This year was pretty exciting – I was accepted onto the Young Green’s 30 under 30 scheme. Designed by the youth sector of the Green Party UK, its aim is to help teach and encourage young people to become more involved with the party and Green politics. We got to visit the European Parliament, and spent training weekends learning about how the party runs (and getting veeeeeeery drunk).
It was great – I got to meet and befriend people with the same ideology and values as myself. I have always switched between Labour and the Greens, depending on who seems to be advocating my beliefs more at the time, but this helped me learn more about the Greens and what/who they stand for. I learnt how to be better at debates and speeches, admired those who are so involved with the Greens, and reaffirmed why I am proud to be a lefty liberal snowflake.
But, as I came to learn, it’s not a perfect, paradise of a political party. I found myself, as the year progressed, become more critical of some of the people involved in the party. Their views and passion are always admirable, but I felt that they are ultimately more of a hindrance to the party they dedicate so much to.
How so? I feel that my main issue with the Greens, or at least some of them, is that they are not very welcoming of differing political views – if at all. Whilst it is refreshing and fun to surround yourself with people who share the same views, it is just as important to also listen to those with differing opinions. I hate far-right parties, and cannot understand why people support them. But some do, and it is important to learn and understand why to be able to solve the underlying problem (often it is money). I also know the value of listening to my centrist friends – they also keep up to date with politics and are well informed, so their opinions are just as valid as my own. I may not agree with everything they say, but they make good points with reasonable evidence. But many of the Greens I met even have expressed hatred of even Labour supporters. When Labour are the closest in political ideology to the Greens (and lets face it- as the Greens are such a small party our best hope at the moment is working with others), it makes no sense in my opinion to disregard cooperation with Labour. Not all Greens feel this way, many are in favour of the Progressive Alliance, but some make too many jokes, admit to deleting Facebook friends who switch from Green to Labour, and the vegan Greens even were pleased when Corbyn said he isn’t vegan. It is a little too dangerous to only surround yourself with people who have the same views. How can you be in tune to current politics, if you cut out the vast majority of people just because their views differ? I have no idea if all other parties act similarly, to be honest I suspect they do. In fact, I have been witness to Labour supporters encountering abuse if they are not 100% supportive of the Momentum movement. It is a problem that exists across the left wing spectrum – that people cannot accept difference of opinion, even if it all falls under the socialist umbrella. This is regressive, and British politics needs better cooperation. The Green Party is in favour of proportional representation in elections, and this will lead to more coalitions. So it’s only logical that Greens will cooperate with Labour. But a slight difference in opinion acts as a barrier to allowing fairer representation. It needs to be accepted that people within the UK hold different political opinions, and all deserve to be represented, or at least listened to.
This is not to discredit the Greens or the 30 under 30 scheme. If you are 16-29, and are interested in Green politics, I wholeheartedly encourage you to apply. Even if, like me, you end up unsure of whether you want to remain a passionate member, you still learn invaluable skills and meet great people. And if it makes you even more passionate about the Greens, you end up with great connections to help you become more involved. I am proud of what the Greens stand for: their progressive views often can’t be found elsewhere, and as a small party they show no fear in sticking to what they believe in. If you feel you lack a voice in politics, the Green Party will help to amplify this. I just wish they would acknowledge other voices exist, and deserve to be heard.