The end

It had to come at some point. It just did.

I feel sadder than you can imagine writing this. But this is, for now at least, the end of Hynd’s Blog.

A couple of months ago I wrote about how I hoped to fit blogging into my new job and life back in the UK. It was an ambitious plan that I really wanted to make work because I have, in an odd sort of way, grown to really love this blog.

Sadly though, despite the optimism (something that I like to think optimises the last 5 years on this blog), despite the support from so many friends, family and complete strangers, despite the very best of intentions, I just have not been able to implement this plan.

A number of factors have forced me into this situation. There are two that spring to mind.

Firstly, not having enough time to research topics that are close to my heart has pushed my writing closer and closer to either the descriptive or the repetitive of others opinions. Descriptive and repetitive are two adjectives that act as nails to an analytical blog’s coffin.

Secondly, the metaphorical biting of my virtual tongue that I referred to in my previous post has, sadly, pushed the content on Hynd’s Blog closer and closer to the mundane. Again, not the best adjective to be associated with a blog.

A little about the second point:

I am no longer just having to worry about my own reputation – something that it is easy to be flippant about – but also one of an elected Mayor. Most civilised readers of this blog would find it hard to comprehend the level of sinister attacks some are willing to make against the Mayor. I have little doubt that some of those attacking him would happily do this through personally attacking his staff. It is the opposite of the old adage playing the ball not the player.

It has already got to a stage where not saying something online leads to quite unpleasant personal attacks.

In an effort to not fuel these trolls I realise that I have moved beyond the cautious and into the utterly mundane. With the odd exception, I have not written anything of any particular interest in the last few months.

For someone who is surrounded by inspiration, innovation and interest and who is driven by intrigue into it all, this realisation profoundly saddens me.

I cannot see this situation changing and so part of my decision to end Hynd’s Blog is based on a desire not to see it limp on for the coming months.

Looking back though, Hynd’s Blog is something that I remain profoundly proud of. It has dipped in an out of the top 100 influential UK political blogs, it been visited by hundreds of thousands of people and most of all, it has, on the rarest of occasions, succeeded in convincing people to change their minds on a given subject.

I am proud beyond words of what Hynd’s Blog has grown to be and I hope that at some point, it will have a future.

With all this in mind all is left to say is a huge thank you to you for coming along for the ride – it has been a blast!


PS – I plan to cross-post anything I publish elsewhere so stay signed up if you want to be notified of when I post these occasional articles!


Filed under Blogging, end of Hynd's Blog, Hynd's Blog

Elections 2015 – a mug’s game

Campaigns are brewing in the lead up to the General Election 2015. Have a look at these two mugs produced by the Labour Party and the Green Party respectively:

controls on immigration

In the age of easy photo editing I checked the best I could to make sure this wasn’t a spoof. Apparently it isn’t.

This is what politics in the UK is reduced to – a mug’s game!


Update – some asked how I knew this wasn’t a spoof. I don’t know for sure but they both seem to have the product up on their websites (you can purchase either mug from here (Labour) or here (Green)) and I even asked a sitting (Lib Dem) MP (see here).

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Lib Dems go top of my arbitrary Bristol West election league table

I moved into a flat in the constituency of Bristol West at the start of February – 3 months before the General Election.

It is, on first glance, a safe Lib Dem seat. Bristol West has a well respected and liked local MP (Stephen Williams) who is defending a majority of over 11,000 (48% of the vote – up from 39% in 2005).

But these are turbulent political times. The Lib Dems have nose-dived in the national polls hitting lows of 6% (averaging over a range of polls over the last few months 7% – just 1% ahead of the Greens), and significantly the Greens who are on a relative ‘Green surge’ have picked Bristol West as their second target seat (after Brighton Pavilion) meaning some money and, more importantly, time is being spent in the area.

With this in mind it is worth remembering it is Labour who came second in 2010 with 28% of the vote. And with about a third of 2010 national Lib Dem voters saying they are planning to vote Labour, compared to around 15% who say they plan to vote Green, Bristol West has become a genuinely open and interesting three way race.

