The above link to an article written at the website/blog ‘In Defence of Marxism‘ (20/07/15) will take you to a very well written article about the state of the Labour leadership race and its nuances.
Here though I wanted to touch on something that no one else seems to be mentioning or talking about.
The Green Party.
It may seem odd to want to talk about the Green Party amidst perhaps the most interesting Labour leadership contest for some time but it’s relevant because it’s this very leadership race that will kill the Green Party and some of that blame will lie firmly with the Green Party themselves.
Prior to the election in May 2015 there was a ‘Green surge’, a mass swell of voters joining the Green Party to the point that membership to the Green Party exceeded that of UKIP, the self defined ‘true 3rd party’. This occurred for several reasons but primarily because a true ‘left wing’ anti austerity message was not coming through from the Labour Party and a proportion of the electorate was fed up, hungry for a new political class to take it to the heart of Westminter and sock it to ’em. The Greens were the answer. It did ultimately transfer into a surge of votes on the ground to the tune of just over 1 million votes. A great improvement on previous years but it was put into the shade by a huge surge in votes for UKIP who acquired over 8 million votes. The signs were positive though, a green surge could translate in the future into more votes and who knows, with the right leadership, the right message and right PR then the 2020 election could really be the year of the Green Party.
Then though, something odd happened. Ed Miliband stepped down as leader of the Labour Party and opened up the start of a highly interesting leadership debate.
Initially it was fairly cut and dry, several centre ground to centre right candidates stood on a platform of agreeing with the Conservative Party and this resulted in anger from Labours traditional voters. If they thought that Labour were not left wing enough under Miliband then they were not going to be happy with the likes of Liz Kendall in charge. This was not good for democracy. With no opposition party to the right wing austerity message there would be no representation for the left. Talk began across social media of a further move in favour of supporting the Green Party and suddenly it was a possibility that now was the time for the Greens to strike whilst the Iron was hot and seize the floating and left wing Labour vote, this could be the real surge in favour of the Greens, a true left wing opposition. Then came a spanner in the works, Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn represents the old Labour, pre-blair era. It would represent a return to genuine left wing policies (at least in theory). Suddenly the left leaning voters have someone to champion and hope for. Sure, the loyal green voters will remain green but don’t forget that the Greens had stolen not just most of the Liberal Democrat vote but a good portion of the lost Labour vote and now suddenly their established political party has a champion. You have to wonder what a Corbyn victory will do for the Green vote in future elections.
This has the potential to kill the Green Party. Not entirely, but significantly enough to see that surge retreat backwards and end any hope of a 2020 miracle.
This could and still can be remedied but the clock is ticking, the Greens need to make their move as soon as they can, either prior to the leadership result or if it’s a Corbyn victory then as soon as possible afterwards. They need to elect a leader with conviction and passion, either one of their two deputy leaders could fit the bill but I believe Shahrar Ali is the one for the job. Bennett whilst competent clearly lacks that inspirational nature needed for a rallying cry of support. I have had much debate about this within Green Party social media circles and the opinions on this are very split with half hoping for leadership change and the other half insisting Bennett is the one. She is clearly not. Once a leader is elected they need to make their voices heard. They need to be capitalising on the clearly dominant right wing nature of the Labour candidacy race and insisting people ‘switch to a true left wing ideal’.. Where are the Greens on this? Why have they not been taking advantage of the deepening identity crisis within Labour. This could prove to be their greatest mistake and its that mistake that means they will be hoping that Corbyn loses this leadership race because if he does lose then the Greens can capitalise on that, assuming they have the nouse to do it. If Corbyn wins however, watch the left labour supporters surge back to the Labour Party and the Green support take a nose dive.
There will be other varying factors to take into account such as in the event of a Corbyn victory will the rest of the Labour MP’s eventually activate a leadership challenge against Corbyn? If that happens then it opens up a lifeline to the Greens once more.
The danger though is that the Green Party don’t have the will to take these opportunities. Failure to do so is failing its current support and with each passing day of silence on the issue the greater the chance that the Green Party will regret not being better prepared.
A Corbyn victory is great for Left Labour. A disaster and the death knell for the Green Party, they could have pre-empted the Corbyn candidacy, but they failed to and now it is back firing and they will secretly be hoping that Corbyn is defeated.. Assuming they actually have ambition.