Vote Green in England 193

So who should those of us living in England vote for tomorrow? I intend to vote Green – it seems to me that in England that is the best way to give a positive expression to the discontent with mainstream parties. I particularly hope that those who have the opportunity to vote for Rupert Read in the East of England will do so. Their support for renationalizing the railways would be enough for me, but actually I find myself in agreement with the large majority of their platform. I reproduce here an article from the ever excellent Peter Tatchell.

The Greens – not UKIP – are the real alternative to the political Establishment

By Peter Tatchell

Each of the three Establishment parties has succeeded in alienating its core vote. Labour over Iraq and the casino banking culture that flourished during its tenure in office. The Tories over Europe and equal marriage. And the Lib Dems over tuition fees and propping up of one of the most anti-egalitarian governments of modern times. All have been tainted by the scandal over MPs expenses. As a result, participation in mainstream politics is declining further than ever.

The UK’s first-past-the-post voting system is said to produce strong governments, avoiding what many perceive as the grubby infighting that dominates politics on the continent. But it isn’t working anymore. Millions of votes don’t count in rock solid safe seats and supporters of small parties are unrepresented or under-represented in parliament.

Many voters damn the political elite with the familiar refrain: “They’re all the same.” This is fairly true with regard to the big three parties: Labour, Tory and Lib Dem. There is very little difference between them these days. They all embrace, to marginally varying degrees, neo liberal economics.

Many people are, however, desperate for an alternative but they fear their voice will not be heard.

The European elections this Thursday offer a chance for something different. Because they use a system of proportional representation (PR), we have an opportunity to vote for what we believe in, without fearing that our votes will be wasted. PR is sometimes a mixed blessing. It was PR that allowed UKIP a foot in the door at the last Euro poll, and in this election it looks like the anti-EU party will win more seats than anyone thought possible for a new party 15 or even 10 years ago.

Nigel Farage entered the European Parliament in 1999. This was also the year that Caroline Lucas was elected as one of the UK’s first two Green MEPs (the other was Jean Lambert). She went on to become the first Green MP at Westminster. A parliamentary seat still evades Farage and his party.

UKIP supporters want to withdraw from the EU. They fantasise about plucky Britain standing alone against the world. UKIP stirs this nostalgia for ‘Great Britain’ and excites fear about immigrants and refugees. It has filled some of the void created by the discredited mainstream politics and, in particular, by the weakness of the orthodox left.

But for people who believe in social justice and equality, and who want action to thwart climate destruction and to protect the precious environment on which all life depends, the Greens – not UKIP – are the real alternative to the big three parties.

The Green vote is seen by some people as a protest vote, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be. It is a vote against Labour’s failure to defend working class people and its initiation of the part privatisation of education and health care. It is a vote against the Lib Dem’s abandonment of principle in favour of power. It is a vote against Tory austerity which makes ordinary people pay for the economic crisis created by reckless bankers. It is most certainly a vote against the homophobia, xenophobia and climate change denial of UKIP.

But in this election, voting Green it is also a vote for something. The Greens are a party that offers an imaginative, alternative positive vision of how our future could look. This is fairly unique, given the broad political consensus between the stale, grey Tories, Labour and Lib Dems.

Unlike the three Establishment parties and UKIP, the Greens advocate decisive EU action to close tax avoidance loopholes and tax havens, tax empty homes and financial transactions, cap banker’s bonuses, axe nuclear weapons, prioritise energy conservation to cut household bills and to introduce rent controls, a living wage and free education.

As a veteran of nearly 50 years of political campaigns, I look toward 22 May with a strange mixture of hope and fear. Fear that the hate-mongers of UKIP are poised to advance and to challenge some of the gains in minority rights and human rights, with the aid of their far right allies in the European Parliament. But also hope that the Greens may eclipse the Lib Dems; including the election of new Green MEPs such as Peter Cranie in North West England and Rupert Read in the East of England. Both lost narrowly last time. A tiny swing to the Greens will get them elected and, in the North West, will have the added bonus of probably surpassing the British National Party vote and thereby blocking the re-election of BNP leader Nick Griffin.

Make sure you vote: Show UKIP and the three Establishment parties the red card. Give the Greens a chance.

193 thoughts on “Vote Green in England

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  • nevermind

    Who cares Jemand, you obviously are thriving under this kind of regime, so, rejoice.

