Greens – fisting isn’t the way forward.

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The Familiar

A raft of recent articles have been discussing the Greens becoming a more overtly socialist party. I wholeheartedly disagree with that idea.

Not just because all that fisting makes me cringe.

It stops me taking the fister seriously.

You might be saying something critically important which I’m totally behind but all I can see is that fist.

Fist = Tommy Sheridan

Solidarity = Tommy Sheridan

Comrade = Tommy Sheridan

Gives me the Boak.

Yet another ism with a genuine point routinely hijacked by people who know the right way to piss off the electorate from atop high horses then blame voters for not ‘getting it’.

Don’t get me wrong – good on you being a socialist.

Good on your fisting.

I’m happy to be part of a party with a healthy diversity of political ideologies – including those of us who simply identify as green. Socialists bring a lot to the Greens, I support a lot of our ‘socialist’ policies and people.

Shhhhh

I used to be a socialist.

Until 2001.

So it’s not that I don’t ‘understand’ – I get you fisters – I do!

I know it’s honestly done and holds symbolic value.

On yersel’ – fist away! It’s not harming anyone.

You do you.

I just don’t think it’s helpful.

Greens talk a lot about targeting and getting out the ‘working class vote’ – which I think is grand if you’re working class. Patronising if you’re not. I’m absolutely not saying only working class people can support working class issues. I’m saying a bunch of middle class people tactically fisting – making eyes at working classic voters – is contrived and disingenuous.

Maybe I’m just a middle class elitist who has done ok out of the class war. Maybe I actually am a socialist by your definition. Thing is – I’m Mrs Average, Mrs Suburban Housewife – I’m a WAG.

Know thine enemy.

Or in my case – become thine enemy.

When other suburban stay at home mums discuss politics with me they are supportive of us. The policies they support are the same policies chanted at mass protests and rallies. The difference is cosmetic. Presentation. Perception.

I’m proud that we can appeal to middle class housewives and to that annoying guy at uni who protests against animal testing but sees no irony in his class A drug consumption.

Like the nats are united by their desire for independence.

So, we are united by our desire to protect our environment.

There is wide support across the political spectrum for a party who makes the environment its priority. It’s also an area where we are likely to garner a great deal of consensus, traction and political good will.

There is a place for us.

To stand as explicitly socialist party (or to be perceived as such) relegates that unifying factor to second place. And we just become another bunch of lefties squabbling over a diminishing vote share.

So fist away if that’s your thing but don’t kid yourself that the fight for our future can be won using the symbols of the past.

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One thought on “Greens – fisting isn’t the way forward.

  1. adamaramsay says:

    Thanks, important thoughts.

    I have a few immediate reactions:

    first, I don’t think anyone in the party believes that what you might call traditional socialist iconography is the path to more working class votes. Votes are secured by a) understanding people’s concerns and showing how Green politics will address them and b) communicating that (and finding out about them) through years of knocking on doors.

    Second, though, I think it’s a real shame if we allow important words like ‘solidarity’ to be co-opted by Tommy Sheridan. It was the hashtag used by student activists in 2010 and the watch-word of ship-builders organising against the oppressive East German state. It conveys a meaning: that we stand together because our struggles are bound up together, which I don’t think any other word conveys. I’m not saying we should shout it randomly from the rooftops. But I do think it is a moving and powerful concept which we shouldn’t let a shouty megalomaniac claim from the rest of us.

    Third, I think that the reason iconography can matter is it helps some to locate us within an historical tradition. I tend to see the party as a vital alliance between parts of Scotland’s socialist tradition and its radical liberal tradition. Those from the former will feel they wish to own and claim their history, and say to others who feel part of that tradition that they are welcome here. I equally hope that those from the radical liberal traditions who secured key wins for Crofters in the 19th century and the Peoples’ Budget in the early 20th feel able to express themselves if they so wish.

    Fourth, I don’t think anyone is average. Scotland (like every country) is a complex mosaic of communities, ethnicities, cultures, histories, incomes, and opinions. The median household in Scotland earns £23,000 a year, lives somewhere a little North East of Glasgow, in a house worth £132,000. I have no idea if any of those things apply to you, but even if they did, I would think you aren’t average – you’re ace :). In any case, very few such people exist, and if they did, they wouldn’t be the target for Greens. Every other party fights hard for the centre ground. Smaller parties can only ever succeed by mobilising others, outside the centre.

    Finally, I think that making the environment a priority needs to be filled with some meaning, and as soon as we propose to do something about the environment, we locate ourselves on a political spectrum: do we think the market is best placed to solve these problems, or the community, or the state? If we believe in a ban in fracking, then we are saying private capital should not be free to interfere with certain social goods. That is, essentially a socialist, or at least left wing, anti-market belief. If we think that the state should invest in better public transport so that people don’t depend so much on their private cars, then that is a collectivist, and therefore left wing opinion. If, on the other hand, we care about the environment but we don’t believe in state action; we think that businesses (perhaps under pressure from consumers) can be trusted to do the right thing, then why are we a political party, rather than an organisation lobbying businesses? Even were we to focus solely on environmental concerns, we can’t escape the fact that what we propose: that the market shouldn’t be free if that means destroying the planet, is an inherently left wing idea.

    Like

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