Tag Archives: David Drew

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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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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Why I won’t be voting for Labour’s David Drew or joining the facebook group attacking him

David Drew
Today I stumbled across the Facebook group, ‘David Drew, some facts’.

It is a curious repetition of three accusations against the former Labour MP for Stroud. It holds significance though because he is, once again, standing in Stroud in 2015 in one of the closest fought marginal seats in the country.

Which means that my vote is one of the few in the UK that will hold any sway in the outcome of the 2015 election. Put another way, these accusations, if they sway just a handful of people, might be the difference between Labour returning an MP in Stroud or not.

In short the three accusations made on the page are (not in my words but the groups):

1)      He is anti-gay because in June 1998 David Drew voted against lowering the gay age of consent from 18 to 16. He was in a v small minority (source).

2)      He is against woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion, partly evidenced by this vote in May 2008 he voted for a reduction in abortion time limit, to restrict women’s sole use of IVF and to restrict hybrid embryos (source).

3)      He is anti-freedom of speech because in May 2009. He asked the home secretary to ban entry to the UK of Dr Philip Nitschke, the Director of Exit International, a Euthanasia Campaign (no source given).

The first thing to note from this list is that after a 14 year spell in parliament, the fact that they could only rustle up three things to disagree with him about is telling. David was a pretty good MP and I am sure he will continue to represents many of my Green concerns (social justice, environmentalism, human rights etc) very well if re-elected.

I have to say, much more so than the party he represents always does!

That said, my personal political disagreements with David do also contribute to why I will be voting Green in May and not for David/Labour. Although to reiterate the weight of my reasoning here rests on the party he represents, not David as a person.

If you take just the Facebook group’s first point around same sex consent age as a case in point. When I asked him in 2010 about why he voted against lowering the age of consent for same sex couples so it matched that of heterosexual couples he responded by saying it was because he thought no one, regardless of their sexuality, should be able to have sex before the age of 18 and that he wanted the heterosexual age of consent to go up!

Slightly horrified about this slightly patronising answer and wondering if he tells this to the young Labour voters he has out delivering leaflets that he thinks their sexual relationships should be illegal, I went on to ask him then why he voted against a 2002 motion to vote on his own government’s plans to allow unmarried and gay couples to adopt children. On this occasion he blustered slightly and said that there was problem in the detail.

Did he really think that same sex couples should not be allowed to adopt? Does he still?

My worry is that David does hold homophobic views and this in turn is a bit of red line he crosses for me…discrimination. If he doesn’t he needs to work MUCH harder to convince me of this. As someone who follows equality issues quite closely I have never heard a comment from him on this subject let alone an effective rebuttal of the above accusations.

So if David is reading this, I hope he doesn’t take this as an attack but an opportunity to explain his vote against same sex couples being allowed to adopt (and maybe to clarify whether he really thinks a consensual relationship between two 17 year olds should be illegal).

There are a list of other concerns I have with David which include the ones listed above (he is reported to have wanted the abortion limit to be brought down from 24 weeks to 12 weeks!). For me though, one of my central concerns are his views on the EU that put him so far on the Eurosceptic fringe of European politics that UKIP actually endorsed him at the last election and told their candidate not to campaign against him. I kid you not!

At a time when the UK’s strategic relationship in Europe hangs in the balance the last thing this country needs is another Eurosceptic MP.

All this said, I do like David. I think he is gutsy in his politics and I didn’t like the way the facebook group went about what felt like organizing a collective attack on him. Take for example their repeated claim that he is ‘anti-women’ because of his stance on euthanasia. It is sensationalist and in my mind overtly aggressive. Clearly David values and campaigns for gender equality and his opposition to euthanasia is based on his Christian beliefs not on any discriminatory attitudes towards women.

We need to hold politicians to account but I don’t think we do this by ‘going after them’. It felt to me that this is what the facebook group was doing.

But ultimately all of this sits far from the main reasons for not voting for David Drew. Simply it is the fact that The Green Party still best represents the sort of politics I want to see and so, assuming their candidate or the party does not cross any red lines for me between now and the election, this is how I will be voting in May 2015.

