Sunday, May 3rd, 2015
With only four more days until the election. Things are getting a little quieter. All the hustings are done, the leaflets are all delivered and all the street stalls are finished. It allows me more time to knock on doors and speak to voters which is always the most enjoyable aspect of campaigning.
Debating with the other candidates at hustings was the part of the campaign I was most apprehensive about but it has been a great experience. We had lots of lively debate but all behaved as perfect gentlemen towards me (the newcomer). What struck me was the degree to which we all agreed on certain issues. There is a hostile tribalism in politics that the mainstream media take joy in portraying. Almost all politicians will tell you that they are in politics to make a difference. To help others. So what goes wrong? When given the chance they need to put their party differences aside and work together where possible.
This election has been played out with the economy as the central theme. All parties call for more economic growth and none of them (bar the Greens) talk about the cost of that economic growth to the environment. I worried that I wouldn’t be ‘green’ enough to be a Scottish Green Party candidate. I worried that I would be photographed coming our of Tesco carrying a plastic (gasp!) bag or that someone would comment on my big people carrier car. Anyone who is environmentally aware knows how difficult it is in everyday normal life. It’s expensive to be green. This is what I want to change through politics. I want being green to be the cheapest option. I want anything that exploits our natural resources to be expensive.
It turns out I needn’t have worried about not being ‘green’ enough.
Whenever a farmers market is on I do as much of my shopping there as I can. Having arrived at a market one Saturday I was informed by a stall holder that I had just missed one of my opponents who had done the rounds speaking to all the stall holders. “He never bought anything though!” commented one. So talk is cheap after all.
In one debate there was a question posed by a voter “What personal environmental contribution are you proud of?” Oh, good question I thought. I was first up and racked my brain quickly to come up with something. I talked briefly about organic farming methods which I am fully committed to. The other candidates all proceeded to talk about doing their recycling, fitting energy efficient lightbulbs and one proudly said how he now turned off the tap while brushing his teeth after his daughter badgered him to do so.
We are told that we all have a personal responsibility to be environmentally friendly. It’s true but this is simply not enough. If we are remotely serious about stopping a 2-4 degrees temperature rise then we need to be doing far, far more. We need our politicians to be doing far, far more. They need to give climate change more than lip service. We need to demand that they take it more seriously. Climate change is our biggest problem but the truth is it is merely a symptom of our politicians insatiable appetite for free-market capitalist ideologies. It is those ideologies which cause detriment to our societies and environment that we need to tackle.
No matter who you vote for on May 7th make sure that you tell them how important climate change is.
“Climate change is a civilizational wake-up call, a powerful message delivered in the language of fires, floods, storms and droughts. Confronting it is no longer about changing the light bulbs. It’s about changing the world – before the world changes so drastically that no one is safe.” Naomi Klein, from her book ‘This changes everything’.