Well, on June 9th I put my polytunnel order on hold and ate so much vegetarian humble pie that I have struggled to fit through the door of the bunker I had built, hence the large gap in posting.
First and most crucially, thank God the Tories lost their majority. Second, all credit to Jeremy Corbyn, his depleted front bench and the rank and file activists in the Labour Party who ran a magnificent campaign to close the widest gap in opinion polls ever recorded from 20% to just 2% over the course of the General Election campaign.
Much as the Tories ran a disastrous campaign on so many levels, Labour’s could still not slip or fall away and it did neither. The pressure was kept constantly on the Tories who eventually crumbled.
As a Green I have tried not to interfere in Labour’s internal war even though my politics align far more closely with the Corbynites than with the Blairites. I was very pleased that the 2017 Labour Manifesto had adopted these 2015 Green Party Manifesto policies:
£10.00 minimum wage
Robin Hood Tax
All of these undoubtedly helped Labour to squeeze the Green vote from over 4% in 2015 to under 2% in 2017. A further factor in the Green vote shrinking was the number of seats Greens chose not to contest at local level as their contribution to a Progressive Alliance that definitely had some positive effect in the General Election even though not fully reciprocated by Labour and the Lib Dems. Two other widely reported factors in Labour’s performance was the unexpected mobilisation of the 18-24 year old voter group and Labour winning back up to 50% of the collapsing UKIP vote, most of which was predicted to go to the pro-Brexit Tories.
The result was better than my wildest dreams, I called it wrong and I am very glad I did! What happens next is crucial as I still believe that the fundamentals for a rump UK becoming a Tory One Party State are still in place if hard Brexit is forced through (less likely now but not impossible), Scotland breaks away and the Boundary Commission changes go through.
Brexit is a poison chalice for whoever is in power as it requires either a choice to be made between two extreme positions based on a 52/48 split in the referendum or the adoption of a compromise position such as the EEA model which will end up pleasing fewer people fully. My best hope remains that the Progressive Alliance parties do wrest power from the Tories’ grasp and produce a cross-party Brexit that keeps us in the single market and customs union, a compromise that would cement Scotland in the Union, protect the Good Friday Agreement in Ireland and protect the UK economy. The faster that decision is made the better as our economy is already bleeding out due to the uncertainty created by a split Tory Party in minority government. In power, a Labour led coalition would need to lead and ride the storm in the National interest. Much as I would prefer it, giving an option to remain in the EU as before will NOT unite this country and will leave so much lasting anger among so many, it would cause its own tensions and instability.
The other massive issue a Labour led coalition simply MUST grasp and lead on is electoral and wider constitutional reform which will ensure that no single party with only 42% vote share propped up by another with less than 1%, can command a ‘majority’ of the seats in Westminster. This must never be allowed to happen again. The Green Party got 1 MP with a vote share of circa 1.6% while the DUP got 10 MPs with less than 1% vote share. This is an intolerable situation that no true democrat should defend.
The window may be very narrow but it must be siezed. There are signs that Corbyn understands that no one party has all the best answers. I am flattered at the take-up of Green policies and hope one day they can be enacted, most likely through Labour. One day, I believe the basic income scheme will also be adopted but I’ll take what we can get right now.
Greens will in my view remain at the cutting edge of progressive policy making within a framework of environmental sustainability and social justice. I have made my home in this party which has always been small but now feels smaller after this General Election and it is where I intend to remain. I do look forward to any chance of forcing the Tories from power by progressive parties working together – I still think this may be our last.