Finally, the wheels are in motion. Earlier this month, the United Nations published a monolithic report on something that shouldn’t have needed rephrasing– that life on planet Earth is quickly being snuffed out. With devasting facts compiled by hundreds of scientists worldwide, it has neatly epitomised months of climate action. We’ve seen the birth of the Green New Deal, giving a sustainable kick up the backside of economic inequality in the UK and our record-breaking abstinence from coal, alongside both Extinction Rebellion and the worldwide youth strikes, movements which have spurred the government into declaring a ‘climate emergency’. Even Eurovision, famous for its political restraint, staged Finland’s song, ‘Look Away’, a performance decorated with melting icecaps and guilty, accusing lyrics in the semi-finals on the 14th May. That’s because, although some find room for petty criticism (such as Boris Johnson, who still froths at the mouth in the confines of his Telegraph column), the issue is not political. It’s global; life or death, and clearly, many of us are no longer looking away.
This was best exhibited in the local elections on 2nd May, which saw the Green Party gain a whopping 194 extra seats, 615 independent councillors and a place at the table across 53 new councils. Jonathan Bartley, the party’s co-leader, puts it nicely, calling them, ‘a phenomenal set of results.’ The result characterised how, over the years, the Green Party has slowly transcended its label as a hippie cult and won increasing respect from the electorate; a virtue of which mainstream parties have publicly stripped themselves.
Extinction Rebellion’s distinctive hourglass logo can now be seen on every other t-shirt, street corner and traffic light, timers for the planet’s imminent demise. For British politics, however, a different countdown is underway, one that has lasted for an agonising epoch. Encapsulated since 2016 in a dizzying number of metaphors, Brexit can now be described as a long overdue spring clean. It’s the nail in the coffin, backed up by years of voter de-alignment, for the UK’s collapsing two party system. Already epitomised by the naked interruptions in Parliament, the elephant in the room, standing full-monty behind Brexit is climate change, and the Greens are prepared for it.
On 23rd May, just a few weeks after the local elections, the British public will trudge to the polls again to vote in the European elections. We’ll be sending another lot of MEPs across the Channel to represent us, during (to put it lightly), quite a turbulent time for politics. Although it may seem crazy - as we teeter over the cliff-edge of Article 50, it’s really our chance at a second referendum; to hold sway over the parties offering new solutions to the whole messy affair. If the past few years have taught us anything, it's that voting actually works.
Apparently, we all get a bit more conservative as we grow older. Striving for stability, tradition and social norms later in life, we’ll gravitate towards parties that prioritise these comforts. Yet, the political, social and environmental order is falling apart around us at a dramatic rate; there’s no room anymore for reshuffling the status quo, nor is there time to ham fist a painful and pointless break from the EU. Labour voters are confused and frustrated by their party’s sluggishness (2,000 people joined the Greens in April, many of whom were jumping ship from Corbyn). Conservative voters are downright ashamed of the Prime Minister and her fractured ranks. There’s a chance that the party will even trump their worst result ever in the European elections, from around 200 years ago - Backbench’s own, Josh Adams, says so.
We don’t look great in the eyes of Europe right now. It’s time to repair our fractured relationship with a party that’s not saddled with the injuries of Brexit, the whispers of populism or the arrogance of class, a party that can tame the beast of climate change and bring about a fresh, renewed, springtime joy to the European Parliament.
That's why I'm voting Green.