Sunday, 13 September 2015

Corbyn, Greens & Refugees

Yesterday was eventful. First there was the fantastic news of Jeremey Corbyn’s overwhelming victory. With a massive turnout of 76% and securing 59.5% of the vote, Corbyn  trounced the unprincipled, self-seeking, careerists who make up Labour’s  establishment elite.  But where does that put the Green Party? Some people are now arguing that this remarkable and unexpected victory  means that there is no longer a need for the  Green Party and that we should all join Jeremy, and the thousands of people he has inspired, inside the Labour Party.

As attractive as that proposition may sound and as much I believe that greens and socialists will ultimately be united, I think that  Green flight to Labour is premature. Because, despite their promises to respect the election result and support their new leader, the Labour establishment will do all they can to  undermine, discredit, de-stabilise and ultimately overthrow Corbyn. Make no mistake this self-interested class of professional politicians will use every trick in the book to retain its salaries, expenses, power and prestige in the corridors of Westminster and our county and local councils. So anyone thinking of quitting the Greens for  Labour will not be signing up to a red/green nirvana, but rather an organisation embroiled in a bloody, demoralising,  civil war which will  have very little to do with environmental policy or  fighting poverty and injustice.

Until this battle for the future direction of the Labour Party is resolved I would urge Green party members to hold back and wait and see what happens. Should Corbyn and his supporters decisively vanquish the pernicious Tory-lite, austerity-supporters who have held sway in Labour for a generation or more, then yes there would  be justification for us affiliate with  or join Labour. But if, as I think more likely, the reactionary elements  defeat Corbyn, then the Green Party and the Labour left should be discussing the development of a new left-of-centre political grouping.

In the meantime, the Green Party still has a critically important role to play in promoting the growth and influence  of progressive political ideas based on a  more egalitarian and democratic world. But  this doesn't  mean we ignore Labour and pretend Corbyn doesn’t exist . On the contrary, Greens must  strive to develop more  formal and informal ways of working with Labour’s progressive forces, because one day soon we will be working  as one to drive forward a new politics based on equality, internationalism and hope,  instead of the politics of  hatred and greed which still, but hopefully not for much longer, corrupt the Labour Party  

Talking of hate, on the same day that Corbyn was elected Labour Leader and the day on which tens of thousands of people marched in London in support of refugees I joined a demo in Dover to oppose a far right march against refugees. Seldom  have I witnessed so much aggression and hatred  against migrants and refugees and seldom I have been at a demonstration which was as tense, edgy and scary. This experience has re-enforced my determination to welcome refugees to our county and to speak out in their support. The truth is that the growth in refugee numbers and  migrants is a  direct result of the economic exploitation  of poor counties by the rich and the  warmongering  policies of our own and most other western governments. And lets not forget that the environment damaging practices pursued by avaricious, wealth seeking,  multi-national corporations are also responsible for  mass migration as climate change begins to cause famine and the breakdown of society. It’s the west which has caused this crisis not the refugees and migrants and its time for a more humane and co-operative solution rather than the narrow minded hatred, intolerance and racism. This is an issue which perhaps  the Greens and a resurgent Labour left can work together on.

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