Tag Archives: Labour

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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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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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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As the economy slips in importance to voters, Labour’s prospects suffer

After almost six years, the economy is no longer the most important issue facing Britain today’

This is the headline finding from the Ipsos Mori issues index published today.

Jun14top10issues

The polling, which asks voters which issues are the most important to Britain, has found that issues around race and immigration are now seen as the singular most important issue. The economy moves to second place, for the first time since August 2008.

These latest figures are part of a trend that has shown concerns over the economy slipping since 2011 from the notable spike that came soon after the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

IPSOS MORI 1
The problem for Labour is that they have rallied around their ‘cost of living crisis’ campaign assuming that the economy will remain top of the list of voter concerns (as it had done for the last 6 years). This continued decline in importance to voters is bad news for Labour’s prospects in 2015.

Labour had established a good campaign on the ‘Cost of Living Crisis’ with strong messaging. Had the economic recovery been slower, or voter concern more consistent, then this would have provided a strong basis on which to campaign on in the run up to the General Election in 2015. As it stands however, it feels as though Labour are struggling to find their voice on other issues important to voters such as immigration let alone setting out a left-wing alternative that also addresses voters’ concerns.

If they fail to get this sorted this might well be the difference between government or opposition after May’s elections.

And of course, what is bad news for Labour is good news for the Conservatives who have been desperately trying to peddle the message that ‘they took hard decisions’ but that the economy is ‘back on track’ now they have cleaned up ‘Labour’s mess’.

The campaigns team in Tory HQ will be delighted with these Ipsos Mori findings.  However, the rise of the immigration/race issues that have traditionally played into Conservative hands may also fuel the continued rise of UKIP with their no-nonsense ‘standing up for Brits’ messaging.

These opinion polls are pulling all the major parties to the right, each trying to out do each other to sound ‘tough on immigration’. This phenomena has led to what some commentators are calling a bidding war on trying to sound tough on immigration.

Once again though this plays into Tory hands rather than Labour’s. The risk of Conservatives loosing votes by sounding too harsh on immigrants is small, for Labour this is a real possibility.

In short then, it might be a time for a re-think for Labour. How, with just over 300 days until the election, are they going to set out an attractive alternative that answers voters concerns on issues such as immigration, unemployment and the NHS?

I’m not sure they will be able to which is why at this stage I would put money on a Conservative minority government in 2015.

More information:

 

 

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Local elections: Bristol results

bristol
Labour gain three additional seats and stay the largest party on the council but fail to gain enough seats to gain ‘overall control’.

With The Green Party gaining 2 seats this leaves them holding the ‘balance of power’ in Bristol (if they vote with the Labour group then a motion will pass regardless of what the Conservatives or Lib Dems do).

Following a national trend the coalition partners took a wee kicking both losing vote share. However I am sure there are some within the local Lib Dems who will be sighing with relief that they still have 16 seats on the council (successfully defending 4).

It should also be noted that despite a drop in vote share, The Conservatives managed to gain one council seat.

Although Labour saw a modest gain in the vote share it is The Green Party who will be celebrating these results with a much larger gain of the overall vote share.

UKIP with 11% of the vote picked up one Cllr. A win, but hardly the ‘earthquake’ they claim to making elsewhere in the country.

Bristol popular votes:

Lab 21,644 (28.55%)
Con 17,942 (23.67%)
LD 12,848 (16.95%)
Green 11,781 (15.54%)
UKIP 8,874 (11.71%)
TUSC 1,579 (2.08%)

Changes since 2010 locals:

Lab +1.76%
Con -3.55%
LD -17.33%
Green +7.60%
UKIP +11.71%
TUSC +2.08%

Swing, Con to Lab: 2.66%

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Bad news for Labour: Latest polling before European Parliament elections

Labour Conference Focuses On Leader's Speech
The latest piece of YouGov polling gives these headline figures:

We can see UKIP are just edging Labour. Bad news in itself. But I am sure Labour cannot be too happy to see The Green Party (down from their 12% high) are on 10% and just edging the Lib Dems. Let me explain why…

The breakdown of these figures show that The Green Party are picking up 19% of those who voted for the Lib Dems in 2010. Bad news for Lib Dems but also worrying for Labour. Labour are picking up a comparable 18% of 2010 Lib Dem voters – less than The Green Party. In short, Labour have failed to appeal to alienated left-wing liberals – something that is central to their general election 2015 strategy. .

