I wrote this in reply to this Facebook status from a Green Party candidate:
A question for all my green yet not Green friends – what might stop you voting for us? Genuinely interested as there seem to be a lot of people that I know who are working really hard to help make Bristol a greener city, but then vote for someone else. Cheers.
It’s really frustrating isn’t it? You look at both the policies and discover that 25% of the country would vote Green, but actually they don’t and won’t. I feel your pain.
- Have a clear and compelling vision. There is a simple narrative in here about civilised society, dignity, fairness, opportunity, flourishing. And it’s lost. Get better copywriters. (PS yes, clearly it’s complicated and systemic, but that’s what copywriters DO. Also: be strong on the change process: talk intelligently about sliding scale regulation / phased transition / localised protoyping. Anyone can describe a rainbow, but tell me how you’re going to make it and you’ve got my attention.)
- Raise the bottom bar, not the top one. People think that being green’s all about increasing amounts of individual pain and self-flagellation, whereas in fact it’s mostly about not letting a small number of people be dicks who are being unfair and hurting the rest of us. Their ‘freedom TO’ is hurting our ‘freedom FROM’. Talk of decency and harm and freedom and you appeal to left AND right.
- Do more to dispel fear and uncertainty. The future is weird and frightening and I’m not sure things are going to work. Provide strong simple points why we should try, and describe in beautiful enticing detail the size of the prize; though provide awareness of back-up plans if it doesn’t work out. (Yes, backup plans: the public is surprisingly rational if you have the balls to punch through the media.)
- Talk THROUGH the media. Have some balls. Say what you want to say and talk directly to the fighting spirit and pride and hope in all of us. Natalie Bennett’s good at it, Lucas is great but very ‘safe’. You need some ‘stirrers’ up there: people who can appeal with conviction to the Greatness lying dormant in British souls (Nationalist vernacular intended because it would be nice to believe that it SHOULD stand for a set of conscientious progressive and responsible values).
- Engage citizens in dialogue. There’s a lot of complicated weirdness coming our way. It’s true that smart people have answers to some of the challenges, but those answers are quite hard to grasp when you’ve grown up in the 20th century. Invite ideas, sprinkle discussions, and aim to get enough of us to tip the balance. As a society we need to go through the process of deeply understanding solutions any implementations. That’s going to take a lot of conversations. Start them.
- Engage citizens in action. The scope of what needs to be done is epic. The moon was EASY by comparison. We all need to be involved, and god knows we’re listless and frustrated at the moment. Give us something to DO.
- Claim the future (for all of us). You’re the only team that has a vision that’s even moderately mindful of the coming reality. It’s yours. Own it. PS I’ve not heard anything much about robots and AI. Get on the case – it’s a strong narrative which needs addressing, quickly. No other party is bold enough to have that conversation. Embrace it as a point to start the conversation about WHY your policies make sense.
- Prepare for Government. At the moment it’s all Lucas Lucas Lucas. “Caroline needs your support” “Caroline needs you”. Spread the love, get your smart faces out there and let us hear the wisdom. Right now I’m assuming there isn’t any, and that you’re like UKIP: one charismatic person and a hundred ideological nutcases. I mean, dammit they even upholstered the benches for you.
- Get a better website with clear language and engaging videos which supports this and helps us navigate in snackable chunks. The current one sucks.
- Rebrand and reposition to stop being so single issue. Everyone says it and still it never happens. Why? “Because we’ll lose core support”. Maybe so, maybe not. Either way, they’re in the minority vs all the people who AREN’T voting for you.
You’re the only party fit for purpose in the 21st century. Shape up and be the bold leaders we’re crying out for.