David Cameron recently announced that he wouldn’t participate in the TV debates ahead of the general election unless the Green Party are also included. This is clearly a devious Tory tactic that says a lot about Cameron’s desire to avoid clashing with Farage & co on live TV. But it could also be a defining moment for the Greens. They might finally be treated in the same way as the other major parties. Whether this happens or not remains to be seen, but it does bring to mind an interesting question: ‘Is a vote for Green a wasted vote?’
I decided to pose this question to some members of the Green Party and see what they had to say about voting for their party.
Exeter University Green Party Society
“The term ‘wasted vote’ is an outdated concept, designed for an era where two party politics meant that voting for anyone other than Labour or Tory was futile. Yet now, whilst the SNP is taking Scotland by storm and membership of the Green Party is up by 100% in the space of less than a year to over 27,000, it is clear we are in an era of multi-party politics. ‘Wasted vote’ is a softer version of phrases such as ‘vote Green, get Tory,’ a concept constantly wheeled out by Sadiq Khan of Labour with his anti-Green ‘machine.’ They are all designed to scare voters and the reality is that they aren’t working.
The only wasted vote is a vote for something you don’t believe in – I am voting Green not to spite any other party or as a protest, but because I genuinely agree with the basic values and principles that the Green Party stands for. A Yougov Redbox poll recently showed that if people thought the Greens could win, we would receive 26% of the vote, compared to our 1% in 2010. Our policies are popular and our politicians (those that have made it through the cracks in the media blackout) are popular too. Another Yougov poll recently showed that we were the party the public would be most happy to see in a coalition government, ahead of UKIP and the Lib Dems.
However, getting people to make that leap of faith and vote for what they believe in is difficult, and this is why it is our specific values and policies that mean voting Green will never be a wasted vote. In an age where civil liberties are constantly being eroded and our public services are being sold off to private companies, whilst the environment is disregarded for corporate profit, who will fight for people to have a decent standard of living and a future that is sustainable? No vote can ever be wasted if it is a vote for a party who will.
So instead of wasting your vote, vote for the Green Party.”
Diana Moore, Green Party candidate
“People are joining the Green Party as it is a positive choice for change. In the Green Party people are finding viable and meaningful policies which, at their heart, work for the common good.
The landscape has significantly changed both nationally and locally since the last general election, which delivered a coalition that no one voted for. People are now thinking much more carefully how they’ll vote. The next general election is wide open; no poll or political commentator is predicting an outright majority for any party. This gives growing parties such the Greens an important role in influencing or even shaping the next Government.
Voters are going to have to work hard to work out which party best reflects the values and aspirations they hold for themselves and our country. The independent votes for policies website is one way people are able to compare the parties and see which are best aligned with their views; 30% of the 1,520 Exeter voters who voted for polices so far have found the Green party is just that.
For all concerned the next election requires courage. Courage to stand up for the common good – against the main parties’ politics of austerity.
And the courage of your convictions to vote for what you believe in.”
Simon Stafford-Townsend, Green Party candidate
“If a wasted vote is about chances of winning, then it all depends on what you count as winning. The main parties will always tell you that the Green Party can’t win. Then, the moment Green support suggests that a seat like Bristol West is winnable, they will tell you that there’s no point returning a Green MP because the Greens will never form a Government. Except here we are in a political landscape where the Lib Dems have been in Government despite having less MPs than the Opposition, and the SNP are forecast to hold the balance of power in 2015.
In all honesty, I think people need to stop and ask themselves what voting is, and what voting is for. The winning is everything outlook has given us a political system where triangulation, opinion polls, and focus groups have created a mythological centre ground that is non-existent outside of the Westminster bubble. Every time a politician says, “if you vote for Party X, then you’re letting in Party Y”, they are tacitly admitting that their own Party lacks political substance, and that all they care about is power.
Voting is about something more important than winning. It’s about standing for something. Ultimately, I think a Green vote is only wasted if the Party doesn’t stand for what you need it to stand for, and you vote for it anyway.”