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Category Archives: EU politics
I was pleasantly surprised to see in today’s Daily Telegraph (not the natural bedfellows of The Green Party) an article that seriously examined the idea that the 2015 General Elections will be a ‘5 horse race’. It wasn’t long however before I started to spot the usual stereotyping that blights so much of the media coverage of the Green Party.
As a precursor to the rest of this blog it is worth highlighting the notable rise in quality media coverage the Greens have enjoyed over the last 6 months. This is, at least in part, thanks to the recently re-elected leader Natalie Bennett, who worked as a journalist including a number of years as an editor at The Guardian.
And yet it still feels like they are fighting an up-hill battle at every turn.
Using this latest Telegraph article as a case in point…The article is generally positive towards the Greens highlighting 7 reasons why they will be a major factor in May 2015’s General Election and yet a patronising whiff exists over the article and manifests itself in the smallest of details.
Take for example the section on last May’s European elections:
While Mr Clegg’s party lost 10 out of 11 MEPs, the Greens not only held their two seats but added a third – Molly Scott Cato, an avid beekeeper who became the party’s first ever South West MEP.
Why on earth would Ben Riley-Smith, the author of the article, choose ‘an avid beekeeper’ as a description for Molly rather than say, ‘a published economics author’ or ‘a former district councillor’ or ‘a former Professor of Economics’…?
This was a point that earlier today I raised on twitter copying in Molly Scott Cato MEP.
Her response just makes this point even more remarkable:
— Molly MEP (@MollyMEP) October 6, 2014
Curious. Not only did Riley-Scott choose the frankly bizarre description of ‘an avid bee keeper’ to describe this acclaimed author and academic but, bizarrely, this then turns out to be a complete falsehood anyway.
I then googled ‘Molly Scott Cato beekeeper’ to see where this apparent myth might have come from and sure enough, it appears in a number of other media outlets from the BBC (including the pun ‘making a buzz of her own’) to our local rag the Gloucestershire Citizen.
As Molly said in her tweet… #stereotypes.
This type of lazy stereotyping by the press perpetuates the myth that Greens are only interested in the environment. Even when an economist is elected the media look to describe her in outdated environmental terms.
This is in turn reinforces the perception of voters that Greens do address the issues that most concern them. Of course the irony is that ‘the economy’ consistently tops the list of issues concerning voters and yet journalists, like Riley-Scott, think it more pertinent to mention a completely made-up hobby of Molly’s rather than the fact that she is acclaimed economist!
Things are improving for the Greens in terms of media coverage but to say this is an uphill battle is an understatement.
The Green Party have held onto the Valley Ward seat on Stroud District Council which was formerly held by their new MEP Molly Scott-Cato.
Earlier today they announced the results on their facebook page:
In May the Green Party secured 166,447 votes in the South West region (11.10% of the vote) which saw Molly Scott-Cato elected as the first ever Green MEP in the South West. This in turn sparked the by-election that was held last Thursday.
When UKIP MEPs turned their backs in protest to the EU flag they embarked on creating some truly wonderful imagery.
They had hoped to create a powerful visual protest against the EU by turning away from the EU flag. Without realising though they all turned instead to face no other than Marine Le Pen, of Front National (FN) – the far-right French political party resulting in this wonderful image:
*Photo New Europe
Of course, in the lead up to the European elections UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the man who orchestrated this parliamentary protest, spoke out about the ‘common ground’ between the FN and UKIP and the potential of working together in the European Parliament as a blocking minority.
Indeed Geert Wilders, the lunatic Eurosceptic leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, told the Guardian that hoped he could get Le Pen and Farage to work together in the parliament.
This overlap between the far-right of European politics and UKIP is seen in Farage’s recruitment of one rogue FN MEP into their political group (something which didn’t please Le Pen herself to much).
They are joined in UKIP’s ‘Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy’ (EFD) by two Swedish far right MEPs whose party was founded by white supremacists (I read that they had to write specifically distancing themselves from white-supremacist views to be allowed in) as well as Lithuania’s Order and Justice Party (a party who themselves have had to deny links with Le Pen’s far-right FN).
A charming group huh?
I wonder how many 2014 UKIP voters realized that their vote was going to be used to help grow such a far-right grouping in the European Parliament?
