Jon sets out here his reasons for standing for the Green Party in the Southend West constituency.
Lots of people will know me as Jon Fuller, the chap who campaigns against polluting activities, like the proposed Estuary Airport scheme and expansion of Southend Airport. I have chaired some of the largest public meetings the town has ever seen and helped very many residents form action groups to oppose developments that would damage the environment.
In October 2014 I joined the Green Party and asked if it would permit me to stand at the coming general election. This is why……
I was a member of the Labour Party until the early 1980’s, when I felt that it left me. While it is true that I stopped paying my subs, I actually felt it had changed into something different – “New Labour”; and it had abandoned many of the things people like me believed in. Those of us who opposed crushing inequality and who supported compassionate politics didn’t fit with the Blair/Brown vision. Despite the change in leadership Labour continues to support ‘austerity politics’, the philosophy that is causing grinding inequality, making the super-rich a heck of a lot richer. Nearly 1 million people turned to food-banks last year to survive and Labour will do little to alleviate that.
In 2010 the most extraordinary thing had happened – Labour had drifted so far away from its roots that it sat on the centre-right of British politics, with the Lib-Dems positioned as the party of the centre-left. So, here in Southend West, with our first past the post system, many felt it made sense for progressive, socially compassionate people to vote Lib-Dem. Plus, in Peter Welch (who stood in 2010), we were offered an eco-aware candidate who understood that Southend was the wrong place to build a busy regional airport.
In May 2015, the landscape will be very different. Peter cannot stand this time and the Lib-Dem vote is likely to collapse. The electorate has one important function to perform, beyond the obvious role of casting a vote on the ballot paper – we have to punish a political party if it promises one thing and delivers another. That is what the Lib-Dems have done – they positioned themselves as a left of centre party but delivered a hard right agenda. The age of austerity brought a vicious assault upon the living standards of the great mass of people. We expect that of the Conservative Party, not of progressive politicians; so it is entirely understandable that the Lib-Dems will lose millions of votes in 2015.
In 2010 Barry Bolton stood for the Green Party but he is unable to stand this year and so, without a Green Party candidate, there was a danger those of us who seek eco-aware politics would have no one to vote for. Faced with that stark reality I asked the party for permission to stand.
In 2010 the Green Party secured just 1.5% of the vote, with 46% going to the sitting Conservative MP (Sir David Amess). Despite the odds, I entered this in part because there is an incredibly small amount of time left to tackle climate change and avert catastrophe. Scientists warn we are on the cusp of the runaway greenhouse effect. Our planet has lost 40% of its wildlife in just 40 years. By offering a Green Party option I wanted to give the electorate one last chance to say … “Not In My Name”!
However, since my campaign got underway on 24th January, I was astonished by the scale of support from people who feel the same way that I do – that Labour and LibDems do not care enough for the poor and refuse to tax the super-rich fairly. The public meetings I have attended, telephone and e-mails I have received, have shown that people want an alternative. I didn’t expect this but I have also heard from former Conservative Party voters who feel the party is behaving in a brutal manner and has gone too far. People don’t want to see huge pay rises for MPs and vast bonuses for bankers, while nurses and others get below inflation rises.
In October 2014 I thought that the Green Party could not win this seat, but I wanted to give considerate, caring people a voice. However, with Labour, the Lib-Dems and even the Conservatives driving people away, it is clear that the Green Party’s share of the vote is going to surge. If you seek social justice, care for the weak, a fairer society then now is the time to drop the ‘LibLabCon’ and join us.
Very occasionally politics and political systems are challenged and transformed. In May 2015 we can do exactly that.