I never expected to join another political party. After all those years with Labour, and then having my idealism destroyed by Tony Blair, I honestly thought that was it. To me Labour had become a nicer version of the Conservative party; and nothing would ever change. Now, many years later, I have joined the Green Party.
So what happened? A good question as I’d gotten kind of used to armchair politics. I didn’t have to worry about the party line, and I certainly didn’t miss canvassing. I could criticise, moan, laugh and cry at who was saying or doing what, and it didn’t really matter.
And criticise and moan I certainly did. I voted Green at the 2004 European election as a protest against New Labour and the war on Iraq. But deep down I still thought of myself as Labour. So despite Blair – and then Brown – I still defended the Labour line, made excuses, and, hoped things would change.
But I was kidding myself. Although I voted for Ed Miliband in my union ballot for the party leadership, my choice was not based on any conviction, but rather an assumption that Ed may somehow be different. I was wrong.
Recent Labour Party mess-ups (eg. photo holding the Sun newspaper, curbing benefits for young people) are just symptoms of an illness that I think set in years ago. The party has for too long looked towards the centre right, and as a result, in my opinion, it has lost its way.
But being on Twitter in the months before the recent European elections suddenly gave me access to a whole new political scene. I started following the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, Natalie Bennett and others. This gave me a new perspective and insight into Green politics, and I realised that plenty of people held similar views to me, that many had even been former Labour Party members, and that there was still a cause worth fighting for.
So after years in the political wilderness I decided, just a couple of weeks ago, to join the Green Party. Now I am a fairly pragmatic sort of person, so I know that on its own, my action will change nothing. But I’m not alone; and Green Party membership is growing rapidly.
I’m also well aware that with our current undemocratic voting system, the Green Party is not about to make serious gains at the next election. Nor do I doubt that the entrenched forces of corporate Britain will at some point do everything it can to halt us once they recognise that the Green Party can make a genuine difference. But even if the state spies on Green party activists, even if the BBC ignores us, even if opinion pollsters describe us as “others”, at least I know that I am part of something in which I can believe. That feels amazingly liberating, and despite the criticism I have received from some Labour supporters, I’m glad I chose the Green Party.