I consider myself to be left wing and a social democrat. I'm not feverishly so but it's probably the easiest classification. I am also strongly in favour of maintaining Northern Ireland's place within the United Kingdom. Given that, it is perhaps easy to see why I have remained an independent up to this point. The options, in terms of parties, were limited and whilst I accept that compromises are usually required when joining any political party, there is a limit as to what I was prepared to compromise.
I confess that at first I paid little heed to The Green Party. After all, I am not an environmentalist and I, like many others, unfairly believed that this was the main qualification for being a Green Party member. It is clear now, that is not the case at all. Yes, there is no question that environmentally sound policy is at the heart of the Green Party but then, why shouldn't it be? What's important though is their position on all policy matters, particularly the economy, education, home affairs and so on. Once I started to properly analyse where the Green Party stood on these issues, it became clear that I was in complete agreement on most of them.
There are still areas of disagreement - Nuclear Power being one, road construction another - but these are issues I think would best be served by working within the party, especially as it seems a party prepared to listen and engage with it's members.
What the Greens in NI also have that appeals is a leader I can support. Steven Agnew has won me over. I have always maintained that Steven is a fantastic politician but I wasn't sure he would have success getting the message out and winning over enough people. He has proven me wrong and the performance of the rest of the Green candidates demonstrates to me that people are starting to respond to the message that Steven and his party are putting out. I have met a few people from within the party and to a man & woman, they are the type of people I can easily associate with.
As a Unionist, I am prepared to accept the Green Party's position on the constitutional question. It is, by and large irrelevant to our daily life and when cross community issues arise I feel the Green Party can apply genuine non tribal thinking to their resolution.
Finally, I won't lie and pretend that I don't have ambitions in politics. I want to be in a position to set the agenda. To do so I need to be elected to public office. For a long time I thought that first & foremost the most important thing to do was get elected but it's clear to me now that there is no point in doing so if the agenda you are pushing is the wrong one. Had I joined any other party, it would be. If I am lucky enough to be selected as a candidate at the next elections and even luckier to be elected, it will be on a platform of policies I am completely comfortable with and that is why I'm joining the Green Party in Northern Ireland.