4 reasons the Greens are not a wasted vote
If you’re unconvinced by Green policies, this article isn’t for you. If that is you, I’d suggest you start by looking here, here, and here. Instead, this is for the growing segment of the British public that are convinced by the Green Party, but are scared of ‘splitting the left vote’, of ‘letting Cameron in’, or that their ‘vote will be wasted’, if you decide to vote Green.
For those being swayed by such arguments, let us be clear: you are being duped, and here’s why:
- The poisoned well – Labour is an impediment to progress
In a cruel twist that would truly break the hearts of its founders, the Labour Party is now the single biggest threat to progress in the UK. It is unfair to say that there are no differences between Tory and Labour, but it is accurate that they still broadly support the same system that is rapidly pushing us over the edge into social and environmental chaos.
Many of its members may be good people fighting a worthy fight, but within Labour, a party still slavishly tied to the old way of doing politics and the deity that is neoliberalism, they are fighting blindfolded and with a hand behind their backs. Their incessant mantra of ‘splitting the left vote’ is their last defence against the tide of progress they are unwittingly holding back, adding fuel to a cart inches away from toppling off the cliff.
Labour seem to be spending more time attacking the Greens than the Tories not because we’re bad for the country, but because we’re bad for Labour’s electoral success. Their bombardment of bile that we have had to recently endure is driven from self-serving priorities, not altruistic concern, and indeed they are now so lost they are deliberately attempting to halt the rise of the most progressive party in British politics since flared trousers were in fashion.
We simply cannot wait for Labour to rediscover its soul. Maybe Labour will slowly go back to its roots, maybe it will begin to overcome the rottenness at its core, but maybe’s are not enough. Inequality is a ticking social time bomb, made infinitely more difficult by the rapidly diminishing time-frame in which to deal with climate change. For a long time Labour has had no time for change – now, change has no time to wait for Labour.
- Your candidate doesn’t have to win for your vote to make a difference
Already we’ve seen what even a small increase in polling figures can do to Westminster, whether in the brilliant final week of Scottish Independence campaigning that sent the Big Three into near-meltdown, or the hideous regression we’ve seen in British politics in response to the rise of UKIP.
Politicians lost their fear of the electorate some time ago, and the entrenched loyalty of voting for Labour or Tory come what may is to blame. It has given these parties a blind arrogance, but as they begin to see once more, what they are confronted with terrifies them.
By voting for the Green Party, you are making a difference, even in the safest of Tory heartland seats, because you are sending out a powerful message: that it is time for change. Somewhere along the line we’ve forgotten the power in voting, trading in meaningful ballot papers for sterile betting slips. Your vote doesn’t ‘count’ if you manage to vote for the winning party- your vote counts if you use it to make a statement about what you want your society to be, what values you think we should fight for. There’s nothing ‘tactical’ or clever about voting for a party that has been disappointing you for decades.
- When people vote for policies…
When people vote for policies, the Greens come out on top, even if Tory heartlands. Try it for yourself. This also reflects the large amount that would vote for the Greens, if they thought they could win. This shows, clear as day, the only thing holding us back now is our own fear, happily latched upon by Labour. Indeed it is all Labour has to offer us now: our own fears, magnified and reflected back to us. This is a feeble shadow of a party that was once able to offer us the welfare service and NHS whilst we were still reeling from the most destructive war in human history.
This is why attacks launched on the Greens policies simply aren’t working, because when you insult our manifesto, you also crush a large chunk of the British public’s aspirations and dreams too. People are tired of being treated like children and told that what they hope for ‘isn’t feasible’ or is too idealistic, because every day they see that these changes aren’t ideals, they’re necessities.
- The Snowball Effect
If people could overcome their ties with Labour and their fear of the Tories, then the Greens would walk into office in less than four months’ time. We’ve seen, over the last fortnight, just how quickly a grassroots movement like the Greens can gain traction and attention. We’ve seen, when given an appropriate vehicle for it, just how quickly people are prepared to commit to and fight for a better future. Even little old you, reading at your computer screen now can make a difference – and this is the most powerful message that the old elite are desperate to tell you isn’t true.
At its heart is a dangerously different idea that we haven’t seen for some time – you can change things. Grassroots, democratic movements are springing up across the globe and snowballing magnificently to regain power from archaic institutions – and our very survival depends on us doing the same.
We are on the edge of a truly new brand of politics that can effect change in hours, not years. We’re truly on the cusp of breaking through decades of dogma and regression, of righting ancient wrongs and of healing the rift between people and politics. We are truly at an historic juncture, which really leaves you with one question come May 7th.
When history came knocking, did you answer?
