Pink ribbons for swords and the Greens’ view for the world


Time for me to take a short break from revision (phew)…

The Guardian today are running an  article (by Aida Edemariam) on Caroline Lucas, the first Green party member to become a member of parliament. The interview reveals some, perhaps not surprising insights into what it’s like for a new MP in British parliament:

“It felt a huge privilege and an honour. It felt like this was what the Green party had been working for for over 30 years, and here I am walking over the threshold. It felt archaic and out of touch with reality, it felt historic. It felt like the beginning of school.”

The new MPs were shown some of the ropes – the coat-hooks, with their pink ribbons on which to hang swords, the chamber, where they were formally inducted, and which was never meant to hold 650 MPs – in fact, it can’t, and one of the many things they were told was how to secure a seat on the green benches for a day: turn up for 8am prayers, receive a prayer card, and mark a seat with it.

She, like many new MPs, has no office as yet, and, as the lone Green, no whips’ office to help her get one. “I mean, tradition is nice, but we’ve got to have a workable parliament for the 21st century.”

Turn up at 8am to get a prayer card and use it to book a seat? Sounds rife with the potential for childish squabbling, but then, having seen parliamentary debates on television, I suppose that’s not surprising. That there are still ribbons for swords to be held on shows a link to heritage, but surely a little modernisation is in order. As Lucas says, it is the 21st century. In contrast to this is the Green’ manifesto, which is not all about recycling and saving the planet as other political parties would have you believe. This is Edemariam’s interpretation of it:

The Green party is a party of social justice as well as of environmental continence, and it argues that one cannot happen without the other: the manifesto articulates a world in which maximum wages in any corporation can be no higher than 10 times the lowest, the railways will be nationalised and the NHS de-privatised; where most people cycle and ride trains, have decent pensions and are paid a living, as opposed to a minimum wage. Reading it is, in fact, like entering an alternate world, in many ways a very attractive world, if somewhat slow (they would impose a maximum 55 mph on motorways), somewhat earnest and obsessed with detail.

I’m not sure whether I think this is a futuristic vision or an historic one, but maybe I’m being swayed by the 55 mph thing. I’m certainly all for earning a living instead of minimum wage and that the highest wages in a corporation can be no larger than ten times the lowest. I’ve no idea whether that would work, but it certainly sounds neat and proper.

It shall be interesting to see how Lucas fairs – will she be a successful trail blazer for other Greens to follow? Or will she become mired in the daily squabble for a seat?

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