A couple of people asked me what I made of the Telegraph’s recent article on Green Party policy, Drugs, brothels, al-Qaeda and the Beyonce tax: the Green Party plan for Britain. So I thought I’d jot down a few notes for a (potentially) wider readership.

  1. The Green Party has some crazy, wacky, ludicrous or disturbing polices, and if you are willing to wade through 161,403 words, you will find them! The party’s policies have been built up over decades. The only way policy can be changed is by the party conference. This makes the policies very democratic, but also gives them a tendency to grow, and grow, and grow. Few people in the party spend much time reading the policies, and members are far more likely to propose additions to policy than deletions from it. Have a quick look now at policy.greenparty.org.uk.

  2. Only a small subset of the policies are important at any given time, and these policies may be found in manifestos and heard in media appearances. It’s much more important to pay attention to those.

  3. The broad principles are more important than the individual policies and that’s what attracted me to the Green Party. Green politics, internationally, is built on four pillars: ecology, social justice, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence. Derek Wall’s book, The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Politics is a good introduction to this: see my posts here and here. If you like the sound of that, don’t be unduly put off by the minutiae.

  4. A vote for the Green Party could influence negotiations in a hung parliament even if your vote doesn’t directly contribute to a Green MP being elected. The small number of MPs the party ends up with would be able to say they represent the views of a huge number of people around the country. So they might have a disproportionate amount of bargaining power — still not very much, though — but only in respect to the party’s most prominent and realistic policies. This might be on energy, welfare, benefits or scrapping Trident, depending on how willing the other parties are to make accommodations. There’s absolutely no risk that any of the party’s more idiosyncratic policies will get implemented.

  5. Other parties don’t disclose their policies and either keep them secret or make them up as they go along. When I joined the Green Party I familiarised myself with the core principles underlying party policy and, for comparison, tried to find something similar on the websites of the other major parties. Could I find anything? No.

  6. You can change Green Party policy for the better. Just join the party and go to the conference! That’s what I’ll be doing in a few weeks’ time. Or join some other party and get involved in that one. But I doubt there is another party in the country that is shaped so directly by its members as the Green Party is.

(No, that wasn’t a listicle!)