The Green Party – the Party for Enterprise

Having just joined the Green Party, on the basis of policy – every time I did an online quiz about political parties’ policies and my own views, I scored about 90% correlation with Green policies, about 40% with the LibDems, 30% Labour, 20% Tory and 10% UKIP – I’ve been going through their policies in detail, at the policy website here.

Strong on corporate governance, the stakeholder principle etc. Good on Industry.

But very little about enterprise, which is a shame – and, I would suggest, missing a trick.

Enterprise is the driving force behind any economy. It’s about people, motivated to make and sell cool stuff. It’s a thoroughly Green ideal. Implementing a Green economy needs enterprising people driven by Green ideals, to innovate – using ideas and technology to deliver more positive value – human health, comfort and enjoyment – while consuming less energy and fewer resources. Smart growth driven by human intelligence.

“Enterprise” as a political buzzword however has been hijacked by the right. They are not entitled to it. The conservative right defends vested interests; enterprise challenges them.  To the right, “enterprise” has come to be associated with the right to exploit both resources and other people. To the conservative right,  protecting resources and defending the vulnerable are portrayed as restrictions on “free enterprise”.  We, the Greens should challenge such talk. A Green economy needs green enterprise precisely because it is enterprise that conserves resources and supports everyone.

Small businesses, startups, innovators, sole traders and co-operatives – that’s where you’ll find enterprise, and lots of Green enterprise.  A Green government should be supporting them as much as possible; reducing the burden of regulation (without throwing the baby out with the bathwater – we need effective environmental and health-and-safety regulation); awarding public-sector contracts, etc.

Social enterprise is another buzzword hijacked by Cameron’s Big Society con. A mixed green economy (sounds like a salad..) has room for for-profit enterprise as well as community and social enterprise.  As Greens, we aren’t concerned with how the proceeds of enterprise are shared, so long as it is done fairly. Lots of small businesses are great at sharing their profits with their staff.  It’s a mistake to condemn “for-profit” as somehow less worthy than not-for-profit; the economy needs both.

But most of all, it needs enterprise. Green enterprise.

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