I get tactical voting and I understand my Green friends who say they’ll be voting SNP in the upcoming UK General Election on 7 May 2015. In the wake of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum there was a strong feeling that only a strong block of SNP MPs at Westminster could keep up the momentum for independence.
But given that the SNP have taken independence off the manifesto for this election and are working for a strong Scottish voice in Westminster for progressive politics across the UK, what are the arguments against voting for the Scottish Green Party?
If the focus is to have a strong Pro-Scottish, Pro-Independence block working on a UK-wide basis for both UK-wide progressive politics AND a strong voice for more powers for Scotland, then Scottish Greens more than fit that bill.
I don’t agree with much of the SNP manifesto, particularly their policies on energy and the environment. The Greens have a much stronger vision of how to move away from fossil fuels, as we must, towards not only developing renewable electricity generation but using less electricity and energy overall. Anyone who talks about mitigating climate change and move away from fossil fuels that does not have a plan for decreasing our use of energy as a society is just not serious about it. Only the Greens are tackling this head-on. We are going to have to move in this direction, it is a fact that we can’t keep using fossil fuels, and the sooner we make that move, the less difficult it will be. (Note I don’t say “easier”. We have long passed the point of making this transition easy. But we can and we must mitigate the worst effects of what damage we have already done.)
And the Greens have much stronger policies on local government reform to break the governance lock the Scottish parliament has on all aspects of civic life in Scotland. That has to change, and would in and of itself put me firmly in the Green camp.
I’ve always voted positively for progressive parties, I’ve never voted tactically in my life and I don’t intend to start now. I’d rather use my vote as a positive affirmation of what I believe and to help move society in the direction I want it to go, than use it as a negative choice for the least worst option. In East Lothian we haven’t had the luxury recently of being given the choice of a credible Green candidate, and now that we have one in the more-than-credible Jason Rose, I won’t pass up the chance to make my voice heard.
If Jason were to win the seat, would he be any less pro-Scottish, pro-Independence, progressive, anti-Tory, anti-austerity, than the SNP candidate? No, he wouldn’t. He would join the growing progressive movement that the UK is crying out for, and work hard to further the aims of ordinary people in lobbying for an increased minimum wage, the scrapping of Trident, progressive tax policies, land reform, renewable energy security, the phasing out of fossil fuels across the board, urban and rural people-friendly transport policies – the list goes on.
If he were to lose, but gain a substantial share of the vote, he would still be sending a shock-wave through East Lothian politics that until now has been entrenched in the SNP/Labour power-swapping paradigm for too long now. He would make future Green candidates more credible. He would give a voice to those of us who are sick of politics as usual. He would put people and planet and the future at the top of the political agenda.
And he wouldn’t lose his deposit – not a trivial reason to do well in these straitened times!
One reason my SNP-voting Green chums will give for tactical voting will be to not split the anti-Labour vote. For them, getting Labour out of Scottish politics altogether has become almost an article of faith. But I wouldn’t pull my hair out if our local Labour MP were returned. Fiona O’Donnell is actually pretty sound politically, given the context of her party’s history and the sickness of the Westminster system. A small rump of Scottish Labour MPs would be forced to re-think their position in Scottish politics and just might come out the other side better for it. I think a real old-school Labour party in Scotland would only be good for the body politic. Not necessarily a popular opinion, I know but one I’ll stand by. An unassailable SNP hegemony would, eventually, be as destructive in the long-run as the Labour one has been until now.
But I can understand, and do not criticise those who, for this election, think an overwhelming SNP presence is necessary. I just don’t happen to agree, when we have alternatives that will stand with them but distinctively apart in a politically progressive alliance.
I urge those of you who whole-heartedly support Scottish Green Party policies to vote for your local Green candidate in May. I know I will.