Further to the leakage of the British National Party membership list there’s a piece [pdf] in Private Eye in which Greens Engage are mentioned.
It is important to remember that the leaked BNP list also contained former minor Labour and Liberal Democrat officials. The thing is, when Conservatives forsake the the Conservative Party for the BNP it makes the Conservative Party look less bigotted. When Labour members are attracted away to the BNP, this is also straightforwardly explained in terms of Labour’s failure to respond to the needs of the white working classes. But when Greens – particularly prominent Greens like Keith Bessant – defect and all the Green spokesperson can muster in response is something like “The BNP had a more radical climate change policy”, that looks pretty bad. As the Private Eye piece illustrates, it reminds people of the first European government to promote environmentalism, back in the 1930s.
Greens have worked hard to lose our earlier reputation as the party of romantics and cranks with fringe of far right support, and for good reason we were successful. The danger is that we get it back in the ways set out in Private Eye. Basically, in order to keep on the right side of the credibility gap, we have to exorcise the spectre of David Icke which has been making its presence felt lately.
Hull Greens link to reports blaming 9/11 on Mossad and the CIA. A 9/11 conspiracy believers’ motion to Conference was defeated by just two votes. Tony Gosling gives a glaringly far-fetched and antisemitic conspiracy theory a fair hearing because it chimes with his own beliefs.
If we want to do something about this – and as a political party which aspires to the mainstream we must – we need to respond sharply to people with homophobic, antisemitic values and unassailable conspiracy beliefs when they attempt to build power bases.
If we fail in this we will attract people like Tony Gosling and Keith Bessant and force away gays, Jews, people who care about gays and Jews, and people wish us to pursue serious, stately international relations.
(Private Eye got something wrong though – Greens Engage are not a splinter group, and although we care about Jews I’m certain that not all of us are Jewish.)
UPDATE 28/11: from the comments below: further to a complaint against Tony Gosling by his local party, he has been suspended [update: Bristol Greens have removed reference to Gosling from their site – try Derek Wall’s blog instead] pending investigation of homophobic comments. This is very welcome indeed. There is no reference anywhere about antisemitic statements made by Gosling. Don’t these also matter in the Green Party?