With recent political news dominated by Europe, the prospect of a referendum and the incoming European Elections next year, one would be forgiven for thinking that British public opinion had shifted decisively to the Eurosceptic right. But could it not be that in fact, the media and political elites only represent a very narrow spectrum of political opinion? Indeed, following the betrayal of social democratic principles by the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties, no one in the mainstream represents any views to the left of centre. Not only on Europe but also welfare, Palestine immigration and much more, the so called ‘centre-left’ has given in to right wing elites in an empty quest for power and corporate approval. There is a need for a party that can represent the views and interests of ordinary people, not millionaire media owners or other corporate leaders, a gap that can be filled by the Green Party.
On campus, we have made huge gains in the last year, tripling membership and having a record attendance when Natalie Bennett, Green Party national leader visited the university last year. More recently, we helped the Palestinian Solidarity Society achieve ratification on campus. This has mirrored national party successes in getting our first seat in Parliament and placing third in the London mayoral elections. By offering a radical yet evidence-based alternative to the main three parties that is based on unprecedented levels of grassroots participation, we’ve shown that it is possible to democratically challenge the rightist consensus. Now with UKIP and the Tory right claiming to monopolise public opinion on Europe, and Labour and the Lib Dems meekly giving in as usual, the mantle falls yet again to the Green Party to offer something different.
This is why the University of York Green Party is pleased to announce that Andrew Cooper, Kirklees Councillor and the leading Green MEP candidate for the Yorkshire and Humber region, will be visiting the University on Wednesday 27 February (Week 8, V123, 18:30). Andrew will outline the Green alternative to Euroscepticism; a reformist approach that seeks to deal with democratic and economic issues via reasoned negotiation rather than jingoistic reactions, and one that acknowledges the great achievements secured by the EU in workers rights and environmental protection. Our nation at the heart of a reforming Europe with the limitless potential to tackle the great threats faced by the world in the 21st Century. Only working within Europe can we stand a chance against climate change, energy crises, and economic inequalities.
More widely, this represents a chance to get involved with the Green Party as a growing force in British politics. Political apathy and disillusionment is at an all time high, not least amongst young people and students. But this is not a question of inevitable apathy, but one of a political class that has taken political debate away from the people, gutting parties of ideologies and principles, and limiting discussion to two or three meaningless differences. Climate change, verified by 97 per cent of peer-reviewed scientific literature, gets worse by the year but is largely ignored. All parties agree on the need for cuts, whilst ignoring the vast damage caused by unacceptably wealthy corporations and rich individuals. The demonisation of the working class is similarly agreed by the false consensus, in spite of the fact that less than 1 per cent of benefit claims are fraudulent. Rail nationalisation, media reform and proportional representation – and countless other questions – are all kept off the agenda despite their undeniable empirical benefit to most ordinary people.
We can accept this affliction to our democracy. We can let our future be decided for us by those at the top with the odd minor say in all too infrequent votes and elections. Or we can stand against this rising tide of profits being put before people and campaign for real, democratic change in favour of economic, social and environmental justice. The Green Party offers an opportunity to take up the mantle of such activism that has traditional been held by students and scholars, a cause that rallies against the dominance of the powers that be, and one that is now ours to effect and uphold.