The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘green’ tag

On Caroline Lucas and her vision of a progressive alliance…

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Many things hacked me off during the 2017 General Election campaign but I suspect none of them come close to the anger I felt towards the intense and non-stop chatter about progressive alliances. Every single day I saw people talking about how best to work together between parties such as Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens. Instead of finding real ground to take it to the Tories though, activists, local and national parties found more that divided us than uniting us.

For this blog post I want to concentrate on Caroline Lucas. She is number one is my crosshairs for people who pissed me off on this front. The Green Party went into the campaign with one MP and one realistic target seat. That was Bristol West where they opened as odds against favourites to unseat the incumbent Labour MP. As the Labour momentum got going though this became a safe Labour hold and as her own seat was safe, the Green party had no potential to gain any extra seats, All they could realistically do was become a spoiler to help the Tories.

Coming into the debates she had a choice to make, either she wanted to get as many votes as possible for her party (which is a perfectly fair position to take for a leader of a political party) or know who her main political enemies were and go after them. She chose the former and that is all fine and dandy unless she was banging on about working together. Lets look at what she said on her own website after the 2015 General Election…

“The election results have served as a stark reminder that our political system is broken. The time for electoral reform is long overdue. Only proportional representation will deliver a parliament that is truly legitimate, and that better reflects the views of the people it’s meant to represent.”

SHE ADDED: “But we must move forward today. While the campaign for electoral reform gathers momentum, THOSE OF US WANTING TO SEE A FAIRER, MORE COMPASSIONATE AND PROGRESSIVE POLITICS MUST FIND NEW WAYS OF WORKING TOGETHER, A NEW WAY TO DO POLITICS – AND PUT THAT INTO PRACTICE NOW.

“Unless we break free of tribal politics and work together to fight austerity, and promote crucial, common-sense climate policies, we’re faced with an incredibly bleak political future. For the sake of all those who’ll suffer most at the hands of the Tories, we must rethink our relations and recognise the importance of our common ground.

“That should include shared platforms and case-by-case electoral pacts, to build a strong progressive alliance to challenge the Tories over the next five years. Clearly in Wales and Scotland, where there are PR elections for the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament, this doesn’t apply, but where First Past the Post continues to distort election results, it should surely be considered.”

I have left in her own emphasis.

During this campaign she tweeted this:

During the debates she went after the Lib Dems hard on tuition fees. Arguably going after the party more than any other apart from UKIP. She knows that her party’s vote won’t come from the Tories and with the Corbyn momentum kicking in during the final three weeks of the campaign, the best way to get more Green votes was to hit the Lib Dems hard. Heck hitting the Lib Dems hard may not have converted some soft LDs to Green but may have converted them to Labour or convinced them to stay at home. Smart if she wanted to damage the Lib Dems but not smart if her number one priority was to stop another Conservative government.

She doesn’t want to end tribal politics because if she did then she wouldn’t have campaigned in the manner that she did. It was seemingly mere lip-service to the idea of progressive politics. If only say 10% of the population would consider voting for you and you are fighting with the Lib Dems and Labour for those voters, do you curl up and let those voters choose freely which way to go or do you fight tooth and nail for them? You do the latter.

This is a great example of why a progressive alliance in our parliamentary system just doesn’t work. The voters have shown us that they don’t like coalition politics and are at the stage where they want something more black and white. Good and bad if you like. Right or wrong. It won’t always be that way and as a member and firm believer that the radical centre is the best place politically, I have to believe that.

Yet today people are happy to vote for Jeremy Corbyn even if they don’t agree with his top line Brexit policies because he is the most likely to stop the Tories and as it stands the majority of the electorate identify as Tory or Anti-Tory. This means they’ll vote for the Tories or whoever is most likely to stop them. Even if that means by proxy getting more Tory MPs because they don’t look at the local situation.

