Irish politics seems miles apart from English politics…for one us paddies seem to swear more but it is still possible for us to learn a lot from the Irish Greens experience and hopefully prevent a re-run. This March 11th will see Ireland elect a new government but there is a possibility of the election being called even before that. The election will be the final nail in the coffin of both the Irish Green and Fianna Fail parties.
The Irish Greens experience of being a minor player in a coalition government with a Goliath right wing party(sound familiar my Liberal friends?) is not likely to be repeated here by GPEW(Green Party of England and Wales) but just encase it’s important that we learn from their mistakes. What is striking is the complete unmasking of the mantra ‘we are not left nor right we’re Green’. This mantra left the Irish Greens very open to going into a coalition with a party that didn’t share it’s own core values, couple that with the voting power imbalance and the demise of the Irish Greens with hindsight seems inevitable. I would feel more cautious about criticising the Irish Greens if most of the membership hadn’t already left in disgust at the perceived ‘selling-out’ of their party leadership. The Greens in government sided with the establishment on issues such as the banking bailout, Tara and Shell to Sea and they also made very little headway with getting policies implemented this in turn alienated it’s core vote with the polls predicting a kicking for them in the next election.
After posting this piece <http://tinyurl.com/6cdtxkw>
on facebook I was asked what UK Uncut was about and thought it was worth repeating…..
The blurb: ‘At the same time as making massive cuts to public services, which will result in hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs, this government is letting rich individuals and corporations avoid billions of pounds of tax. Join UK Uncut’s Big Society Revenue & Customs (BSRC) and become part of an army of citizen volunteers determined to make wealthy tax avoiders pay.’
UK Uncut is basically a diverse group of concerned citizens organising on the net who do various demos, protests and innovative ‘pop-up style’ actions to draw attention to the absurd situation going on here in the UK – the poor are disproportionately shouldering the financial collapse…..whilst the mega rich such as Philip Green use state resources and immorally dodge paying their fair share of taxes by finding loopholes to avoid and/or evade them(Philip Green owns Topshop and the Arcadia chain….or for tax purposes think it’s his wife?).
Sound appealing? If so there is an event coming up near Manchester you might be interested in < http://tinyurl.com/5v2b9ca>
Hugo Blanco was one of the key figures in the peasant uprisings in Peru during the sixties, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death but later thanks to a very high-profile international campaign was released to Sweden. The international solidarity campaign included Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Bertrand Russell….a bit before my time but very impressive all the same. After years in exile he returned to Peru, founded the Workers Revolutionary Party(over there they seem a lot saner than the very odd WRP UK factions) and he became a Peruvian senator.
More recently he was involved with a massive and successful direct action campaign with indigenous groups, helping them preserve the rain forests from huge transnational logging companies. Hugo Blanco is currently Director of a Cusco-based newspaper called Lucha Indígena. In October we are lucky enough to have him visit Manchester and he will be speaking at MMU as part of a Green Left/Socialist Resistance tour of the UK. I am really looking forward to meeting the man I have heard being referred to as the Peruvian Ecosocialist Che Guevara!
Morning Star article on Hugo Blanco
After what happened with NO2EU and Peter Cranie during the Euro election, the question of “left unity” has become ever more important. A group calling itself the Manchester Alternative is meeting today, with the strap line, “Come to plan a left alternative at the next local and national elections”.
In the upcoming election I believe that people are desperate for an alternative to the status quo. We can plainly see that the ‘credit crunch’, the recession, rising unemployment and climate change are the direct result of government which prioritises profit over people. People are acutely aware that the big brand parties are more likely to cut funding to education than rein in the corrupt bankers’ bonuses. It is for these reasons that I am standing in the general election for the Green Party in Manchester Central and in the locals for Hulme; and this is why I will do what I can to support a real alternative that truly brings together groups on the left. We have already worked with some of the people involved in the Manchester Alternative on different campaigns; Their intentions are honourable and I wish them well, but it would be disingenuous of me to ignore my concerns.
To begin with, it is unlikely that they will get the success they want in such a small timescale. The local elections are just five months away and the general election could happen as early as March and it must happen by mid-June. The first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system we have means that small parties generally have little or no chance of breaking through. Nevertheless, after thirty years of hard work it looks as if the Greens will finally get our first MP in 2010 (Caroline Lucas in the Brighton constituency). Any group expecting to make substantial gains cannot just spring up three months before an election.
The Manchester Alternative can offer people a left option or an anti-establishment vote – if it manages to generate a high profile – and I can see the sense in this if it helps move people out of apathy. But they wont get a seat in either election. In Manchester there are only two non-mainstream groups that are likely to take seats in the local election and they are the Greens and Respect. These are two established left-wing groups whose policies are at least 80% similar to the Manchester Alternative platform; to undermine the chances of the Greens and Respect can only lead to a continuation of the status quo. If the Manchester Alternative really wants to do what it says on the tin then it should put its principles first, ahead of branding and ego, and try not to undermine these groups.
So far the Manchester Alternative have made very little effort to speak with the left groups already campaigning in Manchester. But maybe – hopefully – this is planned for the future? The Convention of the Left, which acts a forum for local left groups to campaign together, seems like the perfect forum for these conversations.
