Nellie de Goguel | 23 May 2020
One of my hopes in the post Covid-19 age is that voting “green” will no longer be viewed as a ridiculous option or an option without power.
Excuse my American referencing (have I really been in the UK for over two months now?!), but it seems so many of us are generally exhausted by both Democratic and Republican leadership being dominated by expired racist and sexist white men who have contributed to an almost inevitable (unless we stop voting for them) premature extinction of the human race. Why can’t we have an option to step outside a de facto two party system (obviously different in the UK) choked by its own corruption and look at the other players in the room. These players have been screaming for the better part of a century that the planet’s natural resources are finite and we are about to scrape the last bit of congealed leftover cheesy pasta from the bottom of the compostable container. Apologies, I’m eating two day old takeaway as I write this. But I’m sure history’s scientists and environmentalists have been using similar analogies.
I am 100% not, and never will be, a Boris Johnsonite or “BJer”, who I see as DT lite (I can’t stomach writing out his name). And voting Labour to me is… predictable? Business as usual? This is who I would have likely voted for in the past. But this is also why I am writing this piece. Is it foolish to place my voting power in a party that, I was recently told by a much older friend, is “a joke”?
I don’t think it’s foolish. In fact, I think I’m right on trend. According to trusty wikipedia, in 2019 the Green Party secured their best ever local election result, more than doubling their number of council seats from 178 to 372 councillors. The Green Party is called “radically socialist,” but are we not living in pre-apocalyptic times that require radical solutions? Are we not, at this very moment, stuck inside our homes thanks to a GLOBAL PANDEMIC that’s condemned our already fragile economic structure? And what is so radical about a sustainable economy valuing finite natural resources and policies that place the well being of people before profit?
In the “Two Years: Ten Bills” proposal, the Green Party advocates for:
– Increased NHS funding by at least 6 billion a year and guaranteed free healthcare for everyone. Yes please.
– Mental health services available to all. Post COVID? I will very much like that, please and thanks.
– Scrap undergraduate tuition fees (It used to be basically free to go to all colleges in the UK when I was a kid) and fund higher education.
– My personal favourite: introduce a Sustainable Economy Bill setting new binding targets to ensure our economy functions within environmental limits. This does not mean less money for rich people, it means a combination of solutions at all levels (local, national, international), creative natural and tech solutions, and putting value in our planet/natural resources (the ultimate public good) first and placing the well being of people before the idea of profit. This leads to more productive members of society which means a stronger, more active economic system.
– Changing the actual voting system! Yes!! The first past the post system is not representational! Basic democracy.
– Introducing a renters rights bill?! Huge for providing safe, secure housing for those who need it. And there’s a part about supporting a co-op housing model making it easier for renters to collectively own their own building! Which in turn builds community. Nice.
– Along the same the lines, the Greens want to build 100,000 new zero carbon homes for social rent (council housing) each year to tackle the housing crisis in a way that places vulnerable populations first.
– Universal (clap). Basic (clap). Income (clap). Level the playing field, get rid of so much debilitating mental stress and struggle. Outcomes from UBI trials suggest getting a basic income tends to boost happiness, health, school attendance, and trust in social institutions, while reducing crime. To me that means more productive members of society engaging in the economy. A win for everyone.
There is much more to the Green Party’s “Two Years: Ten Bills” platform, and even more “radical” calls to action are found within the party manifesto, the Green New Deal (GND). The GND is clear and comprehensive, but not perfect (what is?), and it’s climate justice goals are ambiguous. However, shifting power to community-owned models is clear throughout all policies. The first aim listed in the GND’s section on energy is “enable communities to develop their own renewable energy projects, so that the benefits of locally generated energy can stay local.” Boom. I could go on, but perhaps that’s for another article. “Breaking down the Green New Deal.”
Before I moved to the UK, I was the Sustainability Manager for the City of Providence and played a small part in creating the City’s Climate Justice Plan. And it was radical, in the most exciting, liberating way. If we want a future for humans, and one that isn’t filled with fear, uncertainty and pain, then we need to invest in and support “radical” solutions.
On the front cover of the Green Party’s manifesto are the words, “If Not Now, When?” If we don’t act now, our options will only become narrower and our choices will be driven by fear and lack of resources. I’m going to vote Green because, honestly, what other real choice do we have?