A Local Elections Blog Post, by a new Labour Councillor could not go without comment.
As much as I don’t want this blog to be a constant rebuke to things that other party members say, sometimes it is needed to raise the level of debate in these towns.
In it is said;
Despite the protestations by those on the left; if the Green Party or this TUSC band of lunatics, we would have been able to dent the Tory majority. This point is stressed every single time – if you split the left vote with fringe parties (and lets be frank they are not a realistic prospect of being in government, and even less so with no AV) then you open the field up to the right. Fact.
I’m not indifferent to the situation. I was inclined to only reply to this with a West Wing clip, which makes the point I would like to make marvelously, though you have to wait till the end of the clip.
However, I couldn’t just leave it there, for one simple reason.
The blogger in question had used that at the end, and by the rules of intellectualism had won the point. The only thing they could have done to make a stronger point would have been to put “QED” at the end of the sentence. Now I don’t fully understand this, but a housemate used it all the time at Uni, and he got his way a lot.
There are two points, firstly the admission that the voting system is unfair under FPTP (which favours a two party system) compared to what it would be under AV, or heaven forbid Proportional Representation
Secondly is the idea that the Green Party should stand aside for the Labour Party. This implies that the voters like sheep would automatically vote Labour which they wouldn’t. Also I could not in good conscience support a local party which refuses to apologies, on any level, for the New Labour Government.
If I concede that good things happened under New Labour, will they concede that bad things did to? Or will the very attempt cause them to go into mental breakdown?
Thirdly, they should look at the large percentage of people who don’t vote in Medway and ask themselves what they did to encourage/discourage higher turnout.
I am reminded of a ballot paper in the second By-Election where the voter had written no in every candidates box. Except Mine. Except for the Green Party.
How could I stand aside in my Ward for two Labour representatives, one who in his acceptance speech upon becoming Councillor stated regarding his Conservative opponent
we agree on a great many things
Labour members continue to assume they have a right to be the party of opposition, whilst siding with the Conservatives on issues and ignoring the growth of a party which now has an MP and successful councillors in Brighton and Norwich.
The Brighton Politics blogger, in his Post ‘Labour is no closer than ever to understanding how to respond to the Greens’ talks about how Labour have rejected a coalition with the Brighton Green Party.
There is no way that Labour will come anywhere near taking control next time. The next locals are likely to take place on the same day as the general election in 2015. Caroline Lucas will be re-elected with a thumping majority, with Labour coming in a distant third.
They go on to state that Labour have misled the public twice in recent Elections and that Brighton Labour activists are blinded to reality.
Labour’s obsessive attacks on Caroline Lucas make the party look like bad losers, and many people are delighted that the City has produced the first Green MP.
Can we one day expect as has occured in other areas, a Labour campaign of;
Vote Green get Tories.
All I know for certain is that in the first By-Election I stood in
I beat the BNP
And they didn’t stand in the second.
Come the next election, should the opportunity arise I will most likely stand again, and I will definitely support any member of the Green Party that stands also. As I can not support a party which assumes to much and concedes nothing. More importantly, I shouldn’t force the people that voted for me or the Green Party to do it either. QED.
(I would say that these posts wont be a series of West Wing clips, but I don’t want to lie to you.)
Of course, it’s egotistical to think that they are actually voting for me, they don’t even know me.
Unless of course they do know me, but then if that was the case would they still vote for me…
There was a by-election in River Ward, how very exciting. A battle between Labour to retain the seat and Conservatives to win it. Also standing other than the Green Party was the Liberal Democrats, English Democrats and the British National Party.
And that’s when something weird happened.
People started writing about me, people I’d never met on blogs of their own made assumptions about me and my chances, none of them brave enough to suggest that I would romp home with a big win.
A Labour activist, now Councillor, however chose for reasons I still don’t understand to write what sensitively could be seen as an attack. Bearing in mind that the election also saw the BNP standing. Now admittedly the attack showed all the insight of a 5 minute search it was still curious.
