The Green Party – We’re Not Just a Pretty Face!

JeanI have to confess that I had a personal dilemma on how to vote in the election. Should I vote tactically or vote for what I believe in?

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.

Jean Macdonald
25 May 2015

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3 responses to “The Green Party – We’re Not Just a Pretty Face!

  1. Thanks for explaining your dilemma and final decision, Jean.

    I’ve previously considered myself a natural Labour voter and worked for them at the last election. However, I’d not been impressed by their record over the last 5 years and one or two of their election pledges (particularly migration) did not sit well with me. So I voted Green in Derby North, impressed by the manifesto, and like you hoped Labour would get over the line. It wasn’t to be and I don’t look forward to 5 years being represented by a Conservative, but frankly Labour needed the wake-up call! I look forward to seeing the Green Party take full advantage of their present momentum.

  2. Maurice Neville

    Caroline Lucas specifically called for tactical voting as a necessary strategy to avoid disasters like Derby North. She did this three days AFTER the general election. The Greens made no impression on the Tory vote and simply ensured more Tory MPs and councillors in many cases. Giving Labour a wake up call turns out to mean punishing communities with more rule by the Tories. What a waste of a vote.

  3. Thank you jajcunliffe and Maurice for sharing your views. With regard to Maurice’s comment that I had wasted my vote – well yes, to some extent I agree. Because of the “first past the post” voting system you could say that 6,532 people who voted UKIP, 3832 people who voted LibDem and the other 1,617 people who voted Green all wasted their vote because it was fairly obvious that either Labour or Conservative would get elected. Should all these people have voted tactically? There were also 30% of the electorate who didn’t vote at all. If only 42 of them had turned out and voted Labour the result would have been different.

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