Tomorrow I’ll be ticking the box for the Scottish Green party, and hoping they get a large enough share of the vote that Scotland finally gets our own Green MEP.
Why I plan to vote Green:
Well, I read their manifesto. They’re the only party I agree with on Scottish independence. They’re the only party taking an economically sound view on austerity. I can’t find anything I disagree with or think unsound or hypocritical in their manifesto: the Scottish Greens have proved themselves to be a party that will aim to do what they have committed to do.
I’ve met Maggie Chapman – at a hustings in Edinburgh last week, at a demo she spoke at. She seems a solid and sensible person, a good speaker, she researches well: she’s certainly working hard to be elected, I think she would work hard and responsibly if elected to the European Parliament. If not, well, we get to keep her as a councillor in Leith – at least until she becomes an MSP.
The Green group in the European Parliament is fifty MEPs after the 2009 election: I think it is likely to be larger yet across Europe after 2014.
As Zoe Williams wrote in the Guardian on Tuesday:
The Green party has changed: partly the personalities within it, partly in response to the changing world outside it. The last time its popularity was this great, it came with a message of imminent disaster; and hats off to it for getting support that way, because it’s just about the most difficult route a party can take. Now, climate change has passed into the vernacular. Everybody, from the UN to the larger insurance companies, is saying how costly it’s going to be – it is no longer a niche position to say we might have a problem.
At the same time, ideas that were mainly theoretical 25 years ago – solar and wind technology, community energy projects that could take whole towns off-grid – have become demonstrably workable. Half a million UK homes generate around half their energy from the sun. On a particularly windy morning last week, Germany was getting three-quarters of its power from renewables. The Greens have become the party of possibilities, not catastrophes (any party can do catastrophes).
The final factor is that the status quo is looking a lot more broken, with an oligopolistic energy market whose best offer is that it’ll try not to bankrupt its customers, so long as the state is good for the shortfall, and a catastrophic housing market in which the exchange value of property has peeled away from the incomes of the people who have to live in it. The Green party’s offer used to rely on dystopian foretelling on the one hand, in which we’d all fry otherwise, and utopian vision on the other, in which ideal state we would all cooperate and not compete. It used to look a bit ridiculous – but now, with the mainstream pretty much agreed about the frying, and cooperation between humans starting to look a lot less financially painful than relying on corporations to be humane, it is no wonder that the fortunes of the party are looking up.
The Scottish Greens, despite having a solid core of support in Scotland, routinely get ignored by the mainstream media in favour of parties with less support and no elected representatives at all. I’d like Scotland to have an MEP with the Green group, and I think that would better represent Scottish interests in European government than either having a third SNP MSP or if the LibDems manage to get back in to that sixth seat.
(Obviously, under no circumstances do I think the Londoner from UKIP deserves to get the sixth seat, but I hope that if enough people turn out and vote tomorrow that won’t happen: UKIP win seats in elections where turnout is low.)
It’s always easier, I admit, to write angrily and at length about why UKIP is vile, about the things the Tories have done wrong, about the mistakes Labour and the SNP have made. This is a short blogpost for me because I do find it difficult to write this.
I believe Scotland could be an independent and flourishing country, a force for good in the world, well-governed and prosperous, no need to whip up fears about immigration, no need to exploit people’s tartan patriotism or lust for oil. I just don’t have any confidence at all that an SNP out to set up a currency union with the Tories – or with Labour post-2015 – can create the basis for such a country: I think we’d just end up worse off than we were before. Put the Scottish Greens in charge of the negotiations, and that would be a different story: I do have confidence in them as a party. But who else does? How many votes will they get tomorrow in Scotland, and how many Scots will instead vote for the party of fear and bigotry, UKIP?
Well, we’ll find out. See you on the flipside.
People have been asking about tactical voting to keep Ukip out, but that actually makes no sense by the method used to count the votes and assign the seats by party.
The way the votes are counted in the Euro Elections is kind of like this: out of the total cast, they work out the threshold percentage by which a party can get one seat. All of the parties that have achieved at least that threshold percentage are assigned one seat and then the parties with higher percentages will get more seats. (This is a huge oversimplification of what actually happens with the D’Hondt method, for which I apologise in advance to those who care enough to go read the real formulae for seat allocation.)
In 2009 in Scotland 57,788 people voted for Ukip, which worked out to 5.2% – nowhere near enough to get a seat. (The lowest percentage to get a seat was the LibDems who got 11.5%.)
But the turnout last time was 28.5% of the Scottish electorate (1,104,512 votes counted). Assuming that Ukip voters have doubled since 2009, and 115,000 people vote Ukip, that only gets them a threshold percentage if only 963,000 people vote tomorrow. The more people vote who aren’t Ukip voters, the less likely it is that Ukip will get a threshold percentage of the vote. So if you want to vote tactically to keep Ukip out, the thing to do is to go to the polls and vote for any party you like that isn’t Ukip.
Just for once. Vote for whichever party you like. For me, that’s the Scottish Greens.
Because what Ukip lack in numbers, they make up for in enthusiasm.