(Testing out queuing posts to post later here, let’s see if this works…I want to get this post up when I’m in work, so that when I get home I can do a different one)
In April I was having a conversation on Twitter with a comic writer, who was debating how to vote in May. The crux of his argument was that he would never again vote for either of the two main parties, because of their behaviour in government, but that he was torn between two other parties. One had a manifesto he agreed with wholeheartedly, but their support in the city where he lived was in single-digit percentages. The other was much more likely to win, but he couldn’t agree with 100% of their policies (though he didn’t disagree enough to rule them out).
I don’t think it’s right that people should have to make that kind of choice. You should be able to go to the ballot box knowing that your vote will make a difference, whoever you vote for, and be able to vote for the party you think is best.
Most of the people reading this blog are people who support minority parties – whenever we’ve had political discussions in the comments here, there have been Greens, and Lib Dems, and Nationalists, and anarcho-syndicalists, and Libertarians, and in fact every flavour of politics except the hard right and the Big Two. A lot of you are tired, depressed and sickened by only being given an effective choice between two very similar parties for government – I know I am.
A Yes vote in the referendum in May can change that. AV will mean that *all* votes will count, no matter how small the party you support. It’ll mean you never have to choose between your head and your heart when voting. It’ll make millions of people who’ve never had a voice in our system have one.
If you aren’t sure, just have a look at who’s on what side. On the “Yes” side are the more reasonable members of the Labour party (Ed Milliband, Ben Bradshaw, Neil Kinnock, Ken Livingstone and the Compass and Progress organisations, as well as Sunder Katwala of the Fabian Society) – the referendum was in the Labour manifesto , the Lib Dems, the Greens, the Pirate Party and basically anyone who’s interested in reform.
The only two political parties to have come out for the “No” campaign are the Tories and the BNP. Joining them are a few Labour dinosaurs like David Blunkett, the unelected Lord John Prescott, the unelected Lord John Reid (the one Labour member even more right-wing than Blunkett) and Lord Falconer, who knows all about democracy as he got his ministerial roles through the very democratic process of being Tony Blair’s ex-flatmate from university, without ever bothering with that pesky ‘standing for election’ business.
So this is about as clear-cut an issue as you can get, really. Either you want a more democratic society, or you don’t – it’s a yes or no question on the referendum.
The problem is, Tories and Lords tend to have more money than people who like democracy. So to beat them, the “Yes” campaign has to think big.
So we’re planning the biggest grassroots campaign in British political history. On Saturday we’re opening the first wave of what will eventually be fifty volunteer phone-banks around the country. We’re also, in a couple of weeks, going to be rolling out a ‘virtual phonebank’ so you can call people from your own home.
The plan is that we will be contacting more people for this referendum than all three major parties contacted in the last election put together. And it won’t just be canvassing – we won’t just be phoning people up and asking them which way they’re voting, we’ll be talking with them, finding out what they think and why. It’ll be the most ambitious political campaign in British history, and it’ll be staffed by volunteers. 140,000 people have already signed up to help, but we need more.
I’ll be popping in to the Manchester phone bank on Saturday to help out, and you should help with whichever phone bank you can. Sign up here.
This is the most important political campaign that will happen this generation. This is your chance to make a difference. If you’re tired of not having your voice heard, if you’re tired of being ignored, if you’re tired of a choice between Tweedledum or Tweedledee in government, sign up to help.