10. 05. 2010

Caroline Lucas makes Green Party history

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So it’s happened: the Green Party has its first MP.

The look on Caroline Lucas’s face as her result in Brighton Pavilion was announced pretty much said it all: elation, exhaustion and huge relief all rolled into one. She’d been talking during the count of feeling “sick and nervous with the weight of so many people’s expectation on me”.

For me, it’s just the elation without the exhaustion. Thirty-one years after I first stood as a Green Party (or Ecology Party, as it then was!) candidate, the near-insurmountable barrier of our first past the post electoral system has been shoved aside by a wonderful, utterly dedicated and very inspiring politician.

But I don’t imagine Caroline has any illusions about the electoral implications of this breakthrough for the Green Party. Without a move to proportional representation, Green Party candidates will continue to be the victims of a deep-seated ‘wasted vote’ phenomenon which this general election, like every general election before it, has demonstrated all over again.

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10. 05. 2010
Len Jones

The effort made by Caroline should not go unnoticed, if people are serious about the environment and want to look beyond the arrogance of the (now) three party system the equation is quite simple.
Join the Green party, it is the only Party that cares about you and your grandchildren.
We can talk forever and a day about the UK deficit, ways round it and how much we want to prop up ailing European economies, but when push comes to shove we will find that the Ecology movement that has been around for some time actually has some serious advice to politicians.
The bottom line extends beyond basic economics and I did not see any evidence of the 'greater good' in the three main manifestos, at least the Green Party is attempting to engage the citizen and concentrate scarce resources rather than squander, pillage and otherwise abuse the planet.
It is also comforting that the leader of the Green Party is a woman who shows a lot of empathy with the voter and I wouldn't mind betting if she was involved in the current menage a trois it would heve been sorted out by now, less male arrogance and more female compassion is what is required.

11. 05. 2010
Mitch Heaphy

Congratulations to Caroline Lucas, and to the Green cause. As a minority candidate standing under the First Past the Post system her achievment is akin to winning a marathon where all the other key competitors run as normal and she has had to complete the race by walking on her hands. No small victory, there!

It is the First Past the Post system that surely must now be addressed.

If Mr. Clegg wants history to look back on him kindly, then I believe that he has little choice but to take Labour's offer of a referendum on electoral reform as his first priority. Clegg has no guarantee of realising a referendum in the lifetime of any parliament born of a Tory/Lib Dem alliance, despite the Conservative rhetoric of Monday evening. They would bring a parliament down and go back to the electorate before they would concede a genuine opportunity for reform. Indeed, if he overlooks such a golden opportunity to achieve on behalf of his party (and the electorate) a policy that has underpinned the Liberal/SDP/Lib Dem electoral campaigns of the past eight decades, then I fear that such a glaring oversight will be the only thing he is remembered for. A somewhat ignominious footnote in history, about a man who found himself as 'King-maker' and chose a short term stab at power over a tangible opportunity to change the face of British politics for the foreseable future.

Such reform will liberate candidates such as Caroline Lucas from our antiquated First Past the Post system, and, moreover, will mean that I no longer hear so many people tell me - every time a general election rolls around - that "I would actually vote for the Greens, but there's no point really, as I want my vote to count".

It does of course mean that other minority parties may find that they have more representation in parliament - post reform - but this would not overly concern me, even if I personally found them to be idealogically abhorrent. The impact of the Scots and Welsh parties is geographically limited. From what I have seen, read, and heard, votes for parties such as the BNP tend to be protest votes -invariably locked into immigration issues and concerns; real or imagined. (Often a consequence of people feeling that their voice is not heard, or that their demographic situation - and therefore their particular concerns - are overlooked in the main party manifestos.) With representation for every vote in a reformed system, they cannot complain that they have not voiced their feelings at the ballot box.

In the same context, and from my own experience, everyone I know who chooses to vote Green does so on a positive basis. They like the POLICIES! It's not about one or two things that they don't like -it is about a collection of policies that they broadly agree with over and above the alternatives on offer.

If fate is kind over the next 48 hours, it may be possible that we go into the next general election comfortable in the knowledge that the voter is no longer disenfranchised by the electoral system before she, or he, even arrives at the polling station to scratch their 'X' on the ballot paper. (If they manage to get through the queue by 10.00pm!)

Not only has Caroline Lucas made a significant breakthough, but we could be on the cusp of a change that makes that breakthrough even more pertinent. The British electorate invariably confuses radicalism for extremism, much because the Tories and Labour are good at fostering such feelings, thus maintaining their preferred parliamentary status quo. An electorate that in the vast majority sits a couple of degrees to the left or right of centre is easily unnervered by 'change'.

I sincerely believe that the mood of the electorate at this moment in time would embrace - and permit - a radical change to our electoral system. The election result in itself says as much. Early polls on electoral reform indicate an average of 60% in favour.

If Clegg siezes the moment, we will all have a genuine voice. If Clegg wants longevity, he will only achieve it by driving the issue of reform.

After all, would he really want to be remembered as 'King for a Day'.

08. 05. 2015
Mitch Heaphy

There you go folks . . . . . . . Mr Clegg was "King for a day".

To assert so little and to achieve so little through the term of a parliament - how very disappointing . . . . . . .

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