Labour is not progressive…and the Greens are idealistic unrealists!

January 2, 2011 § 6 Comments

He may be left-wing, but is his party?

A New Year message to all of my fellow Lib Dems: don’t leave and join other alternatives believing they are more progressive.

According to press reports Labour ‘leader’ ‘Red’ Ed Miliband is going to, yet again, appeal to Lib Dems tomorrow…asking them to ‘work with him’ in pursuit of our ‘shared ambition of progressive policies.’

This may, at first glance, seem an attractive option.

‘Red’ Ed is-without doubt- to the Left of the current Lib Dem leadership, he even is prepared to publicly refer to himself as a ‘socialist,’ a political tradition which has never succeeded wherever it has been tried and has long since been derided here.

Miliband only got elected because of the trade union vote and is widely viewed to have been an utter failure as Labour Leader thus far.

I was recently quoted on the national BBC News website questioning Miliband’s abilities at PMQ’s…so far his performances have been derisory.

O f course Opposition leadership is about more than just PMQ’s, but it is a very public example of his lacklustre abilities.

Miliband may have disregarded some of the worst elements of New Labour policies, but he can’t shake off the fact that his parliamentary party is largely made up of ‘New Labour ‘MP’s.’

These are people who still believe the invasion of Iraq was legal, who are fine with taking away people’s civil liberties, who saw the gap between the poorest and richest widen in their thirteen years in office.

So, Miliband can try and cling to as many left-wing policies as he likes, but his party remains very right-wing in outlook.

No wonder Labour has no policies; how can they possibly agree an agenda when the leadership is way more left-wing than a majority of his own MP’s?

Despite some of the tough decisions we’re having to take as part of this Coalition, there is no doubt that we  remain far more progressive than our Labour opponents…and, unlike them, we have a chance to put our policies into action.

O.k., you might ask, but what about the Greens?

I was a member of the Green Party for a few years, even attending some meetings (I had to travel to Leicester, as they had no local party nearer to me) and doing some publicity for them, but I soon realised the following:

* The Greens are very easy to like, very idealistic, have taken up almost every left-wing cause imaginable…but they are not realistic, they are not pragmatic, they are not plausible.

* They are a one man band (or, rather, one woman band)…I like Caroline Lucas but she is the party’s only nationally recognisable face and may as well be an independent. The party needs her more than she needs the party.

So, it’s clear-to me at least, that we remain the most progressive party with any chance of putting centre-left policies into place; helping the weakest and poorest people in our country.

We must not succumb to other parties who may have all the rhetoric in the world, but are either smudging their own records/beliefs or with no real chance of achieving anything very much at all.

§ 6 Responses to Labour is not progressive…and the Greens are idealistic unrealists!

  • Neil says:

    The whole “progressive” thing is one to ponder. I’m not a huge fans of tags. There are left-wingers and right-wingers in each of the three larger parties. There are libertarians and authoritarians in them all. There are progressives in them all. Heck, arguments have been made before that the BNP are extreme-left-wing authoritarians.

    But at least there is a greater appreciation now that politics is not about the simple “left/right” axis, from Fascism to Communism. The “left/right/authoritarian/libertarian” thing in four directions works a bit better, but it still tries to artificially pigeon-hole people into boxes.

    Is Ed Miliband more left-wing than David Cameron and Nick Clegg? I’d suggest so. Is he more libertarian than Gordon Brown? Probably. But it’s all shades of grey at times and without knowing Miliband’s actual policies (wonder why!), it’s difficult to really place him on the spectrum. The artificial spectrum, that is, the one I’ve moaned about!

    Looking back to the coalition talks in May, I think the clincher may well have been Cameron’s Conservatives are, rightly or wrongly, seen as more libertarian than Gordon Brown’s Labour and the gap between Brown’s Labour and the Lib Dems was too vast to cross.

    As for the Green Party – agree with your assessment about Caroline Lucas. Often think of her as an independent. Suppose, given there is only one Green in Parliament, she arguably is in many ways.

    Of course, if whipping were banned or largely reduced, we’d get to see more coalition building for individual policies and individual debates. Too much to ask for, perhaps?!

  • Steve Cooke says:

    You’re quite right that Labour are not the progressive party they pretend to be – a legacy of wars; authoritarianism; a widening gap between rich and poor; reduced social mobility; a fall in levels of social housing; and our children being among the unhappiest and unhealthiest in Europe is the proof of Labour’s credentials.

    And as for the Greens – they’re utterly, utterly dysfunctional. My experience is that they largely contains malcontent refugees from the Labour party looking for something more Marxists than is on offer in Labour. Their ideology is a contradictory mess of an attempt to merge a liberal view of freedom with a socialist statism. Their commitments to increased local and direct democracy are a very poor fit with the way they prejudge what the outcomes of those democratic processes should be.

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  • Chris says:

    Yawn, and I thought libdems claimed to be “pluralists”. This is the worst sort of pathetic tribal rant which centre-left/progressives love to indulge in, is it any wonder the regressives always win. Its exactly this sort of rubbish which puts me off PR, the left will descend into infighting and you end up with Silvio Berlusconi as Prime Minister.

  • Mike Shaw says:

    There’s been a certain degree of political osmosis between the Lib Dems and Greens for a long time, especially in areas where the greens haven’t stood, where green-leaning people have often helped us out but despite the similarities on the social scale, there is a huge gulf between the two parties.

    You’re right to say the Greens are far too idealistic, but that is not always a bad thing, and idealism wouldn’t stop me from joining a political party. I would call myself an idealist – I’d love to see a world where nobody is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. That’s a pretty idealistic mission statement, and it’ll probably never happen in my lifetime, but it won’t stop me trying.

    The problem with the Greens is that their economic policy is quite frankly bonkers.

    A ‘zero-growth’ economy is a key economic aim – combined with nationalisation as an end, not a means, universal ‘living wage’ benefits for all (which would probably remove the need to work until the age of 25 for many), super taxes, and an anti-business agenda where corporate power is an evil but state power is a saviour. Along with support for quack medicine paid for out of public funds and the end to outsourcing services, regardless of the company’s track record. Deficit denial is of course also alive and kicking here.

    Where is the ‘progress’ in a stunted economy with huge state monopolies and no growth?

    Unfortunately, if you ask most green activists, they don’t even know that the party has these economic views, they just want to help keep the planet green. I think there’s quite a big difference between the Green party policymaker/conferencegoer/academic who push the anti-growth nonsense into the manifesto, and the friendly Green party leaflet deliverer who wants to do his/her bit to save the planet.

  • Joe Otten says:

    A good post and some good comments.

    The Greens of course didn’t used to be a party of the left, but I think they found the apparent vacancy to the left of the Labour Party impossible to resist. You might call that selling out.

    But even then it is a very difficult fit – environmentally motivated asceticism, low growth, etc, are kinds of austerity, far harsher than the fiscal austerity we are currently facing. With the left being violently anti-austerity, the Greens are unlikely to see the support they lend being returned.

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