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Courage vs Cowardice; Green vs Ukip

A reflection on the political environment, post-Rochester…

So, UKIP have won the Rochester and Strood by-election. But note well; with less than six months to go before the most wide-open General Election of our time there are two Parties on the rise in England (plus the SNP, in Scotland): UKIP, who are still getting the majority of the headlines; and the Green Party, whose membership is skyrocketing and who have stolen up to equal or overtake the Lib Dems in the polls, as most recently in this YouGov poll this week. See http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/kocfpy6y21/YG-Archive-Pol-Sun-results-171114.pdf & http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/6100690/green-party-record-high-yougov-poll.html. Plus, the Green Party’s membership in Scotland has grown even faster proportionately than the SNP’s since the #IndyRef. UKIP have been getting increasing levels of support on the basis of their allegedly being politicians (or even ‘anti-politicians’) who ‘tell it like it is’. Who give voice to ‘uncomfortable truths’.
But nothing could be further from the truth. UKIP are in fact a party of cowards, mere ‘populist’ opportunists, who tell one section of the electorate exactly what it wants to hear. Most notably, the following two craven and cowardly lies:
  • ‘The problems you are facing are not the result of globalised free-trade and unrestrained corporate power. Blame the problems you are facing on immigrants instead.’
  • ‘The winter floods were nothing to do with human economic activity. You don’t need to change your way of life in the slightest, and big business should simply be allowed to let rip. 
‘Human-influenced climate-chaos isn’t happening.’
Neo-liberalism – the ideology that grips the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, and most of the Labour Party ever since Tony Blair took over – is an ideology of cowardice. As Richard Murphy has pointed out in his book THE COURAGEOUS STATE, neo-liberalism is all about the state adopting a position of cowardly subservience to business elites. UKIP simply takes this ideology of cowardice – a refusal to even try to build a juster and more equal society, a refusal to challenge corporate dominance, a refusal to face up to the environmental crisis, a refusal to facilitate a green transformation of our economy and society, a refusal to say anything that will offend business elites or sections of the electorate which are being courted – to new levels, to new and dangerous extremes of absurdity and denial. UKIP encourages voters to look for scapegoats (most notably, immigrants) rather than solutions, and embraces ostrich-like climate-denial in order not to have to face up to the huge challenge of remaking our economy and society in a way that will forestall climate-catastrophe. This is the politics of cowardice.
UKIP are cowards. 
They will say anything that their ultra-rich backers want them to, and they will say anything if it will help them to get elected. No matter that what they say is utterly reckless, and a bunch of lies and distortions. They don’t care. They are mere opportunists; here today and gone tomorrow.
The Green Party by contrast has always had the courage to be ahead of its time, and to say what is true. And now, at last, the times are catching up with us: more and more people are realising that a new post-growth paradigm is needed, that change is coming and that we need to rise to the challenge. Greens have the guts to tell it like it is:
  • The ecological crisis is the greatest crisis the human race has ever faced, and that it requires us to make bold changes, quickly, if we want our children and our children’s children to inherit an Earth that is not devastated;
  • The limits to growth – the planetary boundaries – are real, and we are breaching them;
  • We need to shift to a new post-growth paradigm that will return us to ‘one-planet-living’, that is, to living as if we only had one planet (which we do!);
  • The levels of inequality now present in our society are so extreme that they threaten to undermine the very existence of a society, in which we can all be in this together;
  • The wealth of the super-rich and of the corporate elite including crucially the bankers’ elite (who caused the financial crisis that started in 2007 and that is still with us today) is so overwhelming that it threatens the very existence of democracy, and threatens to be replacing it with plutocracy;
  • It is xenophobic as well as false to blame our problems on immigrants (see me making this point live on BBC TV, against my Cambridge MP-race opponent Patrick O’Fynn, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbdtf8djUl0 );
  • But also, for a whole panoply of reasons, covering everything from reducing energy-use to reducing corporate-power, and from increasing social cohesion to increasing resilience, we should work together to create a less hyper-mobile world, a relocalised world in which capital, goods, services and people are more strongly tied to their home-countries than is currently the case.
We have the courage to tell it like it is, and to facilitate a courageous state that will be willing to rise to the challenges that together we face. So as to build a better quality of life together. A life that can be more secure, and in which people and nature alike can flourish. A society based firmly on courage — rather than cowardice.
To sum up:
  • UKIP – cowards, who will say anything to get elected. Hardly surprising, in a party of knee-jerk ‘populists’.
  • Greens: Citizens with the courage to face the future. And with faith enough in people to realise that in the end it is better to base what you do and say in truth than on wilful delusion and lies.
This is the real fault-line of our times. This is a real ideological divide, one actually worth voting over,
and fighting for.
So, as we note the remarkable success of UKIP in Rochester, let’s also note that, away from the headlines, and in spite of a near media-blackout (most notably, on ITV, which – scandalously – refused to include the Green Party in its by-election debate, even though it included the Lib Dems), the Greens beat the Lib Dems in a by-election again at Rochester, by miles (the Greens scored 1692 votes; the LibDems, a derisory 349). The Greens’ case for inclusion in the TV debates is getting ever stronger, as the Lib Dems’ gets ever weaker.
There is a real anti-establishment insurgent Party in British politics. And if you’ve read this far, you’ll know which one it is…

We Need An Alternative To Neo-Liberalism

Please read my new post http://shiftinggrounds.org/2014/11/we-need-an-alternative-to-neo-liberalism/.

“People are waking up to the reality that the old politics is dead… People are waking up to the cowardice of the neo-liberal consensus… Greens are able to offer something new; a renewed vision that puts people, not profit first.”

rupert read greensurge