  • Jemand

    Clearly you don’t care enough to even take responsibility for your own vote, Nevermind, whatever little value that it has. Is it the sort of advice you give to voters in the electorates in which you present yourself as a candidate? To spoil their votes? Not much of an example to voters from someone aspiring to lead. It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your own face. Is that your official policy on democratic reform?

    And do you really believe I am thriving where I am, Nevermind? Where is my flashy car and stately home?

    You are way too far gone to appreciate my agreement with this fellow on the subject of the EU and its parliamentary elections. But others might.


  • A Node

    In the UK, spoiling your vote is an accepted method of expressing disapproval of your ‘democratic’ choices.
    Spoiled votes are counted and the total announced by the presiding officer along with the candidates results. If enough people spoiled their votes instead of not voting, it would send a clear political message.

    “The validity of the election may be questioned if there is an unusually high proportion of spoilt votes. However, in countries such as the UK where spoilt ballots are counted, some voters deliberately spoil their ballot paper to show disapproval of the candidates available whilst still taking part in the electoral process.”

  • John Goss

    It’s looking very much like UK IP is going to steal a lot of Tory votes at local levels. That’s going to give Labour a vast overall success. When the General Election comes they will all go back to the Tories, of the country will have an opposition of fascists. Of course the Tories have always had a majority of fascists but there are good people in teh Conservative Party too.

  • Jemand

    A Node, but does it explain the reason for spoiling? Or validate the spoiling?

    A spoiled vote is converted and aggregrated with all the other spoiled votes into a dumb statistic which then depends on gibbering tv political analcysts to interpret the meaning. Conclusion – “Some people were unhappy with the uninspiring candidates in this election but that’s always been the case and at the end of the day, you can’t please everyone”.

    I don’t see that as a driver for change.

  • A Node


    If our democratic system was sensitive enough to the needs of disenfranchised voters to include a method whereby we could criticize the system itself, we probably wouldn’t need to complain in the first place 🙂

    In the UK, democracy was introduced without a revolution. We learn in school that our ruling classes volunteered to hand over to us serfs the power to choose how we should be governed. Hmmmm. No way. We had democracy imposed upon us because it is an easy way to control the masses – we have only the illusion of choice because those same ruling classes choose our choices. And they don’t include a choice that says “I see through the illusion”.

    Protesting about the system is largely futile. If there was an effective way (short of armed revolution), they’d change the law to remove it. But for the time being, in the UK spoiled ballot papers are counted and published. Imagine the shockwave if a majority of ballot papers were spoiled. Sure it is a blunt instrument of protest, sure the message will be deliberately misinterpreted and watered down, but in the absence of the Monster Raving Loony Party, it’s often the sanest choice available in this country.

    Is your method any more effective? If a huge proportion of the electorate took your advice and voted for the least likely candidate, none of them would be registered as protest votes and indeed the entire movement could be dismissed as proof of the diversity of the great voting public and confirmation that democracy works.

    Anyway, I’ve explained above my thinking on the matter. If you don’t agree with any of it, please mark your reply “none of the above.”

  • Jives

    As someone earlier said>

    Only the trolls spell it as ‘Jooooooos’

    Hi Kempe,Res Diss,Anon,Habbabkuk,Jemand et al.

    If you cant win an argument then call everyone else anti-Semites right?

    Page 1 of the intellectually shallow,flawed and deeply desperate hasbara manual.

    Which is truly self-serving and bears no relation to Truth…just an excuse for losers to defend the indefensible.

    The type of approach that if you picked up a girl they were trying to chat up in a bar and she ended up leaving with you they’d scream ‘Rapist! at you,bereft of a more honest discussion or admission.

    Flawed shallow fakes.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Going Postal)

    I see this thread has been linked on Read’s blog. Readers of which may be amused to learn, that of the 13 post-war UK Prime Ministers, only 4 didn’t go to Oxford. (Heath and Macmillan went to Balliol, like Read).

    The non-Oxfordians were Gordon Brown (Edinburgh), Jim Callaghan (was qualified to go but couldn’t afford to), John Major (6 O-levels and a correspondence banking course), and Winston Churchill (terrible at school, got into Sandhurst after three attempts).

    Democracy in action!