The progressive alliance can only work when everyone is genuinely willing to work together. If they are all fighting over the same voters then it was always a fallacy and the way Caroline Lucas acted throughout the 2017 General Election campaign showed us all that progressive alliances are great in theory but in reality it had zero chance of succeeding and the amount of column inches and talking head minutes were dedicated to it was all one giant waste of time.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

July 26th, 2017 at 12:22 pm

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On the night that was in Southend and the clear winners – Labour

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The local elections are over and I’m more free to write about what has gone down and I have to say that whilst it was an extremely poor evening for the Lib Dems (bar the huge win in Leigh) it wasn’t a surprise. I think most people fully expected the party to lose Prittlewell and Blenheim Park, two seats we were defending and not be able to pick up much traction elsewhere. There are reasons for this which it would be unfair to go into in such a public forum but the results in terms of what happened to the Lib Dems went down pretty much exactly as expected.

Whilst the news has finally surfaced that the Conservatives two gains (at the expense of the Lib Dems in the above two wards) helped them into a position where they could run the council (either in coalition or with a confidence and supply, which is indeed now widely reported to be the case with the two UKIP councillors) they didn’t have a great night at all. Beating the Lib Dems in those wards isn’t anything to write home about.

The biggest result for them was hanging on to Southchurch from a strong independent challenge. Had they stolen Belfairs from the Indy’s or managed to navigate through the warring independents in Shoeburyness then you could say they were the winners of the night. As it was they did what they were supposed to do but nothing more. John Lamb may be set to run the council but with a majority of just one (when you take into account the two UKIP members who will back them up) then it is a very weak majority and Southend is in for two years of council struggles.

No the big winner was clearly Labour and this has sweet fuck all to do with Jeremy Corbyn or the Corbynistas. It has to do with the fact their ground game is by far the most superior in the town. They have activists who go out come rain or shine throughout the year and engage with residents. You can have nothing but praise for them.

They held the three seats they were defending by very large margins in seats that were seemingly vulnerable. Cllr. Anne Jones moved wards to try and take out popular incumbent Dr. Vel and did so with relative ease to make Westborough a three Labour ward. However despite these admirable achievements, they weren’t their best moments.

The two results that will send shivers down the spines of the other parties will be Labour finishing a very close second in Prittlewell and a comfortable second in Blenheim Park. The former is demographically horrendous for Labour and they shouldn’t be anywhere even close to taking that seat. The fact they were 78 votes away from winning it is insane.

In Blenheim the demographics are slightly more favourable but still in the grand scheme of things they shouldn’t be outperforming the Lib Dems or the short-term the UKIP factor. It shows that hard work over a significant period of time, coordinated strategy, fielding a strong candidate and a party can perform well above national expectations at local level.

Labour can now legitimately say that they are the party that can stop the Tories in Blenheim Park and Prittlewell. Whether that is true come the next time people are voting in Southend come 2018, it could be another story entirely but as of right now they are clearly the main opposition party.

With 2018 seeing UKIP defending those two seats, whether they stay purple (highly unlikely) or go blue or red could easily be the deciding factor in the make-up of the council. They can easily put themselves as competitive or favourites in six wards going into 2018, only the Conservatives can say they are competitive in more seats.

My last point I want to write about though is strategic cross-party planning. To keep the Tories out of controlling the council (with/without the propping up of UKIP) will likely need some some of cross-party strategy. An agreement to not stand a candidate in a seat or two where they are only going to be paper candidates anyway in exchange for reciprocal agreements.

This is something Labour, the Lib Dems and the Independent Group should at least consider. I know it goes against the principles of certainly both Labour and the Lib Dems who believe you should put up candidates everywhere to give your voters a chance to vote for you but in terms of locking the Tories out and having a center-left coalition instead of a right-wing allience in charge at the Civic Centre, speaking very much in a personal capacity here, it deserves some real thought.