This is further evidenced in the poll conducted of the Left Foot Forward readership. This poll should have, if things are going well for Labour, shown massive support for Labour. Instead it shows the Green Part picking up 34% and even the Lib Dems still claiming 17% of the vote.

As the editor of Left foot forward, James Bloodworth, noted:

This should perhaps concern Labour, as their message still appears not to be winning over many naturally left-of-centre voters – despite their recently announcing a raft of identifiably social democratic policies. 

Labour might well come out on top in these elections but it is far from a ringing endorsement.

UPDATE;

Today’s Opinium/Daily Mail poll reinforces the crux of this post showing Labour polling just 25% and The Greens increasing their share of the vote.

 

 

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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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Labour’s un-credible election strategy

It could be easy to write off the latest Labour Party Political Broadcast as just a little odd. Indeed it is. But, for Labour Party activists, it represents something far worse – an entirely un-credible election strategy (and a distinct lack of ambition).

Although it is odd, I can see what they are trying to do…they’re trying to make sure that Labour secure as many of the disillusioned (ex) Lib Dem voters as possible – a sensible strategy that is broadly working for them at the moment.

Indeed, YouGov’s latest poll shows almost as many 2010 Lib Dem voters are planning to back Labour as they are the Lib Dems.

Lib Dem vote*See the full results here.

So if this approach of sweeping up ex-Lib Dem voters is working then why would I be suggesting this latest broadcast, which essentially amounts to a character assassination of Clegg, could be bad for the Labour Party?

In short the Lib Dem votes are only going to get them so far.

By once again being seen to go on the attack they are failing to sort out some problems closer to home. Labour are failing to look like a party ready for government in the eyes of the all important middle ground. Equally important is that neither is Labour’s own leader, Ed Miliband, is not looking like a Prime Minister in waiting.

The latest polls suggest 26% of the electorate think Miliband is doing his job well and 64% think he is doing it badly.

When asked what characterisitics each leader holds the results for Miliband are damning:

Ed

*See the full results here.

Note that both Clegg and Miliband hit rock bottom (3%) when voters are asked if they are natural leaders. Compare that with Cameron who had about 40% of the population thinking he was a natural leader just before he became PM and you can begin to see the problem for Labour.

If the Blair year’s of Labour rule taught us anything, it is that personalities count.

If Labour were building for a long-term future with Miliband they would be looking to rebuild their and his reputation amongst the core of voters in the centre ground.

Instead they seem happy to continue with their attacks on the Lib Dems. Fine to win them a few easy votes, not a sign of a long-term strategy for winning a majority in 2015 though.

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Labour’s misleading statement on electoral spending

Lab photo
The Labour Party today uploaded this photo to facebook with the inspiring campaigns cliche:

We don’t have the Tories’ money — so we’re going to win this election one conversation at a time. Be part of it: http://labour.org.uk/volunteer-pledge

In it’s literal sense this is true. Labour do not ‘have the Tories’ money’. Not a penny of Labour’s money (that I know of) belongs to the Conservative Party…but (and this is a big but) they do have rather a lot of their own.

Indeed, the latest party political donation figures show that they were given a huge £3,162,980 in the period of Oct-Dec 2013 alone. I should point that is a million less than the Conservative Party who received £4,805,892. 

But you take my point, neither of the big two political parties are exactly short of cash.

If the Labour Party win the next General Election it will be partly because of thousands of people who have donated hours of their lives to campaigning but it will also be because of the formidable amounts of money they have to put into the campaign (mainly coming from Trade Unions).

In contrast, the Liberal Democrats for the same period received £1,311,824 and The Green Party just £115,943. 

My question here is can we have a fair, open and educated democracy when some political parties have so much to spend on ‘getting their message across’ while others have so little?

