Election week on NovaraWire continues today. In part three, Adam Ramsay argues that a vote for the Greens in this election is the best hope for building any sort of long-term left alternative at the level of electoral politics.
1. Labour… really?
From the immigrant-bashing to their failure to properly committing to restore legal aid; from their promise to impose brutal cuts on our already savaged public services, to their ‘awkward’ relationship with imperialist wars; from their willingness to genuflect to the City, to their absurd British nationalism which makes them more willing to work with the quasi-fascist DUP than the social democratic SNP – they really aren’t anything like enough.
Of course they’re better than the Tories, but a strong Green vote will show them there’s ample room to their left and contribute to building a serious alternative.
2. Greens have by far the best manifesto.
I’m not going to go through it in detail, but it’s here.
It’s got awesome stuff in it, like the renationalisation of key utilities, restoration of trade union rights, free education, legally limiting pay ratios to 10:1, real taxes on the wealthy, radical reform of the banks, a people’s constitutional convention to fix our democracy, schools which do more than churn out compliant workers… I could go on.
Find whatever things you care about most. Read what the Greens have to say. Read what whichever other parties you’re thinking of voting for have to say. I suspect you’ll prefer the Green version.
You don’t actually have to be particularly radical to be against austerity. Around a third of the country is. Yet in most seats in England, the only candidate standing for a party which isn’t in favour of austerity is the Green.
This is worth remembering. Labour may support less austerity, but they still support austerity. Do you really want to vote for that? That’s just going in the wrong direction more slowly.
4. Climate change.
Stop for a moment. Take a step back. Think about how fucked we’re all going to be if we don’t get this sorted, like, yesterday. Then go into the polling booth, look at the ballot paper, and imagine that it says “extract more fossil fuels” next to each candidate’s name, apart from the Green one. Then imagine yourself in 50 years time, thinking about what you should have done.
5. Are you for the system, or against it?
The British political-economic system is in deep crisis. The Labour party, like the Tories and Lib Dems, are a key pillar of that establishment, acting as a buffer against radical change and desperately keeping the show on the road.
The Green solution is deep, serious economic and political reform. A Green vote is about saying that we need to do more than hold together a crumbling system.
6. You probably don’t live in a marginal seat.
Most constituencies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are pretty much safe for one party or the other. Most seats in Scotland are now safe for the SNP.
Because of this, your vote won’t have any real impact on the result. If you bother to show up, it’ll be to make a statement. How about making that statement vaguely correlate to what you might want for the world?
7. As long as Labour thinks it can take the left for granted, it will keep running off to the right.
Voting Green is a way of telling Labour that it has to work harder to get your support, that it can’t just half-privatise the NHS, take us into an illegal war, support genocidal nuclear weapons, austerity and migrant-bashing, and then rely on us to vote for it because the Tories are even worse. As long as the left caves in to Labour because of the Tory bogeyman, neoliberal hegemony is safe in Britain.
8. If we really want to transform our politics, we desperately need to build up a party to the left of Labour.
This should be a democratic party which hasn’t yet been trapped in the Westminster headlights. In our electoral system, that’s a long slog. But Greens are getting there – the party now has more members than any to the left of Labour in British history – and more than the Lib Dems and Ukip. The first time it ever saved a deposit was 2001. Nine years later, it had an MP. Every Green vote is a contribution to that journey, making it that little bit easier for Greens to win your seat next time, or the time after that.
9. It’s not a wasted vote.
If you feel like you’re faced with a shitty choice between two parties you don’t like this time, and that voting Green is a ‘wasted vote’, just remember, the only way to make sure that you don’t have the same fucked up choice next time is if someone not-so-terrible gets enough votes this time that they are in serious contention next time, or the time after that.
If people hadn’t voted Green in Brighton when they got 5%, there would be no Caroline Lucas.
10. Electing a Labour MP is pretty much just writing Miliband a blank cheque for the next five years.
It seems pretty likely that Ed Miliband will be Prime Minister, but without a majority. There is a good chance that even two or three Green MPs could have significant sway. Any Green MPs would vote to sack the Tories, but would push the government every day to be bolder against the forces of reaction and conservatism in Britain.
11. The long-term alternative.
In some places, there will be another left alternative, and that candidate may well be pretty good. But unless you think they are building up a long-term electoral alternative, then the strategic impact of voting for them is less than voting Green.
12. Electoral reform.
A big Green vote will make a powerful case for changing our voting system to something sensible: a change our democracy desperately needs.