by Katja Hoyer
Thursday, 27
May 2021
Explainer
16:30

The UK Greens are no match for their German cousins

One is polling in the single digits, while the other could soon win power
by Katja Hoyer

The promotion of arms sales to conflict zones is not something one would immediately associate with a Green party manifesto. Yet, the co-leader of the German Greens, Robert Habeck, demanded this week that Berlin should allow the sale of ‘defensive’ weapons to Ukraine.

Habeck had met the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, in Kiev before visiting the front lines of the conflict with Russia in the East of the country. The security threat there made a strong impression on him. He told German radio afterwards that Ukraine ‘feels and is isolated in terms of security policy […] one cannot deny Ukraine weapons for self-defence.’

Habeck’s words caused such furore in Germany that he had to row them back. After criticism from all sides, including his own party, he has now clarified that he had only referred to ‘night vision devices’ and other technology to help with reconnaissance and logistics.

Habeck may not speak for all German Greens, as the strong response to his statement shows, but it is undeniable that his party has shifted further towards the political centre, perhaps even into conservative waters in recent months. After all, it was Angela Merkel’s conservative government that decided not to sell military-grade material to Ukraine.

While in Germany Green party leaders are rebuked by conservative politicians for being too interventionist on the foreign policy stage, the UK Greens have not even developed a formal policy platform that addresses the issue. In a world where security threats from states such as Russia, China and Iran look increasingly menacing, the UK Greens resort to empty platitudes such as ‘wish[ing] to promote Green principles across the world’.

The Green Party’s only MP, Caroline Lucas, said after the local elections at the beginning of May that her party was ‘winning all around the country’. It is true that they performed well at a local level, but polls at national level tell a different story: support remains in the single digits in a General Election setting.

Meanwhile, the pragmatism and realism of the German Greens has made them a major player in the political landscape. With less than five months to go until the federal election, they could emerge as a serious contender for government, polling at around 25% — and only a few points behind the conservatives.

The UK Greens often complain that the FPTP voting system doesn’t give them a fair shot, which is certainly true. But with Labour and the Liberal Democrats in disarray, there is political room for them to be the preeminent Left-of-centre party. To advance, the party needs to develop a serious and credible policy platform across all the big issues. Only then can they follow in the footsteps of their German counterparts.

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Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

Once you peel back the Eco fig-leaf the UK Greens have always been somewhat Soviet in nature.

The Greens in their current state barely qualify as a pressure group, let alone a credible political party. Which suits them very well. The closer a party gets to being credible the more they have to actually consider what their policies might cost or what the consequences might be if they were enacted.
The various leaders of the Greens know they don’t stand a vegan’s chance at an arm-wrestling contest of getting into any kind of power and so are free to spout a load of righteous-sounding , though essentially meaningless, slogans and rhetoric that they’ll never actually have to deliver on. Again – a perfect fit for the ideologically pure eco-Corbynistas who’d much prefer protesting and carping from the side-line to actually having to govern.
The Green’s record in Brighton – the one place where they’ve had a sniff of control – has been a shambles. All gimmick and no substance – why? – because they never think through a policy beyond imagining it will sound good to a group of like-minded vegangelists at one of their interminable meetings.
In Brighton the Greens introduced “meat-free Monday” throughout the council’s eateries, but had to back down when the bin men demanded bacon butties or wouldn’t work.
Gender-neutral lavatories went the same way when regular folk refused to pander to such nonsense.
They tried to run a local referendum to see if residents would be prepared to accept a nearly 5% tax increase. Again the idea was shelved once it was pointed out – by rather more practical souls – that A) of course the people would vote No, and B) that the cost of running the referendum, at £900,000, was almost as much as they were hoping to raise from the tax hike anyway.
As ever, it is all rhetoric and slogan with them. They were proud to announce several years ago that Brighton residents could face a £50,000 fine if they failed to sort out their recycling and put a rogue piece of plastic in the wrong bin. Strong stuff. But it was so overblown that most residents stuck two fingers up and completely ignored the threat.
Brighton – the “Greenest” city in the UK was ranked 302nd out of 326 councils for its recycling record.
A few years ago the Green’s total mismanagement of the rubbish collection – a central plank in their policy platform – got so bad that bin men went on strike. The collections were being changed so often that neither residents nor collectors knew what was happening. As a result no one recycled and the rubbish piled up in the streets. Benefitting only the seagulls, who became a menace.
Given the many unreconstructed Trots who are attracted to Green Party politics, many of their own people went out on strike in support of the bin men and against their own policy positions.
They are a joke.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paddy Taylor
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I wish that’s all they were but they hold the balance of power in Scotland.

Unaccountable proportional representation (“list” MPs) in a small mendicant state where they’re close to the reins of power is their dream situation and the SNP gave it to them.

