Scarcely a hundred days to go ’til #GE2015. We already have five different election night plans and are DYING OF EXCITEMENT. CAN’T WAIT.
Of course, the TV debates are fucked. Oh, Cameron won’t do it if the Greens aren’t included. How thoughtful and sincere of him. Nobody knew he cared. Finally, of course, concessions have been made and the Greens may yet have a place. Should probably bring in the SNP, too, and Plaid, and maybe the Cornish Nationalist Party or something because why the hell not. All the colours!
Frankly, we rather like the Green Party. We think they’re nice, and – you can tell we’re liberals – good for pluralism and political diversity. They make great local councillors, and are full of lovely elderly ladies from the countryside. They want everyone to be happy, they want a basic income (not a negative income tax, but close enough), they like green energy, they don’t like nuclear bombs, they do like women and ethnic minorities, etc., etc.
But suddenly, astonishingly, people are starting to take them seriously. People are starting to think they’ve got a chance in Westminster. The student left — long-since disillusioned with Labour’s authoritarianism and Ed Miliband’s bland incompetence — have latched onto the Greens as though they were a life-raft. And this is so utterly bizarre it’s difficult to believe.
We’ve seen Natalie Bennett’s absolute car-crash of an interview with Andrew Neil. It hurt to watch. He threw her softball after softball, going far easier on her than is his wont – and she squirmed and cringed. And of course she’s not used to serious interviews. Of course she’s new to this game. But that wasn’t why she did so badly.
She did so badly because she failed to cost almost all of the £280bn citizen’s income. She spoke about the race-to-the-bottom on immigration rhetoric, but failed to provide a single argument (and there are a lot) for liberalising border policy. She spoke about how the party is pro-EU – but when it was mentioned that Green policy includes import and export controls/duties, which would obviously mean we had to leave the EU, she floundered. Ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
A favourite example of the confusion: the party likes free movement of people, but not free movement of goods. In fact, their manifesto specifically acknowledges that curbing trade would devastate the developing world (no shit) …but has no actual policy for fixing that. Probably because it’s impossible to conceive of one, but that’s beside the point.
Idealism is beautiful. Idealism keeps us optimistic and progressive. Idealism coupled with childish levels of economic illiteracy will destroy the country. There’s this cute tendency in a lot of the UK (and specifically student) left: when presented with our horrendous economic situation, they sort of shrug it off. Because, you know, we can always borrow more. That’ll be just fine. The magic money tree will bloom forever. And sure, there might be long-term consequences that totally fuck all future generations, but (to bastardise Keynes) in the long run, we’re all dead.
But what is the source of their economic illiteracy? Are they chronically under-qualified, or did they just not listen in class? The truth is actually more interesting. At the heart of the Green State of Mind is an antique, Romantic belief: that life was once simpler and more beautiful; that economic growth and the ineluctable march of progress have somehow defiled human nature. Except, of course, they haven’t.
Before the industrial revolution, far more women died in childbirth. Disease was rampant and life expectancy low. Men toiled on the fields whilst women reared the children. Education (not just good education, but any education) was impossible to access without wealth and privilege. The closed-mindedness bred by static lifestyles precluded the liberty to express oneself.
But all of this miserable, heavy swamp is turned on its head by free trade. Economic structures which gyrate around proper incentives spur the efficiency required to use resources constructively, and the wealth-creation (not redistribution, but creation!) established by trade allows ordinary people to lead evermore extraordinary lives. When it comes to Green values, human ingenuity is underestimated at every turn. And, in the end, the neo-Malthusian fatalism of the movement will be its own undoing.
The Greens believe that reverting to the simple life (albeit with the boon of modern technology) will result in a peak in human well-being, as exploitation fades into the earth. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Their plans for taxation, spending and growth are a mephitic cocktail for stagnation and unemployment: a cocksure red-warning sign for investment in the future. And whilst ‘investment’, ‘proper incentives’, and ‘GDP growth’ are concepts quite foreign to the Greens, and even quite unpleasant to many, they’re also the only things that can spur the less-well-off out of poverty and into opportunity, self-determination, freedom, and prosperity. It’s been said a thousand times, but Natalie Bennett still isn’t listening: bring the bottom up, not the top down.
Even if the economic consequences weren’t so disastrous, however, there remains a splash of naïveté nestled in the minds of the policies’ proponents. Given the gigantic leaps which have been made, to pull the plug now is to condemn ourselves to forgoing future prosperity – prosperity in a paradigm which can be both pro-environment and pro-markets. As is already, and increasingly, the case. For instance: the art of creating meat without the carbon footprint of raising an animal is slowly being refined. Renewable energy sources which avoid the fiscal cost of non-renewable energy are in full bloom, on rooftops and meadows around the world. The holy grail of nuclear fusion will, eventually, bow to the human intellect.
This is not a zero-sum game. And that’s a point which must be proclaimed from the rooftops if the Green’s pre-election popularity continues to rocket. (This phenomenon is what gave us Nick Clegg – make up your own mind.)
The road to hell is paved with good intentions – and the Greens have those in dozens. Because the party is nice. Really, sincerely, nice. Now stop voting for them, because you’re going to wreck lives.