So to recap, a very impressive and deservedly so night for the Labour group. The Tories did what they were expected to do, nothing more. UKIP showed they are very much in decline locally, the Greens ran a nice spoiler campaign to enable the Tories across the town and as for the Lib Dems, well what can you say? A huge and comprehensive win in Leigh and then 16 other results (ok 15, West Leigh was more than solid too…)

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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May 10th, 2016 at 4:36 pm

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On the Greens wanting to remove Natalie Bennett from a TV debate…

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It is billed as a leaders debate but the Greens want(ed) Caroline Lucas to appear instead of Natalie Bennett for one of the two debates. This was requested a good while ago, before Natalie Bennett’s shall we say, disappointing, performance on LBC a while back but it does go to show that the Green Party has a legitimate issue, one that the Lib Dems had five years ago.

Five years back the Lib Dems most well known MP was Vince Cable. He was pretty well liked and respected. Nick Clegg was an upstart that no-one really knew. He was the butt of jokes on most of the panel shows and then suddenly the first debate happened and everything changed. Nick Clegg ‘won’ the first debate and suddenly his profile was transformed overnight. He shared a stage with just two other people and he sounded different, people liked this and the election campaign changed.

This time around the stage will be more diluted due to the TV companies seemingly bizarre ideas of what the debates should actually be. It is about who can have the most MPs to form a government. When the SNP and Plaid Cymru (which I spelled correctly first time – result) start fielding enough MPs to lead a coalition then bring them to the table. They don’t but the TV companies in reality have no idea what their remit is here and are just making it up as they go along.

So we turn our attentions back to Natalie Bennett and Caroline Lucas. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here in saying that Caroline Lucas is the most recognisable face the Green Party have. She is certainly far more media savvy than Natalie Bennett and I think would perform better in these prime time debates than her party leader. Getting Lucas the air time would really help her in her Brighton Pavilion dogfight with Labour.

I’ve just looked at the betting markets and across the board they have the Green Party as odds on favourites, all of them shorter than 1/2, which I find slightly surprising. I think Labour and the Greens are nip/tick and would expect the Greens to be 5/6 and Labour 7/4 – something around there so I’d certainly be laying the Greens at that price. Labour are Evens in a couple of places but shorter than 2/1 everywhere else. Getting Caroline some prime time exposure (and if she performs well) would probably have tipped her over the edge to a gritty victory. If Natalie Bennett flops though then it could really hurt her.

This issue goes back to the decision by Caroline Lucas to step down in an attempt to get another well known face for the Green Party. It was a good idea at the time but the problem is they decided to unleash someone who quite simply struggles with performing well in the media. The ‘Green Surge’ has stagnated, in no small part due to some of her policies being ridiculed and not well costed but also when you are riding a wave of momentum then suddenly the media will notice you and report not only the momentum but also start to be critical of your policies and performances.

I think there is little doubt the Green Party will have a decent national vote share on May 7 but if Natalie Bennett performs badly in her two big TV moments then that national vote share may not translate into any MPs. They believe they can win Norwich South and Bristol West to add to Brighton Pavilion. They are not favoured in either seat, indeed in Bristol West they are behind both the Lib Dems and Labour in the odds, in Norwich South they are ahead of the defending Lib Dems but Labour are extremely strong favourites. Bristol West is more three-way with LD around Evens and Lab just beyond and Greens around 3s.

Natalie Bennett has quickly become a liability and the Green Party know it. This was the opportunity to treble their MPs and they look likely to fall short. I wonder if Caroline Lucas regrets giving up the leadership if she knew then what she know now? The TV companies are certainly right to refuse this request from the Greens because this isn’t a TV event to put on who you want, it is for the leaders to debate. These are meant to be the people who can run our country.

I doubt many of you are fans of baseball but every so often people talk about a six-man rotation and every time people say the same thing, if you have six starting pitchers what you are really saying is you don’t have four. The Green Party have hitched their wagon to Natalie Bennett and whilst it seems like a poor move, they have to roll with her and see what happens.

The only way to get Caroline Lucas into the TV debates is for Natalie Bennett to step down as leader and Caroline to takeover. It would probably be a good short-term move but is it too late in the day for such a dramatic change? I suspect in one parallel (which I also spelled right first time – result as I always get that word wrong) universe it will happen, I doubt though that it will be this one.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

March 2nd, 2015 at 1:53 pm

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

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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.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

February 10th, 2015 at 3:36 pm