Are the Greens an alternative?

The success of the Greens in the Euro elections poses some important questions for the left on how to deal with them. Here is a contribution to this discussion from Alastair Stevens.

The failure of the left in England and Wales to create a viable electoral force, and the relative success of the Greens has given the question of the left’s relations with the Green Party a new importance.

The disintegration of the Labour government, the undermining of the whole British party system and the consequent growth of the BNP has also given it a sudden urgency.

The Green Party in action

The Green Party in Britain is often described as the most left wing in Europe. The policies of the party have tended to put them on the left in British politics, but then the yawning void on the left since the advent of New Labour has meant that even the Lib Dems have tried to fish for votes there.

The Greens have also been able to comfortably occupy this space due to their relative distance from power. Other European Green parties have been thrust fairly quickly into power. The electoral system here has meant that they have been mostly excluded from office and the pressures to move right that come with that.

However when they have had electoral success their record has been patchy. The closer they have got to power the less principled they have seemed.

The Green Party has gone into coalition with the Tories in Leeds. In Lewisham they have a base, it is one of their strongest areas in the capital. Yet their councillors there voted for the occupied Lewisham Bridge School to be turned into an academy.

On the London Assembly the Greens played second fiddle to Ken Livingstone’s neo-liberal administration giving it left cover. In reality they did nothing much really against the agenda of turning the city the playground of the rich. Its representatives have been almost invisible, Darren Johnson only popping up in the media to for example join in the attacks on Al-Qaradawi.

As they have become closer to power they have rapidly lost many of their democratic structures. The party that prided itself for its open democratic working has transformed itself quite quickly into a centralised political machine that has tended to revolve around big personalities. This has been seen in the way it moved to having a single leader and in its method of election which over rode the old internal workings of the party.

Darren Johnson, is a case in point. He has accumulated places on bodies at a rate that even Lord Mandelson would be impressed at: “as an Assembly member, Johnson is or has been a member of numerous committees, including the Health and Public Services Committee, the Environment Committee (of which he is the Deputy Chair after chairing for the previous five years), the Transport Committee, the Planning and Spatial Development Committee, the Commission on London Governance, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), the Elections Review Committee and the 7th July Review (London Resilience) Committee. He has also chaired an inquiry on nuclear waste trains for the GLA. He is or has been a member of Lewisham Council’s Council Urgency Committee, Elections Committee, Licensing (Supplementary) Committee, Licensing Committee, Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Marsha Phoenix Memorial Trust. He has represented Lewisham Council on the Local Government Association General Assembly.”

So much for a party that prided itself on its grass roots nature.

His fellow GLA member is Jenny Jones, who is also a councillor in Southwark, a role she has been virtually invisible in.

The Green Parties in Europe

The future for the Green Party may be seen in the behavior of its European partners. They have now been in government in all the major European countries and their record has been patchy tending towards downright awful.

In Germany, whose Green Party is still the most important in the movement, they have been in government in coalition at a national level with the SPD (the German equivalent of Labour) twice. They have been in regional governments since the mid eighties.

Hardly had they got into power in 1999 than they were supporting the war in Kosovo. The front man for this was the new Foreign Minister, and former anarchist street fighter, the Greens’ leader Joschka Fischer. This wasn’t the end of their war-mongering, though, as they also supported the deployment of German troops in Afghanistan.

They supported Agenda 2010 and most of the other neo-liberal attacks from the SPD government on the German working class. In April 2008 in local government they joined coalitions with the main right wing party, the CDU, in Hamburg and Cologne.

Elsewhere the record has not been much different.

In Italy much of the ire about the disastrous debacle the left suffered in the last elections has been directed at the performance in government of Rifondazione Comunista. The “Rainbow” alliance of which it was part along with the other smaller communist party the PCd’I was wiped out and won no seats at all.

Yet the Greens took an identical line in government to Rifondazione, voting for the continued occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and the rest of the neo-liberal reform pushed by Prodi’s government.