I suspect not many!
Austria’s first openly gay MEP and leader of the Austrian Green delegation to the European Parliament was reportedly sprayed with butyric acid at the recent ‘Vienna Rainbow Parade’.
Speaking to The Local after the attack Lunacek said:
“These kinds of isolated cases showed that the fight for tolerance, acceptance and respect in Austria was not over. People who spread fear and hate needed to be opposed.”
This attack is unusual because of the public profile of the victim. However, we know that LGBT residents all over the EU suffer a disproportionate likelihood in being victims of violent attacks. As Stonewall’s ‘Gay Crime Survey’ in the UK commented:
“[There is] a picture of lesbian, gay and bisexual people suffering wide-ranging abuse, from physical assaults and threats of violence through to harassment, verbal insults and damage to their property. Hate crimes and incidents affect gay people of all ages living in all regions of the country”
The same survey found that “One in six lesbian, gay and bisexual people have experienced a homophobic hate crime or incident over the last three years” alone.
For the majority of tolerant Brits and other European citizens it is hard to imagine that such attacks exists at all yet alone with such regularity and severity. But it is incredibly important to remember that this hate filled and often violent reaction to people’s sexuality still impacts on thousands of people’s lives all over the world but significantly also in our own European back yard.
One of the most important things we can all do to combat this is to read more around the issue. As such, I hope this more information is of use.
The Liberal Democrat Voice blog (the 5th most read political blog in the UK), the day after the European Elections, had this hard-hitting story: ‘Cambridge Liberal Democrat Sarah Brown up for a National Diversity Award‘ I kid you not. Here’s the screenshot: Of course…the election we should be talking about is the for ‘National Diversity Award 2014’ not that little European Parliament thing that everyone else is talking about… To be fair to them, they did yesterday run a live blog – but even that seemed to give up soon after midnight! Surely they can find some positive spin on the results…can’t they?
@steve4319 Actually, I shut up the live blog not that long before 3.
— libdemvoice (@libdemvoice) May 26, 2014
1) The media have played into the UKIP agenda. Even the impartial BBC have not helped.
Lesson learnt? The media will keep pushing an agenda that sells papers. The left need to get their positive message on immigration into a media friendly package. Labour’s attempt to out UKIP UKIP on immigration is destined for failure.
2) The Liberal Democrats vote has collapsed. Down from 12 MEPs to just one! This left a lot of space for UKIP to move into. (Image from Christian Adams).
Lessons learnt: Party popularity is like a roller coaster. Lib Dems are currently in a dip. Make no mistake though, they will be back! An election strategy based on just picking up ex-Lib Dem voters is doomed for failure. The left needs to put out a positive message.
3) Nigel! The man himself. Folks on the left don’t like to admit this, but lots of people like him, trust him and believe that he alone best represents their concerns and aspirations.
Lessons learnt: Politicians need to start sounding like the people they are hoping will vote for them. When they sound like political robots they alienate the electorate. *Cough* Ed Miliband *Cough*.
The European Election results are in (Scotland and N.Ireland coming in later today) and if there is one conclusion to draw it’s this: I got it a little wrong on a number of predictions.
So this is the overall picture from England and Wales:
UKIP have done very well like I predicted and Labour have done OK – but not well enough – also like I predicted. The Liberal Democrats have just avoided a whitewash unlike the BNP – all like I predicted.
I am pointing out what I got right, not to be smug, but to give myself some credit before highlighting how wrong I was regarding The Green Party (whose position I spent most time analyzing).
I predicted The Green Party would pick up 4-6 MEPs (in line with many polls). They have returned 3 (although still have an outside chance for a 4th in Scotland).
In the East of England I was confident that The Green Party would elect one MEP. This didn’t happen (although they did beat the Lib Dems into 4th). I was right in predicting Labour could not get a second seat there but I underestimated The Conservatives’ ability to get their core vote out (they dropped just 2.84% from their 2009 high – that is really impressive!).
Equally, in the North West with the collapse of the BNP and the Liberal Democrats I predicted a Green gain. Once again the Conservative vote held up stronger than expected. This combined with BIG gains for UKIP meant that for the second election running The Green Party just missed out (although also beat the Lib Dems into 4th).
