So 30 days before the general election and I’m weighing in with my 2 cents on who I’m voting for and why. Readers may remember that in 2011 I called on us all to “grease the wheels of change” and vote Liberal Democrats, the idea being that reforming the voting system would be a practical step towards a better democracy. Well, 4 years later, with a half-baked AV disappointment, broken promises on tuition fees, and a slightly receding hairline, here’s a pre-election post which is at once more cynical and more idealistic: why I’m voting Green.
Whilst many voters are put off voting Green by the “throwing a way your vote” syndrome, this is exactly what has pushed me towards the Greens. I just got pissed off with people claiming a Green vote would change nothing and then going ahead and voting for the same Red and Blue coalition that have maintained a cosy rotating power sharing system for the best past of the last century! Do they really expect one these parties to change anything? Not really, but (sic) if they just keep a fraction of their promises we may gain some temporary relief from [insert Labour / the Conservatives]. Excuse me, but this isn’t democracy.
Democracy is not about voting for who you think will win, or even for who might win (and hence stop the other from doing so), this is like hanging around with the bully in school just so he won’t beat you up. Democracy is about voting for what you think is best for your country, what do you think labor supporters were voting for more than 100 years ago? Your vote is not some kind investment of which to expect instant dividends from the various get rich quick schemes offered to us every 4 years. It’s this “fast food politics” that leaves the nation feeling empty and disillusioned. Forget tactical voting, politics must be a labor of love, which implies patience. That’s why I’ll politely decline a one night stand with Camaron or Miliband this time round, I know that once they’ve got what they want (my vote that is) they wont return my calls.
This brings me on to my next point; trust. People ask me, “have you actually read the Green Party manifesto? It’s unworkable!”. I admit that, although I have studied the parts of interest to me, I haven’t gone through it with a nit comb. Also, that there are some parts that I’m not 100% behind. However, I also point out that when a new party comes to power, that isn’t followed by a blanket application of their manifesto to the letter. That’s what happens in transitional democracies. Here, in the home of democracy, that wouldn’t happen. Instead, policies must be pragmatically introduced with parliamentary, judicial, civil service, and public support; this ensures a generally stable democratic system which goes way beyond party politics. Furthermore, in such a complex world as today’s, it’s impossible to put forward critical appraisal for every part of a parties manifesto; what do I know about common fisheries policies? Hence, supporting a party inevitably requires a certain amount of trust. The world has changed drastically in the space of just one generation. The economy can no longer be understood according to a basic input-output model. Instead, it better represents a complex web of inter-dependencies and antagonisms that interact chaotically. Instead of laying out 5 year plans, politicians must react to changing circumstances and we must trust that they have our interests at heart. Look at Labour in Scotland for example, while in fact their manifesto is arguably more socialist than that of the SNP (who, despite corporate tax cuts are somehow presented as the left wing option north of the border), the fact is that no one takes them seriously. On the other hand, the SNP have done a fantastic job with connecting with voters and building massive grass roots support: people know their SNP representatives personally, they’re not just some stooge sent up from Westminster!
However, no politician is willing to admit this lack of control and this creates a toxic political environment in which a lack of trust pushes people to the extremes and forestalls any kind of pragmatism or progress. For example, personally I would not oppose privatization of aspects of the NHS as long as this was more efficient, care would not be compromised, and the service would remain free to all. However, to say this is political anathema on the left as, while even the Tories and Labour promise all of the latter, no one trusts them not to give tasty contracts to their mates in the private health industry and precipitate an unstoppable slide towards a US style healthcare system based on the principal of survival of the fittest.
Meanwhile, the Green Party is the only big party that is not supported by big business. They are also the only party whose members come from all walks of life: doctors, workers, secretaries, people who have real life experience instead of professional politicians university educated in spin and swindle (take it from me, I studied politics!). These members have real influence in developing policies as opposed to those of the traditional parties who simply rubber stamp what the leadership tells them. Finally, ask anyone on the street what Labor or the Tories stand far and you’ll be sure to get some umming and erring. However, a five year old could tell you what the Greens stand for: our environment! The problem is that the environment conjures up images of rainforests and frogs on the verge of distinction when the reality is that the environment is simply where we all live, that which we all depend on; in this way, education and healthcare are just as important to our environment as wind turbines and composting! Unfortunately, unlike the red and blues, the Greens don’t have powerful mates in the mainstream media who routinely and shamelessly peddle outright lies about Green policies; banning cars, unlimited immigration, and a toppling of the monarchy to name but a few.
No I don’t think the Greens will win this election. But to be honest, I’ve become so cynical about politics that my principles are all I’ve got left to believe in. So I suppose I’d better just vote on these then.