Sunday, September 24, 2006

Taylor and Lucas key note speeches

The Green Party has no leader, but it does have two principle speakers - one male and one female.

Up until this conference they have been Keith Taylor and Caroline Lucas who both made keynote speeches on Friday and Saturday respectively. Where Caroline is universally regarded as some sort of perfect Earth Mother figure Keith is often regarded as a more conservative figure.

It's certainly true that Caroline is attractive and speaks very well (obviously I'm not saying is not attractive, despite his potato like appearance, cough, apologies) comparing the two speeches was quite instructive I thought.

Both speeches were very strong on the war, Caroline on specifics about the casualties in the middle east and the human cost of war - and Keith damning Bush and Blair and calling for Tony to be tried as a war criminal - and attacking nuclear weapons.

Keith used the C word of course - by which I mean capitalism (blushing, that was genuinely unintentional, but I'll leave it in none the less) - and attacked neoliberalism (naming it as such). He said it was a myth that "the market will deliver environmental and social solutions."

In terms of content in other words both of them were excellent, interesting and on the left of the left. It would be a nonsense to describe Keith as on the right I think, despite his respectable councilor's image. This is a man who gained 22% at the general election and may be the first Green MP ever in this country whose ideas revolve around social and environmental justice, neoliberalism, opposition to the market and imperialism. Not too shabby well all is said and done.

In terms of style Caroline is, I suppose rather more accomplished. Keith came across slightly breathlessly and perhaps a little bit self consciously - speaking like a man making a speech, if that makes sense. Adopting some of the politician's manner, without corrupting the radical message.

I don't know what I think about that. I do think image and style are important - but I also think it's worth having a clear separate identity. Blair's image is of a spinning, lying, corporate snake - that's not the road I'd like us (us!) to go down - not that Keith was anywhere near that.

As he said the main stream parties are hopelessly out of touch with the aspirations of this generation and have no sense of responsibility to the generations to come. It's worth avoiding stupid cosmetic mistakes but any carefully crafted image has to be one that looks and feels like participation and democracy. It should feel humane rather than slick and organic and sincere rather than manufactured.

At least that's my view on that. I'm not against the "power dressing" that one delegate complained of (by which I think she meant people wearing shirts and looking like they had jobs) but it's worth ensuring we don't go down the road of thinking that in order to beat New Labour we have to act and look like them. Thankfully we're a million miles from that right now.


Anonymous said...

You seem to be much more critical of Keith Taylor, than you actually feel comfortable saying. If you think he is dull and "right-wing", why not just say so? Personally, I voted for him last year precisely because he looked and sounded like a pro and I knew him as a local councillor - as I suspect did about 10,000 other people. Now a question - who IS the other principal speaker of the Green party? Neither the various Green blogs nor your party's website give ANY information about the Hove conference a week after it finished.

Jim Jay said...

Hi Anon,

I'd be very comfortable saying he was a right wing scumbag if I thought that was the case - but whilst I thought his speech was a little too "speechy" if you know what I mean, in terms of style, I thought the content was impossible to fault

I think some people think he is on the right of the greens and so I listened to his speech with that in mind, to assess that judgement

In my opinion to say he is right wing makes no sense. Which is why I didn't say so. I'm not holding back.

I don't know why you think I thought otherwise from the blog entry but I can assure you I do not characterise him as either boring or rightwing and I made a point of congratulating him on his speech in person afterwards because i thought, on the whole, it was a good speech and he'd been having some rather unfair flak from certain quarters and I wanted to give him some moral support.

The new female principle speaker is Sian Berry