Thursday, 6 May 2010

On Being Part of the 'Not Culturally Green' Green Vote

Election days are weird. Even if you're an activist, there's nothing to do except taking numbers - which doesn't require many people - or knocking up, and you can't really start that till people are home from work. If you're not a party activist - and I'm not - then it all feels fairly much like a day spent waiting for the exit polls at 10pm. It gives your mind plenty of time to wander and reflect.

Mrs. Charlie voted Labour, having wavered for a long time, pointing out, correctly, that both the Green and even, God help us,Lib-Dem manifestos are actually closer to what she believes in. But tribalism matters to her - and me.

Nonetheless, I voted Green. I'm in a very safe Labour seat, so you could call this self indulgent. Pending PR, I would probably still vote Labour elsewhere. But they have been so terrible, so craven and subservient to the forces of capital, that I'm not prepared to continue to hand them over large majorities where the hated Tories are no real threat. Somehow, somewhere the first faltering steps of a journey to create a better alternative have to be taken.

I'm not even a 'cultural' Green - I eat meat, drive a car and take far too many flights to claim that. I prefer cities to the countryside and don't care in the slightest about Animal Rights. The only reason I was in favour of the fox hunting ban was to annoy the Countryside Alliance. In an ideal world of course, I'd have the option of voting for a party that espoused strong public services, greater equality, co-operative enterprise, green technology, human rights, positive internationalism, an end to unnecessary foreign wars, no nuclear power and anti racism. A new and real social democratic party if you like. But Plaid Cymru steadfastly refuse to stand in Dulwich and West Norwood, and I can't bear the inanities of the ultra-left, so I'm left with the Greens.

I think I'm caught in a strange place - my former Labour tribe has rejected me, has moved on to other ways of looking at the world. I am clearly a stranger in the Green tribe. I feel like an old Chartist from 1848 looking at the rise of the Labour Movement in the 1880s and feeling half supportive and half uncomprehending. But I think my children will find a home in this new tribe.


  1. I voted Green in the General Election - an indulgence as well in the sense that I indulged the fact that in general I have nothing in common with Labour's present politics, and our former Labour MP in particular. Whatever one;s criticisms of the Green (and I ahve plenty) their actual policies (non Workfare, renationalise the railways etc) are at least half-decent.

    I voted Labour in the local elections to indulge the fact that the local Labour councillors are decent labour movement types at best, and social democrats at worst.

    Agree with the Chartist analogy. How time passes. Neither I nor you (I suspect) still have our thick hair near-black. But I suspect that there is life in the harder left yet - locally a number of new young people have got involved with us over the last months.

  2. At the risk of making this thread sound confessional, I also voted Green. An indulgence on my part also. The Greens had absolutely no chance of winning were I live. Labour don't stand over the Irish Sea in the 'wee six' and the victory of some or other shade of unionism in my constituency is such a foregone conclusion every election that I once voted for the Natural Law Party. I even went so far as to argue that any party who believed in transcendental levitation had to be worth voting for over parties firmly rooted in an interminable territorial dispute. I mean, what's wrong with people? Don't they want to fly?

    Now I vote for a party that wants to keep me out of the air (carbon emissions) and I argue with other voters, saying: what's wrong with you people? Don't you want to save the planet?

    Like you, Charlie, I'm tribal but there is no home for me in Labour an more. And ironically, like yourself, my lifestyle is not sufficiently green for me to feel that I would fit in with the Green Party, although their social and economic policies I am in tune with.

    I've flirted with the idea of joining the Greens in my area but I fear I'd feel like Tony Blair in the Labour Party; a bit of an interloper.

    Looking forward to your post-election comments.

  3. Rab,
    If the Alliance can win East Belfast with a candidate Splinty describes as having,"..the characteristic ability of the East Belfast woman to speak for forty-five minutes before drawing breath.." then the former sectarian electoral fortresses of N.Ireland are beginning to crumble. I see big things ahead for the Yogi Flying/Red/Green crossover vote. In a few short years you could be holding the balance of power on Ards Borough Council: you could propose instituting your own version of London's Congestion Zone where all cars were banned in favour of compulsory levitation.......

    There are always a few young people attracted to the far left. Time was we were both amongst them. Less stay the course - I didn't, having dropped out of directly political activity in my mid thirties (hence my blog's title). Try as I might, I can't see things changing much in the next generation- I mean, check out AVPS and his record of the dismal electoral performance of the ultra left