Why not Labour?

WHY NOT LABOUR? WHAT ABOUT TACTICAL VOTING?

The internet is awash with blogs and articles telling us how to vote if we want to keep the Conservatives out. They insist that we have to vote Labour (or in a few cases, Lib Dem) in 100s of seats across the country. In just a handful of seats, we’re ‘allowed’ to vote how we want.

I’m 100% for pushing the Conservatives out of government: they’re pursuing a punishing economic and social agenda that will leave Britain poorer, more divided, more unhealthy – especially in communities like ours in Leeds Central. And they’re using Brexit to try to scare us, and to drive through their toxic agenda – but that’s another story.

So, don’t we all have to vote Labour to keep them out? Nope. We’ve been told for so long that – essentially – we have a two-party system: Labour for the ‘left’, and the Conservatives for the ‘right’. But that does a huge injustice to the wide diversity of people and ideas in our society; and it isn’t working.

In a few dozen marginal seats in the country (which could easily change hands), I absolutely agree people should vote Labour if they want to keep the Conservatives out. And I’m all for parties working together, forming agreements, etc. So I’m pleased the Green Party have stood aside in places like Ealing and Acton in London, to make a win more likely for the positive Labour MP there (click here to find out more). And I (amongst others) pushed successfully for Leeds Green Party to stand aside in Morley and Pudsey – the two local seats that might hopefully be neck-and-neck between Labour and the Conservatives.

But in Leeds Central, we have an opportunity. It’s a historically ‘safe’ Labour seat, and the Conservatives cannot seriously win: they (and the other parties too) don’t even actively campaign here, nor get involved locally. So you really can vote ‘outside the box’, vote for what you want.

But isn’t a vote for the Greens ‘a wasted vote’? Here in Leeds Central and across the country, most people’s votes are wasted – because whoever you vote for, you always get the same party where you live. (That small number of marginal seats basically determines the national result.) That’s why the Greens are campaigning to overhaul our rotten and old-fashioned voting system – and a vote for us strengthens our hand on this, and the many other issues we’re fighting for.

Specifically here in Leeds Central, we’ve been stifled by one-party politics for too long (and across the country, by that narrow two-party politics). That’s bad for democracy: local people deserve a credible alternative. And it’s also meant that some Labour representatives have seriously lost touch with the communities that they’re supposed to be serving.

I think our current (Labour) MP Hilary Benn is a nice guy: we have good chats when we meet. But like many local people, I sense he’s dead wrong on a range of issues: championing military adventures overseas, over the years supporting privatisation and the deregulation of the banks, arguing for the daft £110 billion Trident nuclear weapons scheme, resisting proper voting reform, supporting fracking, and more.

We need to question the status quo. We need more not fewer political voices. We need to look beyond this election, and start to build a positive political alternative. So, what if everyone voted for what they really believed in..?

(Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas has long argued for electoral cooperation between parties, and for voting reform; image courtesy of Leeds Community Homes.)