I think not. That is why I have always supported the system of state funded political parties.

The Green Party hold what I think to be a very sensible policy on this:

The Greens believe that party funding should be calculated and administered on a regional basis, with funds allocated in proportion to the number of votes cast in the region in the last round of proportional representation elections held across the entire region. Parties would need to exceed a threshold of 3% of the vote to become eligible for this funding.

You will not be surprised to hear that both Labour and Conservatives have been feet dragging on this issue to say the least. Not surprising considering the size of their respective bank accounts.

 

*UPDATE: Before a Labour Party activist says it, there is of course a big difference between big private donors and Trade Unions. One is not as bad as the other. But I would argue that neither are healthy for politics.

Second UPDATE:

An interesting tweet that suggests I am not the only who feels like this:

 

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Do you know what The Green Party position is on an EU referendum?

The Green Party has a really good policy on whether or not we should have a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. In short it says ‘Three Yeses’: Yes to a referendum, yes to major EU reform, and yes to staying in a reformed Europe.

This position is progressive, democratic and most importantly in line with a large chunk of public opinion.

Of course, the problem is that nobody knows this.

Try it out now, turn to whoever you’re nearest to and ask, ‘Do you know what the Green’s position on the EU is’?

You can post photos of the blank faces in the comments section below.

Why might this be?

Well, below is a screenshot of Google News with a search set for the last week for the term ‘Green Party EU referendum’. Surprise surprise, not one relevant article appears (click on the image to enlarge).

GP EU
Now, change the search to ‘Labour EU referendum’ and you get something very different (again, click on the image to enlarge):

Labour EU
Here we have articles from the BBC, Guardian, Daily Mail, Independent etc etc…

This at least partly explains why no one knows what The Green Party position is…it just doesn’t feature in the press.

Now, normally at this point in a blog I would start blaming the editors of the mainstream papers for not showing an interest in Green Party policy, but in this case, that just doesn’t explain it.

Over the last week, while Labour have ensured the issue of an EU referendum has been on every editors thoughts, The Green Party has stayed silent.

No press release, no social media campaign, no slogans. I have watched on as my disproportionately Green twitter feed has ticked over without a single mention of The Green Party’s ‘3 yeses’ policy.

While Labour are saying no to an EU referendum (unless the UK was being asked to transfer more powers to Brussels), The Green Party are offering a progressive, democratic and internationalist alternative. Something that is so clearly missing from the UKIP driven EU debate.

I simply don’t understand why every Green is not shouting about this from the rooftops.

With just over 2 months though until the European elections I am not sure how many more media opportunities The Green Party can afford to miss like this. They need just a 1.6% swing in the vote to triple their number of MEPs but to get that, people need to know what they stand for. 

More information:

  • Read the BBC summary of what Miliband and Labour are offering here.
  • Read The Green Party ‘3 yeses’ policy launch here.
  • Read the full Green Party policy on the EU here.

UPDATE:

Keith Taylor MEP for South East England has just released this press release: Green MEP calls on pro-EU politicians to have the ‘guts’ to promise a referendum.

Good on him! Let’s hope the press are listening! 

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The BNP and the tactical battle for the North West

In 2009, Nick Griffin won a seat in the European Parliament after his party, the BNP, secured 132,094 votes*. We are now just over 4 months away from kicking him out. But the question is how? And what might come in his place?

Griffin visits Hamilton
The BNP’s political performance is like that of rollercoaster. What goes up must come down. Wherever the BNP saw electoral success they very quickly saw dismal failure. On this rollercoaster we are about to hit the final dip that, rather than swooping them back to dizzying electoral heights, will leave them derailed.

In the North West the BNP won 132,094 votes – enough to elect their racist-in-chief, Nick Griffin, to the European Parliament**.

If opinion polls are to be believed it would be a fair bet to assume that the BNP won’t be retaining their seat in the North West. The BNP are to British politics what Ford Pinto’s were to advancements in automotive safety.

Confident that this could play to their favour, UKIP activists were quoted in today’s Huffington Post saying they expected to win 50-75% of these votes – You know you’re a classy party when you’re celebrating mopping up the aftermath of a fascist party’s demise.