Despite this, Lord Ashcroft (who is the one doing the most comprehensive polling of marginal seats) has deemed it to be safe enough to not yet be looked at in his surveys – a real shame in my mind.

So, with a distinct lack of any real data to judge life by I thought I would do a bit of citizen journalism and start recording the amount of contact, either face to face OR through literature, I get from the local parties.

One month in these is how things stand…

Party Leaflets My door knocked Spotted in the constituency Arbitrary points
Lib Dems 3 0 0 3
Greens 0 0 2 2
Labour 0 0 0 0
Conservative 0 0 0 0
UKIP 0 0 0 0

The Lib Dems are flying high in my Bristol West election league table. 3 leaflets in a month – each a different format (one traditional ‘focus’ newsletter, one red themed local newspaper, and then a green themed glossy election leaflet) – is a high ratio, it will be interesting to see if they maintain such a pace.

If the traditional electioneering adage of it all being about the literature turns out to be true, then Stephen Williams is well placed to being returned as MP for Bristol West.

As, I would add, is the neighbouring Conservative MP, Charlotte Leslie, who has put out this magazine style piece of literature that is a master class in election leaflet writing.

Charlotte Leslie

But, that said, we know it is not just about the literature. Although no one has yet knocked on my door (when I have been in) I have seen the Greens out and about twice already and have yet to spot any other party door-knocking and speaking to residents (although I am sure they will be doing it somewhere in the constituency).

The importance of door-knocking cannot be under-estimated. Lib Dem campaign strategist Mark Pack quotes Labour’s Cllr Rodwell in his book ‘101 ways to win an election’ on the importance door-knocking played in winning back seats in Barking from the BNP where they estimate they knocked on some 160,000 doors in the campaign.

Their success reflected their hard work! Meeting candidates and having that face-to face interaction is undoubtedly important to the electorate.

Now, before people get their knickers in a twist, I understand that this is not methodologically sound. I understand that local campaigners might well be out and I might just not spot them. All this is, is an interesting observation of the goings on in and around the constituency in which I live in the lead up to a very tight election.

Less than two months to go!

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Prove your sexuality – the impossible ask of asylum seekers in the UK

Today’s Independent reported on the case of Aderonke Apata, a Nigerian in the UK who is claiming asylum on the grounds of her sexuality. It reports:

‘The Home Secretary’s barrister, Andrew Bird, argued that Ms Apata was “not part of the social group known as lesbians” but had “indulged in same-sex activity”. He continued: “You can’t be a heterosexual one day and a lesbian the next day. Just as you can’t change your race.”’

2015 in case you are wondering.

Yep, it is 2015 and we still have a government department putting on record statements like this.

As if this wasn’t enough Mr Brid is quoted referencing her well documented mental health issues (including post-traumatic stress and an attempted suicide) as saying:

if she is suicidal and depressed she is making a jolly good show of it’.

By jolly good god.

This was so ludicrously absurd that I had to double check that this wasn’t a liberal baiting spoof! As far as I can tell it isn’t. These are the actual words of a man paid to represent the Home Office.

Mr Bird’s argument is based on a legal idea that goes something like this…just because an asylum seeker self-identifies as a lesbian, and indeed sleeps with other women, she is not actually a lesbian.

Want to know the logic? Read on…

In short, Mr Bird’s argument is based on the idea that because she has not always self-identified as a lesbian, she has, by ‘coming out’, shown her sexuality is changeable. Which conveniently fits her into some mad legal category which is outside of the ‘particular social group’ definition in the Refugee Convention.

Ever feel like law sits outside of common sense?

Well don’t be so quick to judge. A counter argument sitting much more closely within the humanitarian bounds of sanity was presented in this case (and many before). Our blogging friends over at the Justice Gap summarizes it well:

‘What Mr Bird’s case fails to take into account… is the stream of case law which shows that the real test is whether a characteristic is in the control of the individual to change (and so ‘mutable’) or whether it is a part of themselves that they cannot at this time be expected or able to change (and so ‘immutable’). So for example a child seeking asylum cannot force themselves to be older so they are not at risk on return and likewise a lesbian asylum seeker cannot simply choose to change their sexuality. This is notwithstanding that a child will eventually grow up and that there may have been a time in her past where a lesbian woman had not identified herself as a lesbian.’