However, in my home region of The South West there was a pleasant surprise. Here I looked hard at the stats and just couldn’t call it. Would The Liberal Democrat vote hold up enough to gain the last seat or would there be a huge surge in Green votes? As it happened both the Lib Dems collapsed and The Green Party claimed a huge 11% of the vote.
That means Molly Scott-Cato is the first ever Green MEP for the South West. I am really delighted for her. I know her well enough to be able to say that she will be a real asset to both the South West and the green group in the European Parliament.
Anyway – this just goes to show two things: One, it is worth voting Green and two, it is also worth ignoring what I say a reasonable proportion of the time!
Full election results here (remember 27 other countries are also voting in this election!).
Just seen this photo from the count of Molly – I think she looks happy!
This on the Lib Dems performance
Last night was a ‘pretty disappointing night’ for Lib Dems in the same way the Titanic had a ‘pretty disappointing crossing’
— Lembit Öpik (@lembitopik) May 26, 2014
It’s a simple message, if I can vote from Uganda then you can walk down to your local polling station!
Go on, off you go! Vote.
Thanks to Andrew Sparrow at The Guardian for posting this photo in their live blog.
The latest piece of YouGov polling gives these headline figures:
We can see UKIP are just edging Labour. Bad news in itself. But I am sure Labour cannot be too happy to see The Green Party (down from their 12% high) are on 10% and just edging the Lib Dems. Let me explain why…
The breakdown of these figures show that The Green Party are picking up 19% of those who voted for the Lib Dems in 2010. Bad news for Lib Dems but also worrying for Labour. Labour are picking up a comparable 18% of 2010 Lib Dem voters – less than The Green Party. In short, Labour have failed to appeal to alienated left-wing liberals – something that is central to their general election 2015 strategy. .
This is further evidenced in the poll conducted of the Left Foot Forward readership. This poll should have, if things are going well for Labour, shown massive support for Labour. Instead it shows the Green Part picking up 34% and even the Lib Dems still claiming 17% of the vote.
As the editor of Left foot forward, James Bloodworth, noted:
This should perhaps concern Labour, as their message still appears not to be winning over many naturally left-of-centre voters – despite their recently announcing a raft of identifiably social democratic policies.
Labour might well come out on top in these elections but it is far from a ringing endorsement.
Today’s Opinium/Daily Mail poll reinforces the crux of this post showing Labour polling just 25% and The Greens increasing their share of the vote.
Of course it is.
It goes without saying….doesn’t it?
Well, no. Apparently not. Lots of people are so unsure of the answer to this question that they type it into google.
Bonkers huh? People are trusting a search engine to decide whether or not to exercise their hard won democratic right.
So, this is for you if you are not sure whether or not it is worth voting at the European elections.
Simply put, yes you should vote. You have a chance to chose who represents you when decisions are made making the laws that govern every aspect of our lives. So, if you care about workers rights, foreign policy, the environment, consumer rights, further and higher education, travel, economics, animal rights, human rights, construction, farming, fishing, forestry, health, entertainment, food…then VOTE!
And more importantly, vote for who you want to win. The party who you think best represents you.
This election is run using a proportional representation system (so you are not ‘wasting your vote’ by voting for a smaller party) and turnout is often very low.
Your vote can make all the difference!
If you’re not sure who to vote for click here and fill out this quick survey.
These were the headline polling figures from today’s Sun/YouGov poll.
How will this translate though into the number of projected seats in the European Parliament?
Put simply, this poll is great news for Labour who would firstly win the largest share of the national vote and secondly see (based on projections from this polling) gain an additional 12 MEPs. This would give them 25 in total.
Although UKIP will be disappointed with not topping the polls they are projected here to win an additional 6 seats in the European Parliament. This would give them 19 in total.
The other big winners are The Green Party who comfortably beat the Lib Dems into 4th place. This would see The Green Party return an additional 5 MEPs. This would give them 7 MEPs.
The big losers are the coalition partners. The Conservatives are set to lose 11 MEPs bringing their total down to 15 while the Lib Dems are expected to lose 7 MEPs leaving them with just 4. For the Lib Dems though this might be a relief that they have not been wiped off the board as some are predicting!