I live in an electorate where there is a Green candidate and would like to vote for him. However, despite repeated invitations, the candidate has not visited our village nor any of the other communities around us. We are fighting a battle to protect our countryside against galloping housing development, toxic chemical-based farming and habitat loss. So why isn’t our candidate visiting us on the frontline?
I’m also dismayed that the party campaigning emphasis seems to be all about everything EXCEPT the environment. Since when did this become a non-issue for the Greens?
One final point: the writer above assumes that if you don’t vote Green you’d vote Labour. The Labour Party did a huge amount of environmental damage during the Blair years, from encouraging airport expansion to runaway housing development on greenfield sites. By assuming swing voters are natural Labour Party supporters you are likely to alienate people who are considering voting Green instead of blue.
The split vote is undeniably concerning, although I do agree that we need to think long term and therefore vote for who we really want to win, rather than voting just to keep someone else out and, as stated in one of the previous comments, be left with the same choice between two parties, which do not really serve the interests of the public, in years to come. However, I do believe there is a solution to this issue and that is that the electoral system needs to change to a tiered voting system so that you give a certain amount of points to each party standing in your constituency, for example: If Labour, Green, Conservative, Liberal democrats and UkIP are standing you may give Green 5 points, Labour 4 points, Liberal Democrats 3 points and so on. This ranking system would go some way to removing the split vote and create a better representation of what people actually want in comparison to the current system.
I am a member of the Green Party EW, joined in 1985 and have stood in one local council election. I saw first hand the split vote caused by the surge of the SPD in the 80s that allowed the Tories to stay in power and led to Blair, in other words, Thatcher Mk 2. I am concerned greatly that the Tories could limp into power in 2015, even with a majority, supported by UKIP and others. I want Greens to do well and yes it would be great if we had PR as this discussion on this page would probably not be happening.
I disagree with the idealism of some Greens who think that a constitutional crisis will happen if a party manages to rule on a low percentage (under 32% say) of the vote. You assume then we would get PR. How? The Tories, likely to get in under the scenario of a split vote (as in 1992) will not suddenly agree to a referendum on PR. Neither will the current Neo-Liberal led Labour party. You making some far reaching assumptions, naive at best. Brits will not be on the streets demonstrating. Sorry to disappoint but we need to learn from History. Brits are fearful, we are not Greece or Spain. We do not like change and this country is inherently Conservative. I hope, I dearly hope, I am wrong.
I will keep voting for you!
The term “wasted vote” is a technical term that refers to votes that won’t help to elect an MP. So in Brighton Pavilion in 2010, Caroline Lucas won 31.3% of the vote, in that case, 68.7% of the votes in the constituency were wasted votes, as they did not go to a winning candidate.
The reason a vote for the Green Party is a wasted vote is because it is almost certainly NOT going to go to a winning candidate. The only constituency where this is not true is probably Brighton Pavilion (though if Lucas loses there, then a Green vote will be a wasted vote there too).
So whoever wrote this article is just making themselves look entirely ignorant about electoral science. Learn what a technical term MEANS before writing total nonsense about it.
Thankyou for making me aware of the technical definition in your own rue way- but it’s kind of irrelevan.
Whatever the original definition it is certainly not always used in such a way now, but even if it were, the article could be equally used to refute the terminology- it is a misleading piece of jargon, precisely because of the points in the above article
While I am in favour of many of the Green Parrty policies and would very much like to see the end of the political sorry-go-round of faces at Westminster, the effective elimination of our armed forces is delusional at best, when combined with the decriminalisation of membership of known terrorist groups (who are very keen on killing us, regardless of our political persuasion), makes the Green Party slightly less politically credible than the Monster Raving Loonies. You do have some great policies, but unfortunately these are more than cancelled out by the bad ones, which seem to have been selected specifically to avoid any possible chance of having a significant parliamentary presence. You will get a lot of votes, but this should not be taken as a wholesale endorsement of some of your more radical ideas, it will be just because people hate the other parties so much that they will pretty much vote for anyone.
There’s a serious misconception about how Greens would work in Government. Our Policies for a Sustainable Society document is a democratic, comprehensive document of aims and objectives – it’s our ‘direction of travel’ if you like. It doesn’t mean that if the Greens were in government tomorrow we’d enact it in its entirety tomorrow. No, that’s what a manifesto is for, put together for each election depending on what the priorities are, what the world is like, and what the political climate is, at that time.
Our Policy for de-militarisation is a long-term goal. We’d seek to reduce our armed forces carefully, and would work in conjunction with our partners, along with a massive general push for a more collaborative, rather than combative and provocative international arena.
You’re missing the point Ben.
