How do we decide which party to vote for? The answer, one would hope, would be the party whose policies we agree with, and closest to our beliefs. The reality, however, is quite different. The social enterprise website voteforpolicies.org.uk reports that when people were asked to choose the policies they supported from a mix belonging to six UK parties (Labour, Conservative, The Green Party, LibDems, UKIP, BNP), the Green party came top overall with 27.55% of respondents favouring its policies. On education, the NHS, and the environment, its policies received the highest number of votes in a survey of over half a million people. Are we, then, to conclude that the Green Party will win the next general election in May?
Before answering, let us look at some other statistics. The Lord Ashcroft poll puts the Greens' support at 11%. This is 16.55% lower than if the voting intentions are based on policies alone. However, if one looks at voting intentions among those aged 18 to 24, the polling organization YouGov, quoted in the Guardian, gives a figure of 22% support for the Green Party. The gap between voting for policies and the Green Party shrinks to 5.55%.
This is a healthy development for the democratic process, that suggests the young are not so easily distracted by the trivia generated by mainstream media regarding personalities and the froth of political discourse. The website voteforpolicies puts the importance of policies thus:
"Because policies are what actually change our lives - and what the politicians are promising to do. By focusing on policies we can ignore the media hype, negative spin and personality battles that distract our politics from what really matters - improving how we live."
It is clear that the young have grasped the enormity of the challenges facing humanity, and that minor differences between the policies of Labour and Conservatives are not enough to alter the bleak trajectory in which the lives of the 99% are heading. A paradigm shift in what we value is essential for our future. The obscene inequality between the 1% and the rest, and climate change, threaten our survival as a species, and our ability to live in harmony and peace with our fellow human beings.
We need an economic model that emphasizes cooperation, rather than unfettered competition which serves the 1% and enslaves the rest. In such a system the weak and vulnerable are trampled upon in the rush towards an unsustainable future, that trashes the planet in the pursuit of more gadgets and junk. We have only one planet, and we will never be able to build borders that will shield us from the effects of what we do as human beings. We need an economic model that respects human rights for workers, pays a living wage, and recognizes that the market and the profit motive have no place in services like the NHS.
It is gratifying to see that the young are showing the rest of us how democracy should really work. We need to concentrate on policies and not the way politicians speak, or dress, or loyalty to a party as if it were a football team. They are saying we want a real change; we want a vision that encompasses our duty to fellow human beings, and our connections with others beyond our borders, and our moral duty to those less fortunate, to the poor and vulnerable.
They have decided that the Green Party is the only progressive party that lives up to those ideals, and in that I and millions of not-so-young agree with them.