Thursday, 19 April 2018

Why Remainers Should Vote Green in the Local Elections

The local authority elections on 3 May, are the last full scale elections in England before our departure from the European Union in March 2019. Yes, it looks like we will get a transitional deal which will last for almost two further years, when to all intents and purposes nothing will change, but we will no longer be a member of the EU. So, this is the last chance to send a message to the Labour and Tory parties, whose leaderships are in favour leaving.

The Greens have consistently opposed leaving the EU, at the referendum itself and since the vote. The Greens want a referendum on the final terms negotiated by the government, before we leave the organisation. Given the lies about NHS spending, the probable breaching of spending rules during the campaign and the probable misuse of personal data now exposed, even some leave voters that I know are regretting their decision, and would like the opportunity to put it right.

The Greens recognise that environmental matters need to be dealt with internationally to be effective, and the EU has improved environmental conditions in the UK, like cleaning up coastal waters and beaches and forcing the UK government to improve air quality. The Greens also worry about the environmental effects of moving to trading with far flung countries in terms of increasing carbon emissions with long haul transportation. The Greens also have concerns over food standards and general democratic accountability that goes with all of the global trade deals in operation already. 

The Tory leadership is held hostage by probably about 70 or 80 hard line Brexiter MPs, easily enough to bring down the government in Parliament, so even if there was desire to reverse or soften the result, which I don’t think there is, the hard liners are calling the shots. Labour has generally fudged its position, but has softened its stance a little with the recent conversion to remaining in ‘a customs union’ with the EU, but wants to leave the single market, end the free movement of people, and won’t hold a referendum on the terms of exit.

Apart from the Greens the only other sizable national party in England to oppose Brexit, and want a referendum on the final terms of our leaving the EU, are the Lib Dems. But the Lib Dems are slippery in general, leaning to the right in Tory held areas and to the left in Labour held areas. You can’t really trust them to be principled about almost anything. Most of all they entered a coalition with the Tories at national level in 2010.

If the Lib Dems hadn’t propped up the minority, austerity obsessed Tory government for five years, we probably wouldn’t have even had a referendum on EU membership in 2016. Although no longer in coalition since the Tories won a small overall majority in Parliament in 2015, I think it unlikely this would have happened if the Tories were forced to be a minority government in 2010, and probably would not have lasted a full five years. The Lib Dems bear responsibility for where we have ended up today, so they should not be rewarded by Remain voters.

The Greens and Lib Dems did not do well at last year’s general election, but my bet is that many Remain voters voted Labour because they saw it as the best way to shackle the Tories who were offering the hardest version of Brexit. I think people had tired of Tory austerity too, which the Lib Dems were party to, but with the First Past The Post electoral system, anything other than voting Labour was a risk in most places.

3 May has no such risk, because we are not electing a government, only local councils with very little power. Which is not to say that these elections are unimportant, because local councillors can make a positive difference to local government. Indeed elected Greens do this all the time. Greens have defended social housing for example, against attacks from councils controlled by Labour mainly. You can see what Green councillors have achieved in local government here.

But this is a golden opportunity for Remainers to send a message to the Tories and Labour, without having to sully themselves by endorsing the toxic Lib Dems. Vote Green on 3 May to proclaim you support staying in the EU.     

1 comment:

  1. There needs to be more green party councillors around the UK there areare none where I live