That it will hurt the Labour Party is not one of them!
Britain has seen a swing towards the Green Party comprised mostly of young people concerned with social justice and climate change disenchanted with mainstream politics. Here are the main reasons I think people these are precisely the kind of people who should be horrified to see the Party on the up:
1. Their policies on trade amount to locking poor nations out of the world economy.
We are currently witnessing the fastest reductions in poverty in human history as a result of export driven growth in poorer nations enabled by a new era of free trade. Despite this the Greens claim that “free trade means freeing the powerful to exploit the vulnerable” and want to create more localised economies. They would therefore put barriers in the way of those living in the developing world to export to West and harness its greater spending power to pull themselves out of poverty.
2. They oppose nuclear power, the most viable way to produce energy without worsening climate change.
In 2012 the environmentalist Mark Lynas recanted his opposition to nuclear power noting that 70% of low carbon electricity in the UK is produced by nuclear power and noted words of another convert George Monbiot that:
The efforts some people will make to destroy a low-carbon technology are remarkable. We are facing perhaps the greatest crisis humanity has ever encountered – runaway climate change – and instead of tackling the source of the problem (fossil fuels), environmentalists are attacking one of the solutions. People will look back on this era and wonder how such madness took hold.
3. Their policies would make Britain’s housing shortage worse.
House prices in Britain are rising to ruinous levels. The reasons for this are not hard to fathom: our population has grown but the amount of housing available hasn’t. Britain has extremely restrictive planning laws in particular our cities are encircled by Green Belts that prevent them from growing organically. So the laws of supply and demand take effect and prices rise remorselessly.
This benefits those who already own homes (who are generally older and richer) at the expense of those who don’t (normally younger and poorer). Thus the organisations that defend the Green Belt tend to be those who supporters are old and rich: the Conservative Party, the Daily Telegraph and the National Trust.
It’s, therefore, very odd to read the Green Party promise that they will “retain and rigorously strengthen Green Belt legislation.”
4. They’ve only held power in one place and have made a total mess of it.
To date the Green’s have led one council: Brighton. Their record wielding power there does not suggest they deserve more of it.
In Brighton, the constituency of Caroline Lucas, the Green Icarus has flown close to the sun already. Bin strikes hit the city in 2013, leaving seagulls to peck at piles of rubbish: a plan to have a referendum on a hike in council tax was dropped as it would have cost more to run the vote than would have been recouped; Brighton’s recycling rate has actually dropped, with the council’s record now 302nd out of 326.
5. They are as likely to break their promises as any other politicians.
For six years I was a local councillor on an authority that had a sizeable group of Green councillors. In general I got on well with them but they were as prone to the kind of game playing that so frustrates voters. They could engage in gesture politics, scaremongering and fudging what they actually meant when it suited them. Most depressingly, their alternative budgets were often astonishingly implausible, piling optimistic assumptions upon imagined revenue streams. The example that particularly stuck in my mind was them proposing a hotel tax that the council had no legal power to impose!
In short, the reason that the Greens have not let the people who vote for them down again is that, outside Brighton, they’ve not had the chance yet. I strongly doubt that given power at a national level they would be able to deliver their pledge to bring down the deficit without cutting public spending. It would require them to raise vast amounts of extra tax revenue while doing a lot of things that would probably reduce the size of the economy from which they are trying to extract that revenue. In short, we should treat claims by Green politicians that they would end austerity with the same scepticism we would any other political claim.