Monday, 22 February 2010

Greens edge to the left

A Report on GP spring Conference by Sean Thompson

At its conference in London over the past weekend, the Green Party provided more evidence of its gradual evolution from a narrow environmentalist sect into a left social democratic party with a strong emphasis on ecological issues.

First, the conference passed with large majorities two resolutions drafted by members of Green Left; one pledging support for the National Pensioners’ Convention and its election manifesto, and the other calling for the imposition of a top limit to the pay and bonus differentials in all organisations, so the maximum wage that any organisation could pay would be ten times that of the lowest paid worker.

Second, the conference showed that Greens are moving away from the wooly and simplistic suspicion of science and technology that some of them have demonstrated in the past and adopting a much more rational and rigorous approach. In its revue of the Party’s health policy, conference removed all the egregious anti-science references in it that had previously been such an embarrassment, and reversed its previous opposition to the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research. In addition, the party abandoned its absurd demand that scientists and 'technologists' – alone among all citizens – be required to sign a pledge of environmental purity, and agreed to undertake a review and rewrite of the whole the science and technology section of its core policy document, now renamed ‘Policies for a Sustainable Society’.

Third, the make-up of the membership is clearly starting to change. Over the past year, party membership has increased by around two and a half thousand and is now hovering close to ten thousand (and rising). The number of young faces at the conference has clearly grown over the last year or so, as has the number of new members coming from the ranks of the ex-Labour diaspora. As one member, attending her first conference, remarked “I used to think of the Greens as single issue obsessives, but now I believe the Party represents the principles I spent thirty years fighting for in the Labour Party, informed by a realisation of the scale and urgency of the environmental crisis we face.”

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