Local Election Broadcast – The Greens

Contain your excitement, it’s political broadcast season! And the first of the bunch that is even vaguely worth talking about comes from the Greens. Have a watch below, and then let’s get stuck in:



They’ve gone with a humorous parody of the political landscape to form the bulk of the broadcast, and for the most part it works. The gags are funny and the children engaging. Then, in the last minute the message suddenly shifts gear to deliver a more sober appeal for votes. This is about what we’ve come to expect from the Green Party (in fact, didn’t they already do this concept before? Or have I just seen it on Newswipe or something?). In the last general election they parodied the other parties as boyband figures. The theme of “the rest are all the same and not as clever as us” is certainly the one they’ve been hammering away at for some time now.

So, does the video work? Well it’s funny, but I’m not sure it will switch many votes. If anything it makes these figures more sympathetic. It’s easy to loathe a politician, but a child dressed up as them humanises that figure. Most of the Green Party’s support will come from the left, and yet what left-leaning person wouldn’t sympathise with the well-meaning Corbyn child in the video? I think the Greens missed a trick by not including themselves. True to do so wouldn’t have fed the false assertion at the heart of clip (that the Greens are somehow grown up unlike other parties), but self-deprecation is a lot more endearing that being lectured at. Also, I come away from the video having been reminded of all these figures who I may or may not want to support in other parties, but with no green alternative, let alone who this random figure is at the end.

This brings us to the worst aspect of the video, which is the condescending speech. You can’t have an election broadcast which consists solely of dressing children up as your opponents and making them act silly, only to claim that you’re the grown up in the equation. The hypocrisy utterly destroys the video. It is as if late in the day someone pointed out, “In making this, aren’t we being the very children we’re making our opponents out to be?” and they panicked and quickly tacked on the end to make themselves look more serious. Not to mention the rather creepy way the children are being watched on the monitors.

But still, it got me writing about it so there’s that.

Where Have All The Moderates Gone?

Being moderate isn’t sexy. When you join an old friend for a drink, your heart doesn’t leap at the suggestion that you do so in moderation, no matter how sensible the notion may be for your knackered old liver. Films about moderates barely exist; we’d rather watch a man crying “freedom” whilst having his guts sliced out, than a diplomat negotiating a mutually beneficial treaty. Moderation has never been popular, and approaching the UK General Election 2015 we are about to see it wiped clean from the face of our political scene. It is ironic that the common perception of politics is as a homogenised battle for the centre ground. Quite the opposite, the centre has been abandoned, a no-mans land for none but those crazed and doomed liberals, shell-shocked and wandering the scorched earth wondering what the hell just happened.

Given the hopelessly outdated first-past-the-post system, the results of the oncoming election are difficult to predict. The distribution of the electorate weighs the system heavily in favour of the two main parties, but their failure to generate any good-will beyond their base, combined with growing disaffection, means that the Labour and Conservative parties have drawn in the wagons and are waging a defensive campaign. This is no longer an election either side can win; they can only lose. Factor in the rise of nationalist parties such as UKIP and the SNP and you’ve got the makings of yet another hung parliament.

Which might make you think that we’re in for another coalition, another fudge in the centre – a backroom deal cooked up by those rotters in Westminster. But as we approach the general election and the parties begin to position themselves for such an eventuality, the likelihood of a coalition becomes increasingly unlikely. The Labour party has ruled out a coalition with the SNP. The SNP has ruled out a coalition with the Conservatives. The Greens have ruled out a coalition with anyone. Ironically, the only party to talk openly about the benefits of joining a coalition are the Lib Dems, the one party for whom a formal union will be utterly untenable. Nick Clegg could only enter into another pact retaining the same degree of influence as before – a deal that neither the Tories nor Labour are likely to accept given the reduced Lib Dem numbers from the upcoming slaughter.

Most of the smaller parties, having spent five years condemning the concept of compromise, now face the prospect of governance, but to do so they must first reconcile this with their previous rhetoric. The result is lots of talk about “confidence and supply”, an utterly unsustainable position that would fall apart at the very first unpopular but necessary vote (of which the next five years is certain to be packed).

Which begs the question, what right do any of them have to rule out a coalition in the first place? An election campaign is effectively an extended job interview, and you don’t conduct yourself in an interview by listing off everyone you’d out-right refuse to work with. If you can’t grow up and find a way of working with those you oppose, then you have no right to claim you’re a supporter of democracy. Democracy, by its very nature, is about finding a way of getting all the peoples of a nation to work together rather than grind each other into dust.

But as I said, being a moderate isn’t sexy. It’s a lot easier to grab votes by saying “we will never work with those scumbags,” than “there is always a compromise to be found.” Perhaps that is why the Lib Dems continue to plummet in the polls. In a recent interview, Nick Clegg described himself as being anti-establishment and anti-populist, which is a pretty accurate description of where the Lib Dems are at this present time. They exist in an uncomfortable netherworld between the entitled comfort of governance and the demagoguery of opposition. If we are tested by another hung-parliament, it’s possible that we may look back on 2010-2015 as a golden era, a time before the storm when a party was willing to work with another despite facing electoral oblivion. Can you think of another party that would have put up with such hostility for the benefit of a stable economy? If the fortunes were reversed, and it were the Conservatives whose poll rating had dropped to single digits early on and showed no sign of recovery, would they have stuck out the full five years? Would Labour? The SNP? Right now Nick Clegg is the most hated man in British politics, but once we’ve seen the chaos that politicians are lining up to promise, we might well wish for his return (not that he’ll be in a position to do so – the moment the Lib Dems are out of government, the left leaning grass-roots will have his head).

