I usually manage to find reasons to be cheerful. Hard to believe with everything that’s going on just now, I know, but there are some indicators that help. For instance, the European election’s just days away and we’re seeing poll after poll predicting a Green surge. And remember – pollsters traditionally underestimate support for the Green party.
I'm realistic enough to understand that some of it’s down to the backlash against Westminster excess, but not all of it. This surge began long before the Telegraph found out about duck islands and moat cleaning. It’s part of a discontent that’s been building for decades, the product of an unfair electoral system that practically guarantees a minority government – with more people voting against it than for it. We’ve got three main parties, except it’s hard to tell them apart. It’s no wonder that people feel apathetic, cynical, angry. Their votes have delivered corruption and incompetence, they feel patronised and now the expenses scandal adds insult to injury.
Political power is too important to be abused like this. How can a corrupt system tackle challenges like accelerating climate change, deepening recession, and increasing inequality?
We need to rediscover trust. We need to recreate a political consensus which will bring real change. The old way’s clearly not working. Hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs, and many face the loss of their savings and their homes. And at the global level, it’s even more dire. A comprehensive new study from Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum has found that, already, three hundred thousand people a year are dying as a direct result of climate change. Global warming is already here.
As far as climate change is concerned, our government has failed to protect us. Not only that, they’ve actually misled us. ‘Switch to low energy light bulbs’, they said, ‘Turn your washing machines down to 30 degrees’. And, at the same time, they're allowing big business to carry on with its wasteful, carbon-belching ways.
Of course, as individuals we all have a role to play, but we can't do it alone. We need informed, committed, trustworthy leadership.
Imagine William Wilberforce saying: ‘OK, we know slavery’s wrong but we have to think of the economy. So just cut down a bit. Have one slave instead of two.’
Or Emmeline Pankhurst: ‘We want the vote for women, but people don’t really like change. So how about our husbands just asking us what we think before they go out to vote?’
We need real leadership and vision to tackle the enormous challenges we face. The challenges are all interconnected, and so are the solutions. We need to promote green industries, restore sustainable manufacturing, and Britain could be at the forefront of the new technologies. The Green Party's proposals for a "Green New Deal" spell out a coherent policy for major investment in renewable energies and energy efficiency, one that could help provide a million good quality jobs, one that can reduce our fuel bills, as well as reducing the emissions which lead to climate change. And which Westminster party properly understands how to bring about that vision? None of them.
The European Elections on Thursday offer an opportunity to vote for a progressive politics you can trust. Greens have an impressive track record of championing higher environmental standards, promoting practical solutions to cut emissions and create jobs. We have been at the forefront of efforts to tackle inequality and injustice. And we have consistently argued for more transparency and accountability in Brussels.
Let’s use the anger we’re all feeling about the present shameful abuses of power to insist on change. I said I usually find reasons to be cheerful and I think we can start those changes now.
Please use your vote and choose Green in the European elections on June 4th.
Caroline Lucas is online at www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk.