Tag Archives: Conservative

Green Party membership 2002-2014 up three fold

Today, Derek Wall from the Green Party tweeted this graph showing the growth in Green Party Membership from 2002 – 2014.

Greens 2002-2013

Two interesting points to draw out from the graph:

  • How low the membership was 10 years ago (I joined when the party had just 6,280 other members).
  • How consistently the membership has grown over the last 12 years (with obvious spikes).

In contrast when we look at membership figures (source: House of Commons briefing Sept 2014) of the three largest political parties in the UK we can see the exact opposite occurring:

  • Membership that used to be quite big but…
  • Now the membership is consistently slipping away.

party members hip

For the sake of comparison, if we look at the Conservatives compared to the Greens we can see that the Tory membership fell by more than half between 2000 and 2013 while the Green Party grew by three fold.

It is worth highlighting though that other smaller parties are also seeing a growth (the BNP serving as the exception).

party members hip 2

Perhaps what is most interesting however is to look at the percentage increase or decrease over the last 10 years to examine where the momentum is in British politics:

party members hip 3This one crass measure doesn’t tell you much but it does suggest that both UKIP and Greens are currently riding high.

The pertinent question though is will this trend continue and will all these small parties become bigger players in British politics or will we see some of them drop off like we did the BNP?

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General election 2015 polling analysis for Stroud

The Lord Ashcroft polling for Stroud gives us a unique insight into the constituency’s voting intentions ahead of the general election next year. As it is the constituency where I will cast my vote it is only natural that I have given it a little more scrutiny than other seats.

Firstly, in line with national predictions, and let’s be honest, common sense, the poll confirms that in all likelihood Stroud will, once again, return Labour’s David Drew.

The headline (weighted) figures show:

Labour 41%

Conservative 30%

UKIP 11%

Green 11%

Liberal Democrat 6%

This would be comparable to a 6.5% swing away from the Conservatives. For reference it is worth comparing this weighted polling to the 2010 constituency result:

Stroud

Labour jump 3% from 2010, Conservatives drop 11%, the Lib Dems drop 9%, Greens gain 8% and UKIP gain 9%.

As I will discuss later – the collapse of the Lib Dems may be key to the 2015 election result.

In line with the national picture we can see the coalition partners bleeding support with the junior partner faring the worst. It is interesting then to see where these votes are going.

According to the polling, 71% of 2010 Conservative voters are sticking with their party. Although lower than the national average this is still reasonable suggesting their key task is ensuring their voters turn up on election day. However 11% and 13% respectively of the 2010 Conservative vote stated they plan to vote for Labour and UKIP.

Only 3% of 2010 Conservative voters plan to vote Green or Liberal Democrat. This suggests that the Lib Dem hope of picking up ‘soft conservatives’ might well be unrealistic in the Stroud constituency. Equally, it suggests that the Green belief of being strong on environmental/rural issues will not return the votes they would hope for in the rural Conservative strongholds of the constituency.

In contrast to the Conservatives, only 23% of the 2010 Lib Dem vote plan to stick with their party. 30% of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 plan to vote Labour, 20% Green and 17% Conservatives. Labour’s success in this constituency is heavily dependent with the national campaign of ensuring Lib Dems stay unpopular.

In Stroud however they have the danger that the Greens will sweep in and take a large number of these votes on the back of the well funded negative campaign Labour has launched against the Lib Dems. Locally in the coming months we can expect to see tough campaigning from both parties in the south of the constituency around Dursley – the traditional Lib Dem [no longer] stronghold.

Only 6% of 2010 Lib Dem voters stated that they plan to vote for UKIP.

Interestingly the Labour/Green battle is further highlighted in the important 18-24 year old demographic where both parties are securing a large vote share (52 and 21% respectively). From this we can once again expect to see visits to sixth form colleges as both parties aim to make the most of the Lib Dem unpopularity with young voters (just 7% in this poll).

Perhaps a key area for The Green party might well be tuition fees as they are the only party that still opposes them and of course, it is the flagship Lib Dem bashing policy.