The Greens in France entered a similar coalition with Jospin, and followed the same neo-liberal path.

Closer to home in Ireland the Greens entered a coalition government with Fianna Fail, one of the two main parties of Irish capitalism. In the process they managed to put a road through the historically important Hill of Tara.

The Green Party in Ireland is still in government there despite the absolutely vicious round of cuts now being made. This year’s Irish budget has meant an income cut of up to 8% for workers, a 2% cut in welfare payments, and reduced housing benefits for newly unemployed workers aged under 20.

The nature of the Green Party

The Green Party is a middle class party. This is also true of Green parties throughout Europe.

Its origins lie in the early environmental movement of the 1970s. In Britain this actually also means people like Teddy Goldsmith founder of the Ecologist magazine, and the holder like many Greens of some quite reactionary Malthusian ideas.

The growth of the Green Parties came in the eighties as many who had been on the left moved away socialist politics and any class based understanding of society. In fact the growth of these parties marked a decisive rejection of the concept of class. Even today in the British Green Party’s materials you will not find the word class. True to the radical (and often utopian) liberalism that is the philosophical basis of these parties they condemn “wealth inequality”, and various other elliptical constructions, but they don’t call it class.

The middle class nature of the party is obvious to any who come across the party. Recent a recent poll by Yougov shows this up quite explicitly.

By social grade Green voters were shown to have the highest percentage in the ABC1 category, 64%, closest to the Lib Dems’ 61% and Tories’ 60% (Labour voters 53% and BNP 39%.

Green voters had the second highest median income after the Tories, 32k and 33k respectively, ahead of the Lib Dems 29k. Labour and BNP voters had the lowest on 27k.

Green voters were the most likely to have a professional or higher technical job (doctor, account, teacher, lecturer, social worker) on 32% (Lib Dems 26%, Lab 20%, Con 20, BNP 11).

Green voters were the least likely to be a manual worker (skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled) at 12% (the next least likely being the Lib Dems and Tories, 14% each, then Lab 21%, UKIP 23%, BNP voters proving the most likely on 36%).

It would be possible to go but the picture emerging is one that we know well. The middle class focus of the party is reflected in the party’s policies.

These at root look very similar to most radical petit-bourgeois movements which have appeared over the last two hundred years from the sans culottes of the French revolution onwards. This class, caught between the working class on the one hand and the ruling capitalist class on the other tend to fear both. They fear the domination of the bosses and fear being dragged down into the working class. They are usually against both “big business” and “big labour”.

There is an obsession with making everything smaller and more local. The problem with the big banks were, that they were too big for instance.

Something the Greens were proud of during the London elections last year were was the endorsement by the Federation of Small businesses as the party with policies most friendly to small business. This is something that left wing fans of the Greens, tend not to mention, nor for they tend to point out the Green Party’s Greens Mean Business website.

The lamentable statement by Jenny Jones in the London Assembly is indicative of this attitude (see here for the text of her speech).

Faced with the across the board criticism of the RMT’s tube strike, rather than take the opportunity to forthrightly defend the country’s most militant union, and one that has improved immensely the pay and conditions of tube workers, she merely said that she said that she had “a slight sympathy for trade unions”.

She went on to add that she would have voted for the Tories motion condemning the strike if it had been worded slightly differently.

That is not to say that the Greens are the same as the Tories. They support improvements in workers rights. They adopt progressive positions on many economic issues. They are against poverty and exploitation.

The single greatest thing that would improve the lot of working people would be to repeal the anti-union laws so that workers and the unions can fight for themselves for these improvements. Yet this is a commitment you will not find them making.

A defence of workers’ and trade union rights is not central to their politics. They are rather mixed up with the rights of the self-employed and small business in a manner that appears to put both on the same level. In their voluminous programmatic document, the Manifesto for a Sustainable Society, trade unions appear after self- employed workers.

