The most important election in British history

| 25th October 2019
If we don't want the Tories running the show election after election, their opponents must come together in a progressive political pact. Photo: Giorgos Vintzileos via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).
If we don't want the Tories running the show election after election, their opponents must come together in a progressive political pact. Photo: Giorgos Vintzileos via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).
Most will see the upcoming election as a proxy vote on Brexit - but in reality it's our last best chance to elect a government capable of tackling the climate crisis.

A period of unprecedented transition is required to rapidly wean our fossil drenched industrial systems away from the death sentences of hydrocarbon extraction, industrial animal agriculture and perpetual growth and consumption.

Boris Johnson was defeated in the House of Commons yet again this week.

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Even those of us who are politically obsessed enough to watch the parliament channel or cling to minute-by-minute updates on digital news platforms will have lost count of how many votes have been lost by the government.

A general election was threatened if the Programme Bill failed to pass through the House - in what many have interpreted as an act of petulance - and yet the official statement in its wake failed to mention any such event.

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However, we’re now at a point that the oft talked about and ever-looming election now seems inevitable. This will quite possibly be the most important in British history - but not because of Brexit.

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We’re probably at our most aware that our political system is in a state of crisis. Inept, stale and suffering from ever-lasting inertia. After more than three years of going in circles, while shamefully neglecting all that isn’t directly a part of the withdrawal process, many are likely in shock that we’re about to enter the year 2020, three years on the referendum.

After enduring those three gruelling, tiresome and repetitive years of Brexit driven political drivel from those elected to parliament and outside of it, we’re on the cusp of an opportunity to replace those elected to represent us.

On the surface, it feels as if almost every other political consideration has been an afterthought at best.

However, perhaps a little under the radar, the Labour Party and activists within it have been pushing for and developing a raft of new and ambitious policy proposals.

Bold

Standing out among them, due to its scope and ambition, is a Green New Deal motion passed at the Autumn conference by the young activist campaign group Labour for a Green New Deal.

Designed as a national action plan with the purpose of rapidly tackling the climate crisis while also addressing social inequality, the motion sets Labour apart from the rest as having one of the most ambitious climate policies of a major political party anywhere in the world.

That being said, in a political and media landscape dominated by Brexit and character assassinations, the party lags behind in polls. Though the last few years should have taught us by now that we pay too much attention to polling at our own peril.

However, the appetite for concise action on the climate is glaringly evident and it’s vital that this is seen at polling stations across the country.

A period of unprecedented transition is required to rapidly wean our fossil drenched industrial systems away from the death sentences of hydrocarbon extraction, industrial animal agriculture and perpetual growth and consumption.

In just the last nine months, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets month after month demanding bold and ambitious action on the climate and ecological crisis, culminating with the record-shattering Global Climate Strike in September.

Action

It feels apparent that young people will have a decisive say in the appointment of the next government amidst widespread political activation. Furthermore, thousands have been rallying their communities and thousands more have been arrested across the UK with the emergence of Extinction Rebellion.

The timeframes for action are stark. We need an entire reimagining of our societies and economies, requiring massive economic mobilisation in the immediate years, not seen since the last World War.

A period of unprecedented transition is required to rapidly wean our fossil drenched industrial systems away from the death sentences of hydrocarbon extraction, industrial animal agriculture and perpetual growth and consumption.

It’s increasingly apparent that we cannot afford to have a government in place that isn’t committed to the necessary action, with five years until the next elected an unconscionable prospect.

Ambitious

With every passing moment and year of inaction, the potential to stave off warming above 1.5 degrees diminishes even further, precisely why this election needs to be beyond Brexit.

Just two years on from the IPCC 1.5 degree report which articulated the devastating position humankind finds itself in, we’re coming into an election after three years of climate mitigation stagnation.

The result? A clear and unequivocal need to elect a government with a strong mandate for equitable climate action, ambitious in scale and internationalist in essence.

If we proceed to elect a government that isn't prepared to lead us towards a rapid transition away from the fossil fuel economy, we’re locked in to a further five years of inaction, ensuring we lose nearly half the time available to embark on this necessarily ambitious task to secure our futures. There is no time to delay.

The Author

Jake Woodier works for the UK Student Climate Network and is an organiser with Green New Deal UK. You can register to vote online.

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