» green party ¦ What You Can Get Away With

I don’t normally read LabourList, but this morning someone on Twitter linked to this article about Labour’s fight against the Greens. It starts out almost sensibly, then descends into such a pit of belligerent tribalism that I began wondering if it was a parody. (Then I noticed it was by arch-Blairite ‘moderate’ Luke Akehurst, and was assured it was serious)

There’s a certain category of politico – and I’ve seen them more in Labour, but they exist in every party – who are convinced that theirs is the One True Party and argue that case with a near-religious zeal. In this world view, anyone who disagrees can only do so because they are evil or misguided. There are only two sides to any political debate – the right side and the wrong side – and the One True Party is invariably on the right side. Anyone who disagrees with the One True Party is obviously evil, and anyone who suggests there might be a way to achieve something that’s not the One True Party’s way is misguided.

This is what lies at the root of Akehurst’s assault on the Greens – that they’re getting in the way of Labour, his One True Party. His arguments aren’t based much on ideology (and when they are, it’s all about how hard it is to triangulate Greens) but purely on the principle that Labour are always right, thus Labour need to be in power, and thus anyone who gets in the way of that is harmful and needs to be stopped. The Greens didn’t actually win a seat in Hackney – in Akehurst’s view, they ‘blocked’ someone from Labour getting their rightful place on the council. Greens aren’t people with different views and arguments, they’re ‘a huge drain on campaigning resources’, because all that matters is how the One True Party does. It’s probably the statement that ‘if you want PR for councils at least let your primary motive be improving Labour representation in rural areas, not giving a free pass to the Greens in councils where we have been fighting for years to stop them getting elected’ that shows the One True Party view most clearly. The idea that PR might be a good thing in itself cannot even be processed, and everything must be judged in terms of how it helps or hinders the party.

One True Party types exist in all parties, though, not just Labour and we shouldn’t pretend that they’ve never served a useful purpose for their parties. In a time of tribal and class-based politics, where voters (and even activists) generally had little information to work on, it was important to build loyalty to the party as an institution, not necessarily the ideas behind it. When most elections were just about two parties, descending into tribalism ‘the One True Party is always right’ partisanship does make a certain kind of sense.

We’re not in those times any more. Obviously, for some people politics still is a predominantly tribal affair, or even just a game between opposing sides where winning is the only important thing, no matter how you get there. However, I’d argue that with the breakdown of strong loyalties to parties amongst the voting public, this sort of approach isn’t likely to attract support in the way it used to. Trading insults back and forth with your opponents might feel good to the One True Party activist, but it’s not likely to attract the voter who knows that there are no true parties, just a group of different parties that might do different things. When offered with ‘you must vote for us because we’re right about everything’ in several different forms, is it any wonder when they go for something entirely different?

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On current trends the Green Party will have a significant, if not decisive, impact on the 2015 election – Some interesting data from the LSE’s British Politics blog.
I Was Raped At Oxford University. Police Pressured Me Into Dropping Charges – A rather shocking story.
Motorists have ruined England – and they need to pay the price – Given the current drive to make things as centred around the car as possible gets called ‘war on the motorist’, I dread to wonder what this might get called.
Can UKIP scale up? – Excellent post from Flip Chart Fairy Tales on the problems of growing a political party rapidly.
Ricky Gervais Broke My Heart – “Having once been a slightly overweight white male millionaire does not give you the insight required to speak with authority and flippancy on the complexities of body size and the effects of anti-fat stigma. Or race, or disability, or rape, for that matter. In fact, it makes you look fucking ridiculous. This just in: New Millionaire Discovers Millionaires Were Right All Along.”

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All sorts of link-based goodness for you.

Atos: A Privatised Service Provider In A Post-Satire World – Chris Coltrane on what is actually happening behind the mask of cutting DLA ‘fraud’.
Doctor Who Bechdel test – Some very interesting results here, though I’m sure most people won’t be surprised to learn that the number of episodes passing has dropped dramatically since 2010.
The Political Awakening of a Republican: ‘I Had Viewed Whole Swaths of the Country and the World as Second-Class People’ – Fascinating account of one person’s awakening to what American political culture conceals, though there’s an irony in that he only got exposed to the facts because of the privileged position he’d attained ignoring them.
We Are Now One Year Away From Global Riots, Complex Systems Theorists Say – I’ve seen other data showing a link between recent rising food prices and civil disorder (it’s likely it was a major driving factor in the Arab Spring) and this is worrying.
Can Labour *do* pluralist politics? – AC MacGregor on the latest outbreak Labour tribalism. Against the Greens this time, though.

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Greens, conservatives, drugs, proboscis monkeys and liquid democracy. How’s that mix suit you?

Don’t vote Green until they drop the anti-science zealotry – Tom Chivers explains, yet again, why GM crops are not the horrible bogeyman that some like to portray them as.
You don’t have to be a leftie to think Beecroft is wrong – Flip Chart Fairy Tales explains how conservatism can support models of capitalism other than the most rapacious ones.
Take it from an ex-addict, outlawing drugs does not work – “When society hates and fears you, criminal conviction means little.”
Declan Ganley and the need for nuance – Nosemonkey returns to blogging with an interesting perspective.
Liquid Democracy: The Future Of #ldconf – Spineless Liberal looks at the Liquid Feedback system I linked to in an earlier post and suggests a use for it here. I can hear the ‘ooh, that’s far too much change for my liking’ objections already. After all, why use something efficient when you can waste people’s time with a meeting?

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Rocket-powered octopi all the way down…

Space Stasis – Fascinating Slate article from Neal Stephenson on all the factors that had to come together to make rocketry so important
Caroline Lucas’ U-turn on taxes – It seems that Ten O’Clock Live stumbled on an exclusive as Caroline Lucas radically rewrote Green Party policy on air. Unfortunately, they were too busy coming up with the great satire of calling Harry Cole a journalist to notice
Tree octopus exposes internet illiteracy – In the spirit of this article, I would like to point out that you all owe me £100
Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code – “People often assume that I must be some extremely moral person because I didn’t take advantage of the lottery,” he says. “I can assure you that that’s not the case. I’d simply done the math and concluded that beating the game wasn’t worth my time.”
Evidence supporting your NHS reforms? What evidence, Mr Lansley? – I think I’m approximately the 9,836th person to link to this approvingly today, but if you haven’t read it from any of the 9,835 other links, here it is.

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