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We need a new direction

We have 2,500 members in the London Green Party. On paper. Let’s be honest, we barely have one in ten out there knocking on doors, manning stalls, talking to people.  That’s one activist per 30,000 Londoner.

These are impossible odds.  With a couple of councillors, having lost most last year, most of London is barren Green territory. On current trends and Local Party planning, most of London 32 boroughs will not have a Green councillor for the rest of this decade.

We cannot say the ‘plan’ is working.

What’s the strategy? Where’s the ambition? What’s the purpose? Some might ask: what’s the point?

Like all eruptions & earthquakes, it’s difficult to know what’s happening until it hits you. The good news is that many members are passionate and don’t like what they are seeing.

A two-speed Party: Brighton far ahead, London trailing well behind.

We need to mobilise the existing membership. Not with another email but with a strategy that’s inspiring.  Something which says we are venturing out of our comfort zone. That we want to reach out to new constituencies. That we have taken a look around the capital, and it’s different to what we thought.

London is the fourth largest French City….. There are 400,000 people making this the Paris of the Thames.

An equivalent number of Arabs – Edgware Road & beyond – so much the focus of our minds with the bravery of their compatriots in North Africa and the Middle East.

Ditto: Latin Americans…. & Africans, Afro-Carribeans, Greeks, Turks and South Asia.

Do we think a letter in the local paper is the only way to reach them?

There is a wealth of ethnic media (European and beyond). The French in London aren’t losing their culture or language skills.  For Bengalis alone, there are four TV stations, two radio stations and over a dozen weekly papers.

Greeks: London Greek Radio. Indians: Sunrise TV & Radio. And much much more.

We complain that the mainstream media ignore us. True. But do we have a media strategy for the capital that explores these other channels?

Before someone says we don’t have a strong media team, I say we should contact our members from these minorities (or majority-minorities in some boroughs as some say) and ask them how their media works, and how to get into them.

The Students & the Young are our natural base. Or should be.  Some of us cannot see the potential. That’s the brigade which says: carry on like before, let’s stick with the same message as the last twenty years, who cares if we are tagged as a one-issue party…..

The Young Greens have an opportunity to mobilise over the next two years. Long ignored, they have participated and themselves been inspired by the student movement, still going strong with the occupations and involvement in the anti-cuts protests.

They wrote a pledge and asked for support. Is it a perfect document? No, no document is. Is it meant to replace the entire Party manifesto? No.

It is an expression of the Next Generation of members looking at the world from their point of view and like all lobbies and groups focusing on the day-to-day issues that confront hundreds of thousands of students & youth in the capital. Housing, education, transport & more.

I signed it because it was aspirational. It understood that the Greens stand for environmental justice but that we need to give weight to social justice too, in the language of the constituents we claim to want support from.

I don’t mind being in a minority in political terms. Some things have to be said.

The document has been hit with criticism. The glass half full mentality. Finding what’s wrong with a sentence, crossing the tees here, dotting the i’s there. Where’s the generosity?

The Young Greens didn’t have to do a hustings. They did.

They didn’t have to spend weeks preparing a document, a platform for Young Green politics in the Capital. They did.

They didn’t have to try and engage with other Green activists at conference, online or in meetings. They did.

At the least, we should welcome the contribution, agree with 95%  of it, and encourage them to boost the Party.

The only way I see the immediate 15 months is to open the door and get in new members. That means bringing in free membership back for under 30s. Keep that door open till Xmas. Get roadshows into campuses, get Caroline Lucas speaking, get the membership forms filled.

The Lib-Dems are on the brink of collapse in London, especially with the young.  We should be aiming at powering ahead of the Lib-Dems.

The Tories are in fear and bunkering down.

New Ed’s Labour is picking up the flow by doing nothing, by pretending they didn’t rule over 13 years of neo-liberal surrender to the banks, nor break their own pledges over tuition fees. That Ed Mili & Aaron Porter say they want a graduate tax.

Everytime a graduate gets a job, earns money & pays income tax, that’s what a graduate tax should be. We already have it.  Nothing more on top, thanks. Get rid of the fees. Invest in a new generation.

The Next Generation get it when it comes to climate change, anti-war, anti-cuts, Green New Deal, wealth re-distribution and the need for a new direction.  They are receptive to the Green message. They are waiting for us to prove we want their support.  They won’t come to us until we take the first step towards them.

We have to seize this opportunity.

It’s there in front of us, if only we can see it.

We will only see it if we change direction.

Farid Bakht

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Comments

2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. 400,000 French speaking residents in London? Really? Any chance I can get a job in London then (for a fluently bilingual person like me)? lol

  2. James Wild,

    Pretty much agree with all that….doubling, nay trebling or even quadrupling the membership should be a priority right now. This is THE green age. 1st Green MP ever in our Parliamentary history! The party need to capitalise on this. I reckon free membership for students or even under 30’s for the rest of the year would do no harm.

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