A Green Party Member Responds to Kitty Jones

As an increasingly active member of the Green Party, for a while I have been considering setting up a blog to express my own personal political views. While responding to Kitty Jones’ recent ‘debunking’ of the ‘myth’ behind the Green Party is a proximate cause of the creation of this blog, it is far from the entire cause.

The following is addressed directly to Kitty Jones, and is an adaptation of a comment I made on her blog a week ago, which seems to have been actively deleted, as opposed to still awaiting moderation. (The original comment will be posted as the first comment of this blog post, so you can decide for yourself whether she was right to not let it through.)
While I believe her post is a gross misrepresentation of the Green Party, there are several other of her posts I’d recommend – in particular her look at the way  benefit sanctions punish poverty, and her detailed analysis of the links between Tory policies and poverty. There’s also a post (which at the moment I can’t refind) in which she makes the case that Rachel Reeves has used some highly technical lawmaking to box Iain Duncan Smith into a position where he can’t withhold inconvenient evidence – her case is persuasive and this seems to have been missed by the mainstream media.
While I’m angered and frustrated by the criticisms she made, what makes it worse is that she generally is a provocative and interesting political writer – I’d recommend that anyone who’s open to being persuaded that the Labour Party is still a force for good to check out the blog posts of her’s that I recommended, and her blog in general.
 
Kitty,

There’s some valid questions about the need to question environmental causes, but the objections in this article work better as an attack on ‘greenwashing’ in general than the Green Party/ies in particular – such as Cameron and his huskies. The Green Party policy you’ve quoted seems to me like it would focus on cutting waste – so overcoming wasted energy through better house insulation, encouraging people not to waste food. You make a series of mistakes between Green and ‘green’ (by which you mean Malthusian) policies. Have you any evidence that the modern Green Party admires Malthus?

From your comments: “Labour don’t support austerity and never have, Labour have no funding from corporate organisations. That’s 2 Green lies that are commonly thrown out. “

Labour might not use the phrase austerity directly, but Rachel Reeves has promised to be tougher than the Tories, and Ed Balls has promised to work towards balancing the budget by capping benefits paid for children and pensioners, which sounds like austerity in all but name. (There have been internal analysis of new membership numbers shared on the Green Party members’ website, looking at when membership numbers have spiked. The day of, and immediately after, Ed Balls’ conference speech was one of these, with Balls being the messenger himself, uninterrupted by ‘Green lies’.)

The assistance from Price Waterhouse Coopers has to count, at least, as a ‘donation in kind’, which is more worrying than a direct donation, given that they are apparently helping to write tax laws which they will later be helping corporations find loopholes in.

Misinformation is not necessarily spread deliberately – you argue in the comments that Rachel Reeves meant, when she promised to be ‘tougher than the Tories’ that  she would cut Ian Duncan Smith’s waste. If this is true, then it’s at least a bad way of phrasing what she meant – phrases like ‘more efficient’ or ‘less wasteful’ would have communicated her intent better than ‘tougher’. Either she chose a bad turn of phrase, or the media has misrepresented her intent (The Guardian quotes her as saying “If you can work you should be working, and under our compulsory jobs guarantee if you refuse that job you forgo your benefits, and that is really important”). Either way you can’t hold Green Party members entirely responsible for sharing what is a common interpretation.

The ‘tougher than the Tories’ line is one I’ve shared a couple of times – if I’ve got the wrong impression, then it’s been a ‘Green mistake’ rather than a ‘Green lie’. While I believe that the Green Party offers a better moral philosophy than the Labour Party, I can respect those who disagree and misunderstand Green statements. I would ask that you do the same when others say things that you believe to be untruths about Labour – they could well be mistakes rather than lies. While I disagree with your depiction of the Green Party, I can respect your intent in exposing a party you see as charlatans.

The criticisms of Green Party alliances is possibly valid, but I’d like to see some specific criticisms. Not every Tory council is as bad as Cameron, some will be worth working with. Brighton Labour obviously consider Brighton Tories worth working with.

I’d accept that Miliband is a decent socialist, albeit one who’s strongest policies are still quite half-hearted. The Green Party focus on attacking Labour is obviously something to validly criticise, but most people who are tempted to vote Green will take as given that Cameron can’t be trusted.