The stakes in this game of pedantic legal back and forth are high however. Homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison in Nigeria (thanks to recent laws) and there has been a spike in violence against gay people within the country (related to international pressure?).

There are very real human consequences to this decision.

The judge is yet to make a final call – Hynd’s Blog waits with a virtual weight in its stomach for the verdict.

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Life in Bristol: Monbiot, puppets and singer-song writers


One of the amazing things about living in Bristol is the diversity and range of (what I affectionately refer to as) ‘extra-curricular activity for grown ups’. In other words, stuff to do outside of work time.

In the last couple of weeks I have been to Bristol Hippodrome to watch ‘War Horse’ (One sentence review – really really impressive, just not as impressive people make it to be), to The Exchange to listen to American singer-song writer, Tim Barry (One sentence review – full angst, emotion and lyrical word play scooped up into an impressive live performance in a cool venue), and to the University of Bristol to listen to George Monbiot give a free public lecture as part of the ‘Festival of Ideas’ on ‘What a Green Government Could do if it Really Tried’ (One sentence review – a challenging, entertaining talk delivered with no notes that, although it rarely touched on the title of the talk, provided plenty of food for thought).

This diversity of stuff to do is part of what makes Bristol such a cool place to live. Whatever your budget, there is, on any given night, something amazing to do.

Anyway – if you are unlucky enough to be not living in Bristol then never fear! As the Festival of Ideas have been good enough to upload the Monbiot talk I thought it would be nice to share a little bit of this Bristol love and post it here…

Hope you enjoy listening to it – let me know what you think (can we bring elephants to Bristol???).


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Why did Green leader Natalie Bennett choose a newspaper apology for a broadcast disaster?

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green party
It is both admirable and sadly telling that Natalie Bennett took to the pages of the Guardian today to apologise for her ‘car-crash interview’ on LBC radio yesterday.

It is admirable in the sense that it stands in stark contrast to the political culture of today where the public pushes an unrealistic expectation of perfection that is perpetuated by a media and political arrogance.

Natalie’s apology reads as a genuine breath of fresh air. We all fuck up. She’s embarrassed and sorry that she did on this occasion – an occasion that should have been about her party.

Fine – let’s move on.

That said, it is also worryingly telling that she choose (or her PR team choose) to take to the pages of the Guardian to make this well-crafted apology.

When the going gets tough, this particular political leader resorts to that comfy home-ground for her; the liberal-left leaning print media (and her former employer).

If she wanted to offer both a heart-felt apology and a sign to show that she has the statesmanship to someday rule this country (surely the ultimate aim of any party) then would not a heartfelt TV interview have been better placed?

Her apology is welcome but it does still leave many wondering – can Natalie Bennett do Green Party policies justice when put on the big stage alongside skilled (and highly trained) orators such as Cameron, Clegg and (to a lesser extent) Miliband?

I’m still not sure.


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Listen to the Green leader’s car crash of an interview

It – was – really – painful.

There is no other way to describe it. Throw away comments like ‘a car-crash of an interview’ suddenly seem suitably apt. Natalie Bennett’s interview on LBC this morning was one of the worst I have heard from a party leader – ever!

If you haven’t already and have the stomach for it, then have a listen:

For a long time I have argued that Natalie Bennett has revolutionised the Green’s media presence. Whether this was utilising her experience in the industry – she used to work as the editor of the Guardian Weekly – or whether she has just rode the wave of the ‘Green surge’ is unclear. But the results are clear. There has been much more and better coverage of Green politics in the UK’s print media.

But, that said, there has been a continuous disparity between the consistent, and quite impressive, coverage Natalie has secured in the print media with the consistently below par appearances on broadcast media. This car-crash didn’t come out of the blue – there have been a series of skids, near misses and dented body work that should have warned of the forth coming three lane pile up of a car crash.

