Watermelons, Lemons and Kiwis
I am in the mood for political fruit comparison. As many of you know, many people call us Greens watermelons and persist as they think it is an offense. As the URL of Green Left or Caroline Lucas’s open acceptance of the label shows, many of us actually really like using the word watermelon; it has become involved in a self-determination reclaiming movement (even though it originated within the Green movement – see Sarah’s comment below).
Today, I was mightily pleased to be a watermelon, especially when you have a look at the fruits on offer from the other political parties. David Miliband, well he is obviously a lemon, choosing to be very bitter and sour re Ed’s win, as shown by his arrogant criticism of Harman and his feudal flee of the region (from Manchester to London) – he might as well have an aeroplane following him with a banner stating: “forget Ed’s speech, just talk about me!”. Yes, it must have been a horrible experience to have lost something you have put off standing for so many years; but its politics, and if he was going to be this ungracious losing, well he never should have stood.
Then we turn to Ed. Well I have been struggling to think of a fruit that can correspond to the great sense of disappointment that I and many others felt from watching his speech. I have decided to come down on the side of a kiwi – you can never get enough out of them, can you? You try your hardest to get as much of the food from inside it out, but it all gets a bit too messy, so you give up. Well Ed today was mightily disappointing, with his poor comments re unions, the deficit (as someone rightly said, his talk of a deficit burden for future generations – man how often has that word been used today – is George Osborne economics), the environment and foreign policy in particular.
The unions apparently didn’t look too happy at Ed Miliband’s comments re the unions striking. In classic pandering to the right, he talked about how the public wouldn’t support them in reckless and irresponsible strikes. Yes, we know. But what do YOU think about strikes in general, in the specific economic context. The Conservatives and LibDems will denounce any attempt for public collective action against the NOT INEVITABLE cuts that they are enacting as self glorified union ‘baron’ (this is an in-factually correct slander being appropriated at the moment) manipulation. What the test is for Ed, is to stand up and support rightful strikes; which will be mostly all of them, as they are striking to protect their livelihoods.
It makes you wonder whether Nick Clegg wrote Ed Miliband speech the way in which Cameron finalised Clegg’s. Oh, the whole – Labour would have been doing painful cuts blah blah blah. Well yes, because they were going to enact a very politically sensitive economic plan, which was drawn up in a climate where most people would have accepted no less. They saw Labour in the frame of the Tories’ construction, that of a reckless spending party – when all they had done was protect the economy from meltdown, something many Tories seem happy to of let happen. What Ed really needs to do, as at the moment he looks like a moderate Cameron, is to carve a counter narrative for Labour’s economic plans.
I have said this countless times before, Ed Balls plans are what Labour needs. There was no mention of cuts in his impressive Boomerang speech, it was focused on investment and creating jobs. Again, Greens are in desperate need themselves to redefine their economic policies, as at the moment we are signed up to a similar deficit reduction plan to Darling’s, the difference being the tax to cuts ratio. Labour’s endless obsession with GDP and growth, as most mainstream parties have, shows why the watermelons are the only party to really understand the environment and economy’s interdependent relationship. Ed spoke little about the environment – something I will come onto now.
For someone who seemed to care about the environment whilst in government, he was pretty dire. I think this is rather nicely summed up by Caroline Lucas:
If Ed’s new politics is adding dash of environmentalism to business as usual – as tiny bit on climate added at end of speech – it looks grim
But as NishmaDoshi on Twitter pointed out, Lucas needs to make sure to frame her environmental arguments in wider political discourse, as we need to make sure that as a party we carve out a narrative that shows how clearly the environment and economy relate together; aka ecosocialism.
As I said on Twitter, his comments re Afghanistan are counter productive when considering his supposedly liberal approach. All Afghanistan is now, is a vain attempt of liberal interventionism! We need to withdraw now, with political affairs and aid infrastructure being the only, military and whatever else, reconstruction we involve ourselves in.
Ed looked as though he wanted to distance himself from slipping up on the right-wing’s banana skin (as David did one time long ago) and actually ended up doing so. He gave them exactly what they wanted; someone who had peeled off their radical edge (possible for a kiwi); laughing at the very prospect of Old Labour. It was a speech David Miliband could have agreed with (oh, well not on Iraq as we have seen). I showed a lot of positivism regarding Ed being chosen as Labour leader – and I still do. I guess I am falling into the whole dynamic of pluralism and tribalism. However, I don’t think the points I have mentioned are that demanding on a fresh Labour leader; who expresses such desperation on reforming the party.
Hopefully, Ed will be able to overcome the right-wing scaremongering, and start to keep to some of the things he argued for in his campaign. Us watermelons need to continue to press hard, but in a constructive manner, not in a dictatorial “I want it now” “are we there yet?” way! We will have to see.
P.s – political fruit comparisons are welcomed by the way!