Tag Archives: Greens

UKIP and Greens to influence the 2015 General Elections

Both UKIP and the Green Party are consistently polling at record highs. Hynd’s Blog takes a look at how this might impact the outcome of the 2015 General Election. 

polling station
There is a broad feeling within the Westminster bubble that Labour will win the most seats at the next election. Opinion polls, with the exception of the aftermath of Miliband’s farcical conference speech when he forgot to mention the deficit (opps), show that Labour have consistently polled a few points ahead of the Tories.

Significantly though few expect them to secure enough seats to form a majority government. This means that a coalition is more than possible.

The latest uniform swing predictions put Labour short of an absolute majority by just one seat.

uniform swingIf this prediction comes true then Labour could comfortably (mathematically speaking) enter into coalition with one or a range of parties and rule with a majority government.

However, there is also a scenario where the Lib Dems (currently estimated to pick up 23 seats) fail to have enough support to help Labour secure a coalition with an overall majority.

With this in mind, the relative rise of both UKIP and the Greens and the demise of the Lib Dems takes on a whole new level of interest. No longer is it a given that the Lib Dems will secure enough seats to be able to go into coalition with Labour (or Conservatives) and form a majority government.

It is also worth looking at how in key marginal battle grounds the new found support for both UKIP and Greens might cause a split in the vote a cause an upset.

Those, including myself, who used to talk about the UKIP support just being an electoral blip, have surely enough evidence in front of them now to admit that they were wrong. Equally after a strong showing at May’s European elections and continued growth in support in opinion polls the Greens are increasingly securing their places as a major player in British politics – despite many commentators patronizing dismissal.

To illustrate the current consistent support both the Green Party and UKIP are enjoying I have looked back over the last 10 YouGov voting intention polls. This show that both UKIP and the Green Party are relatively consistent in their new highs within the polls (16-18 % and 5-7% respectively).

graph

The next obvious question then is to ask where this new found support for these two relative outsiders is coming from.

Peter Kellner over at YouGov provides us with this useful infographic from surveys that had a collective sample is 26,724, of whom 1,314 said they would vote Green and 3,401 Ukip:
UKIPGreen demo
Kellner analysed these findings saying:

“In many ways the Greens and Ukip are mirror images of each other. Half of Ukip’s supporters are ex-Tory voters, while the Greens attracted half of their vote from the Lib Dems. Green voters are younger, more female, better-educated and more middle-class than the average – whereas Ukip voters are older, more male, more working class and far less likely to have a university degree. Ukip voters veer to the Right in ideology and choice of newspaper, while Greens veer to Left.”

UKIP, although picking up working class Labour voters, are overwhelmingly picking up former Tory voters. The Greens on the other-hand are picking up a lot of former Lib Dem voters.

If the Greens maintain this level and demographically specific support we can expect to see:

  • Greens returning Caroline Lucas as MP in Brighton Pavillion (Labour’s number one target seat in the South East).
  • A possible second MP in former Lib Dem strong holds (they are targeting Norwich South and Bristol West).
  • A significant impact on Tory/Labour marginals (likely to dent the Labour vote).
  • An increased threat of sitting Lib Dem MPs losing their seats – this is especially true in Lib Dem/Labour marginals.
  • Greens increasing their vote share across the country looking to secure deposits (by securing 5% or more of vote) and possibly beating the Lib Dems.

If UKIP maintain this level and demographically specific support we can expect to see:

  • The standing UKIP MPs (who knows how many other current Conservative MPs will follow Douglas Carswell’s example and defect) returned with little challenge.
  • UKIP gaining a significant number of seats (exact numbers are hard to predict but probably the gains will be counted on one hand).
  • A significant impact on Tory/Labour or Lib Dem marginal (likely to dent the Tory vote more than the Lib Dem/Labour vote).
  • An increase in vote share leaving them with at least double that of the Lib Dems.

In addition there is also a small chance, that UKIP (and even less likely Greens and nationalists) will secure enough MPs to become the minority partner in a coalition themselves – unlikely though.

With all this said and done we are left with more questions than answers: Is this the end of two party politics in the UK? Is our electoral system up to the job with the potential demise of two party politics? Will the Lib Dems enter back into coalition? Would Greens look to join a progressive alliance to form a government? Will Nigel Farage become the next DPM?

