25 Apr 2010

Why Greens can't vote Lib Dem?

All this talk of the Lib Dems makes for a more interesting election - or does it? First up a letter from Adrian Ramsay, Deputy Leader of the Green Party to The Independent, then more about Lib Dems and why Greens can't support them and lastly the talk of a hung Parliament - surely on that latter point it would be better to describe as a 'Coalition Parliament'?

Photo: Bread Street Blackbird

First the letter:

“Clegg smashes through two-party system” said the Independent last week (16 April). Hooray. What a pity, though, that we’ve replaced it with a three-party system in which the third is in fact little different from the first two. There may have been “fierce clashes” between them but just how different are their respective policies? For instance, Trident – one of the three wanted rid of it, but only to replace it with something possibly cheaper but definitely still nuclear.

The second debate may have been “more confrontational” (Independent 23 April), but we still heard how little difference there is between those three parties on things like foreign policy, Afghanistan and climate change. Isn’t it a pity they didn’t have Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, in the debates? Judging by her recent performances on Question Time and the like, Caroline would certainly have been a match for the three of them. But more importantly, the viewers would have seen a very different debate – a debate in which one party leader was offering genuinely different policies. Policies like withdrawal from Afghanistan. Policies like scrapping Trident without replacing it – as a means of saving the money necessary to invest heavily in developing a low-carbon economy and thus creating a million UK jobs, as per the Green Party’s manifesto. In the end it’s the policies that matter.

The Independent is right, it’s time we heard a wider range of voices. But not just the three that say largely the same things on most subjects."

See also comments here re Lib Dems in a news release on Friday.

How green are the Lib Dems?

Green London Assembly Member Jenny Jones writes on The Guardian website - see here - The Lib Dems often say the right thing about environmental issues, but their track record is not good.

Nick Clegg seems to be saying he's anti-nuclear, but let's be clear the Lib Dems want to replace Trident with something smaller and cheaper but still nuclear. To tackle the recession the Greens propose investment while the Lib Dems are advocating "savage cuts". The Greens want to protect the NHS against privatisation, the Lib Dems don't. The Greens want an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Lib Dems don't. And the Lib Dems sadly are not as 'clean' in elections as they want to portray - I well remember their leaflet about Greens in Norwich - See Telegraph for more on that story here. Norwich is not the only case - last year in London during the Euro-elections they published leaflets showing apparent voting stats, saying 'Greens can't win here' - although the Greens had a sitting MEP, so clearly could win there, and the stats were from a different election fought under a different system.

Green party responds to calls to step aside for Lib Dems

This below was posted on a Facebook site...I've abbreviated it to some of the policy differences....

Speaking as one of the Green Party's national press officers, we aren't doing any vote trades...the Lib Dems appear that they want to do something, when their policy is really something else. 1) This ongoing myth about being against the Iraq War - the Lib Dems weren't against the war, they wanted to see a UN resolution authorising the war. If Bush/Blair had secured that, through outright bribery and arm twisting at the UN Security Council, what would have happened then? 2) They posture on Trident (delivery of nuclear weapons), but their policy is to retain half of the UK's nuclear weapons. 3) Lib Dems are only investing £3 billion as part of a green jobs package, not the £44 billion that Greens want as part of a 1 million jobs programme. 4) They talk about public transport, but Lib Dems are in favour of privatised trains. 5) They talk about local control, but they are in favour of PFI (taking public services and locking them away from public control for 25 year contracts). 6) Lib Dems speak in favour of congestion charging nationally, but are against it in Edinburgh, Manchester and York. 7) It's the same on wind farms, airport expansion, and incineration. Finally, in places where we are strong (Norwich, Lewisham, Brighton), Lib Dems are weak. When people have a choice between a vigorous Green alternative and the Lib Dems, they choose us. The only way we're going to get Green policies that reflect Green values is by voting Green, not just in our 3 target constituencies, but around the country so we can keep building support everywhere.

A Coalition Parliament?

38 degrees has run a campaign to challenge the scare stories in the media about what a hung parliament would mean - or as I said earlier a Coalition Parliament - coalition is a positive word and 'hung' sounds.... well not nice!. The Sun newspaper warns it's a "recipe for political corruption and paralysis". Bankers claim it could damage the economy.

In fact there are many voices in favour of a hung parliament. In the 38 degrees poll over 90% of 38 Degrees members think a positive case for a hung parliament needs to be made. They have been writing to the national papers. Indeed with a coalition we have hopes that there might be PR and representation from smaller parties - it works well in Scotland and I personally think it could be good for us.

Lastly I have mentioned already the independent Vote for Policies, Not Personalities website (www.voteforpolicies.org.uk) - it has had well over 150,000 people participate in its survey to ascertain which party’s policies they most support, without initially revealing which parties follow which policies. The Greens are still top.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the Daily Mail style attacks of Jones and other leaders makes the Green Party look like one of the establishment parties. Remember the Irish Greens are standing three candidates for Westminster, a party with a less than impressive record in government in the Republic.

