Tendance Coatesy

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Are the new Joint Green Party Leaders a Left Alternative to Labour?

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Will Greens Encourage Left Politics?

The Green Party has elected its two co-leaders:


  • Denyer: “We are at a crucial moment in history and it is clear that the other major political parties have failed”
  • Ramsay: “More than ever, we need strong Green voices to make the compelling case for a Green transition, a just transition”

Like the French Greens (EELV), whose candidate for President in 2022 was announced two days ago it was thought that timing the result to coincide with the German Bundestag result would boost their impact. The German Bündnis 90/Die Grünen– Greens – did well, 14.8+5.8%. But talk of their candidate, Annalena Baerbock, 40,  becoming Chancellor, came to nothing.

This is what the new Green co-leaders say,

“We’re determined to see more Greens elected in England and Wales,” said Mr Ramsay. “We’re here because we want to lead our party to success … to be the real opposition to this feeble Conservative government.”

The Green Party has only one MP, Caroline Lucas, but has three members on the London Assembly and around 400 councillors across England and Wales

In the UK there is now also a new angle.

Immediately commentators have rushed to proclaim that the Greens (that is, the Green Party in England and Wales, GPEW, the Scottish Greens already have a “power-sharing deal” with the right-of-centre, left-of-centre, always nationalist SNP), are about to become a left-wing alternative to Labour,

The Greens are perfectly poised to become a major force on the British left

Matthew Butcher

“The Labour party leadership is trying to shed its leftwing image, but, as journalist Stephen Bush has pointed out, that means potentially losing a serious political constituency. Labour may talk a good game on climate investment, but its economically illiterate allusions to treating the nation’s budget like a “household” is unlikely to wash with the large chunk of the electorate who have emerged from the pandemic wanting higher spending, more generous benefits and public ownership. And that’s before we even begin to speak about Labour’s pledge to continue deportation flights if it enters government, or its refusal to seriously rethink the UK’s failing drug policies. Compare the ideas and energy I saw coming out of the World Transformed festival this week with the shadow cabinet speeches, and you can see the political waters in which the Greens should be swimming.

As fires rage across the world, and homes and businesses are flooded in the UK, it’s no surprise that we see consistently high levels of concern about the climate crisis. The government and the Labour party are taking fairly serious steps forward on the issue, but by focusing on it they only reinforce its importance, and drive many voters toward the only party seen as putting it first – the Greens.”

There is some truth in the idea that the emergence of Green issues, “global warming”, “climate change”, and “climatic disruption”, as well as “environmental destruction”, “weather destabilization”, and “environmental collapse” are going to encourage some to vote Green.

Some people may equally believe this…

Denyer and Ramsay were in some ways the “safe bet” for the party, but their pledge to “transform society to create a brighter future for all” is a bold one.

Supporters of a darker future may disgree.

Having followed the debates in the Green Party in England and Wales I would say that the vast majority of then, when not about what nice people the candidates were, was winning seats in elections, and something about ecological, that is, Green issues. Did they mention trade unions? One may have missed it….

This is what the two successful candidates said about their platform (Left Foot Forward),

They say their goal is to have 900 councillors elected by 2025 and to be in political control of 40 councils. The pair also say they will aim to have a second Green MP elected by then.

They have pledged ‘to take back the Green New Deal from Labour’ and have placed a Green recovery from the pandemic as a major focus point, pledging green jobs, warm homes, a Universal Basic Income, restoring nature and active travel.

Denyer, councillor for the Bristol ward of Clifton Down, proposed the first Climate Emergency declaration in Europe, committing Bristol to go carbon neutral by 2030 and the pair are hoping that their combined political experience will appeal to members.

Nothing about the kind of weighted social and economic transformative programme developed by the team around John McDonnell or this limited list by Keir Starmer,

“We can unite around a programme that is credible and that will put us into a position to go into government.

 promised to spend an extra £28bn a year on making the UK economy more “green”, phase out business rates and ensure tech giants pay more tax, increase council and affordable housing stocks, increase the minimum wage to at least £10 an hour and end charitable status for private schools.