Likewise, I’m aware that Brighton Greens have made some bad choices, but I personally consider this to be a combination of external pressures (inheriting an equality lawsuit which neither Labour or Tory councils dealt with in the previous 14 years, and which had a deadline of November 2013, two years after the Greens came to power; austerity cuts from the national government) and poor decision making (sending officers to negotiate with unions, rather than councillors doing it themselves). There is an implication in the way your argument is presented that excessive cuts are somehow inherent in the Green Party nature, possibly fuelled by our raging Malthusianism. (You have denied several times that you compared the Green and Nazi parties, but that is certainly how the blog post read to me.) While I don’t want to excuse Brighton Greens for every mistake, Brighton Greens are a minority controlled council, with some reports saying that Labour and the Tories are acting as an unofficial coalition government. Brighton Labour have recently forced through a large tax increase for the poorest.

Around 100 jobs have recently been cut in Brighton, around 600 in Labour controlled Manchester, which from my understanding is proportionately similar.

You say in one comment that you’re not a Labour Party member, but I’ve read elsewhere that you work in PR for Labour – is this true? As a semi-regular reader of your blog, I’m fairly sure that you described yourself as a Labour councillor at one point – am I mistaken? (Apologies if I am.)

Edit – I’ve been informed, in a comment below, that I was mistaken. I apologise unreservedly.

Your anti-democratic response to comments is more unambigiously troubling. After a commenter responds to a wordpress blog post, they can see that post, with the heading ‘Your comment is awaiting moderation’ until it is either approved or deleted. I have no issue with you not getting around to approving my comments, as you’ve clearly been busy with this particular blog post. My objection is to some very benign comments being actively deleted, while you have implied that your policy is to let through disagreeing posts – “There are many posts here on this thread, and many raise points that i disagree with, but they have been posted.”

The comment which makes the basis of this blog post seems to have been actively deleted. As does a comment in which I pointed out a factual mistruth in one of your statements (whether this is a lie or a mistake is obviously something which I can’t be sure about). The time on my clock in the bottom right corner in the third image shows that there is no comment ‘awaiting moderation’ at a later time than the second image.

Based on your refusal to share my factual correction that you do have the ability to edit comments on your blog, it seems logical that you did edit Andy’s comment, and possibly that he made another comment (as you requested) which you have not allowed through. I’ve posted a few more examples of this apparent deletion of benign comments at the bottom of this post – though in the later examples, I saved pages rather than took screenshots, so the clock in the bottom right would be no proof of when comments when still awaiting moderation.

It’s unfair and undemocratic to go out of your way to limit the range of debate in this way.

On the whole, I find your site interesting, and although we disagree on several subjects (you’ve obviously got more faith than I do in the current Labour leadership, and you’ve described the Tory leadership as eugenicists) you make a lot of interesting arguments. Along with Eoin Clarke, I consider you one of the most persuasive Labour voices, but transparent nonsense like arguing the Green Party is Malthusian in nature doesn’t help.

I’m sorry if my fellow Green Party members have been bullying you, and I promise to try and call this out when I see it. But I think you’re smart enough to see that drawing a direct line from Malthus, through the Nazis, to the modern Green Party, is going to provoke strong responses. While there’s no excuse for abusive messages, calling people liars is going to annoy them. As is writing an article which compares a significant political party to Nazis and Malthusians based on a single ambigious quote.

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David Stringer

Writer. Very occasional blogger; unpublished fiction, unfilmed scripts & more. Accidental political activist.

26 thoughts on “A Green Party Member Responds to Kitty Jones”

  1. My comment on Kitty Jones’ blog, which forms the basis of this blog post, and appears to have been actively deleted:

    There’s some valid questions about the need to question environmental causes, but the objections in this article work better as an attack on ‘greenwashing’ in general than the Green Party/ies in particular – such as Cameron and his huskies.

    The Green Party policy you’ve quoted is generally seen to cover waste – so overcoming wasted energy through better house insulation, encouraging people not to waste food.
    You make a series of mistakes between Green and ‘green’ (by which you mean Malthusian) policies. Have you any evidence that the modern Green Party admires Malthus?

    From your comments:
    “Labour don’t support austerity and never have, Labour have no funding from corporate organisations. That’s 2 Green lies that are commonly thrown out. ”

    Labour might not use the phrase austerity directly, but Rachel Reeves has promised to be tougher than the Tories, and Ed Balls has promised to work towards balancing the budget by capping benefits paid for children and pensioners, which sounds like austerity in all but name. (There have been internal analysis of new membership numbers shared on Green Party members’ website, looking at when membership numbers have spiked. The day of, and immediately after, Ed Balls’ conference speech was one of these, with Balls being the messenger himself, uninterrupted by Green Party ‘lies’.)

