In recovery from tactical voting

Rachel Collinson, Green Party candidate for West Ham, explains why a Green vote is never a wasted vote

Hello. My name is Rachel Collinson and I’m a recovering tacti-holic.

Four years I skidded along in the surface of politics. I used to vote Labour to keep the Tories out. I dabbled a bit with donating. I did every petition around. Then when that didn’t work, I looked around for some harder stuff. I spoiled my ballot. I voted Lib Dem to get the Greens in.

That was when I hit rock bottom. I thought things were never going to change and sank into deep political apathy.

Then one day a friend told me about tacti-holics anonymous. I finally looked up and saw the vote for policies site. The scales fell from my eyes. I realised I could no longer live that lifestyle, and decided to vote for what I actually believed in.

It’s like a new lease of life. No more holding my nose. I know that I’m building a new movement, that things can change. And Greece is proof of just how quickly they can change!

Here’s what they don’t tell you about this. There’s an interesting secret the establishment don’t want you to know about. They’d rather you stay a slave to tacti-holism, going to more extreme lengths to prop up a broken system.

The secret is: Short Money. What’s that? Well, exactly.

Provided a party has one MP (which the Green Party does) and over 150,000 votes overall (which we got last time) then that party is eligible for Short Money. More votes mean more money.

Over the last five years, this has provided Caroline Lucas MP with the assistance to introduce a stream of brilliant private members bills and amendments on the things we all want: an end to exploitation of slaves, railways back in public ownership, reinstating the NHS, closing tax loopholes and more.

My name is Rachel Collinson, and I am a recovering tacti-holic. A green vote is never a wasted vote.

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Jesus and the Greens

“…for those who are disillusioned with the mainstream parties and looking for a fresh political vision, going Green on May 7th would be a profound delusion.”

So Gillan Scott writes in his Archbishop Cranmer blog.

When I read through the post, with its undertone that no true Christians would vote for the Green Party, never mind join, I wondered if I had indigestion. No – actually, it was a bowel-ward fire of indignation. Reading certain comments only added to the acid reflux.

The kind of thinking that informs this post and subsequent comments reduces Christianity to a tiny corner of life. A sort of holy box wherein only certain things must go and dissent must be checked at the lid.

Inside the box we have sexuality, right to life, and criticism of the nation state of Israel. Any other subject is an ideological free-for-all.

Any non-Christian observer inspecting this box might well assume that sex is the root of all kinds of evil and money is the root of all kinds of good.

I would like to set the record straight.

My dangerous journey in mixing faith and politics began with a book on theological economics; a dazzling work called ‘Root of All Evil?’ by Antonia Swinson. (A book strongly endorsed, I might add, by Keith Tondeur and Kevin Cahill.) The question the author asked was: “What has the Bible got to say about economics?”

I was expecting a treatise on personal spending, but what I read went so much further than that. The author examined the rules on finance and ownership in the Torah and asked – if we applied those same principles today; what would our economic policy look like?

Her conclusions stayed with me ever since.

The more I discovered about the Green Party, the more I realised that I might finally have found a political home for my theological conclusions. A party that has dared to paint a picture of world where our economy isn’t based on crippling personal debt; where the creation of money is democratised; where true economic equality is feasible; where the playing field for all people is level. I think I’d call it – not the American Dream, but the Mosaic Dream.

I believe that the love of money is indeed the root of all kinds of evil. As it’s a subject that’s one of the most important to Jesus, it’s one of the most important to me. And one of the key subjects that has informed my choice of party. This, alongside such wonderful ideas as:

  • Devolving and spreading out power as much as possible to the people, so that it corrupts as little as possible;
  • Prioritising creation care and preventing animal cruelty;
  • Reuniting families torn apart by visa rules that prevent spouses from joining their children;
  • A refreshing focus on what is best for people rather than best for GDP, which would – for example – allow parents to spend more time with their kids instead of being pushed out to work;
  • Having the teaching curriculum set by teachers rather than by government, giving educators the freedom to teach in the way they see fit, treating children as whole individuals rather than units of economic production.

Those are all things – along with prayer, advice and careful thought – that prompted me to stand as the Green Party’s candidate for the wonderful constituency of West Ham.

So, I encourage any Christian to decide who to vote for based on that party’s policies, and not on the demographics of their candidates.

 Rachel Collinson is the Green Party candidate for West Ham. FInd out more about her here.

Meet the candidates: Tamsin Omond

Tamsin Omond is standing as our Parliamentary Candidate for East Ham. Always smiling and ready for action, I caught up with her to find out about her love of Newham and why residents should vote for her.

tamsin1

All about Tamsin…

What is your name and where do you come from?

