Last year I made the decision to join The Green Party. I'm not stereotypically 'green' - I'm relatively new to recycling, I probably use unethical products and I have only once (under duress) hugged a tree. But The Green Party believe in a Britain that is truly worth fighting for - a Britain with equality, community and social justice at its heart. Unlike the alternative parties, they argue in favour of people not profit. They imagine a society where the vulnerable are given independence, where people down on their luck are provided with a springboard to success and where the elderly are given the support to see out their years in dignity. Far from letting the market dictate wages and public services, a Green Britain would praise the unsung and essential heroes of our nation. Not our armed forces, but our carers who, often on less than the minimum wage, spend their working days supporting our loved ones, or those who do not have anyone left to love them. In their future, our immigrant population are actually thanked for making a positive contribution to our economy and enriching our society. They are appreciated for filling jobs British nationals do not want to fill.
Compare this to the alternatives. The Conservatives say we should be pleased with the job they have done since coming into power. Our economy is the fastest growing in G7 and more people are employed than ever. Yes, these are positives, but the Britain they preside over has the 3rd lowest social mobility of all OECD countries. In the developed world only the USA and Portugal are less equal. Anyone who has read The Spirit Level will be aware that inequality is the cause of a huge amount of society's problems, yet The Tories are ideologically opposed to interfering. Rather than trying to rebalance, their shrinking of the state suggests things will actually get worse if they stay in power. 'The world hasn't fallen in' in the last few years according to George Osborne. As a volunteer for the homeless I have witnessed first-hand the damaging effects of the ATOS 'fit for work' tests. I know of people with psychological trauma or severe physical conditions who have been told that, actually, everything is fine. Despite their GP's assertions otherwise, a tick-box assessment says they should be seeking paid employment. Bedroom tax and sanctions, social care cuts and zero hour contracts, I could go on. For the many who have suffered (and there are many), their world has fallen in, and their future looks even bleaker. Of course, we are told The Conservatives are trying to help people out of a culture of dependency. But someone should tell Iain Duncan Smith he's not in the army anymore. Threats and scatter-gun punishments do not work when you are already at rock bottom. And help actually involves providing aid, not taking it away.
A step to the right and we have UKIP. I'm not as diametrically opposed to them as many. I know people who are behind them simply because of their dislike of the bureaucratic EU. But the Britain their policies seek is hell to the Green Party's heaven. In place of hope and collaboration they have despair and blame. Diversity and multi-culturalism is traded with self-interest and nationalism.
And then there's Labour. If it wasn't for The Greens they'd have my vote. Of all the traditional parties they have the legacy to build a fairer country. But it's very difficult to believe in them anymore. Policies and speeches are built on focus groups and media hysteria. They lead on the NHS, Mansion Tax and repeal of the Bedroom Tax but pay lip service to immigration controls and anti-welfare rhetoric.
Outside party polices, Prime Minister's Questions is a tribal battle of egos, not too dissimilar to the school playground. In the last few months, a Tory MP took on the challenge to say the word 'cock' as much as she could. A few weeks later, Labour MPs made chicken noises towards David Cameron. Expense claims, pay rises and career politicians, their political community is not one I can relate to.
Perhaps I am wearing green-tinted spectacles but Natalie Bennett and Caroline Lucas present differently. They conduct themselves with integrity and respect. They are not fueled by negativity, nor are they obsessed with defending their records. We can argue they have nothing to defend, but maybe that's more of a reason to support them. Some policies may need review or re-costing, and others are more long-term. But unlike the traditional parties, they offer a vision of fairness and equality. Surely that's worth voting for?