It seems some of the general British public caught Farage fever in the recent European elections. Looking at the media’s response to his determination to dominate the British seats in the European Parliament, it is no surprise. From Channel Four’s documentary portraying him as the cheeky bad boy of politics who enjoys the casual fag and pint in the pub, to him having a regular seat on political programmes or being a hot topic of discussion, Farage and UKIP have been at the centre of a media circus. In the midst of all this attention, it would not be surprising if some believed there were only four parties campaigning for, or winning seats in, the European elections. With this not being the case, it is only right to question whether there should be more attention given to the broader spectrum of smaller parties. Surely, this could allow better political representation and encourage political participation, with more parties on offer meaning people could perhaps find one they could identify with, something that currently seems to be a problem, with less than 35 percent turning out to vote.

With this in mind, I have decided to turn my attention to the Green Party. After securing 1,255,573 votes, 7.8 percent of the total vote and 3 MEPs and, unlike UKIP having a Member of Parliament, is there something about the greens that we should be paying attention to? I am the first to admit I pay little attention to the Green Party and have little knowledge on their policies and broader political stance. Although I believe this demonstrates a degree of political ignorance on my part, I do not feel as ashamed as I should, as I believe it is a popular ignorance, facilitated by the media, and to a degree, the party itself.

Passionate, environmentalist freethinkers often come to mind when thinking of the Green Party, with the media perpetuating this image, with them seeming to obtain the most coverage when being arrested at environmental protests and so forth. This is an image that, in my opinion, the Green Party has allowed to develop, with them failing to present themselves as dynamic in their aims and objectives, with their name alone suggesting an overwhelming concern with the environment and little interest in other areas. Although few criticise their aims, as most agree we should recycle where we can, for most, the environment is not a priority political concern, and thus the Greens are not perceived as a viable political party to vote for. However, having scanned over some of their campaign literature both during the European elections and that being handed out by party members during the recent ‘March on Austerity’ in London, it appears there is more to the Green Party than images would suggest. It is not my intention to reword the entirety of their website and policies, but I will give you a few key examples which show the Green Party’s concerns extend beyond the trees.

1)   Students – ‘Under a Green government there would be no student loans as there would be no tuition fees and living costs would be met by Citizen’s Income. In the short term we will reintroduce student grants to meet living costs.’

2)   Cannabis use – ‘Cannabis would be removed from the 1971 Misuse of drugs act. The possession, trade and cultivation of cannabis would be immediately decriminalised, roughly following the Dutch model.’

3)   Dentistry – ‘HE352 Essential dentistry, including check ups, is necessary basic healthcare, and should be provided free under the NHS. HE353 The Green Party recognises the great loss of dentists to the NHS in recent years, and so we will discuss with the Royal College ways of encouraging dentists back into the NHS practice.’

4)   NHS – ‘The internal market opens the long term possibility of further privatisation of the NHS. The internal market should be wound up and replaced with clear financial and service accountability of decentralised service units to regional assemblies within a single corporate whole.’

5)   Transport – ‘The Green Party believes that the rail system, including track and operators, needs to be publicly owned, and would seek to bring the service back into public ownership.’

These are just a few of the Green Party’s policies showing they are more than a single issue group and have broader plans and proposals which, for some, facilitate their political desires. However, since it is easier for small parties to have more radical policies, given that their chances of dominating Parliament are marginal, let us not focus too much on tuition fees. Nonetheless, with smaller parties having an increasing influence and presence we should be taking more notice of them. So whether you love the three main parties, or have given up on them all, take a look at what is on offer from the smaller circles. With UKIP exceeding expectations in the European elections, it seems that every vote really is starting to count.

 

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/events/vote2014/eu-uk-results

http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec.html

http://www.greenparty.org.uk/