There is no reason to deny that the Greens have ideas to contribute, to the left, and elsewhere, even a possible debate in Universal Basic Income, which doles out the same money to the Duke and the Dustman, and leaves unresolved the issue of a living income for those who would rely on nothing else.

Indeed, the GPEW are not, thankfully, the same as the Austrian Green Party, Die Grünen – Die Grüne Alternative in coalition with the Christian Democrat anti-immigrant, (but less so than the actual far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ)), People’s Party (ÖVP).

We, the European Greens, congratulate Die Grünen for voting in favour of entering a government coalition with the People’s Party (ÖVP).

Green Wave strengthened further as Austria’s Die Grünen become 4th European Green Party currently in government (2020).

Nor are they the same as the French Greens, who have just had a tight race to become the 2020 Presidential candidate, in a primary election open to all who signed a declaration of values and paid a nominal sum.

104,772 people took part to decide on the candidate who does not represent EELV but also,  Pôle écologiste Génération.sGénération écologie, and  Cap écologie

In the GPEW vote,

CandidateCarla Denyer and
Adrian Ramsay
Tamsin Omond and
Amelia Womack
Shahrar Ali
First pref.5,062 (43.9%)3,465 (30.1%)2,422 (21.0%)
Final round6,273 (61.6%)5,088 (38.8%)Eliminated

Jadot, the only French Greens member with nationwide name recognition, has promised a pragmatic “solutions-driven” approach to environmental policies.

His runoff rival Sandrine Rousseau, sometimes called an “eco feminist”, sprang a surprise in the first round of online voting last week, finishing a close second out of five candidates with 25.14 percent, compared to Jadot’s 27.7 percent.

Analysts credited the strong performance to Rousseau’s feminist credentials after she went public with allegations of sexual harassment against a Greens leader during the #MeToo movement.

Her radical proposals on the economy and environment — she wants to introduce a minimum living wage and significantly increase fuel prices and taxes on the rich — have also mobilised the party base

(note this blog watched their lengthy debates, and social issues took second or third place to er, Green subjects)

But in Tuesday’s online primary runoff Rousseau had to concede with just under 49 percent of votes, failing to win over party sceptics who disliked her moves to switch focus from traditional Green concerns into social and economic territory.

People are already suggesting that the supporters of Rousseau are poised to vote for other candidates than Jadot in the 2022 elections.

That’s as may be. But the French ecologists look much more serious than the GPE, if only in the numbers they have involved in their candidate election.

We will watch with attention if, as some are now suggesting, the English and Welsh Greens take the role of a left party. But given the kind of largely non-socialist people who run the GPEW and have got elected as councillors, it is unlikely even that they would take any interest whatsoever in such an idea. Will they get involved in this list of radical campaigns with the broad social and trade union input of the Labour radical left? Would they bring radical left ideas to them? Is “their first challenge is to show they can channel the insurgency of Corbynism, the Climate Strikers and Kill the Bill protesters? One could add, could they turn the elitist avant guard of Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain to mass audiences? It will need a lot of their “new enthusiasm” to make an impact – given the numbers who voted in the GPEW election….11,361.

The small, if not tiny, minority of radical truly left (Marxisant, socialist altermondialistes, or anarchist) greens in the GPEW might however get behind the strategy. They may not be a ‘major force’ to compete with Labour but that looks like at least a potential for them to rival for the SWP and TUSC…

Written by Andrew Coates

October 1, 2021 at 2:04 pm

French Greens Face Challenge from Historic Ecologist, Antoine Waechter, opposed to idea that ecologists are part of the “political landscape of the left.”

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Antoine Waechter, le 16 mai 2014.

72 Years Old and still Fighting Left-Wing Ecologists.

Today one of the historic figures of the French Green movement announced his own, unasked for, candidacy for the Presidency of the French Republic.

 The ecologist Antoine Waechter candidate for the presidential election.

