The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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On the Green Party’s belief they can storm to victory in Southend West…

with 4 comments

A dramatic thing folks, a political party coming from nowhere to take out a knight of the realm. Well that is what is going to happen in just under three months as the Green Party surge has reached Southend West and the party now have confidence that they can pull off the dramatic upset of all upsets, in what would be a bigger surprise than me breaking my lip-locking duck with members of the opposite sex that I’ve been rolling for a depressingly long time. Well that is if you believe their candidate Jon Fuller anyway.

I have long been the type that believe that personal social media account should be just that and not ‘reported’ on by eejits like me or anyone else in the blogosphere, but the Green candidate has written a long post outlining why he is standing and it is clear that he wants to get the word out. You can read the full thing here but here is the synopsis, he’s running because old Labour don’t exist and because voters are deserting the Lib Dems and drifting away from Labour and the Tories, the Green’s are ready to swoop in and save the day…

Well I’m here to defend my lot (to some degree) and actually bring some realistic analysis to the situation. Yes I know I have ties to a party and to this exact election but I can also write from a detached point of view.

He writes, ‘The electorate has one important function to perform, beyond the obvious role of casting a vote on the ballot paper – we have to punish a political party if it promises one thing and delivers another. That is what the Lib-Dems have done.‘ I have two points on this, firstly the electorates important function is to vote for PPC that they believe will best represent them and their values in the House of Commons. The electorate have to make a choice via our FPTP system whether they want to vote tactically or not but the function of the electorate is not to punish anything. That is warped logic but still I’m going to let it go because if he truly believes that then we need to punish the Green Party too.

‘Why is that oh jogging bottom decked one?’ I hear you cry, well I’ll tell you. The Green’s only have ‘power’ in one area. Brighton. They run a minority council there so are not in a position where they can do everything they want, the opposition parties can vote them down. It is a variation of being in a coalition as the Lib Dems cannot do everything they want in government but if the Lib Dems deserve to be punished then lets look to see if the Green Party have kept their promises to the electorate of Brighton.

Can it be true that Brighton has actually gone down in the recycling stakes since the Green Party took over? By jove it is. Did they promise a brand new secondary school to be built to ease the overcrowding on 11-16 year-old students? They did but with under 100 days to go they still haven’t even identified a plot of land, let alone had plans drawn up or ground being broken. How about that bin strike that led to waste building up on the streets? Not very eco-friendly is it to have litter strewn all over the streets? If you look into the Green’s running of the council there, you’ll see why they’ll be booted out in May. They know it is coming and they have to just hope that the electorate can vote with their heads and vote out Green locally but keep Caroline Lucas in nationally, it is a nip/tuck battle but if she goes it will solely be because the Green’s had power locally and sucked and made things worse.

I think – and have always thought – that it is hard to run anything as a minority administration or be a junior partner in a coalition. The UK electorate aren’t used to these situations and react badly to them. That will happen to the Lib Dems nationally and that will happen to the Green’s locally in Brighton. Unless you have enough power to do everything you want then it is hard to be truly judged. If you have some perceived power though, unless you do everything you want then people will be disappointed. It is just the way it is.

On to Southend West as a constituency and whether the Green surge (they haven’t been above the Lib Dems in many national polls in the past few weeks but of course people don’t report this as it isn’t a sexy news story) but that green surge is not going to be felt in Southend West. The demographics are all wrong for where the Green’s are on the political spectrum right now. If Southend West has never gone Labour then they aren’t going to vote in an MP from a party to the left of Labour. It just isn’t going to happen. The constituency has always voted in a Conservative MP and the only time it was even remotely close was in 1997 when the Tory incumbent, Paul Channon, stood down after 38 years, coupled with the Blair surge and the distinct lack of love for the Tories in 1997 led to the Tories winning by only 2,615 from Lib Dem Nina Stimson, yet they still won by 5.6%. Had Labour’s national surge not been so pronounced then the Lib Dems would have won and likely would have held it to this day as they have done in many seats they took for the first time in 1997.

