Vote with your head and your heart

Over the past couple of weeks, the national opinion polls have shown a narrowing of the gap between Conservatives and Labour. This has been seized upon by Labour in a renewed push to get supporters of the Greens, Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru to vote tactically for them. In my constituency of Monmouth, that sadly seems to be Labour’s main message. But what do the facts tell us? Is a Labour victory in Monmouth possible?

In Monmouth in 2015, the Conservative’s David Davies won 23,701 votes (49.9% of the total). Ruth Jones was second with 12,719 votes for Labour. The combined votes of Labour, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party was 18,719 (39.4%). So to defeat David Davies, there would need to be a very big swing away from the Conservatives towards Labour. So are the polls predicting such a swing?

The final opinion polls before the vote in 2015 showed the parties were evenly matched. MORI had the Conservatives at 36% and Labour at 35%, while YouGov had them both on 34%. The vote itself came in at Conservatives 36.8% and Labour 30.4%, with many pollsters explaining their underestimation of the Conservative vote being down to “Shy Tories” too embarrassed to admit their true intention.

Since then, the internal troubles in the Labour Party resulted in a massive swing away from Labour to the Conservatives. The recent narrowing of the gap means that Labour have recovered much of the support that they lost since the 2015 election, but at 42% Conservative to 38% Labour they are still behind the equivalent polls in 2015, although doing slightly better than the actual voting figures.

YouGov projections for Monmouth based on the latest national polling data suggest that David Davies will receive between 40% and 58% of the votes, most likely 50%. They predict a vote for Labour of 25% – 40%, most likely 34%. These wide ranges of projected vote shares do not even overlap. They also claim a 95% confidence rate in these predictions.

I am by nature an optimist, but I am also a realist. My ideal outcome would be for me to win. The next best would be for David Davies to lose and Labour win. But if you think that neither of those are going to happen, then every extra Green vote is going to have much more impact than an extra Labour vote.

I would never criticise anyone in a marginal constituency who takes the short term view and votes tactically to get the Tories out. But in a safe Conservative seat like Monmouth, a tactical vote is futile. It doesn’t represent the voter’s true beliefs. It doesn’t send a signal to the country that a change of direction (and a change of voting system) is needed. Vote for the future. Vote for what you believe in. Vote with your head and your heart.

Brexit blank cheque

A friend was having a quiet drink in a pub when he was approached by a couple of guys who tried to persuade him to buy a car. They kept pointing out all the problems with his old car, and it was true, there were quite a few scratches and it needed a bit of work doing to it, although it was a very reliable car and kept my friend and his family safe on the roads. But these two salesmen kept telling him how much better the new car would be and how much money he would save, although they couldn’t give him many details about the car itself. They were witty and persuasive, and eventually my friend said ok, I’ll buy your car. Great, they said, you can pay for it when its ready. It will take a couple of years to sort out, and we don’t actually know what it will look like or how much it will cost, and it probably won’t save you any money – in fact it will probably cost quite a bit more than your old car, but hey, you’ve agreed to buy it so you can’t back out now. Hold on, said my friend, I said I wanted the car you described, not just any old banger – I’ll wait and see it before I finally make up my mind. Too late, said the salesmen, we will deliver your new car in two years and take away your old one, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

And that’s pretty much what Theresa May, David Davies and the rest of the Conservative Party are telling us about Brexit. We don’t know what agreement she will negotiate with the EU, but she wants us to accept it anyway – a blank cheque with no discussion, no vote, no democracy. If elected, Green MPs will demand that the British people be given a chance to vote in a referendum once they have seen the Brexit deal negotiated with the EU. That referendum will give the public a clear choice: accept the deal, or remain in the EU and work with our European neighbours to make it better. So if you want a proper say in our future, free of spin and the facts laid out in front of us, then vote Green.

Positive voting or Tactical voting?

I was recently contacted by a potential voter who, frustrated by our undemocratic electoral system, was agonising whether she should vote for what she really wanted, or vote tactically in an attempt to stop David Davies being re-elected in Monmouth. She asked what is to be gained by voting Green if our chances of success in Monmouth are slim. In my reply I came up with five reasons no vote is wasted and every Green vote in 2017 is important:

  • First of all, we need to gain 5% of the vote to get our deposit returned. This £500 may not mean much to the other parties, but to us Greens it is a lot of money and will enable us to stand again.
  • Furthermore, every vote we gain across the UK increases the amount of “Short Money” that we are allocated in Parliament to carry out our role as an opposition party. This funding will support Caroline Lucas and hopefully other Green MPs to fight in Parliament for the policies in our manifesto.
  • The more votes we get in 2017 will increase the amount of media attention we are given in the next local and national elections. This will give us a higher profile and better opportunities to put our message to the British people.
  • Every Green vote cast is a signal to government, other parties, the media, business and the people that there needs to be a radical change of direction to tackle climate change, environmental destruction and social inequality. We are the only party with a positive vision for the future and are putting forward a number of progressive and innovative policies that we hope will soon become part of the mainstream. Votes help get our policies taken more seriously.
  • Finally, I know from talking to local voters and from national polling that there are large numbers of people who would like to vote Green but feel that there is no point. An increased Green vote will encourage other people to vote for us next time. Casting a Green vote next Thursday is planting a seed that will grow and grow and makes a Green victory here and elsewhere more likely in the next election.

