I’ve been selected as the Green Party candidate again, to stand for Central Devon in the General Election on 8 June. However, I believe that Lib Dem, Labour and the Green Party should agree to stand a single candidate here against the Conservative incumbent. ‘A betrayal of democracy!’ I hear Theresa May claim. No. What we have right now is a sham democracy. ‘First Past The Post’ is clearly more broken than ever as an electoral system where the Tories on 37% of the national popular vote can rule by dictat, making decisions every week that the majority of the population find unpalatable. In seats like this one, many people don’t bother casting a ‘wasted’ vote. In the absence of Proportional Representation, this year it is time to put party tribalism to one side, and find a way to work together to do something about this. We have until 4pm on Thursday 11 May to do it (the deadline for confirming registration as a candidate).
In 2015, Conservative, Mel Stride won the Central Devon seat with 52%. UKIP, Labour and LibDem got around 13% each, and Green (me!) got 9%. You could say that that shows that no matter what, there’s a simple majority of voters in Central Devon who like the Conservative MP, Mel Stride and/or his party. How anyone can think that after seeing the last two (plus 5) years of Tory ‘control’ is beyond me. Theirs is a government of incompetence, vindictiveness and wrongheaded economic policies that are dividing our nation against itself and making the UK look ridiculous to the rest of the world which looks on aghast at what is happening here, and is horrified at the stories which come from their citizens who live, work and have families here. And don’t even get me started on ‘Brexit’, where the enabling legislation and campaigns for the referendum were frankly laughable if the consequences weren’t so serious. If Armando Ianucci had written it all as a plot for ‘The Thick Of It’ a few years ago it would have been regarded as too silly even for fiction.
This election is unlike any other. If the Conservatives win another majority, we face years of unpleasant turmoil for no benefit (even for the few people who will become financially richer). Our country will become a more unpleasant place. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose a different, more tolerant, progressive way to live where people cooperate with each other and with others around the world.
I believe that there is a huge number of voters here who just don’t bother to cast a ‘wasted vote’ for Labour, LibDem or Green. It has become more clear than ever before that a Tory government which can simply rule by dictat on the basis of 37% of the popular vote does NOT represent the ‘will of the people’. Nominations for the General Election close on Thursday 11 May at 4pm. I believe that by that time, the local Lib Dem, Labour and Green parties should agree to all stand behind a single ‘Unity’ candidate so that there’s a straight choice between Conservative and Not Conservative. It would be a radical thing to do. It would mean that EVERY SINGLE VOTE would count, just as it did in the EU referendum. It wouldn’t mean that Green, or Labour, or LibDem voters were throwing away their principles. Until we have a fair, proportional system of electing our government, something like this is the only option we have – in a constituency like Central Devon, of which there are many around the country.
I’ve been selected to stand on 8 June for the Green Party. In some parts of the country, Green candidates are standing down in order not to split the vote against the Tories. Here, that makes no sense. As it is, there is likely to be tactical voting on a mass scale for both Labour and Lib Dem – which will achieve nothing.
The only way we can hope for a positive result here is for there to be a single ‘unity’ candidate. I would willingly stand aside if we could agree on one, and I think I’d be supported by most ‘Green’ voters in doing that. But if we can’t agree on a single candidate, then I will stand, and mount as strong a campaign as possible for what I believe is important for the future of our society, and our children’s lives.
If you’re a member or voter for Labour or Lib Dem and you support this idea – email or call the Central Devon constituency office or speak to their representatives, or post on their social media groups that you’d like to see this happen. If it did, the rather pointless election on 8 June might end up creating something interesting that might lead to a transformation of our politics so that all our voices are heard and represented, because I don’t believe the Tories do it for us. Do you?
If you think the parties should make this agreement, here are some email addresses – please write to them all:
Secretary of Central Devon Labour: Paula Frisby: firstname.lastname@example.org
Central Devon Liberal Democrats: email@example.com
South Devon Green Party: firstname.lastname@example.org