Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SW Green Ruro Election Launch at Plymouth

Went down to Plymouth today for a press conference of the SW Green Party campaign, on the harbour front, in the Chestnut Tree Café – a great venue.

Such is the media frenzy around the Euro elections that it was difficult to get in through the massed crowd of journalists fighting to gain an insight into the politics of the 21st century, eager to communicate the electoral choices on offer to the people of the South West, but once past the thronging of news hound (I counted one) it was possible to get a very nice cup of coffee. Greene Knight Beer was on sale.

All four of the male Green Party Euro-candidates had left their housework to be there. Unfortunately both of the female candidates were out doing their day jobs and sent a DVD instead.

We all had to give one minute presentations, in case any persons present should be suffering from ADHD. This is a very good idea, because it means that most presentations ended up being less than 5 minutes. Mine came out at one minute and a half. In one minute poetry slams the mic is switched off at 60 seconds sharp, but Greens are merciful and tolerant.

My brief was to make the case to persuade Labour and LibDem voters to vote Green. I have expanded my notes here, so there is no point in commenting that it is much longer than a minutes’ worth.

Green-minded Labour and LibDems should vote Green because the place of Labour and LibDem MEPs are a political given in the South West – as is the presence of one or two Tories. This is because the vast majority of voters act out of habit. Only a minority choose actively who they will vote for on the basis of merit. The only uncertainty is about the sixth MEP, for which the Greens are tussling with UKIP (and maybe even the BNP).

If good, thoughtful Lab and LibDem voters want to keep right wingers out of the European Parliament, they can vote Green because Green thought includes the best of both their traditions:

For Labour voters:
we can only get out of the present serious political and economic mess – public anger and distrust of politicians, financial chaos, recession, peak oil, social breakdown and above all, climate change – by acting together, as a society, and at every level of society, with businesses, communities, and Government all singing from the same hymnbook.
we can only bring about this sense of common purpose if the divergence between rich and poor (the income gap) is reversed.

For LibDems voters:
we need to cherish the values of individual freedom, human rights and transparency in order to get the sound politics needed to address the above threats.
we need real democracy in order to empower individuals to work for the common good. “Eco-Fascism” would be a contradiction in terms, because fascism always leads to inter-communal and international conflict and violence, and warfare is bad for people and planet.

Modern Liberalism began (approximately) with Locke in the 17th century, and socialism began (approximately) with Owen in the 19th century.
Green thought is the emergent political philosophy of the 21st century; and it INCLUDES the insights of Locke and Owen.

The Green understanding is based on the science of ecology. It recognises that humans are a dependent on each other and on the natural physical and biological systems that give us life. It realises that we are affected by, and in turn affect, those systems. It sets the scene wider than just looking at human beings in isolation. A couple of centuries ago it might have been understandable to begin political thinking by asking, “What is mankind? Is society a collection of individuals, or is society a thing in its own right?” In 2009 it is no longer sensible to begin with mankind alone, but to start with mankind in its ecological setting. This necessarily sets the frame larger, and in this larger framework we can reconcile the previously irreconcilable contradictions between individualism and socialism.

That is why green thought includes the best of the liberal, democratic, and socialist thought, and that is why Labour and LibDem voters can and should vote Green.

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