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Why Green?

By Niall Christie



Scottish Greens will offer the only progressive vision for people and planet this election - voters should be able to back it

 

As someone standing in what is widely seen as an important seat in the fight between Labour and the SNP on July 4th, it’s taken just a matter of days for the same problems with Westminster elections and the Scottish political discourse to rear their ugly head. 


Glasgow South, where I’m the candidate for the Scottish Green Party, is a key constituency for both parties. For the SNP, if they are to maintain anywhere near their majority of Scottish seats in the House of Commons, it is one they must hang on to. Arguably though, it’s even more important for Labour - with this and others across Glasgow and the central belt crucial to the party’s revival in Scotland. For us “smaller” parties though, all this means is we - and all of our voters - are entirely locked out of the conversation. 


This isn’t all the fault of the parties running - the voting system used for Westminster must take a fair whack of the blame. But in the running to be an MP, it does fall to us to question the hand we’ve been dealt. 


As I write this, it’s just been announced the first TV debate in the campaign will see just two party leaders take part. How can just two individuals possibly attempt to represent the views of an entire country properly, and why are they being allowed to? 


Unfortunately, this is just another symptom of the failing Westminster system. Contrary to what many may see it as, this is not a desperate attempt to shoehorn in a call for Scottish independence. I support independence - a vision of independencewhich prioritises working people in Scotland, putting money in their pockets, and asking our well-off to pay a bit more.


But no, this is an attempt to have a serious conversation about how we vote, why continuing down the path we’re on will only lock more people out from decision-making, and why it’s in the interests of every party to be better. 


Simply put, First Past the Post isn’t working. It hasn’t been working, and it’s about time other parties stopped pretending it did, just to maybe increase their chances of being elected. 


In Scotland, we’ll see it everywhere we look between now and July 4th. The SNP will say they’re the only party who canbeat Labour or the Tories in every seat. The Tories and Labour will both do the same, saying that only they can keep the SNP from winning. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats will be forced to retreat and campaign in just a handful of seats, and we Greens will be told any votes for us are wasted, or will let some perceived ‘common enemy’ win. 


Aside from the fact it’s not the responsibility of the Scottish Greens to win votes for other parties, this attitude does the country a disservice. It leaves ordinary voters with little choice but to conform to any number of binary options, depending on where they live. Surely, we want voters to vote for people they feel will best represent them? 


Greens will spend the weeks leading up to July 4th arguing against new oil and gas licences. We’ll call for the immediate removal of nuclear weapons from our shores. Scottish Green MPs would end age-based discrimination in minimum wage laws and raise the National Minimum Wage. We would vote to introduce a wealth tax to fund a swathe of public investments that are desperately needed. This coherent, left-wing vision isn’t being offered by any other parties, and voters should be free to support it, and have politicians that represent them. 


So, a challenge of sorts to other candidates in this election. Scottish Greens are unashamed about our support for a change to a system of Proportional Representation. We have a preference - we’d want to use an Open List system - but realise that more important than us getting everything our way, is that voters have politicians that represent them. 


Will other candidates make the same commitment? Historically, this has been difficult, with establishment parties knowing that First Past the Post plays into their hands and makes it easier to return more of their MPs. But with almost every party claiming to want to put country before party if they are elected, why should they not do this here, and put democracy above their party’s electoral interests?


Until we see that level of commitment from other parties - Labour and the Tories, I’m particularly looking at you - anyone who wants to vote for a party who will put fairness and equality of voice over their own party’s fortunes can back myself and other Scottish Greens safe in the knowledge that a vote for us is one for Proportional Representation, and for every voter in the country to have a voice. 


First Past the Post has no place in a modern democracy. We’re now in a time when the climate emergency is the biggest threat we all face. To build a country and world fit to face that challenge, we must work together and our parliaments must be fit to do that. 


We now need everyone across Scotland to vote like our futures depend on it. The choice, for once, is yours. 

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