This little flyer on the right should be coming though every letterbox in Central Devon in the next few days. On the other side is something you can put in your window if you like. It’s impossible to really explain things in just a few hundred words, so here’s my attempt to give a bit more context to everything I wrote on the right hand half. On the left are Green Party policies, and I’m happy to endorse them all. Again, they’re very succinct here – for more, see the ‘Green Guarantee‘, essentially 10 priority policies for this general election, or the full Green Party manifesto.
So, here’s the front page, broken into sections, with more about why I wrote what I did in each bit.
I know that there is a huge number of people in this constituency (and nationally) who would far prefer any combination of Labour, Lib Dem and Green MPs to form our government to the Conservatives, who achieved full control on 36% of the popular vote in 2015. Our ‘first past the post’ electoral system is patently broken, archaic and unrepresentative. The only way within this, for the electorate in Central Devon to have a fair chance to cast a vote which counts, is to offer a binary choice between the Conservative and a ‘unity’ candidate representing these other three parties. Until we have proportional representation, this imperfect solution is the only way. I tried to persuade the local Labour and Lib Dem groups and candidates to agree to this, with a week to go before the deadline for registering as a candidate. In 2015, the LibDem (12%), Labour (13%) and Green (9%) votes were very close. Had we been able to agree on a single candidate, then I think the clear choice this provided would have had a very good chance to attract enough attention to stand a good chance of winning against the Conservatives (52% in 2015). For different reasons, both other parties decided against any such agreement. In this case, it’s almost certain that the vote will again be split 3 ways – as neither Labour nor Lib Dem has been close enough even to be a strong candidate for mass ‘tactical voting’ to give them enough support. On June 8, it seems inevitable that tactical votes will go in each direction. The Green Party has voluntarily withdrawn candidates in some 26 seats, where it looks like that could affect the result in a positive way. Here, that is not the case; my voluntary withdrawal would achieve nothing – so, as in the majority of seats across the country, the Green Party has a candidate here, and people should, I think, vote for whichever candidate most closely stands for what they think is important.
This is a general election like no other. Theresa May has called it opportunistically and unnecessarily. Her excuse was ‘Brexit negotiations’. It’s clear that it’s really all about political machinations within the Conservative party. And that’s nothing new. The EU referendum only happened because The Conservatives were scared of UKIP attracting ‘their’ votes. They didn’t expect to win the election, and so would easily be able to drop this commitment if a second coalition happened. They went ahead with a referendum in the most incompetent way imaginable. The legislation and campaigns were a farce. And for the result to be declared ‘the will of the people’ and for the turmoil and suffering we see as a consequence is an outrageous thing to inflict on the UK’s population.
The Tory party incompetence is continuing through this campaign, in particular it’s decision to focus everything on one person, Theresa May as leader. Now good leaders are important – but they’re not everything. in particular, in our parliamentary democracy, any party could win this election, form a new government then ditch the leader and appoint a new one, without any recourse to the rest of us in the electorate. So the whole Tory campaign is utterly disingenuous, and frankly is infantilising us all.
For the EU referendum to be described as ‘the will of the people’ is clearly nonsense. As I predicted before the 28 June, ‘Brexit’ now overshadows everything, leaving no time for our government to deal with the really important issues of our time: the global threat from manmade climate change and the need for us to replace our dependence on fossil fuels with renewable, sustainable alternatives; and the global conflicts which are creating the biggest refugee crisis in history.
Historically, in party-blind polls about policies, the Green Party consistently comes top. But people say things like, “I love what they stand for, but the Greens will never win so it’s a wasted vote.” But when the Green Party DOES win, it has brought us people like Caroline Lucas, widely regarded as the most effective MP in Parliament, and Molly Scott Cato, MEP for the South West who is doing fantastic work, and who I hope will be elected on 8 June to represent Bristol West as an MP. I can’t promise to be equal to Caroline’s talent, but if elected I will do my damnedest to follow her example.
The EU referendum has brought to the surface all sorts of competing and sometimes contradictory things. The tolerant, inclusive, country where ignorant bigotry and ‘fear of the other’ was regarded as unacceptable, which I have grown up in all my life seems different now, almost a distant memory. Clearly there are many people who feel abandoned, unheard, unrepresented, unfairly treated, etc, and who expressed this on 23 June 2016. I don’t believe that leaving the EU will solve any of these problems. In fact, I believe they’ll be exacerbated and we’ll be in an even worse place trying to sort them out. However, we are where we are. Article 50 has been triggered, and the next UK government need to carefully and thoughtfully do what is in the best interests of the country. I believe that the Green Party’s proposal to offer a second referendum on the outcome of these negotiations with the option to remain in the EU is what should now happen.
But it’s not just about the UK’s place in the EU. If a Conservative government is reelected on 8 June, then the NHS is under more threat than ever from predatory global companies who seek to profit from our pain and illness and a government set to continue the privatisation of NHS services to the point where integrated treatment in the patient’s best interests becomes impossible. Our education system is set to be further divided, into grammar schools, free schools, multi-academy trusts, etc – making choices for parents and children ever more unnecessarily complicated, without taking account of all the best evidence as what is really best for our future generations.
The above has been written quickly. It could do with some editing I’m sure. And there’s lots more to say that’s still missing. However, there are emails to answer (apologies if I haven’t got to yours yet), and hustings to prepare for tomorrow in Bovey Tracey, a daughter to collect from school, and a non-election-related event, this ‘Campfire Conversation‘ happening in Ashburton this evening to set up.