I have been a member of the Green Party for 30 years but I have only been able to vote Green in the General Election twice back in 1987 and 1992 and the only times I have been able to vote Green in Local Elections was when I stood as a candidate myself. It has been difficult for us as a small party to find both the people and the money to stand in General Elections so I was pleased that the Green surge brought a new excitement and energy and candidates willing to put themselves forward.
However, I live in Derby North where Labour’s Chris Williamson only won by a small majority in 2010. Many people I spoke to outside the Green Party who were concerned about the cuts and austerity said I should vote tactically rather than vote Green. I knew that Chris was passionate about Animal Welfare and he was also in a group of fifteen Labour MPs who called for an alternative to the continuation of austerity and spending cuts. So I did consider their view carefully but in the end decided to vote for the party I believed in and not to play the tactics game.
Having taken this decision, I was very disappointed that the Conservatives won Derby North by 41 votes after three re-counts. I began to think that perhaps I should have voted tactically after all. But would it have changed anything? Labour was defeated nationally, their leader resigned but they still appear to think that austerity and cuts is the answer to our debt problems. From what I have heard, the candidates for the Leadership want to move nearer to Conservative policies to win back business and the votes of comfortably off people. This is far removed from what the Green Party stands for as an anti-austerity party, who don’t want to renew Trident, who oppose TTIP and who do not want our NHS to be sold off to the highest bidder. So, I’m glad I wasn’t persuaded to play the tactics game.
As others have said, for the Green Party, it is not just about who “won” on 7 May. I think the Green Party’s results in this election have helped the Party break through the perception in many people’s minds that it is just a well-meaning nice campaigning group. I believe that it will help to convince voters in 2020 that the Green Party is a serious political party, and given the chance, it can change the future face of politics. One of the first things that we need to try to change is the first past the post voting system.
We have a long term aim to bring back values into politics, to build a fairer society for all and to continue to push for action to try to limit the consequences of global warming. Changing attitudes is always difficult and will not happen overnight. The abolition of the slave trade, votes for women, getting rid of apartheid, all required, and still require, persistence and dedication from those who believe that something needs to change. This election has shown that the Green Party is not just a pretty face; we have the body and brain to go with it.
25 May 2015