    The assistance from Price Waterhouse Coopers has to count, at least, as a ‘donation in kind’, which is more worrying than a direct donation, given that they are apparently helping to write tax laws which they will later be helping corporations find loopholes in.
    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/12/pricewaterhousecoopers-tax-structures-politics-influence

    The criticisms of Green Party alliances is possibly valid, but I’d like to see some specific criticisms. Not every Tory council is as bad as Cameron, some will be worth working with. Brighton Labour obviously consider Brighton Tories worth working with.

    I’d accept that Miliband is a decent socialist, albeit one who’s strongest policies are still quite half-hearted. The Green Party focus on attacking Labour is obviously something to validly criticise, but most people who are tempted to vote Green will take as given that Cameron can’t be trusted.

    Likewise, I’m aware that Brighton Greens have made some bad choices, but I personally consider this to be a combination of external pressures (inheriting an equality lawsuit which neither Labour or Tory councils dealt with in the previous 14 years, and which had a deadline of November 2013, two years after the Greens came to power; austerity cuts from the national government) and poor decision making (sending officers to negotiate with unions, rather than councillors doing it themselves).

    While I don’t want to excuse Brighton Greens for every mistake, Brighton Greens are a minority controlled council, with some reports saying that Labour and the Tories are acting as an unofficial coalition government. Brighton Labour have recently forced through a large tax increase for the poorest.
    http://brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/labour-push-76-council-tax-increase/

    Around 100 jobs have recently been cut in Brighton, around 600 in Labour controlled Manchester, which I think is proportionately similar.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-30478822

    You say in one comment that you’re not a Labour Party member, but I’ve read elsewhere that you work in PR for Labour – is this true? As a semi-regular reader of this blog, I’m fairly sure that you described yourself as a Labour councillor at one point – am I mistaken? (Apologies if I am.)

    On the whole, I find this site interesting – you’ve obviously got more faith than I do in the current Labour leadership, and I think you’ve described the Tory leadership as eugenicists (personally I just see them as massively lacking in empathy) but you make a lot of interesting arguments. Along with Eoin Clarke, I consider you one of the most persuasive Labour voices, but transparent nonsense like this doesn’t help.

    I’m sorry if my fellow Green Party members have been bullying you, and I promise to try and call this out when I see it. But I think you’re smart enough to see that drawing a direct line from Malthus, through the Nazis, to the modern Green Party, is nonsense.

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  2. What you describe as ‘transparent nonsense’ has also been proposed by Green Party member Derek Wall – in Green Fascism and the Greening of Hate and in Darker Shades of Green , which I cited on the OP . See – http://www.redpepper.org.uk/darker-shades-of-green/

    “Paradoxically, while Greens argue for social justice and other left themes, environmentalism is often linked to the right. Hitler believed in a politics of hatred ordained by iron ‘laws of nature’”- Darker shades of green. Derek Wall traces the thread of ecofascism through the Green movement’s history. Derek is a member of the Green Party’s Anti-Fascist and Anti-Racist Network, author of Green History (Routledge 1994).

    He notes the same tension as I do, between environmentalism and social justice/human rights. He discusses the environmentalism of the Nazis and the influence of Malthus’s ideas.

    I find your denial, and resorting to dismissing what I have to say as ‘nonsense’ unhelpful in terms of continuing a dialogue with you. I have not misrepresented the issues I raised about enivironmentalism. I am also not the only person to raise those issues.

    I’m not and never have been a councillor or a Labour PR person.

    I have not tampered with any responses I posted on the thread. If any didn’t get posted, it was because there were so many. As it is there are going on for a couple of hundred on there! If I didn’t want to allow people to present their accounts, I simply wouldn’t have posted any of them. However, it’s my blog site, and from now on, I WILL be taking a more active moderation role. The reasons for that must surely be obvious to you, given some of the content of that thread.

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    1. I also responded to your repetition of the myth that Reeves said she would be “tougher on welfare than the tories”, yet here you are trotting out the same misquote and lie. I refer you to the comment taken from the Hansard record.