So much of this that seemed like an impossibility 4 years ago suddenly seems dramatically possible! When all the talk is of voter apathy it strikes me that there never has been a more exciting time to be involved in politics as the status quo is ripped wide open.

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A response to Owen Jones on why lefties should join Labour (and not The Green Party)

I have only just read Owen Jones’ blog on why he thinks all lefties should back the common cause and get behind Labour.

I will let you read the whole blog and judge for yourself whether you are compelled by his arguments. In this blog I just wanted to take issue with one of the weakest sections of his blog – the “what about the Greens” section.

In this section Owen makes 4 points. In short:

  • The Greens’ vote is stagnating (re 2010 to 2005 vote share) – thus, they’re going nowhere.
  • His politics are based on class and the Labour movement – The Greens are not.
  • The Greens want to remove Trade Union influence from politics through funding reform.
  • Greens abroad have contributed to the austerity agenda.

Point one – He obviously missed the whole 2010 Green Party election strategy. In short it said lets “chuck everything we have at Brighton to see if we can break through this backwards political system” – you know the first past the post unrepresentative system that Labour promised to reform and then didn’t despite 13 years of majority government.

As a result of this strategy a lot of people within the Greens across the country felt let down because they didn’t get the support they wanted as the party focused its time, resources and money on Brighton.

For me though, the 2010 election was a really positive sign for the Greens. It showed the Greens had what it takes to be strategic and as a result they now have their first ever Green MP despite the electoral system (note this is something that UKIP failed to do – or come near to – despite an much more impressive showing at the 2009 EP elections).

Point two – The Greens have incredibly strong policies on worker’s rights (and then act on them). The Green Party has also made repeated attempts to reach out to the Trade Unions. In fact, I would be interested to hear what Green policies (or actions) Owen thinks are not supportive of a labour movement (note the small L Owen otherwise you’re just saying you support a political party no matter what).

Point three – What Owen fails to mention is that The Green Party are calling for (modestly) state funded politics to remove all big money donations from politics. Comparing some of the big money donations the Conservatives get to that of the Trade Unions is absurd – they are of course not the same. However, neither is Labour’s current model (that they are so desperate to hold onto) the right way forward for an open competitive democracy. Labour need to accept this and stop blocking cross party attempts at reform.

Point four – This made me laugh, implying that ‘left’ or ‘socialist’ political parties have not done this. Owen’s argument here is little more than a slur by association. Yes Greens have let many of their supporters down in Ireland and Germany but there are of course also positive examples of Greens internationally doing great work (think NZ for an example). The same can be said for Labour or Socialist parties.

So I finish with a note to Owen.

I am currently a member of The Green Party not because it is pragmatically useful but because they are, taken as a whole, the closest party to represent what I believe. The day that I leave the party is the day when one or two things happen. 1) They no longer fit the above criteria. 2) They cross a line on a single issue that I find so intolerable that I cannot stay within the party – a good example might be an illegal war that left over 100,000 dead.

And so I have to ask Owen, in what circumstances would you leave the Labour Party?

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3 points on partly political funding

Today the quarterly donations for political parties in the UK was published.

Apart from the actual quantities (millions of pounds) there were a few noteworthy figures to highlight:

  • The mystery of Ms Joan L B Edwards – Sitting in both second and third position (after UNITE) for biggest donations was a Ms Joan L B Edwards who donated £420,576 to the Conservatives and £99,423 – curious isn’t it? Our friends over at Lib Dem Voice helped unravel the mystery though – apparently Ms Edwards left £520,000 to “the government of the day” in her will. It was decided that because of the coalition this should be split between the two parties by number of MPs and cabinet members.
  • UKIP and BNP are making a mint while the Greens are looking green  – UKIP was donated a hefty £153,229, the BNP (considering that they have almost ceased to exist in any elected sense) picked up an impressive £97,879, while the Greens took home a measly £27,242. To put this into context, the Tiverton branch of UKIP received almost twice as much as the national Green Party.
  •  If things look bad for the Greens though…it’s worse the SNP – Once again the SNP have picked up little more than peanuts (£4,500). This, if not bad in itself, shows the nationalists to be in stark contrast to The Labour Party who, in Scotland alone, picked up £66,032. With an independence referendum coming…this sort of money disparity will surely have an effect.

