It is so important that we all vote in this general election. If nothing else, it is the most unpredictable election in living memory. Each and every vote can make a real difference, so here’s some help to get you voting!
- Don’t know who to vote for? The website Vote for Policies can help you there. You take a quiz and pick which policies you prefer. At the end it tells you what percentage of the policies you preferred belonged to each party. So you should really vote for the one with the highest percentage! The most people who do this get Green Party as the majority, just sayin’. This helps you to see what you believe in rather than just following personalities or tactics. Do it now!
- Is it worth being tactical when voting in your area? The Electoral Reform Society website tells you if your constituency is a safe or marginal seat. If it’s marginal then your vote could be really important and make a vital difference. If it’s a safe seat, yes it’s likely you won’t have as much impact. However, you never know what can happen on polling day! I advocate voting for what you believe in either way, how else can positive change happen?
- Don’t know anything about your current MP, PPCs and constituency? The website Democratic Dashboard can tell you pretty much all you need to know. Including how many times your MP has attended Parliamentary debates and how often they use alliterative phrases (bullshit spotter essentially!). It’s worth checking out for a laugh if nothing else. It also has a polling forecast.
- Now you have absolutely no excuse to not vote!
The Leaders’ Debate recreated in Lego Credit: Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester – Lego makes everything interesting, right?
A Chance for Change
I’ll be honest, I’m not neutral here. I also see this election as a chance to escape the current failings in the government we have had for the last 5 years. A chance (yeah I’m being optimistic) to leave behind the very damaging austerity approach. It has achieved nothing (except taking services away from the people who need it most such as the disabled) and it is a lie, read about the austerity delusion here (certainly an interesting read). A top economist argues if we continue this approach it will actually hold back recovery. The UK performed worse than expected in its initial recovery whilst other European countries are much better off now. I’ll be the first to admit I’m no economist but I thought to make more money you had to invest it. How does cutting spending help anything? How can our economy flourish again if the vein is cut? And no, spending millions on HS2 doesn’t instantly solve that.
But the struggling economy is not my main interest, the people and the environment who are suffering because if it are. Since the beginning of the Coalition, the increase in food banks and their use has been rapid. Benefits for vulnerable people are still increasingly being cut. University funding (hence rising fees) and humanities courses are being cut. Multi-disciplinary education is so important! Protection of nature and our natural resources has also been pushed out with massive cuts leaving Defra and Natural England barely able to function. I personally have seen the drastic impact this has had on marine protected areas through my dissertation, as one example. ‘Protected’ is now deceiving. The Coalition likes to claim it is the ‘greenest government ever’, yet in the National Audit Committee Report it got red for nearly all environmental areas including wildlife protection, air quality and flood prevention. The Conservatives like to crow about how they planted 11 million trees. It sounds impressive but it’s actually a pretty low number, probably just about covering all the trees that have been lost. So that’s not an increase and it’s not increasing carbon capture. The current government has also repeatedly prioritised development over the environment. Another thing I saw personally through my dissertation research. ‘Sustainable development’ is a dirty phrase that sets alarm bells in my head now due to this.
Ok, my rant is over but I think it’s really important people realise some of these issues before they vote. Perhaps we cannot make government truly end austerity or give more priority to the environment but we can try to make a point and give more influence to those who oppose it. Despite all this, the profile of the environment has increased massively over recent years due to NGOs and the public conscience. This has been reflected in all the Party Manifestos.
Nature and the Election
So let’s have a quick look at what they all have to say.
- Labour: promote green spaces in local planning; keep forests in public ownership; produce an ambitious adaptation programme; support the work of the Natural Capital Committee to protect and improve wildlife habitats and green spaces (Labour have elsewhere committed to the Independent Panel on Forestry’s recommendation of 15% woodland cover by 2060, and a 25 year plan for nature).
- Conservative: ensure public forests and woodland are kept in trust for the nation and plant another 11 million more (ahem) trees; provide free comprehensive maps of accessible green space; launch an ambitious programme of pocket parks; protect green belt and other designations; extend life of Natural Capital Committee and develop 25 year plan for nature with it
- Lib Dems: implement findings of Independent Panel on Forestry regarding public forest estate; pass a Nature Act to put the Natural Capital Committee on a statutory footing and set natural capital targets; plant at least an additional tree for every child born – about 750, 000 every year as part of an ambitious afforestation plan; introduce concept of ‘landscape scale planning’ through updated planning law
- Greens: a new legal framework for protection of landscape and wildlife and promote a new Nature and Well-Being Act; promote landscape scale-conservation; aim to ensure everyone lives within five minutes walk of open green space; introduce a nature improvement area in every town, city and country; prohibit destruction of unique habitats by way of biodiversity offsetting elsewhere; replace the National Planning Policy Framework; scrap HS2
- UKIP: *ALARM BELLS* They want to scrap the Climate Change Act (going against the public who called for it) and leave the EU. This would remove most of our environmental law in one swoop.
- They all support fracking except the Green Party.
This does mean that environmentally many of the parties have common ground, meaning in the event of a coalition they cannot break their promises on the evironment. We’re watching you!
Well done if you read all that. Keeping to word limits has never been my strong point. Now you all better go vote on the 7th, next Thursday!