Friday, 8 May 2015

Election Blog May 2015

Why are things changing and what can be done about it?

I voted Green Party. And I was taken aback by what has happened with the Conservatives and SNP doing so well. Things have changed. I want to understand why this has happened and to see how I can best respond.

There were 2 big things that drove the electorate in this election. Firstly, perhaps the biggest motivator was for jobs. I suggest that a key part (or at least a part) of people’s motivations to vote were:

  •  Conservatives – I want to keep my job
  • Labour – don’t let cuts threaten my job or my income if I have a low wage or am on benefits
  • UKIP – don’t let immigrants get my job
  • Green – if I have a job, I want a living wage
  • Liberal Democrats – I’ll vote for you to keep out the party that’s threatening my job

Secondly, the desire for self-determination – the rise of nationalism:

  • SNP and Plaid Cymru and various Northern Ireland parties – we want the power to determine how we create/manage our jobs 
  •  Conservatives and UKIP – we don’t want unelected people in Brussels deciding what is going on in the UK and affecting our jobs

That’s why the Conservatives and SNP did so well in this election as most people work in the private sector (about 80% of the workforce in 2013), want to keep their jobs and have national self-determination.

I remember a study of human motivation in work. Money turns out to motivate most people only so far as meeting the basics in life. After that, the 3 big motivators are: autonomy, learning new skills and being part of something bigger/some higher purpose.

It seems that there is a good analogy here with the current political trends. 

For ‘autonomy’ read ‘self-determination’ or the rise of nationalism. That’s not all bad. People want to have the power to make their own choices – and sometimes smaller countries give people that freedom. 

For ‘leaning new skills’ read ‘innovation’. Smaller countries tend to innovate much better than larger countries. I saw this in New Zealand which has a great track record in innovation – for instance, it was one of the first to allow woman to vote. I remember asking a Welsh MEP about the innovation of green education in Welsh schools and she agreed that the main reason they were able to do it was because of devolution. Cuba did some wonderful things in terms of food self-sufficiency when the Soviet Union stopped supporting the country. And Bhutan has/is experimenting with a Gross National Happiness Index.

And for ‘being part of something bigger/some higher purpose’ – read ‘wanting the world to be a better place’. People can give much more expression to a higher purpose if they have sufficient autonomy and the ability to learn new skills/innovate. So, it is my hope that countries that are smaller and have self-determination will be better able to respond to the global challenges we face. 3 examples are:

  • Climate change – all countries need to do something about this – no one country can solve this on their own
  • Tax avoidance – this needs collective agreement by all countries to stop tax havens existing
  • Having global economic rules so that unfettered capitalism does not produce the income inequalities that are blighting our (and other) societies

So, I suggest that:

  • Devolution is a good thing as it lets citizens become more autonomous and innovate
  • We need stronger international cooperation on global issues.

That’s Green. (Or at least my version of Green).