I am not voting Green in Canterbury
I’m thoroughly in love with the Democracy Club website, backed by the people at They Work For You, who are extending the principle of recording how MPs vote to what positions candidates take. Some people have used it in really sneaky ways too – like asking about policies they’d hate (e.g. more police on the beat) to see which candidates give knee jerk reactions.
Reading over the results of the first survey, however, any inclination I had to vote Green in Canterbury rather than Labour – and I was seriously thinking about it – has absolutely vanished. Below, snippets from the survey, all of which can be found by entering a Canterbury postcode into the TWFY site, are selected to show precisely why I’m not voting Green and how they’ve confirmed for me every possible stereotype.
Issue one: Many people think taxes will have to rise in the next parliament to cut Britain’s budget deficit. If they do, any increases should disproportionately be paid by higher earners.
Response by Green PPC, G. Meaden: Agree. Statement: “But this does rather depend on whether the proportionality is measured in actual money or in a percentage of their earnings”
Issue two: The British government interferes too much with business.
Response by Green PPC: Neutral. Statement: “Though I tend rather towards ‘agree’”
Issue three: It would be a big problem if Britain became more economically unequal over the next 5 years.
Response by Green PPC: Agree. Statement: “Which it will do if any of the three main parties get into power”
Issue four: Despite the recession, Britain should increase spending on public sector services.
Response by Green PPC: Neutral. Statement: “Depends on which sectors”
Issue five: A married, heterosexual couple provide the best environment in which to raise a family.
Response by Green PPC: Agree. Statement: none.
Some of these are obviously open to interpretation or the “I didn’t type what I meant” response. Such as, on the question of taxation, issue one, it seems like the Green PPC is saying that everyone should pay the same percentage of what they earn but that because the wealthy earn more, they’ll pay more. On this issue, Labour candidate Jean Samuel came out swinging with a “strongly agree”.
However, on some issues, the response of the PPC is unforgiveable and I’d destroy my ballot rather than vote for him – for example issue five, and the (rather cowardly, I thought) lack of justification for agreeing that a heterosexual, nuclear family is best. Again, Jean Samuel came out swinging, “A stable loving couple or single parents provide the best environment. It is the love and stability that matter.”
Even on regulation of business, Jean, who owns her own business and might therefore be considered suspect, disagreed that the government interfered too much with business. Not to say that Labour’s candidate is perfect. There are lacklustre answers on things like immigration and the local issue of the Scrine Foundation – which Jean said “is too late for discussion now” just as we know Tories are gearing up for their real attacks.
But even in terms of emphasis, Labour still takes the cake in Canterbury. Geoff Meaden’s strongest agreement was on tackling climate change ‘even if energy bills go up’ (though, to be fair, there were some good anti-war answers, which Labour either matched or fell a little short of) and on the issue of the Canterbury Museums and Westgate Hall, rather than on equality, taxation of the wealthy or regulation of business.
This is important and it spills over into issues like climate change. Without the willingness to tax the wealthy and to hold down prices for consumers even while forcing energy companies and other polluters to pay for environmentally friendly production and policies (like the ones which suppress demand), ordinary people are saddled with the cost of protecting an environment that large numbers are pretty careful about not destroying, if they can help it.
Taken all together, this is why I’m not voting Green. As a final note, it’s worth pointing out that the Tories are worse than any other party at saying what they stand for – Geoff Meaden of the Greens, even though I disagree with him, at least had the courage to give his view. Julian Brazier, and hordes of other Tories, have simply refused to engage with new media and voter. Could it be because their policies are all crap?
Stay tuned tomorrow or Saturday for my take on UKIP’s election leaflet for Canterbury – about as apolitical as one can get.