Remember this?

With this in my mind, one wonders whether the Green’s hard thought victory of being included in the Leader’s TV debates will be as much a blessing as they might have hoped. How will she hold up to the oratory skills of Cameron, Clegg or, to a lesser extent, Miliband?

Only time will tell.

Finally though it is worth highlighting, just like Guido Fawkes has, that it is refreshing that Natalie at least had the moral and political courage to then apologise to her party for the poor showing – how many other party leaders would have done that?


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Bristol City Council commits to go fossil fuel free

Bristol City Council has committed to go fossil fuel free! Or, more specifically, to not knowingly invest funds into companies whose primary business is fossil fuel extraction.

Despite the fact that Bristol City Council, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t currently hold any direct investments in fossil fuels anyway is beside the point. The entrenching of an ethical investment policy by a public institution is more about the potential to raise people’s awareness as it about ensuring that the Council will not fund the industries that are, at least in part, responsible for the dangers facing us and our planet due to climate change.

In short, I think this news is huge and really exciting.

And yet strangely the up-take of this news has been limited.

Bristol’s Mayor, George Ferguson, tweeted it to his 27,000 followers, there was a mention in passing in the Guardian and the campaign group pushing for fossil fuel disinvestment wrote a short blog!

That combined with an excited text message from my friend (incidentally I love that I have friends who get excited about fossil fuel disinvestment) seems to be the only ripples this news has had.

Even Bristol Greens, who played a significant part in securing this, seemed to be oddly quiet having published a general article on disinvestment last Friday that makes no mention of this exciting news coming from Bristol!

I think it only fair that a hat tip goes to Green Party Cllr Charlie Bolton who tabled a question at January’s member’s forum that led to the amendment of Bristol County Council’s ‘Ethical Investment Policy’.

On a related note, I am delighted that another organisation that at some point deemed me employable, the Quakers of Britain, have been really vocal during the recent ‘disinvestment events’ and have adopted an awesome position on the subject:

“Friends have discerned that investment in these companies is incompatible with a commitment made by Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) to become a low-carbon, sustainable community.”

Quakers are once again leading the way showing the role religious institutions can play in ethical investment, as Bristol is for local authorities.

As I say, I think these are some of the first pretty exciting yet tentative steps in tackling the entrenched carbon intensive norm that currently operates within our society.

You can read more about Quaker’s disinvestment here and more about Bristol’s disinvestment here.


Filed under Bristol, Climate Change, Politics, Religion

Why the recent silence on Hynd’s Blog?

The observant amongst you would have noticed a near unprecedented month’s silence on Hynd’s blog. What can I say other than sorry?

Well lots…I can give you an explanation and my plan ahead.

In the last month I have packed my bags and left Uganda, meandered my way through East Africa and ended back here in the place I will always think of as home, the West Country of England. Specifically I am in Bristol (aka Brizzle).

And what brings me back to these wet and windy shores I hear you ask? Well…politics of course!

I have accepted a job as (and this is a job title that I cringe at slightly) ‘Head of Mayor’s Office’ in Bristol City Council with the independent Mayor, George Ferguson. More about this in a second – promise.

This last month’s virtual silence has been filled with a whirlwind of activity including climbing Mt Kenya, Africa’s 2nd highest peak (after a particularly severe bout of food poising), a 32 hour train ride between Nairobi and Mombasa (an “experience”), packing and unpacking houses back in the UK and now, finally, the completion of my first week in my new job.

Never has the phrase ‘no rest for the wicked’ been more apt.

While much of the above adventures could have been something to blog about in itself I simply have not had the time sat in front of a computer to translate experiences into blogs – let alone to keep up my near obsessive following of British politics that formulates itself into so much of the content.

What can I say other than sorry?

