Thursday, May 14, 2009

Why bother to vote for politicians?

Someone asks "Why should anyone vote for a Euro candidate when from all accounts the European Parliament is at least as corrupt as the organisation at Westminster?" .

This is a very big question, now and in the past. The anarchists have a good set of one-liners, like "Don't vote, it only encourages them" and "If voting changed anything, they'd ban it".

Even so, Parliaments are vitally important democratic institutions, and it is imperative that we sort out the MPs and the ridiculous system of accomodation claims, because they are bringing Parliament and democracy into disrepute.

As far as the Green Party (GP) goes, we have two Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), both in South East region: Caroline Lucas (our leader) and Jean Lambert, who has received a recognition for her Human Rights work. They are both excellent dedicated and hardworking MEPs. I know little about their accomodation allowances, and I will find out where they are available.

The Green Party is very hot on corruption in the EU. I raised the issue in 1989, (when I was the SW GP candidate, resulting in getting 24% of the vote but no representation) and it is one of the themes of the South West GP campaign. We are very much against the way corporations are funding political parties, and critical of the corporate lobbyists' influence in the corridors of power. You can be certain that we are not funded by international corporations. I expect and hope that green local businesses will have given us some funding. By far the greatest part of our funding comes from the pockets of GP members, or sympathisers.

Your question makes me think that the GP (and all political parties) should publish their accounts, maybe even their book-keeping, in real time. I will raise a discussion on this idea within the Party.

Now, assuming for the sake of argument, that the MEPs accounts are as dodgy as the MPs, I'm sorry, but it is my firm opinion, that not voting is the worst possible way to respond.

It is far better to pop into the polling booth, and put a mark on the paper. It only takes five minutes, there's always a few of people you know there and a bit of a special occasion buzz.

Who to vote for? Well, you want to vote for a party that has been around for a long time (so you know it is stable and mature, and won't just bloom and wither away after a few years), but one that has not yet been in power (because they will not have had a chance to become corrupt).

You need a party with ideals, (because that is a better motivation than money), and also with worked-through ideas (not just a wish list).

Above all, you need a party that realises that real economics must be based on ecology - the understanding of how humankind depends on natural physical and living systems. You need a party that can make the necessary connections between the recession, the need to make work available, and the twin threats of Peak Oil (demand outstripping supply) and climate change. (The Green New Deal promises to heal the economic recession by working to avoid the next oil crisis and above all, to avoid catastrophic global heating). And finally you need to find a party that tries to view all people of equal value, that aims (and works) for social harmony and international peace.

You can probably see what I am driving at here.

We Greens fully understand why people are totally fed up with established politicians. Believe me, we are too. We have been fighting against a dysfunctional electoral and political system for thirty years, striving to bring about a deep and radical change for the better in economics and politics in Britain.

Sorry, I'm going on a bit, but it shows you posed a good question.

In short, abstaining from the poll just tells politicians what they know already - that people are dangerously disillusioned with politics.
But casting a Green vote tells politicians that people want real, constructive reform of politics and economics, that they have seen through the masks of the old politicians. The Green vote also makes the Government bring on environmental and social reforms to try to take some of our voters back.

The Green vote is a thousand times more powerful than not voting.

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