Tag Archives: Green Party

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

leaders
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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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.

YouGov

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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Green Party to hold Brighton Pavilion in 2015 General Election

Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas

Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas

According to the latest Lord Ashcroft polling of marginal constituencies across the UK, the Green Party are set to hold onto their only current seat, Brighton Pavilion.

The polling puts the Green Party ten points ahead of Labour (38 to Labour’s 28%).

Both parties see the Brighton Pavilion seat as their number one target for the South East of England.

Significantly the polling finds the Green Party picking up a huge 44% of 2010 Lib Dem voters. Labour in contrast picks up just 21% (with the Lib Dems picking up just 13%). This is opposite of the national picture which sees Labour picking up roughly double the Green Party of former Lib Dem voters.

Equally, the polling suggests Labour have been unable to plug the hole that saw so many former Labour voters turn to the Green Party in Brighton. The polling found that 27% of 2010 Labour voters were planning on backing the Greens. This is compared to about 4% nationally suggesting that either the Greens/Labour are doing something locally that is swaying voters and/or that Labour voters do switch to the Greens when they think the Greens have a chance of winning.

Labour however, to their credit, do appear to be matching the Greens in their campaigning efforts with about 1 in 4 of those polled saying that had heard from Greens and/or Labour in recent weeks.

It will be a bitterly battled fight but at the moment it looks like the Greens are on course to return their only MP, Caroline Lucas.

Read more on the marginal polling here.

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Green Party membership doubles in less than a year

Green.
The Green Party of England and Wales has today announced that it’s membership is up 100% since January 1st 2014.

The membership of the Green Party now stands at 27,618 with over 500 new members joining last weekend alone.

This combined with consistently high recent polling makes Hynd’s Blog wonders what Sadiq Khan has to say about this….

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Boris u-turns on car free Sundays

Boris
The papers are today splashing the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson’s, new found support for the idea of a car free Sunday in London.

The Independent reports:

“speaking on a visit to Indonesia the Mayor of London said he was in favour of copying a scheme in Jakarta where areas of the capital have been closed to traffic from 6am every Sunday. “I was blown away by the popularity of the car-free Sunday here,” he said. “I will certainly be asking Transport for London to dust down [their] old ideas and have a look.”

Curious that Johnson was so blown away by the scheme in Jakarta in 2014 and so unimpressed with a comparable Colombian scheme that Green Assembly Member Jenny Jones asked him about in 2010.

In 2010 Jenny Jones asked the mayor:

“Will you consider replicating in London the hugely popular Colombian scheme whereby many city roads are closed to motor vehicles on Sundays and public holidays from 7am – 2pm?”

The Mayor, just 4 years ago, responded:

“Widespread restrictions may not be as viable in London compared to Bogotá. However, TfL is investigating options for single or localised street closures that may potentially help achieve a cycling revolution and increase walking, whilst maintaining the movement of people and goods.”

In short, he said, probably not.

What made him change his mind?

Hynd’s Blog hopes it is not something as simple as crass populism in light of his parliamentary ambitions…

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UKIP, not the Greens, are attracting the most former Labour voters

Farage
Today’s polling from YouGov shows the Conservatives beating Labour and the Greens beating the Lib Dems each by one point. Some within the Labour party (and media) are panicking that this is a symptom of Ed Miliband’s failure to inspire more left-wing voters who are in turn moving to the Green Party.

The problem is, the polling does not support this.

Of those surveyed who voted Labour in 2010, a significant 76% of them are still planning on voting Labour in 2015. This is more than the Conservative equivalent (75%) and significantly more than the Lib Dem equivalent (28%).

This does however suggest a 24% voter leakage. It is UKIP however, not the Greens, who are picking up most of these disillusioned former Labour voters. 10% of those who voted Labour in 2010 said that they are now planning on voting UKIP.

In comparison the Conservatives are picking up 7%, Greens 4%, SNP/Plaid 2% and Lib Dems 1% of former Labour voters.

Labour have a problem here but the problem is UKIP shaped, not Green! Labour’s response though has been to appoint Sadiq Khan to lead a unit responding to the Green threat whilst essentially ignoring the much larger and significant threat of UKIP.

This might well be one of a list of mistakes that may just cost them the majority they are seeking in 2015.

If the Green Party though are not picking disillusioned Labour voters, where are these new found supporters coming from?

The Green Party are making their gains primarily through disillusioned former Lib Dem voters. 16% of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 are now planning on voting Green in 2015. Specifically the Greens are making huge ground among young voters (especially 18-24 year olds) which used to be a Lib Dem strong area.

