Recently in England and Wales Category

A moment on the campaign trail.

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A couple of weeks ago I spent the weekend in Brighton Pavilion, helping out with the Caroline Lucas campaign. The machine down there is very impressive, and the Action Days very busy if that was typical. My personal highlight, though, was meeting the legend that is Ralph Brown, who's active in the campaign. I didn't recognise him initially, what with the missing "aerials". But still got a cheesy photo to show for it:


An extraordinary position to be in.

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carolineagain.jpgDon't believe the politicians when they tell you "only X can win here", with or without dodgy bar charts. Proper polling should be listened to, of course, but the bookies are perhaps the most reliable source of intelligence. 

They put their money where their predictions are, after all, which is one of the reasons Political Betting is such a popular site.

When I joined this movement in 1998 I would have struggled to believe that in little more than ten years our sister party would be odds on to win a Westminster constituency. Yet Ladbrokes offer the following national odds:
Green Party to win a seat - 5/6

Despite the prospects in Norwich South, where Greens have topped local election results each year since 2007, most of this is because the bookies rate Caroline Lucas the favourite for Brighton Pavilion. She's at evens, followed some way behind by the Tories at 7/4, then Labour at 3/1 and the Lib Dems at 66/1. 

The party did an ICM constituency poll at the tail end of last year, which gave this result:

Green: 35% (+13%)
Tory: 27% (+3%)
Labour: 25% (-10%)
Lib Dem: 11% (-6%)
Others: 2%

The main local politics blog credits Greens with the momentum, the Independent have today more or less called it for Caroline, and the paper came canvassing with her at the weekend. Political Betting discussed the poll over the holiday too.

There's no sign of local complacency either - the whole constituency gets a visit every month, and Greens from across the UK are helping out. I'm looking forward to a trip down before the end of March, and I know many others are too. Better to win one seat than to come closer in a few more.

If you're looking for betting value on Greens, though, I'd go for Norwich South at 4/1 or Edinburgh East at a whopping 100/1. Robin's represented the area for a decade, after all, and you only have to walk the streets with him to see how well known he is.

Heathrow: this cat folds.

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thiscatfolds.jpgThis is becoming Climate Victory Week. Following the end of plans for new coal at Kingsnorth, BAA have folded over the third runway at Heathrow. Credit where it's due: the main reason is that Theresa Villiers held her nerve

Shame we couldn't have some similar Scottish wins over, say, Hunterston and the Additional Gold-plated Forth Bridge. That would require a majority of MSPs to understand the environment, though.

What planet are they on?

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ballerinaalien.jpgWinchester Lib Dem Councillor Adrian Hicks had a curious secret when he stood for election in 2006 and 2007. He felt that admitting he’d seen an alien dressed as a ballerina under the city’s Guildhall clock might jeopardise his chances.

The alien was laughing and having a good time, and apparently was “human enough to get away with it.”

As it happens, he lost anyway in 2006 before coming from third to win in 2007. Having served his area for two years now, he feels confident enough to come out, and he’s trying to track her down, presumably so they can go to Venus together.

Grazia have some potentially interesting information for him - they worked out who made her dress. I agree that the likely explanation is terrestrial. He probably just doesn’t know what kind of sunglasses are in fashion.

Still, we shouldn’t laugh. He’s in good company. The wife of the new Japanese Prime Minister believes she was abducted and taken to Venus. It could be worse. Councillor Hicks could have taken her to his leader.

(via glum councillors)

paviliongreen.pngThe second annual PoliticsHome superpoll of the marginals is out today, based on YouGov interviews with 33,610 people. They polled everyone, it seems. They certainly polled me - did they poll you?

The methodology seems pretty sound. Anthony Wells grouped seats with similar characteristics - London commuter belt, Southwest Liberal/Con marginals etc - and got a representative sample in each group to extrapolate from. Much more plausible than the old Scottish sub-sample game.

The results (full document, 2.6Mb pdf) are easy to spin as good news and bad news for the three largest Westminster parties, especially given last year's numbers as an alternative comparator. 

Labour are out of government on these numbers, obviously, but down to 199 instead of the ultra-dire 160 seats predicted last year. "It's heading our way", they say, although Tom Harris certainly isn't kidding himself. The Liberals are down 8 to 55, but last year it was worse for them too, when the same poll predicted they'd keep just 44 MPs.

