A response to Owen Jones on why lefties should join Labour (and not The Green Party)

I have only just read Owen Jones’ blog on why he thinks all lefties should back the common cause and get behind Labour.

I will let you read the whole blog and judge for yourself whether you are compelled by his arguments. In this blog I just wanted to take issue with one of the weakest sections of his blog – the “what about the Greens” section.

In this section Owen makes 4 points. In short:

  • The Greens’ vote is stagnating (re 2010 to 2005 vote share) – thus, they’re going nowhere.
  • His politics are based on class and the Labour movement – The Greens are not.
  • The Greens want to remove Trade Union influence from politics through funding reform.
  • Greens abroad have contributed to the austerity agenda.

Point one – He obviously missed the whole 2010 Green Party election strategy. In short it said lets “chuck everything we have at Brighton to see if we can break through this backwards political system” – you know the first past the post unrepresentative system that Labour promised to reform and then didn’t despite 13 years of majority government.

As a result of this strategy a lot of people within the Greens across the country felt let down because they didn’t get the support they wanted as the party focused its time, resources and money on Brighton.

For me though, the 2010 election was a really positive sign for the Greens. It showed the Greens had what it takes to be strategic and as a result they now have their first ever Green MP despite the electoral system (note this is something that UKIP failed to do – or come near to – despite an much more impressive showing at the 2009 EP elections).

Point two – The Greens have incredibly strong policies on worker’s rights (and then act on them). The Green Party has also made repeated attempts to reach out to the Trade Unions. In fact, I would be interested to hear what Green policies (or actions) Owen thinks are not supportive of a labour movement (note the small L Owen otherwise you’re just saying you support a political party no matter what).

Point three – What Owen fails to mention is that The Green Party are calling for (modestly) state funded politics to remove all big money donations from politics. Comparing some of the big money donations the Conservatives get to that of the Trade Unions is absurd – they are of course not the same. However, neither is Labour’s current model (that they are so desperate to hold onto) the right way forward for an open competitive democracy. Labour need to accept this and stop blocking cross party attempts at reform.

Point four – This made me laugh, implying that ‘left’ or ‘socialist’ political parties have not done this. Owen’s argument here is little more than a slur by association. Yes Greens have let many of their supporters down in Ireland and Germany but there are of course also positive examples of Greens internationally doing great work (think NZ for an example). The same can be said for Labour or Socialist parties.

So I finish with a note to Owen.

I am currently a member of The Green Party not because it is pragmatically useful but because they are, taken as a whole, the closest party to represent what I believe. The day that I leave the party is the day when one or two things happen. 1) They no longer fit the above criteria. 2) They cross a line on a single issue that I find so intolerable that I cannot stay within the party – a good example might be an illegal war that left over 100,000 dead.

And so I have to ask Owen, in what circumstances would you leave the Labour Party?

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3 Comments

Filed under Politics

3 responses to “A response to Owen Jones on why lefties should join Labour (and not The Green Party)

  1. Great blog Steve! I’m thinking about joining The Greens myself.

    A side note regarding Iraq: better to stop using the 100,000 figure, and start using the ‘over a million’ figure. Not sure how good your German is, but see this: http://www.ippnw.de/startseite/artikel/a8966af902/body-count-opferzahlen-nach-10-ja.html. The question is whether it’s closer to two million. I’ve a draft of the English version, it’s compelling reading.

    Like

  2. Labour are essentially a centre right party, liberal on some issues socially, but have got more right wing on economical issues through the years I believe. They need a new name, something like “Liberal”.

    Like

  3. Martin Whiteside

    Well argued Steve – music to my ears!

    Like

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