Here is what he said about me;
The Green candidate, or better known by his twitter profile @onmejack is according to his profile a former ‘Making Life Taste Better’ Champion and failed Sitcom writer. He is now an ‘FD Media Course Leader, Functional Skills lecturer’ and enjoys bridge. He clearly needs to be instructed on basic political etiquette as one of his recent posts included ‘Important to remember; Gingers are people to‘ and clearly has enough campaign time to enjoy a number of DVDs including True Blood – Series 1. This blogger would suggest that perhaps he should continue to immerse himself in other DVDs…
Okay so to review, its not like he said anything about my Mother. And I did indeed say those things in my profile. Though I don’t play bridge. I am a Bridge! Yes I did indeed write the tweet about Gingers (hangs head in shame) and yes I do indeed watch a lot of DVDs. (Hides in the shadows such is the greatness of the shame)
Now here is what was said about the BNP candidate;
The BNP candidate is a martial arts enthusiast and formerly PPC for Gillingham and Rainham. According to his election interview, he has been a BNP member for 10 years and is the “voice of sanity.” According to his interview, his first concern was with “putting the British people first.” The 42 year old is a fan of cheese and marmite sandwiches, and in his spare time he likes to read and go on holidays.
Not a pop that he should stay in and eat sandwiches in sight. The outrage. Only i shouldn’t stand.
Now I mentioned to the local Green Party, that this had happened. And had been advised to ignore it.
But no. I didn’t want to ignore it. But I wasn’t going to respond personally, there was nothing to be gained that way. So I posted the blog on my facebook and twitter feed and waited for the comments to happen. Which they did, what i wasn’t fully expecting was the comments that would occur on his blog too;
This is an absolutely pathetic blog post, from the Labour supporter. Steven Keevil is a better choice than any of the other candidates, it shows the kind of politics that Labour rely on, when their supports resort to picking small pieces of text to discredit decent rival candidates.
Maybe a bit harsh.
Phil Dillion generously said
Tristan, I’ve been involved in educational, creative and community activities with the Greens’ Steve Keevil and I think the bloke is a genuine inspiration. If he were standing for election in my ward I would vote for him. There’s a groundswell of support for Steve because he’s not a career politician, he’s a community player, a great teacher and an unsung catalyst for good.
In addition, the emergence of a Green presence in Medway that is prepared to challenge Medway Council over its lack of public consultation (in a way that Labour frankly hasn’t) is a welcome thing.
And a personal favourite from a student of mine who said
he’s by far one of the most insightful and philosophical people I’ve ever met, who merely enjoys mocking life rather than moaning about it.
And I honestly didn’t get them to say that… I liked that so much I actually use ‘Prefers to mock life rather than moan about it’ in my profiles now.
In the the grand scheme of things this actually changed very little except the post was edited to add that the blogger liked True Blood. Which I think essentially was the core of the issue.
In a later post this was written;
The ever affable Green Party campaigner Steven Keevil, who regularly tweets about his antics has certainly worked very hard and deserves to pick up a few votes. One to keep an eye on and potentially a PPC for a Medway seat in the future. At some point, this blogger owes Mr Keevil a pint, to show that despite the banter, it does hold the Greens and himself in high regard.
I confirm that he did buy me a beer, no harm done.
But it was a curious experience never the less.
And in case you were wondering I didn’t win, or the by-election that happened straight after, which we shall talk about another time.
And then finally we had the recent local elections, in which people had the opportunity to vote Green, or vote for me, or vote for me as a Green. And curiously they did, tripling the number that had done so previously.
That pretty much brings us up to date, except for the things that I didn’t mention that I need to go back and cover.
I don’t come from a political background, my parents weren’t particularly politically minded, wasn’t part of a conversation that I grew up with.
My development as an armchair activist, came from reading really, exposure to things like the Mark Thomas Comedy Product
and well, yeah watching the West Wing.
I read and I questioned and I created my own political leanings. Didn’t I?
Did I watch and read this stuff because I’m a socialist liberal or am I a Socialist Liberal because I read these things?
I remember the Daily Mail has a really good TV guide, and felt bad even reading that part of the paper.
I’m fairly certain I voted in every General Election. Being eligible to vote in 1997 I assume I voted Labour and looking back I am glad to have done so. Turning my vote to the Liberal democrats as issues like Civil Liberties became a greater issue.
There was no clear epiphany moment. I didn’t study politics at school, not sure it was an option. I went to Bournemouth University, not exactly a political hotbed. I didn’t march.
Can I blame it on the movie Taking Liberties?
The answer is I can no longer remember and will continue with this blog, and in conversation to develop these ideas, maybe even change my mind.
That’s me that is there on the Tellybox, representing the Green Party which I had joined relatively recently. There I am eating food paid for by the licence payer and verbally sparing with the reporter that I should be supporting the Lib Dems as they have Green Policies.
