Why I am voting Green tomorrow:

Cargo Bikes London

My niece and nephew enjoy a few car free moments

 

A good friend of mine is the local Green party candidate for the area I live in. Mostly out of loyalty, and because I share the green parties overarching concerns about the environmental degradation of the planet I have been popping along to local hustings to support them and have even done a spell handing out Green Party leaflets. I have to admit that I don’t have a detailed knowledge of the Greens policy proposals, so I did at times feel like a bit of a fraud.

I rationalised that it was ok not to know anything about the specifics of the Green Party’s policies, because at the moment there is a good chance that they won’t form a government. One person who took a leaflet even joked with me as she walked off “So you are going to get in this time? (Ha Ha)”. Sadly, she didn’t seem to realise that the Greens are in. We have a Green MEP for the UK and in Europe there is a powerful group of Green MEPs from various countries in the European parliament that often work together and achieve a lot.

No I don’t think in the near future the Greens will form the national government of the UK. I do however want a few Greens dotted around in elected positions so there is someone throwing slings and arrows in defence of the health of the environment; which has a massive impact on my ongoing health and enjoyment in life.

The Greens have been pushing hard on the issue of house prices in London, (mortgages and rental), which is laudable. They have also been perhaps the most ardent supporters of cycling reform in the capital, which for obvious reasons I support.

I help out with a community group called the Transition Town. It was at a meeting about organising some local play streets; it suddenly hit me that not quite everything is rosy in the garden.

I am not a defeatist person far from it. I like to achieve. Clearly the UK is a great country to live in and it has fewer less pressing problems than other places in the world. But that isn’t to say that there aren’t ways we could improve our lot in life.

I don’t have kids, so it came as a shock to me that, during the play street events, all the parents have to be present, to protect their children. That seemed to fundamentally change the nature and point of the event for me.

I thought the point of play streets was so parents could share the load. A couple of parents would watch the kids and the rest would get some time for life admin etc. No, it is just about novelty. It’s a new different place for them to play for a short time and a way to get to meet and speak to the neighbours.

The fact that this was laughable to local mums that they could just let their kid’s roam free came as quite a shock to me. At about the age of 10 I lived in South Africa, a much more violent and dangerous country than the UK. We had a 2 acre garden and my mum defined a number of roads that she was happy for me to go out on, and I would cycle around them until I got bored and came home. Within those constraints I was allowed to roam free.

For me the idea of having a child in my 70m sq. flat, seem to me like torcher for them and me. EU legislation says you are not allowed to tether pigs. That’s keep them tied to one spot by a rope because it increases their susceptibility to stress.

Humans have become an urban species, 50% of the global population live in cities. We move to and stay in cities for work. So not living in a city isn’t really an option.

I would hate for us to become another “domesticated” species. It seems to me there is nothing wrong with razing a family in a flat, if you have the power to reclaim your streets. But if you don’t then, you are tethering yourself and your children to a very small area for almost two decades, and we no longer even treat pigs that badly.

I was fascinated to read the playground is an invention that came about because of the increased frequency of the motor car. Kids use to play in the streets. Then they started getting hit by cars so we siloed their play time behind rails in parks you have to travel to: In the process imprisoning children and making their parents their jailers.

I could do what my farther did: “Drive to you qualify”. Keep driving away from your place of work until you can afford a big enough house to have all your needs for space met on your own private property, i.e. buy a big house with a garden. But then I would also have to do what he did, pay everyday with is time and spend a huge proportion of my waking day sat in a car seat.

There may be plenty of people who think “tough: that’s what I had to do”. But is that right? Tourists don’t come on holiday to big suburban homes with pool rooms and jacozies. Tourist visit places with amazing public amenities. And you are supposed to ask your political representatives for the things you want. Even if they have to tell you, you can’t have it.

What I aspire to is a happy, stimulating, contented family life. Form me that doesn’t mean being 24 hour watchman for the children I wish to have. I will do that if I have to, but it is not the life I want. There is a small thing that would help me in that aim a lot. A couple of 3ft metal bollards at the end of my street to make my road permeable to bikes & pedestrians but not to the kind of idiots that drive 3 tons of metal fast down my roads in a city with an average speed of 12mph.

On this occasion I will be voting Green because only the Greens seem to be willing and able to ask for something as innocuous as a bollard at the end of the street. I cringe at the main parties painful attempts to differentiate themselves; At least it is still pretty clear what the greens are about. They are the guys that want a liveable environment, free from pollution, safe to move around in. Frankly if my vote helps get one guy in a room whose raison d’etre, is to make those points then that is worth far more to me than 10 plastic members of parliament who tow and tug on a main party line.