I understand why some voters are backing Labour: good on you for speaking up against injustice and inequality. If your mind is made up, so be it.
For those with concerns about Labour’s position on Europe, immigration, or even the environment, I want to be crystal clear about one thing however: there’s nothing “tactical” about voting Labour in North Thanet.
Based on 2015’s results, if every UKIP voter (12,097) swung Labour (8,411) and every single Lib Dem voter (1,645) joined them, Labour would get 22,153 votes. This would be a miracle of staggering proportions. But if the miracle did happen?
Sir Roger Gale would still win, with 23,045 votes.
(You can replicate this experiment with 2010’s results, with a much smaller UKIP vote and a much larger Lib Dem vote. The end result is the same.)
If you are not a Tory in North Thanet, any vote is a protest vote.
So, pick your protest wisely.
Here’s how I see it.
Vote for electoral reform: Our electoral system leaves most voters disenfranchised. Vote for the party that supports genuine reform; the Green Party, which backs proportional representation, over Labour, which doesn’t. (We’ve tried to work with Labour. We’d consider standing aside if their candidate had a credible chance of winning and a commitment to electoral reform. We wrote to North Thanet Labour to discuss fielding a progressive alliance candidate. We didn’t get a reply). Vote Green.
Vote for a local candidate: I live and am raising my young family in the constituency. This doesn’t, by default, make me a good candidate. It does mean that the issues are on my doorstep and shouting in my face daily: hospitals and schools in special measures, limited opportunities for youngsters, real deprivation. I’ve been campaigning on them between elections, particularly on mental health services (the decline of which has a huge knock-on effect on both the police and on A&E). Labour’s candidate is perfectly pleasant – and based in Faversham. I won’t disappear after the election: Help build a powerful, progressive local Green voice. Vote Green.
Vote to combat climate change: Not a winner on the doorstep? I hear this a lot, but I’m going to talk about it anyway; it’s too important an issue to neglect. Climate change is escalating dramatically. From ocean acidification to extreme weather events, rising sea levels and soon an ice-free Arctic, the impact will be severe. The Green Party has led on this issue for decades; it’s at the heart of what we do. It might be unpopular; obscure for some. But it’s our planet and we’re here to protect it. Vote Green.
Immigration: All for it. I’ve been an immigrant. I’m married to an immigrant. And I’ll vocally support the right of people to come here, bringing energy, entrepreneurial spirit, academic enquiry or simply hard graft. I’ll fight for the rights of foreign students to come and study here, against Theresa May’s wishes, I’ll fight for the right of British citizens to live with their foreign partners in this country even if they earn less than £18,500, and I’ll fight for us to accommodate refugees fleeing wars that they didn’t start. Vote Green – get a passionate advocate of an open Britain. Vote Labour? You risk getting mugged off.
Vote for hard truths: Unlike your Labour candidate, I am not going to climb aboard the “Save Manston Airport” bandwagon that rolls around every election. Manston Airport lost £100 million in its 16 years of private ownership. It’s a dodo, not a phoenix and someone has to be prepared to speak this unpalatable truth. (It’s not going to be Sir Roger Gale, who is loudly agitating for a mystery fund registered in a tax haven). Instead, I’ll put concerted pressure on its owners to make good on their promises of high quality jobs and green space and work to attract, not repel inward investment. Vote for honesty. Vote Green.
Europe: While Labour was tepid on Brexit, the Green Party was proudly fighting the Remain corner. For all its flaws, I’m proudly pro-European and believe that as the second largest contributor to the EU budget, with – like all member states – the right of veto, the UK could be a powerful voice for democratic, progressive reform at the heart of Europe. We deserve a vote on the shape of the final deal, including the option to remain. Believe in more democracy? Vote Green.
Giving back: With a £74,000 MP’s salary triple the North Thanet average wage, I promise, if elected, to put £1,000 of my own salary every month back into the community, supporting local sports clubs, charities, parks and institutions. This isn’t a promise I make lightly to win votes. It’s something I’d genuinely love to do. (I could do it and still be earning more than my perfectly adequate salary now, so why not?) I’ll track this fully transparently on my website each month, along with my expenses.
Vote Green. Vote Ed Targett for North Thanet.