Saying that, we can also expect UKIP to gain in other areas. They are increasingly positioning themselves as the protest vote – it would be a reasonable assumption to say that this will hit those in power in Westminster the hardest. The Tories and Lib Dems picked up 4 seats between them in 2009. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that half at the 2014 elections.

Last but not least there are The Green Party who in 2009 missed winning another seat by a meagre 5,000 votes or, put another way, just 0.3%. With the right campaign there is little reason to think that they won’t secure one seat in the North West***.

It is important, in relation to keeping our fascist friend Mr Griffin out of office, that The Green Party does beat the BNP. It is very hard to imagine the BNP securing a seat in 6th place – but if Labour and UKIP fail to perform as well as expected the BNP could once again slip through the backdoor if they finish 5th.

So my conclusion is this.

  • If you vote Labour you will help them secure a third seat, but in reality your vote will be one of tens of thousands that places them between the benchmarks for gaining 3 or 4 seats.
  • If you vote UKIP you will contribute to both their regional and national rise in these elections. But a warning that I read on twitter today offers some humbling advice. Voting UKIP as a protest vote is like shitting in a hotel bed to protest about the bad service…only to realise you have to sleep in it that night.
  • If you vote Liberal Democrats, you will be fighting for them to keep hold of their one elected representative. Sadly I think this might well turnout to be losing battle.
  • If you vote Conservative you will be, in reality, fighting to put a stopper in the hemorrhage of votes flooding to UKIP. You might just enable them hold onto 2 elected representatives.
  • If you vote Green you will contribute in all likelihood to them securing their first MEP in the North West. I would argue that tactically it is also the most useful party to vote for if your aim is to keep the BNP out.
  • Lastly if you plan to vote BNP…well what can I say?
  • Oh, and if you’re one of those inexplicable 25,000 people who voted for the Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship – can you please get in touch…I’ve never met one before!

The North West will be a fascinating political battle ground over the coming months. We have to wait until May 22nd though to find out who will come out on top.

 

* The 2009 North West election results can be seen here.
** On a side note, one of my personal highlights of my time spent working in Brussels was watching Griffin lost in the, admittedly quite confusing, European Parliament.
*** The lead candidate for The Green Party is less sure about the demise of the BNP and wrote this article in the Huffington Post calling for unity to defeat the BNP…and get him elected. 

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Seasonal ho-ho-hope for The Green Party

A new poll from YouGov shows that the majority of Brits think Father Christmas would vote for either Labour or The Green Party.

yougov

What is quite interesting about this poll however is that support tends to fall along party lines…apart for The Green Party who seem to pick up support from voters across the political spectrum.

As YouGov noted:

“A majority of Labour voters (64%), Conservative voters (59%) and UKIP voters (60%) all believe that Father Christmas would vote for the party that they support. Worryingly for the Liberal Democrats however, just 30% of their voters think Father Christmas would vote Lib Dem.”

Interestingly, 42% of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 thought that Father Christmas would be a Green voter while just 10% of them thought he would vote Lib Dem.

Some ho-ho-hope for The Green Party and another worrying sign for the Lib Dems.

You can see the full results here.

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What would happen if you were judged by what you wrote when you were 17?

On Saturday, the Daily Mail chose to publish an article about him under the banner headline 'The Man Who Hated Britain'Geoffrey Levy has defended his article in the Daily Mail in which he accuses Ralph Miliband (father of Ed and David) of hating Britain by saying, “my piece was based entirely on his political views in his own words, from his early caustic diary entries about the British.”

Ignoring the fact that Levy offers no evidence to support his title that suggested Ralph Miliband hated Britain, one also has to judge the nature of this hatchet job journalism that relies primarily on a diary entry from a 17 year old Ralph.

Imagine that your 17 year old thoughts were recorded and then used against you? My 17 year old self is only 10 years behind me but already I have changed physically, politically, emotionally, spiritually and socially almost beyond recognition. I cannot even begin to imagine their irrelevance in 50 something years time.

