There is an excellent website that I commend, http://voteforpolicies.org.uk. By completing the survey based on policies alone, you are advised which party most reflects your views. Have a go. You might just be surprised.
Almost 100,000 people have completed the survey and the results are fascinating. In third place, with 17.12%, is Labour, in second place on 17.99% are the Lib Dems, but the party whose policies enjoy the widest support, on 28.25%, is the Green Party. (The Tories are on 16.28%).
It would be great if people did vote on the basis of policies, but that won’t happen. In most constituencies most voters will remain true to the main two parties. It often takes a leap of faith for lifelong supporters to transfer their support from their traditional party.
In Brighton Pavilion, those arguing against a Green vote point to Labour’s 5,000 margin of victory in the last general election. Amongst those who argue this is Alexander Craven who regularly comments on this blog: “You shouldn’t neglect the basic fact that Labour had a 5,000 majority in Brighton Pavilion in 2005. And also that most people always vote in terms of the wider national debate. Let’s be frank. A lot of people here do not see what one Green MP in Parliament could achieve; most people disagree with their policies too.”
On the last point he is right, but as the VoteForPolicies website suggests, there is significantly more support for Green policies than those of Labour. Having said that, and where I disagree with the Greens, I still hope Labour will be the largest party in the new parliament.
Could a single Green MP make a difference? You just have to look at Dr Richard Taylor, the Independent MP for Wyre Forrest, who has had a higher profile than any number of anonymous and arguably more influential given his expertise in matters relating to health. And best of all, he is not inhibited by a party whip. All these apply in equal, if not more, measure to Caroline Lucas.
As for the national debate, this election cannot be seen in the same way as previous ones. There is a mood to move away from traditional voting trends, for better (Greens and some Independents) and for worse (BNP and UKIP).
It would be great if we could simply vote for policies, but it is most important that the Tories don’t form a majority Government as this would see a fundamental shift of resources from ordinary (dare I say ‘hard working families’?) to the richest 2%. So I repeat my call for tactical voting as follows: Eastbourne – Lib Dem, Crawley – Labour, Brighton Pavilion – Green, Brighton Kemptown – Labour, Hastings & Rye – Labour, and Hove – Labour