In Canada Greens and Liberals have stood down for each other, and in this region the Green Party had a joint list with some Gibraltar Liberals in the 2004 Euros. So clearly Greens can vote Liberal – in 2004 they had to!

Greens and Liberal Democrats have worked together in the UK. Liberal Democrats in parliament got the Home Energy Conservation Act, a bill written by the Green Party in consultation with Friends of the Earth and fuel poverty groups. This marked the first time that legislation written by a non-parliamentary party ever made it onto the Statute books. Likewise the Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997 was a jointly arthured by the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Friends of the Earth.

Anonymous said...

Lib Dems and Greens may have worked together but it doesn't mean they are offering the same thing. I have just been reading The Independent today about Caroline Lucas:

"Yet her election would do far more than that. It would be a breach in the wall of Westminster, through which genuinely alternative policies might flow. Nick Clegg has had formidable success in painting himself as the "alternative" candidate to the two "conventional" parties and their leaders, but, as a glance at their manifesto shows, Caroline Lucas and her party, whether you approve of them or not, are offering the truly radical choice. Compared to the Greens, Nick Clegg's yellow-rosetted Lib Dems are every bit as conventional as the party of red and the party of blue."

And support for Greens from various folk in the same article:

"The Green movement seems to me the most rational and honest way of behaving towards the planet we live on, and the Green Party is its political expression."

Philip Pullman, Author

"I think Caroline Lucas will be very exciting if she gets in, because we'll start to see some sway

from somebody who's very well informed and experienced..."

Greta Scacchi, Actress

"The election of our first Green Party MP would put us on the first step of a long journey to safeguard planet Earth for future generations."

Mark Thompson, Astronomer and television presenter

"The correlation between the number of green bottoms on parliamentary seats and the growth of a green economic sector is undeniable."

Sara Parkin, Founder director, Forum for the Future

"They have been able to do what the left hasn't been able to do, which has been to put forward an alternative to the free market and sound credible."

Mark Steel, Comedian

"Vote for what you believe in. There are no real differences between the main three parties. If you really want change, vote Green."

Alistair McGowan, Comedian

"The Green Party is the only political party to have a consistent message on the environment."

Nick Reeves, Executive director, Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

"It is an indictment of our attitude to our own long-term well-being that Greens, who might do us the most good in the long run, have yet to sit down in the Commons."

Simon Woodroffe, Founder, YO! Company

"Wouldn't it be nice to have someone [in the Commons] who is doing more than paying lip service to climate change?"

Thom Yorke, Radiohead frontman, backing Tony Juniper, Green Party candidate for Cambridge

"It is about time a Green Party candidate is elected to Parliament: their focus on the environment is essential to the future of the planet."

Rev Paul Nicolson, Chairman, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust

"The sooner we have a Green MP the better... our world is heating up and we need to have people addressing these issues in Parliament who know what they're talking about."

Kelly Hoppen, Interior designer

"The Greens have remained constant at a 2 per cent voting share recently. This would equate to around 13 seats in the Commons if [we had PR]"

Robert Salvoni, President, Harris Interactive

"I haven't voted Green but I have sympathy with many of their policies... I think there are enough Green voters out there to deserve representation in Parliament."

Frances Crook, Director, Howard League

"The Green Party needs more exposure... It's not a question of having a Green MP, but including green issues and the Green Party in the debate."

Doug Stewart, Founder, Green Energy UK

Andy said...

Liberal Democrats - lots of good on offer but I'm not convinced they will do what it says on their tin.

They wanted a moratorium on roadbuilding yet supported Newbury bypass, the Batheaston bypass and the M74 extension in Scotland.

They have argued for one thing on a local level and another on a national level. For example they currently support incinerator projects in Exeter, Plymouth, Barnstaple and Essex, despite proclaiming support for a zero waste strategy – which means no incineration.

They claim to want zero carbon economy by 2050 but opposed windfarm proposals in Cornwall, Cumbria, Devon and Worcestershire. In Lewisham recently voted against a Green Party budget package that would have insulated 25,000 homes for free.

They opposed the expansion of Heathrow but have been happy to expand Birmingham, Exeter, Liverpool and Norwich airports - Supported a £172m second runway in Manchester, doubling their airport business in the space of a decade. From the manifesto “The emissions from rising aviation are a serious problem in the fight against climate change. But in some more remote parts of the country, flights are a vital lifeline and aviation is important for the economy as a whole.”

Make up your minds guys!

Armchair Green said...

Lyana Armstrong-Emery of the small Reform Party had a place on a joint list with the Green Party in 2004 - we did not have a relationship with the Gibraltar Liberal party. The Reform party was a left-leaning Green party but closed down in 2005.

Anonymous said...

"Lib Dems and Greens may have worked together but it doesn't mean they are offering the same thing." Never said they are; however they should work together on common ground. Nice to see Labour's Luvvies are now Lucas's Luvies

Armchair Green: The Reform Party otherwise known as the Independent LIBERAL Forum http://www.gibnet.gi/~emery/. A faction of the Gib Libs.

