Green and Yellow

posted by Kaihsu Tai on May 2nd, 2010

A brief note on British politics to a friend. This Thursday we shall elect a new Parliament. Feel free to skip if you are not interested.

If the results of the the present elections turn out to be (as Nick Clegg intimated) a ‘two-horse race’, that is to say a return to the Tory–Liberal duopolistic hegemony, tactically perhaps I (as a Green) can comfortably say ‘bring on the Liberal surge’, expecting electoral and other important reforms to follow. But the obvious strategic concern is whether by this we are indeed catapulting British politics into the 21st century, or we are actually taking a retrograde step back to 19th-century politics.

Allow me to elaborate. To give a potted history, in the 20th century, the franchise gradually expanded in Britain: starting with propertied males, it then extended to all men, and then the inclusion of all women. One could extrapolate that in the 21st century, non-human beings would receive some sort of representation: true progress would extend franchise, would give a stake in the State, to the whole of biosphere … somehow.

The Labour party was created in this 20th-century context. It sought, in its early days, to represent (the interests of) those electors newly included in the franchise. Sadly, as we are witnessing, after a century of honorable characters and worthy struggles, the Labour story is ending in betrayal and implosion.

One could say the Greens are the ones trying to include the whole of ecology in the democratic deliberations of the State. Now we should watch carefully: Come Friday, does the Liberal surge mean a step forward, or a step back? Does it herald a further extension of the franchise in the ‘green’ direction, or is it simply a retraction to the old, cosy blue–yellow parlour game for propertied men?

I sincerely hope that the rich blood dripping from the red flag will fertilize the green shoots, perhaps nurtured in a yellowish compost, a strange mixture of egg and clay (hint hint), whether golden or jaundiced. Or to borrow vocabulary from beyond la Manche: that our politics will go from liberté jaune of simple laissez-faire, via égalité rouge of social democracy and the welfare state, to fraternité verte that encompasses all of ecology.

The wider strategy? I hazard earlier in my piece ‘Thinking a few steps ahead’.

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  1. On May 3, 2010 at 14:43 Tracy said:

    Thanks for this. I’ve been watching with interest. I hope you’ll post your thoughts, whatever the outcome.

  2. On May 5, 2010 at 04:49 Kaihsu Tai said:

    The Reverend Dick Wolff: ‘Meet the new boss – same as the old boss’.