Oh yes – the plan ahead…

Working for the Mayor means that I will have to make a few shifts in how Hynd’s Blog operates. Firstly, I think it is important to say that I can’t be quite as impartial as I was before. I have always written things as I have seen them – laying praise on those I thought deserved it and criticising actions that I thought deserved criticism. Although the Mayor is an independent he (and by extension I) have to work across the political spectrum. This means trying my hardest to not piss people off (the anti-thesis to some bloggers’ objective). This means at times holding my virtual tongue.

Secondly it is to say that if my first week in the job is anything to judge life by, I am now working in many of the hours that I have traditionally set aside for blogging. Even when in full-time employment before I have always found occasional lunch-times, breaks and after work hours to smash my opinion into the keyboard. Lunch-meetings and evening functions make it look like this will be quite hard to keep going. This means less regular blogs.

But on the positive side this new position exposes me to a whole word of fascinating progressive projects and politics that I am sure I can and will take great pleasure in sharing, analysing and responding to. Just today I have visited the incredible Knowle DGE school in south Bristol (an amazing school for kids with – very different special needs), Elm Tree Farm (a super impressive social enterprise) and this evening I will be heading to Bristol Youth Mayor’s election results.

I hope you will be as interested in reading about these sorts of things as I will be to keep writing.

And so the coming months will see Hynd’s Blog take a less regular format but one that I hope will still inspire people to come back and read, respond and share the content of Hynd’s Blog.

I am as passionate as ever….just busy!

Oh, and as always, if anyone’s is interesting in blogging on a subject to thousands of readers then please do read the ‘Contribute’ page.


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What is a ‘major political party’? Greens to overtake UKIP in membership size

It is expected that in the coming weeks the Green Party will become the fifth largest political party in the UK by overtaking UKIP in terms of membership.

According to new figures collected by Adam Ramsay at Open Democracy, the Green Party are now just a few hundred members short of UKIP and a few thousand short of the Liberal Democrats.

Labour  190,000
Tory  149,800
SNP 92,000
Lib Dems 44,576
UKIP 41,514
Greens 40,879
Plaid  8000
BNP  500

This latest twist in membership size will only add weight to those who are calling for the Green Party to be included in the TV leaders debates. What would constitute a ‘major party’ (what Ofcom deems them not to be) if it is not more members than UKIP, beating Lib Dems in some polls and getting more votes and MEPs than the Lib Dems in May’s European Elections?

Of course, the political elephant in this very Westminster room is the SNP that currently have roughly double the membership of the Lib Dems and are being tipped by some to wipe out Labour in Scotland.

Are the SNP not a ‘major party’ in UK politics?


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Anti-tobacco campaign publishes anti-Semitic cartoon

For most the depiction of large nosed Jews oozing wealth and disproportionate business influence is one that we solemnly associate with an evil that existed in the previous century. These offensive caricatures are something associated with the horrors of the anti-Semitism that swept across Europe and which played an intricate role in the death of over 6 million Jews in the holocaust.

For the first time in my life I today saw such an image, not in a museum or a historic article, but on a live contemporary campaigning facebook page.

The ‘Tobaccokills UG’ facebook page aims to ‘Support the Tobacco Control Bill and help to reduce the negative effects of tobacco-use in Uganda’. It has over 41,000 ‘likes’.

Yesterday it published this overtly anti-Semitic cartoon:

A screenshot taken from the 'tobaccoKills' Facebook page

A screenshot taken from the ‘tobaccoKills’ Facebook page

At the time of publishing the cartoon had already been shared a dozen time.

The cartoon takes little analysis to draw out the obvious anti-Semitic undertones. The projection of the ‘greedy’ and ‘powerful’ business man with physical characteristics such as his large nose all point to offensive Jewish caricatures.

In case there was any doubt the cartoonist then includes a speech bubble that states ‘Sorry but your health maybe hazardous to our profits’.

The subtext is clear: ‘Jews care more about money than they do people’.

To the adminstrators of the Facebook page I repeat the comment that I left when I first saw the cartoon and have so far not received a response for….please remove the picture and apologize for publishing it.

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The time is now for young people to revolutionize British politics

The Green Party of England and Wales have huge support among young voters. The problem for the Greens is that it is traditionally these young voters who do not make it to the ballot box.


