I live in a very solidly Tory constituency (where to make it even more galling the MP doesn’t even vote, because he’s a deputy Speaker). My vote wouldn’t make much difference.
But I think that even if I lived in a marginal, I’d be voting this way, as I will tomorrow: Green.
I’ve not voted Green before, but had the idea planted by George Monbiot, in this article, where he wrote:
If, on the other hand, you were to vote Green, Plaid Cymru, Respect or Scottish Socialist, you would send an unequivocal signal about the kind of politics you are rejecting and the kind of politics you are embracing. The reason is that these parties, as far as Westminster is concerned, inhabit the political margins. It is precisely because none has the slightest chance of running the country that a vote for them is interpreted as a clear expression of intent: your choice must be ideological, rather than tactical. Paradoxically, a vote for a minor party can thus be far more powerful than a vote for a party with an eye on government.
The fact is that green – environmental – issues are the really important ones, and pulling the eyes of the government on Friday around to them is what matters. Think of this (mentioned in the Reith Lectures Wednesday night): airplanes create more greenhouse gases than surface-level transport, yet aircraft fuel is untaxed; we don’t watch how much energy we consume, yet we don’t generate it by environmentally-friendly ways while the French generate 95% of their power from carbon-neutral means, nuclear and hydroelectric (you’d forgotten about hydro-electric, eh? China is big on it).
So voting Green is my way of trying to attract the attention of politicians. The Iraq war would have happened whether Britain had joined in or not; so that’s not an issue. The NHS and hygiene might be changed, but MRSA isn’t actually about cleaning (see this Dutch study reported in the Guardian). There are differences between the parties, but what’s really needed is to grab their necks and wrench them round to look at the long term. Unfortunately at the moment they’re just short-termists, like teenagers unwilling to think about being 20.
Of course, if the Greens start to accumulate power, I’ll be first to the barricades demanding that they embrace nuclear power. But that’s for the future. Hopefully on about May 6 we’ll have an announcement of a new building programme for nuclear stations in the UK.