Former Green party leader Caroline Lucas with new leader Carla Denyer (Picture: Bristol Green Party on Flickr)

 
Should socialists lend their votes to the Greens in the coming elections? For many it’s a tempting prospect given Labour’s growing list of betrayals and U-turns.
 
Under Keir Starmer Labour has embraced the horror of Israel’s war on Palestine while junking policies that might have improved both working class lives and the ailing planet.
 
Green Party policies on many subjects are better than Labour’s—at least on paper.
 
But a closer look at the party reveals that any radicalism is a thin veneer and their politics are starkly reformist. Take Palestine, the defining issue in British politics.
 
The Greens rightly demanded a ceasefire when Labour in parliament did all it could to prevent one—and the party’s sole MP voted for one.
 
And the Greens have been active on the issue in at least some localities. But Green leaders refuse to use the term “genocide” to describe Israel’s war.
 
Instead, they want international courts to rule on whether Israel or the Palestinians have committed war crimes.
 
That ambiguity reflects the Green’s political ambitions.
 
Of course, the party hopes to win votes from the left, particularly in cities such as Bristol, where it has a significant base. 
 
Here it sometimes tries to out flank Labour by talking up its commitment to public transport and housing.
 
In Hastings for example, the Green’s main task is to unseat Labour and it plans to do this by winning over former Tory voters.
 
Party leaflets here focus on its litter-picking councillors and its ex-cop candidate’s knowledge of the local area and its “problems”.
 
Complete with its own “only the Greens can beat Labour here” bar graph, the party leaflet is barely distinguishable from ones issued by the Liberal Democrats.
 
Predictably, there is no mention of Palestine. But all talk of “social justice” has also been removed.
 
Perhaps more surprisingly, there’s also no mention of the climate catastrophe.
 
The same is true in the east of England. Green candidates in Mid Suffolk, where the party runs the council, are proudly “hyper local”.
 
That means they deliberately ignore national and global issues to focus solely on “greening” local services.
 
The party has ridden the wave of climate protests since the school students’ climate strikes in 2019.
 
Similarly following the explosion of Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests taking over parts of central London for several days, the Greens have attempted to divert the movement into votes. 
 
But just like all mainstream parties, the Greens project themselves as a safe and efficient manager of the system.
 
That means setting “realistic” Green budgets and making Green cuts to local services when the cash runs out. 
 
In 2021 refuse workers in Brighton struck for two weeks in a battle with the Green-controlled council over conditions and changes to working schedules. 
 
And don’t be under the illusion that a vote for the Greens in some way shows your backing for the brave campaigners of Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain as they face state repression and jail.
 
You’ll find no mention of them in any Green local election campaign.
 
The Green’s political opportunism—wanting to appear radical in cities, but conservative in small towns—is symptomatic of a wider problem that ought to trouble the left.
 
The party largely ignores the question of class. It barely has a relationship to the trade unions that organise millions of working people. 
 
And as such, it only rarely takes a position when people are fighting for their wages and pensions.
 
In 2006 the party backed the repeal of anti-trade union laws, but there’s no mention of it in its latest policy statement.
 
Instead, the party now wants a balance between “individual rights”—of the bosses—and “collective rights”—of workers.
 
This struggle for “balance” between the contending classes is of course the mainstay of all parties of capitalism. And that is exactly what the Green Party is.
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