Talking to People Involved in Politics... Stephen Bartley, Green Party candidate for Cardiff Central
We posed a series of questions to all the parties with candidates standing in the 2001 General Election. Here's what Stephen Bartley, Green Party candidate for Cardiff Central had to say.
Do you think Green Politics has as much appeal to today's youth as it did a few years ago?
"Absolutely, in fact more so. Young people especially are aware of the environmental problems facing the world and in many cases are the only people prepared to actually do something about it. Support for the Green Party amongst young people has always been high but I think more so now. For instance, In a nation-wide poll of young people last month, the Green Party came second when people were asked whom they would vote for. In London, we came first. It seems young people know what needs to be done to protect our planet for future generations."
Why did you join the Greens?
"I joined the Greens because I hated the way politics completely ignored people and the planet and instead was more interested in profits. No one seemed to care about the environment as much as I did! No political party appealed to me as they were all pursuing the same things. I wanted to belong to an organisation that included all types of people who had the same goal, no matter what their background, and to put the needs of people first. Green policies ensure a sustainable future for everyone and our policies are treated interdependently - meaning in relation to everything else, rather than in isolation. I joined pressure groups and local protesters as well, but it was at the ballot box that I thought the only effective change could be made."
Would you recommend going to jail for your beliefs?
"I wouldn't recommend anyone going to jail! But I do support non-violent direct action to protest about something such as children dying in Iraq, Asylum seekers being persecuted or excessive levels of pollution and traffic. Sometimes, when authorities see this as a threat Greens are arrested. One of our Green MEPs Caroline Lucas has been arrested twice since being elected in 1999. Being Green means standing up for what you believe in - backing up your words with peaceful actions."
Do you think the blandness amongst the political parties has caused apathy amongst our generation towards politics and politicians?
"I think there are all sorts of reasons why young people dislike politics. When I was first deciding whom to vote for I didn't think any party represented my views - when I discovered the Green Party that was no longer a problem! However, if people don't see politicians standing for their beliefs and see no integrity in politicians, then it's no surprise there is apathy. People should be able to vote for what they believe in, for what they want their communities to be, and for their future. Too much politics now is based on fear and money, which forces people to settle for less and vote for the lesser evil - if you do that though you're still left with evil."
Do you think the Welsh Assembly has really achieved much?
"I'm afraid not. I think the Assembly is far too powerless to have an effective impact on issues in Wales, which is why Greens, among other parties, would seek to devolve further power to the National Assembly. Then it really could implement effective policy for Wales. Greens believe decisions should be made as close to the people it will effect as possible, so the Welsh Assembly should be able to decide things for Wales. Sadly, this hasn't happened yet."
Why should young people get involved in politics?
"For all sorts of reasons! Imagine waking up in the early morning because you want to get out of bed and get to work, so you can spend all day working on things that mean so much to you. You spend your day helping other people - mostly people you've never met before - to get the most from life and solve their problems. Then, when you get home, you fall asleep looking forward to waking up the next day so you can do it all again. Imagine that and that's how I feel about working for the Green Party. There is so much to be done there's no time to get bored. It's like nothing else."
What has been your greatest political achievement to date?
"In the two years since I joined the Greens and became active my greatest political achievement has been the current election campaign. I'm unlikely to be elected this time, but I'm in a better position to do so next time, having done live TV and radio interviews, written speeches and discussed Green political issues with various people and organisations. Things like Climate change, hospitals, economics and the environment. Those have been my first steps - ask me again in a few years and I hope it will be more!"
What do you enjoy/hate most about politics?
"I hate the insincerity and the lack of ideology amongst various politicians. When you see the bickering and the propaganda in election leaflets - polls especially! The ones that show them just ahead of the eventual winner. The main political parties seem only to deal in the short-term and never look beyond the next election. Greens campaign on things that will happen now, next year and in ten years from now. What I like most is standing up for what I believe in when the whole system works against it. I love being able to help in changing things or preventing damage to the environment. Most of all, I love knowing that the Green movement, all across the world, is growing day by day, and that I am part of it. It is reassuring to know that there is still a chance to prevent the damage that governments across the world continue to create, and that people across the world are joining together to achieve that."
What can we do to get older politicians really listen to young
"For a start they should stop pretending to know who's at No.1 in the charts! I'm 24 and I don't know, so how the others know is beyond me! They should also stop lying and twisting words to suit themselves. Most politicians are nice people but politics itself sometimes means you can't say you made a mistake or that you're not sure. Stage managed politics is annoying, insincere and dishonest. It gives politics the bad name that it has had for decades. Politicians could actually hold forums with pupils of schools and young people in their constituencies. MPs should be obliged to go around to schools a few times a year - they should listen to young people who, in my experience, are actually better informed about society, than older generations! Finally, politicians should not be obscure figures you only see at elections. The Green party strongly believes in people participating in politics, by joining the party or by campaigning on something in their local area – so young people can act themselves to improve something and see the result of their work. And the voice of young people shouldn't be ignored. Young people should be encouraged to question the politicians, to question what they are told and find out for themselves what democracy is about and how it works. They should become independent and choose which politics they believe in after finding out for themselves, not because of what they are told. I hope young people will do this, regardless of whom that means they will vote for. Only then will democracy really be worth being part of."
The above applies to the political process in the United Kingdom and follows the laws of the UK.
- The Pupiline Team