22% of 18-24 year old voters recently told YouGov that they plan to vote for the Greens. That is the same figure as those who intend to vote Tory, 50% more than those who intend to vote UKIP and more than four times those who plan to vote Lib Dem.

The obvious problem for the Green Party is that these voters, who they are so popular among, are also traditionally the ones who fail to make it to the ballot box on polling day.

Indeed in the 2010 General Election less than half of young voters eligible to vote took up the opportunity. One poll suggested that 60% of the UK’s 3.3 million first time voters in 2105 will not vote.

In contrast, about 70% of over 65s will vote.

If young people voted in similar proportions to the older generations our political landscape would look very different to the tired two-party-politics we see today.

The fact that young people don’t vote in large numbers is depressing not just for Green Party activists but also for our democracy in general.

From this I take a simple message. If you are looking for a pragmatic, realistic and effective way of revolutionizing how we do politics in the UK, you could find worse ideas than supporting initiatives that encourage youth engagement.

There are various movements and campaigns around but the one that seems to making the difference this time around is ‘Bite the Ballot‘. They have done an online Q and A with each of the party leaders (you can watch them here), placed young people in the heart of our local government, and pushed for wide-spread voter registration.

In short, I think they are doing important work at an important time.

If you want, you can follow ‘Bite the Ballot’ on twitter by clicking here. You can also donate to their work by clicking here.

Supporting initiatives like these should draw cross-party support. Greens and Labour might have the most to gain tactically from better democratic engagement with young people, but ultimately we will all benefit from a healthier democracy.

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Tell Cameron and Obama to let Shaker Aamer home to his family

Shaker AI
If you, the wonderful reader of Hynd’s Blog, have a spare 30 seconds I would urge you to support an issue close to my heart. Click here to sign the Amnesty International petition calling for the release or trial of Shaker Aamer, the one remaining British resident in Guantanamo Bay.

The petition simply calls for Obama and Cameron to:

  • Secure the release of Shaker Aamer and return him to the UK without delay, if he is not to be charged and brought to fair trial
  • Give Shaker Aamer immediate and regular access to independent medical assessments and care
  • Immediately investigate all allegations that Shaker Aamer has been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment and ensure that anyone found responsible is brought to justice

I, alongside 12,860 people have already signed this petition. Please join us. Then please do also encourage friends and family to do the same.

Together we can raise a voice loud enough that will force the authorities to listen.

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Awesome cartoon column from Cheltenham MP, Martin Horwood

A hat tip to Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood and the local rag The Echo for publishing this cartoon column in light of the attacks in Paris last week.

Jan2015_MartinHorwood_JesuisCharlie 1


Nice to see a MP thinking creatively about how to communicate important messages around freedom of speech and thought


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Cheering on a rapist

Picture the scene.

You are stood with your 10 year old son and 12 year old daughter on the terraces of your local football club. It is the first game you have taken them to but you can see by the way they are both responding to the ebbs and flows of the game that they are hooked.

You take a second to think back to the time you too stood in the same spot next to your own parents and feel happy with this sense of passed down community and belonging that local football clubs can gift to individuals.

As the game moves into the final 10 minutes and your team experience more near misses you see your kids nervously look at the clock. At that point all you hope for is a goal. A goal to be able to see your kids experience that communal elation as the terrace erupts in excitement.

As you reopen your eyes from a silent prayer you see your team’s new signing has picked up the ball deep in the oppositions half and cuts through two defenders before unleashing a strike into the top corner of the net. As the ball bulges the back of the net everyone around you roars and reaches for the sky in delight.

The normal celebrations though are cut short. As the opposition fans start chanting songs about the new signing being a rapist.

Confused your kids look up.

A second passes before your daughter, old enough to know exactly what a rapist is, asks you to explain what they are shouting about.

What can you say?


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Green Party Deputy Leader to take on Labour Party Deputy Leader at General Election

Amelia Womack

In a small quirky twist of British politics the Green Party today announced that their Deputy Leader, Amelia Womack, will be standing at the General Election in Camberwell and Peckham against Labour’s Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman.