16% of 18-24 year olds said they would vote Green compared to just 8% of who said they would vote Lib Dem.

Both the Green Party and Labour’s relative position in the polls are dependent on the sinking Lib Dem ship continuing to sink (more 2010 Lib Dem voters are planning to vote Labour than they are Lib Dem!).

If after 2015 the Lib Dems end up back on the backbenches and start to regain some of the trust they lost in government and Labour attempt to run a government, it will be interesting to watch where these floating voters settle.

There is a big chunk of the electorate who are no longer attached to one political party which is going to make the coming decades hard to predict and interesting to watch.

In the words of Master Yoda – “Difficult to see, always in motion are the future”

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Poll finds Labour at record low and Greens on record high

The Ipsos MORI poll due to be published in today’s Evening Standard has caused ripples today as it shows support for Labour at a record low since 2010.

However behind the headlines there is another interesting figure to pull out of this latest polling – the Green Party are on a dramatic high securing 9% of the voting intention of all adults over the age of 18:

Mori poll

Despite this quite momentous rise in the polls the Ipsos MORI write up of the results does not mention the Green Party once.

UKIP by contrast (down 2% at 14) get four mentions in the write up. The Liberal Democrats (just one percentage point above the Green Party at 10%) equally also get four mentions.

Frustratingly, it is from this text that lazy journalists will copy and paste their articles not bothering to look at the data tables behind the polls (something which I have to do if I want to find out how the Greens are doing).

If they did, I am sure that they would use the headline finding of this poll (Labour being on a long-term low) but equally is it not noteworthy that the Greens are reaching such competitive heights?

Let’s see if any journalists pick up on this…

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Green Party membership surges past 25,000

On June 9th Hynd’s Blog reported how Green Party Membership was growing in a way that the other ‘bigger’ parties were not. At that time they had just over 17,000 members.

On September 17th Hynd’s Blog reported that Green Party membership had tripled between 2002 and 2014. At that time Green Party membership stood at about 18,500.

On the 3rd October Hynd’s Blog reported that Green Party membership was, for the first time in the party’s history, over 20,000.

Today, 11th November, Hynd’s Blog notes a tweet sent from Derek Wall (former Principle Speaker and now International spokesperson of the Greens):

This is, by anyone’s standards, quite an extraordinary growth in party membership. In their words:

In the last 2 weeks someone has joined the Green Party every 10 minutes”

ten-minutes-450x314
Hynd’s Blog is excited to see this growth in progressive political participation!

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Green Party ahead of Lib Dems in latest Lord Ashcroft poll

Can you remember how excited the Green Party was when various polls put them neck and neck with the Lib Dems?

Well, imagine the levels of excitement in Green Party HQ when they spot this week’s Lord Ashcroft polling which has them, for the first time, ahead of the Lib Dems!

Lord Ashcroft

More evidence to back up the Daily Telegraph’s assertion that next May’s election will be a 5 horse race.

UPDATE: I have just spotted on twitter that some Greens are claiming their membership has also broken 30,000 – it was only a few weeks OK that Hynd’s Blog was reporting it had broken 20,000 for the first time ever!

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UKIP but not the Green Party included in TV leader’s debate

FarageBennettThe BBC this morning reported:

“UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has been invited to take part in a TV debate with David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg ahead of next year’s general election.

The BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 have announced plans to hold three debates.

One would involve a head-to-head debate between just the Conservative and Labour leaders, and another would include the Liberal Democrat leader.

The other debate would involve all three leaders plus Mr Farage.”

Almost instantly a variation of the pertinent question ‘On what basis is Nigel Farage included and not Natalie Bennett and the Green Party?’ was being replicated across social media.

Now UKIP have one elected MP, but of course The Green Party has also had one MP since 2010. Recent polling figures show UKIP flying high but have also shown the Greens polling in the same ball park as the Lib Dems.

Norman Smith, the Assistant Political Editor at the BBC, at least could foresee this inevitable anger and frustration:

But many still felt his language didn’t do the scale of this stitch up justice:

UPDATE:

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said: “With these statements the broadcasters are demonstrating just how out of touch they are with the public mood, and how ridiculously they cling to the idea that the future of politics looks like the past.

“It is clear from votes and polls that the public are fed up with the three business-as-usual parties and are looking around for alternatives.”

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Green Party membership at 20,000 – up 45% in 2014 alone

Green membership2
The Green Party of England and Wales’ membership has grown by over 45% in 2014 alone. This means that, for the first time in the party’s history, their membership is over 20,000.