Finally, every time a group claiming to be a ‘left alternative’ group does badly it reflects on all of us, and continues the process of undermining of the left that the centre and right wing groups relish so much. We have a chance to really challenge Labour in this election; people are angry and fed up with Labour keeping the seat warm for the Tories. We can push an alternative agenda, but only if we tackle the perceptions that have held us back and offer people a credible and consistent option.
For the local and general elections we need to have a common strategy with a long-term view. There is the possibility of a hung parliament, and this should be one of the best hopes we have for electoral reform and releasing ourselves from the choking hold of FPTP, and the best chance of getting left groups a voice in future elections. The upcoming elections could help the Left re-establish itself as a credible alternative to the big brands. But those conversations have a sell-by date and require real insight and consistency, not just tribal identity politics.
COP15 looks set to be the largest climate summit ever. It will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark from 7th to the 18th of December. This summit has been billed as our ‘last and best hope’ to do something on a global scale to tackle climate change. But most activists are not confident that these UN talks will solve the climate crisis, at the same time most people know that we cannot continue with business as usual and there is an awareness that we need to work together on a global scale to deal with the issues effectively.
There have been many developments in the world since the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 yet we seem no closer to reducing greenhouse gas emissions than we were when negotiations began fifteen years ago. Globally emissions continue to rise, while carbon trading grants corporations a license to pollute. Western governments seem intent on using the same system that brought us the global economic crash to solve climate change. I feel we must take every opportunity to highlight the contradictory nature of these false solutions and this is why our voices need to be heard at Copenhagen.
I am going to Compenhagen under no illusions about what the Summit itself will accomplish. There are concerns that it will exhaust alot of energy from campaigners locally, but this has never been reflected in my own experience of attending summits. I always come back energised and confident in the growing movement challenging governments and corporations and rejecting false solutions such as Carbon Trading and biofuels. As a member of the Green Party delegation in Copenhagen I plan to meet campaigners from all over the world who are coming together to discuss climate change and real solutions to this problem. Personally I am most interested in attending the People’s Summit for Climate Justice which will be made up of NGOs, climate change activists, anti capitalists and indigenous people from the global south who are on the front line fighting climate change and its effects.
I believe that it is activists who should set the Agenda for Copenhagen and not tired politicians who are constantly failing us. We should come together and discuss real solutions to the growing crisis as it is clear that the a few dominant governments will be doing their best to avoid making any real commitments to change.
Manchester Green Party is saddened by the statements coming out of Manchester Airport this week. Several hundred jobs to go due to the loss of nine of Ryanair’s routes from October. Manchester Green Party campaigns against reckless airport expansion not against the workers, who are in our thoughts at this difficult time. We campaign against those bosses intent on unlimited economic growth at the expense of our planet. As a party keen to push positive long term solutions, we strive to work with unions and workers to develop more sustainable jobs; jobs which maximise quality of life for all.
Over 200,000 people a year are already suffering from the effects of Climate Change due to the ‘go-for-growth’ attitude of the minority. It will be the workers, not the bosses who are hit the hardest by the effects of climate change. These bosses show as little regard for the wages and working conditions of their staff as they do for our planet and this is most evident when they are faced with a choice between their profits and people’s welfare.
Manchester City Council, who have a 55% share in the airport, agree that global rates of air traffic growth are unsustainable in the long term* and they are aware that it faces an uncertain future burdened with rising fuel costs and taxation as well as national and international regulations to combat climate change. Yet knowing all this Manchester City Council support the Airports Master Plan to double passenger numbers and will continue on this path once this recession passes.
We must move our economy away from carbon intensive industries such as aviation. We must make that move now rather than continuing to invest in jobs with no future. We can solve both our economic and environmental crises at the same time by investing in green jobs.
Manchester Green Party
*p45 Call to Action, MCC
Art courtsey of Polyp. Check out his work on these links:
Greens in London and Manchester today blasted a “ridiculous right-wing plan” to introduce water cannon to the Metropolitan and Greater Manchester Police(1).
The plan for the two forces to introduce water cannon was revealed yesterday in the Independent on Sunday (2). Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the London Assembly who sits on the Metropolitan Police Authority, said: “There are other, more peaceful ways, to restrain rare violent protest… The police currently seem to confuse the word ‘protester’ with the word ‘criminal’ and go to police public order events in the wrong frame of mind – aggressive and confrontational.”
“We need more police officers on the beat. We need our police service to be properly resourced and supported, in order to keep officers safe while they’re reducing crime. But we certainly don’t want to see British constabularies evolve into aggressive gendarmeries who look for a fight at every opportunity and think they need plastic bullets and water cannon.”
Greens in Manchester echoed Jenny Jones’s sentiment. Gayle O’Donovan, secretary of the Manchester Green Party, said: “Recently, we have seen video footage of British police officers beating innocent peaceful protestors with batons. We’ve seen film of police officers repeatedly using tasers on a man lying on the ground. This kind of incident is a national disgrace. Clearly there are too many police officers imbued with a macho, aggressive attitude that has no place in law enforcement in a decent society like Britain. Greater Manchester Police should be putting its efforts into reducing crime, not dreaming up ways of wasting money on gung-ho tactics reminiscent of 1960s South American dictatorships.”
1. The proposals have been estimated at £5m for London and £1.2m for Greater Manchester. See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/police-want-water-cannons-to-beat-back-city-rioters-1732194.html.