I've been thinking about the messages that we can put out on our campaign to elect a Green councillor for Windmill Hill Ward here in Bristol. Underneath the simplicity of slogans such as 'Better Public Transport' and 'Living Wage' there are some deeper and more critical issues which make me realise that voting Green is not just another option, or even simply a 'nice' option, which is often the way we are seen (and perhaps present ourselves).
Behind Caroline Lucas' smiling face, Natalie Bennett's tweed suits and even my own apparently innocuous campaign photograph, there are some hardcore radical politics which have come of age.
We are facing some deep crises in this world. One of the world's largest cities, Sao Paulo, is facing a disastrous water shortage due to drought and rising water use. In the Middle East and Africa we see terrible violence and conflict which relates at least in part to power struggles over key resources such as oil and gas. In the UK we are being repeatedly beaten with the stick of austerity measures in an attempt to dismantle public infrastructure and local democracy.
The perilous threats to the welfare of people here and across the globe cannot be remedied with 'politics as usual'. Voting for a party with a 'peg on your nose', for a party which has already failed you repeatedly in the past, a 'tactical' vote, is no longer sufficient. The economic systems of the last 300 years are worse than redundant - they will lead us into the final stages of environmental and social catastrophe.
We need radical reform of our institutions and of policy objectives. We need people to take the system into their own hands, to be assertive in taking power from those who are holding on to it for the benefit of a minority. I don't mean random looting and arson - those pointless actions of the angry and impotent which harm the wrong people and create fear, inviting a conservative backlash. I mean voting for policies which will support everyone - such as putting public transport provision back in the hands of those who use it (the public!) and finding ways to run an economy which does not suck the value we all create into profits for the few.
At the same time we need to ensure that individual creativity and freedom is preserved and that everyone has opportunities to thrive. These are the values of The Green Party. All our policies are to that end, and if we need to change them to fit or add more, that can be done. Ideas are welcomed and the internal processes are democratic and friendly.
It's refreshing and feels good to be part of a party which is so nice. It feels even better to be campaigning for values which are vital for our future.
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