Sunday, 13 January 2013

Electoral Strategy by Peter Allen & Comments by Sean Thompson

Electoral Strategy
I do not for one moment think that electoral politics is all there is, or even that it should always be a central focus of the GPEW’s political activity. I am in full agreement with Sean Thompson’s view that the Green Party must
 “ be alongside working people in their workplaces and homes and neighbourhoods with the aim, not of ‘building the Party’ but of raising the general level of consciousness and contributing in concrete ways towards building the movement. Without in any way trimming or concealing our own politics, our first priority should be aiming to be the most reliable and robust allies of every group under attack rather than merely proselytisers of our own programme.” (“Where Now For The Green Party ? July 2012 link here )
Nevertheless   the Green Party does participate in electoral politics, most of its members believe that it should and it is in practice at least one of our principal activities.
The following is an attempt to outline an electoral strategy for the GPEW in the period ahead (actually for the rest of this 5 year Parliament) and is offered a contribution to what I hope will be an ongoing debate.
In brief (perhaps to be elaborated on in debate- I hope !)  the electoral strategy has three distinct elements

1)     In local elections combining the proven success of “target to win” campaigns with more general resource light propaganda campaigns, based on electronic and social media, which aim to put over our “core messages” of “social justice” and “sustainable economics” at every opportunity.*

2)     In next year’s European Election running a national campaign, based on these core messages, recognising that proportional voting allows us to target our genuine supporters and sympathisers, without in any way having to trim our politics in order to appeal to a majority of voters. If such a campaign attracted the support of 10% of voters nationally, which I believe it could, then it would also mean that we would have MEPs elected in many , if not most, regions. This would be an important and welcome outcome but should not be regarded as the central objective of the campaign, which should instead be the establishment of the GPEW as the principal  representative of the substantial minority of voters who regard themselves as left of Labour.

3)      In the following year’s General Election restricting our efforts to serious and     hopefully successful campaigns in a handful of constituencies across the country, possibly one in each region, and obviously including Brighton Pavillion, contesting local elections held on the same day as outlined above. More contentiously perhaps I think that we should call for a Labour vote in all seats that we are not contesting, except in Wales where we might wish to call for voters to support  Plaid Cymru (asking them to “stand down “ in our Welsh target seat ?) ,or the candidate best placed to defeat the sitting “Government MP” (Conservative or LibDem) in the handful of Welsh seats that they hold.

Our “support” for Labour would be qualified and openly so. It might have been prefaced by a formal approach to the Labour Party for them to stand down in our “target seats”, an approach that we would make with no expectation of success but which might impress our  potential voters in the target seats (as well as in the local elections), demonstrating  that the GPEW is indeed interested in a “new politics” and is firmly committed to driving out what by then will be, for many voters, an even more detested government than it already is.

Our “support” would also involve a setting out of some minimum demands that  we might reasonably expect an incoming Labour Government to commit itself to (eg a green jobs programme and measures to reduce income and wealth inequality ) on the basis of  a claim that we are “delivering”  a quarter of the votes that Labour will need in order to form a government.

The above is based in part on my experience as a Parliamentary candidate in 2010 (and at a by election in 2011) when I found, as I am sure other candidates did, a large groundswell of support for our “core messages” combined with a reluctance to cast a  “wasted” vote for us when the obvious priority was to” keep the Tories out”. The desperation of many voters to get the Tories (and their Lib Dem accomplices ) out will be overwhelming and the Green Party can perhaps best contribute to this by trying to make the  only plausible alternative government slightly less bad than it would otherwise be.

*Our record in Brighton raises an obvious problem but one which we will just have to deal with. My views here in no way mean that I have changed my views in relation to B&H council, which I have written about here 

COMMENTS By Sean Thompson

The differences between reformist and revolutionary politics are not (or not all) programmatic. The programme outlined in the Communist Manifesto for example, while extremely radical for its time, could well have been adopted in whole or it part, by reformist politicians. The Bolshevik demands of Land, Bread and Peace war not unique to them, nor were they necessarily revolutionary. 

The real difference between reformists and revolutionaries is in how far they are prepared to take modest and reasonable demands, like more equality and the right to work, what limitations on them they are ready to accept on the struggle to achieve them and what mechanisms they are prepared to use in order to implement them. Thus, discussing electoral tactics is in no way necessarily reformist, but the assumption that electoral tactics are the only ones available, useable or acceptable is.

I think that these suggestions are very helpful and the article should, in my view, both go up on the GL website and be submitted to Green World.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The revolutionary left do not believe that the electoral process can bring about real change, this is why revolutionary leftists do not participate in the electoral process.

The left who do participate are all reformists, for example in Cyprus the Communist party is in power but absolutely in no way is Cyprus a Communist country.

Always when these people/parties get into power there is an agenda of reforming capitalism, not abolishing it.