  • Jemand

    A Node, maybe “some of the above”. But your method is just one of several and I think it is a protest with no explanation. Like waving a blank sign at a rally or shouting “What do we want? SOMETHING! When do we want it? NOW!”

    My method depends on how the system works, including whether it is first past the post, there is an instant runoff or multiple preferences etc. It also depends on whether voting is compulsory. All of these factor into which method can be best exploited for protest.

    Your system cannot work unless people are disatisfied for more or less the same reason. How is a democracy supposed to work other than by representing the majority view? By definition, it deprecates all minority views except for those that can be accomodated with the consent of the majority. In other words, you can’t please everyone because some things cannot be reconciled, eg. pro-nuclear vs anti-nuclear.

    So if all of you have different views on why the system is inadequate, what change will be sufficient to simultaneously satisfy you all?

  • nevermind

    “Clearly you don’t care enough to even take responsibility for your own vote, Nevermind, whatever little value that it has. Is it the sort of advice you give to voters in the electorates in which you present yourself as a candidate? To spoil their votes? Not much of an example to voters from someone aspiring to lead. It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your own face. Is that your official policy on democratic reform?”

    Thats right Jemand, your powers of recollection seem boundless. The disillusionment with the corrupt British voting system that costs shitload of pounds and is rigged by pre chewed candidates list,postal voting fraud, just as all the other elections, will eventually turn off the most principled.

    In order to keep sane I have spoiled my ballot, big deal, so has most of my family, now there’s a coincidence, and many friends I know. Why don’t you wait for the figures to emerge, being so eager to castigate from your rocking horse, rather than come up with some pathetic slur here.

    Have you got a blog to carry on with such debate and are you ate it? you’ve got my permission to ripp me to p[ieces there if you like. You will not get another response to your utter twaddle to me here.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Going Postal)

    I committed the ultimate sin. I just couldn’t be arsed, in the end. I’ve always voted before, but this isn’t my system any more, if it ever was. If you want me to vote, show me something worth walking fifty yards and making a mark for. Something with the inspirational quality, say, of a BOGOF offer on Weetabix at the local store?

    Nevermind’s option is better – at least spoiled votes are recorded. But until very much larger numbers of spoiled votes are registered, it will be possible to sweep them under the carpet. And that needs campaigning.

    Rupert- if you’re reading this –

    4.003 Most of the propositions and questions to be found in philosophical works are not false but nonsensical. Consequently we cannot give any answer to questions of this kind, but can only point out that they are nonsensical. Most of the propositions and questions of philosophers arise from our failure to understand the logic of our language. (They belong to the same class as the question whether the good is more or less identical than the beautiful.) And it is not surprising that the deepest problems are in fact not problems at all.

    Wittgenstein : Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

  • Jemand

    Nevermind, if the system of voting in the UK keeps embittered old wolverines like you out of government, then maybe it is not all bad – however bad it certainly is.

    Having an exchange with you and many others on this blog is like having a conversation with a schizophrenic who looks toward an invisible person standing next to me where they imagine I am. It is bizarre. I say green and you hear blue. I say one plus one does not equal three and you will say “that’s because it equals two, you numericist bastard”. I say Stalin was a monster and you will say “proves you to be a Hitler loving Nazi”.

    Do you see the problem?

    In these short little exchanges, you see things you don’t like and fill in all the blanks with the worst possible imaginary details. You are exactly that kind of person who you, yourself, claim to despise. Ignorant, aggressive, abusive, insulting, arrogant, controlling, bombastic, … and perhaps the very worst is you are delusional by believing that you are the exact opposite of those things.

    Self-criticism is an essential part of a healthy personality, Nevermind. I suggest you try it.

  • Jemand

    BZ, a fifty yard walk is good for its exercise and social opportunities along the way. But people who do not vote ARE counted – in terms of “voter turn out”. Analcysts and media commentators also factor that into their clever after party discussions. So your non-vote has counted after all, and probably in a much more clear way than a spoiled vote ie voter apathy versus unknown.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Going Postal)

    Jemand – I took the walk – to the shop…and hey, you two, simmer down. Disagreement should not automatically imply enmity. Even in e-space.

  • nevermind

    Ba’al, you are calling upon god to appear here and let himself down to talk philosophy with us…..sound of gnashing teeth….. are you expecting him to explain his dissertations on Wittgenstein here?

