Sunday 25 January 2015

Here comes the Green Revolution

What a week its been for the Green Party. Have they ever had so much media attention and scrutiny?

I've read an article everyday this week about the Greens and today the Party leader Natalie Bennett faced a serious grilling by Andrew Neil on the Sunday Politics show.

The Greens find themselves in the same position that UKIP were in last year. They've had a big increase in their support and membership and not surprisingly this has brought genuine interest and scrutiny to their policies.

This is how it should be. It's all part of the political game - if you want the media and the public to pay more attention to you then you have to deal with the spotlight and scrutiny that your rising popularity brings.

Everyone talks about UKIP taking votes off the Tories but now Labour are suffering the same problem with left wing voters drifting towards the Greens. It's all adding to what will be the most fascinating election in my lifetime.

Although at opposite ends of the political spectrum the Greens and UKIP play a similar role. Last year I wrote about the rise of UKIP and how they have tapped into a general disillusionment amongst many voters towards mainstream politics. I understand this because I feel it myself.

At the time I wondered whether a UKIP of the left could exist in this country. If there was such a party I'd potentially be interested in voting for it.

This probably explains why I've been paying more attention to the Greens in the last 6 months, as I thought they could be that party. We're now at a stage where we can say they are the UKIP of the left but without the underlying bigotry.

As someone who considers themselves centre left I've been struggling to decide what I'm going to do at the next election. I've always voted Labour at General elections apart from in 2010 when I went Lib Dem. As I live in a constituency where Labour has a majority of over 20,000, I thought I could make that switch.

My problem now is that I'm just not convinced by Ed Miliband and not that interested in what he's got to say. As for the Lib Dems does anyone know what they're saying. So what's my alternative?

This is where the Greens have some appeal, I've voted for them before in local elections and they can provide me with a vote where I can feel comfortable and tell the political establishment that I to want something different from the current status quo.

Sounds great but this week like a lot of people I've been paying closer scrutiny to their policies. Having read through them, I've realised I'm prepared to dip my toes in the shallow end of the Green Party pool but I don't want to get in too deep.

I'm all for less inequality, I like the ideas about living in a less consumerist society. I want more affordable social housing, and their attitude towards drug use fits in with my own pragmatic views on the failing war on drugs.

But then you go a bit further and look at their plans on the economy, defence and terrorism and it all starts to get incredibly idealistic. It's like a utopian dream.

The Greens want a country where we intentionally have no economic growth as they believe this leads to further inequality. This quote I read in the Spectator magazine made me laugh:

"I know Ukip are accused of wanting to bring us back to the ‘50s, but at least it’s not the 1750s, before pesky economic growth ruined everything."

No economic growth! When you look at their tax plans on taxing the rich you start thinking: where are their tax revenues going to come from to fund some of their policies when we don't have any economic growth? Am I missing something here?

I'm far too pragmatic for such idealism, I want to deal with the realities of the world that I'm living in! In saying this it doesn't mean that the party's policies should be dismissed.

All smaller parties have a role to play. When people start voting for minor or extremist parties, it's sending a message to the political mainstream that there are issues and concerns that they are not dealing with. What normally happens is that these policies and views expressed are then pulled into the mainstream if they prove popular.

It's like in music when certain bands or genres start off as alternative or underground before the mainstream record labels start taking an interest and before you know it everyone is listening to what was once alternative. This is exactly what happens in politics.

I'm prepared to overlook some of the Green's more kooky hipsterish policies and focus on those areas that I genuinely think are of real interest and concern to a lot of people in the country.

How do you feel? Are you part of this Green revolution?

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