So punters would probably be wise to think that Sir David Amess is going to be the favourite down the bookies. Voters are more likely to leave the Tories for either the lib Dems or UKIP as they are the two parties that are closest ideologically to the Tories than Labour or the Green’s. No doubt many who voted Lib Dem will be unhappy and move to Labour or the Green’s but not everyone will go there and a lot of the protest votes against the Lib Dems will also go to UKIP. So splitting a significant portion of the 2010 Lib Dem vote three ways will dilute any parties hopes of actually taking the seat. It is just basic electoral maths.

The Green Party are highly likely to finish fifth in the constituency, so fifth is quite a long way away from first. I admire his ambition but if I were him, I wouldn’t be going to the tailors for any suit fittings for a new job as an MP. I also want to say that speaking about MP pay rises and bankers bonuses bugs the hell out of me in this respect, MP pay rises aren’t allocated by MPs but by an independent commission so he, even if elected could do nothing about that and as for bankers bonuses, only the banks that are partly owned by the taxpayer can be limited, the rest are independent companies who can pay their staff whatever they like. Bankers bonuses have no effect on nurses pay and vice versa, to link them is lazy politics at best and deceitful at worse.

Realism and politics do not go hand in hand in the blogosphere or amongst many activists. Being starry eyed and projecting hope despite the evidence is the much preferred option. Neither the Southend West nor the Rochford & Southend East constituencies look that exciting at this juncture, plenty of much more juicy seats and and down the land where big swings are possible. To get a big swing you need a disliked incumbent (and/or disliked local party), a big local issue and only one significant opposition where over 50% of the voters are defecting to. This is not the case in Southend in either constituency.

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Written by neilmonnery

February 10th, 2015 at 3:36 pm

4 Responses to 'On the Green Party’s belief they can storm to victory in Southend West…'

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  1. Without a doubt the political landscape in Southend-on-Sea is changing. Whether it has changed enough to unseat Sir David Amess? – to be honest, I do not know. I do know that the numbers do not add up for the Greens – no councillors, a candidate who only joined his party in October, low numbers in every election they have fought in the borough. Theirs is usually a spoiler presence – qv Kursaal ward, 2014.

    I am hopeful for Labour, though. We had a terrible election in 2010 – in Southend West as well as in the country at large. However, we did come second here in 2001. We are working hard – and I have yet to detect any Liberal Democrat campaigning in the constituency.

    This is going to be a tough year for the Lib Dems, it is going to be tougher for the Greens. Hard Left politics will win few votes, IMHO.

    Julian Ware-Lane

    11 Feb 15 at 10:49 am

  2. It’s quite interesting reading about a family member from the point of view of a member of the same party. My uncle dragged me out delivering leaflets before I’d even considered joining the Lib Dems. In terms of drive and energy, I know very few people who can match him.

    In May 2007 I came from nowhere to take a Parish Council seat in Folkestone having joined the Party in February 2006. I was only 20 votes shy of getting the District Council seat, and I did it with no experience, with no deliverers, and with a newborn at home.

    I suspect I pale in comparison to my uncle, even on my best day, and he has the advantage of a much larger public profile, oodles more experience, and probably a much larger support network (though I was extremely lucky to have Tim Prater as my Agent).

    It’s a nigh on impossible task, but don’t be surprised if Jon causes a few shocks, even if he doesn’t end up as an MP.

    Gary Fuller

    17 Feb 15 at 7:12 pm

  3. The thing is what would constitute a shock? Getting around 3,000 to 4,000 votes would be pretty much expected in this climate. Greens are hanging between 4 and 9% in the polls and with 43,000 odd voting last time around, a 6-7% result would be at around 3,000, which is where I think they’ll probably end up. Southend West is a constituency with very unfavourable demographics for the Greens (and Labour) to make a one-cycle turnaround. To win Southend West all non Tory parties have to invest a lot of time and energy and it would take two or three cycles to happen.

    I think my main point is that to get big swings you need certain ingredients and Southend West doesn’t have that. Amess isn’t particularly disliked, the Tories aren’t having a down time, no single other party are riding a significant wave and there are no big issues in SW that will drive people in one particular direction.

    neilmonnery

    17 Feb 15 at 10:32 pm

  4. Obviously the Greens won’t win. The shock would be them finishing above the LDs. Unlikely but would be hilarious.

    Rob Brown

    22 Feb 15 at 7:49 pm

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