Why the Greens need to stick up for Citizen’s Income if they ever want to achieve those longer term aspirations


IT’S not easy being Green right now. Having managed to turn their exclusion from the proposed TV debates into the sort of media story habitually granted to right wing, anti-immigration parties, the Green Party of England and Wales now find themselves being monstered by the press (hungry for a story but seemingly horrified that a political party might want to change more than the name of the prime minister), and the Labour party (perpetually bewildered by the suggestion that non-Tory votes aren’t theirs by default).

The fact that these two pressures are sometimes one and the same is worth noting, particularly when it leads to clumsy smears like the mathematically inept article about a recently advertised policy assistant job that’s done the rounds in The Times, Labour List and The Huffington Post.

Having finally worked out how to attract attention, the Greens now find themselves in the awkward position of trying to appear both electable and radical, hence Caroline Lucas’ statement that Citizen’s Income wouldn’t be a manifesto commitment or a “red line” issue for post-election negotiations. While Lucas’ position is reasonable enough in itself (Citizen’s Income is still party policy, but the Greens won’t realistically be in a position to implement or insist on it after this election), it plays a little bit too neatly into the idea that basic income is a fairytale.

The hostile press spin is that they’ve “dropped” the policy, and while conservative publications and Labour tribalists are both equally unlikely to embrace the Greens anytime soon it seems to me that the Greens willingness to fight for big, genuinely transformative ideas like Citizen’s Income is an asset in the current political environment.

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