After my self-imposed exile I’m back. Leaner, meaner and greener. Okay… I’m definitely not leaner as my post result grief-bacon will attest. And I don’t think I’m meaner, I started out this Referendum process positive and after last week’s low I am feeling positive once again. But I am greener.
Not with envy (of small independent thriving social democracies).
Not with queasiness (from the upset stomach of the belly of the establishment beast with its constitutional headache).
Not with inexperience (I have tested my mettle, weathered the storm, borne the cliches, I have been there and got the badge[s]).
No I’ve gone green in a different way… this week I joined the Scottish Green Party. I, like most people, have never before been a member of a political party, it’s all rather new to me. But I’m in good company. Membership of the Scottish Green Party last week was around 1700 – now it’s over 6000. The SNP have jumped in the same time period from the mid twenties to now over sixty five thousand. To think this surge would happen in 2014 during the campaign or after a Yes vote is one thing… but after a No vote? We Scots are a tenacious troupe. The future of politics in this country is looking exciting.
This wave of new energy falls upon the shore of the established order. The tide goes out as well as in but it always comes back. The rock may look immovable but millions and millions of particles of sand tell us that’s not true. We’ve been dammed up and damming ourselves up and it’s time to break the dam – to undamn ourselves so that we better understand ourselves. Independence may not be on the horizon any time soon but more independence, more flourising and more moreness is around the corner. There are many to causes to fight for and many dreams to dream but for me I have decided to argue for the viable verdant version.
My great friend Matthew, who led the way joining the Greens before they were cool (are they now cool?), helpfully described Green politics the other day as being a process of doing the legwork to take innovative, challenging policies and bring them into the mainstream. It’s an often thankless but rewarding task. I would like to repay the favour and do my bit to bring the Greens themselves (or rather ‘ourselves’) into the mainstream.
It’s my belief that Green politics are deeply resonant with lived human experience. Green politics is very human politics. It does not spring from ‘out there’, it’s not adversarial – part of an abstract historic struggle or measured tradition – it starts from somewhere ‘in here’ or perhaps ‘down here.’ This ‘downhereness’ means neither is it a space cadet curriculum. Green politics are not wacky, fringe or self indulgent. Green politics is about moving toward a healthy and vibrant society that can have both a strong local focus, to keep it accessible and accountable and an outward facing, international and collaborative outlook. This is a glimpse of true hospitality, cultivating something worth hosting and a starting point from which to interact and celebrate with our neighbours. Green politics may not be adversarial but it is not afraid of conflict. It advocates a society that embraces and deals with conflict creatively and spiritedly and not violently.
When you look into Green politics this kind of thing is within our reach. This stuff is workable, sensible and life giving. It’s far from niche – it resonates with what it is to be human – to be present and active and nurturing. Typical destructive, competitive and isolating politics is more wacky, fringe and niche than this. The reason we have seen a boom in political engagement is not because people have suddenly changed but because politics in this country has suddenly changed and is now in snatches and glances meaningful and powerful. I am new and at the start of my journey (sorry Matthew) I have a lot to learn about the frustrations and limitations of party politics but I am deeply excited. The Green Party in stark contrast to Scottish Labour – held a vote on whether or not to endorse Independence. They voted in favour but made it clear that members should follow their conscience and were not banned, chastised or patronsied for speaking out and were allowed to speak freely on the matter. I take heart from this generosity and ability to live in the tension as I take my first steps as a part member. I ask you, if unfamiliar with Green politics, to take a look at their (our!) policies.
I look forward to continuing to exploring these and other themes with you on a twice weekly basis – provisionally Saturdays and Wednesdays.
Thanks for reading.