One of the many differences between me and Ralph is that at the age of 17 I was still forming my political views. I felt passionate about issues but I lacked any context to my views. At the age of 17 Blair’s government invaded Iraq and my immediate opposition to the war was based on a crass gut instinct. My naivety led me to a response that I am proud of today in this instance but it also led me to some idiotic decisions.

To give an example, my parents and sister were both involved with local fox hunts and as such came home with Countryside Alliance materials. I read some of it and was taken in by the soft rhetoric of needing to stand up for the British countryside (something that I am still passionate about). Of course I now wouldn’t touch the Countryside Alliance with a barge poll, their inward looking blinkered conservative approach leaves then on the opposite side to me in almost every debate but I remember proudly (and my fiancé who I met at college won’t let me forget) wearing a Countryside Alliance badge to my sixth-form college.

The shame of it! But what can you deduce from this about me? I would hope very little other than teenagers sometimes make bad decisions!

My point here is simple – my 17 old politics were crass and I said and did some things I am proud of and some things I am not. I am sure the same could be said for most people.

To base an entire hatchet job of a man who, amongst other things, authored at least two books, battled the NAZIS in WW2, holds a PhD from LSE and has taught at Universities around the world, is journalism that is barely worth the paper it is written on.

For some real journalism and a sense of who Ed and David’s father was have a read of this obituary for Ralph Miliband.

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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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Labour’s long-game – political suicide?

On this morning’s Today programme, the Labour Party member and Liberal Conspiracy Editor, Sunny Hundal, explained why Labour had no recognisable policies by saying that the Labour Party were playing “the long-game”.

He suggested that Labour were stepping through clear, tactical steps and that “of course” they wouldn’t be splashing policies around this far off from an election.

This argument from Sunny has two disastrous conclusions for Labour.

If, as Sunny suggests, Labour are playing the waiting game to woo voters closer to the general election, the obvious question is why are they not concerned about the up-coming European elections, or all the local elections that have come and gone. Should they not be trying to win these elections?

Suggesting that Labour is playing the “long-game” is synonymous with saying, “Labour has a complete disregard for local and European elections….we only care about Westminster”.

If however, Labour is not playing the “long-game” like Sunny suggests, the crux of the Today programme’s questioning remains – is it not problematic that no-one knows what post-New Labour stand for? How do you expect to win an election when no-one knows what your party stands for and think that the leader doesn’t hold sufficient leadership qualities?

Which is it Labour – a disregard for anything outside of Westminster, or a floundering party with no recognisable policies?

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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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Austerity? Not for Conservative and Labour donors!

The Electoral Commission has today released figures on donations to political parties in the UK for the first 3 months of 2013. The figures show that a total of £9 million was donated to political parties  in this period – that is over £3 million a month! Austerity?

Not for those playing politics.

Inevitably the Labour Party and the Conservatives raked in the biggest amounts of donations collecting over £7 million. The Liberal Democrats by their own standards also took a decent amount collecting just over £800,000.

The party press office proudly tweeted:

The full break down of party donations look likes this:

Party Cash Non-cash Other Total
Amount (£) No. Amount (£) No. Amount (£) No. Amount (£) No.
British National Party 32,000 1 0 0 0 0 32,000 1
Conservative and Unionist Party 3,447,300 106 179,877 26 35,847 4 3,663,024 136
Co-operative Party 411,723 4 1,250 1 0 0 412,973 5
Democracy 2015 8,055 1 0 0 0 0 8,055 1
Green Party 23,110 6 0 0 0 0 23,110 8
Labour Party 1,836,105 96 1,845,382 25 0 0 3,681,486 121
Liberal Democrats 792,454 64 50,256 13 0 0 842,710 77
Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales  18,511.34 1 0  0  0  0  18,511  1
Scottish National Party (SNP) 10,000 1 0 0 0 0 10,000 1
The Socialist Party of Great Britain 295,775 1 0 0 0 0 295,775 0
UK Independence Party (UK I P) 47,650 9 26,500 4 0 0 74,150 13
Total 6,922,683 290 2,103,264 69 35,847 4 9,061,794 363


So who has this sort of money to splash around in times of austerity? 

