Back at home in Highgate for a bit, before leaving for the count at Alexandra Palace. I’m told it’s best to get there by 1 AM.
As candidates go, I hope to be the best turned-out for the turn-out. Not sure if I get to stand on a stage next to a man in a gorilla suit, while his fifteen middle names are read out by the Returning Officer. I think that’s just for General Elections. I intend to take a book and a selection of caffeinated soft drinks.
As far as the London Green Party are concerned, all eyes are really on target wards in Camden, Islington, Hackney and Lewisham. Standing here in Haringey’s Highgate ward, I’m what’s euphemistically known as a ‘paper candidate’. Statistically it’s unlikely I’ll get in even if I had an expensive campaign backing me, so the Party concentrate their resources on seats they have a decent chance of getting. Fair enough. That’s the trouble with a party with anti-capitalist principles: there’s never any bloody money.
But even in no-hoper wards, it’s unfair to deny people the chance to vote Green at all, the people who say “I’d vote Green if there was a candidate to vote for”. Well, now there’s three Green candidates in most London local elections, so fingers crossed it makes a difference.
The trouble is people who do ‘tactical voting’. I hate that phrase: it’s so passé, so … Britpop.
Tactical voting essentially says: Vote for Least Worst out of Who Might Get In. What kind of democratic system is that? It’s a lie. No, you must always vote for who and what you believe in regardless. That’s why elections are formally known as POLLS. They’re polling the people, to find out what the people believe in. What’s the point if the people vote ‘tactically’, recording what they don’t want, and not what they do? A Green vote is never a ‘wasted vote’, because it’s on the record. It’s counted. It counts. It shows what people want, as opposed to what they don’t want. That’s what elections are: the best-documented, most-heeded-to polls.
The only truly ‘wasted vote’ is when someone doesn’t use their vote at all.
In 2006, the buzz phrase is ‘protest voting’. Sadly, the newspapers have taken this to mean voting for the BNP. The last few weeks have seen what was virtually a big BNP publicity campaign by the media, getting worked up about a supposed white working-class electorate feeling the country is being overrun with, well, anyone else, and turning to the Dark Side. Alex Cox, cultish movie director and Green Party supporter, summed it up in a letter to The Guardian:
“Is it really necessary to devote column inches to the possibility that the BNP “might” win 70 council seats? I suspect Guardian readers are not very interested in the BNP. But a bit of coverage of the Green party – which already has in excess of 70 local councillors and stand to win 100 or more seats in the election – might not go amiss.”
I disagree with Mr Cox on the bit about thinking Guardian readers aren’t interested in reading about the BNP. Of course they are: everyone is, really. People would rather see Gary Glitter being interviewed than Peter Tatchell (another Green supporter). Obvious villains are always more entertaining. It’s more fun to be evil than to be good.
But in terms of proportional media coverage, it’s a pertinent point. People forget the Greens are the 4th biggest party, and much bigger than the BNP, Respect, UKIP etc in terms of members, candidates and votes. You’d never think so, not lately. Talking about Nazis is sexy: just ask Channel 5. A bit of blind, deliberate, untapped hatred gets people terribly excited. The Devil has all the best media coverage. Voting Green is a protest vote too – obviously – but where’s the fun in being nice to people? Not exactly juicy columnist fodder.
So, given tactical voting is as relevant and useful as debating Oasis v Blur, why vote Green?
One overwhelming reason for me is that the Greens are the only party to be against the Iraq war from the beginning. Not starting it like Labour, not backing it like the Tories, not doing a handy U-turn to gain votes like the LibDems. The Greens believe it’s wrong to declare war on a country without the UN’s backing, particularly on a country that’s done nothing to the UK.
I feel voting for any of the Big Three effectively means I have blood on my hands. How anyone can watch a recent news bulletin and still vote for anyone BUT Green is beyond me. For me, I genuinely wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t vote Green.
Another reason is the obvious way the Big Three have been blathering on about green (small ‘g’) issues lately, particularly Mr Cameron. “Vote Blue, Go Green” is the Tory party slogan for these elections. How about cutting to the chase and, you know, skipping those two words in the middle?
Labour – what can I say? They need to go. Mr Blair still regards the ballot box as the best way of ‘listening’ to people. So after Iraq, I switched my vote to Green, where it’s staying. I believe killing people for being in the wrong country at the wrong time is wrong. Call me a foppish eccentric… This issue alone is enough to tell Mr B and his lot to go, and to give the anti-war Greens a chance. Simple, really.
LibDem: the biggest hypocrites. As well as the U-turn on Iraq, there’s the quietening down about their only core belief, Proportional Representation. And there’s their record on Green issues. In terms of local paper wastage alone, the LibDems are the least green party around. They’ve been stuffing the letterboxes round here on an almost daily basis with different leaflet after leaflet- it’s just incredible. Recycled paper or not, waste is waste. And they’re the least sincere. The most annoying and condescending leaflet distributed this election is theirs: printed on blue paper in a fake handwriting font and slyly, falsely concocted to look like a personal letter. And as for hypocrisy on sexuality, well, just ask Mark Oaten and Simon Hughes.
So I have to vote Green in order to sleep at nights, and in order not to be physically sick.
I would probably be told off if I campaigned using the slogan “If You Don’t Vote Green, You Have Innocent Blood On Your Hands. ” It’s a bit much. But that IS how I personally feel about it all. And I feel the Greens need to be given a chance, at the very least.
Besides, George Galloway has probably used that slogan already.
So it’s annoying I’m in the minority on this. But things are changing. Off to The Count I go, then.