You are a member of Greenpeace. It doesn’t involve much of your time, mainly your money and not much of that. The campaigning is superb. Greenpeace’s marketing is the envy of the PR world. They have form for getting the right results and you are pleased to support that work. However, you know that you can have no real influence on Greenpeace’s policy. It is not a democratic organisation. It will continually bump up against those organisations which do shape policy: political parties. Therefore, its effective campaigning will be an endless grind, like Sisyphus having to push that rock up to the top of the mountain for all eternity, only to watch it endlessly roll back down.
Our generation has waited longer than any to have children. Those of us who succeeded in this waiting game and managed to have children have had much more time to shape our views before the next generation appeared and so much more time to explain away. By the time our teenage children have dispensed with all the hard years of our parenting, they will challenge us with searching questions which take issue with us on delicate areas of our lives. “What did you do to save the planet?” will be a popular refrain in ten years from now. The sad answer in most of our cases is “fuck all”. It doesn’t have to be like this.
Politics doesn’t go away because you don’t get involved. It doesn’t stop working and the hard faced men (it is mostly men) motivated by cold profit without regard for any consequences will continue to take power in their selfish short term interest. Not being involved in this process does not weaken these people and the forces of darkness, it strengthens them. In a pluralistic democracy such as ours your involvement can extend through a variety of activities. Voting is the bare minimum. Membership of Greenpeace is fine but passive. The trick is to be involved actively. I’m not asking you to become a full-time political fanatic. I’m asking you to consider whether the reasons that caused you to join Greenpeace might not be better served by actually joining a suitable political party.
Let’s not waste time debating which political party would be best served by your membership. Obviously, the thieving Tory bastards are out of the question. Ditto the Liberal Democrats. You marched against the illegal foreign wars and watched the Labour Party ignore the vast majority of the British people, you amongst them, who declared that the war in Iraq was not in your name. Instead of rounding on their leaders for their war crimes, the Labour Party salivates over them. Since you are a member of Greenpeace, the obvious political choice for you is to join the Green Party.
The Green Party doesn’t accept donations from big corporations or trades unions, like the other parties. The financial support provided through membership is what keeps us going. It makes our campaigns and direct action for social and environmental justice possible. These are our core values:
- Humankind depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence. We do not believe that other species are expendable.
- The Earth’s physical resources are finite. We threaten our future if we try to live beyond those means, so we must build a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term future.
- Every person, in this and future generations, should be entitled to basic material security as of right.
- Our actions should take account of the well-being of other nations, other species, and future generations. We should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of theirs.
- A healthy society is based on voluntary co-operation between empowered individuals in a democratic society, free from discrimination whether based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice.
- We emphasise democratic participation and accountability by ensuring that decisions are taken at the closest practical level to those affected by them.
- We look for non-violent solutions to conflict situations, which take into account the interests of minorities and future generations in order to achieve lasting settlements.
- The success of a society cannot be measured by narrow economic indicators, but should take account of factors affecting the quality of life for all people: personal freedom, social equity, health, happiness and human fulfilment.
- Electoral politics is not the only way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods to help effect change, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.
- The Green Party puts changes in both values and lifestyles at the heart of the radical green agenda.
Limiting your membership to the payment of a fee still sees the Green Party more effective than Greenpeace. The reason is that there are only so many people who will join a political party and all the political parties know this. They are all in competition with each other for potential members from this limited pool of would be activists. When the other parties see a membership surge in one party, they inevitably shift the terms of their political argument to suit the new ground. (Otherwise, they don’t recruit. They can’t recruit the most enthusiastic activists and other people are reluctant to join a failing cause. The thieving Tory bastards lost sight of the long term consequences of this in the 1980s and failed to recruit on a massive scale, with the result that the average age of their membership is 68 and they no longer have the people to canvas at election.) Therefore, by joining the Green Party you shift the terms of the political debate toward your preferred agenda. This sort of paradigmatic shift goes beyond anything that will ever be in Greenpeace’s sights.
It is no accident that the Green Party managed to get an MP elected in Brighton and take control of Brighton & Hove City Council. It is the result of many years of really hard graft. This would not have happened without people being prepared to put in the time. Clearly, we want to follow success with success. Therefore, we would like you not only your membership fee but also a little of your time. If you wanted to get really involved and close to our councillors you could turn up our monthly general meetings. I’ll be honest though, they are not riveting. I sat through one of them last night. For a democratic party to run itself properly these meetings are required. As a member you have the right to attend them. They dictate local party policy. All the most active local party members attend them.
I imagine that you might not wish to become that closely involved to start with. We put our message out to the people of Brighton via our Newspaper, Greenleaf. We deliver it ourselves to 70,000 homes across the City. It is a crucial way of getting our message to the voters – obviously the Argus doesn’t do that for us. You can imagine how much physical effort is required to deliver 70,000 newspapers quickly. They’ve all got to be delivered soon after publication, otherwise the news is stale. The city is divided into patches and party members agree to take on a certain number of patches. Many of us only take on two patches each time. A patch might take an hour or two. This kind of activism produces a real gain for the Green movement: it translates into votes for Green policies.
Whatever level of involvement you wish to have, from merely joining all the way through to standing as a candidate yourself, your membership of the Green Party will place your marker on the political map. Your membership will literally inform the political debate, your conscience will be bettered and your children will be proud of you. Joining us ends the business of sitting on the sofa and feeling shit whenever the news comes on. It gives you an angle and an edge. You’ll discover a newfound pride and hold your head high when, ten years from now, your daughter doesn’t ask what you did to save the planet but complains about her friends’ parents instead.
Become a Green Party member today and you’ll be joining a community of people dedicated to creating social and environmental change. You’ll be playing your part now towards building a better world – by helping to tackle climate change, protect human rights and stop illegal wars.