Labour received both the largest individual donation from Mr John Mills (who is interestingly also the Chair of Labour campaign group calling for a referendum on EU membership). Labour also received a neat £1.3 million from Trade Unions, of which over £750,000 came from UNITE.

Money well spent for the union members?

The Tories however seem to rely more on people who can afford big donations of £500,000 each.

The top ten donors to all parties though were:

Donor name Total amount (£) Recipient
1 Mr John Mills 1,647,500 Labour Party
2 Unite the Union 766,963 Labour Party
3 Mr Michael Davis 500,000 Conservative and Unionist Party
4 Ms May Makhzoumi 500,000 Conservative and Unionist Party
5 The Co-operative Group (CWS) Ltd 412,973 Co-operative Party
6 Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers 314,388 Labour Party
7 Mr Stanley Robert Parker 295,775 The Socialist Party of Great Britain
8 Mr James R Lupton 255,000 Conservative and Unionist Party
9 Mr Michael S Farmer 254,334 Conservative and Unionist Party
10 Mr Graham R Hunnable 200,000 Liberal Democrats


On the other end of the scale, The Green Party took over £23,000 from individual donations. Pretty small you think? Well, not in comparison to £10,000 that the SNP received.

Austerity…certainly not for Conservative and Labour donors!

Full information about party funding can be found here.

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Standing up for [some] civil liberties

The Protection of Freedoms Bill is today in its second reading in the Lords. It is, in the words of Nick Clegg, the vehicle by which this government will “restore Britain’s traditions of freedom and fairness”. Broadly, it aims to reverse Labour’s appalling 13 years of state sponsored intrusions into our civil liberties.

Within the Bill there are positive proposals on issues such as collection and retention of biometric information, limits on stop and search, the right to trial by jury, and restrictions on surveillance powers. The most widely reported measure is bringing the permanent precharge detention limit down from 28 to 14 days.

These steps are all welcome and needed, but also provide a nice overview of how Labour fundamentally let us down on civil liberties.

There is however, a worryingly long list of Labour policies that are not included in this bill. This Bill would have been the perfect ‘vehicle’ to address the extended administrative detention of nonnationals, redressing the balance between security and freedom found in various counter terrorism measures, the intrusive ‘mosquito’ device which stops youngsters from meeting in public.  Equally, this Bill could have been used to rectify a situation where a Christian cannot wear a discreet cross to work.

This bill is so important in restoring basic standards, but needs to go further. The very fact that we need this bill however should leave any Labour politician or supporter to shame.

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The greenest government yet? Sadly yes!

The greenest government yet?

This coalition government set out to be “the greenest government yet“.  Sadly, it appears to be achieving this.  Not because of any amazing policy initiative but more out of an utter failure of New Labour to act on climate change.  The over-riding message coming out of this government is we are acting “Green”.  The over-riding message coming out of NGO’s is “good, but you desperately need to go further”.

So what have the coalition achieved so far?

1 The Green Deal: 100,000 jobs to insulate and upgrade homes, reducing carbon emissions and saving money
2 £1bn for a Green Investment Bank
3 Replacing Air Passenger Duty with a per-plane duty
4 Scrapping Heathrow’s third runway
5 £200m for low-carbon technologies, including £60m for infrastructure to help create an offshore wind manufacturing industry
6 £1bn for a commercial scale Carbon Capture and Storage
7 £860m will fund a Renewable Heat Incentive
8 Lobbying the EU to increase our emissions cut target from 20 per cent to 30 per cent and provided effective leadership at Cancun.

This government has done more in 6 months than Labour achieved in 13 years to tackle climate change. Yet, anyone who is aware of the severity of the problems facing the UK through climate change can see that these measures simply do not go far enough.  The Green Investment Bank for example is a good idea, but it needs investment 4 – 6 times the amount currently being proposed to be truly effective.

This is the greenest government yet, that I have little doubt.  To be able to mutter this statement though is a cause for Labour to hide in shame, not for the coalition to hold its head up high.  We need to congratulate the coalition on the steps they have taken and push them further – much further.

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