leaving labour and going green
Scottee explain why for the first time in his life he's voting Green, not Labour.
I was seven when my Mum first took me to the polling station. I stood behind her and looked around nervously as she cast her vote. I asked her who she had voted for as we rushed to school, she told me I shouldn't ask people how they voted as it was a private matter.
In the years that followed Mum taught me about women's suffrage and why it was important the working classes used their vote. At some point I became aware my family were Labour though and though - my Grandparents came to this country under Conservative reign as economic migrants, they were told on building sites and in hospitals that Labour had their interests at heart. My Mum adopted their voting alliance and for my first vote in 2005 I followed suit.
Throughout my life Labour have introduced policies that have changed it for the better; from civil partnership to LGBT employment law, but they've also done things to question my loyalty; illegal wars, expenses sagas and cash-for-influence - there's nothing worse than being disappointed by something you believe in.
The respite from Labour over the past five years has given me space to question my solidarity, leaving me disenfranchised from a party I thought had my best intentions at heart but why do so many of us stick by something we don't fully support?
Winning is inherent in our culture, to win is the only way to succeed and I think we tend to vote in a similar way - like professional gamblers, looking for the horse that is most likely to come first. Our vote is our voice and in an age where protest is legislated it's our only real way of exercising our democratic right but still we decide to choose the lesser of three evils. For this election I've decided to relinquish all glory in choosing the winning team, I want the party I choose to represent my voice without making any justifications.
Over the past week I've read the numerous pamphlets that have been half heartedly shoved through my letterbox, I've investigated the intricacies of manifestos and subscribed to campaigns. With a mind full of other people's ideas on how our country should be run and a belly full of optimism I've decided to break family tradition - I'm leaving Labour, I'm going Green.
Labour no longer feel radical enough for me, the 'working man's party' my Grandad voted for is now headed up by a man who thinks saying words like ain't is speaking to the working classes. I want change, I want political reform and I haven't found that in the Labour manifesto.
Owen Jones thinks voters like me are dangerous. If we jump the red ship he believes it will allow the Tories and the far right to advance, but on Thursday I'm not being asked to save liberalism, I'm being asked what I believe in, which could be argued is the same thing in this election.
As much as I'm fearful of the far right, its essential they have a political voice as democracy works both ways. Instead of strategically voting them into non-existence by choosing Labour, we should perhaps work on educating our bigots, blocking their vote doesn't eradicate them, it only radicalises them.
With the three big male-led parties no longer topping the charts a second term of coalition is looking likely and smaller parties have seen a surge in membership as a result - the once sidelined voices of the SNP are now at the forefront of our media coverage, they can no longer be ignored. Its likely the smaller parties will be recruited by the three wise monkeys to make up the numbers, giving the voters a greater sense of freedom with whom we spend our vote.
The person I'm going to choose on Thursday is leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett. She is standing in my constituency and only last week led a protest outside the historic LGBTQ venue The Black Cap, sold without warning, set to be redeveloped into swanky apartments - the person I'm voting for is fighting to save my local queer hangout - that's what I'm looking for in an MP!
If successful the Green Party would put queer relationships on the syllabus, LGBTQ asylum seekers will be treated with 'the respect they deserve' and Charlie Kiss, standing for the Green's in Islington South is the first out trans man to run for Parliament! It's not just queer policy I've considered, the Greens want to get rid of our nuclear arms and use £100m it will cost us to update them to secure the NHS, they want to raise the minim wage to £10 per hour (Labour would only increase it to £8), they'll abolish tuition fees so education can be free for all and they are actively readdressing gender equality in parliament - over 200 female candidates are standing for the Green party in this election - this is the queer, feminist, peaceful island I want to live on!
I took to Facebook and posted the Greens arts manifesto that sets out to improve public engagement and encourage artist-led organisations like my own to grow, four people un-friended me, I can now understand why Mum told me voting was a private matter; people are easily offended when it comes to politics.
I think it's time we were far more public about our views because privacy breed's contempt - politics will always be boring, unimportant and dusty if we don't talk or engage with it. When we share our political beliefs we reveal our reasoning, we inform each other what we think is important, we share knowledge and find solidarity, we find opposition, we begin to have real conversations and in a digital age that's a rarity. I'm coming out as a Green voter not because I want to convince you to do the same but because I want to put politics back on the agenda, I want us in the under 30's category to be political.
Having political conversations with friends this week I've learnt that a lot about my mates - they too are disenfranchised by politics, we're crying out for reform. With the smaller voices now being heard, coalition likely and Scotland having more control over England, parliamentary reformation isn't that far off utopia it once was.
If you are going to have your voice heard this election don't be a sheep, educate yourself, read manifestos, have conversation and ditch the idea of winning as I have - choose someone you believe in.
Regardless of how you vote on Thursday just make sure you do, people have fought and even died for the ballot paper and if you've ever voted for someone off the X Factor you really have no right to ambivalence.
Photography Holly Revell