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Caroline who? Natalie Bennett takes centre stage at Green Party conference

As the Greens meet for their conference in Bristol this weekend, talk of tripling the number of MEPs and taking control of councils is spreading like wildfire. What few seem willing or able to talk about however, is the necessary hard grind that is needed to reach these goals. Enter stage right the new party leader Natalie Bennett.

[our] new leader Natalie Bennett has all the passion, the commitment and the inspiration needed to lead the party forward”

As the Greens gather for their autumn conference the now ex-leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas couldn’t have given a more ringing endorsement of the her successor, Natalie Bennett. Caroline took to the stage and gave a warm overview of her four years at the helm of the good ship Green Party. The party faithful lapped it up with whoops and applause.

There was however just a hint of sadness amongst some. One young conference goer commented to me that “Caroline is what got me into politics, she has been leading the Greens since the day I joined. She is a real inspiration”.

It did feel like an end of an era as Caroline and Natalie hugged on stage. One left the stage as the first ever ex-Green Party Leader and the other entered as the newly elected.

It was however, widely accepted that this was an important and necessary step for the Green Party to take. The Greens are often criticised as being a one issue party and they were in danger of being seen as a one women party. Caroline Lucas had come to represent not just the face of the Green Party but the voice, the heart and the backbone.

This was a point that the ever astute Caroline Lucas picked up on without dwelling on her own popularity with the party or the press. When she announced that she was to stand down she said,

We’re lucky to have a wealth of capability and experience in our Party…Now feels like the right time to step aside, to allow more of that ability to come forward and help the party to grow”.

Natalie, the party’s elected choice from the ‘wealth of capability’ that stood, was left with the daunting task of filling the shoes of Caroline Lucas. A few weeks ago as it became accepted that Natalie would win the election, no one really knew how the party or the press would respond. As Caroline left the stage, a question hung over the auditorium – how would the new leader shape up next to the Green demi-goddess – Caroline Lucas.

Well, if you were to believe the party faithful – pretty well. I heard one comment on the way out that Natalie’s speech was an “inspiration”.

There was, for me, a little bit too much emphasis on ‘winning disaffected Labour and Liberal Democrat voters’. She failed to explain how this was going to differ from Lucas’ leadership tactics which has failed to establish the party nationally.

Natalie, like Caroline, talked about the ‘big steps forward’ the party have made – their first MP, their first council under their control and growth in key seats such as Norwich – but they both seem in continued denial that nationally they are picking up 1-3% and consistently losing deposits. In the majority of seats the Greens are scraping by.

To Bennett’s credit however, she did talk about the success of the ‘West Midland’s model’ where the Greens have grown from very little in the last 4 years through hard work in the local party. Trying to replicate this will perhaps be the biggest challenge of her leadership.

When she was elected Bennett stated that she would look to learn from the West Midlands. In the first 100 days of her leadership Bennet pledged to:

1. Identify funding that can be used to ensure any region that wants to have a visit from key West Midlands organisers to discuss this approach is able to do so.

2. Work with interested people to produce at least one guide (video and/or written) to a key aspect of West Midlands practice that can be shared around the party.

3. Establish a volunteer-based system so that we can make the production of such guides, based on different aspects of best practice around the country, a regular occurrence. By the end of my two year term I’d hope to see us produce accessible activists’ guides on topics such as how we win rural seats, fighting by-elections, and combating Labour attacks, building our institutional memory and spreading best practice.”

Bennett finished her speech with a plea to the party membership to hold her to account on these pledges commenting, “they are stuck to my fridge so I reminded every day”. The growth of local parties has to be one criteria by which she will be judged.

The Green’s are in a buoyant mood as talk spreads of tripling the number of MEPs and taking control of other councils. How does a new leader balance this optimism with the harsh reality of what sits ahead.

The problem for any Green leader speech is that the reality of what’s needed – strong local party growth and discipline combined with a national support network – doesn’t lend itself to the media headlines that the party membership has come to equate with success.

Bennett’s debut appearance was designed to make a media splash – not to lay the methodology of her plan ahead.

Either way, the talk in the press and in the conference is of new Natalie, not of….what was her name….Caroline someone. A new era in Green politics has started.

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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. 

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