The Conservatives on their part will continue to sing from the ‘economic recovery’ hymn sheet trying to paint Labour as irresponsible. We know this will appeal to their core vote but this polling suggests that this won’t be enough to win them the seat. They have to reach out of their comfort zones – something which they currently show no signs of doing.

The concluding point though has to be this: With near-by constituencies such as Chippenham (where the Lib Dems are expected to lose a very good MP in Duncan Hames) we can expect to see little from the ib Dem in the Stroud constituency which really means their 15% of 2010 votes is up for grabs!

Whether or not Labour secure enough of these votes might well be the difference between a Labour win and a Conservative hold. From a Green perspective, they too must be looking to make ground in the south of the constituency. This could be a double win for them if they look to reach out and secure new ground in the south of the constituency as this is the place where they can pick up the most new votes whilst also not being accused of campaigning on Labour’s doorstep.

The count down to May 2015 in Stroud begins…

*A total of 1,000 Stroud residents were surveyed in the poll, with prospective voters asked who they would support when thinking specifically about their own constituency and the candidates standing.
** The Green Party are the only main party who have yet to announce their candidate for Stroud.

 

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How many MEPs will each party have after Thursday’s European Parliament elections?

These were the headline polling figures from today’s Sun/YouGov poll.

Greens sun 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.

UPDATE:

An interesting chart from YouGov showing how polling has changed through the election campaign:

polls

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The rebellious class of 2010

We are experiencing turbulent times in our Westminster bubble – the good ship ‘coalition’ is experiencing an increasing number of rebels at an unprecedented level. Everything from the EU through to Legal Aid is causing MPs to walk away from their whips.

47% of the 2010 ‘new intakes’ of Conservative MPs have now rebelled against this government. They constitute 59% of all Tory MPs who have rebelled.

Yet, what is striking is that we are also seeing unprecedented numbers of Lib Dems rebelling. 40% of Lib Dem MPs voted against various aspects of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill at the beginning of this month. With Tom brakes and Simon Hughes voting against government, we now have EVERY backbench Lib Dem voting again this government, with the only exceptions being Lorely Burt and David Laws.  

Significantly, history tells us that ‘rebellion is like your virginity’ – once you’ve lost it, your not getting it back. MPs who rebel once tend to go to rebel time and time again. Having 116 Conservative rebels this early on in a parliament is a worrying sign for Cameron et al. This is before you begin to consider the ongoing difficulty of getting the Lib Dems on board.

The next 3 years are going to be tricky for this government. This level of mutiny is going to do nothing to steady this boat as it continues to sail through the choppy waters ahead.

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Tory MEPs run riot in Brussels and put us all at risk

The greenest government yet? Maybe. This will mean nothing though unless Cameron regains control of his rogue MEPs in Brussels who are threatening to scupper any chance of an ambitious climate change agreement.

The coalition agreement states “We will push for the EU to demonstrate leadership in tackling international climate change, including by supporting an increase in the EU emission reduction target to 30% by 2020“. Equally, David Cameron has repeatedly used climate change as a tool for his PR machine to soften the Tories image.

He is facing embarrassment tonight then when a number of his MEPs are vowing to vote against any move to increase the EU emissions reduction target.

Once again, Tory MEPs like climate change sceptic Roger Helmer are running riot and putting us all at risk. As it stands, these few rogue ECR MEPs have the potential to make or break an EU deal which will affect us all. You might recognise Helmer’s face from a previous blog.

It is irresponsible for Cameron to let his MEPs run riot. He must, without delay, implement a bit of party discipline and accountability. If he doesn’t it is not only the Tories that will suffer, but all of us who need a binding EU deal to help reduce our chances of facing the worst consequences of climate change.

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The Challenge ahead for Neil Carmichael

Neil Carmichael, Conservative MP for Stroud

Stroud lost their widely loved Labour and Cooperative MP David Drew, as Neil Carmichael the Conservative pipped him to the post at Thursday’s General Election.  David was not loved because of his party (indeed this was a problematic area for many), but because of his record as a “constituent MP”.  In other words, because he made it known that he cared about his constituents and worked on their behalf.  David set down the challenge for Neil during his speech on Friday morning saying that he would “drop the files off so you Neil can get started”.  On the campaign trail I met numerous hardened Conservatives who were going to vote for David because they knew someone David had personally helped out.  Neil must be able to show that he can represent all of his constituents not just the 30% who had voted for him by taking up these cases.

Stroud in the past has had less than effective Conservative MP’s.  The most recent of which was Roger Knapman, who later went on to become leader of the UK Independence Party.  It is widely held in the Stroud Valleys that Roger represented a wholly different kind of politics to David, despite their shared scepticism of the EU.  Roger was born in Devon and soon after being defeated by David in 97 returned to Devon to contest a seat in North Devon.  This is in stark contrast to David Drew who is truly seen as a local “Stroudite” (whether this is a good thing or not remains to be debated).

Many fear Neil may just be another Roger; a man too busy with the dealings of Westminster to be able to truly represent Stroud. I have heard countless “stoudies” rubbish Neil’s character with little or no basis.  I say, let’s wait; at least until he has made a mistake before we start the attack.

Neil, academically speaking, represents a more progressive wing of conservatism.  He has assured me that he opposes the Conservative’s involvement with the ECR group in the European Parliament because of the “unsavoury nature” of those who they sit with in coalition for example. There is no reason to believe (at this stage) that Neil will be any worst a constituent MP than David (although he must prove this) and there is no reason to think that he will be any worse than other elected Conservatives (just think we could have Dr Fox as our representative).  Essentially, I am saying lets hold our fire and let him prove himself (for the good or the bad).  At this stage we should be giving him all the support we can to see if he can give it his best shot.  I want the best for Stroud and this will only happen if we try to work positively with our new MP.

Neil remains a decent hard working person.  He was before he got elected, and he will remain to be so.  We might disagree with some of his politics, but I do not see any advantage attacking the man.  Equally, I see no point in creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by talking up the “inevitable demise of the next 5 years”.  Now is the time to be drawing out shared politics such as our equal commitment to localism and see how this can benefit Stroud and its surrounding valleys.  Will Neil publicly back the community supported agriculture project in Stroud for example? Will he push for the investment needed (not cuts) in the Stroud valleys to make us a leading force in renewable technologies (including the manufacturing of wind turbines despite the hysteria in the Cotswold villages)? Will he really work to challenge the gender pay gap that persists in our society? These are all issues that Neil and the Greens agree need to be tackled; these are the sorts of areas that I would love to see Neil and the Greens working together on.

As far as I can see, he has done nothing to deserve the hatred that I have heard off people (not from Greens but from members of the public and other political parties), he simply has the misfortune of representing the Conservative Party.  Let’s hope that Neil has the vision and the perspective to engage across the political spectrum for the good of the people of the Stroud valleys and beyond!

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Some Questions that all candidates should be able to answer but will probably shy away from

Hold your candidates to account and learn from the Paxman!

Have you been watching the TV leaders debates, been to local hustings or tried to contact your local parliamentary candidate? Are you, like me, a little fed up with the unbelievably low standard of questioning that these individuals face? Too often I have heard questions like “What do you think about immigration?” or “I’m worried about schools, what are you going to do about it”? These sorts of questions just gives these trained politicians a chance to fill up the 5 minuets response with well-practiced spin.  If you want to get to the heart of what your MP will be doing, try following these golden rules and ask some of these questions:

Golden rules:

  • Quote something that their party leadership has said or done (or even better, something they have done…for example voting records – see theyworkforyou.com).
  • Make it local…take a national issue and relate it to whats happening locally (eg is there a new nuclear power plant planned for near where you live?)
  • Keep hold of the microphone…let them finish and then point out they have not answered your question (which they probably will not have)…re-ask it in a simplified form and if necessary “do a Paxman” on them.

