General Election 2005 - Why I'm Voting Green
by James Lea, 5 April 2005
April 5 2005 - Tony Blair has just announced the UK General Election date - May 5 2005. For those who care about our communities and environment, this is an opportunity to express your concern for these issues by voting for the Green Party (www.greenparty.org.uk).
The Importance of Political Action
This site contains lots of practical material on green living because I'm convinced that when effecting change, one must lead by example. Many of these green solutions are bottom up - they focus on small scale changes which collectively greatly reduce our impact on the planet.
However I also believe that top down political action is important. We must galvanise politicians into representing and enacting our beliefs through a potent combination of practical and political action. The act of voting is very important in a democracy and I'm greatly saddened by people who declare they're not going to vote. It's a snub to all those who have fought hard for the right and undermines our country.
Every vote does count - just not necessarily in the ways you might imagine. Traditionally people think that it's only worth voting Labour or Tory, on the basis that one or the other is bound to get in. This simply isn't true. Voting for who you believe in can make a big difference, for three reasons:
Why I'm Voting Green
Only the Green Party puts issues of environment and social justice at the heart of its manifesto. The three grey parties (Labour, Tory and LibDem) may pay lip service to these issues, but only within the constraints of their 'business as usual' obsessions. To them endless economic growth in a world of finite resources is quite acceptable - a falacy which the earth is becoming increasingly willing to point out to us all.
Voter turnout and apathy
Analysts worry that the forthcoming election will see record low levels of turnout. The grey parties scratch their heads and say "Why is this?" before going on to attack each other, bringing forth renewed charges of negative campaigning and of putting voters off.
I believe the explanation is simpler still. The grey parties are all the same. Fundamentally, deep down, they offer nothing different other than variations on a shade. Voters are cannier than they are given credit for. If the options are all equally unpalatable, then why vote? Hence declining turnout and a growing disillusionment with politics.
Britain has a strangely adversarial system, in parliament, elections, the courts of law and the planning system. People who would otherwise be cooperative are pitched against each other in battle. Why? Surely the most efficient system would be one in which we cooperated, not fought each other, for the common greater good?
There's no better illustration of this than the UK's First Past the Post electoral system, which must rate as a truly daft invention. It enormously accentuates the success of the party which wins the most votes, even if by only a small margin, and marginalises the diverse interests of the majority of the population. Indeed, through this system we can safely say we have a minority government. More people voted against Labour at the 2001 elections than for them!
However, there's plenty of hope - hitherto smaller groups are making strong headway against the vested interests and systems of the establishment: none more so than the Green Party.
Keith Taylor, the UK's first Green MP?
Time to declare my interest - I live in Brighton and campaign for the Brighton and Hove Green Party. Keith Taylor, a Green Party principal spokesperson is standing as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Brighton Pavilion ward. In the 2001 general election he scored nearly 10% of the vote, a massive gain on the 1997 vote share. A similar gain this May will see Keith become the UK's first Green MP.
Read his blog at www.keithforwestminster.com to find out more. One final point - make sure you're on the electoral register, quickly!
Any comments on this article?
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-- (c) James Lea, www.GreenLiving.co.uk, 2005 - 2007 --