Many may recall that last month, I wrote a blog for the Huffington Post stating why I'm uneasy about trusting the Lib Dems. There was one comment on my blog that I noticed more than others. They said my article was pointless as I never said who people should vote for. That's probably a fair point. On my profile you can see clearly that I am member of the Green Party but I accept that the article was mainly a negative piece on the Lib Dems. It was meant to be because having seen a rise in support for them, I just wanted to say why I hadn't jumped on this bandwagon. I thought this month though, I would offer a positive alternative and why I don't think I could join the Labour Party, despite being sympathetic to them.
Since Labour lost the Copeland by-election and just hung on in Stoke Central, the tension within the party has racked up a notch. Even in the run-up to the by-elections, senior figures in the party such as Mandelson stated openly that they were working every day to bring down Corbyn. Tony Blair has even said himself he couldn't vote for a left wing Labour party led by Corbyn. This seems quite hypocritical given that he quite happily stood and won an election for Labour in 1983 when another left wing leader, Michael Foot, was in charge.
Post by-election defeat, there were open calls for Corbyn to stand down from allies such as Owen Jones. There was a Clive Lewis for leader website set up, despite Lewis claiming he had no knowledge of this. Kier Starmer and Tom Watson both said the Copeland loss was a disaster for the party. Jeremy Corbyn is also anti-nuclear but had to put on an unconvincing pro-nuclear stance when campaigning in Copeland. This still shows one of many splits in Labour on what they stand for.
There has also been confusion over Labour's stance on Brexit. With Corbyn himself stating that he wouldn't delay the process of Brexit and whipped his MPs into voting to trigger Article 50. Yet members of the House of Lords have rightly put forward amendments such as guaranteeing EU rights right to stay and saying that parliament should have a genuine say over the final Brexit deal. How can Corbyn claim to be holding the government to account whilst saying Labour would vote to trigger article 50 no matter whether any amendments they proposed failed or passed?
It's been said many times that the Labour Party have always been a broad church that bring together different factions, dating way back to when they first formed. However, the repairs that have held this church together for years started slowly crumbling again when they lost the 2010 general election. With Corbyn as leader, the damage is getting more obvious and has been openly showing the mess inside that was previously hidden. It appears that the very foundations on which this church is built is in serious risk of falling apart. Not since the 80s and the SDP split has this happened. Joining them now would be like running into a bombed out building during the blitz for shelter. There might be a structure there you could stay in but you'd end up getting caught in crossfire by exposing your views (or your physical self in the case of an actual war.)
Poor church and world war metaphors aside, there are other reasons why I wouldn't join the Labour Party. Whilst I do indeed have some things in common with Corbyn himself regarding economic and anti-privatisation policies, Labour still don't offer a really serious change to how our society and country is shaped. Corbyn himself even says shared economic growth is the main barometer for success. Whereas the Green Party actually say that pushing for a more sustainable economy with investment in sustainable industries is what we need for long-term future and survival of our species.
But not only that, we would like to see more devolution. Give back the power that local government has lost, i.e. on housing policy and make sure councils are funded properly. The same with education and making sure all state schools are mixed-ability comprehensives and locally accountable. Corbyn has made the right noises on education. He is anti-academies and grammar schools, but his National Education Service idea sounds like something that would be centrally managed rather than locally accountable.
Sadly the Labour Party is also still officially for the First Past the Post voting system which has always benefited the main two parties at the expense of everyone's else voices being heard. Despite some Labour MPs being open-minded to a proportional voting system, Corbyn and most of the PLP are firmly against it.
Well why don't you join the Labour Party to help change their policy I hear you ask? Despite Labour claiming to be a democratic party, they are anything but. According to their website, this is how their policy making process works. If you are a member, you can submit a policy suggestion on the "Your Britain" website. These policy submissions are then taken to the National Policy Forum which consider these and are made up of representatives from various stakeholder groups. After much debate, some policies are moved forward to eight Policy Commissions who then get in experts, further develop policies and put them forward to the annual conference, who then vote on them and these are made up of delegates from CLPs, elected politicians and affiliated groups. Any policy suggestion you come up with could be ignored or watered down so much that you don't recognise it even if it gets to conference. If it does get through all those stages unscathed, you may not even get selected as a delegate from your CLP to be able to vote on the policy you came up with.
Whereas making policy in the Green Party is actually far simpler and more democratic. Any member can propose a policy motion, submit it to conference and any member can vote on it and no affiliated group or elected politician has any more voting rights than an ordinary member. Yes we have deadlines and procedures with all this but rather than bore you with that, what I've said is a basic summary of how it's done.
The Green Party are idealistic and unelectable though is another thing I've heard. Yes we have a lot of ideals that sadly still haven't resonated with a lot of voters. However unlike Labour, our support in the polls hasn't gone drastically down. We got 3.8% of the vote at the general election and have been polling consistently around 4% in the polls. So whilst we haven't improved on our support since the general election, we've maintained it. Since 2015, we've held on to our London Assembly seats, finished third in the mayor election, and gained a seat from UKIP in a council by-election. If we had more active members and changed the way we communicate and were given more mainstream media coverage, then who knows how much our support could rise.
Yes I would much rather a Labour government than a Tory one. I believe it would be easier to influence and work with them then the Tories. But as for joining them as a member or voting for them, it's not an option for me based on what I've said above.
So to sum up, I believe the Green Party are more progressive, forward looking, democratic internally and more united than the Labour Party. If you're a Labour supporter or member and sick of the infighting within Labour and/or frustrated about not getting your voice heard, join the Green Party. I made that decision back in 2012 and haven't regretted it since.