Being in the Green Party is incredibly frustrating at times. Why?
The assumption that a Green vote is a wasted vote
During the General Election, it was common for Labour to repeat the mantra that a vote for the Green Party would be a vote for the Conservatives. In a few constituencies where it could swing either way, this might have been true. But for many constituencies where Labour had no chance of overturning a Conservative majority, there was little to no harm in voting for the Green Party. But the question still stood, why should they vote Green? Firstly, if the Greens won enough votes nationally, they would receive short money, but this wasn’t just about the 2015 result. Longer term, when people see the number of votes for the Greens, it creates more faith in the party and makes people consider them at the next election, whether it’s a local, regional or national election.
To make matters worse, when we have other elections that don’t rely on First-Past-The-Post, many don’t realise how this affects their voting strategy!
For example, this week’s London election will give voters the chance to vote FOUR times. The first two votes allow people to pick a first and second preference for Mayor. Traditionally this tends to be a Conservatives vs Labour, but no mayor has ever won on first preferences alone. Once first preference votes have been added up, second preference votes are added for the top two candidates to determine who wins. So a proper tactical vote here is to vote for your ideal choice as FIRST preference, and then a realistic choice as your second preference. Doing it the other way around wastes your ideal mayoral vote but many people don’t realise this!
Then there’s the orange ballot paper, the London-wide vote. For this you get to pick a party that you feel represents you best. All votes are added up and then each party is allocated a number of seats based on the percentage of votes they got London-wide. Again, the tactical vote here is to vote for the party that you would want to represent you because they are guaranteed at least one seat if they get over 5% of the votes.
Since joining, I’ve noticed that the majority of comments on articles about the Green Party and its policies tend to be from people rushing to make reference to being hemp-wearing, tree-hugging, unemployed and/or middle-class, among other stereotypes. These ad-hominem attacks are an attempt to distract from having a proper debate on the actual policy. It’s childish, it’s trolling, it’s a deliberate attempt to undermine the party and its ideas. It bloody annoys me because I’m none of those things, nor are many others who’ve joined the party recently, and, I suspect, nor were many of the earlier members that pre-date the Green Surge!
Not getting credit where it’s due
Time and time again, policies that the Green Party propose are labelled “loony” or “unworkable” but then they later become accepted by the mainstream. Earlier this year we saw another Green policy, the Universal Basic Income, mentioned in the run-up to the General Election and largely ignored by the media, was now being supported by Labour. At which point the media fell over themselves praising the idea as forward thinking, wheeling out experts to explain how it was a good idea. Why wasn’t it taken seriously when the Greens proposed it, rather than immediately reject it or resort to the usual name-calling?
Lack of resources
When you see what the bigger parties can do with the funding they have, it can be demoralising, particularly at election time. The Greens do what they can to raise money as ethically as possible, but bigger parties have a clear advantage to dominate at national and local level. Even something as simple as getting local leaflets printed a few tunes a year become difficult when they’ve had to pay costs to enter the election and give people a chance to vote Green.
Lack of level playing field
Tied to the lack of resources, it’s also frustrating to see the coverage other parties get. From being initially excluded from leader debates, to the lack of Party Political Broadcasts outside of election time, it prevents the Greens from having a much needed voice, to present an alternative to austerity, and on environmental issues.
The response from some people when they receive a Green leaflet through their letterbox
Now I understand that the Green Party are still incorrectly perceived as a single-issue party, but it’s frustrating how often you see people on social media pointing out the “irony” of Greens “wasting paper” by leafleting their street. Or how witty they’ve been to put it straight into the recycle bin (or not). The simple fact is, social media and online campaigning aren’t enough to get the message across. Every other party will leaflet their area, to reach an audience that social media can’t reach. There is, unfortunately, no way around this.
The suggestion that Green Party policies are loony
This usually comes from one of two misconceptions:
- People referring to policies from the Policies for a Sustainable Society section out of context, for example, nuclear power, open borders, or defence, and assuming the Green Party would want to implement them immediately if they ever had any power. This is incorrect! The Policy document is nothing more than a long-term vision for the future and everything proposed usually has prerequisites and referendums that would need to be held before they could ever be realistically attempted. The record of policy statements and the election manifestos are a much better indication of what the Green Party would like to do in the short-term and are more realistic and achievable.
- That the proposed ideas have not been thought out concerning cost, and could never be financially viable. Not many people realise but the General Election manifesto had been fully costed and verified by economic experts. The same applies to Sian Berry’s London 2016 policies. In contrast, George Osborne refused to answer, 18 times, where the 8 billion NHS funding would come from. And little was said of that…
“They want to take everyone back to the dark ages”
While others believe that the only way for the UK to thrive is through constant economic growth, the Green Party believe that this growth isn’t sustainable without huge impact on the environment, social justice and in turn, the economy. The Green Party would like to take steps to do something about this before it’s too late, but that doesn’t mean they want to go back to horse and cart and return to pre-electricity days. This would be a bad idea, and detrimental to the UK, the economy and everything else. What they want is a slower rate of progress, better balance that puts local economies, people and the environment first. Even the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, has stated that environmental concerns should be dealt with because the (financial) cost of not doing so would be enormous.