The Green Party has recently seen a surge in the opinion polls and its members. Depending on how you count them they now have more members than the Liberal Democrats and possibly by the time the votes are counted on the 7th of May more MPs. However I have always had my doubts about the Green Party. Neither because I am a climate change denier nor because I don’t believe that we need to be careful about what we do to our planet, but because I feel that at a basic level what the propose probably won’t work.
The reason that I say this is because I do not think they have a theory of the generation and distribution of wealth. All the other parties have a theory for both these functions. Sometimes the theory is fairly explicit as in the case of the Labour party, with others, especially the Conservatives it is implicit. I am not the only person who feels this, Suzanne Moore thinks the same.
As she says:
Syriza is a seriously radical party of the left. The Green party isn’t. They portray themselves as the only anti-austerity party in Britain, but don’t tell us how they will meet this aims economically. Do they favour tax rises and if so what tax rises? What do they plan to cut, apart from the Trident programme – something incidentally I also think should be cut. The estimated cost of replacement at £34 billion, although some estimates go as high as £130 billion. This (£34b) is less than a third of the cost of running the NHS for one year.
Their one policy in this arena “The Citizen’s Income” which is an unconditional, non means tested, non-withdrawable income for every person, including children. It is, I think ,intended to be linked to citizenship and it replaces personal tax allowances, and most means-tested benefits. It will do away with jobseeker’s allowance, child benefit, the basic state pension and tax credits. There is one major problem; without means testing the poor will be worse off.
A second point is that if there is a link between Citizen’s Income and citizenship where does that leave foreign nationals working legally in the UK? For example an EC citizen would lose all his or her tax allowances and be entitled to nothing in return. They would not be entitled to job-seeker’s allowance if they found themselves out of work nor tax credits if they are in a low paid job. It sounds more like a policy that UKIP would come up with than the policy of a party of the left. I also think that it would be in breach of EU employment law.
My other major gripe about the Greens is their anti-science bias. Significant numbers of Green Party members seem to believe that the NHS should provide alternative treatments including homoeopathy as a matter of course.
As what is now unofficially known as “Minchin’s Law” states :
Still treating people using sugar pills and water must be cheaper than using the current methods. Chuck in a bit of Reiki and Crystal Healing and we should be able to get the cost of running the NHS down from £115 billion a year to £5.35 plus the water bill.
Ask your average Green party member if they accept the scientific consensus on Climate Change and you will get close to 100% affirmation. Ask if they what they think about safety of Genetically Modified Crops and they will that they are not sure and that we need to be cautious. Point out that the science behind the safety of GM crops is at least as sound as the science behind Climate Change and you will still be told that we should apply the precautionary principle. This is the same argument that Climate Change deniers make.
Similarly with Fracking. The process is safe, but you won’t hear that from the Green Party. There are very good environmental arguments for leaving as much oil and natural gas as possible in the ground. Instead of making the hard argument that making hydrocarbon fuels more expensive is in the long run a good thing, the Green Party prefers the easy but untrue argument that it is dangerous. But I suppose on the basis that all publicity is good publicity, getting your one and only MP arrested at a Fracking protest gets you in the news.
If you want to know what a Green Party government might look like take a look at the one place where they are in charge; Brighton. A Green Party has managed to reduce recycling rates and delivered a greater series of cuts and privatisations than the Tories had planned.
As Steve Bassam (former Labour Leader of Brighton and Hove Council) says;
I don’t know how Syriza is going to work out for Greece, but Greece does need something radical, and I wish them well. Radicalism must be rooted in reality and I’m afraid that the Green Party isn’t.
To the Green Party I would say come back and see me when you have worked out something like an economic policy and when you are prepared to accept the scientific evidence, even when it doesn’t fit your prejudices, in the meantime I’ll stick with the Labour Party and hope that it can grow a bit of a backbone.
I know voting Labour isn’t a particularly exciting vote, but we don’t have a Syriza or a Podemos to vote for in the UK and Labour is as close to a radical party as we have. Perhaps as Suzanne Moore says;
The original stating of “Minchins Law” can be found at about the 3:00 minute mark in the video (NSFW it’s a bit sweary). It also gives a very funny takedown of a certain type of person who probably votes green (if they can be bothered to vote at all)