Green Party Watch: The Green Party, Nuclear Power, and party discipline

Posted at Green Party Watch by Ronald Hardy. Reposted to IPR by Paulie.


Is the Green Party too rigid in its opposition to nuclear power? Is nuclear power a safe alternative to fossil fuel? Are the Green Party concerns about the long term (seven generations) impact of nuclear power more important than the short term energy consumption needs of today’s generation?

Based on the interest in this story last week, I felt compelled to post this interesting story out of the UK. A Green Party Candidate for Parliament is finding himself in hot water for suggesting that atomic energy might have a role in fighting climate change. From The Independent:

Chris Goodall, prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, upset many party members with his assertion in yesterday’s Independent that atomic energy has a role to play in the fight against climate change. Mr Goodall was one of four prominent environmentalists disclosed as having had a change of heart about the nuclear issue, having moved from an anti-nuclear stance to believing that atomic power is a necessary part of the energy mix in the struggle to cut carbon emissions and halt global warming.

The others are Lord Smith of Finsbury, the former Labour cabinet minister who now chairs the Environment Agency; Stephen Tindale, a former executive director of Greenpeace, and Mark Lynas, the author of two studies of climate change. But while the others are in essence free agents, Mr Good-all’s case is distinctive in that his views are now formally at odds with one of his own party’s key policy positions.

Resolute opposition to nuclear power has been a cornerstone of Green party policy for years, as is made clear in the party’s principal policy document, Manifesto for a Sustainable Society, which states unambiguously that a Green government, on taking office, would set a deadline for phasing out all nuclear power.

Mr Goodall’s remarks had left many party members “seriously concerned”, the Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, MEP, said last night. “It is of great concern to me that a candidate should be promoting a policy which is at odds with the party manifesto, and I shall be taking that forward,” she said. “In any party, you have a range of different views, but once selected as a parliamentary candidate, you have a particular responsibility.”

The matter would be dealt with by the party’s regional council, after speaking to Mr Goodall directly, she said. Asked if this would include disciplinary action and possibly even de-selection as a candidate, Ms Lucas would only say: “We will be taking appropriate measures.”

The Green Party of the UK and the USA both explicitly oppose nuclear power in their platforms. The Green Party globally was formed just 30 years ago, in many places it formed as a union between anti-nuke activists, peace activists, environmental activists, and social justice activists. These roots still run deep in the Green Party, but are they now being challenged? At least one European Green Party caught hell for their reluctant support for a war (was it Kosovo or Iraq?). The Green Party of Mexico is catching hell for their support of the death penalty.

Are nukes on the table or not?

15 thoughts on “Green Party Watch: The Green Party, Nuclear Power, and party discipline

  1. Kimberly Wilder

    Geesh!

    Yeah, party discipline. And, I wish that Green Party Watch had had the discipline to not post in such a way that opens the door to a pro-nuclear discussion in the Green Party.

    As you may know, I am not a “Green Party member” anymore, but still a green.

    The Green Party has so many failings lately in regards to internal process, and certain issues. If they give up on one of their founding and core issues – that we must protect the earth for the next generations – what’s left? If the Green Party cannot even take a “disciplined” stand that nuclear is off the table, what good are they?

    Geesh.

    No one would condone the actual party supporting “war” in anyway. Or, entertaining a debate on if we should go to war. They would not/could not budge on the bottom line principle of “non-violence.” Nuclear energy is the bottom line principle of “ecological wisdom.”

    I do believe that it is inevitable that with the power and money of the nuclear energy industry, Green Parties will be lobbied, or even infiltrated, to move towards pro-nuclear. I just hope they can withstand the lobbying, propaganda, and pressure. With the GPW article, I fear the Green Party may not withstand it.

    How can people not see when cracking open the door is as bad as letting the avalanche in?

  2. Steven R Linnabary

    How can people not see when cracking open the door is as bad as letting the avalanche in?

    Here in the LP, some people refer to it as the “big tent theory” of politics.

    PEACE

  3. Kimberly Wilder

    I don’t want to be in the tent with a bunch of idiots who don’t get that we are all going to be in deep doo-doo if there is nuclear waste hanging around for tens of thousands of years, and the people in charge of regulating it and keeping us safe are the idiot politicians who accepted the bribes from the nuclear industry.

    Yeah, get me the heck out of parties and politics, when they are working against the fact of human existence. Rather, then, to be by myself, doing research and public awareness on the hazards of nuclear energy.

  4. paulie cannoli Post author

    Yeah, get me the heck out of parties and politics, when they are working against the fact of human existence. Rather, then, to be by myself, doing research and public awareness on the hazards of nuclear energy.

    While I can certainly understand and even agree with the sentiment; if you choose to stay out of politics, it doesn’t mean politicians will choose to stay out of you.

  5. Kimberly Wilder

    I did not mean “get out of politics” by getting out of the world of politics. Just getting out of the same old grind of belonging to a party and taking each action with their players and structures like an albatross around one’s neck.

    As Gandhi said: “If I seem to take part in politics, it is only because politics encircles us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out, no matter how much one tries. I wish therefore to wrestle with the snake.”

    If I have to affect politics, in the form of a Democratic elected official, for an example, I would much rather stand outside a venue with a sign, with my message, that everyone who goes by will see, and shouting at the politician. Rather than to go to a Green Party meeting, decide if we should go to the venue, decide how strong the sign should be, and decide if we will shout, or sing.

    Organizing and consensus are great when they work. But, when everything gets jammed up, and when things start being so ineffective, better to take a break, and rethink. Even if that means everyone going to their own corner and rethinking by themselves for a bit.

