In the United Kingdom and across Europe, we see fascism rear its ugly head once more.The far-right’s strategy is simple, and age-old. They see countries with entrenched social inequality, and proceed to exploit the ensuing civil unrest by pitting the majority of people against minority groups.
The latest sinister practice, from Nigel Farage in the UK to Victor Orban in Hungary, is to scapegoat immigrants, Muslims and people of colour - rather than tackling corporate greed and the inherent contradictions within global capitalism which reproduce rampant, endemic inequality.
To defeat the far right, we must both confront their violent racism and bigotry, and provide real and lasting systemic solutions to the economic malaise, and distrust of traditional policymakers from which they feed.
Challenging dishonest xenophobic narratives means boldly stating clear facts, rejecting false premises within the debate and building a comprehensive political platform on that basis. It means refuting any suggestion that migrants are somehow responsible for unemployment, low pay or stretched public services – and making it absolutely clear that it is the failure of government policy which has caused our economy to utterly fail the majority of people, while selectively benefiting the interests of big business and the tax-dodging billionaire elite.
It means being uncompromising in our belief and unshakable in our commitment to open borders and Freedom of Movement.
And then there’s the Islamophobia – the cornerstone obsession for the resurgent far-right. The fight against islamophobia must be central to the resistance against modern-day fascists. In practise, that means doing all we can as politicians to support the Muslim community in our constituencies, and taking on the dangerous vitriol from any politician who spews their racist hatred on the television, in the European Parliament or elsewhere. They want to paint a deceitful picture of two worlds at war with each other – it’s our job to reject that, and to call it out for the baseless, fear-mongering rhetoric that it is.
To completely defeat the politics of hate, however, we must do much more than say the right things. We need a detailed, transformative political programme that will lift us from the economic turmoil we find ourselves in. Make no mistake, Britain is in a crisis. Not only do we shamefully
have record levels of poverty that the UN calls ‘tragic’, but we’ve seen wages stagnate for a decade and extreme regional deprivation and economic disparity. The wealth-gap between the richest parts of London and the poorer areas of our constituencies like Hastings, Sheffield, Portsmouth and Hull are shocking.
Alongside deepening inequality, there’s also the ensuing climate catastrophe already wreaking havoc globally and threatening further socioeconomic disruption in the UK. It is abundantly clear that to get out of this mess, we need to get radical. That’s why we are proposing a federalised, pan-European Green New Deal, to systemically transform and empower every economy in this continent and to shift quickly and emphatically away from a fossil-fuel driven apocalypse. A Green New Deal would see rapid decarbonisation, sweeping changes in the way we travel, a rollout of the biggest ever warm-home scheme in history. It would see well paid jobs in every corner of the continent – especially in the forgotten districts of our constituencies that have long been made to suffer the brunt of deindustrialisation.
In short, it’s a perfect deal – one that works for both people, and planet.
Without a Green New Deal, what kind of future do we face? Well the answer is: no future at all. It’s a matter of action or extinction.
We have a duty to prioritise and meet realistic climate targets. Not ‘realistic’ as in – how can we best save disaster-capitalism, preserve shareholder value and protect corporate interests. When we say ‘realistic’, we mean doing what needs to be done - and fast - to stop climate change by 2030 and build states and economies in the interests of ordinary people. There is no market-fix to the greatest crisis we have ever faced as humanity. In the United Kingdom, we have an ailing economy, and a political class that has fundamentally failed to steer us away from the stark economic divide we currently see. They’ve run out of ideas, and out of time.
We have the solutions we are desperately in need of implementing – and we will fight with every breath for the opportunity to get to work. As democratic socialists, we make it our mission to defeat hate and to build an equal society – and as Greens, we are very clear of the need to do this within the boundaries and considerations of our planet. The time to act is now.
Alex Phillips is a Green Party MEP for South East England
Magid Magid is a Green Party MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber