Is Dominic Cummings anti-democratic? That’s the charge many level at him as he tells his tall tales of Westminster intrigue. But I think they miss the point. Cummings’ stories aren’t really about how our political leaders are elected, so much as how they are selected. It’s fun and scary to imagine Cummings and his dozen-or-so co-conspirators darkly manipulating British democracy. A uniquely malign and undemocratic influence on our body politic. Getting Boris Johnson – a person he believes is unfit for high office – into Number 10, pulling a con on the nation. But Johnson was elected as the leader of the Conservative Party (and become Prime Minister) after a ballot of 139,318 party members, from a shortlist of two whittled down by 313 Conservative MPs. Johnson was re-elected Prime Minister when 32 million voters turned out in December 2019 and elected a huge majority of Conservative MPs. He was…
This question is one I have been asking myself in recent weeks. How do I – as a white person who enjoys various kinds of privilege – respond to the challenges the Black Lives Matter posts? After weeks (or years) of listening and reading, I’m now going to try to write something that picks up some aspects that worry me, and some challenges I’ve set for myself.
While the Green Party’s electoral success in 40 years has been presentable, our impact on the national political debate has been profound. In considering what influence we can wield and which elections we can win in the era of Corbyn we need to avoid factional delusions.
Ten years ago, it was low energy light bulbs that we used to deflect our responsibility for climate change. Now it’s more often the rich and big business. But fault is hard to ascribe, and can stop us facing some hard truths. David MacKay, in his seminal book Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air, punctured the light bulb mantra that “every little helps” and posited the more realistic mantra: “if everyone does a little, we’ll achieve only a little.” Changing your light bulbs and turning your TV off at the plug might reduce your emissions by 1%. If everybody does this, it doesn’t add up to a lot. We’d reduce our collective emissions by 1%. Meanwhile, these would-be eco warriors fly to Spain for a holiday. These excuses are still prevalent today. In recent weeks, Guardian readers have worried about plastic use – bags, bottles and packaging. It’s an important…
The problems with the EU, I was told, are made concrete in the Altiero Spinelli building. The Kipper MEP I was meeting was aghast that the main building of the European Parliament would be named after this Italian communist and passionate European federalist. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t share my worries about the World Trade Organisation, the G8, or the Basel Accords – he didn’t know or care about the names of their buildings.
It is often said by party members that a particular strategy, tactic or policy should be debated at one of the bi-annual conferences. The most obvious recent example is the issue of progressive alliances.
Like most members I believe that the actions and statements of our leadership and senior politicians must be rooted in decisions taken democratically by party structures including conference, the Executive and Regional Council.
But we have to realise that politics isn’t a calm and linear business. You don’t spend two years moving from conference motion A to national strategy B and politician action C and then achieve desired result D.
The word ‘politician’ is often used as an insult. In the popular imagination, politicians are loathsome, lazy liars. But I think they get an unfair rap, cheered on by a cynical media and misleading social media memes.
I’ve been a Green Party member, activist and officer at local, regional and national levels for ten years. But the honour and joy of working full-time for two Green politicians is a rare one in so small a party. So I thought I’d share some lessons from those seven years, things I would never have guessed before I stepped through the doors of City Hall to work in the London Assembly in September 2009. I imagine that there is nothing very special about my experiences here; that similar things could be said of members and politicians in the Labour Party, or Green MEPs. 1. Greens show remarkably little interest in their politicians Once a month members of the London Green Party can quiz their Assembly Members and MEP about their work. But when the opportunity arises, almost nobody asks them a question. Before I worked with them I knew very…