The 72-year-old environmental engineer wishes through his candidacy “to affirm what constitutes the identity of ecological thought, beyond the right and the left“. (1)

Dubbed by some ‘the walking dead’ Waechter is somebody this Blog (which can recall his antics in the 1980s…) would happily qualify as the personification of everything wrong with Green “beyond left and right politics.” And a lot more. He is standing under the banner of the Mouvement écologiste indépendant (MEI).

This is the current line up of declared and potential Presidential candidates from the French Left. Some, such as Anasse Kazib from Révolution Prolétarienne, will struggle to get the 500 nominations from elected figures (which include local councillors, right down to the small councils which in the UK would be known as ‘town’ councils which here have little power). There are, for example, 35,000 mayors in France.

As indicated below the Ecologists (EELV) and their allies, Génération.sGénération écologieCap écologie et le Mouvement des progressistes)  have yet to decide on their candidate. 112,000 people who have signed a statement of broad agreements and paid a nominal sum began voting in the first round today, the 16th of September. That will end on Sunday, the 19th. Without an outright winner there will be a second round between the 25th to the 28th of September. It is said that is timed to coincide with the German Federal elections (26th of September) in which their counterparts, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, were expected to do well.

Although the French Greens have debated democratic Constitutional Reforms, education, employees’ democracy in enterprises, and taxes for the wealthy and big companies, the bulk of their platform and proposal concerns issues such as climate change, ending nuclear power, and the protection of the environment and animals.

Waechter may call them left-wing but the front runner, Yannick Jadot has talked in the past  « pragmatisme », and une écologie au delà du clivage gauche / droite (beyond the left-right divide). One could say that some of the candidats’ interest in ‘de-growth’ (décroissance), a steady-state or severely limited growth economy stands at odds with the socialist and Marxist approach to developing the productive forces in a durable and sustainable way. Eco-socialism is not on the agenda of the French Greens, they have no clear views on the socialisation of production and full equality There are equally issues which even the most radical Greens have only begun to tackle, like the use of private cars, which is a major cause of ecological damage.

Eagle-eyed readers will note Pierre Larrouturou listed, who from the micro-party, Nouvelle Donne (once close to the Parti Socialiste), who is standing in the initiative the ‘primaire populaire ‘, a self-organised effort at holding a primary for all the left. 83,000 people signed up.

Speaking on France-Inter this morning Christiana Taubira, who has been at the top of those said to win the primaire populaire, even “plebiscited” by it, said, that she does not want to “contribute to the splintering of the left” in an election the left “cannot afford to lose”. To avoid a further multiplication of campaigns on the left she did not wish to be the 7th or 8th left candidate. Taubira, she underlined, would still find her place in backing the left during the 2022 elections.


Nathalie ArthaudLOLutte Ouvrière December 2020
Anasse KazibRPRévolution ProlétarienneApril 2021
Philippe PoutouNPANouveau Parti anticapitalisteJune 2021
Jean-Luc MélenchonLFILa France insoumiseNovember 2020
Fabien RousselPCFcommunist designation
March 2021
Sandrine RousseauEELVecologist primaryOctober 2020
Éric PiolleEELVecologist primaryJune 2021
Yannick JadotEELVecologist primaryJune 2021
Delphine BathoGEecologist primaryJuly 2021
Jean-Marc Governatoriecologist primaryJuly 2021
Pierre LarrouturouNDpopular primaryJuly 2021
Anne HidalgoPSsocialist primarySeptember 2021
Stéphane Le FollPSsocialist primaryAugust 2021
Arnaud MontebourgDVGSelf-announcedSeptember 2021
Xavier BertrandDVDSelf-announced.March 2021
Jacline MouraudDVDSelf-announced.December 2020

(1) Antoine Waechter practically invented the “beyond the left and right” line in the 1980s. Making his intentions clearer – that is the phrase is directed against the left he often stated, ” «L’écologie n’est pas à marier” marry, ally, that is with the radical left back in 1984. Left the main Green party, les Verts, in 1994 on the line that, “He considers ecology as a political project in its own right, distinct from the right and the left, but being able to ally with one as well as the other. Amongst many cases of his centrist/centre right politics Waechter backed the centre (right) François Bayrou for President in 2007.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2021 at 6:40 pm

Green Party Faces New Row in Leadership Election. Ashley Gunstock “best placed to lead Green Party because he’s a white, cisgender man.”