      I had a lot of respect for Caroline Lucas, until, in the middle of crucial debate about the WCA and the plight of our disabled people, initiated by the WOW campaign, Lucas lost all of my respect when she chose political point scoring instead of constructive debate and said this:

      Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion, Green); I was disappointed that Rachel Reeves, on taking up her post as shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, used the opportunity of her first interview to say that she would be tougher than the Tories on people on benefits.

      Kate Green (Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions); Stretford and Urmston, Labour)
      My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds West did not say that. She said that she would be tougher on welfare spending, not on people on benefits.

      Sheila Gilmore (Edinburgh East, Labour)
      Does the hon. Lady agree that there are some forms of welfare spending that we should bring down? In my view, one of those is the excessive amount that is paid to private landlords through housing benefit. I am certainly in favour of reducing that form of welfare spending. Is she not?

      Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion, Green)
      I am very much in favour of that if the hon. Lady wants to put it under the heading of welfare spending…

      Source: Hansard record

      Nonetheless the green party has continued to misquote Reeves, to my disgust, using negative campaigning and smear tactics akin to the Tories to promote their own party.
      Further info on what Reeves actually said : http://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/we-can-reduce-the-welfare-budget-by-billions-by-simply-get-rid-of-iain-duncan-smith/

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      1. As I’ve said in the main body of this Reply, it was my honest opinion that this is what she said, backed up with a story from the Guardian – which can usually be relied on not to distort the words of Labour politicians.

        I have repeated the story myself, but I promise that this was a mistake, not a deliberate lie. Referring to this as a ‘Green lie’ won’t win many people around.
        I promise I won’t repeat this story again until I’ve read around and formed my opinion on whether you’re correct.

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      2. The Guardian supports the Lib Dems and has lied about the Labour party on several occasions that I am aware of….

        It IS a green lie because it’s being repeated, no matter what evidence is placed in front of those perpetuating it. It’s unhelpful in that if you aren’t criticising based on truths, then you are simply propagandarising. But I accept and appreciate that some people do share accounts in the mistaken belief they are true.

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      3. A lie is a deliberately false statement. You have no way of knowing that the statements were deliberately false in the majority of cases (and in my case, I promise it wasn’t).

        Because you have no way of knowing that the statements are deliberate falsehoods in the majority of cases (though you may have reason to be certain in particular cases), dismissing the repetition as a ‘Green lie’ is, in my opinion, very unfair, and an ad hominem attack against the party/membership as a whole.

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      4. If I’ve been used by the Tory or Lib Dem propaganda machines in repeating a false story, then obviously I apologise. You’re obviously a spiky person (not necessarily a bad thing!) but I think your choice of phrase was one that wasn’t a great way to win Green members over…

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      5. Which I approve of, and which is why I read your blog (I’ve been reading irregularly for a while, and we had a fairly lengthy discussion in the comments of your blog on the ‘Hierarchy of Worth’).

        It’s not popularity that I think you should be concerned about, but fairness. And dismissing people as liars won’t help to win them over.

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      6. I am very concerned about fairness and balance too. But it was never my aim to ‘win over’ green supporters. And also, it has to be pointed out that even if a lie was perpetuated by mistake, we do have the option of taking responsibility for what we share and making sure that it is INFORMED and factual. If that’s ‘dismissive’, then so be it

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    2. The majority of evidence you’ve cited in your post, describes a link between the green MOVEMENT and Malthus, not the Green PARTY. The only evidence against the Green PARTY that you’ve cited is a single statement of vague principles, with not even a hint towards population control.
      Derek Wall talks about the Malthusian strain of the MOVEMENT – while they have unfortunately overlapped with the PARTY in the past, the overlap has never run deep, as far as I’m aware. In Wall’s telling, the PARTY has rapidly cut out any Green-racist overlap when it became clear, though of course if you have evidence that contradicts this, I’d gladly listen.

      I agree entirely that there is a Malthusian strain in the unregulated, open-to-anyone MOVEMENT, but you’ve linked that to the PARTY without supporting evidence.

      I apologise for saying what I said about you, but I had been told on facebook that you work in PR for Labour, and I was sure I remembered reading on your blog that you were a councilor. Maybe it could have been a clarification that you aren’t the councilor of the same name.
      Your statement elsewhere that you have no link to the Labour Party confused me in light of this – thank you for the clarification, and apologies for spreading misinformation.

