I first met Oscar during last year’s Buzz Tour because of his connection with Transition Cambridge and neither of us spoke much of politics. Yet when I met him in the days running up to the election, I was on the Green Party campaign bus and he was speaking to hundreds of people on the street explaining why he wanted to get elected. At the last election Oscar became Cambridge’s only Green Party city councillor, having never been a councillor before.
In his maiden speech last week, Oscar made two proposals that were passed by the council, one about TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and one in defence of human rights. As a result, Cambridge has joined 18 other UK cities in pledging against TTIP.
15 of Norwich’s city councillors are Green Party councillors as are four of the county councillors. I watched the procession of new councillors behind the mayor and was fortunate enough to be able to ask some of them why they decided to get involved with politics as a way to help the environment.
Many people I’ve met have conflicting views about how to vote or whether to vote at all. With the European and some council elections coming up on the 22nd of May and the general elections next year, it’s a passionate question. There is a website called Vote for Policies where you can compare the policies of parties without knowing which party is which, then select those that you agree with and at the end it tells you which party is the best fit.
Many people especially younger voters want a ‘no confidence’ vote for the entire political system. Russell Brand famously expressed what many young people are feeling when he called for people to not vote. If we do decide not to vote however, it is assumed to be apathy or consent. How could it be considered dissent? If you have decided not to vote, one option is to organise a protest outside your polling station to be ‘counted’ as dissenting voters.
Some other countries offer a ‘none of the above’ option in voting where if a significant proportion vote for this then nominations have to be reopened. In our current system however if we do decide not to vote, staying at home will definitely not have our voice heard. Those considering a non-vote are those most likely to vote for radical reform, so without them the remaining vote becomes more towards the status quo. So whether we vote our choice, or non-vote our choice I hope we will be active and vocal in showing our engagement, because anything else will be to consent to business as usual.