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Former Labour MP David Drew odds on favourite to win back Stroud seat

Drew
Ladbrokes have today released betting odds for the Stroud constituency General Election results for 2015. Stroud’s former MP David Drew will be pleased to see that he is considered odds on favourite.

In 2010 David Drew was defeated by the long-standing Conservative candidate Neil Carmichael by just 2.24%.

2010 Stroud General Election Results:
Conservative: 23679 (40.84%)
Labour: 22380 (38.6%)
Liberal Democrat: 8955 (15.45%)
Green: 1542 (2.66%)
UKIP: 1301 (2.24%)
Independent: 116 (0.2%)
Majority: 1299 (2.24%)

As a result Stroud is considered as a key battleground for the 2015 election. We know that Stroud features 16th on Labour’s 106 must win seats to secure a majority. We also know that Stroud is considered part of the Conservative 40/40 2015 campaign strategy (hold 40 key marginal and win 40 more).

So what will it take for Stroud to once again turn red?

Control the Labour to UKIP vote loss – Although of course UKIP are not a real contender for winning the Stroud seat, they could potentially cost both Labour and the Conservatives dearly. There is evidence to suggest UKIP nationally will dent both Conservative and Labour’s vote share, but locally in Stroud, David Drew is a well-known ‘Eurosceptic’. For Labour to win Stroud back they need to be able to play on this without alienating their core demographic. It will be interesting to watch how the local Labour party plays Drew’s well known ‘Euroscepticism’ in the more working class areas of the constituency such as Storehouse and the centre of Stroud.

Mop up the Liberal Democrats – The Liberal Democrats are widely expected to haemorrhage many of their 8,955 votes as the regional party concentrates on re-electing their standing MPs in the South West. To do this Labour need to learn a lesson from the Liberal Democrats and start producing some bar charts that leave the electorate with the clear message: Stroud is a two-horse race, vote Labour to keep the Tories out. It will be interesting to see if this ‘two-horse race’ rhetoric comes out in the Lib Dem strong-hold of Dursley.

Keep an eye on The Green Party – Lastly there is also the Green Party which saw their vote drop by about a 1,000 from 2005 to 2010 after a substantial campaign by the local Labour party to present David Drew as the ‘green choice’. Just before the election the local Labour party released an advert that some interpreted as a message from the Green Party endorsing the Labour candidate. Although I don’t expect there to see a repeat of a campaign of such intensity to secure Green votes, I am sure that the local Labour party will be wanting to squash any sign of resurgence from the Greens (who maintain a healthy vote share in local elections).

Get their core vote out – At every election we know that the core Conservative vote will turn up to the ballot box. As always, Labour’s challenge will be to ensure that their core support gets out to vote. With this in mind, expect to see a big push for up-dating voter intentions* on their data-bases and then a mammoth election day operation!

*Steve’s tip of the day. To avoid having your door knocked on constantly on election day, tell whatever party that turns up your doorstep that you would never consider voting for them. This way you’re placed in their records as a waste of time to chase on election day.  

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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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New Labour, New Tricks

David Drew's confusing advert in the SNJ

New Labour is famed for its spin-doctors and deceit.  Their 13 years in government will be remembered for misleading the public over the case to go to war, for covering up the BAE scandal and most recently for trying to convince us that police officers spend 80% of their time on the beat. Recently however, our sitting MP looking for re-election, David Drew, has also been peddling his own kind of deceit.  A full-page advert has appeared in the Stroud new and Journal along with its sister paper the Gazette (see photo).

The advert, which at no-point mentions the word “Labour”, starts by saying, “Dear Green (and other) voters in Stroud…if you want a “Green MP” who campaigns against…”.  It is, in my eyes, a cynical attempt to miss-lead and/or confuse the voters. Local Green Party members have been furious thinking it was the Green Party is telling them to vote Labour! Green tinged voters have been baffled when they have seen Green activists on the streets (“I thought you were telling us to vote for David?”).  There are a few points that should be drawn out about this advert.

