Election ballot box

Image credit: Creative Commons: Element5 Digital

All the talk is of elections. Some that are happening and some that may happen. The ones that may happen are the more exciting, but they’re all important.

Green Parties are gearing up for elections to the European Parliament. Theresa May hopes they won’t happen. But given her track record with European arrangements, it seems pretty likely that they will. And they are a great opportunity for Green Parties.

In most elections, we are hobbled by first past the post. In the ongoing Brexit disputations, much weight is given to mandates. Yet many of the winning candidates in parliamentary elections received only a minority of the votes. What’s more, they were elected on a package of policies, so nobody can say how many electors truly supported one particular policy. Our democracy is a crude instrument.

We know very well that FPTP means that our votes are not rewarded with seats. That’s not the worst of it. We also know that people would be more ready to vote for Green candidates if the seats won truly reflected the votes cast. So Greens are losing out all round.

But thankfully the European elections run on proportional representation. That has enabled the election of some excellent Green Members of the European Parliament. I’m hoping that in a fresh European election Greens will do even better. The Green Parties have had clear policies on Brexit throughout all the madness and confusion. And Caroline Lucas has consistently come across as one of the few politicians who is still talking sense.

With Labour yet to make clear statements on Brexit policy, and the Conservatives divided and subject to rivalry from UKIP and now Farage’s Brexit Party, Green Parties can hope to gain votes from Remainers or even from the many people who are just sick of the constant disputation.

My regional party is well on the way to having a list of candidates. I’ve been reviewing a field of very good candidates, and trying to put them in a sensible order. When all the votes are counted, I’ve no doubt we’ll have an excellent team.

The big imponderable is whether there will soon be a General Election. My local party is prepared, and has just about enough money to fight an election any time now. Of course the Conservatives are now scared stiff of an election. The latest polls suggest they could lose 60 seats. Naturally, that could change during a campaign. But last time, the change was that the Tory’s position got much worse as the campaign wore on.

I’d welcome a General Election. It would be another opportunity to put forward a Green campaign. It would most likely result in a Parliament that was committed to a second vote on Brexit. That is to say, the GPEW’s consistent policy would be implemented. So that would be another two major elections in a short space of time!

In the mean time, I’ve got a printer behind me churning out election leaflets for the local town council. Many areas are in the middle of campaigns for local government elections, with polls on 2nd May. I’m a candidate in a district council ward as well as the town council.

Although we probably won’t do as well in any of these elections as I would like, there are grounds for optimism. The Green message is being presented steadily and consistently. Public perceptions are gradually shifting as a result of media coverage such as David Attenborough’s latest series. The Tory message that everything is the fault of the last Labour government is wearing thin. Above all, many people are saying they are sick of the established parties and their inability to reach agreement on anything.

So I’m looking forward to all the coming elections, hoping that Green results will give us encouragement. It’s a long and hard road, but rewarding when we see signs of progress.

Martin Brampton

About Martin Brampton

Martin Brampton has been on the left of politics since he was a Young Socialist, and knocked on doors for Labour candidates in his home town of Hartlepool. Disillusioned after the Iraq war, he was later inspired by the radicalism evident in the Scottish Independence campaign. Having long been interested in environmental questions, he decided that his true home was the Green Party, and stood as a parliamentary candidate in 2015 and 2017. Despite setbacks, he is convinced that Green Parties have a vital role to play in our damaged world.