Conversely, the headline figure that puts Dave C into power is a Tory majority of 70, which I think he'd take, but last year they predicted a landslide 146 lead. There are pages and pages of English Con/Lab marginals shown here turning blue, places Labour never reached before Blairism, and places always likely to revert to type. Cumbria's about the only group to buck the trend.

Other parties' results are less equivocal. Last year the SNP leadership was jubilant about numbers showing vast swathes of Scotland going their way, but this year just 3 Nat gains are predicted. I'm personally sceptical about this, but you can imagine the long woad-painted faces of the cybernats as they contemplate page 29.

The best has been saved for last. Brighton Pavilion is part of a group of seaside town seats including Morecambe, Great Yarmouth and and the Blackpool constituencies. In the 2005 election 8% of people voted for parties outside the big three. Last year's poll had this number at 11%, and this year it's a staggering 19%.

The report says: "This is mainly benefiting the Green Party who on these figures would win their first Parliamentary seat in Brighton Pavilion."

I do hope so. Another near miss (as per several seats in the Euros) would be heartbreaking. Also, I note they didn't cover either of our English friends' other targets, Lewisham and Norwich South. That makes them better bets with the bookies, I reckon, Norwich South in particular. 

( thread here)

Glum Councillors.

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Via the ever-cheery Councillor Andrew Cooper, father of the best policy ever, comes Glum Councillors. You must have seen them. They kneel by potholes, point at graffiti, and hug postboxes. To prove it's not just Lib Dems who do this, I give you the future Green MP for Norwich South, Adrian Ramsay, in an absolute classic of the genre.


Greens win in Brighton.

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alexphillips2.jpgThe Tories started today running Brighton and Hove Council, but the local Greens just took a ward off them in a by-election. Congratulations to the local team, outstanding work, and to new Councillor Phillips. This should be an end to the highly undemocratic Cabinet-only system of government in the area.

The ward's not in Brighton Pavilion, our English colleagues' best target seat, but you know this helps in so many ways. You can still get 2-1 on Caroline Lucas to win. I've got a little at 7-2, but that was a while ago.

Here's the actual result. The missing numbers in the change are from an independent who didn't restand.
Green: 1456 (40%, +18%)
Tory: 1104 (30%, +1%)
Lab: 816 (22%, -5%)
Liberal: 280 (8%, -8%)

Two vital by-elections.

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Infuriatingly for anoraks (and no doubt candidates) the good burghers of Broadland aren't counting the votes for Norwich North until tomorrow. The BBC will be most upset: they've booked a Norwich venue for Question Time tonight, and will have only speculation, not even any exit polls.

I am reluctant to play the expectation game with the election - not least because I'm an irrational optimist. Having said that, if we don't quadruple our 2005 vote I'll be pretty disappointed. A particular pleasure has been seeing unusually balanced BBC coverage, despite squawks of protest from the Put An Egomaniac Into Parliament camp.

With Adrian Ramsay and the team the official opposition on the local authority, and with Greens winning across the whole of Norwich in the Euros, it would have been hard for the Beeb to do otherwise, but we started from a low base in Norwich North, and I can hear the weasel words they'd have used to keep us out. 

There's a vicious circle that takes in exclusion from media coverage and limits to our electoral success, and we're gradually starting to turn it around. No matter what our successes elsewhere, the vital thing will be to start winning Westminster seats, and there's a second vote today which may make even more of a difference on that front.

There's a Brighton by-election, another area where Greens topped the poll in June, and the most likely venue for a Green victory at the next UK General election. Formerly Labour-voting chums of mine are out with the Green leaflets, while other Labour folk have endorsed us. It looks like it's between us and the Tories, and we could displace them from Council leadership if we win. It'd be an ideal platform for the adjacent Brighton Pavilion campaign, and it can't hurt for media coverage that the local Green candidate is pretty photogenic.

Jenny Jones nails it.

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jennyjonesken.jpgI'd paraphrase, I'd give my comments, but it'd be a waste. Jenny Jones (left, with Ken) gets it spot on in the Guardian.

"It's disappointing to see someone of Leo Hickman's stature reinforcing old stereotypes. His assertion that the Greens are a "one-issue" party is plainly wrong and his reasoning - that "the clue's in the name" - doesn't entirely stack up.

"Let's think about this for a moment. Suppose there was a party called... oh, I don't know, let's say Labour. By Leo Hickman's reasoning we would all assume it was a one-issue party that dealt only with employment issues. Its flagship policy would be Jobcentre Plus."
duckhouse.jpgThe most pleasing result so far for me, topping even the mighty work of Norwich Greens, was from Totnes, in Devon, one of four county councils now with Greens on them for the first time. 