For a Tory ask:

  • Do you think its acceptable for your party to be in coalition with “anti-Semitic, xenophobic homophobes” (in the words of MacMillan Scott) in the European Parliament? If you do, because they share your belief that Europe should not be a “federal Europe”, can you explain why you will not sit with Nick Griffin MEP who also shares this view?
  • Does you or your party still consider it acceptable for people to be discriminated against on the grounds of their sexuality? If you do not, will you champion a move to get your party to apologies for Chris Graylings insensitive remarks and ask for his removal from his current post?
  • Can you guarantee your party will adopt policies to reach a 90% reduction in Green Houses Gases by 2050? If you can, could you outline how you plan to make such massive savings?

For a Labour candidate ask:

  • In light of the new generation of nuclear power plants planning to be built by your government, can you explain to me what will happen to the issue of waste? Assuming you have an answer to that, could you explain to me why it has not been made public?
  • Why are you pushing ahead with a biometric database using fingerprints, when fingerprinting is widely recognised as being inferior and less reliable to eye scans? Is your party putting money ahead of public safety?
  • Will you apologise to the families and friends of the hundreds of thousands of service men and civilians who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq?

For a Lib-Dem candidate ask:

  • In light of the economic melt down in Greece, would you still advocate Britain joining the Euro?
  • Do you support the EU’s drive to further its energy relationship with countries such as Iran, Turkmenistan and Nigeria, some of the worst human rights violators in the world? Should the EU put principles above its energy security?
  • What are the economic conditions that are needed for you to implement your previous commitment to scrap tuition fees? Do we face a danger that this might be placed on a back burner?

These are just a few questions plucked out of the dark…research your candidates and hold them to account.

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Young, Gay and Conservative?

Boris at last years Gay Pride March.

A recent survey has found that young gay voters are most likely to vote Conservative in the coming General Election. 45% of those under the age of 23 (first time voters) said that they would vote Conservative.  The Greens came 4th picking up just 19% of the surveyed vote.  Does anyone else find this a little surprising?

This is a like a Muslim saying that they would vote BNP, or (perhaps less sensationalist) a Trade Unionist voting Tory. 

The Conservative Party overwhelmingly voted against lowering the age of consent to bring it in-line with heterosexuals. The Conservative Party overwhelmingly voted against sexuality being included in the Equalities Act.  This is before we even get started on all their tripe about the nuclear family and marriage being the cornerstone of life.

Why then would this be the case.  Specifically why would first time voters, be wooed by the Cameron Conservative Crew (CCC)? Firstly, they are not old enough to remember the joys of living under a Conservative government, which forced section 28 on the UK (The piece of legislation that effectively banned the promotion of homosexuality).  Secondly, they are faced with a constant Conservative PR stream painting the Tories as the Cameron cuddles. The Tories (quite successfully in the short term) have succeeded in painting themselves as the gay friendly vote.  Just look at Boris’ big gay face. This is quite a remarkable achievement considering the reality of this situation.

The Conservatives have become cuddlier.  Cuddly with people that MacMillan Scott (Former Tory, MEP) described as “homophobic and racist”.  The extreme right that they sit with in the European Parliament oppose all concepts of “gay rights”.  As one of the ECR groups political advisors said to me recently, working on LGBT rights was “out of the question”. This is without the harder to prove grumblings within their own party.  At best, I could find no mention of LGBT issues on the Conservative Party web site.  A cynic might say that’s because they have nothing positive to say.

Lets not just pick on the Tories though. My own Labour MP David Drew has consistently voted against lowering the age of consent to 16 and against the rights of same sex partners to adopt.  Entrenched homophobia (whether it be from a “Christian Democrat” position (Drew) or a Tory one) is still rife within politics.  Even our beacons of change the Lib Dems make no mention of LGBT issues in their pocket policy guide.

