Friday, 16 May 2014

Why the Greens wouldn't get my second vote under AV

As a vaguely unaligned lefty voter back in the late 80s and early 90s I wandered between Plaid Cymru, the Greens and the Liberals. If you're of the left and grow up in a Labour heartland you rapidly learn how little care for anyone or anything but their own self-interest Labour have, so they weren't ever a serious contender.

Back then the Green Party looked like a plausible alternative to vote for. Indeed I've argued that if we were starting our political system from scratch in the UK, with parties based on the key issues of the coming century rather than the vested financial self-interest politics of the old century, the two main parties would be the Liberals on the left and the Greens on the right (and no doubt UKIP as a third party to soak up the ever present blame-someone-else vote).

The trouble is as they've gained the proverbial oxygen of publicity the Greens look less and less appealing.

There was Iraq, obviously. Before the 2003 invasion the Greens stood alongside the Liberals and a motley assortment of others (Respect, the BNP... look, never blame an idea for those who share it!) as against the invasion. There was some debate within that broad coalition as to when or whether it might be OK to go in, but right up to the day America and her allies rolled in conditions like UN backing were never met.

When war was declared everyone against the invasion needed to reassess their stance given the "there must not be an invasion" boat had sailed. The Liberals said they hoped for as short a conflict as possible with the minimum of civilian casualties. The Greens immediately and loudly condemned that stance. The trouble is, with no option for "war never happening", the only place that being against a short and comparatively bloodless battle leaves you is calling for a long and bloody war and / or as many civilian dead as can be piled up.

It's not that surprising: after all, a long war which forced up the oil price is better for forcing the pace of change to alternative energy sources or reductions in energy use. A painful war in Iraq fits with a (the?) central plank of the Green Party's agenda.

Yet because they get so little attention most of the time they've been able to keep a swathe of anti-war votes from internationalist and humanitarian voters, despite their real and bloodthirsty position.

And their money-tree solutions to so many things... great for bandwagon jumping, terrible for actually having to put promises into action as the unravelling of their Brighton council administration reflects. Making the numbers at least broadly add up was something the Liberals learned from the 1992 election; the Greens still have to go through that uncomfortable stage.

Then earlier this week I had the dubious pleasure of hearing the Greens' national spokesperson on Human Rights (Peter Tatchell, who whatever you think of his tactics down the years has a broad and long history in LGbt campaigning) repeatedly use "straight" as the antonym of "trans" at an LGBT public meeting. We've had "cis" as a proper word for such purposes for a good long while now, we aren't stuck with the clumsy language of the 70s any more.

As Carter would say: I turn on the box, it's like punk never happened.

They'd like to get votes by promising a money tree to everyone, when we're more aware where that leads than ever. They like to get votes from seeming fluffy on Iraq, when they were bloodthirsty hawks. And they would like to get votes from the LGBT+ communities, but even their out candidates have no interest in listening, just preaching.


  1. ... so who would get your second choice under AV?

  2. I wish I knew. This (was going to be / will be - depends on spoons) one of a series of posts despairing of a viable home for a second preference, and exploring two related political conundrums. I may yet have the spoons ;)