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The Green Party election broadcast

Tonight the Green Party County Council election broadcast will air on national TV, it’s already available on YouTube for those who’d like a sneak preview.

Having just watched the broadcast I have two immediate thoughts.

First, it’s fairly well put together (the editing’s a little bit clunky in places and the green moss wall thing worked for me but may feel odd for others) and there are some very nice bits of political rhetoric, on the bedroom tax and public ownership in particular.

It’s a message that places the party clearly to the left of Labour. Investing for jobs, attacking benefit reform, international financial regulation – all good social democratic stuff and a comfortable place for lefties to consider placing their vote.

I do have one fairly big criticism though. Not a single mention of environmental issues. Not one.

 

What no ecology?

There are problems with this approach. There is an environmental crisis that is largely going ignored in the media and in Westminster. If the Greens aren’t pushing a green agenda (as part of that overall left platform) then who will? Who are the political allies of the environmental movement if the Greens aren’t even mentioning their issues?

Labour took their core vote for granted through the nineties onward and have lost more than a million votes for their trouble – the Greens don’t have a million votes to lose.

If the Greens *want* to have an eco-friendly influence on the political agenda they can’t rely on the fact they have green in their name, but need to talk about actual flagship green policies that they can win. It’s difficult to tell from this broadcast if the Greens *do* want to push environmental issues up the agenda.

The council elections are a perfect opportunity to talk about, for example, 20 mph making communities healthier, safer and more pleasant. A green policy that doesn’t have to be labelled “talking environment”.

There are millions of people who are sympathetic to both the anti-austerity agenda of investment and protecting public services *and* who are sympathetic to the fact that the environment is in trouble. On purely cynical grounds if voters are encouraged to think about the first and not the second then it favours Labour who will always be the “realistic” choice to defeat the Coalition even when their policies look very, very similar.

 

Fighting 2010 all over again

While the broadcast is, overall, well put together (if not perfect) the message is a shortsighted repeat of the 2010 General Election messaging, but you can’t step into the same river twice.

Climate change was on the media agenda in 2010 and the Greens could afford to emphasise that they are more than a single issue party. In 2013 no one is talking about either climate change or a host of other environmental issues and the Greens are established in Parliament talking about a host of issues that are not immediately labelled “environmental”. The issue today has moved from a surface consensus on climate change to an absence of discussion of the ecological crisis.

If the Greens aren’t putting the environment on the agenda then they are neglecting an important fight for the planet’s future *and* undermining their long term support at the same time.

10 Responses to The Green Party election broadcast

  1. Gary Dunion says:

    Interesting angle, Jim. I wonder, though, were you distracted while watching this? Because you say there is “Not a single mention of environmental issues. Not one,” but Caroline says “the green economy is one of the best places to invest. Not only because of the environmental benefits, but because it creates more jobs than the fossil-fuel economy it replaces.” That sounds like an environmental issue to me.

    But more than that, on Bright Green I wrote about how this was boldest left statement the Greens have ever made. For me, that’s an environmental issue too. Because frankly anyone that believes climate change can be solved within a neoliberal corporate-capitalist context is kidding themselves.

    Other parties do mention climate change, urge us to recycle, build bike lanes. They may not do it enough, but it’s wrong to say that this kind of ghettoised “environmental issue” is absent from politics. What is absent is a party that will recognise that until the economy answers to the people who live under the pipes, the pollution isn’t going to stop. That’s more than “an environmental issue”, that’s Green politics.

    • Jim Jepps says:

      It must have gone past so quick I blinked and missed it. Distracted by Caroline Lucas’ inability to smile, still, not as bad as the 2011 broadcast – God that was grim.

      It’s factually untrue to say that this is more left than the 2010 broadcast though, which went a bit deeper than a “tiny” tax on transactions, etc., etc. and certainly far less bold than the 1999 one. That’s just spin for people without memories to be honest.

      There seems to be an increasing complacency from Greens that environmental issues will campaign for themselves, or that they can’t do both t the same time so drop the environmental pledges. They are left issues, but not all left issues take into account the environment.