However much you despise your opponents, you can’t erase them. This is why revolutions end in bloodshed, whilst it is compromise that produces real reform. We can spend the next five years bickering like children afraid to go near each other lest we catch the lurgey, or we can reach out like grown-ups and find a way of moving forward. But to do so we need to shake off the petulant mentality of Braveheart fantasy. It belongs in the movies, not in the ballot. And perhaps it’s best to vote for the person who suggests taking it a bit easy. The liver can only handle so much.

Divided We Surely Fall

There are only two sides to the EU debate: those that believe that the EU is beyond saving and want out, and those that believe that the EU is worth saving and want in. For the sake of simplicity we’ll call these camps anti-EU and pro-EU. All three of the major parties in British politics are pro-EU in that they all agree that the EU needs reform, but is a good thing for Britain. Sure they bicker about individual items of legislation, and for political convenience it is in their favour to appear more or less in favour of the EU depending upon what slice of the electorate they’re canvassing, but in terms of the grand EU debate, they are all on the same side. Only Farage sits on the other.

So it seems strange that the political establishment can’t win this in a slam dunk. Surely the combined weight of the conservative party, the labour party, and the liberal democrats should be enough to explain to the electorate precisely why an imperfect EU is better than a non-existent one. The Nick Clegg v Nigel Farage debate was a perfect opportunity for the pro-Eu camp to unify, and yet the opposite happened. Today David Cameron appeared on television calling Nick Clegg an extremist, the Labour party have been distancing themselves as far as possible from the subject lest negative fallout stains their trousers, and even the Green party – a party whose objectives are solely dependent upon the EU and global cooperation – couldn’t resist the opportunity to resort to petty politics and opportunism. If our political parties cannot unite when presented with such a basic proposition, is it any wonder that demagogues like Farage triumph?

We see this time and again with the liberal left. The AV referendum was lost because rather than unite to improve an outdated electoral system, the Labour party used it as an opportunity to steal votes from the Lib Dems. I’ll say this for the conservatives, they know how to pull together for the bigger picture, the left simply cannot get past its own factional squabbling.

Take this party political broadcast by the Green party in response to the debate. The Greens have an almost identical outlook on Europe as the Lib Dems, but to gain political advantage they paint them as the very non-existent caricature dreamt up by the daily mail: a sycophantic slave to faceless EU bureaucrats. Pro-EU camps should be arguing that this stereotype doesn’t exist, that it is a paranoid fantasy, but the Greens have cynically promoted it, betraying their own cause. It is yet another sad sign of the continued decline of a once promising party.

Cooperating is a virtue in politics, but Britain is yet to break out of its juvenile mentality and realise this. If we don’t soon change, Farage, may well win by default.

On The Subject Of Green

Like many in the centre-left of British politics, I have a certain sympathy for the Green party. Like them, I feel that environmentalism should be given a much higher priority along with animal welfare and the preservation of the natural world. I would like to see the Green party have more influence in parliament.

Unfortunately the Green Party disagrees.

The shocking lack of foresight in the Greens suggests that they are ether dangerously naïve about our political system, or more concerned with their ego than getting actual influence. There is no way the greens can make strong gains in first-past-the-post. Maybe in thirty years or so, after many gruelling elections, slowly raising their profile, but not in any way soon enough to start tackling the big issues like climate change.

The Green Party, like their right wing equivalent UKIP, need Proportional Representation to have their voice heard. There is only one main party that has promised to deliver this: the Liberal Democrats.

At this the Greens always scoff, “oh, but the Lib Dems aren’t as green as we are, they don’t go far enough!”, but they miss the point. It does not matter if the Liberals want to burn all our forests and force cows to drink pop to increase their burps tenfold, what matters is getting PR for the next election so the Greens stand a chance in the future.

“What about Tony Blair,” they cry. “He promised electoral reform back in 1997, and never delivered!” True, but Blair only said that when he thought he needed the Liberals to prop him up. When he found himself with a massive majority those promises were meaningless, after all, his own party didn’t want PR.

The Liberal Democrats do want it. It’s not a ploy by their leadership but a genuine heart-felt commitment by every member of the party. If they get in, they’ll do it.

But still the Greens refuse to throw their weight behind the Liberal Democrats, instead they let their naivety and their egos get the better of them, splitting the liberal-left vote and allowing the Tories to make gains. UKIP, whilst normally deranged, at least have the sense to recognise the type of political system we’re stuck with. They often step aside if they approve of the Tory candidate. No point splitting the right wing vote if it lets in a europhile.

Incidentally, in the European elections which are based upon a system of PR, I voted Green. In that system they stand a chance. Sadly they don’t in ours, and they’re destroying their chances of influence by standing in it. Grow up Greens, get your eyes on the real prize.

– Not a clever move.