Tag Archives: who to vote for

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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Filed under EU politics, Politics

The East of England – Will they elect the regions first Green MEP?

After writing a tactical analysis of the North West looking at the upcoming European elections (The BNP and the tactical battle for the North West) a number of readers have asked what I think might happen in their region. The most popular request came from readers from the East of England. So here it is, a tactical breakdown of the East of England ahead of May’s European elections.

What can I say, I aim to please!

Rupert

Rupert Read – First Green MEP for the East of England?

In 2009 the fine people in the East of England elected 3 Conservative MEPs, 2 UKIP, 1 Lib Dem and one 1 Labour. As with many regions across the UK, The Green Party missed out by just a handful of votes.

Looking ahead to the May 2014 elections, I think it is safe to allocate 5 of the 7 seats. The battle is going to be for the remaining 2.

Although I expect the Tories to drop votes (around a 5% drop) I cannot see them securing less than 2 seats. Equally, I cannot see UKIP’s vote share getting smaller and so I am sure they will return at least 2 MEPs.The same logic is applied to Labour who will return 1 MEP.

The big question for the East then is which party will pick up these remaining two seats?

I am relatively confident that The Green Party will pick up 1 of the remaining 2 seats. Why am I so confident?

Well, Labour (who are expected to do well in the backlash to the coalition) would need to double the Green vote to secure a second seat. In 2009 they picked up 167,000 votes while The Green Party picked up 141,000. Assuming Greens have a bad day (it is assumed by most they will marginally increase their vote) and don’t secure a single additional voter, Labour would need to pick up an additional 113,000 votes to gain that extra seat before The Green Party.

The same logic can be applied to both UKIP and Conservatives – will they secure 3 times the vote count of The Green Party to pick up an additional seat? It seems hard to imagine.

A vote for either Labour or UKIP then is likely to be a wasted vote leaving them stranded well short of the benchmark needed to secure an additional seat.

Assuming The Greens vote holds or grows marginally then, it seems likely they will pick up their first MEP for the region (this would be Rupert Read who tops their list of candidates).

But what about the final seat?

The final seat is much harder to call. It essentially depends which of the coalition partners loses the most votes? On election night the figure to look out for in the East is whether or not the Conservatives triple the Lib Dem count. This may well dictate where the final seat goes.

In summary:

  • Labour – hold very little chance of gaining a seat in the East, but equally their 1 seat looks pretty safe (which I am pleased about as Richard Howitt is in general a good egg).
  • Conservatives – are expected to lose some votes. I personally can’t see them losing more than one seat but some commentators are talking about them dropping to one (with the majority of votes flooding to UKIP).
  • UKIP – are, like with most regions, set for a good night in the East but my money is on them missing out on a third seat by some way.
  • The Green Party – have a very good chance of picking up their first seat in the East. It would take a very small increase in vote share, or a small decrease in Conservative vote share, to finish 4th and secure their first MEP for the region.
  • Lib Dems – as with many regions are going to be fighting tooth and nail to save their one MEP. The sink or swim question though might be not how good Lib Dems are at bailing water from their boats, but how big their holes are compared to the Tories sinking ship!

My advice then is as follows:

  • If you’re considering a Labour vote – lend your vote to The Green Party instead.
  • If you’re a traditional Tory voter – vote Blue to limit the damage.
  • If you’re a traditional Lib Dems voter – vote Yellow and consider a prayer.
  • If you’re a traditional UKIP voter – vote for other parties on their policies that matter to you. Want a referendum? Vote Green. Want to chuck immigrants out, vote Tory etc etc…
  • If you’re traditional Green voter – vote Green to make sure you don’t just miss out like 2009.

The 2009 results can be seen here.

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The Liberal Democrats – our only hope?

Now more than ever we need a powerful left leaning liberal voice in British politics. Whether we like it or not, in a lot of situations around Britain, this comes in the form of the Liberal Democrats. This is hard for many within Labour and the Greens to swallow but it reflects a political reality.