Womack, who previously unsuccessfully stood to become a MEP and local cllr, was elected Deputy Leader last September. She holds a BSc in Environmental Biology and an MSc in Environmental Technology.

Harman was elected MP for Camberwell and Peckham in 2010 with a huge 59.2% of the vote. The Greens stood the high profile London AM Jenny Jones in 2010 and received just 2.9% of the vote.

Although unlikely to win, or even stop Harriet Harman from being returned to parliament, Womack might well preside over a significant increase in the Green vote in the constituency as large amounts of the 22.4% of Lib Dem votes will be up for grabs.

The challenge for Labour will be to pick up enough of the former Lib Dem votes to stop a significant rise in the Green support that might place them as an awkward and credible threat for future elections.

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Labour lead but support dropping as Greens continue to grow

The Labour Party Hold Their Annual Party Conference - Day 5

Ed Miliband has every reason to be looking glum as despite seeing Labour leading in the polls he has hit an all time low in personal ratings and his party has dropped support throughout 2014. 

To support their latest polling, YouGov have produced this neat little chart that tracks voting intention over the last three months.

3 month voting intention
Some in the Labour Party have got all excited that, despite those embarrassing glitches in December, this poll shows them ahead of Conservatives. The Green Party are also delighted that, once again, this poll shows them ahead of the Lib Dems.

The problem for the Labour Party though is illustrated in this other YouGov chart which looks further back at voting intentions across 2014.

voting intention 2014

Here we can see the long-term trend of Labour support dropping throughout 2014.

What is equally interesting is how this drop in support for Labour correlates with Miliband hitting an all time low with his popularity ratings. Is Labour’s drop in the polls a reflection of Miliband’s all time unpopularity, or vice-versa? A chicken and egg question.


And so the question remains – where are these Labour supporters from the early coalition years going? And thus we move onto the relative growth of the Greens.

YouGov paints a nice picture of Green Party support consistently growing through 2014 which resulted in YouGov proclaiming ‘Greens ahead of Lib Dems in longer trend‘ in an article in December 2014.

While Greens are only picking up about about 4% of the 2010 Labour vote two additional points have to be made:

1) Labour dropping another 4% from their 2010 low point to the Greens is significant.
2) Labour, in the last year, have continued to drop in popularity when, while in opposition, they should be riding high on anti-government sentiment – they are not.

Before Green readers get too excited though it is worth pointing out that this growth in support is unlikely to result in any additional seats. In Norwich South (feasibly the Green’s second target) a Lord Ashcroft poll showed them doing well but considerably behind Labour.

As with many seats, the battle to pick up former Lib Dem voters between the Greens and Labour may well prove crucial.

The General Election in 2015 will bring more of the same in terms of overall outcome but it might, just might, also go down in history as the start of the breakdown of two party politics.




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David Drew still on odds on favourite to win back Stroud seat

ladbrokesDavid Drew, the former MP for Stroud and Labour Party candidate for 2015, is still odds on favourite to win back the Stroud marginal seat according to new odds tweeted by Ladbrokes.

This shows no real significant change since February last year when Hynd’s Blog reported that Ladbrooks had Drew at 4/9 to win back his old seat.

If you were interested in an outside bet though, Ladbrokes are now giving odds for the Green Party at 50/1.

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Take rosettes out of politics to help resuscitate democracy


This is not a radical cry for the removal of political parties from our decision making mechanism. Far from it. This is merely a cry to those tiny number of people on the insides of national and local parties. Please, for the love of Hynd’s Blog, take off those ridiculous rosettes.

They are a symbol of one of the strongest held perceptions in politics and that is that politicians cannot be trusted. If you want to be listened to – start by taking off your rosettes.

For a long-time now I have encouraged any candidate of any political party to take off their rosette. This normally occurs when they are about to go infringing on people’s personal space and time by ‘door knocking’.

I do this not because their particular flavour of political party might be unpopular than but because politics per se is.

Or, to be more accurate, politicians are.

