I will be voting for the Green Party at the upcoming European elections, and the general election in 2015. I'm a paid-up member of the Green Party, but I'm an enthusiast rather than an activist. This article seeks to explain why I think voting Green is the only option to secure our future; socially, environmentally and economically.
Over the years, greens (with a lower case 'G') have acquired a interesting reputation. Ask a typical person to describe a green or a member of the Green Party, and they will probably include one or more of:
- chained to a tree / hugging a tree
I'm sure you get the picture. I'm sure that you also realise the vast majority of Green voters are perfectly normal people. The Green Party's reputation was not helped their association with David Icke - the former sports presenter who had a "road to Damascus" moment and resigned from the party in 1991. That's the polite way of describing it. Some might say he went bonkers, but I suggest you read his Wikipedia entry and draw your own conclusions. Either way, his behaviour probably didn't do the Green Party any favours.
Perhaps more worrying is the fact that many people think that the Green Party have only one item on the agenda, and that's the environment. In fact, the Green Party has policies that address every aspect of modern life, and I'll highlight some of those shortly. One of the most important things for me is that Green policy is based on evidence, not ideology.
The Green Party takes a holistic approach to environmental policy, encompassing energy, the environment, farming and food. They support practices that protect the environment and are sustainable. They are not against globalisation per se, but seek to encourage local, sustainable production. They are completely opposed to fracking and genetically modified food.
The "polluter pays" principle will enable a transition to a sustainable green economy, creating jobs and improving the environment by reducing our dependence on polluting fossil fuels. They will invest in better, integrated public transport, and will encourage walking, cycling and reduced car use in general. Railways would be returned to public ownership, as would all other key public services, including energy and water.
The Green Party supports a reformed Europe, with national self-determination but cooperation on subjects that require international action, such as climate change and fisheries policy.
The Greens believe in equal rights for all races, genders and sexual orientations.
The Green Party believes in a compassionate welfare state, supporting those in need. That includes a "living wage" - a wage that it's possible to actually live on. The education system would be improved under the Greens, with smaller class sizes and more accountable schools.
The Green Party is committed to a free NHS, but aims to reduce the load on it by promoting healthier lifestyles. Prescriptions, eye tests, dental care and care for the eldery would all be free.
In essence, the Green Party's policies are about fairness and sustainability. In some respects they are quite left wing and radical, but it is my view that we have to get out of the current global model of consumption and constant unsustainable economic growth, before it's too late. Over the past decades, the capitalist agenda, which encourages free enterprise, free trade, and profits for shareholders above the welfare of individuals (or even whole states) has been very successful at raising overall prosperity levels. However, with increasing competition for resources and a planet that is rapidly heading towards (or even already arrived at) a crisis point, I believe it is time for change. A change to a more caring, balanced society, where everyone has sufficient and the world is a pleasant place to live in.
A Green vote is not a wasted vote - Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion is proof of that - particularly at a European election which has a fairer, proportional electoral system. I will be voting Green on the 22nd of May, and I hope some of the people who read this will do so too.
You can find full details of the Green Party manifesto for the 2014 European elections here. These views are my own, and I apologise if I have misrepresented the Green Party in any way.