    I get your point about language, philosophers have to be seen in the light of day they experienced, their social class, their means and discourse undertaken with others, not just of their own class, but what made the working class tick and how they expressed their existence within the smal box provided for them in the overall social strata.

    Calling for Rupert to appear here from behind his green blinkered self, is not something I’m looking forward to, a tedium to be honest, is not seconded here. Had this smug experience before, thank you.

    But I would like to ask him about exorcising Norwich Green Party of people who have occaisional mental disabilities, via round robin letters to the ‘in the know’ within the party.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Going Postal)

    N – I was just needling. The whole point of the Tractatus is contained in that quote. Someone who spends their academic career, as Read has, discussing what it means, has fallen squarely into Wittgenstein’s bear trap. And needs to know it.


  • A Node


    “Your system cannot work unless people are disatisfied for more or less the same reason.”

    I believe people who spoil their vote are dissatisfied for more or less the same reason. A spoiled vote is not about individual political issues, it is a complaint about the state of democracy itself. An extreme left winger and an extreme right winger might both spoil their vote because there is no suitable choice for them on the ballot paper. They are dissatisfied for different reasons but their complaints are essentially the same – “my view is not represented.” That’s why I spoil my vote, and if you read the other comments on this thread, that’s why others do it too.

  • Jemand

    A Node, your example of left + right wing voters together submitting spoiled votes is very much what I had in mind.

    Because they have different demands, say one being multiculturalist, the other anti-immigration, they cancel each other out. But you say that their diametrically opposed positions on the one issue is not relevant. You say it is their combined dissatisfaction with the existing system of democracy is what unites them in their purpose, not specific issues. I don’t believe that to be true. I think that they are dissatisfied with the existing system of democracy because that system cannot meet all of their specific demands which, as we known, cannot be reconciled.

    Of course they could both be dissatisfied by all the corruption they see in politics. But that issue is not represented and counted in a spoiled vote.

    If left wing, right wing and centrist candidates are not good enough, what can be done?

    Political commentators can easily dismiss suggestions about what causes voters spoil their votes because the actual reasons for spoiling is not reported for obvious reasons. All you can do is suspect voter dissatisfaction from a blip in numbers. But if that blip repeats, it is no longer a blip to be noticed and investigated.

    And if dissatisfaction is not properly defined in terms of specific, valid grievances for which actual remedies can be implemented, what good can it do to to just say you are “dissatisfied”?

    Ask someone whether they are happy with their lives. With no further information than ‘yes’ or ‘no’, how do you proceed to remedy someone’s misery?

  • Mary

    Is the animosity and hostility being displayed by Jemand specifically designed to deter any new posters from coming on here?

  • Sofia Kibo Noh


    A rare image here of the Aussie Oracle. Experts believe the problem may be due to the weight “B” being moved too far to the right or possible removed altogether though they can’t rule out the possibility of a cracked head-gasket at “A”.

    Special forces and anthropologists report difficulties tracking him down.

    The upside for fans is that every thread gets copious sprayings of wisdom.

  • A Node


    Until they add to the ballot paper a section headed “please explain your reasons for spoiling your vote”, we’ll have to make do with things as they are. I said it was a blunt instrument. The point is: by spoiling their votes, both the left and right winger have accepted that their is no mechanism within this election to register their specific views, therefore they register discontent with the election instead. That in itself is a strong specific statement.

    Anyway, how would your ‘vote for the least likely candidate’ policy be any better at identifying the specific issues of dissatisfaction? How could it even be differentiated from genuine votes for that candidate? It seems that every criticism you make of the ‘spoiled vote’ system applies even more to your system.

    To tortuously stretch your analogy:
    Ask someone whether they are happy with their lives. If you have to extract the answer from a 3rd party who can’t distinguish the answer you want from the answers to other questions he holds, how do you proceed to remedy someone’s misery?

  • Mary

    Sofia. You do make me laugh (out loud) to the puzzlement of the dog. Wherever did you find the cutting?

    I had a hard time mowing the grass this morning as it is growing like anything. I just finished and then the clouds opening so good timing on my part. I came in and had a refreshing glass of Bundaberg Ginger Beer brewed in Cheshire under licence to the Aussie Bundaberg company, or so it says on the label. A really pleasant product from Down Under.

