Tor, Troubled of Tunbridge Wells.

    The Green Party will never be a UKIP of the left, because it is simply an extreme version of the same type of thinking that infests our political establishment, namely to impose its will against the wishes of the majority. UKIP will continue to grow and grow attracting support from across the political spectrum, because they are offering a bottom up narrative, not a top down.

  3. Shona
    24 September 2014 - 10:13 GMT

    Interesting to read the above because I was wondering why the Green Party didn’t appear to see itself as an alternative to UKIP.
    Surely the fallout from the Scottish referendum gives the party a golden opportunity to come out loud and clear about what it stands for, to, as you say challenge UKIP on its ridiculous rabble rousing views. Issues around immigration and housing and employment may be complicated to get across to people who seem not to want to listen but thats no reason for not trying to tell it how it is.
    In my view Europe should get together to decide how they are going to tackle the problem of immigration. We seem to forget that people who arrive after very perilous journeys on the shores of southern Europe are human beings and they are desperate or they wouldn’t undertake such an enterprise. They want to work and improve their lives, we should help them do so. How to get this across to UKIP supporters and others is surely by trying to educate them as to what its really all about and suggest they try and imagine how they would feel if they were in the same position.
    The “old” political parties seem to be stuck in a rut they seem unable to get out of. Thats not true for the Green Party but you are almost invisible. You really need to get out about the country and be seen and heard loud and clear. How did UKIP manage it? Heaven forbid that they get many, any MPs elected. Don’t let them in. I will vote for a green candidate if you put one up in my part of the world (East Suffolk). They won’t get in because we have a good MP already, pity she’s a conservative. However I don’t think it matters at this stage that a Green may not get in – its important that they stand and make a good case, let people know what they are about and next time there will be more votes for them.The current system is totally disfunctional and must change – that is the message from the Scottish referendum. The English political system MUST change radically. Go on Green Party get out there, be seen and heard.

  4. scott reed
    24 September 2014 - 22:05 GMT

    The Green party has a history and its not pretty. Ireland, where they were a ruling party. Until they sold their soul during the economic crisis. They supported the bailout austerity package from Berlin, then lost all their seats in a crushing defeat.
    The Green party in Germany, is the main party of greens. The shining beacon on the hill or others might compare it to the USSR communist party. It controls what green politics is. So when Germany decided the EU was the way forward the Greens changed there position. They used to be Euro-sceptic in the main, like the Labour party.
    The Green party will grow in Britain I’m sure of that. They are good at winning young people to the cause then stabbing them in the back if German national interests demand it.
    I should clarify young people that could be green.
    1. college age to 30 something maybe 40 something. greens are not ageist
    2. middle class and guilty
    3. city dwellers in up and coming districts. to better appall their parents on the one hand and remind the natives how better people behave thank you very much.
    4. interest in “foreign” peoples and ideas but without much interest in knowing much about them i.e. hard work. Important caveat must align with German national interests.
    5. not that much interest in going into the country. no coffee bars. and i don’t mean Starbucks!

  5. Andy Rodgerson
    06 October 2014 - 17:48 GMT

    Whatever they are, the Green party are not the Green Party of the Greens.

    Nobody who really cares for the environment can honestly say that a high energy consuming overcrowded country like the UK should be admitting people at the current rate – yet they suggest “let’s have more”. At a net rate of 250,000 a year, that means a new Birmingham sized city needsto be built every 4 years.

    Madness.

    The trouble with the Green party is that it does not have the wide appeal across the political spectrum that it needs to have. Environmental issues and preserving the planet should be of paramount importance to us all, yet they have been hijacked by the corporation hating left who would have us believe that we’re all innocent, it’s all the fault of big businesses, and that if we just drop our bottles and plastic in the recycling bins we can all reproduce exponentially for as long as we want.

    The ironic thing is that UKIP, who don’t have particularly overt green policies, would actually be better of for the UK’s envrionment by stabilising the population. One way or another, more people are bad for Britain.

  6. Deb Joffe
    10 October 2014 - 10:13 GMT

    Andy, The whole point about the environment is that it is a whole planet problem and the greenhouse gas effect is not going to be the least impacted by an individual country’s immigration policy.

    If people are concerned about global population growth, there is a simple answer. People have fewer children when their living standards are better and more secure. Redistribution of wealth will have a much higher impact on the birth rate than anything else.

    UKIP have an energy policy based on coal, gas and nuclear. They do not agree with the scientific consensus about human contribution to climate change. I very much doubt they will be better for the environment than The Greens.

  7. loopy
    15 October 2014 - 11:37 GMT

    I agree with the sentiments of this article. Ukip policies are founded in selfishness and whats good for me and my mates. We need to think more about whats best forhuman kind as a whole. We need a caring, sharing, fair society and need to share our abundance with those in poverty.

Comments are closed.