Led by a man who’s a privately educated, former City banker, bankrolled by sexist Greek millionaires, rising to success off the back of mainstream press coverage approaching reverence. Hardly the best anti-establishment credentials around. As the saying goes, the revolution will not be televised, and UKIP are rarely off the TV these days.
Whilst UKIP has enjoyed universal coverage almost every day for the past year, the Greens have been largely ignored, culminating in the bizarre and poorly defended decision by the BBC to exclude them from the leader’s debates.
On almost every major issue dominating British politics, the Greens are in stark disagreement with the other parties and the status quo, whilst resoundingly supported by the British public. They are a party that; would decentralise political power, devolving it to local communities; recognises that the only way to create a fairer society and halt climate change is by challenging the neoliberal consensus; allows all of its members ultimate control over the party; wishes to seriously tackle inequality; and refuses to buy into the negative rhetoric concerning immigrants and welfare claimants.
Contrast this with UKIP. Supporting enough neoliberal policies to give even Thatcher an overdose; muscling out a local party to shove a former Tory MP into the candidacy; and boasting an impressive array of racists, sexists, and homophobes. This isn’t a radical political party- it’s an embarrassment.
Let’s see how UKIP and the Greens stack up on a policy by policy basis.
Human Rights? Whilst the Greens have fought fiercely for liberation for all oppressed groups, UKIP officials have blamed them for the state of the weather and the economy, and pledged to: “repeal the Human Rights Act” and remove us from the European Court of Human Rights.
Inequality? The Greens are offering progressive policies like a wealth tax, pay ratio’s in companies, and a £10 an hour minimum wage, but UKIP seem content with flattening out the tax system, scrapping inheritance tax, and flirting with the idea of slashing corporation tax too.
State spending? The Greens will scrap foolishness like Trident and pull people out of the welfare system by ensuring employers actually pay them a living wage, whilst protecting public services. UKIP on the other hand will see state spending slashed to 1997 levels, whilst pouring money into our defence budget instead. Perhaps they realise they’ll need a bigger army because they’re likely to anger so many people.
Climate change? The Greens are the only party committed to seriously investing in renewables and the only ones willing to take a tough stance on carbon emissions, whilst UKIP want to “abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change and scrap green subsidies” and “repeal the Climate Change Act 2008”. This is the Act that ensures we legally have to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 to avoid, you know, the collapse of civilisation.
So, one party is promising to protect public services and human rights, whilst being committed to radical action on inequality and climate change, whilst the other slashes public spending, buries its head in the sand about the environment, and panders to the interests of the rich... which one sounds more anti-establishment to you?
As Naomi Klein points out in her new book ‘This Changes Everything’, tackling climate change requires an acceptance that things can’t carry on as they are: the solutions would have profound implications for our political and economic systems, changing them forever. Politicians have failed so spectacularly thus far to deal with climate change because the idea of rendering the status quo obsolete terrifies them. Not only would it endanger their supporter base, but it would, for the most part, shatter their own personal worlds as well- UKIP are no different.
The most damaging thing that Thatcher ever did was tell the world there were no alternatives: by and large, for the past 40 years, we have believed her. At the heart of the message coming from the Greens is a very simple idea: it doesn’t have to be like this. The neoliberal approach that successive governments have been pushing is a proven failure, whilst the kind of alternatives that the Greens are offering have been shown to be far superior.
You don’t have to struggle to live off poverty pay, and then be demonised for accepting state welfare. You don’t have to live under enormous student debt. You don’t have to watch bankers get rich for contributing nothing to society and wrecking the economy. You don’t have to sit back and watch inequality deepen, corruption spread, and climate change worsen. You do have a choice, there is an alternative.
What message could be more anti-establishment than that?