  6. Steven R Linnabary

    Yeah, I can understand the hangups that “Consensus” decision making as well as the “Roberts Rules” decision making can have on a group. Sometimes the process can bog down a good group.

    What’s more, that is not LEADING.

    Libertarians have a joke: How many Libertarians does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Nine. One to do it, and eight to argue whether to turn it to the left or the right.

    But, that is the point. It just takes ONE to lead.

    PEACE

  7. paulie cannoli Post author

    If I have to affect politics, in the form of a Democratic elected official, for an example, I would much rather stand outside a venue with a sign, with my message, that everyone who goes by will see, and shouting at the politician. Rather than to go to a Green Party meeting, decide if we should go to the venue, decide how strong the sign should be, and decide if we will shout, or sing.

    I think there is a place for both.

    Never let the collective dissuade you from going out there with a sign if that’s what you are going to do anyway.

    But there are times when having that collective helps.

    The ability to swing elections or oppose otherwise unopposed politicians gives you leverage you can’t otherwise have.

    If you can get into debates or put statements into voter pamphlets that are sent to all voters, that gives you leverage you can’t otherwise have as a solo activist.

    There are many other advantages of collectives, just as there are disadvantages as well.

    Single issue groups are great, but they don’t advance your big picture. Educational groups are great, but they don’t reach a lot of people who would only pay attention to political ideas in the context of elections.

    All movements should be multifaceted, with any political party or parties associated with any given movement being a part – but just one part – of the picture.

  8. Green Ferret

    “No one would condone the actual party supporting “war” in anyway. Or, entertaining a debate on if we should go to war. They would not/could not budge on the bottom line principle of “non-violence.” Nuclear energy is the bottom line principle of “ecological wisdom.””

    I don’t think it’s that simple. I am a Green but not a pacifist. I would consider supporting war for two reasons: self-defense and averting genocide. Nuclear power is the same way – it’s the absolute last resort, but still better than coal. If I were the lone Green in Congress and I had to cast a tie-breaking vote between coal and nuclear, I would choose nuclear.

    That doesn’t mean that I would ever advocate the use of nuclear power, just as I would never advocate for war until the question was forced by an invading army.

    It’s super complicated. I believe in party democracy and don’t want to treat the platform as gospel. However, I think that in public we should try to be crafty like Ralph Nader and Ron Paul when Wolf Blitzer asked them who was worse, McCain or Obama: “They’re both bad.” What’s the greater evil, coal or nuclear? “Neither. They both screw future generations.”

  9. Kimberly Wilder

    Green Ferrett – I believe there are a handful of greens who believe war is okay, and I believe you may be one of them. Though, it does go against all our party values. And, I hope no one would ever tolerate any proposal or action to support war or a pro-war candidate.

  10. Kimberly Wilder

    About nuclear and boiling water:

    I am not well-researched on nuclear energy. I have a knowing and wisdom that comes from “the collective” of colleagues who fought Shoreham, and from years of scanning and absorbing fliers, leaflets, and positions.

    It seems so obvious that with the scope of nuclear, and the danger or radiation, it is not a good direction to go.

    Anyway, I checked in with a local environmentalist who is more knowledgeable on the subject. He answered the “expensive” part, and why pro-nuclear people feel so confident in saying that nuclear is “carbon neutral.” (A similar thing happened with cell towers. A federal government body made a decision that no one may claim that celltowers could possibly have negative effects, so then celltower companies then had the right to say there were “no safety issues.” Because the government says something, does not make it so.

    From Pete in LI:

    Hi Kim,

    Yes! I am emphatically anti-nuclear! But I am not here to save the soul of the Green Party as I am a registered independent. I am willing to do whatever I can to make sure that nuclear doesn’t become part of the energy mix. I see where many supposed environmental groups are saying that nuclear power is carbon-neutral. This is a fallacy, because there are tremendous amounts of fossil fuels used in the mining, milling, and processing of uranium ore. The nuclear lobby has gotten legislation to define carbon-neutral as related to the operation of a nuclear plant, exclusively. And our environmental friends have bought into this and have no problem accepting the vast amounts of money that the nuclear lobby is spreading around.

    Best,
    Pete

  11. Green Ferret

    Kimberly,
    I do not think war is “okay”. Nor do I think the world is black and white. I would fight to protect my family against fascism, just as I would fight to protect defenseless people against genocide. For the same reason, I am not willing to stand aside as politicians make decisions that hurt present and future generations at home and abroad. Peace be with you.

  12. Michael Cavlan

    Hello Kimberly

    Well on this site, those voices of dissent will not be shut down and not allowed to speak. In very direct violations of Grassroots Democracy and Respect For Diversity. which, sadly has become the norm in the Green Party. To which, when one points out this direct violation of supposed Green Party principles, one is attacked, smeared and then banned from posting, as had become the norm on the Green Party National Committee and Green Party Watch site.

    which are the main reason that scores of people, including Kimberly Wilder and myself have left the Green Party.

    The word is getting out about what the GP has degenerated into.

  13. Michael Cavlan

    On the topic in question, I was reading an interesting article on the New Zealand Green Party. It was analyzing how the GP there was changing, moving away from it’s anti-nuclear, anti-corporate roots. Changing into a kind of yuppified, greenwashed organization. This has been mirrored by the German GP (they were the ones taking crap from their membership for supporting the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia) as well as their move away from their radical, anti-nuclear positions. The same thing happened to the Irish Green Party (Commantacht Na Glas)

    In each and every case, the Green Party shrunk.

    Not a very sustainable path. Ironic when the radical, anti-corporate message of the Green Party is so badly needed in the world today.

    Fortunately, those of us dissident Greens do not go away. We stand by our principles and build elsewhere. where ever we feel that we fit.

    Isn’t that right Kim?

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