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Ashley Gunstock

Ashley Gunstock: Centre of new Green Party Storm.

There is a long-standing view that across Europe Green parties have been gaining support on ‘post-material’ issues, that is the environment from those in France called the bobos (bourgeois bohemians). More recently, with the very material issue of climate change coming to the fore, backing from this social base remains important. As the Financial Times said in 2019, ” Green support is highest among young, university-educated middle-class professionals. Yet many of the heirs of the soixante-huitard generation have stayed Green as they have aged.”This does not mean no support in rural or peri-urban areas, as the Green Party in England Wales (GPEW) has a fair amount of backing in rural areas in this country – whether from from these categories those who live in dormitary villages near towns and cities or not it is hard to determine.

Swimming with an old tide Greens can sometimes call themselves anti-capitalist, in favour of ‘alter-globalisation”.

What does that mean?

The Green Party in England and Wales says its goal is this “The Green Party aims to create a just, equitable and sustainable society. We focus our efforts primarily, though not exclusively, through the electoral system.” Few would suggest that this is socialist, although it is certainly compatible with socialism.

These were their policies in the 2019 election.

1. Spend £100bn a year to cut emissions.

2. Invest £6bn in the NHS.

3. Remove fossil fuels from the economy.

4. Plant 700 million trees by 2030.

5. Build 100,000 zero-carbon homes.

6. Scrap tuition fees.

7. Fund a basic income of £89 (a paltry sum for those without other revenues) for everyone.

8. Improve energy efficiency in millions of homes.

9. Ban single-use plastic.

10. Invest £4.5bn-a-year in social care.

Not exactly a storm the barricades programme.

Most, including those like this Blog who have long favoured some kind of Eco-socialism, would examine each policy case by case. But most, except the controversial Basic Income idea (which cuts against the use of taxation to redistribute wealth) are sound.

Last Friday this appeared in the Guardian,

The Greens are on the brink of power – is it more than a political blip?

After noting the Scottish Greens alliance with the nationalist ‘centre left’ Scottish National Party Andy Beckett wrote,

In England and Wales, the Greens already have a record number 0f councillors – 477 – with the vast majority of them elected since 2019. In May, the party came second in Bristol’s mayoral election with 44% in the run-off vote. In national opinion polls, support for them has doubled since the last general election, when it was already at a historically high level, and they are now running neck and neck with the Liberal Democrats.

Regional Note:

Beckett continued,

The new Green emphasis on equality is also proving divisive, inside the party. For at least three years, the English and Welsh Greens (the Scottish Greens are a separate party) have been split over trans rights. Last month the current leader, Siân Berry, decided not to stand for re-election because she believed the party’s pro-trans policy was not being consistently supported by her colleagues. The issue is featuring prominently in the ongoing contest to choose her successor.

The conflicts between generations and values that have made British politics so acrimonious now run through the Green party. They won’t be resolved simply by electing a new leadership.

As a note one has to observe that their agreement with the nationalists is not universally liked, “A former leader of the Scottish Greens has attacked the deal the party struck with Nicola Sturgeon’s government for failing to take tougher action on North Sea oil, marine protection and taxation.” Former Scottish Greens leader criticises ‘disappointing’ agreement with SNP.

Bright Green 30th of August.

Stop…. hustings time! – Green Party leadership election round up issue 3

Voting will open in the Green Party’s leadership election in three day’s time. Members are now getting a clearer sense of what the candidates are offering as hustings have begun to take place.

The first of these took place on August 23. While cordial for the most part, there was clear disagreement between candidates on trans rights, progressive alliances and antisemitism. You can read a summary of the hustings

The Greens, who seem keen to stress what nice people they are, have forbidden candidates from making personal attacks on their rivals. This has not stopped bitter disputes from erupting. The best known dispute is over Trans rights.