Though there are proposals to tinker with the law and improve the legal position of trade unions, with such changes as “a limited scope to ‘secondary’ industrial action”, and a range of proposals for ‘industrial democracy’ – albeit mixed in with ideas of ‘partnership’ reminiscent of the rhetoric of New Labour, there is no clear call for a wholesale abolition of the Tory anti-union laws. Though this is formally Green Party policy, it does not seem to find its place in their main public policy manifesto.

The appeal of the Greens is in the main limited to its target audience, the educated middle classes. That is their base, and that is the core of the party. Its appeal to the working class is limited. To the poor it has virtually none. This has been shown quite clearly in the recent elections. In the North West for instance, where much of the left did unite behind the Greens they were unable to undercut the BNP’s vote.

The Left and Greens

Dealing with the Greens is difficult. They often position themselves as a party of the left. They can also be as fanatically sectarian as many on the left.

They have a policy of always standing. They stood against George Galloway and Salma Yaqoob in 2004. They refused to deal with Respect when it was formed. They always stand against the Socialist Party’s councillors in Lewisham. Deals with them that work are almost unheard of.

They have carved out an electoral niche for themselves in some of the new bodies that have been created under Labour such s the GLA. It is one they are willing to defend against all comers. This was shown most obviously by the reaction to No2EU.

This important initiative by the RMT and others was greeted in a most hostile fashion. Even the Green Left “condemned” it (the words of a their leading members who also went on to describe it as a “Stalinist inspired political disaster”, showing the Greens can be adept as anyone in the dark art of political invective).

The reaction of another leading member of the Green left was little different calling for the RMT to stand down in case it loses Jean Lambert her seat.

The fact that the Greens have managed to capture the bottom seats in a number of elected bodies under proportional representation voting systems seems to be giving rise to an assumed right of veto by the Greens over any force standing to the left of them. The argument that standing will lose Green X the seat will be the argument at every election.

A section of the left, most notably in Germany and Scandinavia joined the Greens in the 1980s as part of a retreat from class politics. The result was the propelling into power of the Green Party in Germany and elsewhere and rapid accommodation to the system and its priorities.

There is a threat of that happening here. You can already hear those siren voices inside Respect and on the left. The attraction is understandable, both if you take into the consideration the retreat of class politics and the relative success of the Greens compared to the rest of the left.

When fascists are winning seats in the European Parliament and the GLA the temptation to try short cuts and stop them can be overwhelming.

But to really face this challenge what we need is a party that can address the working class with class politics. The nature of the British electoral system, even when using some type of PR (the d’Hondt method used still tends to discriminate against smaller parties) and the political culture of this country means the electoral space on the left of the Labour Party can appear limited.

Yet the Green Party is not that party, and nor can it be. Its hostility to initiatives towards such a party has also shown that cohabitation and cooperation with the Greens is difficult to say the least.

Lessons of history

There is like a hundred years ago a large amount of churn going on in politics throughout Europe, and for once Britain is not an exception (even if it has started later and is happening more slowly). The two party system, with the two parties being that of the bourgeoisie and the trade unions is weakening considerably.

One hundred years ago in both Britain and America the end of a long period of economic growth and stability resulted in numerous challenges to the status quo. There was a fluorescence of movements from female suffrage to anti-colonialism and demands for social and economic reform. In the US it was the era of “progressivism”.

In Britain one of the most important changes that occurred was the creation of the Labour Party by the trade unions and the solidifying of a form of class consciousness (albeit reformist) that would be the bedrock of the workers’ movement for the next 80 years.

The “social democratic” party created was one of the most conservative in Europe, a symptom not of the innate conservatism of British society (in these years Britain and Ireland were amongst the most turbulent of European countries), but of the failure of the left to break more completely with the ideas of well-meaning liberal reform. The fact that so much of the ideology of the new party was formulated by those with elitist attitudes (such as the Webbs with their utterly disdainful view of the abilities of the working class) is indicative of this.

