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Sunday, 28 August 2016

Progressive Alliance vs tribalism as an aid to democracy?

By Dude Swheatie of Kwug, expressing a personal viewpoint

Reading the Wembley Matters and London Green Left blogs and observing the output of Green Party leadership hustings, it seems to me that the idea of Green Party participation in a 'Progressive Alliance' arouses a lot of tribalism within the Green Party's eco-socialist tendency Green Left and Green Party activists in general. (1) (2) (3)

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group is not party-politically aligned, containing members of various political parties and none, and we come together over the common concern of supporting vulnerable people while most of us are vulnerable ourselves as individuals.

Sure, there should have been more conferring with party members by the Green Party leadership before they made any pronouncements about a 'Progressive Alliance'.(4) Yet rather than condemning the other political parties, I believe that Greens including Green Left members could use the concept of a Progressive Alliance as a means of bringing those other political parties to change their ways.

Those other political parties would have to make great strides toward getting Greens to stand down. In a previous council election, Brent Green Party stood down one candidate in a three-seat ward to allow space for a candidate from pressure group Keep Willesden Green.(5)

Meanwhile, one of the greatest challenges for democracy is where a political party becomes so dominant for so long that its elected representatives lose any sense of connection with poor people who are so disenchanted as to become non-voters while that party uses 'regeneration' as a pathway to social exclusion. As Revd Paul Nicolson observes, while those in political power can become very detached we should not write them all off.(6)

Ultimately, a political party is a coalition. So too is a non-party-political grouping such as Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group. Co-operation as in the forming of a progressive alliance or even moving toward the formation of a progressive alliance can be a challenge. Kwug has had at least one Lib Dem activist among its members and we have not written them off for what Lib Dem MPs colluded with in a Con-Dem coalition. The standards required in forming and moving toward a progressive alliance can be a bridge whereas excessive tribalism can be a wall that shuts us out of exerting any influence. Mahatma Gandhi observed that no enemy can be thoroughly disarmed until they have become befriended.

Link addresses

  1. http://wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk/search?q="progressive+alliance"
  2. http://londongreenleft.blogspot.co.uk/search?q="progressive+alliance"
  3. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=green+party+leadership+hustings+2016
  4. https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2016/06/29/green-party-calls-for-progressive-electoral-alliance-talks/
  5. http://wembleymatters.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/greens-back-independent-grassroots.html
  6. Around 35 minutes to 36 minutes mark at https://soundcloud.com/oldvictheatre/how-to-change-the-world 

Dude Swheatie of Kwug, a Green Party and Green Left member expressing a personal viewpoint.


  1. I think it is inaccurate to label Green Left as tribalist regarding a 'progressive alliance'. There are differing views on this within GL and that is reflected in several previous postings on the London Green Left blog - including this one: http://londongreenleft.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/should-greens-join-progressive-alliance.html

    1. In retrospect, maybe I 'over-egged the pudding' in stating that the idea of a Progressive Alliance inspires A LOT OF tribalism WITHIN GREEN LEFT MEMBERS AND GREEN PARTY ACTIVISTS.

      Charles Gates'reference to progressive alliance as an EVIL DEAD Alliance — cited on London Green Left blog — epitomises what I was saying about tribalism.

      Presenting the concept of a progressive alliance can be a way of calling other parties' bluff, especially in constituencies where prospective participant parties have, say, behaved as regressive alliances as in the case of Labour councillors siding with Conservatives in Brighton & Hove in the days of a Green Party led council with no overall majority, or in areas where Labour has been a one-party state and forced people on state benefits to pay an element of Council Tax when those state benefits are too low to be taxed.

      Dude Swheatie of Kwug

      PS: It seems that arousing controversy can be a means of inicting comments.