UK election 2017 and the Greens

Green councillor Gavin Corbett, offers his personal take on the UK general election on 8 June.

I’ve not spent a lot of time on social media on the subject of the UK general election and I’m not intending to. I am aware, however, of the increasingly shrill reaction of some people from rival parties on the Greens only standing in a very small number of seats. Depending on whose views you stumble across, it is the result of a fiendish tryst with the SNP/the Tories/Labour or all three, plus Voldemort and Sauron, thrown in for good measure.

My personal advice for people with such reactions would be to take a breath, sit down and have a glass of water. You clearly need it. And be careful of reading too much into the Greens’ standing in only three seats.

By the time the election happens on 8 June, it’ll be less than 3 years since the European elections in June 2014. In that time, there’s been 2 UK elections, 1 Scottish election, 1 council election, 1 European election and 2 major referenda. That’s 7 major electoral events in less than 3 years.

For a party with no millionaire backers and relying on volunteer time, that is very demanding. Most of us have things we want to do at community level. We have families, jobs, a thousand other ways in which we also want to make a difference.

Now I know that is also true of other party activists but there is certainly a difference in scale. As the formidable Andy Arthur has pointed out, the Scottish Greens spent less than £35k at the last general election in 2015. Lib Dem minister, Danny Alexander, alone spent £49,400 in his failed attempt to retain just one seat.  A further 10 Scottish MPs spent more on one seat than the Greens spent on the entire election.  Only 2 of those 10 retained or won the seat.  We are talking about a massive imbalance of money here.

So along comes a snap election called by a UK government in defiance of its leader’s own promises and in defiance of the fixed term parliaments it set up. An election to get round the alleged breaking of rules by MPs on expenditure; and to deflect away from its catastrophic handling of Brexit. An election where the voting system is a 60 year old antique. Why on earth would a party of such limited resources as the Scottish Greens throw itself wholeheartedly at that when there is so much else needing done?

That’s the real context rather than the labyrinthine plots dreamt up by rivals. That is why we are running where we are, with a high-profile candidate in Patrick Harvie in Glasgow North; with a superb local candidate in Lorna Slater in Edinburgh North and Leith; and with the tireless Falkirk Greens flying the flag for local branch autonomy through standing Debra Pickering.

I wish them all well. They are all fantastic candidates who would be a breath of fresh air in Westminster. After three fairly relentless years, personally, I want to see a bit more of my family, my bike, my climbing boots, all the better to be ready for the campaigns ahead in which the Green voice must and will be heard loud and clear.