Crowd loves colour by number politics


The anonymous author of A Woman in Berlin watches the Allied armies marching on her home town in 1945 and observes that many women welcome the Russians because of the simplicity of their flag. Simply grab some red cloth, or a bed sheet and dye it red somehow, and you were on the team. By comparison, siding with the Americans or British required a day of cutting and stitching. Consequently the Russian quarter was ablaze with flags when Hitler finally used his revolver.

As a party named after a colour, the Greens offer a primal political experience: Line up behind the colours or not.

When I commended the Greens for being the only party to stand in Tweed earlier in this election cycle a number of you wrote to say they that political parties should not operate in local government.

I disagree.

It is true that good governance comes in all political flavours. It is also true that ideology is often the enemy of wisdom. Nevertheless, good natured team rivalry is healthy for the political debate and allows the deep issues that might otherwise be buried to get a public airing.

In my book, the real problem has been the lack of guts shown by our ageing political parties. Since the split between the Catholic and Communist wings of the labour movement in the nineteen fifties, Australian politics has not stood for anything.

Locally, we have seen representatives of last century’s parties lining up behind vested business interests to divide up the community pie. Little wonder that political parties are on the nose. The problem is that the idea of politics has been corrupted. Politics itself is not the problem, just the lack of vigour that has been applied to the practice of it.

Everywhere that the Greens have had a hint of political influence, the Labor and Liberal parties have joined forces to vote them down. It happened in Tasmanian state politics, it happened in the Federal seat of Melbourne. It has happened in the Byron Shire. The ALP gave its preferences to conservative independent Ross Tucker, rather than see the Greens consolidate their slim hold on elected office.

This is because The Greens actually stand for a future that is different from the past. The Greens are a political party that does not accept donations, that makes policy by consensus, that guides its candidates by principle rather than a party whip.

Saturday’s result in Tweed Heads was predictable, but the result across the state tells the bigger story. The Greens are a rising force in Australian politics and are building from the grass roots up.

We do not need less politics at a local level, we need some real politics for a change.

Giovanni is on air on Bay FM 99.9 this morning between 9 and 11.

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