First: a shout-out to Full Fact, the fact-checking charity which carries a huge amount of information on basically every issue under the sun in British politics, and has succeeded in unsettling both the left and right of the political divide with its pesky ‘reality’. For sheer, clear being informed, I have yet to find anything better.
The UK is, despite everything, taking part in the European Elections on May 23rd – this Thursday. It’s not just that we’re still embroiled in Brexit, the endless disaster car-crash that just won’t stop; culturally we’re now in a place where the current political system is spinning round in flames. More than ever we as a society need to step up and make choices about what we want to come out of the ashes of the Tory Party and the fractured mess of Labour; about how we respond to climate change, the mess that is Brexit and heaven help us yes, the re-emergence of demagogue private-jet populist Farage.
The new surge of right-wing politics in the UK (as well as globally) should motivate us all to get off our arses and act. From limits on women’s rights through to climate-change denial, rising hate crime and racial abuse to the privatisation of the NHS, what happens in the next few years will change the UK forever.
The new way of doing politics on all fronts – dismissing anything you don’t like as ‘fake news’, of refusing to take responsibility for lies, deceptions and outright crime, of using ‘free speech’ as an excuse for hate – threatens us all.
The only way we change it is by getting involved, and the cleanest, simplest place to begin is by voting. For me it’s not a difficult choice – the Greens remain the only party which has consistently called for a second referendum on Brexit, for left-of-centre social and economic reform and for action on climate change. The European elections are the only place where a proportional voting system applies too, meaning my vote for the Greens might actually make a difference, unlike in the first-past-the-post system that’s still blighting British politics today. For many it’s chosing between a rock and a hard place; but if that is your situation, don’t sit silent. Get involved in your local party, in political movements and campaigns. Pick your issue and fight for it. And if like me you’re alarmed by the far-right trying to legitimise itself, then as well as voting to keep them out of power, get involved with organisations like Hope Not Hate, or with local community groups and projects.
But first, go vote on May 23rd. This may be our last ever European election; don’t be silent.