When you have children your way of thinking changes. You may think it won't but it will. You may already have children and think that you are exactly the same as before, but you aren't. Because I think one thing changes in all parents (and if it doesn't change then I think it should). I believe that as a parent the first thing you think of in any given situation is your children. However fleeting, your first thought is your children. How would that affect my children? Would my children like that? How would that make my children feel? So this is the first general election where I am looking at the parties and thinking about which is best for my family. In the short and long term which party would look out for my kids. Well I've made a decision. I will be voting Green.
At the start of the year I really didn't know who to vote for. I have never voted Green in a General Election before. I guess I was a floating voter. I really don't want the Conservatives to stay in power. I have been against almost everything they have stood for since being in power. So should I vote Labour? They are the only real alternative for beating the Tories. But I do have some sympathy with the views of the Lib Dems but certainly not across the board and can I really trust them after propping up Cameron for the last five years? So how about the Greens... a wasted vote? Or a party pushing forward a new way of thinking and the only party who are standing up and proudly being different. So I took a look at the all the manifestos, all my local candidates and the core values of each party. And the Greens came out on top. The Green Party are the family option.
The NHS is obviously important to us all. Sure most people my age use it rarely. But once you are expecting a child you realise just how important it is. Ante-natal care, childbirth support (in hospital or at home), post-natal care for mothers, health visitors, immunisations, GP care for children's many minor illnesses and emergency care for the rare occasion your child becomes acutely unwell or suffers a injury. We are so lucky to live in a country where this level of care is available. The Green Party believe the NHS is the most effective public service this country has ever created. They want to stop public money going into shareholders pockets. When you think about it it sounds absurd that private companies should be profiting from the NHS; because where is that money coming from? Yep, us. They also make a point of focusing on mental health care. Addressing mental health problems is essential. Not only will it help millions of people who are struggling alone but it will also save large amounts of money across many areas; primary care, acute hospital care, benefits, policing, housing... There is not an area of the government that will not benefit from driving forward mental health care.
I have worked in the NHS for the past ten years. It is far from efficient. It is stretched beyond belief and has nose-dived in the past five years. Targets (which aren't even being hit) are being prioritised over patient care. Selling off the NHS bit by bit will not rectify this. As my girls grow up I want them to be looked after by caring, compassionate people who are not under the control of the private sector who are more worried by profits and targets than patients.
This country currently relies on those at the bottom of the pay structure the most yet looks after them the least. The gap between the rich and the poor is expanding. And the balance of power is tipped firmly towards with the biggest bank balances. Whilst those on minimum wage are struggling to survive and children are living in poverty the biggest companies and the highest earners are making the most of tax loopholes. The Green Party would address this. They would make the minimum wage a living wage. They are against austerity which is having a detrimental affect on the poorest whilst simply passing the rich by. They would close tax loopholes. They would impose a tax on the banks. I want my children to grow up and be whatever they want to be. I expect them to work but I want them to be happy in what they do. I don't care if they are big earners or not. But if they are I would expect them to be happy to pay that bit more in taxes to benefit others. And similarly if they are working at the lower end to the pay scale (where most people are!) then I would hope that they are able to bring up their own family on a living wage.
Everyone deserves a comfortable, safe place to call home. House prices are ridiculous and rising. Private renting is unreliable and expensive. Social housing is being sold off with the most vulnerable being charged more though the bedroom tax. I worry that my children won't be able to afford their own home. I don't want them left unprotected and at the liberty of a private landlord. So I want to vote for a party who understand the needs of the everyday people. The Green Party believe in capping rents and loosening the control the landlords hold. If you look across Europe you can see there are ways of addressing this imbalance. They also understand that empty houses need filling and new social housing needs building. In fifteen to twenty years time my children will be out in the real world and I hope the government is looking out for them.
I do worry that people still think of the Green Party as just being a bunch of hippies sitting up in trees. There is so much more to the Greens than their views on the environment and I want people to understand that. However at the same time lets no forget that the Green Party do have the most forward thinking views in this area. Developing renewable energy and addressing climate change are essential as far as I am concerned. In this area I am thinking of not just my children, but my children's children and my children's children's children. This cannot be ignored or put off. Global financial crisis or not. These issues need addressing now. For the benefit of everyone.
I am worried by the changes to education over the past five years. The increase in free schools and academies and the lack of accountability they have worries me. The fact that people are unable to go to university because of the incredible rise in tuition fees worries me. The discrepancy in education between those with and those without money worries me. Wow, education really does worry me. I want my girls to go to schools where creativity is valued and not just test results. I want those schools to be accountable to the government or local authority. If the local authorities aren't up to it then they need to be dealt with but simply getting rid of the issue by removing schools from state control I find simply astonishing. I want my children's school to be run by people who have a passion for education. Not run by a business, a group of local busybodies who think they know best or a religious group. I am going to vote for a party who will address this. A party who will scrap tuition fees for those who want to go to university. But also a party who will provide education at an appropriate level to all abilities, not simply focusing on academia. A party who values both teachers and students.
Well I think this is an area which covers both the economy and climate section. Where I live driving is the only real way to get around. Travelling by rail is expensive and unreliable. Buses are limited. Like with the NHS I don't really see why money should be going into the private sector's hands here. They have given it a go with the railways and it certainly hasn't improved things. Prices are going up whilst the service is unreliable. To take my family on a train journey is so expensive that I feel that driving is the only option. Encouraging cycling and walking is better for the environment but also better for health reasons too. I feel the Green Party are the best bet to address these issues. They are the only party who want to return the railways to public hands.
So there we are. That is why I believe the Green Party are the best party for me. And my family.