The youth branch of the Green Party, the ‘Young Greens’, has seen a particularly spectacular increase in membership with over 100% new members joining since March 2014 alone.

This coincides with what Hynd’s Blog reported in September that support for the Green Party amongst 18-24 year old voters had doubled since May’ elections. That ‘doubling in support’ fact came from consistent YouGov polling that found 10-11% of 18-24 year olds are planning to vote Green in May 2015.

Interestingly the last three YouGov polling data sets have shown that this increase has, if anything, increased. In the polling from the 29th/30th September the Green Party picked up 11% of 18-24 year old votes, from the 30th September/1st October 13%, and from the most recent 1st/2nd October 14%.

There is also good news for democracy hidden amongst this milestone for the Greens as well. At the 2015 General Elections Greens will be standing candidates in over 75% of seats – that is an increase of 50% from 2010.

This is important for democracy to ensure that voters, who would want to vote Green, have that option on the ballot paper.

Greens are cheerfully referring to this surge in the polls and membership combined with beating the Lib Dems in May’s elections as the #GreenSurge.

It will be interesting to see if this surge runs its course like a wave moving up a beach, or, whether these are the foundations for the Green Party moving into contention within mainstream British politics.

 

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On Lib Dems, Greens and the selective use of polling data

Anyone with any connection to the Green Party will have probably seen the below image over the last few days. Produced by the polling company YouGov it shows the Green Party neck and neck with the Liberal Democrats on 6% of the intended vote share.

GreenLDVI

Having an external and highly respected polling company like YouGov produce such an image is extremely useful to the Green Party as they continue to try and convince voters that they are a credible option and not a ‘wasted vote’.

What I am about to write does not contradict that.

That said, any assertion that the Green Party are currently neck and neck with the Lib Dems in the polls (plural) as some Greens are claiming is flagrantly not true.

An accurate description of what has occurred would read more like, “One poll, which stands as an exception, shows the Green Party neck and neck in the polls”.

Indeed, YouGov’s latest polling which directly followed the above quoted polling has the Lib Dems on 7% (+1) and the Green Party on 4% (-2).

In addition, the previous Lord Ashcroft and Populus polling both had the Lib Dems on 9% – significantly higher than YouGov has had them for months now. YouGov represents the worst predictions for the Lib Dems.

The UK polling report average, a calculated polling average from across the polling companies, currently has Lib Dems on 8%.

Equally, the 6% vote share for the Green Party represents a (fairly consistent) high for The Green Party. They are currently averaging 5% (according to the UK polling report average).

In short, there are, on average, a clear 3 percentage points between the two parties. And there is no reason to think that this will change anytime soon. It appears that the Lib Dems have reduced their support down to its committed core and the Green Party have impressively expanded their support beyond most people’s expectations.

Looking back 5 years it is interesting to remember where these parties have come from in terms of polling data. At this time 5 years ago with half a year or so until the general election ICM/News of the World polling had the Green Party on just 2% and the Lib Dems on 17%. Some Ipsos Mori polling had the Green Party on 3% and the Lib Dems on 25% (with the day before the poll results having Lib Dems on 27% with no mention of the Green Party). Some YouGov polling (that also didn’t bother recording Green voting intention) had Lib Dems on 21%.

In 5 years the Green Party have gone from not being counted or receiving 1-3% of the vote to consistently polling 4-7%. The Lib Dems have gone from being ‘the next big thing’ polling 16-30% to being stripped down their bare bones of voter support (6-9%).

So, where does this leave us in terms of expected vote share for May 2015? Well, I predict the Lib Dems will still be the third largest party in the Commons (with around 30 seats) and I strongly suspect the Greens will return no more than their one current MP (the case for electoral reform is as strong as ever).

Equally in terms of vote share, I expect to see the Lib Dem 2015 vote share a bit higher than the current polling (for common sense reasons such as embarrassment in admitting you plan to vote Lib Dem and support to good local MPs) and I also expect to see the Green Party vote share marginally drop as both Lib Dems and Labour put out ‘squeeze messages’ (if you vote Green you will let the Tories in).

The Greens are growing and working hard to offer a progressive alternative to the established establishment parties but any assertion that they are polling neck and neck with the Lib Dems is, currently, simply not true.

 

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Young voter support for The Green Party has doubled since May’s election

New analysis from YouGov shows that twice as many young people now say they plan to vote Green in May 2015’s General Election than they did before this year’s European elections.