    It’s a small world.

    and some really friendly looking Aussies here

  • Jemand

    Mary, I don’t think that i addressed you on this thread and yet you will address me first with a mischievous claim that i am hostile and trying to drive new commentators away. Are you looking for the kind of fight that you always insist to be avoiding?

    You drove away two onetime regulars here, Technicolour and Dreoilin, with your monotonous and obsessive anti-Jewish campaign that is never challenged by this blog’s establishment. These coward males don’t have the balls to break away from the pack, even momentarily, and tell you what needs to be said. Or perhaps it is having balls and a pathetic desire to appear chivalrous to a woman that is the real reason. Who knows? Clearly, the above two women had more integrity than these brave Knights when they called you to account.

  • Mary

    Anti Israel. Get it right.

    I have seen Dreoilin and Technicolour here. Your point is off the mark and malicious in that you are attempting to stir.

  • Herbie

    Of course there’s a staggering amount of racism in Israel itself. You only have to look at their discussion groups to see that.

    And anti-black racism by Jews in New York and so on is legendary.

    Perhaps if you define yourself as exceptional then your tendency is to see others as inferior.

    Jemand certainly suffers from that problem.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    “Is the animosity and hostility being displayed by Jemand specifically designed to deter any new posters from coming on here?”

    It sounds like vigorous discussion to me, but hey, that’s probably because I’m not paranoid! 🙂


    La vita è bella, life is good!

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella) !


    Excellent comment at 18h51! She needs to be told – repeatedly.

    May I be immodest and recall that it was my exposing of Mary’s peculiar outlook on life in general and Jews in particular which “woke up” a number of other commenters such as Dreoilin and Technicolour? Or it may have been that they were already harbouring doubts about Mary’s credentials but it needed my arrival for them to go public, as it were.

    I am pleased to see that the campaign of denigration from the Gang of Excellences has had no effect at all on the various dissenters and true lovers of freedom and justice on this blog.

  • Jemand

    “Anyway, how would your ‘vote for the least likely candidate’ policy be any better at identifying the specific issues of dissatisfaction?”

    Voting for the least likely candidate shows that you are not apathetic, not too stupid to cast a valid vote but disinterested in the establishment majors. It cannot convey a specific well defined message beyond what is obvious, none of them do.

    As all establishments want legitimacy, or the appearance of legitimacy, the voting process should reflect that requirement by making voting easy, secure and unambiguous. American voting processes have been properly criticised for making it difficult to get to polling stations, casting votes in a timely fashion and in a way that reflects the true intentions of the voter. The legitimacy of the US federal government is always brought into doubt on this basis and most famously during the Bush vs Gore presidential election.

    Whether the establishment is crooked or legitimate, it is not in their interests to provide an alternative means of political expression other than one that is controlled and therefore unambiguous. If they are cheating, then they want the result to be unambiguously in their favour. If they are not cheating then they also want the result to be unambiguously in their favour but not so much that doubt is aroused about the integrity of the election process, like in the Crimean election.

    No electoral system will knowingly facilitate an alternative means of political expression that would certainly bring the democratic purpose of the election process into question for its ambiguity.

    Therefore, no system will intentionally record the political intent behind an invalid vote because that brings doubt upon the whole system.

    Spoiled votes might be studied for the purpose of improving the voting process but it will not, definitely not, be studied to determine the political sentiments of the public when there are myriad more reliable methods of doing so. It simply doesn’t make sense.

    Even if a crooked “system” did receive, contemplate and understand the message from all the spoilt votes, what do you think they’d do about it? Care? Why would a crooked system want to look to reforming itself?

    Lastly, encouraging people to cast invalid votes will only convince people who are already disaffected. They are either currently not voting or are casting a vote for a minor party.

    Ironically, you could be aiding the appearance of greater support for the majors by converting non voters into a higher turnout and throwing their votes for minor parties onto the scrapheap. The election result would be reported as high turnout, dwindling support for the minors, a large number of invalid votes that cannot account for that portion cast in protest, and most importantly, a decisive victory for one of the two majors.

    I wonder if campaigns like this are the work of genuine dissenters or establishment goons.

    A Node, I suggest that we just disagree and politely leave it at that.

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