The concepts of ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’ are central to me. I have a progressive minded MP who I believe is trying to work towards equality.  David Drew’s understanding of equality however, appears to be one that excludes members of the LGBT community.  For me, this is unacceptable.  Equally, the Conservatives not only ignore many LGBT issues, but also actively work to further ignorant bigots by forming political alliances with them.  For me this is unacceptable. 

The only party that I can find that will stand up and support these basic concepts of fairness and equality that are so central to me are The Green Party. The Greens would:

1) Open up civil marriages and civil partnerships, without discrimination, to both same-sex and opposite sex couples.

(2) Require all police forces to have LGBT Liaison Officers with paid time allocated within their work schedules to tackle homophobic and transphobic hate crime.

(3) End the blanket, lifetime ban on gay and bisexual blood donors.

(4) Amend the Equality Bill/Act to provide explicit protection against harassment to LGBT people.

(5) Refuse visas and work permits to “murder music” singers and others who incite homophobic and transphobic violence.

(6) Ensure safe haven and refugee status for LGBT people fleeing persecution in violently homophobic and transphobic countries.

 Only the Greens hold an all-encompassing understanding of equality.  For an equal and fair society, you need to look after all your citizens.  I do not believe that any of the three major political parties are in the position to be able to stand up for the rights of the LGBT community here or abroad! That’s why I would urge anyone concerned with LGBT issues to vote Green!

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Why painting conservatives as racists is not fair

William Hague, accused of "Naked Racism" by Tony Benn. Photo thanks to BBC.

It is very easy to paint the UK Conservatives as racists.  Indeed, it has to be noted that they do rather lend themselves to it.  A Guardian comments article today has a look back at Tory racism over the last year, highlighting case after case of Conservatives making terrible racist comments.  I have blogged before about how the Tories sit with racist and homophobic partners in the European Parliament.  Yet all of this needs some clarification.  There is nothing inherently racist about voting (or at a push) being a member of the Conservative Party.

The Tories, top brass present themselves to be as clean as a whistle, commenting that racism is a thing of the past for the Tories. Sadly, as the above mentioned article suggests, this is not the case.  There appears to be a correlation between those active in the party and a certain level or racism.  This is obviously not absolute (I know some very open and accepting Tory officials) but it does appear to set a rule of thumb. Elected Tories often have an entrenched form of racism at the basis of their politics. 

This has to be separated from the mass of Tory voters.  I honestly believe that there are many Conservative voters who share similar feelings to me.  I come from a long background of “blue”.  Growing up in rural Gloucestershire in a middle-class family I have been exposed to all the highlights (and many lowlights) of a true blue up-bringing.  I feel in many ways that I am a conservative at heart – I do not like things to change.  I like drinking tea and going for walks.  I find protests uncomfortable and noisy.  When people advocate change you never know what’s going to happen. I like many traditional aspects of life and I want to irrationally hold on to them.  Just because I like tea when served in fine china, it does not mean I am a racist.  There is nothing inherent about liking the traditional aspects of life and being a racist.  It follows however, that if you share these sentiments then you to have to consider whether a Tory vote really represents your values.  Just because you like a quiet life, does that mean you can back a party dripping in racism?

Despite Cameron’s PR game trying to paint them as the cuddly party, there is still a nasty side to them that personally means I could never support them.  Despite what Cameron peddles about racism, it has been shown his party is endemically racist.  Despite what Cameron would say about opposing the death penalty, many of his MEP’s voted against the EU position on the death penalty at the latest Strasbourg session.  Despite what Cameron would say about equality we can see that his party is dominated by the Eton élite who get upset if asked to sit in standard class on the train!

These guys do not represent the “levels of common decency” that are key to my moral make-up.  These guys represent something that is alien to me, xenophobia, racism and a massive sense of homophobia.  I am going to vote Green at the next election because they are there to preserve, to look after and care for many of the things that I care about (the countryside, my old age, the disadvantaged in society, the NHS, schooling etc).  I cannot support the conservatives; yet let’s not start accusing every other conservative voter of being a racist; this simply is not the case.

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