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Does Monbiot Ask Left to Break the Political Mould and Then Sit Down in the Pieces?

30/01/2015 11:38 GMT | Updated 30/03/2015 10:59 BST

George Monbiot has said today that tactical voting is dead. Through examples of "lamps coming on all over Europe", such Syriza, the left have been shown that we should no longer fear voting with political conviction, because we now have a real choice. Namely, he says, we have the Green Party.

Of course, Monbiot is speaking to those of us who have, for some time, become disillusioned about the fact that any kind of drastic political reform (dare I say "revolution"?) seems impossible in this country. By pointing to reform of governmental bodies, tax reforms to a local-authority system, and the prevention on money-creation by private banks, Monbiot cooks up some tasty, Green morsels for the disillusioned left to digest.

But, I'm confused about whether the Green Party's morsels are not just satisfying, but nourishing. That is, even if I aligned 100% with the Greens' political and economic reforms, I might still be left with some worries. For example, the Greens advocate an environmentally justified guidance-scheme on population regulation. They notice that nations have a "carrying-capacity" based on rate of resource consumption and population size and then set it against the environmental consequences of these.

And I, who admittedly identify largely with Monbiot's audience, genuinely don't know whether the Greens' stance on this treats a symptom, or the underlying illness. One could easily respond that the root of the problem is resource distribution, and the Greens don't go far enough to ameliorate this, whilst gently guiding a population away from the freedom to procreate.

If the response is right, then it seems that many of us on the left - the ones that "Labour left to the gutter" - are still left with a tactical decision to make. And that's namely whether or not we should plump for the party which most aligns with our views, with an option on reforming particular policies after they assume power.

But, if we do plump for the Greens, and still hold disagreement with Green policies that don't get reformed, such as the population issue, we'd be left feeling responsible for voting in a policy with which we fundamentally disagreed. That's a disparity between elected and electorate.

So it seems that, in his assumption that the Green Party's policies should align with the views of leftists who want drastic political reform, Monbiot seems to unwittingly contradict himself. He hasn't accounted for those of us who have legitimate reasons to disagree with specific Green views, despite the fact we might more generally agree with the majority of them. Given that the definition is voting tactically includes voting for the party which aligns best with your views, usually for political damage limitation, this oversight seems strange.

For someone like our imagined population-worrier, who doesn't agree with the Greens' manifesto wholesale, there's a very real sense in which voting for the Greens could still seem tactical. That is, they would be maximising the likelihood of the things they agree with pervading politics, whilst minimising the likelihood of the policies they explicitly disagree with in rival parties. It's worth noticing that it could still seem that way even if you takes a win for the Greens to be a "baby-step" in the right direction.

I worry that Monbiot has called for the death of the tactical-vote too early and, all the while, he's inadvertently making a case for disillusioned leftists to do just that.