It’s been a funny old week in UK politics with the UKIPs getting an MP (well, borrowing a Tory MP for a bit) and, more interestingly, nearly winning in a Labour safe seat, which has meant both Labour and the Conservatives have taken some big steps to the right in their rhetoric while the BBC and other broadcasters are helping UKIP to move the debate in that direction too.
For those of us who lean slightly to the left and who think the problems of the world probably aren’t due to poor people and greedy immigrants, these are confusing and dark days and it doesn’t take a paranoid reactionary to see parallels with the 1930s. Where will this all lead? And how can we stop it?
I’ve considered joining the Labour party. After all, they’re the ones I’m most likely to vote for, despite massive reservations. But I don’t think Labour is interested in what I have to say because I’m a sure thing. I’m on their side and trapped by an ideological lock-in. I should put up and accept the compromises needed to get into power because the necessary bad will be outweighed by the good.
I understand that logic. While I might have some views and ideas that are way out of the mainstream, I don’t expect to live in a world that accepts them. Compromise is good, because extremes are always bad. There is no Utopia, just the best we can make of a complex situation. The middle-ground is always a good thing to aim for.
But thanks to the extremists of UKIP and the Tory right posing as “common sense” that middle ground is shifting into a place I don’t like. I’d like to help shift it back to sanity.
It seems to me that a Labour government is generally going to be the best way to run the country. The problem is the Labour Party machine is optimised to chase votes and it sees votes over on the right. We need to take its votes away from the left. Then it will sense them going and start aligning to those needs.
Sure, that might left a Conservative government in in the next election, but they should have thought of that before rejecting Proportional Representation in favour of a status quo that disenfranchises most of the population.
So, who to vote for? I’ve never felt comfortable with the hard-left parties. They’re too ranty, too, uncompromising, too academic at times, and generally too annoying for me.
I’d noticed a few people I knew were talking about voting Green, and they do have an MP, albeit in Brighton which isn’t exactly on this plane of reality. So I thought I’d have a look. And, generally speaking, I agree with most of it. Sure, there’s bits I maybe wouldn’t emphasise quite as much on the eco-side, but it is the Green party so I can deal with that.
The point is the Greens will never be in power in this country under the current system. But by strengthening their position, by helping them get more councillors and MPs, we can start shifting the Overton Window away from the cold, hateful place UKIP want to somewhere more caring, more equitable, more human.
And then, at some point in the future, we’ll be able to vote for Labour or the Conservatives without holding our noses.
That’s the plan anyway!
So from today I’m a paid-up member of the Green Party. Leaflets will be going through doors on my street. I might even blog about it, though probably only in a personal way.
Fuck UKIP – vote Green.