Nigel Woodcock and I would like to discuss the article by Matthew Cookson in the Socialist Worker claiming that the Green Party is a “middle-class” party. The Greens are regularly hauled up before the court of left opinion with accusations of not being sufficiently ‘left‘or class-conscious. It is true that Greens tend to shy away from dogmatic adherence to labels, but this doesn’t make our policies any less left wing. Our principle of environment-first has helped to create a “broad church” within the Green Party, and has helped to remove some of the barriers to participation/membership from which other left groups seem to suffer, and we have seen larger numbers willing to vote Green then other left-wing parties can muster.
In the UK at the moment the distance between working classes and ‘middle classes’ is tiny when compared to that between the broad mass of people and the ruling elite, corporate executives and the super-rich. In Marxist terms, we are divided into two basic classes, and although culturally the notion of being middle class has some resonance, in political terms it is virtually meaningless. Therefore we reject it as an insult. Does the SWP have any members who are middle class? If so, what do you say to them about their class origins?
In reality, Green Party meetings are made up of people from all walks of life (probably not unlike SWP meetings) and we have an exceptional record on gender balance which puts to shame a lot of left parties. A quick glance around the Convention of the Left (in which we participate) could tell you that the Green Party membership is no more middle class than any other left party.
The Greens aim for a sustainable society where environmental and social justice are paramount; we have a critique of capitalism and elite power. Many of our members are “Marxist”, whilst others would reject the term. That is why there is a Green Left within the party, which is able to operate quite openly. Also, it is worth remembering that the Green Party has repeatedly elected Derek Wall as our Male Principle Speaker. Derek Wall ran on an unashamedly “eco-socialist ticket” and Caroline Lucas, GP Leader has stated under interview that she is an anti-capitalist. Clearly, the Green Party is one where socialists can operate.
There is such a thing as “Green Marxism” – socialism is advocated, based on the theory that ‘society’ and the biosphere are organically linked together. The health and prosperity of one is not possible without the health of the other. To be truly socialist means to be green as well.