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|Subjects:||General Election, 1989|
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A guest post from Pidge who is developing a parallel resource to the Irish Left Archive at the Irish Election Manifesto Archive.
I always used to think that the Green Party was crazy. It was one of those lazy, cheap stereotypes that helps mask a gap in your knowledge, and acts as a simple way to dismiss a group. Thanks to a few friendly arguments (largely on Politics.ie – from its current state you’d never guess that anything constructive ever comes of it), I came to see the error of my ways, and decided to get involved in the party. I went to my first meeting with a friend towards the end of 2006, and I’ve been fairly active since. One of the main things I like about the party is the sense (whether justified or not) that it’s simply the initial drizzle of a coming downpour. I often get the impression that the widespread adoption of the broader Green agenda is inevitable (although, I can’t help but wonder if the Labour Party in the late sixties thought the same about their own agenda).
Reading through the 1989 Green Party manifesto, I can find justification for both views I’ve held about the party. There’s certainly a healthy dash of oddness in the document, but there’s a surprising amount of foresight too.
Take, for example, the half page discussion of climate change. In 1989, I can’t imagine that many people were talking about climate change, on any part of the political spectrum. Yet, there’s a half page which outlines the primary causes of anthropogenic climate change, the basic mechanisms involved and loose solution. There’s also stuff about recycling, cycle lanes, CFCs/Ozone, acid rain and urban conservation. Issues which have, by and large, entered into the standard political lexicon in Ireland. For example, every manifesto in the last general election mentioned climate change, recycling and renewable energy. That’s quite a shift.
The more interesting and zany parts of the manifesto can be found mainly on page 8 in the section entitled “Work”, which doesn’t really acknowledge any of the pitfalls of removing all disincentives to not working. The tone of the section “Women & Society” seems out of place and over-aggressive. The line at the end of the section reads “This section is being reviewed by the Women’s Group”, which strikes me as one of the compromises which were apparently typical of the early Greens.
I won’t keep prattling on, but it’s an interesting document to read. Many of the issues have been taken into the political mainstream (albeit in a watered-down way), and some have fallen by the wayside. All the same, it provides an interesting backdrop to where the Greens currently are, and how much the party has changed since those days.
On an aside, I scanned this document as part of the Irish Election Manifesto Archive, a project I started working on out of sheer boredom. I’m attempting to create a single site where you can access digital copies of party political manifestos from throughout Irish history. If anyone has any documents which they think might be suitable (either on paper or digital), I’d really appreciate a copy. All contributors will, of course, be credited fully.