One, this is part of wider campaign by David Drew to distant himself from his party.  He is enough of a politician to spot that after 13 years of deceitful politics the word “Labour” is toxic in the voters mind.  He is pushing for his loyal supporters to come out and vote for him despite his party affiliation (if there is one thing that defines Drew’s 13 year stint it is his constituent case work).  On this front however, this advert has to be considered an own goal.  David presents himself as an ordinary chap, who does not sink into these sorts of “nasty” politics.  I think a number of voters will be severely put off by this latest move.

Two, David Drew is not a “Green MP”, in the sense that he neither truly represents an environmental agenda nor a full political agenda that the Green Party does.  Lets be clear, a man who supports Nuclear Power (and holds no answer to waste) and who voted against including shipping and aviation into the climate change bill cannot be an environmentalist.  Equally, he cannot be considered a “Green” (in the Green Party sense of the word) as he supported the war in Afghanistan, supports ID cards, has opposed equality by voting against progressive legislation on LGBT rights and obviously, is a big supporter of Nuclear power.  This is not a “GREEN MP” by anyone but Ron Baileys standards!

The Green Party continues to make a case for change.  As good as any MP is (and lets be honest Drew is one of the better ones) they cannot bring about change when they work in a rotten system.  David is still obliged to follow his party whips (the Greens do not have party whips), David is still tied to a party who refuses to bring about real electoral reform (a promise from their 97 manifesto).  Only the Greens can truly bring about the change this country needs.  This is why it is so exciting that the Greens look like they will be getting their first MP’s this May.  It is time for people to start voting for what they believe in, I want Green, not Grey!

SNJ have produced this follow-up piece

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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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Martin Whiteside – The First Green MP for Stroud?

Martin Whiteside, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Stroud.

Stroud has been a marginal seat now for as long as I can remember.  At the last election, Neil Carmichael (the Tory candidate that has now lost the last few elections for the Conservatives) ordered two re-counts of the papers.  In the end he lost to David Drew (the Labour and Co-operative candidate) by a difference of just 0.6% of the vote.  So with New Labour’s slow self-destruction, many people from my home shire are rightly worried that we might end up with Mr Carmichael representing us. 

With a Tory County Council and District Council, it is highly questionable whether Stroud would benefit from more of the same with a Tory MP.  I tried to find out if Carmichael represented something new within the Conservatives; well judge for yourself: http://neilcarmichael.co.uk/about.  As far as I can tell, it essentially says nothing. Stroud needs now, more than ever a fresh vibrant approach. 

Both nationally and locally, the Conservatives and Labour have put me off politics.  I find it hard work and dull to follow their increasingly blurring statements.  This is why I believe that voting Green makes sense.  Some people see it as a wasted vote (“he will never get in anyway”).  I think, it’s a wasted vote if you end up voting for someone (or a party) that you disagree with on really fundamental issues. 

I could vote Labour (David Drew) at the next election, but then I would be throwing my vote behind a party that has started illegal wars, increased tuition fees and have caused more chaos with our finances that any other post WW2 government. 

I could vote Conservative (Carmichael), but then I would be showing support to a party who is happy to sit in political alliances with other parties who support the death penalty and are openly homophobic.  I would be tacitly saying, that it is OK (and successful) for politicians to act and behave in the same smarmy way that Mr Cameron does.  I would be saying good bye to public spending on vital services.  I do not want to do this! I want to vote for what I believe in, both locally and nationally.

The Greens, are the only party who have always been opposed to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (see http://younggreens.greenparty.org.uk/AboutUs/Policy/WaronIraq). They are the only party with a real economic policy that tackles the core of the economic crisis (see http://www.greennewdealgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/The_Cuts_Wont_Work.pdf).  They are the only party who have a real progressive social policy, that will work to reduce inequalities (see http://younggreens.greenparty.org.uk/AboutUs/Policy/CitizensIncome). 

This combined with a candidate that I know and trust, means that on 6th May Martin Whiteside (http://www.glosgreenparty.org.uk/content/view/12/69/), the Greens candidate will be getting my vote.  I hope he gets yours too. 

Join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=268102979503&ref=nf

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