In the US the situation was different. The trade unions failed to form their own party, and the momentarily successful Socialist Party drifted apart and disappeared into a politically abstentionist syndicalism on the left whilst the “right” of the party were outflanked and absorbed by the middle class progressives from whom they had failed to differentiate themselves in any meaningful way.

Rather than moving to class politics, the putative forces of change were swept into broad ‘progressive’ alliances, which fed back into the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of the American capitalist parties, the Republicans and Democrats.

Unity and independence

The project of the Green Party is a different one from ours. We believe that the working class needs a party that is based on class politics.

The Green Party is a middle class party of social reform that espouses a liberal cross class philosophy. It seeks to convince our rulers that it is in their own interest to change.

That is why we will not be joining the Greens, no matter how much more successful at the ballot box they may seem.

Nor should we should we be forming an unequal “alliance” with them, for in the future the left will probably have to fight against things they do, just as has happened in Europe.

But when it come to fighting for the things that working class people need, if the Greens fight we will unite to fight with them for a better world.

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24 Comments

Filed under Broad Parties, elections, Green Party, No2EU, Respect

24 responses to “Are the Greens an alternative?

  1. But is it not possible to argue that the Green party should orient itself to the working class?

  2. ID

    I’m all in favour of socialists who have influence in the Green Party arguing that. If the Green Party (or more realistically, a sizeable section of it) were to embrace working class politics then that would be an excellent development.

    At the moment though, they have not, and we should not delude ourselves about that. I don’t rule it out, but the possibility is fairly distant – there are also better things for socialists to do than bank on that happening.

  3. As Alistair says – the growth of the party in the late 80s and 90s was because of a move away from class politics in response to continued defeats of our class. For a lot of people, the “discourse of derision” against working people and their values has made it easier to make a break with overtly anti-capitalist policies

    But I’m not sure about that distance – I think it is narrowing, and we should reach out rather than speak critically. The party’s leader Caroline Lucas is out as anti-capitalist, has said she’s not frightened of socialism (inching forward from a previous position) and has tried to court support from the unions – far from the party ditching radical policies, it’s prominent members have been calling for wholesale nationalization of the banks. This is in response to events – and we should be glad that a party with support amongst a section of affluent workers is developing an anti-capitalist consciousness.

    I think that’s the reason a lot of Greens, even those who are socialists, were angry about No2EU, is that the RMT went ahead with a rival campaign at short notice – when established MEPs like Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert were defending the seats from which they’ve opposed anti-worker policies and agitated for rail renationalisation.

    My hope is that at the next election there will be non-aggression pacts in place between Respect, the Greens, and others, rather than electoral competition.

  4. ID

    I would argue that however true some of this may be, it is one-sided. I’m not opposed to non-aggression pacts with the Greens as a tactic, but the idea that the Greens themselves can be the alternative the working class needs is a non-starter. And that is what is implied given the hostility of the Greens to every left initiative worth its salt – both Respect and the SA have found agreements with the Greens completely elusive.

    “Condemning” the formation of No2EU is a case in point – this attitude was not one that could concievably lead to pacts of any kind. Since the Greens were running in all regions, this amounted to ‘condemning’ the very act of setting up a union-supported initiative in the first place.

    If the Greens were a genuinely pro-working class party in the sense that is implied by this, then they would be actively seeking to engage and work with working-class and left forces, not ‘condemning’ them for setting up initiatives that may compete with them. The fact that they have this ‘sectarian’ attitude is a class-based phenonemon, in my judgement. Its not just an analogue of intra-left foolishness that goes on from time to time.

    If the Greens expect left campaigns to stand down for them, then they should be prepared to stand down themselves. If they did so, and carried this through, then they might convince someone that they are not simply hostile to the left and that their pro-worker utterances are serious and not just ‘radical’ window dressing. But they never have.

  5. An excellent article Alastair. I hope you dont mind if I repost it on the Respect Supporters Blog tonight. We need to have this sort of discussion inside Respect, discussion that all too often has been avoided in the past (which is why there is an article on the Burga on my blog right now – another issue that has been avoided).