By wearing a rosette politicians shoot themselves in the foot on the first step they hope to take on their journey of democratic representation.

At the crux of my argument is the assertion that if you want a constituent to talk to you, let alone trust or vote for you, then you need to give yourself a fighting chance in the first few seconds on the doorstep. This is unlikely to happen if you were a badge that basically says, ‘Watch out, I’m a politician.’

As much as you might honestly believe that you are different to all the others, or your party is not like those overs, most people don’t share these subtleties. They see you – a politician – as untrustworthy.

New polling from IPSOS-Mori out today highlights how deeply rooted this mistrust of politicians is. Just 16% of respondents said they would trust a politician to tell the truth. This is an opinion as old as IPSOS-Mori’s polling.

In other words, even if you got a constituent to listen to you, about 84% of constituents wouldn’t trust what you have to say. This is more than bankers…a profession not known at the moment for their commitment to honesty.

This might seem like a trivial point but it is one of the pebbles on the starting line of democracy that is tripping up genuine interaction and engagement.

It’s axiomatic that the removal of the rosette is only the first step to rebuilding trust. The long road ahead in our efforts to resuscitate democracy involves strange concepts like keeping promises and working hard to represent constituents needs.

But that is for tomorrow. Today, still with 4 months left until the election, I beg and implore candidates and sitting MPs, MEPs and Cllrs alike – get rid of those ridiculous rosette.


Filed under Politics

Why I keep on blogging: Reflections on 2014


Walking with friends in mid-Wales

One of the many things that inspired me in 2014 was reading Henry Coetzee’s assertion that (and I paraphrase from memory) ‘there are few things cooler in life than getting an action photo of yourself doing something awesome but few things less cool than stopping the action to take a photo’.

I couldn’t agree more.

And so it is that I am writing my reflections of Hynd’s Blog for 2014 a few days before the end of the year because, in my mind at least, there are few things cooler than writing about life in all its wonderful contradictory complexity, but there are few things less cool than spending time online when there is life to be lived outside the window.

My next couple of days will take me into the internet nether zone of the mid-Wales valleys to spend New Years with old friends. My computer will be left where it belongs – on my desk at home and so these reflections will come a few days early.

This project, Hynd’s Blog, has always been, for me at least, about enhancing, understanding and/or challenging life – not replacing it.

I find it so interesting that this is a distinction that so many bloggers seems unable to spot.

Anyway, before I disappear into mid-Wales I wanted to reiterate my thanks to each and every one of you lovely people who take the time to read my ramblings. You’re ace and don’t let anyone ever tell you anything else!

Seriously, you are the only thing that distinguishes all this from a virtual equivalent of locking myself into a dark room and talking to myself. You are what makes Hynd’s Blog a conversation.

So…Thank you!

And what a rather large conversation it has grown into.

Hynd’s Blog continues to grow into something that I had no idea it had the potential to do. Tens of thousands of people come to read my ramblings every month and this, quite literally, never ceases to surprise and equally delight me.

From all over the world people are coming to read, to comment, and to interact with issues that mean the world to me. From local politics to the finer details of micro brewing; from human rights violations to the relative merits of lower league football people are coming here, to Hynd’s Blog, to engage with them.

As amazing and wonderful as I find this, it also adds a pressure, in my mind at least, to keep Hynd’s Blog being something worth reading. At times good articles seem to flow easily from my meandering mind to article form and at others it feels like drawing blood from a stone.

At these lowest times those, the times when I wonder why I bother writing, I have almost invariably been lifted by the sweetest of emails from both friends and strangers that makes it all somehow feel worthwhile.

Haters will always be haters (and believe me there are plenty of them) but it is each of you that have made the effort to leave an interesting or kind message or comment that makes me want to keep Hynd’s Blog going.

Hynd’s Blog remains a labour of love and you are part of it.

2015 will see me move back to Bristol after a few years of living in Uganda…Different people and issues will be on my doorstep but I am excited as ever to keep writing about them.

I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that you are as excited to keep reading and interacting with them.

If so, roll on 2015…


Filed under Social comment