26 May 2015

I've spent 30+ years voting tactically and never had a government I wanted. Instead I've seen the old political parties gradually shift further and further to the right. I've seen the Labour Party introduce detention without trial, start to break up and privatise our public services with PFI deals and Academies, and take us into an illegal war that destabilised the Middle East. I’ve seen the Liberals abandon their promise to students and instead support a Tory government as it further fragmented and privatised schools and hospitals and punished the poor, the weak and the vulnerable.

A few years ago I started to be bloody-minded about my voting. To hell with what other people were voting for, I was going to start voting for what *I* wanted.

I used to see the Liberals as the third party who would break the mould of British politics. Then of course they did, but not in the way that I thought. Instead of standing by their principles they sold out for a few crumbs of power from the cabinet table while Osborne & Cameron embarked on their campaign of demonising the working poor and breaking up public services.

People tell me that if I want to oppose the Tories I should vote Labour, if I vote for another party I’ll be "letting in the Tories". The problem with that is... I don’t want Labour either. Let’s be clear, Labour are not as bad as the Tories, nor are the LibDems. But they’ve all bought into the fake austerity agenda promoted by the Tories, with Labour ready to lurch further to the right following their leadership election.

In a moment of lucidity I managed to sum up my new way of thinking in a Facebook response to someone wondering whether they should vote tactically in the recent election:

"I'll be 50 this year. I've voted tactically for most of the last 30+ years. It never got me a Government I wanted. The best it got me was one that wasn't quite as bad as the other lot. What a waste. I don't like roses. I've spend 30+ years watering roses and hoping they'd turn into something else. They didn't. As elections loom the flowers bloom and they start to look nice for a bit, but the petals soon peel away and I'm left with some bare, ugly thing covered in thorns. I should have planted something else 30 years ago, and spent my time nurturing that. Put your efforts into the Green Party. Water it, feed it, look after it, help it to grow. VOTE for it. If you vote Green this time you might not get the result you want. If you DON'T vote green you never will. There are other people out there waiting to follow your lead."

Hundreds of thousands of people did just that. Due to the nature of First Past the Post it meant no more MPs but it improved our position in many seats, gave us more councillors and a foothold in a more councils. Next time we do a bit more weeding and the green shoots grow a bit taller. There will be others who didn’t vote for us this time but who will follow the lead of those that did next time. We saw another boost to our membership numbers after the result was announced and more new members turning up to our meetings.

If you want to grow something you plant a seed and nurture it: there's no good watering a rose and hoping one day it'll turn into a lily. If you want lilies, plant lilies. If only I'd been a more active gardener for the past 30 years there might not be so many weeds and there might be a damn sight more lilies.

You can follow Andy via his Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GreenAndy1965

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