Belfast Telegraph

Green surge: Many are at the end of their patience with message from Westminster and Stormont

By Steven Agnew

They say 19th January is ‘Blue Monday’, apparently because it is the gloomiest day of the year. Well, this year it wasn’t blue for the Greens.

Across the UK people have been signing up to join the Party in their thousands over the last few days.  What was already a surge has become a Green geyser, with over 2,000 joining in a single day.  Membership has now overtaken that of both UKIP and the Lib Dems.

This surge is evident here with the Green Party in Northern Ireland seeing a 10% growth in membership in a 48 hour period.  

Why this sudden acceleration of the surge?  The immediate trigger may have been the row over the exclusion of the Greens from the Westminster electoral debates.  Clearly a lot of people were unhappy that we had been cut out of the debate – to say nothing of the relatively scant media attention in general. 

To put it more positively, we have seen a Green surge because so many people want to hear what the Green Party have to say.  Why?  Because so many of us are at the end of our patience with the message on offer from the main parties – both in Westminster and here in Stormont.  

The crash of 2008 was caused by reckless speculation in under-regulated finance markets.  But rather than take the crisis as an opportunity for serious re-evaluation, the Conservative Party and their allies blamed it on public spending, and prescribed still larger doses of the same medicine.  Wrong diagnosis, wrong treatment.  And the patient is beginning to waken up.

The Greens are growing because they offer a positive alternative, a new, progressive politics, one in which we work together for the common good. 

If you want to grow a plant you don’t feed a few of the upper leaves.  You feed the roots.  We want to see intelligent investment in the grassroots of our economy.  We want to see a strong public sector supporting sustainable local businesses that pay their employees a living wage – thus injecting money into our local communities and producing widespread wellbeing, rather than an accumulation at the top.  When the use of foodbanks is growing despite growth in GDP, there is clearly a problem with how we measure the wellbeing of our economy.

We want to see power returned to the grassroots of our democracy – supporting an inclusive, diverse, vibrant community of communities.  We want to see more women in positions of power, we want to see everyone, without exception or exemptions, treated as equals as of right – including the right of LGBT couples to marry.  We want to build a nonviolent Northern Ireland in which sectarianism and racism are things of the past, a Northern Ireland that enjoys the riches of its cultural diversity. 

And we want to see Northern Ireland produce leading scientists, engineers, technicians and fitters, to put this place front and centre in the coming clean power revolution.

Ambitious?  Yes.  But maybe it is time for us to get ambitious.  Six months ago no one believed the Green Party membership would surpass UKIP, let alone the Lib Dems.  Now we, and those have yet to join us, must turn that surge into a new progressive political movement, with no less an ambition than to re-write our social contract itself.  So come and join us; together we can begin to transform Northern Ireland.

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