That ‘capable, most extraordinary politician’ Caroline Lucas has announced she is stepping down as leader of the Green Party. It says here this is ‘part of a strategy centred on challenging the Liberal Democrats at the next election.’
I wonder if the Greens will succeed in this objective or, indeed, if they are aware of the strategic opportunity that is staring them in the face?
In the recent London Mayor elections Jenny Jones, the Green candidate, came third and did beat the Lib Dems. But will her party overcome their prevailing image as a bunch of environmental dreamers as out of touch with the needs of today’s world as a Woodstock hippy stick-in-the-mud awaiting the resurrection of Jimi Hendrix?
After all, Ms Jones spent ten years of her life as an paleobotanist in the Middle East ‘studying carbonised plant remains’ which does rather summarise the Green image. How can they unhinge themselves from the environmental shackles which bind them (ooh-er)?
My instinct is that there is a strategically viable, more relevant positioning the Greens could exploit where:
i) the Greens, and only the Greens, can build on the integrity, conviction and long-term commitment they have shown to their cause
ii) differentiate themselves from the more established parties
iii) appeal to a wider electorate than those engrossed by environmental issues.
My insight is that Green is the only political party in Britain with the foresight to think about how we live today will affect our children tomorrow.
After all, as Ken Livingstone himself pointed out in his pitiful losing Mayoral speech, ours is the first generation in the history of man to leave a worse world behind us than generations before.
Surely this is what the Greens have been banging on about all along?
If they can position themselves as the only ‘long-term thinking’ (LTT) party and apply this positioning to issues beyond the environment including the long-term effects of austerity and the shambles the Coalition are making of welfare, the NHS, police, education, child benefits, divided Britain et al, you kind of think more people might go Green.
The Greens simply need to recruit acknowledged experts in each Department of State and for these people to work between now and the next General Election to develop credible and practical policies that meet both the short and long-term needs of the country. In this way, a credible Shadow Cabinet may emerge from the hills, valleys, icecaps, oceans and out-of-space places where these Green people currently reside.
No doubt some of these experts might be disaffected Lib Dems whose parliamentary party have shown themselves to be a bunch of unprincipled chancers with no democratic right whatsoever to hold the Government positions onto which they cling (or, in the case of David Laws and Chris Huhne, not).
As I said last year, if they had any integrity at all, the Lib Dems should have split from the Coalition straight after the AV fiasco. By not doing so, they lost any shred of integrity and conviction they might have held – and are themselves guilty of the opportunistic short-term thinking they have dumped on the rest of us. They are destined to be hoisted by their own petard (and were at the recent local elections).
By emphasizing their established long-term commitment to a better world for future generations and widening their sphere of interest, the Greens may have a brighter future than they think.