    This web site is turning into an execellent site for discussion of Left ideas – well done everyone.

  6. PhilW

    The description of the failings of the Greens when they come to power is valid, but this stems from reformist politics, i.e. making parliament or local councils or the European parliament the loci of political change, rather than the class struggle. There is nothing particularly unusual about this, as I am sure most of us realise, and it stems in part from the political defeat of the left in the German greens in the 1980’s. But I want to make 3 criticisms of this article:

    1) Using the term “middle class”, which is not part of the marxist lexicon and is therefore just really a term of abuse. Also, using the bourgeois sociological categories “ABC1” etc. to classify the Greens. I don’t think the Greens are sociologically much different from, say, the SWP, which is, or claims to be, a similar size. I note, that by the criteria you use in this article, the BNP would come out as the most “working class” of all the parties.

    2) Regarding non-aggression pacts in elections, I don’t think you can expect the Greens to listen to the left, when the latter presents what would appear to them like a pretty useless rag-bag of alliances and fronts that have close to zero impact. This is especially true when you consider my third point.

    3) The Greens have the distinction of privileging the environment in the propaganda and in some of their activities. You can’t write a coherent critique of the Greens without addressing this issue. You will have no impact on them if you cannot present a political line on the key ecological problems facing the oppressed and exploited of the world. What do you have to say about climate change, for example, and what the socialist response should be?

  7. ID

    See my comment on the other thread in dealing with point 1. ‘Middle class’ is not a term of abuse at all, but a reference to the petty-bourgeoisie, which does not simply consist of shopkeepers but also the rather large managerial, supervisory and sometimes technical layer that regards itself as above the working class in terms of class position and does not identify with the working class (individual exceptions aside).

    Incidentally, the class composition of a party’s membership is not really the main point. The SWP does not have an electoral base. Where a party acquires an electoral base, however, the class composition of its electoral base is very much to the point. The BNP’s whole pitch at the moment is an attempt to appeal to the most alienated sections of the white working class in order to cement divisions with psuedo-class rhetoric mixed with racism – to combat that you need an party that addresses the same layer with a genuine class appeal.

    2. It is not true that the left has had ‘zero impact’. It has had enormous problems with sectarianism, but the Greens make it a point of principle to stand against those sections of the left that have at times had significant impact, including Respect and the SA and SP in situations where they have won councillors or had even a chance of electing MPs. I know of no situation where the Green’s have stood down for the left.

    3. I do not think the Greens have any monopoly of dealing with the environment. It is true that non-working class environmentalists – not just the Green Party – have made positive contributions in pointing out the problems, but that does not mean they have the solutions. Particularly in creating a society where economic resources are under collective, democratic control and solutions can therefore be fully implemented in a planned and comprehensive manner. I don’t think that a Party that boasts about its friendliness to business, or which shows considerable political similarities to parties that have gone along with imperialist wars such as Afghanistan, for instance, can claim any monopoly on such questions or automatic deference.

    This article was about the class nature of the Green Party, not an analysis of its environmental policies, and to say that you cannot criticise its class nature without paying tribute to its environmental credentials implicitly concedes its view that it has a monopoly of these questions. I don’t buy that.

  8. What puzzles me about the article is that I don’t ever recall Greens moaning about “big labour” – or using anti-trade union or anti-socialist rhetoric in their campaign literature.

    Reading back through the thread of comments, ID said correctly “the idea that the Greens themselves can be the alternative the working class needs is a non-starter”.

    I’ve not suggested that the Greens as they are constitute a new workers’ party, by the way. But just as despite the experiences of the SLP, the SA, and Respect, socialists of all tendencies should still strive for unity, so we should also try to approach the greens to work on joint electoral platforms – not by pointing out what we disagree on but what we do agree on.

