Thursday, May 15, 2014

Why voting Green is a good protest vote


There are millions of people in the UK who have been left politically disenfranchised by the dramatic shift to the right of the Labour party. You only need to look at the shadow chancellor Ed Balls (a man trained in neoclassical economics at Oxford University, where he was also a member of the Oxford University Conservative Association) to see that they no longer represent the interests of the working man as their name implies.

Although the mainstream media has been remarkably successful in demonising the word "socialism", the majority of British people still believe in explicitly socialist ideas. A 2014 YouGov poll found that 84% of the public want the NHS run as a not-for-profit public service, 68% want the profiteering energy companies to be nationalised, 67% think the Royal Mail should never have been sold off and 66% want the rail network renationalised.

There is still a massive appetite for left-wing political ideas in the UK, yet all three of the Westminster establishment parties (Blue Tories, Yellow Tories and Red Tories) are all ideologically opposed to democratic control over our vital national infrastructure, favouring adherence to the Thatcherite ideology of neoliberalism (that has resulted in decades of appalling neglect of UK manufacturing, soaring trade deficits, rising inequality and the complete meltdown of the recklessly deregulated financial sector in 2008).

Astonishingly, the party that is achieving the most success by posturing themselves as an "alternative" to this cosy Thatcherite consensus is UKIP, a party which is even more enthusiastic about right-wing neoliberal economics than the Westminster establishment three! The effect of this rise in UKIP popularity has been to drag the Conservatives even further to the right than they were before, resulting in ludicrous stunts like their trolling of ethnically diverse areas with taxpayer funded "Go Home" vans.

There are a number of smaller parties that explicitly oppose the cosy right-wing neoliberal consensus of the establishment, but most of them are very small factions that don't even have a chance of getting elected under the proportional representation system in the European elections, let alone via the archaic and absurdly unrepresentative voting system used in Westminster elections.

Of the parties that explicitly criticise the neoliberal crony capitalist orthodoxy, the Green Party is the only one making significant gains. They look set to win six seats in the European parliament and relegate the Liberal Democrats to the embarrassment of a 5th place finish, and they are even beginning to rival the Lib-Dems in the General election opinion polls too (8% Green, 9% Lib Dem according to a May 2014 YouGov poll).

One of the best signs that the Greens are an economically progressive party is their engagement with the Positive Money group, who have worked tirelessly to expose the dangerous folly of allowing banks to create money out of nothing, and then rent it out to the public as interest bearing loans and mortgages. In 2013 the Green Party passed a motion to place  money creation in public hands, rather than leaving it to the private banks to create interest bearing loans out of nothing*.

It is lunacy to imagine that political parties that adhere to the bankrupt ideology of neoliberalism that created the economic crisis are going to resolve the fallout from the economic crisis through continued adherence to the neoliberal orthodoxy. What is needed is a political party that is open to progressive new economic ideas, and the largest economically progressive party by far is the Green party.

If you are one of the majority of people who are completely sick of the way the UK economy has been recklessly mismanaged since Margaret Thatcher imposed the neoliberal ideology in 1979, voting Green is a surefire way of expressing your discontent.

It is no surprise at all that political apathy is at an all-time high when the three main parties are offering near identical economic policies. Only slightly more than a third of the electorate even bothered to vote in the last European elections in 2009, and there are no signs that the turnout will be much higher in May 2014. The fact that so many people won't bother to vote has one noteworthy consequence, the voting power of those who do bother to vote is dramatically increased. If the majority can't even be arsed to vote, the minority that do vote, end up with a disproportionate amount of influence over who is eventually elected.

Many people want to see the NHS protected from mass privatisation, the energy companies taken back from the private sector profiteers, and the financial sector properly reformed. If these people can be bothered to get out and vote for a party that proposes these things, it will send a powerful message to the political establishment, especially the Labour party.

It is clear that Ed Miliband isn't quite such a devout follower of the neoliberal ideology as his predecessors (Tory Blair & Gordon PFI Brown), but he is guilty of pussy-footing around instead of explicitly criticising the failed Thatcherite experiment. The most glaring demonstration of this weakness is his decision to offer a short-term energy price freeze, instead of giving the public what they want and backing renationalisation of the vital infrastructure that was sold off on the cheap by the Tories to a bunch of blatant profiteers.

If enough people can be bothered to vote Green, instead of not voting at all, this will send a very clear message to Ed Miliband that he needs to clear the Thatcherites like Ed Balls out of his cabinet and give the people of Britain what they want, which is vital national infrastructure run democratically and for the national good, rather than run as a corporate oligopoly for gouging vast private profits from the public.

If enough people get out and vote Green, this will have the effect of dragging Labour back towards the left, and away from the bankrupt ideology of neoliberalism, just as the rising popularity of UKIP has dragged the Tory party ever further to the right.

I'm not going to explicitly endorse the Green party, because unlike Rupert Murdoch and the other mainstream media press barons, I don't believe in telling people which party to vote for. But what I will say is this: If you want change, you've got to vote for change. Voting for the Westminster establishment parties, or for UKIP, is voting for "more of the same please", and not bothering to vote at all is simply handing more power to those who will vote for the continuation of the Thatcherite status quo.


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* = The "money out of nothing" theory of money creation is hardly tinfoil hat stuff, because even the Bank of England now admits that the majority of currency in the economy is created out of nothing by private banks.

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