(First published in www.opendemocracy.net)
It’s been a bizarre and confusing election that defied all predictions. But what does it mean for the our politics and democracy? OK will be publishing reactions to the result from party campaigners. Here Rupert Read welcomes the Greens’ first MP.
Now is not the time for soundbites, but I feel the hand of history on my shoulder, so I can’t help it. A century ago, the Labour Party won its first seats in Westminster. Just a generation later, it formed its first government. And another generation later, it formed perhaps the greatest government that this country has ever had, the 1945 Labour government. Now the torch has been passed. The first Green Party MP.
Now, we’ll be similarly unstoppable, I believe. (And the time-scale needs to be shorter. The planet can’t wait 50 years.)
Here in Norwich South, where I’m writing from, we have achieved a phenomenal result. In 2005, we got just 7.5% of the vote. The surge in our vote this time is one of the greatest ever seen for a political Party at a General Election.
The excellence of the result doesn’t surprise me. We had over 800 garden posters up (Have there ever been more, in one seat at a General Election?), and a total of about 2500 posters up (We have no idea of the exact figure). We knocked on every door – which is more than all the other Parties put together did, in terms of trying to speak to people. Our candidate, Adrian Ramsay, is one of the rising stars of British politics. Only a typically-untruthful LibDem campaign going on and on about the seat being allegedly a ‘two-horse race’ between them and Labour
I think that OK could and should take very seriously the proposals made here, by the excellent people at THE STRAIGHT CHOICE, about how such dirty politics could be outlawed.
In last year’s Norwich North byelection, the old Parties (and UKIP) were able to flood the seat with money, which we couldn’t begin to match. But at a General Election, their effort is inevitably spread wider, and the election expenses limits are far tighter. So, this time, we had something approaching a fair fight. I think we made the most of it.
What does this mean for British democracy and for the British constitution? That remains to be seen; but OK readers can be confident in the knowledge that Greens in Westminster will be avid fighters for massive reform. We want proportional representation, a fully-elected House of Lords, an end to the monarchy, and much much more – but that is only the start. We want real democracy. The people ruling. That means experiments in deliberative democracy, participatory budgeting, real localisation (i.e. a massive return of powers to local authorities), and support for co-operatives rather than for corporations.
As I write, I am, naturally, elated.