My name is Tamsin Omond and I grew up in Kilburn – in North West London.

Why did you decide to join the Green Party?

I joined the day after the 2010 General Election, the best moment of which was watching Caroline Lucas win Brighton Pavilion and become the UK’s first Green MP. Before I joined the Greens I had spent my life campaigning against the symptoms of the system we live within – against inequality, against climate changing infrastructure, against government policy.  I joined the Green Party because we say yes – because we have a long term vision that we are working towards that is a true alternative to the way the world works today – that shows us a road map to a society where the rights of all people and the planet that we share are balanced and respected.

What is the best thing about living in East Ham?

The people! From the campaign to replace London City Airport (a community initiative that I work with – and that brought me to the Borough) to a campaign that is just beginning that demands 100% social housing to replace West Ham stadium – the people in Newham want to organise and fight against elites to protect their communities. It is inspiring especially when you remember that the all-Labour council will court international developers rather than support East Ham communities: the electorate. Examples like the Focus E15 mums who were evicted but fought against their eviction and won, and continue to fight for others at risk of losing a home – we’re a borough full of people who support each other and fight and win and continue to fight against all odds.

What 3 facts might people not know about you?

  1. I speak fluent Italian (not very useful).
  2. I am a fair weather and a foul weather cyclist.
  3. When I left university I spent a year working in a church because I thought I wanted to become a priest!

 Voting Green in East Ham

Why should East Ham residents vote for you?

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 07.54.22Because we need MPs who work hard for the communities they serve rather than yes men who dish out Tory-lite cuts that will hurt so many people living in Newham – one of the youngest and poorest (and most polluted) of London’s borough. Because we need an NHS that is a public service, we need air that is safe for our children to breathe and we need to fight against (not court) the 1% who – with London City Airport’s expansion and West Ham’s 96% private housing development – are looting Newham. We also need an MP who believes that all people are equal and should have equal rights – which sadly, with Stephen Timms’s voting record on LGBT equality policy – is not currently the case.

What do you think are the important issues for East Ham?

Housing and 1% developments – in particular, London City airport and West Ham stadium. I would not allow LCA to expand and would invite proposers from investors who desire to replace the airport with housing and other much needed developments. I would require Galliards to build 100% social housing at West Ham stadium.

Air quality – I would campaign for investment in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure and for the introduction of more hybrid buses in East Ham. I would campaign against the Silvertown tunnel and for greater public transport provision for the Royal Docks.

 For people who are reluctant to vote, for whatever reason, why should they take part in the General Election?

The only people who benefit from you not voting are the elite. The 1% pay lobbyists millions of pounds to make sure their interests are heard in Parliament. This General Election is your opportunity to make sure your voice is heard too.

Just for fun

Summer or winter?

Summer

Early bird or night owl?

Both, but not during the same 24 hours.

Tea or coffee?

Tea.

Dogs or cats?

Cats.

Vanilla or chocolate?

Chocolate.

Tamsin is pumped and ready to spread the word about the alternative vote that is Green in Newham. We wish her the best of luck in the coming weeks! Do leave any additional questions for Tamsin in the comment box and she will get back to you shortly.

Tamsin campaigning alongside Baroness Jenny Jones AM for cleaner air in London
Tamsin campaigning alongside Baroness Jenny Jones AM for cleaner air in London

Meet the candidates: Rachel Collinson

Rachel Collinson is standing as our Parliamentary Candidate for West Ham. I caught up with her recently to find out more about her, her commitment to Green politics and what local issues she cares about.2012-12-09 12.48.38

All about Rachel…

What is your name and where do you come from?

My name is Rachel Collinson. I never know what to say when people ask me where I come from. I’m a reet Northern lass (I’ve lived in both Yorkshire and the very North-East of Scotland) but have made London my permanent home since 1998.

Why did you decide to join the Green Party?

I became disillusioned with politics after voting Lib Dem at the last election, hoping that they would reform our unfair electoral system. When they joined up with the Tories I was absolutely gutted, and after I recovered from this let down, decided to see what Labour had to offer. But gradually I realised that Labour aren’t capable of speaking up for ordinary people any more. Ed Balls wanted to match the coalition’s cuts and would have raised tuition fees as well. They didn’t even take a stand against fracking!

That was the moment I joined a political party for the first time. The more I learnt about the Green Party, the more I realised that they speak for people like me. More and better social housing, energy security, a million new jobs, cheaper heating bills, no more pointless wars… what’s not to like?

What is the best thing about living in West Ham?

Living in West Ham is brilliant for hundreds of reasons. There are so many different races and cultures living peacefully together here. I love the Queen Elizabeth Park and how it’s been cleverly reclaimed from industrial wasteland. The sense of community you get when walking around places like Forest Gate is wonderful. I particularly like the creativity and hard work you see here all around you.