An average of 10-11% of 18-24 year olds now say they are planning to vote Green in 2015 compared to just 3-5% in March-May 2014.

Young Greens

Despite this surge in youth support the party are still only polling 4% on average (according to the UK Polling Report Average).

polling average

The Greens are still being significantly outflanked by the electorally similar sized UKIP (although UKIP are of course much better financed) and consistently unpopular Liberal Democrats. Although, it is again worth noting that a 4% national vote share for the Greens would be a huge step up from their 2010 1% vote share.

In 2015 Greens have announced they will stand candidates in 75% of seats. However, considering this national polling, it is expected that Greens will focus their energy and [limited] resources on firstly retaining Caroline Lucas’s seat in Brighton before also looking to increase their vote share (or take depending on who you speak to) the seats of Norwich South and Bristol West. 

Looking further than 2015 though, this surge in youth support for the Greens is surely a good sign of the long-term prosperity of the party as they seek to establish themselves as a competitive force in British politics.

 

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How the Green Party in Stroud responded to the idea of a UKIP/Green pact

Stroud Greens
The Green Party Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) in Stroud, Chris Jockel, came out with this stirring statement in response to a UKIP suggestion of a Green/UKIP pact in Stroud.

From the local rag, the Stroud News and Journal:

“We believe UKIP promote a message of fear, division and potentially hatred, born of a superficial, lazy and ultimately dishonest analysis of the national and local situation,”

Talk about pulling no punches!

Just in case any local UKIPers were left in any doubt the Green Party’s MEP for South West of England (and formerly a Stroud District Cllr), Molly Scott Cato, added:

“UKIP’s candidate seems to subscribe to the adage that ‘My enemy’s enemy is my friend’ but I have to tell her that the Greens choose their friends with more care than that.”

Well, glad we got that one sorted. No UKIP/Green pact in Stroud!

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Natalie Bennett re-elected leader of The Green Party

Green party Natalie Bennett
Natalie Bennett has been re-elected the leader of The Green Party of England and Wales after standing for re-election unopposed. She was elected with 2618 votes to 183 (RON).

Former Deputy leader Will Duckworth however narrowly missed re-election in the new system which saw the party electing one male and one female deputy party leader. Amelia Womack was elected with 1598, (to Will Duckworth’s 1108) and in the second round of voting Shahrar Ali was elected with 1314 (to Will Duckworth’s 1277).

Other internal election results include:

Gpex Chair: Richard Mallender was elected 2640 to RON 101

Campaigns Co-Ordinator: Howard Thorpe was elected 2546 to RON 181

Elections Co-Ordinator: Judy Maciejowska was elected 2631 to RON 161

External Communication Co-Ordinator: Penny Kemp/ Clare Phipps/ Matt Hawkinswere elected 2586 to RON 147

Management Co-Ordinator Mark Cridge was elected 2636 to RON 82

International Co-Ordinator: Derek Wall was elected 1416 to Anna Clarke’s 891

Trade Union Liaison Officer: Romayne Phoenix was elected 2639 to RON 94

Policy Co-Ordinator: Sam Riches and Caroline Bowes were elected 1786 to Rachel Featherstone and Anna Heyman’s 839

Publications Co-Ordinator: Martin Collins was elected 2468 to RON 249

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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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Green Party hold new MEP’s former council seat in Stroud by-election

Molly with Martin

New Cllr Martin Baxendale with MEP Molly Scott-Cato

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:

Valley Ward

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.

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Green Cllr Ben Duncan thrown out of Green group after ‘hired killers tweet’

ben 4
A couple of week’s ago Hynd’s Blog reported on Green Cllr Ben Duncan tweeting his way into another PR disaster. I finished that article by asking:

‘one has to wonder how much longer they will tolerate Cllr Duncan and his off message, and at time highly offensive, online comments?’

Well today we got our answer. Today’s Brighton Argus reports:

In a statement issued this morning, Lisa Murray, chairwoman of Brighton and Hove Green Party, said: “The panel of inquiry has concluded that Councillor Ben Duncan should no longer serve as a member of the Green Group of Councillors on Brighton and Hove City Council.

“This follows his recent statement on Twitter concerning the armed forces which understandably offended many both within and outside the party.

“The panel concluded that since this recent incident follows a history of making comments in social media that many would view as inappropriate for someone in such a position, taken as a whole, Councillor Duncan’s actions amount to a breach of standards and judgement expected of a Green councillor, bringing himself and colleagues into disrepute.

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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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Filed under Gloucestershire, Politics