Perhaps the most frequent question I hear from people in the Kemptown constituency is why should I vote Green? Wouldn’t it be better to vote Labour to keep the Tories out?
I understand the question. For years, many of us on the Left have held our noses and voted tactically for the party we loathed the least. It’s ingrained into us.
But you have to ask the question, where exactly has that approach got us after all these years? We have more right-wing parties than ever (Tories, Lib Dems, UKIP), and a Labour Party that today is the furthest from its progressive and socialist roots than ever. Not a very successful strategy then!
So why vote Green?
First, traditional two-party politics (Tweedledum & Tweedledee) has never been more discredited. The percentage of voters supporting Labour and the Tories has dropped steadily over the last 60 years and support for smaller parties has similarly increased.
The trend is the same across Europe. Indeed, a small left party Syriza just won the Greek election. And a similar new Left party in Spain, Podemos, leads the opinion polls there. And however much those of us on the Left dislike UKIP, it too has shown that if enough people support UKIP, they get elected.
In short, there has never been a better time to support the party that has the policies you really support, rather than the traditional party you think is the least worst.
According to the Vote for Policies website, more people support the policies of the Green Party than any other party. If they all voted Green, there would be many Green MPs. And it would show how much support there really was for radical policies. If every person wavering between Labour and the Greens in Kemptown voted for me, I would be elected.
Second, the above argument is particularly true in Brighton & Hove. Here, the last five years have unambiguously shown that if you vote Green, you get Green: first Caroline Lucas, then a Green-led minority Council. You only have to cast your minds back to Brighton Pavilion at the last General Election. On the doorsteps, many argued that voting Green would let in the Tories, but look what happened – in fact we got the first ever Green MP.
Caroline Lucas was recently voted the best MP in Parliament by an independent panel and regularly termed the real “Leader of the Opposition” in Parliament.
Sometimes you have to break the mould and take a risk if you want to change the status quo.
Third, why do people feel that voting Labour in Kemptown prevents the Tories winning the General Election? It is actually extremely unlikely that the result in one constituency will make the slightest bit of difference to the overall national result.
It is quite extraordinary that despite five years of the worst right-wing Tory-led Government, Labour still seems incapable of motivating people to vote for it in sufficient numbers to form a government. Why is this? Because its policies are so similar to the Tories is the answer. On austerity, climate change, housing, immigration, even the NHS, Labour’s policies are microscopically to the Left of the Tories but still accepting the ideological framework of the Tories.
All the political pundits now agree that Labour has no chance of forming a majority government.
All the political pundits now agree that Labour has no chance of forming a majority government. It will need to form some sort of block with the SNP, Greens and Plaid (& perhaps the Lib Dems). In those circumstances, wouldn’t a second Green MP help to drag Labour away from the Daily Mail’s agenda and towards more radical policies, just as Caroline Lucas has done already?
Finally, I have never known a time when the stakes are so high at a general election We have a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to vote for what we believe in – for tackling climate change and protecting the planet, against the cuts to public services and the privatisation of the NHS.
People know that voting Labour will not protect the planet, end the housing crisis, solve poverty, stop wars, or save the NHS as the experience of 13 years of Labour Government conclusively showed. So why on earth waste your vote on something you don’t believe in?
When people look back to the 2015 General Election, do you want to confess that yet again you voted for a rubbish party with rubbish policies to keep out a slightly more rubbish party & policies? Or do you want to say proudly that you showed the way by voting for what you knew was right, for policies you believed in?
We say you should vote for what you want. Labour activists are telling you to vote for what you don’t want! But it’s your precious choice, your precious vote – vote for what you believe in!