Socialist Worker

Will the Greens unlock parliament?

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2443

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas (Pic: Kaihsu on Flickr)


As the Green Party gathers for its spring conference in Liverpool, the party is still riding on its recent boost in support. 

Thousands have joined the Green Party in recent months, looking for an alternative to the mainstream parties’ austerity and racism. 

And Green MP Caroline Lucas’s new book Honourable Friends? helps explain why so many are looking to them. 

Lucas pins the blame for the global crash on the bankers and argues we should make the rich pay.

The book is mainly an account of her attempts to change society through parliament—and a call to change parliament itself. 

Lucas identifies how politicians and top civil servants can be “captured by the rich and powerful” because of the links between parliament and big business. 

And she says parliament has always “defended itself from criticism and reform.”

“Everything that I cared about, from peace and the environment to social justice and human rights, passed through a single decision-making process that, if hostile or biased, would always go the wrong way.”

Lucas’ solution is to make parliament more democratic. She says there has to be “unlocking the gates from within and letting the people in”. Her suggestions include adopting a more representative electoral system and electronic voting in the House of Commons.

Achieving this means voting in more MPs who would force through those reforms. 

Alternative

“We have to provide a credible alternative”, she argues. “One that includes the Greens, Labour, the Nationalists and the Liberal Democrats”.

But changing society takes more than simply electing a few MPs. The links that Lucas describes between politicians, top civil servants and big business hint at a more fundamental relationship between bosses and the state. 

The state is bigger than parliament. It includes the judiciary, police, army and secret service as well as government departments run by unelected bureaucrats.

All of these institutions exist to defend the interests of capitalists. They cannot be transformed through parliament to work on our behalf. Elections are important to raise an alternative.

But changing society means building resistance from below to challenge the system. 

None of this should simply write off Honourable Friends, and socialists should read what Lucas has to say. 

Many of the people who agree with her are people that we work with in campaigns, trade unions and on university campuses.

But we also want to debate with them the best way to win another society—and what that society would look like.

For socialists that doesn’t just mean looking for ways to reform the current system.

It means fighting to replace it with a socialist society that puts that puts people before profit.

Honourable Friends? Parliament and the Fight for Change. £14.99. Portobello Books. Out 5 March

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Tue 3 Mar 2015, 16:36 GMT
Issue No. 2443
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