The other big loser (in every sense of the phrase) are the BNP who continue their decline and are set to lose both of their current 2 MEPs.
However, it is worth pointing out how this poll differs from current trends. As the Guardian noted, if you average the most recent five polls (excluding this Sun/Yougov one) on voting intention for the European Parliament elections UKIP come out on top. Labour come out in second place with 26.6% followed by the Tories who get 23.4%. The Greens are fourth with 8% closely followed by the Liberal Democrats with 7.4%.
Under this uniform swing projection UKIP would have the most number of MEPs (23) with Labour just behind them (22). The Conservatives would slip back to third (18). The Greens would take 4th (6) while the Lib Dems would return just 1 MEP. The BNP would of course still lose their 2 MEPs.
An interesting chart from YouGov showing how polling has changed through the election campaign:
A friend of mine, Dom Aversano*, has today launched a petition calling on Russell Brand to use both his vote and his influence to stop UKIP winning the up-coming European Elections.
His petition calls on:
‘Russell Brand to vote in the European Elections to prevent a UKIP victory, and use his influence to encourage young people and European citizens** to do the same.
I think this is a worthwhile cause that supporters of all political parties (and none) can get behind.
Please do sign the petition and then share with friends.
I don’t want the UK represented by UKIP. If you feel the same as me do something.
*Yeah the same Dom Aversano who secured some half a million signatures on his petition to Iain Duncan Smith.
That’s right – I am still not bored of writing about whether or not The Green Party will beat the Lib Dems in May’s elections!
On the 28th April I wrote an article essentially saying that The Green Party was on course to have a good night at the European Elections and that Lib Dems were going to get a kicking but, significantly, there was little polling to support The Green Party’s claim that they would beat the Lib Dems nationally.
I then followed this up with an article on 4th May when, for the first time, a poll was published that showed The Green Party ahead of the Liberal Democrats.
Any balanced commentator by this point would conclude that the figures were within a ‘margin of error’ and that it was next to impossible to call who will come out on top (between the Greens and Lib Dems).
This, in my mind, is still the only conclusion to reach (combined with the fact that Lib Dems will drop seats and Greens will gain).
But there is something to suggest that The Green Party might just slip past the Lib Dems. This is the trend of polls. While the Lib Dems have the numbers in their favour (more polls have shown them beating Greens than vice-versa) there is a clear recent trend of Greens climbing in the polls as the elections get closer while the Lib Dems seem to be dropping.
As Robert Lindsay on twitter pointed out (click to enlarge):
Interestingly, the same ICM/Guardian poll that puts The Green Party on 10% and Lib Dems on 7% is also the second in as many days that have put the Conservatives ahead of Labour (the other being this from Lord Ashcroft).
If you can conclude one thing from these polls for May’s elections it is this: voting under a PR system there is everything to play for regardless of the colour of your rosette.
Yesterday the increasingly bizarre BNP accused Nigel Farage of having undertaken ‘a recent conversion to Islam’ in a post which was primarily made up of a copied and pasted spam email.
As they face the final steps towards political obliteration (they have now lost all council seats they once held and are on course to lose their two MEPs in May’s elections) they appear to have resorted to trying to win back the particularly islamaphobic UKIP voters by making stuff up about Nigel Farage.
This latest move is only one step removed from the utterly bizarre plea they sent out before which asked for members to ‘engage in making babies’.
Yep, after last May’s drumming at the local elections the BNP sent out a message calling for nationalists to reproduce more to fight the growing wave of immigration.
Little things like this can lead one to think that things are getting a wee bit desperate in BNP HQ.
If you live in the North West and want to make sure that the BNP see their electoral death, read this tactical analysis on how to best beat the BNP in May’s elections.
I wrote before about the Green Party’s chances of beating the Lib Dems (in terms of vote share) in the up-coming euro elections and found little polling evidence to back up the Green’s claim that they will.
It seems only fair then to point out that today a new poll has been released (YouGov Sunday Times voting intention) that puts The Green Party ahead of the Lib Dems.
As far as I am aware this is the first poll to have these headline figures making it worthy of observation for Mike Smithson over at Political Betting.
More good news for The Green Party came from the 18 to 24 age range which had the Greens on 17% and in third place, ahead of UKIP (11%) and Lib Dems (6%).
