I read Nick Cohen's piece on Comment is Free about a victory for climate denialists. The sense of frustration from it inspires me to write this response.
I've been in the Green Party twice. 1989 to 1991 and 1998 to the present day. In between, I was an activist and campaigner for Labour (meaning that I've done the "pragmatic" thing and will deal with those arguments whenever they come up). Social justice and Green issues go hand in hand for me. Since 2002, I've stood as a candidate in every election year for the Greens. Council elections, General Elections, European Elections. And it is a hard thing to do. We are not backed by a lot of money. We don't have a great deal of infrastructure around the country, with the exception of a few particularly active areas. In all that time, from 1989 to the present, the Greens have been utterly consistent on one issue. Climate Change.
So when I read from Nick that he is in despair, imagine what a Green activist might think. We've seen ballot box after ballot box stuffed with votes for other parties, when we know that we have been working to address the issue that worries so many of us, with only a few small successes along the way. We have been shouting loudly that we must tackle this huge issue, for the sake of our children but now also for the sake of all of us now. Even with UKIP now ranked as a "main party" and the Greens being shut out by the media establishment, despite an MP, London Assembly members and Scottish MSPs, which UKIP don't even have, we do not despair. It matters that we stand and contest elections whenever we can. The alternative is the "pragmatic" approach where an issue that isn't immediate and "in your face" gets put on a backburner even by well-meaning politicians.
To Nick (and all the columnists, independent political voices and figures within the NGO movement) I have a really simple message for you, which is "help us". It really is that simple. If you are seriously worried about Climate Change you need to nail your colours to the Green mast at these European Elections. If you think I'd rather be with strategic, because you want to see Labour win the next election, you are missing the point. If you want the Lib Dems to hold onto 2 or 3 of their Euro seats, then you are missing the point. If you don't agree with 100% of Green policy, again, you are missing the point.
Here in the UK, the story is currently all about UKIP. How well will they do, will they top the poll, how many MEPs will they gain? But here is some news which isn't being reported. Right now that is setting the context for the European Elections and beyond that, the General Election. This is the equivalent of letting the Tea Party set the agenda in America - you end up skewered on libertarian ideology. What if instead, the story is that the Greens treble their number of MEPs in their biggest political advance towards being a national political force since 1999. What if the story is that the Greens overhaul the Liberal Democrats to win 4th place? The story is that Climate Change will matter at a UK General Election. The alternative is that it won't, despite the obvious lip service red and blue politicians will pay to it if there is a flood or extreme weather.
What do we Greens need to make that happen? A 1.3% swing to us to gain 4 additional European seats and a little bit of help. We want to deal with the issue you are most worried about. We won't put it to the back of the "to do list". It is core to our politics. So please, please don't write about how badly you are in despair, and give us the help we need, and the coverage that the Greens actually deserve.