He clearly hadn’t been on Vote For Polices.
I would appear for the Greens a total 4 times, being interviewed twice.
A week later I went to my first election count an interesting event, joining other members of Medway Green party for the whole count. Getting there at 10pm, and staying until we heard that Caroline Lucas had won to become the first Green Party MP in England. An historical event, in no small part possible because I… tweeted her support.
We left the count and celebrated at a Party Member’s house. I then left there, not having slept in 24 hours and a little drunk, to go on the BBC again.
The brief was simple, pretend that you would naturally be in the house, read the newspaper, eat the bacon roll, drink the orange juice and one the camera is on you speak about the success of Caroline Lucas. Simples. Did I mention the lack of sleep?
They would then go from me to interview the newly elected Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford. Then end of show.
We go live. Other people get interviewed. I get interviewed. It goes well. Mother would be proud.
They interview the MP. I eat my bacon roll.
They have 30 seconds left.
The MP states that as Labour had lost the election, Gordon Brown should resign, as the Conservatives had a mandate to govern.
They have 30 seconds left.
They come to me, live on air, eating a bacon roll, and ask me to respond.
I swallow the bacon roll, and state that since Conservatives didn’t get a majority, then they dont have a mandate to govern.
And they cut back to the student. Relived the audience were exposed to my sharp political insights and not my half chewed bacon roll.
With the election over I can now return to my responsibilities as the Josh Lyman of local politics.
Except as a consequence of the General Election, is a Local By-Election. In River Ward. Where I Live.
Where I would now be standing as a Green Party candidate.
May 5th 2011 I will be standing in local Elections for the Green Party for the third time…
How did this happen?
After discovering that I was… a Green. I emailed them and asked them essentially the age old question
‘In an area where the battle is between Labour and Conservative, isn’t a vote for the Green Party wasted?’
My email was passed from the Kent Green Party, to the my Local Medway Green Party where I was contacted by PCC Dave Arthur. Whilst I don’t remember exactly what Dave said, he spoke openly and honestly about the fact that at some point you have to Vote for what you believe in, not out of fear or against what you don’t.
For the first time in my life I joined a Political Party and then I even went to a meeting, where I told myself I would sit quietly and listen. Which I achieved for a good ten minutes.
This was a good fortnight before the General Election and suddenly imagined myself in some Local Politics version of the West Wing where I would get to be a blend of Josh Lyman and Toby Ziegler. I was more interested in being in the background.
Two things stood against that, my foot and my mouth.
‘You have to stop talking about the Environment’
I said it, it was out there. What had interested me about joining the Greens, was what politically interested me. I agreed with them on Social Justice and Education. Well technically I agree with them across the board, but specifically on Social Justice and Education. Its easy to believe, falsely, that the Green Party are a single issue party. And I felt, rightly or wrongly can be discussed in other posts, that the issue of the Environment was one that the Greens could only lose on.
Now my friends in the party have explained that the Environment is the single biggest issue of our time, and I genuinely tried to focus long enough to listen to their opinions. And they are right. People do care about the Environment, but they care about other issues more. They vote on other issues more.
This incidentally was a point I raised when I met a lady once, everything had been going well, until she explained that I was what was wrong with the Green party, as I was taking them away from their central purpose. And what could have been a beautiful relationship died, no matter how I backtracked.
Though it should be clear the members of the Medway Green Party are in no way single issue, involved as they are in many campaigns through the Medway Towns.
If you are a candidate for the Green Party people expect you to know Environmental issues, and on that topic the best you can hope is to meet expectations, otherwise you might embarrass yourself, by not having knowledge you never claimed to have. That was, is, my feelings, concerns on the topic. It is something that we will come back to…
Where was I?
Oh that’s right as a reward for my outspoken but generally good humoured nature I was less then two weeks after joining the party about to go on BBC South East and represent them…
Be sure to Vote.
Before the 2010 General Election I went to the website Vote For Policies curious, but fully expecting to be supported in my political choices. (Should you go, have gone on the site, leave me a comment, let me know how your results came out)
How the website works is that as the title suggests you get to vote for the policies of the six main parties running, based on their manifesto, but without knowing what party it was, and not voting on personality, despite how much at the time ‘we agreed with Nick’
Upto this point I had voted Liberal Democrat, and I fully expected the website to confirm this was the right decision. I was shocked when I came out 0% Liberal Democrat. The website told me I was;
The result was an even stronger Green Party result…