The Green Party of England and Wales is bucking a trend. While its counterparts in many other countries have moved right, abandoning even the most limited commitment to equality and justice, the UK party has amended its statement of principles (called the â€œPhilosophical Basisâ€) to put social and environmental justice at the top of its agenda.
The amendments, drafted by Josiah Mortimer, Nick Devlin and Alfie van den Bos of the University of York University Green Party, with input from Young Greens around the country, were approved by over 70% of the delegates at the partyâ€™s convention in Nottingham, February 22-25. Most of the Young Green delegates, a quarter of those participating, supported the change.
The change has been hailed as â€œClause IV in reverse,â€ a reference to the Labour Partyâ€™s notorious 1995 decision to remove references to nationalization from its constitution, an action that is seen as that partyâ€™s ultimate capitulation to neoliberalism.
Prior to the convention, the Preamble to the Green Partyâ€™s Philosophical Basis read:
The amended Preamble reads:
This marks an important shift, away from blaming â€œhumansâ€ in general, and towards addressing the systemic and class basis of environmental destruction.
That emphasis continues in a new first clause following the preamble:
The changes obviously donâ€™t commit the party to all-out anti-capitalist action, but they are a move in the right direction. They will undoubtedly make the Greens more attractive to young environmentally-conscious radicals who view the Labour Party as just another voice of corporate capitalism.
Iâ€™ll be watching closely to see how those radicals turn the conventionâ€™s resolutions into effective action for social and environmental justice.