I used to consider myself a Labour supporter, inheriting my father’s political leanings. I voted for them in the first election I could, in 2001, and again in 2005. But by 2010 I had become apolitical. I couldn’t choose between the main parties, and I didn’t know enough about the alternative options. Thus non voting wasn’t apathetic, it was an equal vote for all.
But that was when I was younger, naive, and more carefree. I’ve already decided that in May 2015 I’ll be voting Green, and this is why.
The three main parties have failed us
The feeling for many, myself included, are that the three traditional main parties are too close in ideologies. There is little real opposition in Westminster. Some call them Neo-Liberal parties. Their class, status and public education makes them out of touch with ordinary people. They’re destined to serve only those they come into contact with: other millionaires.
The only real option is to look for an alternative. The media touts UKIP as an alternative to the three main parties. But it’s quite clear that UKIP are much like the Conservatives. No surprise given their ex-tory donors, MPs, and leaders. UKIP play on the fear and division that television and newspapers have fed the general public. But look beyond that and at their policies on employee rights, among others and you’ll see their true motives.
So the only realistic true alternative to those four are parties on the left, like the Green Party. Every statement coming from Labour and the Conservatives re-enforces that there are no alternatives. “You must vote for party X, or UKIP will get in.” If they keep telling us we have no other option they hope we’ll believe them or give up hope and just vote for more of the same. I’m fed up with tactical voting. I want to show that the Green Party are a credible option. They might not get in this time, but by voting and supporting for them I’m raising their profile and what they stand for. I’m showing others that there ARE alternatives despite what we’re told.
Recently I tried the Vote for Policies website. Although based on party policies of the 2010 General Election, the site tells you which party you are most in line with. To my surprise I matched the Green Party. The fact is, I do agree with their policies. And they have a lot. Here’s a fun game, try this Reasons to Vote Green website, see how long it takes you to decide which 3 are most important to you. Try it, it’s hard to pick the top 3 because they’re all important. HINT: They’re not all about the climate and the environment.
As an aside, here’s an interesting stat from the Vote for Policies website. There have been 525 completed surveys for my constituency, Chingford and Woodford Green. This is Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency, a Tory Stronghold.
Green Party 21.75%
Lib Dems 16.37%
Now, if that kind of voting happened in May 2015, we’d be rid of Iain Duncan Smith. It’s more likely that this is just selection bias – Those 525 are likely to fit the demographic of a typical London Green Party voter. Web literate, left wing, interested in knowing the policies of all parties before making a decision. This doesn’t represent the true makeup of Chingford and Woodford Green constituents. But I can live in hope…
The Scottish Referendum
Disillusioned with Westminster, I watched the Scottish referendum with interest. I hoped that a Yes vote would trigger unrest in the rest of the UK.
On Facebook, an Englishman in Scotland reported daily on what was happening across the border. It was enlightening to see the difference in how the Yes and No campaigns operated. It was also interesting to see how the media reported on events on both sides of the campaign. I saw the media reporting and the man-on-the-street view of demonstrations and speeches, and they were in stark contrast. I have to admit, never had bias been more plain than in that campaign. Only one newspaper backed independence. The rest seemed to spin everything and provoke fear of the unknown, including the BBC.
The Yes voters were full of optimism and hope for real change. They worried about the same things I worried about. Fed up with Westminster. The lies, the corruption. The pay rises – lack of any for front line workers, huge pay rises and bonuses for MPs, bankers and corporate bosses. Voting for wars. Selling off public services, food banks, the austerity campaign.
The No campaign centred around fear, and around tarnishing the Yes as England-hating nationalists. There may have been some extreme views, but by and large, the majority were just fed up with the way things were and wanted to invoke change, and many English among them. They were all Westminster-hating.
But the No campaign got their wish through brute force of media bias. Many celebrities came out in support of Union spin. Lies, half truths and constant fearmongering concerned the older generation. Fear is a powerful motivator, and people fear change. That is what swung the vote in the end.
But the Yes campaign didn’t just use the vote to bring about the change they wanted. They started grassroots movements alongside the democratic process. This movement worried Westminster enough to make a “vow”, which they then broke as soon as the Union got their way. Not surprising, but the blatant way they have done this should be alarm bells to everyone else in the UK.
We know they lie and cheat us, but never has it been more brazen. I hope that if any No voters now feel conned by what has happened since, that they take this anger and do something positive with it. I don’t doubt that the Scots will get their wish for independence sooner rather than later. For the rest of the UK, we should think twice about believing the spin that’ll come our way between now and May 2015.
The outcome of this is that there has been a surge of support for the Scottish National Party and Scottish Greens. UKIP, Conservatives and Labour won’t feature at all in Scotland come May 2015.
A big factor was having children. The world we’re leaving for future generations comes into sharper focus when they are your own descendants. Could I look my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in the eye one day and admit that I did nothing to try to change things? I would feel guilty, wouldn’t you?
I want to ensure my children have access to free Further Education like they do in Germany. I want to ensure that the NHS remains free. I want to prevent TTIP from becoming law.
And yes, given I’m voting for the Green Party, there are environmental concerns. Fracking worries me, and I don’t feel that Trident serves any viable purpose. Under what circumstances would you fire a nuclear weapon in defence? So I support the disarmament of nuclear weapons, with the money spent on public services.
Labour and Lib Dems move to the right
I used to consider myself a little left of centre when it came to politics. This was when my idea of left wing was Labour, with Liberal Democrats a little further to the left. Then on the extreme ends were the Green Party, and other extremist left wing groups.
These days New Labour are now indistinguishable from right wing conservatives. Lib Dems have proven themselves to be incapable of remaining true to their values.
Because of this, the Green Party now appear to be the closest left leaning party that match my own values.
UKIP and history repeating
I didn’t want to give UKIP any oxygen, but it has been a factor. I like balance but recently it feels like the political system has lurched to the right. There has been a bombardment of UKIP in the media. My own friends and family have posted UKIP and Britain First memes on Facebook. They’re getting a lot of air time and publicity, and it all centres around fear.
I found myself wanting to counter this swing. The language of hatred, misguided ignorance and blatant lies that come from those groups. I wanted to promote more hopeful optimistic ideas. Ideas that didn’t revolve around misrepresenting certain groups of people as a big problem.
This all seems familiar. George Santayana said:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
In this case what we seem to be repeating is the same thing that lead to 1930s Germany, and we all know how that ended up.
Noam Chomsky said:
The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people.
UKIP are rising fast on the back of fear. Fear of benefit scroungers, fear of immigration, fear of lack of jobs, and so on, and this is worrying for me. Are people that ignorant of the past to make the same mistake?
The Leaders Debates
The broadcasting companies want to focus on the usual three parties, as well as a token gesture towards UKIP. David Cameron doesn’t mind this because UKIP and Conservative are similar. A well aimed fear and smear campaign would see UKIP voters switch to Conservative when the election comes around.
So what this means is that the leaders debate would have little diversity or real alternative viewpoints. Limiting us to like-minded parties discussing various solutions to the same “problems”. Then leading us to believe that they are the only solutions.
That’s why Left wing politics doesn’t get a look in on the leaders debates. The Green Party shine the spotlight on other issues and offer alternative ideas.
Again, a quote from Noam Chomsky:
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.
If that doesn’t describe the leaders debates I don’t know what does.
In conclusion: I’m voting for the Green Party. I’m going to deliver leaflets and talk to friends, family and strangers. I’m going to support my local candidate and candidates in other areas. I’m going to raise awareness and show people that there is another way.
If the Green Party make any progress in May 2015 then that’s promising. Balance and real opposition will return, and with support it could happen sooner rather than later.
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