University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

A vote for the Greens could help solve climate change

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Apr 13, 2015

It’s my opinion that climate change is our most pressing issue. According to climate scientists, we need to do something about it now, so as soon as possible given currently we’re doing practically nothing. The Green Party are the only party who centralise climate change.

If climate change doesn’t impassion you, some of their other policies might. They have a humanitarian immigration policy and want “to create a world of global inter-responsibility in which the concept of a ‘British national’ is irrelevant and outdated”.

They’d like to decrease the amount of advertising to reshape our culture into one less consumption driven. A ‘Citizen’s Income’ of £72 per week given to all people working or unemployed would hope to alleviate poverty and kick-start the economy from the bottom.

They’re the only party who have mentioned the EU-US trade agreement TTIP, saying they’d work to repeal it. These sweet policies need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but you get the gist: they’ve got some good values. The argument against voting for them is that we will have another Conservative government if we do.

This is because our electoral system, First Past the Post, means that if your party does not have a majority, your voice is effectively silenced.

So based on the idea that those who vote Green would in the absence of Green vote Labour, Green voters are taking their vote away from Labour (who could potentially have a majority) and are throwing it away.

In the last five years, the Liberal-Conservative coalition lowered taxes for the richest, cut benefits to almost everyone and continually work to privatise the NHS.

We have to think about whether we want more of that.

It’s not clear that if we had a Labour government the situation would be different. Indeed, Labour have said that they would not spend more, at least in the coming year, than the Tories plan to.

This January, Ed Balls was “explicit that Labour would not reverse” the cuts made to hospitals or local councils.
However, in other places, they vow to make welcome changes. Neither party has released a manifesto yet but the policies as collated by the BBC suggest a contrast between the reds and the blues.

Labour want to curb corporate tax avoidance, give greater prominence to mental health and begin a new commission on domestic and sexual abuse – all worthy enterprises. Treating the above suggestions as a guide, Labour come off better than the Conservatives.

In terms of climate change, Ed Miliband was the first ever secretary of state for Energy and Climate Change in the last government – hopefully that indicates something positive! Who you should vote for will depend on which constituency you’re in. Those of us in Brighton Pavilion don’t need to tactically vote Labour, both because there’s a chance Caroline Lucas will get enough votes to remain in Parliament and because Labour will likely get in if she doesn’t.

Additionally, two thirds of constituencies are what are known as ‘safe seats’. May’s outcome in safe constituencies can effectively be predicted in advance because of past elections. These places have not changed hands in so many decades, sometimes not in over a century, that parties don’t even bother spending money campaigning there. You can find out whether you live in a constituency like this by looking it up online.

In a safe seat area, you know that your vote for Green or for whatever party you prefer will go towards statistics post-election and will not contribute to an unfavourable party being elected.

So if you did vote Green here, the party might grow based on this visible support. Election statistics will be analysed and it would be empowering to find that we are close to having a Green government if we had proportional representation.

And some hope votes for Green would help to tell the next government that climate change is important. It would be great if we could vote honestly in May, but there’s no point in thinking wishfully that we should do so. Unfortunately we have an electoral system which implicitly endorses two party politics. To vote for a marginal party and be thoughtful of the consequences would require knowing that enough others are going to do the same that your voice will end up being heard, and this isn’t possible.

Our form of democracy is something we need to work on, but as things stand it’s something we need to work with.

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