On May 7th, the UK will hold it’s general election.
Up until our last general election in 2010, the UK was essentially a 2 party system: Labour and the Conservatives (or Tories). In 2010, there was no clear majority, so the right-wing Conservatives entered a coalition with the third largest party of the time — the left-wing Liberal-Democrats.
One of the most interesting things about the 2010 election, is that it showed just how broken our electoral system is: although the Liberal Democrats gained 23% of the votes, they got 8% of the seats in parliament. The Labour party, on the other hand, got 29% of the votes, but 40% of seats. One would have assumed that the elected representatives in parliament would be in some way representative of the views of the people, but there you go.
In any case, it appears that this year’s election will further damage the perception of the 2 party system — fuelled in no small part, by last year’s Scottish independence referendum.
The referendum ignited political interest in Scotland — with the largest voter turnout in UK history. And that interest is expected to continue. Since the referendum, Scottish National Party’s membership has skyrocketed, making it the UK’s third largest party (as measured by membership). The Scottish Green party saw a surge in membership, too. But the renewed faith in democracy in the wake of the referendum isn’t limited to Scotland: in the Green Party of England and Wales has also seen huge increases. When combined with the Scottish Greens, the UK’s Green Parties’ combined membership makes it the fourth largest party.
The Liberal Democrats are now in fourth place, with the far-right UK Independence Party in fifth place.
I’ve been considering my position, coming up to the election. After the independence referendum, I joined a political party. The decision was between joining the party who’s policies I agreed with, or choosing the party that could get into a position to action their policies. The decision was between the Scottish Greens, and the SNP.
I chose the Scottish Greens.
And voteforpolicies.org.uk tells me that I should vote for the Greens in the election.
But there’s the fear in the back of my mind that it’s a vote wasted.
My constituency consistently votes for the Labour party — a party that I don’t agree with, and don’t believe in. I don’t want the Labour party to represent me, and my constituency.
In Scotland, there’s been a massive swing to the SNP, with polls projecting that SNP may take up to 49 of Scotland’s 53 seats in parliament. That would be great, not only for Scotland — given the SNP’s standing towards equality, and the environment, and against nuclear weapons and continued austerity — but for the whole of the UK.
I don’t think my constituency will vote Green. And there’s a nagging fear in the back of my mind that they’ll vote for Labour. I know it’s unlikely that my one vote will tip the scales, but that doubt is in the back of my mind.
That’s why I’m going to vote SNP.
The SNP are on the line of close enough to what I believe in to make the vote worthwhile.
They support equality: SNP government in the Scottish Parliament is one of only a handful in the world to have a gender balanced parliament.
They are fundamentally against nuclear weapons, supporting unilateral disarmament.
They are against austerity, and their proposal to invest in the economy over the next several years was shown to cut the UK’s deficit by an amount comparable to the austerity measures planned by the Conservative party (and supported by Labour).
While I plan on voting for the Scottish Greens in Scotland’s parliamentary election next year, having a strong SNP presence in the UK parliament is, I think, too important an opportunity for me to jeopardise.