So a Green vote is always meaningful and important, despite the outcome of this particular election (and I’ve not given up on winning on June 8th!).

On the question of whether to vote for what you believe in or vote tactically, you need to consider how realistic is the prospect of Labour’s Ruth Jones defeating the Conservative David Davies. In 2015, Davies received 23,701 votes and Jones got 12,719. It is possible for Ruth Jones to win but it would require a very large swing. So if she doesn’t win, is a vote here for Labour wasted? Would a Green vote count for more?

Only you can decide how to cast your vote, and best wishes for whoever you decide to vote for on the 8th.

Hunting and Animal Welfare

I have received several hundred emails from voters in the Monmouth constituency asking my views on a range of issues. By far the largest number of these have concerned fox hunting and the Conservative plans to overturn the ban and resume chasing defenceless animals and tearing them to death for fun.

Let me make this clear. If elected, I will fight for the ban to be strengthened not repealed. I will support measures to deter and prosecute animal cruelty and promote animal welfare. I will protect our wildlife.

The Green Party is the only party to have an Animal Manifesto – it can be downloaded here. If animal welfare is important to you, then your only choice is to vote Green.

Climate Change

It’s the elephant in the room that none of the other parties want to talk about. If we don’t reduce the amount of carbon being burnt, then our planet will heat up causing catastrophic climate change. The seas will rise, crops will fail, extreme storms and droughts will become more common.

This is not inevitable. The solutions are simple. We can generate our energy from the wind, the sun and the waves, as well as making our homes, factories and transport systems more efficient so we don’t need so much energy. After lots of difficult negotiations, countries got together in 2015 and agreed to do just that.

But for some reason, the Conservative government seems determined to ignore that agreement. Through its actions over the last two years, it has shown that it is more interested in preserving the profits of the big fossil fuel energy companies that it is about our future. It has slashed support for renewable energy and given the go ahead for ‘fracking’ to extract more fossil fuels from under our homes and parks, risking the safety of our water supplies. It has committed billions to building a new nuclear power station just 40 miles from our constituency that will take decades to complete and will produce electricity that is more expensive than renewables.

David Davies has repeatedly ignored the scientific evidence, denied climate change and blocked attempts to reduce carbon emissions. Monmouth doesn’t need an MP who buries his head in the sand. As a science graduate, I understand the urgency of the problem and can see what needs to be done. I am committed to resisting the vested interests who put their profits before our children and taking action to build a sustainable energy future for all our sakes.

Environment promises

Concerns about the environment are not limited to climate change. Our physical, mental and spiritual health is greatly affected by our connection to the natural world around us. But we don’t see the environment as a resource just for our own benefit – we see that nature is valuable in its own right.

We want to make sure that our air is clean, our water safe to drink and our food healthy. We want to protect our precious wildlife and preserve their natural habitats. We see that our ancient forests and woodlands have a value that is greater than the timber that can be cut down.

If elected I will work hard for a ban on the bee-killing neonicotinoid insecticides. It’s simple biology – if we kill all the bees, they won’t be able to pollinate the flowers and blossom, and then where will we be? The rest of the EU want to ban them – why has the Conservative government been trying to stop the ban?

I will also vote against any attempt to bring back the cruel practice of hunting foxes with dogs.

Our future is not set in stone

Our future is not set in stone, despite what the rich and powerful tell us. We have real choices and need to ask ourselves: What type of world do we want to live in? What type of future do we want for our children? Do we want to live in the Tory/UKIP dream of a deregulated sweatshop economy or do we want to prosper in a country that is proud of the standards it upholds? Do we want to destroy every last bit of our natural resources to help make the rich even richer, or do we want to build a sustainable economy that nourishes rather than depletes the environment? Do we want to turn our back on international agreements to stop catastrophic climate change, or do we want to build a low carbon future where everybody benefits? Do we want our schools, NHS and social care to be run further into the ground, or do we want them properly funded?

We also have a choice about who we want to represent us in Parliament and to the rest of the country. The people of Monmouthshire are kind and compassionate. They want the vulnerable to be protected and supported. They see the beauty in our natural environment and want to preserve it. They value the relationships with have with other countries. They need an MP who reflects those values, those aspirations. Since the last election, David Davies has shown himself to be a heartless MP who is out of touch, playing politics with people’s lives. It’s time for a change, for some common decency, for forward thinking, for a green and brighter future.