    My problem with the article is that the tone is negative rather than constructive. Is it not possible that in electoral terms we’ll see something like a left version of the sdp-liberal alliance in the 80s? In other words, a realignment and regroupment of pro-worker activists and politicians…

  9. PhilW

    I know the Greens are sectarian, but the left makes it easier for them by being so internally sectarian and disorganised that the Greens don’t have to pay a price for their behaviour.

    I didn’t say we need to pay tribute to the Greens’ positions on the environment: I said we need to address them. Of course, this article isn’t intended as a debate with the Greens, but if you are going to critique them, you have to do more than say they don’t have a working class outlook and don’t understand that you need to end capitalism to cure environmental problems.

    I’ve seen very little from left groups that integrates environmental activity into their general politics and its disappointing that NO2EU, for example, failed to say anything about climate change in their election propaganda, despite being led by a rail union. That isn’t the way to make (sections of the) Greens take unions seriously.

  10. alastair

    1.
    The defintion of middle class is not meant to be a pejorative, but nor does it lack meaning. It may not have a precise Marxist meaning, but it does have a meaning in this country.

    Britsh society is still a very class aware, if not conscious in the Marxist sense of the word. Most people know what class they are in (and incidentally a majority still say the working class). The “middle class” may be analytically fuzzy, but it is real because many millions of people identify as part of it and identify certain other groups or individuals as being part of it.

    It is not necessarily co-terminus with the petit bourgeoisie, but its attitudes do often coincide with those traditionally associated with that class.

    The figures quoted refer to polls on voting intentions conducted before the European elections, a high water mark for the Greens. The core support of the Greens is much smaller. It seems likely then that the Euro election support is more representative of the electorate than their usual vote, and it is still obviously a very middle class vote, even the most middle class of all the parties.

    The comparison with the SWP doesn’t necessarily work because the polling data was for the electorate, not for the membership. While it is true that there are similarities in the professional make up of the two (lots of teachers and social workers, something true of the left in general) there are still differences.

    Greens in my experience have a greater tendency to become managers, a path that many socialists still balk at. Those that do take that path usually end up leaving active socialist politics.

    The core Greens of the Greens does also seem to be more classically petit bourgeois than the the left. Associated with the Greens (and environmental movement in general) is a layer of small business owners and the like running vegan restaurants, recycling businesses, organic breweries, ethical investment firms etc. This seems to be quite an influential layer (it probably provides a major part of the financial backing of the Greens).

    The Greens do have an audience (or potential audience) amongst a layer of the white-collar working class where it fringes into the middle classes (such as professionals such as teachers and social workers who’s labour has been progressively proletarianised, but which has its origins in the middle classes or who tend to aspire to a middle class lifestyle) and who would have traditionally orientated on the Labour Party. This is an important part of a potential audience of a new workers’ party.

    2.
    Phil is right, this article is not addressed to the Greens. The point of this article is address the question of what sort of new party we need and how it might be built.

    In reality the Greens are a marginal force in British politics. The Greens party’s membership is only 7,000 or so (according to the accounts at the electoral commission) which isn’t vastly different from say the registered membership of the SWP (though of course the SWP probably maintain a higher level of activity).

    The rise of the Greens, and of some of the other “fringe” parties which are rising at the moment are expanding to fill a political vacuum left by the complete consensus at the heart of British politics amongst the same two or three parties which in one combination or another have domninated British politics for 150 years.

    The strength of the Greens is a reflection of the lack of a stable, national alternative to the left of Labour.

    The reality is there is limited space in the British electoral system for other parties. If anyone thinks that the Greens are suddenly are going to change their orientation to being towards the working class will wait in vain, it would be asking to go against their nature, a party of the middle classes with a philosophy derived from a radical liberalism.

    Any growth of the Greens will most likely, and all the evidence form elsewhere points towards this, result in a party that accommodates to the system. This can also happen with class based parties of the left, in the form of reformism, but along the way they can also cause a countervailing tendency to this, which is the strengthening and politicisation of working class organisation.

    We will need to stay absolutely focused on the idea of a politics of class and orientating a new party on working class audience rather than fishing for progressive votes wherever we can. This is going to be an uphill struggle considering the effects of 30 years of neo-libearlism.