      When a comment is made, it comes up with the phrase ‘this comment is awaiting moderation’. The comment, and that phrase, remain visible to the commenter until the person running the blog either approves or deletes the comment.
      Someone – yourself or someone with admin access – has gone out of their way to actively delete several of my comments. As one of these was pointing out that you were wrong to say you don’t have the ability to edit comments, it appears logical (from my perspective) that you did edit the comment in discussion.

      Several of my comments were short, so were visibly not abusive at a glance.
      It takes just as much time to approve as to actively delete, so time is not an issue.

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      1. Time isn’t an issue when only faced with a few comments, or spaced responses, that, unfortanletly wasn’t the situation on that article. There was a lot to read, respond to, and so on. Not all of the comments were posted on, sure, but there’s a limit to what a person can respond to. And none of the comments were amended.

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      2. As I’ve said higher, time isn’t the issue.

        When a comment is awaiting approval, it’s visible to the commenter, and is marked as awaiting approval.
        All of my comments were marked this way at first, but after a while each disappeared. They appear to have been deleted, which takes as much time as approving them would.

        Before the last six months, I’ve been blogging regularly for two and a half years, so I know how WordPress works.

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      3. You missed the point – I was swamped with comments, and time IS an issue, who wants to sit and have to look through 100s of comments, some nasty and abusive, over the christmas hols? I am not going to apologise for giving up posting them all, because I simply could not respond to the volume of them.

        I posted most of your comments, and responded to several. You were far from the only commentator. It’s my site, and subject to my limitations.

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      4. You seem to be missing the point I’m making.

        It’s not that you didn’t post my comments that I take issue with. It’s that you apparently chose to delete them – the ‘approve’ and ‘delete’ buttons are right next to each other. It takes no more time to do one than the other, and as several of the comments were very short, you could see at a glance that they weren’t abusive.

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      5. In terms of taking time to interact with commenters, you’ve gone far, far above what I consider reasonable. I have ’email me with new comments’ set up, and I think you even approved a few on Christmas Day.

        My objection is that, based on my years of using WordPress, I can tell that someone with admin access has been actively deleting several of my comments.

        If you have time to delete those comments, you have time to press the ‘approve’ button right next to the ‘delete’ button.

        The comments of mine that were deleted were the ones that most strongly disagreed with you, so it’s my opinion, based on what I’ve seen, that you’ve been deliberately limiting the range of debate. You have the legal right to do this. But I have the right to point out that you’re doing it.

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      6. There are going on for 200 comments on that post, David, many which I responded to. Had I wanted to limit the range of debate, I would not have approved any that presented reasonable debate. But you only need to look to see that I did.

        You repeated at least one post, so I did delete the 2nd post of it. As for claiming I deleted the ones where you most stronly disagreed with me, that’s utter nonsense and you know it is. You could see the abusive comments I was getting, too. Yet you still make unreasonable claims that this didn’t impact on my time.

        I don’t continue debating with people that are clearly not up for a genuine , reasoned debate. I won’t apologise for that either.

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      7. Just so you’re warned , some people say a LOT of things that aren’t true about me 🙂

        I’ve never been a councillor, and have never said I have. I am going to join the LP though. And many people, some councillors, have used mywork for campaigning – mostly the lists of policies I’ve collated, but that isn’t PR 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve come back to have a look in, and also, to wish you a merry christmas and all the best for the new year.

    I’ve now joined the Labour Party, and support Corbyn, of course. I found out that those people telling others that I worked as a Labour PR also told many other much more malicious lies about me, too. I don’t think this handful of vindictive individuals are genuine GP supporters. But I can see now where you got the PR thing from 🙂 I was also accused of being a snout for secret services, and of bullying people. But I kept a copy of the conversation I was sent by a friend in Green Left – it was apallingly nasty, malicious and of course, untrue. Water under the bridge, now, though.

    This said, a few people who fell out with me over what they said – and in fairness, the critical blog too – have since apologised and are friends now. It’s been a good year in terms of developing some sense of unity with others in the Green Party who want the same things as we/I do.

    It’s been an awful year in terms of the GE result. I maintain that even a Labour Party in office that we didn’t approve 100% would have at least been open to negotiation. The Tories will never be that, and people are still dying 😦

    But upwards and onwards.

    Best wishes,

    Kitty Sue x

    Like

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