Hong Kong has just had district council elections. Normally these would not elicit much reaction in the international media or even much enthusiasm within Hong Kong itself. But these are not normal times. Hong Kong has experienced many months of anti government street protests. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her Beijing backers gambled on there being a silent majority who supported them, and the police reaction to the protesters. The youth dominated pro-democracy activists stood candidates for all 452 seats and amazingly won 388 of them. The pro government and pro Beijing candidates dropped from having 298 seats to just 59, an absolutely catastrophic collapse. Critically turnout leapt from 47% to 71%.
Here in UK we have a general election on 12th December. The polls are predicting Boris Johnson will win. The debilitating chaos that is Brexit will continue to dominate our media for many years to come, whoever wins. Meanwhile the climate and ecological crisis relentlessly unfolds and governments everywhere are totally failing to take the required action. The School Strikes movement and Extinction Rebellion express the pent-up rage of ordinary people at the lack of governmental leadership on this, the most important challenge humanity has ever faced.
If the Hong Kong elections prove anything of relevance to the UK it is that people can vote for what they really believe in, and not what their governments or the media expect of them, or for the candidates and parties that they habitually supported in the past. It would be like the millions of people who all are concerned about the climate and ecological emergency suddenly all realizing the Green Party has the best policies and all voted for them. It is of course pretty well inconceivable that the Green Party could form the next British government, even if that would be the best outcome for what very many people are deeply concerned about.
After every UK general election for many decades I’ve been disappointed by the outcome. One tribal party forming the government, others the opposition, and always the big issues left unaddressed. Even I, as a passionate supporter of the Green Party over many decades, don’t expect them to make massive gains. However a couple of extra Green MP’s would be great, so I’m off to help in Bristol West where the wonderful Carla Denyer stands a good chance of winning. If we can’t have the sixteen year old Swede Greta Thunberg as the British prime minister I can think of no one better than Carla Denyer. She would lead the UK towards a useful role in the World by leading on climate action, so getting her elected seems like a very necessary first step. As today’s news from Hong Kong shows, the unexpected can happen and elections can mark real moments of change.