Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Triple trouble

Firstly a brief but necessary apology to readers of Histomat outside the UK - I did promise at one point to try to discuss more international history and politics but now, after discussing the English Local Council elections and King Ethelred the Unready I am now going to do an even more localised post about the city of Leeds. At one point to attempt to correct the anomoly I did employ a 'Latin American correspondent', Paddington, but he has gone and got his own blog now which currently has a nice story about er, the coastlines of Suffolk. However, there is perhaps a general message of warning about Green politics in general in the upcoming post which may be of some wider interest. I know what you are thinking - stop burbling and just get on with it, man - so ok, here goes.

Monday's Guardian had a little story about Leeds City Council, currently run by a 'triple alliance' of Conservatives, Liberals and er, Greens. 'The Lib Dem leader, Mark Harris (26 seats), and his Tory counterpart, Andrew Carter (24), take it in turns to be council leader, swapping every six months. David Blackburn of the Greens (three) chairs the all-party cabinet. Forty Labour and six independents oppose. Luck and political geography will also affect the polls on May 4, when almost all the main battles in local wards are between the three coalition parties and Labour. Only four of the 33 see serious clashes between Tories and LibDems. "There is no electoral pact," said Mr Harris. " But we're agreed that it's senseless having a go at one another. We share the same record in power. There's no point in us saying the Tories have made a mess of things, or vice-versa."'

To its defenders, this is a beautiful 'rainbow coalition' - but it does raise rather some interesting questions about where the Green Party in Britain is going. While the Green Party in Germany famously lost pretty much all of its radical credentials by going into Government and then joining NATO's war on Serbia in 1999, the British Green Party has by contrast continued to make much of its roots in pacifism and radical environmentalism, and is an important part of the British anti-war movement. However, in Leeds they are now in alliance with Tories, whom the Welsh socialist Nye Bevan memorably described as 'lower than vermin', and yet presumably also feel it is 'senseless having a go' at them as they 'share the same record in power'. Surely some mistake?

New Labour in Leeds are not alone in thinking so - and in their local election literature point out the cuts imposed and wasted money spent by the Tories, Liberals and Greens while in power. These include:

- Cutting wardens and home care visits for older people.
- Cutting hostels for the homeless.
- Shutting day centres for older people at weekends.
- Introduce charges for charities to use Council buildings.
- Increased charges for burials, cremations and memorial trees.
- Cutting the Night Rider Bus service for women.
- Cutting services for refuge women suffering from domestic violence.

What have they spent the money saved on?
- Spending £2 million on a new Council newspaper, redoing the Councillors Civic Hall Lounge, rebranding the city with 'Leeds, Live it, Love it', and giving bonuses of £10,000 each to senior Council managers. Brilliant.

Moreover, Leeds City Council are now wanting to privatise the local refuse service and cut refuse collection down to once a fortnight rather than once a week, so they can improve the 'Green bin collection' service. This will lead to rubbish being left uncollected in the streets.

As Labour leaflets say 'Is this what you voted for in 2004? At least with Labour, what you vote for is what you get! Vote Labour - Get a Labour Council.'

Ahem. If only. The problem is we have a Labour Government running Britain, which is closing and privatising schools and hospitals - and the last time Labour were in power in Leeds Council they also imposed cuts of this sort and wasted money on managers and bureaucracy. In Leeds, ordinary working people are being attacked by neoliberal policies being pushed by all parties - New Labour, the Tories, Liberals and even the Greens.

So what is the alternative? It is time for a genuine 'Rainbow Alliance' in Leeds - of the poor, the powerless, and those who are being left behind by Parties which only cater for yuppies and big business. It is time for Respect.

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4 Comments:

At 10:30 pm, Blogger DJN said...

Don't worry about your focus. In a twisted way I'm happy to hear that the Greens also have some right-wing tendencies in Britain. I detest them greatly, at least over here.

A few years ago the Canadian Greens made a sharp right-wing turn, adopting eco-capitlaist policies. Now they're described in the mainstream press as the "Blue Greens" (blue is the colour of the Tories).

Most of their voters used to be young people, disillusioned with the numerous sell-outs by the NDP (our labour party). In my anarchist days I voted Green in the 2001 federal election which was at the height of the anti-globalization movement in Canada. I was quickly abandoned the Greens when they adopted anti-worker "market solutions" to "saving" the environment. But to be honest, voting Green was a better instinct than voting Conservative which I sadly did when I was 18. I blame my dad's influence for that, since I should have known better having survived my teen years by listening to the Dead Kennedys and Rancid.

Fortunately, they only poll about 4.5% and have no seats, which is good. They only have support from disaffected Tories and small business owners - so some extent, the same base as a fascist organization.

I'm curious, what is the make-up of the British greens, both their base and leadership?

 
At 6:04 am, Blogger Comandante Gringo said...

This is the type of situation where a marxist analysis comes in more than handy.

Green parties are most clearly a petit-bourgeois phenomenon. It shows in their base, and it shows in their politix. Only their 'trash-talk' fools anybody for a while, coming as it does from idealist liberal do-gooderism. So clearly it still worx on the suburban, "AntiGlob", liberal-Left (i.e. anti-communist) reformist crowd. This layer is _still_ looking to square the circle of a 'capitalism with a human face'... *Anything* but marxism.

At base, Green parties are the same base lot the world over. Don't anyone give them a second thought, please. They will pass the way of all petit-bourgeois parties. In the U.S. they've already been hijacked by Democratic Party operatives. In Oz and Kiwiland, they are already discredited as handmaidens of neoliberalism, alongside the also totally discredited 'Labour' parties.

Forget them. Forever. Hell -- it wouldn't surprise me in the least to find out there's Soros "Civil Society" money in them the wide-world over. Not to mention they likely fit into the plans of the CIA and secret police agencies everywhere as one important vector to divide the working-class electorally and ideologically.

 
At 12:43 pm, Blogger Snowball said...

Cheers for the comments.

In Britain the Greens are a little bit better than they sound in Canada (and elsewhere) - but that is probably because they haven't yet been anywhere near power yet (except on a local level as in Leeds).

However, in terms of the British Green's base - it is the petit bourgeoisie absolutely. Some of their leaders are progressive (Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert) but others are charlatans, pro-'Green' business and others are right wing. Leading supporters include millionaire businessmen like Zac Goldsmith and Anita Roddick (who has been involved in attacking trade unions as owner of the Body Shop company).

 
At 8:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

leeds city council needs to look at the real people of leeds instead of trying to make a new leeds
they have destroyed this city more than maggie thatcher did but the fact that they cannot even remove rubbish from a house lived in by two disabled people says it all that they want us to pay to have it removed but they wont come out and say it in public,dare they come around the doors and canvas in person?,no they are too busy spending the so called expenses they say they earn.this council should resign enmass in disgrace before the whistle blowers make them.

 

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