I belong to the Green Party and it’s a commitment, an ideal and a kind of faith. But when people say Green is a wasted vote, asking why we can’t get together with Labour and the Lib Dems to defeat the Tories, or suggesting that the party should just step down simply because we can’t win, I do understand. It’s all hugely frustrating and we need a fairer voting system, one that justifies the name democracy. On top of which, I find that a friend with whom I share many values is standing for Labour in my constituency. When I look at this callous, morally bankrupt government to which the majority are so actively opposed, the word madness springs to mind. Like most Greens, including our joint leaders, I would have supported a Progressive Alliance candidate – in a collaborative pact between like-minded people who share the key Green goals. But where I live, both Labour and the Lib Dems declined, for the recent local elections, to form such an alliance. So I’ll be voting Green again – for some reasons I consider better than good, but crucially and overwhelmingly for the reason that informs everything else I believe and do.
Climate change is with us. It’s a phrase we’ve got used to, but it’s going to mutate into climate chaos and will ultimately destroy humanity if we don’t address it urgently. No one who has read extensively can challenge a scientific consensus that’s as close to unanimity as scientists get. The nations that signed the Paris Agreement accept the need for action. Yet many governments do little or nothing, and in the UK the Conservatives have cut subsidies to the renewables industries while continuing to bankroll fossil fuels and pursue, in fracking, a hugely destructive alternative to green energy and one that releases, in methane, a gas many times more damaging as a cause of global warming than carbon. It’s all unbelievably stupid and the explanation lies in financial links with the fossil fuel industry – otherwise known as corruption. And this threat to our children and grandchildren’s future seems to be one we’ve started to live with, just as we lived with the Cold War when I was a child and just as we now live with poverty and the Arms Trade, as if there’s nothing we can do except carry on as if it isn’t happening. Which is pretty much what Labour and the Lib Dems seem to do, only mentioning it in passing and continuing to pursue growth at all costs. I could use the word love for Corbyn: a humane, authentic, dignified and principled man who can sit in a story corner and read The Gruffalo like every child’s favourite grandpa. I passionately agree with him about many things. Intelligent and thoughtful, he accepts the need to avert climate disaster. But I don’t hear that recognition in his speeches. Why isn’t it top of the agenda, when a war industry adapting from #ArmsToRenewables is both feasible and necessary for peace and justice? And even if he alienated the Blairites further by voicing policies in line with Green thinking, how could he implement them when among his M.P.s are saboteurs with their own interests more pressing than the survival of our species? Climate change made me Green. It’s not something I can set aside, and only the Green Party takes it seriously. Only the Green Party shapes all its thinking and actions around this overwhelming truth – and that’s what, as human beings, we all have to do.
So I’ll be voting with my heart and convictions, hoping for a better vote and a second M.P. with passion and integrity. It feels like a moral imperative rather than a strategy, but perhaps it’s not for nothing. The more Green votes are counted, the more media attention the party earns, enhancing its credibility in the perception of the electorate – some of whom may decide, next time, that their Green vote might not be wasted. It also sends out a message to the other parties, who begin to consider, as Green votes grow, whether their own policies need to incorporate action on climate change because clearly there are people out there who care enough to vote with their convictions. These leaders could learn, too, from Green Party policies on the refugee crisis and education, both of which in their very different ways made me cry.
Unlike UKIP, Green is a party that won’t go away. I believe it will grow, and fast – preferably before climate disaster strikes closer to home. Look at Holland, more imminently at risk than us. But I’m not tribal, or even naturally political, and if Labour or the Lib Dems stole and truly committed to Green policies I’d consider voting red again (or yellow for the first time). It’s not who’s in power than matters, but how that power is used for good. Do I want to see the Tories out for ever? Desperately. Do I understand any Green in a marginal seat voting for the party most likely to defeat them? Of course. Do I hope for a time when we’ll all be Green? Oh yes, because looking at the big and scary picture for our planet and its inhabitants, that’s what hope must mean.