This podcast from ABC’s Background Briefing show is fascinating: No love lost in the Greens. The blurb features a bit of clickbait (earbait?): ‘You might not know it, but the Greens have a right wing.’
This is how the program characterises the ‘left’ and ‘right’ of the Greens (my interpretation).
- Left: Activist, principle-driven, pressure group, uncompromising, change politics, revolution
- Right: Get things done, offer a candidate to the mainstream, win political influence, change from within
This division goes back to the earliest days of the party. The ‘left’ side of the Greens resisted the national organisation, the trappings of respectability as a political party. Instead, their focus has been on grassroots activism and direct action (so haha, now that the Coalition Government has co-opted this term).
The ‘right’, championed by former Greens leader Bob Brown, focuses on making inroads into mainstream politics. With the selection of Victorian Senator Richard di Natale as national Greens leader, the pragmatic side of the Greens is once again determining the party’s vision and strategy.
I now understand why people think the Greens are a single issue party. In the past, and perhaps today in New South Wales, the Greens haven’t presented as a viable party of Government. It was/is a ‘protest party’.
One of my university lecturers once said that there is a role for all kinds of change agents: the ones that work from within the establishment and the ones that put pressure from the outside.
Rather than fight each other, these people can help each other. The people within a group arguing for change can find their efforts boosted by external activists. Activists can find change happening suddenly when they apply pressure to a platform spring loaded by an internal ally.
I am not activist by nature: my instincts are to teach, to empathise and to help. I might have the same values as an activist, but I can’t sustain the passion (fury) to fight. So my toolkit looks completely different, in all likelihood more similar to a pragmatic Greens member or even the progressive sides of Labor and the Liberal party, than the ‘left’ wing Greens.