Like so many in the UK, I’ve felt increasingly frustrated that the current government have increasingly marginalised the poor, both at home and overseas. I was shocked that this has resulted in a surge to UKIP, and they in turn seem to have dragged the three main parties towards their abhorrent policies. I’ve been a political activist for many years – I believe that this is one way we can follow Jesus’ example. But by early this year, with the upcoming General Election, I felt it was time to become a Political Activist, and joined the Green Party.
The Greens have lots of good policies on things I feel strongly about. They will scrap Trident, stop arms sales to oppressive regimes, set up a fairer immigration system, end immigration detention and invest more in renewable energy. Their philosophy that we need a new kind of politics is also something I agree with. I certainly don’t agree with all of the policies – it seems to me that joining a political party is a bit like joining a denomination of the church – you accept much of the doctrine and policies, and work to change what you disagree with . At least the Greens give you more of a chance for that with their policies decided democratically at conferences.
So far I’ve been involved in leafleting and door to door canvassing. The latter has been a really positive experience – everyone is thinking carefully about how to use their vote on May 7th, and lots of supporting Green Party policies. Many want to oust the incumbent Tory in Bedford, so the main challenge is persuading people to vote for what they really believe in, rather than voting tactically. Personally, I believe change has to start somewhere and we have to be idealistic. I’ve been involved in a lot of campaigns that have fought for something I believe is just, but not necessarily popular, yet I’ve still seen changes.
It’s also been shocking to see how a party that doesn’t receive any corporate donations has to use its resources strategically. I can’t find any recent info, but this table shows how the Greens got just 2% of the funding of the Tories in the run up to the European elections last year. They’re putting up candidates in 90% of constituencies and loads of local council wards, so as many people as possible can vote Green if they agree with what they’ve seen in national media. But a constituency wide leaflet drop costs over £1000 (something Labour seem to be able to afford every day in my marginal seat), so instead they’re concentrating on target wards for canvassing.
Many others I’ve prayed and campaigned with over the years are also now active with the Greens. It’s worth mentioning Angela Kalzini Ditchfield, standing in Kings Hedges in Cambridge, Rob Elliot, standing in St Michael’s Ward in the Cotswolds and Rob Telford who is Green party councillor in Ashley Ward in Bristol. I’m also standing in Cranfield and Marston Moretaine Ward in Mid Bedfordshire.
Whatever your political persuasion, please pray for positive change on May 7th!