Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Is "vote Green, get Tory" really the best that Labour propagandists can come up with?

As the Green Party surge has increased in pace, so too has the regularity of fearmongering comments like "Vote Green, get Tory" blathered by blatant Labour Party tribalists beneath any article that even vaguely mentions the Green Party.


It's no surprise that Labour Party loyalists are petrified of the Green Party, for the phenomenal rise of the Scottish National Party north of the border is proof of the success that can be achieved by a party that picks up the left-wing social democratic policies that Labour were so keen to throw away when they converted to right-wing Thatcherite economic dogma in the mid-1990s.

Nor is it surprising that English Labour loyalists have turned to the same nonsensical fearmongering tactics that the Scottish Labour Party have been trying to use against the SNP. Just as the Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy tries to mislead people into believing that every vote for the SNP is a vote for the Tories, Labour Party tribalists south of the border are intent on pretending that every vote cast for the Green Party will help David Cameron back into power.

Anyone who has even a rudimentary understanding of how the antiquated UK electoral system works will know that absolutist generalisations like "Vote Green, get Tory" or "Vote SNP, get Tory" just don't make any sense. Of course it is possible that voting Green instead of Labour in a very tight Labour/Tory marginal seat might end up dividing the anti-Tory vote and letting the Tory win, but equally it is possible that supporting a Green candidate against a Lib-Dem incumbent could diminish the chances of another Tory/Lib-Dem coalition, and it's completely obvious that voting Green in any of the hundreds of safe seats in the UK would have no effect on the overall outcome whatever, while sending a strong message that more and more people are looking for a genuine left-wing alternative rather than the red Tory party that the Labour Party has become.

Aside from the fact that "Vote Green, get Tory" only stands true in a tiny minority of UK constituencies, there's also the importance of looking beyond the basic words of the political catchphrase in order to decipher what it actually means. In this case it's absolutely clear that "Vote Green, get Tory" is actually an political expression of fear that translates as "We're absolutely terrified of a genuine left-wing party so we're going to try and frighten you into not voting for them".

It's interesting to see how Labour loyalists have converted their own fear of a genuine left-wing party into an effort to instill fear into other people. 

Another blatant illustration that the Labour Party are motivated by fear of the Green Party is Ed Miliband's ludicrous stance on the pre-election debates. Had Miliband called David Cameron's bluff and said that the Green Party deserve representation in the debates, he would have looked strong and unafraid, but by siding with the Lib-Dems and UKIP to push for the continued exclusion of the Greens and for David Cameron to be "empty-chaired" makes him just as much of a self-interested coward when it comes to the Green Party as David Cameron is when it comes to UKIP.

One of the most telling things about this "Vote Green, get Tory" propaganda campaign is that Labour haven't come up with anything better than this nonsense despite having set up an anti-Green propaganda unit led by Sadiq Khan in order to try to attack and undermine the Green Party (which in itself is yet another illustration that the Labour Party are terrified of the Green threat).
Vote Labour, get Red Tory

I'm not normally inclined to reduce complex political issues down to cheap political soundbites, but in this case I reckon that presenting "Vote Labour, get Red Tory" is a fair riposte because the Labour loyalists were the ones who started off with the glib absolutist soundbites weren't they?

If we look at the choice between voting Green or voting Labour from a left-wing perspective, it becomes a choice between voting Green and actively endorsing a left-wing political party with the small chance that a blue Tory might sneak in by default (in a minority of constituencies) and a vote for Labour that actively endorses a Thatcherite party, and make it more likely that a Tory (in a red tie) will win because left-wing voters were too afraid to vote for a proper left-wing party.

At least if the left-wing voter votes for the left-wing party, they can be sure that their vote registered as a vote in favour of left-wing politics, not as an endorsement of Miliband and Balls' sickening brand of Thatcherism-lite, and explicit support for George Osborne's ideological austerity agenda.

Vote with your conscience

The fact that the Lib-Dems soaked up millions of tactical votes against the Tories over the decades, then jumped straight into bed with them as soon as they got the chance is an illustration of how tactical voting can end up enabling the party people were tactically voting against. This means that it might be in people's best interests to forget about tactical voting and just go for the party that best represents their political views. If enough people did this, and the Westminster establishment were denuded of most of the votes they've won through tactical voting, the case for electoral reform would become overwhelming.

Recent polls have shown the Lib-Lab-Con Westminster establishment with the lowest share of the vote between them in history (just 66% according to a January 2015 Ashcroft poll). If this trend towards the smaller parties continues until the General Election, we could see the Lib-Lab-Cons bag only marginally more than 50% of the votes between them, yet hoover up 90% of the seats due to the outdated and shockingly unrepresentative voting system we endure in the UK. If that were to happen, calls for electoral reform and proper representation for the smaller parties would surely become irresistible.

If we forget about short-term tactical voting and vote for the parties we actually believe in, it makes it far more likely that the long-term objective of a fairer electoral system can be achieved, relegating the apathy inducing system of tactical voting, safe seats and wasted votes and shockingly low turnouts to paragraphs in future political textbooks on how not to run a fair and representative voting system.

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