Earlier this week I posted the case, from a left-wing point of view, for voting Labour in this year’s general election. Until recently I only considered the possibility of voting Labour. I have been a Labour Party member for over ten years and have campaigned for them on two separate occasions. However I have been completely underwhelmed by Miliband's leadership despite voting for him to be party leader, because I believed he was the most left-wing candidate on the ballot.
It is not his lack of charisma or inability to eat a bacon sandwich which puts me off voting Labour. It’s the party’s complete failure at being actually left-wing. Despite the fact that the right-wing press will paint Miliband as a socialist, he still cannot find it in himself to put forward a genuine alternative to the Tories’ neo-liberalism and austerity. However, recently the Green Party has been doing a pretty good job of putting forward this alternative, and I am considering voting for them. So on that note:
The case for voting Green:
I am one of a growing number of people who believe we need radical change to our society to avoid sleepwalking into a resurgent class system and growing civil unrest. The wealth of the rich is exploding compared to the wealth of everyone else. Government austerity is eroding the welfare state and destroying the services the poorest rely on. The great social levellers - free universal healthcare, free education, a minimum standard of housing - are being removed. The poor are being blamed for being poor and the disabled are blamed for being disabled. Through private schools and unpaid internships, society is gamed for the children of the rich and, if this goes unchecked, we will return to a class based society where your prospects in life are determined by your birth. The left needs to send a powerful signal that we want to change society, and this signal is voting Green.
I support their policy on a minimum national income to fight poverty, as well as their energy and tuition fees polices. I also strongly support not renewing Trident. In terms of radical changes to our society, I believe the Greens are right to propose cutting back the army, partly to stop us getting involved in another disastrous war in the Middle East. Changing the focus in employment to work that matters/is of social benefit would not only be good for the environment, but would also help to end the money and status obsession which is slowing killing everything that is good about our society.
From a socialist point of view they plan to tax the rich and help the poor, which will lead to an end of the culture of blaming the poor for being poor and then punishing them with austerity. Speaking of which, the Greens are the only party with a clear opposition to neo-liberalism and austerity. These policies created our economic problems and then pushed the burden of solving them onto the poorest members of society. On top of all this, a vote for the Greens would be a push back against the dominant right-wing narratives on immigration and benefits.
The Greens are the only party I trust on the environment. Labour are too pragmatic to do something as idealistic as protecting the natural world. They are also the only party I trust to be sensible on crime and drugs. They are the only party I trust to look at the causes of crime and not simply rely on harsher sentences. The drugs reforms that the Greens suggest seem common sense to me, and are supported by the medical community - at least in terms of marijuana.
Every other party is so terrified of right-wing hysteria that they refuse even to concede the point. The continual cycle of successive governments burying their own drug reports which refuse to tow the right-wing line shows how reluctant they are to consider any form of liberalisation. Instead, the drug problem gets worse and the right-wing pundits blow more steam out of their ears and jump up and down on their hats whenever liberalisation is suggested.
The drugs issue shows how timid the mainstream parties are and how little changes regardless of which one is in power. It is this narrowing of debate which has contributed to the climate of cynicism that surrounds politics. By voting Green we can counter this cynicism with a real alternative to the big three - an alternative which is not UKIP, as UKIP is just more cynicism but of a different kind. Voting Green will show politicians that we do want something different from the narrow range of policies that are presented to us.
Do you think that a future Labour government will tax the rich and ban zero hour contracts? I do not think they will, but they might do in a coalition with the Greens, which is another great reason to vote for them.
The main reason not to vote Green is also one of the main reasons to vote Green, which is their energy policy. Their total opposition to nuclear power is unfounded. France is invested heavily in nuclear power and has one of the lowest levels of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe as well as some of the cheapest electricity. As much as I love wind farms, and hate how the landed Tories moan about them, the technology is not ready for Britain to become fully dependant upon them in the short term. Nuclear power must be used as in the medium term as we wean ourselves off non-renewables. A Green/Labour coalition would probably have the best combination of optimism and realism on energy policy.
There is also the Green's support for alternative medicine, which has no place within the NHS. However, aside from these few differences, I am struggling to find proposed Green Party policies that I disagree with. My only concern is that it is easy for a fridge party to promise a lot of radical policies, but with no experience of national government, I am worried about how much of this they will deliver. After being seduced by the Lib Dems in 2010, I am weary about a seemingly left-wing alternative that turns out to be a Tory footstool.
Despite this I strongly believe you should vote for the policies which best represent your vision of what you want the country to be. Worry about the bean counting and paperwork later. If were too preoccupied with these things then we would not have a welfare state - and it is this attitude which is partly responsible for the eroding of the welfare state.
I, like a lot of radical lefties, think that our society needs real change to advert economic and social disaster. Change which cannot be offered by the Labour Party. The only way send a signal to politicians that we want radical change to our society is to vote for the only party which is offering radical change, which is the Green Party.