ELECTION COMMENTARY: In Croydon, two of the three parliamentary seats being contested on Thursday are safe seats with combined majorities of 37,000 votes. Nothing seems likely to change the status quo in Croydon North or Croydon South.
But PETER UNDERWOOD, pictured left, a Green Party candidate, suggests a way for those who don’t support the incumbent to make their votes count
I believe in democracy and democracy only works well when people are actively involved. So, whatever party you support, please make sure you go out and vote on Thursday. We may not get another general election for five years, so don’t waste this chance to have your say about what you think is important.
As well as making sure you do vote, you also want to make sure that your vote has maximum impact.
In Croydon North, Labour won the last election by more than 20,000 votes. So even the most committed Conservative knows that the their party are never going to win in that constituency. Similarly in the south, the Conservatives won the last election by a huge margin and Labour know they are never going to win in Croydon South.
So if you live in Croydon North or Croydon South, your one vote for Labour or the Conservatives will make no difference to the final result. So how do you make the most of your vote?
We know that all politicians pay attention to how people vote. If you vote Labour or Conservative then they assume you are happy with them and they will just carry on. But if you vote for someone else, then they will change their policies to try to win your support.
This has been quite clear in this election when the Conservatives have adopted a lot of UKIP’s ideas to try to get UKIP voters to vote Conservative instead.
This is why I am asking you to vote for the Green Party at this election. A vote for the Green Party tells both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party that they need to do better.
They need to do better on the environment.
Climate change is a very real threat and yet the other parties are not taking it seriously. We need to start acting now or we will cause so much damage to our environment that people will suffer horribly for generations to come.
Labour and Conservatives also need to do better at protecting green spaces. In Croydon we have seen both of them give over Green Belt land and green spaces to building projects.
They also need to do better on air pollution. Both Conservative and Labour London mayors have said some good things about tackling air pollution, but they have never done enough.
A vote for the Green Party sends the message to all politicians that they need to do more to look after our environment.
The other parties also need to do better on democracy. As I’ve said, in Croydon North and Croydon South under our current election system, your vote won’t change the final result either locally or nationally – and that is simply not right. If we say we live in a democracy then we need to change our election system to make sure that every vote counts and the number of MPs elected should match the way people voted.
It’s not just elections. At the EU referendum last year there was a lot of talk about people “taking back control” of our democracy, and we fully support that. That’s why we are saying that whoever negotiates on Brexit, the decision on whether we accept the final deal or carry on in the EU should be made by the people. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives would let you have that choice.
A vote for the Green Party sends the message to those parties that they need to improve our election systems and really give people control over our democracy.
The other key area that has become clear at this election is that parties need to get better at doing politics. At debates in Croydon North and Croydon South, I was disappointed that both Labour and Conservatives spent most of their time just saying how dreadful the other party would be. If you want people to vote for you, then you should be telling people why your policies are right not just trying to make people scared of the opposition.
I and my fellow Green Party candidates in Croydon have tried to focus on giving you positive reasons to vote Green so at least you know what you would be voting for, not just what you are voting against.
We also need to bring more honesty into politics. Politics is about making the difficult decisions. Politicians should be more honest about the real problems we face and they should be more honest about the fact that the solution is not always going to please everyone. If politicians are not honest then they are denying people the chance to make proper informed choices in how they vote or who they support.
A lot of people from across the political spectrum have praised Caroline Lucas, the Greens’ co-leader, for her performance in the televised election debates, setting out what we stand for and being honest about our policies even though we know some people might not agree with them.
A vote for the Green Party sends the message to all politicians that we want to raise the standards in politics; we want more positive and honest debates.
So when it comes to election day, I am asking you to vote for something positive. If you live in Croydon North or Croydon South, your one vote will not change who wins. But you do have the chance to send a clear message to all politicians that you think they could do better. Make the most of your vote on June 8.
- Peter Underwood is the co-chair of the Croydon Green Party and their candidate in Croydon North
- This Friday, June 9, Inside Croydon is staging a free talk about the election from American politics professor Bob Beatty. Click here for more details and to book your place
- Inside Croydon is Croydon’s only independent news source, still based in the heart of the borough. In 2016, we averaged 17,000 page views every week
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