I am no apologist for this current government and the role the Liberal Democrats have played in it. On the environment, education and welfare ‘reforms’,  this government has let us down. I would however throw in the nuanced point that I honestly believe things would be worse without the Lib Dems in government (but that argument is for another day).

The public perception of failure and perhaps more significantly their feeling that the Lib Dems ‘let the left down’ has resulted in the party being left in a worrying situation.

One in five of their members left the party last year.  More than half of Liberal Youth’s 6,000 members quit in 2011. Equally, the Liberal Democrats have seen a consistent collapse in the polls since the formation of the coalition (with only the rarest of exceptions). A recent ComRes poll shows that 36% of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 have returned to Labour.

This is not a irreversible disaster for the party but it certainly represents a significant blow and illustrates the size of the challenge ahead.

Both the poor showing at the polls and the fleeing party membership have significant financial repercussions for the party. The drop in membership means a loss of income from party membership fees. The drop of support in the ballot box means a reduction in the contribution local councillors are encouraged to give to their local party.  This will dent the long term development of the party both locally and nationally.

‘Good’ I hear you shout from behind your computer screens. “That will teach them to jump into bed with the Tories” I hear you sneer.  Let me assure you that the collapse of Liberal Democrats is neither good, nor will it ‘teach them a lesson’ for jumping into bed with the Tories.

Let’s start with why it is not a good thing that the Liberal Democrats collapse. The clue is in their name – ‘Liberal’ Democrats. Both locally and nationally Labour have shown that they have little regard for the concept of liberalism (something which plays a central role in my political identity).

From policing to the environment the Liberal Democrats have been the only one of the major three parties to put together a policy package which tackles the size of the problems we face whilst also respecting core liberal values such as freedom.  The Liberal Democrats acknowledge that climate change, terrorism and crime are all major problems but believe that these can be tackled through progressive measures that respect individual liberties.

Ahh, but what about the Greens?

Whether you like it or not the Greens are too often a disorganised, badly financed and a politically naive force locally (this is not to say they are not right on many issues). Despite showing in Brighton (the first council they have run) that they have what it takes, too often around the country they simply just don’t. There are a plethora of reasons for this but in many council elections they don’t field more than a handful of paper candidates. As Bob Irving, a prominent Green from the Cotswolds said to me earlier on twitter, “@steve4319 I think we have 15 members …. managed 4-5 paper candidates in district elections inc me …#uphillstruggle”.

This is where the Liberal Democrats often step in. All across the south west (which is where I am from) the Liberal Democrats provide a progressive alternative to an otherwise Conservative dominated political landscape.  I dread to think what the south west would look like without the Liberal Democrats.

In short, if the Liberal Democrats collapse as a party, councils and communities would be looking blue – we would be poorer for this.

My second point is that this won’t teach the Liberal Democrats  a lesson.  This whole argument is based on a political naivety. How many on the left still refuse to vote Labour because of their illegal war that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians?  Not many I would guess. How many of the left will refuse to lend Labour their vote because they grew inequality over their 13 years in power? How many on the left will not vote Labour because of their catastrophic failure to grasp the severity of the threat we face from climate change?

Have we ‘taught Labour a lesson’? If we have the senior leadership team inside the party seem to be slow learners. Politics is like swings and roundabouts. Liberal Democrat strategists (just like the Labour ones) know that the fickle political forgetful electorate will go full circle and come back to them.  It’s depressing, but it is a sad reality of our broken political system.

Looking to the future, the next political test will come in the form of the Police Commissioner elections. The Liberal Democrats (and to their credit the Greens) are the only party committed to a science based drugs policy, who don’t just talk tough on ‘banging up the criminals’ but instead focus on community policing and who put the emphasis on rehabilitation within prisons.  This is the sort of approach I want from my Police Commissioner.  If the Liberal Democrats take another beating at the polls, we will be poorer for it.

These elections only serve as one more example where we need a strong liberal left voice and the Liberal Democrats are the only party in many areas capable of offering this. If nothing else I hope those on the liberal left will stop sneering at the downward spiral the Lib Dems are currently on.

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