Sir Anthony Steen, owner of one lovely Copenhagen-style duck house at our expense, is now represented by new Green councillor Paula Black. The only surprise, given his staggering arrogance, is that anyone voted for a Tory in his area.

Roll on the Euros on Sunday night. It seems pretty likely he'll have a Green MEP too on Monday.

Update: Much of this story is simply wrong. I got the wrong Tory scoundrel. Sir Peter Viggers of The Duckhouse sits in Hampshire. Sir Anthony Steen, who does indeed have a new Green councillor, is the one whose house looks like Balmoral. Apologies to any ducks or others offended by this mistake.

Joanna Lumley to vote Green.

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lumley.jpgShe may have been happy to stand next to Dave and Nick for her Gurkha triumph, but Joanna Lumley's voting for Caroline Lucas in the Euro elections

The campaign to get her to do the voiceover for our next election broadcast starts here. 

Mark Thomas spreads the love.

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The MTCP was the best thing on television, and thoroughly influenced the politics of a broad swathe of green activists. Here's Mark with a little voting recommendation.

Comrade aviators.

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gangoffour.jpgA frank and open exchange of views is going on down south between real Greens, specifically former London mayoral candidate Siân Berry, and some people who get billed as lower-case-g greens, notably George Monbiot. 

To complicate things an actual upper-case-G Green candidate in Oxford also went nuclear, allowing the Independent to go to town on us. 

The absurdity of the piece is made obvious when you see that one of the greens they cite as having had a road-to-Sellafield conversion is a former Labour cabinet Minister with a 100% record of backing nuclear power.

The battle proper kicked off when Siân put this piece up on her blog, criticising Monbiot's sell-out on nuclear power, and more seriously, attacking their haircuts (Monbiot, Lynas, Tindale and Goodall, left). 

Her arguments on nuclear were sound, but it was the following section that appeared to get his goat in particular:

"Like the young women mentioned above, these chaps have a few physical and biographical characteristics in common, largely a tendency to be over 45 with the haircut of a WW2 fighter pilot and the experience to know better than play so crudely into the hands of an industry on the make."

It's hard to deny that the four of them would fit in, visually, in the cockpit of a Spitfire. Goodall, bottom on the left, looks more like he's been promoted and flying a desk by now, but it turns out that her charge was particularly apt for him. He commented on her blog as folllows:

"Unlike those conchies Monbiot and Lynas, I was actually trained to be a fighter pilot."

No such good humour was forthcoming from Monbiot, who instead decided to take his plane on a kamikazi assault on the Green Party, Guardian megaphone in hand. His shameful straw man job on her arguments was followed by a declaration that he's not going to vote Green again. 

It's obviously his right to take the huff about the haircut crack (see how easy those straw men are, George?), and if he wants to find a pro-nuclear party to vote for there are plenty of options. 

He'll find Labour, the Tories and the Liberals just as weak as they ever were on all the other climate issues, though. 

On one side there's a clear explanation of the reasons why nuclear is the wrong choice, not just as the only option, but as any of the options. To quote Siân again:

"..there are so many other, less technically challenging, more job-heavy, cheaper, easier, quicker, etc etc projects out that would balance energy needs with production and cut carbon at the same time."

On the other side, there are four people who should know better giving succour to the backers of the most unsafe and uneconomic form of power ever implemented, pretending it's a proper low-carbon, affordable and sustainable technology, and doing so in the pages of the red-tops

They're entitled to their opinions, but I just wish the media wouldn't keep calling them environmentalists. If a former SNP politician or independence activist came out for the Union, it'd be news, sure, but it wouldn't be a split in nationalism, it'd be someone leaving nationalism. 

I'm with the Wrens on this one, tempting as it is to side with the peacemakers. Also, is there something in the water in Oxford?
schoolmeals.jpgLabour's leadership in Lewisham are very excited about Obama's election, although you can be sure the feeling isn't reciprocated. Specifically, they were so excited that their discussions of the inauguration at a council meeting last night went on too long for a Green proposal on free school meals to be considered. 

I suspect the President wouldn't be hugely impressed by that outcome. Can't this sort of chat be saved for the pub afterwards? Won't they think of the children?
congestioncharge.pngJust as in Edinburgh, the Trotskyist fractions are opposing congestion charging in Manchester. The charge proposals won't just cut congestion: they also mean up to £3bn of investment in public transport, with bus improvements, Oyster-style integrated transport cards, improvements to cycling, rail and the Metrolink, and more park and ride. There's a new discount for the low-paid travelling public, too.