  2. James says:

    I think you’re worrying over nothing Jim! It’s still far too early in the process of getting people to think of the Greens as something other than environmental to start worrying about losing the core vote. And there’s a much bigger constituency to gain. As for 20mph zones, I’m certain that local election leaflets around the country will be banging on about those. And I think they’re a great idea and very achieveable but they aren’t going to set the world on fire.
    I also think the opportunity of a national party election broadcast is far more useful for building a message in people’s heads towards the general election than it is in advancing the Green vote small amounts in county council elections where any advances will surely come down to organisation on the ground.

    • Jim Jepps says:

      Overall think it’s ok. Production quality is patchy but good enough and the messages that are there are all strong ones (although I think sugaring the borrowing pill little more might have been wise imo).

      There is an interesting debate about whether broadcasts effect the vote at all. There’s no evidence to suggest they do, as it happens – although i like them and I think they do influence the influencers, if you see what I mean.

      I’ll be straight with you, I passionately care about the ecological crisis. We need to push it up the political and media agenda. This broadcast does not do that consciously and deliberately. I think it’s made a false choice thinking it cannot talk about that and broader issues in the same broadcast.

  3. james? says:

    i think i reluctantly agree with you jim i am reminded of a comment piece by pete murray in green lefts newsletter i dont know if it will be available online or not. he basically sighted green left as having being to successful at getting the party to promote its social justice policies over the ones it is more commonly known for.
    i also worry that these are council elections and little mention was made of the successes of green councilors. but maybe im being a little reformist in thinking that different elections should have different messages.
    i would end that i do think the broadcast was very good and will i hope win some votes for the greens congratulations and yes i do understand they only had three minutes and you cant mention everything.

    • Jim Jepps says:

      Well I’m not convinced politicians talking to camera is a good idea – the ukip and labour both use ordinary people creating a political movement theme very well. The medium is the message and important people lecturing you may have had it’s day. A whole load of ten seconds with activists around the country in different places with different faces says grassroots localism without actually having to say it – I think Green councillors have done some ver good thingd and it would be nice to hear from ordinary looking people who’ve done brilliant things.

      There is quite a bit of policy that has nothing to do with the elections in hand in this broadcast, but I think you can get away with that although it does wind some people up 🙂

  4. james? says:

    i have watched this again and liked it better the second time but i need to express a thought that everyone will want to go back in to the box. if we accept the theory of jim and others that mentioning “socialist” issues has a phycholigical that is priming them to vote labour in this broadcast. (another version of the argument that cameron is priming voters to vote ukip by raising issues associated with them) then what hope is there for the likes of tusc and the proposed new left party as they unlike the greens( and respet) will have a harder time building there own identity could they do the same thing work to booost the labour vote? is this why tusc does so badly?

    • Jim Jepps says:

      Good, important question.

      The point I’m trying to make is slightly more nuanced. Simply placing the emphasis *solely* on solid, social democratic demands is a logic that inevitably leads to Labour rather than their more consistent, far smaller kissing cousins, despite the fact that they aren’t going to renationalise the utilities for instance (btw good to see the Greens are still raising this issue all these years). They are widely seen as the (imperfect) party of public spending/services. What we see as selling out much of the public simply see as “realistic” willingness to compromise.

      It needs to be combined with an agenda that is not comfortable ground for traditional Labour. I’d argue that’s two things i) issues around the environmental crisis and ii) a more radical challenge to the market economy / capitalism. Tusc and much of the left focus on opposition to the cuts – I’ve argued elsewhere why this is weak when most people think the cuts are unfair and necessary because the economy is screwed. We don’t need to convince people that the cuts are bad, but that they do not have to happen – which involves talking about the shape of the economy.

      For the Greens this safe left agenda has to be combined with a clearly green agenda to give the Greens a unique taste so when voters go into the polling station they are motivated to vote for them. For Tusc et al while I’d like them to talk about environmental issues (ever?) the very least they need to do is display a deeper and wider economic strategy that goes beyond how many people the public sector is employing, which is pretty dry biscuits in my view but as it happens is not a programme for economic prosperity.

  5. John Cooper says:

    Jim

    Thanks for hitting well why this is a good election broadcast but someone missing the zing factor.

    However it was inspiring to see a well written take on why things like nationalisation still matter.

    • Jim Jepps says:

      I agree, although the conversation has focused on the “flaws” I still think that overall it was a well produced broadcast that kept up the long running theme of those basic and essential social democratic demands.

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