By Gareth R Roberts
As I write this, there are nineteen days left. Nineteen days of torture until we are finally put out of collective misery with the catharsis of polling day.
And it is torture. Torture listening to grown up adults, who are seeking a position of power and influence over our lives, lie and dissemble in their venal attempt to win our votes. The lies coming from the Tory party have been alarming. In fact it has now reached a stage where I disbelieve just about anything I hear emanating from the twittering mouths of anyone who has anything to do with the Conservatives. Not, disagree with, disbelieve. How is this democracy? How is the Conservative Party Central Office pretending to be an independent fact checking service democracy?
It make me really, really fucking angry.
As do the Labour Party – but at least I believe they’re trying to tell me the truth. My anger is directed not at their mendacity, but their worthy ineptitude. The UK is about to commit the most significant mistake in it’s history by leaving the EU and the Labour Party’s position still offers no leadership and no clarity.
Sure, they are promising much that those of us who are left of centre wouldn’t disagree with, but, they are operating with the air of a student union political club devoid of realism and unwilling to make any concessions. The sad thing is that their manifesto is mainly good, but the leadership is so bad that the manifesto struggles to get beyond ridicule. The Labour Party can’t dismiss this: if it truly wants to create the world that it aspires to in their manifesto then the first step is to offer leadership that can appeal to everyone across the political and class divide.
And don’t start me on the Lib-Dems who reacted to an early positive opinion poll with all the skill and dexterity of a stick of dynamite – turning immediately from increasingly cuddly ‘pro-Remain’ liberals into the Zombies of the coalition all over again.
So, with only 19 days left – who is catching my eye?
Well, earlier in the week the Greens set out their manifesto. As ever it was a lo-fi, low-key event. A clearly intelligent and thoughtful spokesman, who I knew little about, stood in front of on understated lectern surrounded by a collection of people wearing anoraks and beards who wouldn’t have been allowed near the manifesto launches of the other bigger parties.
She made her pitch, and as she did, I listened, and it dawned on me, that the Green manifesto for sustainable economics and inclusive democracy is absolutely relevant. I mean, when you think about it clearly and objectively, Brexit will one day take its place as an interesting period of history – but the very existence of our planet is profoundly more important. That the Greens will offer another vote and campaign vociferously to remain reflects their understanding that an international effort is fundamental to any attempts to reverse climate change – which is actually as cogent an argument in favour of the EU as any put forward by anyone else – and certainly more than meets the nonsense of ‘taking back control.’
But its not just the environment that features in the Green Manifesto – on law and order, they advocate legislation of drugs and would treat addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal justice one. On this they’re absolutely spot on – as a criminal barrister every day I deal with the fall out from the failed ‘war on drugs.’ The continued criminalisation of drugs has decimated whole communities and deflected massive amounts of police, social service and health service resources towards dealing with drug culture which thrives like bacteria in the shadows of prohibition. The Greens get this.
Like other parties they promise to invest in the NHS and like Labour they will end tuition fees for further and higher education. However, every one of their policies is carefully linked to the overall thrust of their Green New Deal, which is the overarching theme for their programme for government. And it is this that makes the Green’s increasingly attractive, because, where the Tories main priority is conserving the fortunes of the rich, and where Labour’s priority is based upon a form of socialism, the overwhelming priority of the Greens is the existence of the planet, which, actually, when you think of it, is pretty important.
If not now, when? They ask, and it’s hard to answer that question without accepting that actually, the most principled vote on December 12th will be for the Greens.