Elsewhere in the interview, the pair were asked about the dispute in the party in which a minority of members have sought to overturn the Greens’ position in support of trans rights. Rothery said that this was “the cause of deeply damaging division, huge upset and anger within our membership”. She added, “it’s a matter of urgency that we put a plan in place and enact it, before more harm is done to individuals and Party reputation”. Hemingway’s solution reiterated his call for a “member’s assembly” on trans rights, to bring together “different positions on the spectrum of the debate”.

Bright Green.

Now barely a day goes past without some new row enveloping the Green Party in England in Wales.

Take note of this,

Sian Berry, who resigned on a point of principle rather than continue with her job as leader of the GPEW, has followed through with an appeal for GPEW members to vote RON in third place, behind Womack, Denyer, Omond, and Ramsay, all of whom she approves of.

Now there is this:

A Green Party of England and Wales leadership candidate has triggered anger from activists after he implied he is best placed to lead the Green Party because he is a white, cisgender, middle class man.

Left Foot Forward. Josiah Mortimer.

In an interview with Bright Green, run by LFF team member Chris Jarvis, Ashley Gunstock – an actor who was on The Bill in the 1980s – claimed that “a male, white cisgender leader [is] something that the electorate could focus on better.”

In the interview, Gunstock began by saying that he felt that “there is an identity for people such as me within the party that’s unrepresented at the moment”. When pressed to clarify what he meant by this, Gunstock said:

You can read the reactions of some Green Party members through the link here:

Many members expressed their shock at what they deemed ‘sexist’ and ‘racist’ comments. The Greens’ health spokesperson Cllr Rosi Sexton said: “It’s a sad day when one of our leadership candidates is genuinely less progressive than the Tory party.”

Extracts: In the interview, Gunstock began by saying that he felt that “there is an identity for people such as me within the party that’s unrepresented at the moment”. When pressed to clarify what he meant by this, Gunstock said:

No, I’m not saying white middle class males, or females – white middle class people – are underrepresented in the party. In fact […] the basis of the party is white, middle class and often middle aged. What I’m saying is that – in fact – it’s that kind of demographic that is going to break through. Because we are the ones who can do it better than… not better than… it’s frustrating to say better than. It’s not what I mean. It would be far better accepted if a white middle class man got up and said I believe in the principle aims of Black Lives Matter. I believe in the principle aims of Extinction Rebellion. I believe that the Green Party agenda is the only agenda that is going take us forward, given what all the other parties are offering.

 ….didn’t say that a white male was the best leader for the Green Party. I was saying that I was best placed as a white male, at the moment, at this particular time, to break through – to break through. Because, politically, everywhere you look, they want and they see a white middle class male. And we’ve got to break through.

And that is one of the reasons why I said what I said – well it’s the only reason I said what I said. Because I wish it wasn’t. I genuinely wish it wasn’t the fact that that’s the problem. That is part of our problem. But it is. And so help me God, if I did, the first thing I would do is say loud and clear that we need to change this.

Because it’s wrong. It’s totally wrong that we’ve got people like Boris Johnson and Putin and people in the Eastern European countries who are far right who are starting to come to the fore, and that fool in North Korea, and all these people driving the agenda – they’re the wrong people. They’re totally the wrong people. We need to get the right people. But what you have to do is play their game, beat them at it and then make the change. And that is what I’m saying.

The Green Party has had leaders since 2008. Since, the party has always been led either solely by women, or by women in a co-leadership team with Jonathan Bartley. In 2012, the Green Party became the first UK parliamentary party to see one woman leader hand over to another woman when Natalie Bennett succeeded Caroline Lucas. Two years later, Shahrar Ali became the first person of colour to be elected deputy leader of a UK parliamentary party.

Gunstock is regarded as an outsider in the Green Party’s leadership election. He previously stood for the leadership of the party in 2008, losing to Caroline Lucas.

The Green Party’s current processes have an extremely low threshold for candidates to enter a leadership election.  Just 20 members are needed to nominate a leadership candidate for them to appear on the ballot.

You can watch the full interview with Gunstock here:

Bright Green.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 31, 2021 at 5:54 pm