This Thursday we go to the ballot box to select our representatives on the County Council. “But what’s the point in voting when nothing ever changes?” The voters of the New Forest could easily be forgiven their apathy when living in such a Conservative stronghold. Our disastrously archaic First Past The Post voting system wildly distorts what we do actually vote for, and effectively denies Green voters a voice at any level of government. FPTP means that in a given constituency, the candidate with the most votes, wins the seat. Simples. However, what it also means is that everyone who didn’t vote for that candidate, looses. Multiply that across a region such as the New Forest, and suddenly a lot of voices are left unheard. Hmmmm. Is it OK that our democracy be won or lost like a playground game?
For nearly half a century, The Green Party (and before it the Ecology Party) has been wildly under represented in the leadership of our country: not because there hasn’t been the interest or the necessity, but because we have been let down by how our leaders and representatives are selected, namely, our FPTP voting system. The alternative is a system of Proportional Representation, where the seats match the percentage of votes cast. At the last County Council elections, Conservatives won 58% of the votes, but romped home with 80% of the council seats. On a national level, the picture is far worse: Boris Johnson won a mere 43.6% of the votes, and yet has a majority of 80 MPs! We have the fantastic Caroline Lucas representing the Greens, but under a proportional system our vote share would have afforded us somewhere in the region of 20 MPs, and that’s before you even take into consideration those who felt compelled to vote tactically. Just imagine what the Environment would look like if we had 20 Caroline Lucases fighting our case!
This time around, the Green Party is fielding a candidate for each of the 10 divisions of the County Council elections, giving all residents of the New Forest the opportunity to vote Green. Unfortunately, until our voting system changes, the reality is that these will be little more than protest votes, and as we all know, the environment will be the real looser. Trouble is, we simply don’t have any more time to loose…..
Make Votes Matter is the cross-party campaign to win Proportional Representation. You can find out more on their website: https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/ It’s free to join, and there is soon to be a local group meeting in the New Forest. Join the campaign to get a vote that counts, and a voice for our Environment!
This article is written by a local new forest green party member Barbara Czoch.