Kevin Ovenden is the author of Syriza Inside the Labyrinth and a longstanding socialist activist and writer in Britain. He has closely followed Greek politics, society and culture for over twenty-five years. He was for many years a member of the Socialist Workers Party in Britain and then a leading figure in the Respect Party. He writes particularly on racism, the politics of the Middle East and the crisis of the Eurozone for a range of outlets. He is a national officer of both the Stop the War Coalition and of Unite Against Fascism. He lives in east London, but spends time in Greece and in the Middle East. Kevin was aboard the Mavi Marmara when Israeli commandos boarded it five years ago killing 10 Turkish aid workers. He led five blockade-busting aid convoys to Gaza and is on the executive committee of the International Campaign to Return to Palestine. Contact Kevin: e-mail me at: kevin.ovenden[at]gmail.com. On facebook here. On Twitter: @kevin_ovenden
The London Greens decision not to announce a second preference vote for Labour’s Sadiq Khan tells you an awful lot.
It’s not remotely for any left wing reason. I mean the real reason – one can always come up with any old purported reason, given sufficient time and intellect. (So I put the Greens as a party in a different category from friends who for good left wing reasons won’t put any effort into getting Khan elected.)
The Greens face a squeeze from the Corbyn surge – particularly in London. They could have sought to consolidate their 180,000 votes from four years ago on a left wing and collegiate basis.
I’m convinced that given their size and profile they could have made a serious bid to be the force which is more Corbyn than Khan or any of the London Assembly candidates are, and is a useful instrument for the movement as a whole in London, and in Britain.
But that would mean not just saying left wing things. It would require being an interventionist and radical left force.
Notwithstanding the efforts of some good socialist friends in the Green Party, that is not the path the party chose last September. It decided instead to try to mine the territory of the near defunct Lib Dems (150,000 votes in the London Assembly list section four years ago).
The attacks by people such as former Green candidate Peter Tatchell and current Green London Assembly member Darren Johnson on the Stop the War Coalition were about that.
The strategy also means going after votes in Richmond Park, Twickenham, Wimbledon and other places which are not exactly PLC (People Like Corbyn). Goldsmith is, of courses, the MP for Richmond Park.
So it makes perfect sense not to be identified with an anti-Goldsmith bloc if you are fishing for votes in those areas. Goldsmith won his seat from the Lib Dems in 2010 (in an election where the Lib Dems did well) by using some Green lubricant to slide his way in.
So what we are seeing from the London Greens is a grubby and rightist play to try to keep hold of their two seats on the GLA on an essentially Lib Dem basis. The Greens have actually had the same two characters on the London Assembly for the last 16 years (both are standing down this year). Fat lot of good it has done – from the point of view of any serious struggle in the capital.
To be clear – it is, of course, up to the Greens in London whether to recommend a second vote for Labour of not.
Equally, it is up to the rest of us to decide that this party formation has little to do with developing the radical left or the class struggle.