My letter in the latest issue of RED PEPPER, on the General Election results of the Greens

To the Editor, RP;
     Steve Platt (‘Plattitudes’, June/July) is plain wrong on several aspects of the aftermath of the General Election:
1) It isn’t true that AV will make it “even harder for minor parties to get elected”. Rather, by disposing of the wasted vote argument and of the need for tactical voting, AV gives all smaller parties a foot in the door. AV, if it comes in, will certainly be of great benefit to the Green Party.
2) Platt’s attempt to get the Left falling in line behind Labour is, given this, extremely crude. At this election, the Labour Party suffered a massive defeat; while the Green Party got its first MP elected. Platt claims that “when it comes to the next Westminster election, everyone knows it will have to be Labour or bust.” No – when it comes to the next Westminster election, especially if we have AV, for the first time in ages socialists won’t have to hold their noses and vote for dreadful New Labour clones, but will on the contrary be able in many seats to vote Green (or Independent, or Respect, or SNP/Plaid, etc.) with some chance that their 1st-preference candidate may actually win.
3) Platt calls Caroline Lucas’s election in Brighton “exceptional”. Well, yes, it was exceptional – as was the election of the first Labour MP(s), a century ago. That doesn’t imply that it is “unrepeatable” – on the contrary! The floodgates to electoral success may well now open for the Green Party, now that we have broken down the credibility barrier. For one thing, many many former LibDem voters, for many of whom we were the first preference anyway (and FPTP has hitherto only obscured this) will plump for us. Interesting times!
4) Finally, Platt uses the raw votes figures from the Election to ‘prove’ that “In electoral terms, at least, there really is no alternative to Labour”. What rubbish. Again, this completely fails to take into account the unusual two-Party squeeze at this election (the tightest since ’92), the election of the first Green MP (which makes possible the election of innumerable more Green MPs), plus of course the possible coming of AV.
     Less ill-informed pro-Labour propaganda next time please, Steve; more pluralism, and more analysis, instead.
Dr. KaihSu Tai & Councillor Dr. Rupert Read
[Of Oxford and Norwich Green Parties, respectively]

2 thoughts on “My letter in the latest issue of RED PEPPER, on the General Election results of the Greens”

  1. Rupert
    I wish I was as optimistic about the merits of AV as you appear. The point you make about “no more wasted votes” is well made however my main doubt is the impact of vote transfer. To benefit from AV you need to still be in the contest when it gets down to the final three.
    I sense that the only systems that would benefit smaller parties with a thinly spread vote ( leaving aside Brighton Pavilion) would be a regional list system or Additional Member System.
    Sadly it seems that next years referendum will be presented as a “one-off”, take it or leave it chance to introduce electoral reform. There needs to be serious evaluation of the question : Who benefits from AV ?
    I’m not suggesting that FPTP is in any way preferable to AV, but it is likely to be presented as either/or, and frankly I’m not particularly enthusiastic about either.

  2. Hi EW!
    Look, I’m not saying AV is a panacea. Just that it is an improvement.
    See for more on this point.
    Of course PR would be better. BUT: in seats like Bury St. Edmonds, Cambridge, and Norwich South (to name just 3 in my own Region), AV would give us a fighting chance.

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