It’s quite possible to be in favour of affordable homes and windfarms, yet oppose individual schemes on planning grounds. There are Green councillors who have voted against recycling and street trees, I’m sure there was a good reason for them to take a counterintuitive course.
Airport expansion- legal advice given to councils stated it was impossible for councils to stop the expansion of airports they owned. “Retention of its shares would not enable the Council to subordinate commercial considerations to environmental concerns since the legislation governing local authority ownership of airports was designed to insulate business from local ‘political’ considerations.”
Read the minutes - Devon County Council Liberal Democrats sold its shares in Exeter Airport, when it realised it couldn’t legally stop the national government programme of regional airport expansion. Devon Lib Dems used the proceeds to invest in, amongst other things, wave power technology. Still never let the truth get in the way of a good smear.

Andy said...

Some fair points above from anonymous - but Lib Dems are a self-confessed party of “savage cuts,” to quote Nick Clegg.

And even the Stroud Green party leaflet seems to suggest that Lib Dems are opposed to nuclear weapons – they’re opposed to Trident but want to replace it with something possibly cheaper but definitely still nuclear.

Lib Dems maybe greener than the other two but there is still a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

"Former Green Party candidate and gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has called for Green supporters to vote for the Liberal Democrats in certain seats." Pink News

Anonymous said...

Disappointing. The Lib Dems have nothing new to offer the electorate. They support the war in Afghanistan and will not scrap all nuclear weapons. According to the PN poll the Green Party is considered the most LGBT friendly - I am also not convinced the lib dems will create PR, other than AMS which is not actually proportionally.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't normally say this - I'm big on voting with your conscience - but the Greens, the BNP, UKIP and every other minor party are idiots for insisting on running this election and not stepping down and endorsing the Lib Dems.

Of course they don't agree with Lib Dem policies, or they wouldn't have formed parties of their own in the first place. That's not the point.

This election is a vote on whether we want a system that forces Labour/Conservative governments into absolute power with a minority of votes, or a system which actually allows us to elect the candidates we want from any party we want.

Vote for Policies shows the Greens as the most popular party in the country in terms of policies. Why don't people vote for them?

Firstly, the VfP poll only covers people who use the internet. People who aren't smart enough to do so will tend to be more politically conservative.

Second, some people are probably put off by the 'green' packaging - they love progressive and egalitarian policies, but don't consider environmental issues of primary importance, and assume Greens are all about the environment.

Third, and most importantly, they are victims of 'can they get in' bias. Many, many of those green supporters in the poll voted Labour last time because the Lib Dems and Greens 'couldn't win'. If that perception changes they still won't vote Green, they'll vote Liberal Democrat. Their first choice in terms of policies is their third choice in terms of actual chances of winning.

According to yougov the Lib Dems are the most popular party in the country with 49% of people willing to vote for them if they have a chance of winning. A vote for them is a vote for PR, which in turn is a vote for every third party - including the Greens, including even, sadly, the BNP. Everyone who wants something other than tories or labour should vote Lib Dem next month.

They can complain 'but it won't show my support!' but that's fine, you can show your support next election - when PR will mean that your vote will actually be counted.

They can complain that voting Lib Dem will prevent them from achieving the Green landslide victory which exists purely in their imaginations. (One day, hopefully, but let's be honest: It's not going to be today.)

I'm a lifelong Lib Dem voter myself, but if they win or form a coalition government that brings in PR, this will be the last election in which I vote Lib Dem. It will be Green from then on.

Green voters voting Lib Dem once will secure the votes of people like me for the Greens forever. It's such an obviously good trade you'd have to be mad, dumb or stubborn to turn it down.

Andy said...

Lib Dems are not so great on PR......What Jenkins proposed was County-based electoral units with 7 or 8 fptp seats (London would be broken down into like-sized clusters) and 1, and in a few cases 2, top-up seats each. This basically means a couple of Green seats......In short it's a system that tosses a bone to the second choice party of the largest number of voters, not one that favours new, more radical voices even though they may command quite significant but widely spread support.

Lib Dems proposals wouldn’t be a good reform either for Greens or for democratic inclusiveness.

Meanwhile I am sire the only reason Gordon Brown has been talking about electoral reform lately, is that he’s worked out that Labour would lose fewer seats that way, would still be more or less in charge, and the bigger losers seats-wise would the Tories.

There were similar reports years ago, that this was why Labour introduced the regional list system for Euro-elections – it was the ‘proportional’ system under which they would lose the fewest seats in 1999. It wasn’t very proportional in its outcomes.

Andy said...

PS In short what Labour and the Lib Dems have been talking about is not an improvement to democracy for the sake of the people. It’s a self-centred calculation of what change to the voting system would help them lose fewer seats than they would expect to under first-past-the-post.

In contrast what the Green Party wants is a fairer, more inclusive voting system. It needs to be truly proportional in its effects. If 20% of the electorate want Labour MPs, then 20% of the seats should be Labour. If 10% want Green MPs, then 10% of the seats should be Green. Democracy should be about what the electorate wants, not what the parties in power can manipulate to their own advantage.

Anonymous said...

See The Telegraph

Nick Clegg said electoral reform
promises were not a “precondition” of dealing with a potential Conservative government.