This afternoon I’m teaching Green Party folk about media work. You may have heard about media training, how it teaches you to spin, bluster, avoid awkward questions, and take over the subject to talk about your agenda, not what was asked? That’s not what I’m teaching, because that’s not Green media policy. I think this is worth sharing.
The very first thing I learned when I became a press officer for the local Green Party, is that we do not do spin. We do not lie or wilfully mislead. This is very much at odds with the norms of the modern political world. It means I take pride in being able to do my job honourably and honestly.
Green politics explicitly does not go in for the shouting, braying, name calling and rude rubbishing tactics favoured by mainstream politics. If we can manage it, we’ll have a quiet, civilized debate with anyone willing to talk about the issues. I hate aggressive and rude behaviour in politicians, because it shuts down debates and intimidates those who do not agree into shutting up. The person who won’t even listen to a counter argument cannot be moved, and there is little point even trying to talk to them. That’s not democracy. So on Twitter I’ve found that my local Labour hopeful is endlessly rude and unpleasant if I try to talk issues with him. The local Tory will occasionally have a conversation with me, and tends to go quiet rather than nasty if he can’t answer a question. I don’t take a bullying stance when he can’t answer me, because I’m hoping he’ll go away and have a think. That would be way more productive. I do not agree with him or his party, but I respect the fact that he communicates with manners.
The Green Party does not have a whip. There is no pressure to hold the party line in the same way other parties must. We favour consensus approaches, so if you don’t agree with a policy, you get scope to say so. You have the option of saying ‘what I think is this,’ in public and it’s the decent thing to acknowledge if the general opinion in the Party is different. If it is the case that your specific local situation requires unique handling for some reason, working out what the Green approach is there will be more appropriate than just coughing up a standard party line. If in doubt, we have core values and principles, from which it is easy to work out the sort of direction to take on any given issue. Let me just reiterate that. We have values, and they are consistent. That matters a great deal to me. Those values are more critical than doing whatever it takes to get a person to Westminster. It’s not about naked lust for power, it’s about standing for something you care about.
We’re an evidence-led party. Reason, based on the best evidence available, underpins our thinking. It’s not about bending the facts to fit what we want to have be true, its about responding to reality. I like that a lot.
The only reason I can combine being a Druid with being a press officer, is that I’m working for a party where this in no way requires me to act dishonourably. It is my job to be truthful, to speak well (and for me, good speech is a virtue). It is my job to try and grapple with complicated and confusing things, and get them into the public domain in ways that make sense. I can be a political Druid because I am not asked in my political work to do anything that would in any way be at odds with my spiritual values.