Conflicted: Should I vote Green or SNP?
I am conflicted over whether or not I should vote for the Green party in the next General Election. I really should, I’m a paid up member and I like their policies the best. They are the party most concerned about, and who offer the best solutions to, the long term problems we face. They focus on building a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable future for society. And in terms of liking their policies I am not alone. The website, Vote For Policies, which matches you to a party based on your answers to a questionnaire has the Greens as the most popular party after half a million respondents. Although many people ideologically agree with the Greens, they don’t vote that way either because they are unaware of this fact, or they feel that under the current First Past The Post system, a vote for the Greens would be wasted.
In order to counter the second reason, an interesting website was set up called I’ll vote Green if you do. It is a place where people can pledge their allegiance to vote Green, and if enough people do so, then they can visit the ballot box with some confidence that their vote might actually count.
I should be pledging my allegiance too, however I am struggling to commit to the cause. On current polling, the Greens are probably going to get one seat in the UK, whereas the SNP are currently looking at getting in the region of 33. It is looking probable that those 33 seats might be decisive in propping up a minority government and could be used as negotiating chips in order to secure some progressive Westminster policies. I worry that a surge in the Green party vote in Scotland may not be enough to secure constituencies for the Greens but may detract from the SNP vote enough to let Labour win some marginal seats and give them a majority.
There are a two main issues here that will affect my decision:
Would people moving to Green affect the SNP more than Labour?
I can find no reliable gauge of this. Historically Labour have more votes to lose so maybe a Green surge would affect them more and therefore be good for the SNP. It seems that there is evidence that the Green surge is reducing Labour’s predicted seats at the Scottish Parliamentary Election in 2016. However, the 2016 vote is done by the Alternative Vote System and people think tactically for Westminster elections. Having been involved with the Independence movement, I know many supporters of the SNP (or at least supporters of a strong pro Scottish voice at Westminster) who are borderline Green supporters and vice-versa. A Green vote for me would help Labour get a majority and therefore make a continuation of the Westminster Status Quo more likely. A situation that I voted to opt out of in September
Would the Greens benefit from the SNP winning a lot of seats?
You could argue both ways on this one. The main change that would benefit the Green party would be a Proportional Voting System for the UK Parliament. However, this is probably the worst thing that could happen from an SNP perspective as it would most likely kill the Independence movement. A large proportion of Yes voters were not Nationalists but were concerned by issues of equality and representation. Many of these issues could be resolved by changing the voting system. So, the SNP will not use their potential new power to help the Greens obtain this.
On the other hand, the SNP are anti Trident, pro renewables, pro EU and have a good record on social justice so could work with the UK Greens on issues such as these. The SNP would also be putting pressure on for more devolution of powers to Scotland which is in the interest of the Scottish Greens. This in turn could lead to more devolution for UK regions, potentially leading to a more federal system which may help the larger UK branch of that party. Especially if SNP pressure on Scottish issues laid the seeds for proportional representation parliaments in those devolved regions.
It could be argued that the Greens could achieve more by winning the two seats in England they have the chance of winning on current polling and working with the SNP in Westminster. As opposed to potentially letting Labour win an overall majority and having no influence.
Weighing up these issues is pretty common in UK elections and shows why we would be better off with a different system. Under a proportional system I wouldn’t think twice about voting Green. In the past, the main argument for First Past The Post has been that it provides strong government. Well, we are about to elect the second government in a row where this is not the case.
It would be good to hear from you in the comments if you are having a similar dilemma. Even if it is between different parties. Maybe you can provide more insight to help me with my decision?
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