Either way, as I argued before, The Green Party are on course for a good showing at the European Elections and the Lib Dems are simply trying to avoid disaster!
‘The Green Party is on track to beat the Lib Dems in May’s European Parliament elections’. That is the message being put out by the party today as they launch their European election campaign.
Although they have, to put it kindly, stretched the polling evidence (most polls still suggest Lib Dems will pip the Greens but not by much) there is real hope of The Green Party tripling the number of MEPs as the Liberal Democrats haemorrhage their 2009 vote share (they are polling around 9% – down from 2009’s 13.7%).
Interestingly even the one polling that The Green Party quote to suggest they are on track to beat the Lib Dems nationally has a headline figures suggesting the Lib Dems will beat The Green Party. To justify the claim of ‘being on course’ to beat the Lib Dems, the Greens use the figures from those saying they are likely to vote in May (see page 2).
This said, I am still expecting significant Green gains and Lib Dems losses come May’s elections.
The Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, commented to the BBC today that the party needs a swing of just 1.6% to secure an additional 4 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
While the national polling is putting the Greens on a comparable vote share as 2009 (roughly 8%) they do have certain regional advantages (collapse of Lib Dems and BNP in specific regions play into their favour).
In light of this it is also looking increasingly likely that The Green Party will make gains in the East of England and the North West (I have written detailed voting breakdowns for the regions here and here).
In both regions, where I predicted a Green gains, I have also predicted Lib Dem losses.
Assuming that the electorate return The Green Party’s 2 current MEPs (for London and the South East) this will see them double their number of MEPs.
In addition there are regions such as the South West where in 2009 the Greens secured 9.3% of the vote (more than their national average and beating Labour) but just missed out on securing a MEP. It would take a small increase in vote share to secure their first MEP in regions such as the South West.
It would be a disaster though for the Lib Dems if this Green gain came at the expense of their one current MEP (the party secured 17% of the vote in 2009). In line with the national picture though it is still the Conservatives and their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats that have the most to lose!
In the regions such as the South West it will be an extremely tight race.
Whatever you do though come May, make sure you are registered to vote.
There are only 24 days to go….you have to decide, which party do you want representing you in the European Parliament?
UKIP (aka the people’s army) have launched their campaign ahead of May’s European elections. The campaign attacks establishment thinking focusing on concerns of ordinary Brits. Who better to head up the campaign (funded by ex-Tory donor and millionaire Paul Sykes) than son of a stockbroker, the privately educated city boy, Mr Nigel Farage? Who says UKIP don’t have a sense of humour?
But there is more than just a touch of irony in this campaign.
The posters nail the core issues that voters keep saying they are most worried about… the economy, immigration, and of course, jobs. But threaded throughout is their ‘core message’ that they are the party of the people standing up for ordinary Brits.
With either a splendid sense of humour or a terrifying sense of self-delusion, UKIP have even started referring to themselves as ‘the people’s army’.
You have to laugh don’t you (or you might cry)? Here is the privately educated stockbroker, Nigel Farage, heading up a campaign that is funded by ex-Tory millionaire Paul Sykes, lamenting the ‘establishment’ and ‘vested interests’.
In a way it is all quite droll.
Worryingly though, against all odds, I am not sure the electorate have spotted the joke.
UKIP are not exactly shy about their vested own interests. Hynd’s Blog is no Private Eye. Just yesterday in that little known publication, The Daily Telegraph, millionaire Mr Sykes wrote quite openly about why he has pumped £1.5 million personal pounds into the latest UKIP poster campaign. In the article he finishes by chillingly saying he will ‘do whatever it takes’.
Can people really not spot the contradiction here? A party stuffed full with disgraced Tories suddenly becoming the voice of the people?
I mean really….do people honestly believe that a party chaired by Neil Hamilton is really the party that is planning to stand up for ‘ordinary Brits’? The same Neil Hamilton whose Conservative career came to an end for accepting envelopes stuffed with cash from Harrods boss, Mohamed Al Fayed, in exchange for asking parliamentary questions…
If I stopped looking at the polls I could be convinced that UKIP was just a rather droll joke, but then I am reminded that this is the party that many tip to win May’s elections.
How very terrifying.