A lot of people have been sharing an article by Left Foot Forward discussing whether the Green Party should formally affiliate with Labour.
But here’s why, as an ex-green and current Labour member, I think this is a fundamentally wrong and patronising idea.
The Labour Party and Green Party are very different parties. Although some common ground and socialist values are shared, green philosophy is very different to that of Labour’s. Greens come from a place of putting the importance of the planet above all other issues; if our planet has no chance, we have no chance. Labour, by returning to its roots, puts people first. The two ideas can be complimentary, but they are quite different. There are other more complex deeper differences that I won’t expand on here.
In addition, we (Labour supporters) need to be very careful about promoting this idea of affiliation; as opposed to converting green voters, members, supporters I think they will actually see this (and I have good insight having been a green for around 10 years) as being a very patronising and fundamental misunderstanding of what they believe in. Which it is. It is a matter for the greens to discuss only if they want to and I see no reason why they should when time and time again they proved that they value their principles above a quick grab for power. My suspicion is that there are possibly some Labour supporters discussing precisely because they know it will sow division amongst the greens. Which is a nasty, cynical tactic.
Better to win the support of greens as has been happening by asking them to lend us their votes when needed. Then we should also reciprocate where appropriate – certain council seats, potentially some parliamentary seats. Greens and and Labour can and do have shared goals and that is absolutely the case when it comes to defeating the Conservatives.
Labour will have a greater success if it respects other points of view (a very Corbyn thing to do) rather than blundering around believing it is the only option available ever and simply reinforcing our very broken and undemocratic two party state. Voters (particularly younger voters) are tired of politics the way it has always been done. Labour should not start emulsifying other groups and parties and leave people with no choice. I’m pleased that I now carry a Labour membership card but I’m happy I got to make the decision myself; I would have resented having the choice taken away from me and being forced to affiliate.
Let’s face it, Labour could attempt to work with the greens and invite Caroline Lucas in to government should they get the opportunity; she doesn’t need to be in the Labour party or affiliated.
If we really respect and share values with the greens, then let’s really respect them and don’t tell them their party is pointless.
Rather, let’s do the things that will make a real difference for the greens to have electoral success and create a true democracy and choice for everyone; let’s push for proportional representation. Let’s put our country and our democracy above party tribalism.