What 3 facts might people not know about you?

  1. One of the proudest moments in my life was being one of the million people on the streets of London in 2002 who were protesting the Iraq War.
  2. I was part of the campaign to free my hero, Aung San Suu Kyi, from house arrest in Burma. She was eventually freed by the cruel military dictatorship there, and I’m humbled to have been a part of making that happen.
  3. I love teaching young women how to code.

 Voting Green in West Ham

Why should West Ham residents vote for you?

The Green Party are the only party who really know what life is like for most people. We will fund public services properly, not cut them, with a strong plan to close tax loopholes. We won’t take this nation to war again, making life more peaceful and prosperous for everybody and not just the chosen few.

If you vote for me, you’re voting for honesty, for a stand against corruption and for real change. It’s a vote that says you want better things for the people of Newham. As somebody who runs a small business, I know what it means to work hard and I know how to create jobs. I will put that knowledge into practice in government. I will stand up for everybody who has been left out in the cold – literally – by our current, broken system.

What do you think are the important issues for West Ham?

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 15.46.54Housing. Firstly, we have a housing crisis, and nothing is being done to cut the waiting list. Look at the Focus E15 mums – being cruelly kicked out of their homes for no good reason. And while this is going on, nearly every grand new housing scheme proposed has no social housing. Why? Developers – and landlords – are being enabled to make giant profits at the expense of ordinary people.

The Green Party have plans to build 500,000 new council houses, paid for by social rents and by ending tax cuts for landlords. This would bring Newham far more housing at rents we can pay and still afford to raise a family.

Health. It’s so difficult to get an appointment on the same day in GP surgeries in Newham. On top of that, our A&E departments are having to bear the brunt of council cuts to social care and mental health services. We are currently paying billions of pounds to corporations through Private Finance Initiatives – profits which should be going directly on caring for patients.

This could be solved if the NHS was re-nationalised, we had free social care and proper funding. The Green Party would protect the NHS for good by making sure that profit has no place in it, and join up healthcare between councils and the NHS so Newham’s hospital chaos can be ended.

Transport. As anybody who’s travelled on the line between Stratford and Forest Gate knows, overcrowding on trains is past a joke. We need more frequent trains. We need new carriages that are more suitable for this line, and we need safer stations.

The Green Party would not renew the contract on this line. Then we can take it straight back into the hands of the public. Profits can then be reinvested into the system rather than going straight into the pockets of shareholders.

Energy. Our heating bills keep going up and up. So many people are living in damp, cold houses and are having to choose between eating or paying the bill. I get so cross about this!

The Green Party would put into place a massive program of insulation and energy efficiency measures. The value of your house will go up, and you’ll pay hundreds of pounds less in bills! Not only that, it will create hundreds of thousands of green jobs and reduce pollution which affects us all.

Pollution. Newham is known as London’s dirty borough. Unfortunately we are one of the most polluted areas of the UK. We are breathing in toxic chemicals every day, meaning a shorter life, lung and heart diseases.

As you’d expect, the Green Party take a tough line on pollution. The main cause here is industry and transport, particularly our buses and trains that still run on diesel! I’d campaign to get them changed to hybrid or fully electric vehicles, meaning that our children’s lungs will be full of clean air rather than poisonous gases.

 For people who are reluctant to vote, for whatever reason, why should they take part in the General Election?

It’s easy to think that all politicians don’t care, and they all take backhanders and are in it just for themselves. But have a look at our current Green MP, Caroline Lucas, who has won more than one award for most ethical politician. She claims next to nothing in personal expenses and declares all of her meetings, donations and interests. I look at her and think – yes, that is a lady I can trust, and I was inspired to follow in her footsteps.

The amount of people I’ve heard saying ‘I’ve never voted before, but I’ve just registered so that I can vote Green’ gives me hope that more and more people are seeing what I have. Seeing a party they can finally trust.

Just for fun

Summer or winter?

Although I’m so pasty that I could actually sunburn through cloud, I’ve got to say summer is best.

Early bird or night owl?

Anybody who’s observed the state of me in the morning knows that I’m a night owl through and through. Plus, owls are cool and totally strokable.

Tea or coffee?

Tea. I can do 60 mpg on tea.

Dogs or cats?

I love all animals, but cats just seem to be that little bit cuter than dogs.

Vanilla or chocolate?

Who exactly chooses vanilla in response to this question?! It’s got to be chocolate every time, unless you’re talking paint colours…

Rachel truly is an inspirational local lady. We wish her the best of luck in the coming weeks! Do leave any additional questions for Rachel in the comment box and she will get back to you shortly.