Greens leaders on the attack: Hands off the left; Defend Lee Rhiannon

The attack by former Greens’ leader Christine Milne on the NSW Greens left-wing factional grouping Left Renewal and left-wing Greens MPs Lee Rhiannon and David Shoebridge is more evidence of the concerted and public campaign being waged by the right of the party.

Milne’s demand that the two MPs “call out” Left Renewal and and others who had called for “a proper anti-establishment party” is a continuation of what has become a concerted campaign by the national leadership and NSW right-wing MPs against the left of the party.

Last July, former leader Bob Brown called on Lee Rhiannon to resign as a Senator just weeks after her re-election.

This was followed in September by NSW Greens Upper House member Jeremy Buckingham using the 7.30 report to attack supposedly “unaccountable officials” in NSW.

The attacks have stepped up since two right-wing MPs have won pre-selections in NSW in the last six months. Jeremy Buckingham’s and Justin Field’s offices have become an organising centre for the right.

Left Renewal’s Facebook page has attracted over 2000 likes and there has been strong interest in their events precisely because thousands of Greens members and supporters are alarmed by such attacks and by the conservative trajectory of the leadership.

The Greens national leadership has tried to move party policy to the right over issues like inheritance tax, funding for private schools, and the recent deal with Turnbull over pensions.

Current party leader Richard Di Natale wants to move The Greens further in the direction of parliamentary pragmatism, using the party’s parliamentary numbers to cut deals with the government to “get results” and focus exclusively on getting more MPs elected.

Bob Brown and Christine Milne began this shift to the “respectable centre”, signing a deal with the Gillard government in 2010. Even after Gillard was discredited, The Greens continued to claim credit for the “achievements” of the Gillard minority government despite the failures of the carbon tax, the resource rent tax and worsening policies on refugees.

The Left Renewal faction has been formed to begin organising against the right inside the party. The Greens have consistently won support among those looking for a left-wing alternative to the conservatism and neo-liberal polices of the Labor Party.

There are thousands of Greens members and thousands more Greens supporters alarmed at The Greens moving away from involvement in the social movements and their protest roots.

Christine Milne’s call for “renewal” by attacking Left Renewal and Lee Rhiannon is proof positive of the undeclared war on the left. The efforts to squeeze out the more left-wing MPs and party members have to stop.

In the face of such attempts to drag The Greens to the centre of politics and away from building a viable left-wing party, the left needs to get organised.

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