Couple that with a compliant media uncritically publishing green press releases as if they are reliable news and you have a destructive combination.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

A wonderful synopsis if I may so, but for brevity’s sake your last sentence would do.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
1 year ago

True enough., I could have merely pointed out that they’re a joke

But brevity has never been my strong suit

Last edited 1 year ago by Paddy Taylor
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Fair enough, but well said anyway.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Thanks. Some good and somewhat hilarious facts there. They are, indeed, a joke. (I write as one who walks or cycles everywhere, who has never bought a car, who almost always buys second-hand consumer goods, and who recycles assiduously while maintaining a somewhat diverse and wild garden that is, I hope, conducive to the existence of small creatures).

Last edited 1 year ago by Fraser Bailey
David Stanley
David Stanley
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I’m with you on that although I did buy my first car when I turned 40.
I lived in Brighton for many years and can confirm that everything Patrick Taylor said is true. I would also like to add that everyone I knew at the time loved the Greens and was passionate about the environment. Amazingly though, almost all these people had traveled the world. They would wax lyrical about their trips to India, East Asia, South America and the like. They all owned smart phones, smoked anything they could get their hands on and loved going to festivals. At the same time, anyone who ate meat or drove a powerful car was considered evil beyond redemption.
As with most people in Brighton, everything was for show and completely superficial. They traipsed about the lanes in their hippie uniforms living completely self-indulgent lifestyles whilst judging everyone else and seeing themselves as the moral saviors of the universe.
The sad thing is these people live in such a bubble that no one can ever really challenge their views. They carry on with the delusion that different opinions are a disease that they can cure people of. Meanwhile, the rest of the country ignores them and votes for Boris.

Last edited 1 year ago by David Stanley
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

What do the German Greens have to say about their country’s energy fiasco? Do they admit to any guilt, any at all?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Germans and guilt? Dream on, sunshine!

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago

No Green gets a foothold on the moral high ground until they ditch the anti-gm voodoo and the open borders insanity.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
1 year ago

It is true that they performed well at a local level, but polls at national level tell a different story: support remains in the single digits in a General Election setting.

Well, that’s the right way round, isn’t it. Locally, they are in favour of sensible stuff like more allotments, cycle paths, and more recycling of plastic. Nationally, they would implement policies which would subject us to power outages, travel only for the rich, and a “living wage” for any Third Worlder who could make it here.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

The UK Greens won’t get anywhere near power until they can explain how we will keep the lights on during a cold and frosty, calm night.

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
1 year ago

Maybe it’s because the German Greens are more sensible and right of centre than the British so called Conservatives? The fact that the British Greens (and the Boris govt) would have us back in the Stone Age, like Freddy Flinstone, doesn’t help the cause much either.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeff Andrews
George Bruce
George Bruce
1 year ago

Maybe it is something to do with the UK political system and electorate?
To take another example – one I know much better – if you look at the French non-system, nationalist right (for want of a better expression) the talent gap is gigantic in the their favour compared to the UK.
I think we would have to go back to Enoch probably whereas they have the various Lepens, the new young guy Bardella, people like Robert Menard, lots of intelligent sympathisers like Onfray and Zemmour.
Our good people just all become system politicians.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
1 year ago

“To advance, the party needs to develop a serious and credible policy platform across all the big issues.”

You could say the same about the Labour Party, and it is in theory much easier for them if they ever want to get back into government. They, at least, have been there before, and know what it takes (clue: it isn’t what you are doing now, in case you are reading this, if you’ll take the word of a voter who would quite like to vote Labour again, and sooner rather than later).
I’m not hijacking the debate to make a point about Labour, but about what it takes for any party that wants to govern – there has to be an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the perspectives of people who are nothing like you.
You are Green. You don’t like diesel. Well, tough – millions depend upon it in order to survive in the world of work, and it will be decades before electric vehicles become an affordable option for them.
You are Labour. You don’t like the anti-immigration lobby. Well, tough – millions want immigration controlled, and it will be decades before the situation stabilises sufficiently for people to once again be laissez faire about immigration.

The key thing here is that people are simply not persuadable, and that means the parties have to change instead of continually trying to persuade people to change.

Know who understands that? That’s right, him. You want him in power for the next twenty years?

Thought not. Grow up then.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kremlington Swan
Andy White
Andy White
1 year ago

The party Katja Hoyer is writing about isn’t “the UK Greens”, it’s the Green Party of England and Wales. In contrast look at the role in government programme formation currently being played by the Scottish Greens.

They are a much smaller party than the GPEW members-wise, but the Holyrood parliament’s AMS voting system has allowed them to thrive and develop a more hard-headed leadership. Meaning that they are willing to negotiate and compromise in order to achieve specific policy objectives.

The German Greens of course also operate in an AMS voting system. It does seem that the voting system issue really is key to the English (and Welsh) Greens getting a bigger part to play at Westminster. Because of their ‘significant when totalled-up but thinly-spread’ electoral support no one is penalised more by FTTP. If you want them to come in from the fringes you have to actually let them in!

Last edited 1 year ago by Andy White