It’s about short-term vs. long-term.
Of course we would prefer a Labour government to a Tory one (just), but do you want to be faced with only the same miserable choice next time, and the time after that, and the time after that?!
UKIP, and the Green success so far, has shown that you can change the political agenda without ending up voting for the party that wins. By changing the vote share, the other parties have to take notice.
If everyone who wanted to vote for a minor party did so, then we could end up with a majority party in government (either Labour or the Conservatives) on less than a third of the popular vote, with less than a quarter of people in the country in total voting for them. The disparity between votes cast and seats awarded would be an embarrassment to the ruling class, and a massive blow to legitimacy – it would quite likely bring about the end of the First Past the Post system.
Then next time, under a more proportional voting system, a vote for the Greens or Plaid really WOULD result in those parties having (a share of) power.
That’s how change happens.
But you know, we could keep voting Labour just to keep the Tories out, and then we’ll still be having this conversation in 100 years time, when the climate and our social fabric really has gone to pot.
I am convinced by Green policies, but there is no doubt that Green candidates are, to put it mildly, not the best at campaigning. I do plan to vote Green in May, but I would be happier if I thought the candidate I was planning to vote for was going to do her best to get the most votes possible, even if she didn’t win.
Hi Jane, not sure who your candidate is but you can bet your all that she is putting her all in too.
Trying to spread yourself over a large constituency with virtually no funding is a tough job. The local Tories here have sent me no less than 6 different bits of literature and we, the Greens have yet to get our one freepost leaflet through the doors. The only other printed material has had to be posted by volunteers and at street stalls, carboot sales etc. The local press have been very disinterested in the Greens campaign, even though we created a 30M high “instillation” of the green logo!
offer to help your local party, they may be struggling to get feet o the ground.
What is amazing is that we have so many candidates to vote for this time round.:)
You totally fail to address why people should disregard the arguments around “letting Cameron in”.
If Labour is a ‘poisoned well’ and must be totally replaced, what is the best outcome in 100 days time?
If Labour must be replaced then presumably it’s correct to totally ignore the impact of voting Green in a Labour/Tory marginal, even if the Labour candidate is anti-neoliberal. One should be confident that 5 years of Tory rule (maybe much more), where they privatise the NHS and frack the countryside is a price worth paying to replace the Labour Party?
As there’s not going to be a Green-led government on May 8th, is the argument to those who’ll have their benefits capped at a lower level, or suffer the impact of forgoing Labour’s 2030 decarb pledge, that the pain of a Tory government is worth the risk, because, maybe, the Green could grow from 1-3 seats to 300-400 seats by the next election?
The point is that there could be a green-led government in 100 days time- literally the only thing stopping that is fear.
A higher vote share for a loudly anti-austerity party will also make any government think twice about policies cutting from vulnerable groups.
And Labour have gotten consistently worse for decades- how bad will they be in 5/10 years? We simply have to break the vicious cycle somewhere.
If you genuinely believe there is any realistic possibility of a Green-led government in 100 days time, rather than arguing here you should be busy selecting candidates in the 25% of seats which you currently don’t plan to stand in.
So other than fear, factors that may prevent a Green government in 100 days include:
a) you’re not planning to stand in well over 100 seats
b) in no more than a few dozen seats will anyone much have heard of/from the Green candidate
c) in more more than a dozen seats does the Green Party have anything like the level of organisation required to speak to a significant proportion of voters
d) in no more than half a dozen seats do your candidates believe (correctly) they stand a reasonable chance of winning – and so behave as such.
A higher vote share for an anti-austerity party, almost none of whose support comes from former Tory voters, will delight David Cameron – it is his best chance of remaining in Downing Street and he’s campaigning (see TV debates) to make sure that happens.
All I’m hearing is that there are obstacles that we must overcome, many of which are really practical electoral concerns- issues all parties have to deal with.
You are absolutely right in your analysis, I just feel it is slightly misplaced here- this article is concerned with ideology, with what people truly want, and that’s Greens. Yes, we have many challenging ahead of us as a growing party but they are ones that I am sure we can meet with relish.
Not standing in 25% of seats? I understood that greens were fielding candidates in approx 95% of seats so you comment would make more sense if it were 5 not 25%.
Tha argument about not voting for greens for fear of letting in the tories is almost exactly the one used by Liberals in the long sistand days of the founding of the Labour party. If people had given in to fear then instead of voting for policies then there might not even be a Labour party now.
No vote is a wasted vote if thst vote os by somone voteing for a party that stands for what they believe in – THAT is what democracy hinges upon not the distortion introduced by vested interests to promote tactical voting in order to keep power to one of two safely controlled groups.