In Edinburgh, the SSP opposed the congestion charge out of sheer opportunism (as per the Liberal model), claiming that it would have hurt the poorest most. The poorest don't have cars, typically, but they certainly use public transport. This seemed to pass the comrades by.

Similarly, Respect are opposing the Manchester plan, strangely, in order to promote public transport. They are aggrieved too that private contractors will (shock horror) be paid to construct new public sector infrastructure. Shouldn't the Stakhanovite People's Construction Department be set to work instead? Also, they say 70p is too much for children to pay. And that local people can't afford the charge as fuel prices go up - can you hear me smacking my head with my palm?

Finally, why can't everything be free, they say, an argument which reminds me of the old SSP policy of "we'll run the Scottish Government at a loss and it'll all just be fine." Here's why. We need better transport services, more efficient services running for more of the day, on more routes and all the rest. This has to be paid for, and simply removing fares for everyone would make already-choked public transport almost unusable and the expansions harder to fund (there's only so many times we can spend the money that could be saved by scrapping nuclear weapons and ID cards etc).

Truly these people are idiots, and they are not worthy of your respect. Feel free to vote in their "poll", though.

Read the Daily (Maybe)

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gpewsoc.JPGJim Jay's blog is truly worth a prominent place in one's RSS feed. 

Of the last five items, three are fascinating mid-length thought pieces on the American election, the atheist poster campaign, and population policy. In another, Jim finds bliss and it makes him late for work. 

He also maintains a laptop for every donkey, which is top quality light relief. And he owns an I Love Peas t-shirt (left).

No love for Ian Blair.

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jeancharlesmemorial.jpgThe leftish blogosphere is roiling with misplaced sympathy for Ian Blair. For example, Douglas Johnson, whose writings I usually like, says: "when a politician clearly edges a public servant out of their job, we should worry."

Elsewhere it's argued that "another block has been removed from the foundations of our weak democracy." The Guardian calls it a Tory plot.

Ian Blair ran the police force which through gross incompetence and carelessness killed Jean Charles De Menezes, and he fronted up one of the most disgracefully misleading media campaigns ever, promoting lies about the innocent Brazilian's actions that morning. Blair should have resigned that week.

I believe it was one of Livingstone's major failings to be so supportive of his police chief (along with the stuff about the concentration camps, naturally). Even this week he's still getting this wrong, because he's understandably miffed about the election. 

Note to the left: my enemy's enemy is not necessarily my friend.

A mandate for change.

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carolinelucas.jpgOur sister party in England and Wales just elected their leader, and duly chose the magnificent Caroline Lucas MEP. She's smart, passionate, engaging, radical, and absolutely the right choice. If I were a member and if I had as many votes as Jack McConnell apparently does up here, I'd have voted for her seven times.

Looking around the internet for responses, Tom Harris regrets the diversification of British politics, Iain Dale is more charitable despite being a climate change denier "not [being] convinced by all the arguments on man made global warming", ASwaS backs Caroline to win in Brighton and urges the party up here to change, some Liberals are worried (rightly, I hope), and Jim Jay is naturally delighted.

Note: the update follows comment from Iain Dale below, and I'd be pleased to read any thoughts on the distinction he's describing. I'd also welcome Iain filling me in on the specific arguments he isn't convinced by.

Greens 3rd in Henley.

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wendygordon.jpgThe Tories held Henley, with the Liberals in second. No surprise on either count.

But Greens in third? In some pretty unpromising territory? Wonderful work, despite the usual flurry of "Only the Liberal Democrats can win here" (prime spurious example) and other similarly misleading leaflets.

But if I were a Labour supporter, I'd be in utter despair, having been beaten by us to the left and the BNP to the right. Labour's vote is less than the sum total of votes for UKIP plus the Monster Raving Loonies. You don't even need to add in Harry Bear from the Fur Play Party.

Gordon and Wendy are increasingly looking like New Labour's pall-bearers.

Running dog of uselessness.

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chihuahuaclegg.jpgI do hate spurious polls, so shouldn't link to one. Apologies. 

But apparently the public picked the Chihuahua as the dog they most associate with Nick Clegg. 

And is it any wonder, given how good he looks in his little sweater?

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the England and Wales category.

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