9 Feb 2014

Protest Votes

Watcha Voting? Local artist Russ
European elections and local elections are a popular time for sending messages to government. What this can often mean is that smaller parties benefit from voter frustrations. Those who deep in tribal affiliations to the reds or the blues do not tend to shift allegiance entirely, but may pick a small party to bestow their vote on in order to make a point.

UKIP are putting themselves forward as an alternative to the mainstream, with claims to be speaking up for the average man in the street. I’m less certain how they feel about the average woman. What does a protest vote for UKIP actually get you?

Recent reports on the BBC’s Points West show make it clear that one of our south west UKIP MEPS,  Trevor Coleman, barely shows up at the European Parliament, but takes the money and uses it to fund his anti-EU website.

Now, if your only dream is to see Britain leave the EU, this may seem like good value for money (although I have no idea why you’re here or reading this!). However, if you’ve voted for someone to represent you, and they almost never do, that’s hardly of any great use. Even if you are not desperately in favour of Europe, having voted someone in, you might reasonably assume they’d show up there and try to improve things once in a while.

The Green Party wants a reformed Europe with governing institutions designed to resist capture by corporations and instead work democratically and cooperatively in the public interest. The buying power of corporations is a big issue for democracy. As we are pro-localism, we support self-determination for nations and regions. Many people who fear Europe do so on the grounds that it takes away power from our own democracies. The Green Party believes in holding power as locally as makes sense – so while Stroud would not benefit from having to come up with its own foreign policy, it should have more control over its own planning issues, for example.

What we need at a European level is co-operation over the issues that don’t have borders -fisheries protection, pollution, climate change and human rights being particular examples.

Greens have worked within the EU to improve efficiency – we have supported plans to stop this regular migrating between centres of government that costs such a ridiculous amount. Sustainable solutions are often more cost-effective.

If you want to make a protest next May, and send a message to some other party, you may as well get some value out of your vote, and support a party that will listen to your concerns, and that will show up and do the job, rather than taking the money and failing to deliver anything. Vote for Molly Scott Cato. Vote Green.

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