When I was first old enough to vote, back in the very late '80s and early '90s, I was a firm supporter of the Liberal Democrats -- largely thanks to the influence of my good friend Ben, a party stalwart, who campaigned incessantly for the local party during our late teens and later went on to be a parliamentary researcher.
I lived in West Worthing, the safest Tory seat in the known universe. The local Conservatives ruled the roost, to the extent that the incumbent M.P. once called round to my parents' house to tell me off because I'd written (at Ben's instigation, naturally) a critical letter about him to the local paper. I was out at my Saturday job at the time, and I never did find out how Terence (now Baron) Higgins got hold of my address. In Worthing in those days, the Lib Dem vote reached perhaps a few thousand each year, while the Labour candidates occasionally lost their deposit. In Worthing, a Lib Dem vote is an anti-establishment vote, albeit a very polite one.
I gave up voting Lib Dem as a student, when it became clear that I believed more strongly in the principles that Labour was supposed to stand for than in those the Lib Dems espoused. And I gave up voting Labour after the election of the first Blair government, when it became clear that I believed more strongly in the principles that Labour was supposed to stand for than in those the Labour party espoused.
Since then I've voted Green, partly because they are in some respects the only genuinely radical party left, partly out of a general approval for the underdog, and partly as an enormous "Fuck you" to all the major parties. (Not that I don't still have quite a bit of time for the Lib Dems, but I can see that changing if they were ever to form a government. If there's one thing the past two-and-a-half decades of political history would tend to suggest to me, it's that I don't like governments.)
This year, however, I'm feeling a renewed sense of motivation about my Green vote. I'm not for a moment saying that I want the Green party to form the government, nor even that I think they stand the slightest chance of attaining a Westminster seat. But I do think that only a massive show of support for the Green movements in all countries can end the currently universal political practice of turning a blind eye to the West's pollution and consumption, and confer anything like the moral authority we need to halt the far larger populations of countries like India and China following in our footsteps.
I'm feeling this way largely because of having recently discovered the political and environmentalist science fiction of Kim Stanley Robinson, which is among the best-written and most sophisticated S.F. I've ever read. Pacific Edge argues compellingly that a wholesale revolution in Western political thinking is indispensible if our world society is to be bearable a scant few generations from now, while The Gold Coast presents the hideousness to which our current attitudes will carry us if unchecked.
Pacific Edge's qualified utopia is one of localised government, heavily regulated industry and advanced ecological technologies. Its small communities share housing and essential labour in common, and are connected globally via the internet. The Gold Coast, on the other hand, shows an urbanised, industrialised, gas-guzzling West, comprehensively shafting the rest of the planet to the extent of fomenting wars purely in order to sell its own arms. Although I may have complained about the preponderance of team sports in Robinson's utopia, there's no doubt in my mind as to which of these potential futures is more likely to allow our descendants to survive and thrive, both spiritually and bodily.
So... this year I'll casting my Green vote with a renewed belief in what it stands for, which is that very comprehensive revolution in Western thought. As things stand, our governments pay lip service to environmental issues at home, while insisting that stricter controls are needed in the Third World. They compose treaties which are watery half-hearted versions of the most urgent recommendatinos of environmentalists, sign them with broad grins and enormous media attention, and then fail even to attain the minimal targets they've set themselves.
All the main parties of government and opposition in the U.K. and the U.S.A. collude in this, when they should be striving, with all the energy they can muster, to ensure that the whole of humanity has a planet it can live on half a century from now. And that is why I'm voting Green this time around.
You may feel that having read a really good S.F. book isn't such a very impressive validation of a voting intention I already had anyway, but it's a better reason than I had before.