[See also the pre-election post: The Green Party – a failing venture]
The General Election in Britain has come and gone. The Green Party retained the single seat that they already had, but made no gains. The “green surge” predicted by the party’s campaigners simply didn’t happen.
It could hardly have been much different … not with the first-past-the-post voting system, in which the winners take all and the losers, no matter how many votes they receive nationally, get little or nothing.
So yet again the party’s electioneering strategy has all been mostly in vain, just as it has been since they embarked on this path in the 1970s. The party continues to be marginalised, as do (more importantly) the green policies that it promotes.
Will the Green Party ever realise that no deep-seated political change is possible – and that its engagement with electoral politics is pointless – unless and until the voting system is changed? Will they ever transform themselves into the cutting edge of a radical campaign for true democracy and its essential ingredient, namely a genuinely proportionally representative voting system? And towards this end, will they ever look to create alliances – focused on obtaining true democracy rather than the party’s recent ‘anti-austerity’ posturing – across the much wider range of green and progressive currents?
Will they ever announce a boycott of all national elections – and seek to persuade other parties (those similarly unfairly marginalised by the current voting system) to do the same – and keep this in place until true democracy is introduced?
The answer to all these questions is ‘probably not’ – not while party activists continue to seize, post-election, on any available positive statistic. This time around they point to gains in the number of votes received nationally and gains in the number of party members …. as if either of these things amount to a hill of beans in the face of the party’s continued electoral impotence … as caused by the voting system and the travesty of democracy that it represents.
The suffragettes– the ‘votes for women’ campaign in late 19th and early 20th century Britain – brought about the last major change in the democratic system. They didn’t get this by forming a political party and contesting elections.
It’s well past time that the Green Party looked to their inspiration and took up their mantle. It’s well past time for the Green Party to drop the election game and enter the arena of radical campaign for true democracy.
Election campaigning is currently in full swing here in the UK, with voting to elect a new Parliament (and thus government) due to take place in May. And as usual, the Green Party is busy fielding its own crop of candidates and promoting its election manifesto.
But again, as usual, it’s all mostly in vain. Because although the party might win a seat or two and receive 5% (say) of the national vote, the end result will be the continued marginalisation of the party and the policies it promotes. This is the inevitable consequence of the first-past-the-post voting system, in which the winners take all and the losers, no matter how many votes they receive, get nothing.
This voting system means that huge numbers of votes are wasted – not translated into elected representatives. Even if a party were to contest every seat and lose in each by only a tiny fraction of the vote, they would end up with no elected representatives at all …. no matter that their national share of the vote might be 30 or 40 per cent.
Clearly this is a travesty of democracy. So it’s little wonder that many voters either don’t bother to vote, or else are deeply disenchanted with electoral politics, voting merely to keep ‘the other party’ out … because they know that voting for the party they most favour will be a wasted vote.
Yet still the Green Party persists in playing this rigged game, just as it has done since the 1970s. The party activists will argue that electioneering provides them with publicity – a public platform from which to explain and promote their policies. Yet whilst this is true, what is the real point in promoting policies that the voting system will ensure can never be implemented? So the party is left hoping that one or two of the mainstream parties’ policies become slightly more green-tinged in reaction … a very marginal gain at best.
The alternative – a radical movement for true democracy:
Instead of playing a rigged game to little practical effect, the Green Party should boycott all elections and transform itself – involving alliances across the wider range of green and progressive currents – into the cutting edge of a radical, campaigning movement for the creation of true democracy. This should centre on the demand for a truly proportionally representative (PR) voting system for elections: if a party gets 1% of the vote then it should get 1% of the elected representatives.
Encyclopaedia Avalonia, Vol. VII …
Green Party Loyalists – some of whom reside in Avalonia – are deeply wedded to the notion that a political party is needed as the cutting edge of an otherwise blunt, wider green movement.
The Loyalists pledge die-hard allegiance to a grouping known as the ‘Ghost Cabinet’ – an inner party committee that currently shadows the Labour Party’s ‘Shadow Cabinet’, which in turn (and outside of Avalonia of course) shadows the Cabinet of Her Majesty’s current government.
Having created a Ghost Cabinet, many Loyalists have spoken loyally as to why they needed take the ‘next logical step’ and create the post of Party Leader (i.e. Ghost Prime Minister). The argument proffered was that the Party needs a Leader so that the Queen will know whom to invite for tea at Buckingham Palace when they win a thumping great majority in Parliament at the next election (or perhaps, at most, the next election after that).
All aspiring leaders within the Party are thus carefully scrutinised by Loyalists as to their table manners. But this has been the downfall of more than one candidate: Iron Sid for example, whose years in the wild Welsh mountains took their toll when his predilection for skinning rabbits with a six-inch Bowie knife proved totally unacceptable to the Loyalist-dominated selection committee.