Vote for a change

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Have we ever faced a major election with our two main political parties in such disarray?

I do think the Euro elections are impotent: from very many of the perspective from, which I view the world they are vital. And I have already voted, having a standing postal vote. But for those who have not already voted the disarray which the Tories and Labour present to them is staggering.

The Tories are collapsing into right wing mayhem in Europe: allying with parties who are anti-Semitic, anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-German, pro Waffen SS and  more besides shows the Tories are spiraling towards extremes previously considered unimaginable in a UK mainstream party. We all have the right to be very, very worried indeed.

Labour is at the same time falling apart at the seams. Its own rightward progression has been its undoing. Blair and Brown have failed to provide effective leadership; they simply followed the whims of the City. The poverty of doing so is now far too readily apparent for anyone to have faith in anything Brown can do now. I can only take comfort from having said so for a long time. Now is the time for it to sack Brown: he has to go for the good of the UK body politic.

So what of the choice tomorrow? Like many I had two ballot papers on which to place my mark when voting. In my local election the choice was easy. The Lib Dems are the only viable choice for Norfolk, where I live. And I admire their real commitment to local government, green issues at a local level, and to an overall integrity and consistency (the odd Orange Book apart) which is looking increasingly commendable. My vote went their way.

In Europe the choice was much harder. The ballot paper had 15 options. However, by the time fascists, racists and the plainly absurd were eliminated from consideration, together with Labour, who need to be rejected this time round, and the Tories who now fall into the first group, just two options were left. Those were the Lib Dems and Greens. I have enjoyed working with both, and hope I will continue to do so. The Lib Dem position on Europe is clear, suitably supportive and yet critical, but also appropriate. Importantly, it is consistent. But despite that the Greens won my vote. Caroline Lucas MEP has shown clear leadership of this party since getting that job last year. She has created policies on a wide range of issues, including g economic issues, in which I have confidence. Indeed, I believe they could be delivered. They have endorsed the Green New Deal. Within Europe they can and do cooperate effectively with other Green parties to create a real, radical alternative. They got my vote.

But what I would have preferred would have been the option to choose candidates in Europe, not party lists. That would have let me choose Greens and Lib Dems knowing that my vote would still count.

And perhaps that’s my big frustration. In the face of such obvious failure in the political process why can’t we choose the candidates we want? If Norfolk was not just my council but also my parliamentary constituency I could vote in the next general election for candidates who would have a real chance of representing me. As it is the Tories will, no doubt, chose another utterly immemorable candidate for my constituency to replace the outgoing banker who claimed for more than 300 trees on his parliamentary expenses, and he’ll (it’s almost bound to be a he) get elected even if (probably because) he will never, like the incumbent, open his mouth on anything of any consequence. But I don’t want people like that. I want people who I can relate to, even if just one or two in the county as a whole — who we can hold to account — and dispense with as people, not as a party.

Electoral reform is the key to solving this issue. Vote for a change now: that’s what I say most of all.