    But we need to keep our eyes on the prize and not be dazzled by the short term success of other forces. We have much to do. Trying to win a few green activists over when there is a growing unease and willingness to break with labour amongst wide layers of working class activists and in the labour movement seems like a distraction and could lead to a number of fudges and attempts at pacts and compromises which go nowhere.

    This is all the more so the case given that the Greens have been fairly consistently unwilling to deal with the left. There attitude to the defence of positions they have won seems to amount to a permanent veto on anyone else standing.

  11. The Green party’s electoral strategy currently involves the tactic of winning over disillusioned Labour voters. Hence the focus on the “green new deal” and the economy at the Euro elections. And it’s not a case of waiting, there are socialists within the greens arguing for pro-worker policies and alliances with the left.

    So I don’t see the Greens as a threat to assertive working class politics – better that more affluent voters are turning away from the neoliberal parties, surely?

  12. PhilW

    “The rise of the Greens, and of some of the other “fringe” parties which are rising at the moment are expanding to fill a political vacuum left by the complete consensus at the heart of British politics amongst the same two or three parties which in one combination or another have domninated British politics for 150 years.”

    This argument is only partially true, in my opinion. The Greens are also identified with an issue that other parties – including the left – leave out, or pay weak lip-service to. This explains why they are are able to command significant support even when they are following neo-liberal policies, as in Germany, or social liberalism, as in France, in alliance with the CP (Portugal). For some (mainly working class, but probably more economically secure) people, the environment is a priority. This is not a completely irrational choice for them, especially in the absence of a coherently presented class position on the environment, and climate change in particular.

    I think Alastair’s observation about the impact of small “eco” etc. businesses on the Green Party is interesting and helps to explain the class tensions in the party. You meet people from this social layer at Green Fairs, community festivals etc.

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  14. This is a comment (there wre others also blocked) that I would have posted on the Socialist Unity site but all my posts about the Greens have been blocked for the last 24 hours since they did so bad in Norwich North – strange:

    “They almost gained 10% of the vote and more than 3,000 votes. This is the highest ever by-election vote for the Greens. It must be remembered that Norwich North is not the seat they have been targeting -this is Norwich South where they are likely to do much better.”

    Actually is was a very bad result for the Greens in what is clearly a “target area” even if not a target seat. There was much “big up” once again with talk of third or even second place – the Greens came 5th! When the Greens get a little more humble and start to talk to the rest of the Left and work with others then and only then will there be chance for them to brake through the 7% – 12% ceiling that they get as a protest vote – seen as an alternative Liberal Party by many. What is clear is that most Labour voters who stayed away in 1000’s did not turn and will not turn to the Green Party as an alternative. If the Greens cant pick up votes in this situation when the Lavour vote collapsed then kiss good by to any Green MP in the next election (winning the odd Council seat is not the same as winning in a whole constituency).

    Ian Gibson who was liked and admired in Norwich North should consider sanding as an Independent Labour/Socialist candidate in the election and should be supported by all on the Left (like Dai Davis in Blaenau Gwent) – would the Greens stand against him? – my guess is they would.

  15. It’s hard to say for sure what Greens in Norwich North would have done but recall that in the election for the mayor of London, the Greens backed Ken for second preference and vice versa.

    This suggests that were the electoral system to change from FPTP to AV or STV the Greens would enter electoral agreements (and in any case, there is a debate going on within the Greens about electoral agreements and joint platforms in the context of AV/STV.)

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  24. It sounds like both you and your girlfriend need to talk to the doctor at the testing centre. It is very difficult to try and find out when someone became positive, but this might involve you both having your tests confirmed. You can not infect someone if you are HIV negative. I think the term that may have been used is DISCORDANT couple. This is used when one person is positive and the other is negative. Lots of positive people have relationships with negative people and this can include having children. Treatment for your girlfriend can reduce the chance of the baby having HIV.

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