Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Why we Greens should stand in the upcoming Newark by-election

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now known that Patrick Mercer, who was Conservative MP for Newark, Nottinghamshire from 2001 to 2014, has just resigned after learning that he would face being suspended from the House of Commons for six months over a 'cash for questions' scandal involving a fake Fijian lobbying company.

Although the date of this parliamentary by-election has not been announced yet, it is already known that Robert Jenrick will fight this (currently) safe Conservative seat for the Conservatives and that Nigel Farage will not stand on UKIP's behalf.

Even though it has been a while since the Green Party stood in Newark, here are five good reasons why we should stand:

1. To give credibility to the fact that we are a serious and real alternative nationally to the four mainstream, neoliberal parties of Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, and UKIP.
2. To show people that there are no 'no-go areas' for green politics in the UK.
3. To help promote the green alternative in the UK more despite the limited coverage the media will give us compared to mainstream policies.
4. The Newark area has the lovely Sherwood forest, which could be in danger if the ConDems continue to get their way.
5. Nottinghamshire is still threatened by fracking, so we should stand there to continue to champion the cause of renewable energy over shale gas.



Monday, 28 April 2014

May Day demo on Thursday-why you should come along

Ladies and gentlemen, if you live close to London, or in Greater London itself, there is a demonstration on May Day, internationally recognised as a day of solidarity for workers and ordinary people like you and I, in Clerkenwell Green, London, which will eventually reach Trafalgar Square.

In light of what has been going on these past four years, and the fact that the European elections of 2014 could be make or break for many ordinary people in Britain for a variety of reasons, I ask you,please, that if you can, come down to Clerkenwell Green, London, on 1 May starting at 11 am. With too much media attention focused on clashes between the Liberal Democrats and UKIP-both of whom are just different strands of the same neoliberal, un-green establishment- people across Britain need to make their voice heard and help rally support for the Green alternative in Britain, especially given that European election polls for the London area worryingly predict that Jean Lambert MEP, a very compassionate Green who has been a noble and valiant representative for Londoners, could potentially lose her European Parliament seat to UKIP, and in area known for its cosmopolitan and diverse culture as well.

Just so you know, on the day the 2014 May Day demo of London will start in Clerkenwell Green, contain some good speakers, and will in the afternoon finish with a tribute in Trafalgar Square to Bob Crow and Tony Benn.

Regards, Alan.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The East/West divide-my perspective

Often in the UK, the North-South divide is spoken of, where the South is more prosperous and more conservative than the North. But I have also noticed in Britain, and also several European nations (and the European Union itself), a different kind of divide- an West-East divide.

This West-East divide, in political terms, can be plainly seen in Britain, if recent election results are anything to go by:

In the 2013 local elections, UKIP gained 147 councillors, but more than 100 of these were elected in councils in eastern parts of Britain- North East England, Yorkshire and the Humber, the East Midlands, East Anglia, and the South East. They gained comparatively fewer councillors in the South West, West Midlands, and North West. As for the Green Party, they gained 5 councillors but lost 6 in eastern parts of Britain; conversely in western parts, they gained 7 councillors in western parts of Britain and lost only 1.

Also, in the 2010 general election, people were more inclined tactically to vote Liberal Democrat in the western parts than in the eastern parts of Britain.

Another nation where a political and cultural West-East divide exists is the Republic of Ireland. Leinster, where the capital of Dublin and the 'Greater Dublin area' is situated, is urbane and progressive, whilst the western provinces of Munster and (especially) Connaught are more rural and conservative generally; Connaught's largest city, Galway, has a population much lower than that of Munster's largest city, Cork. In the 2011 Irish general election, Connaught returned 12 Fine Gael (Ireland's conservatives, basically) Teachta Dailas (deputies to the Irish Dail) out of 20 TDs for that province; Munster returned 21 Fine Gael TDs out of 46; Leinster returned 36 Fine Gael TDs out of 88. (the other 14 TDs come from the three counties of Ulster not part of Northern Ireland, of course). Also, Leinster province returned 4 of the 5 elected United Left Alliance (Socialist, People Before Profit etc) TDs in 2011. 

I am also noticing a stark West-East divide in the European Union psephologically, partly because of the recent history of Eastern European nations. Current predictions by Pollwatch2014 show that out of the 92 Green-European Free Alliance or European United Left-Nordic Green Left MEPs that they predict will be elected this year (important as both these groups are united in opposition to the TTIP and also the European Commission/European Central Bank's current neoliberal agenda in general), 71 will be elected from EU nations outside the old Eastern bloc. This is just a notable statistic, by the way- hopefully, however, progressive and green politics will continue to grow in Eastern European nations where it has not had a notable base compared to nations in Western Europe.




Friday, 25 April 2014

Political history: lost in confusion

Yesterday, the BBC reported that UKIP and An Independence From Europe have been having an argument with the Electoral Commission; UKIP claims that An Independence From Europe's use of the description 'UK Independence Now' on ballot papers could confuse potential UKIP voters and therefore should be disallowed by regional returning officers. They may have a point about that, it must be said.

The Registration of Political Parties Act 1998 and the Political Parties and Referendums Act 2000 are both designed to prohibit the use of descriptions on ballot papers that could potentially confuse voters intending to vote for more significant parties; also, a candidate cannot change their name by deed poll for the purpose of confusing voters (several attempts at this were disallowed by returning officers, and rightly so). Incidentally,this act required registration of political parties such that candidates could no longer use just any description on the ballot paper (some were used just for commercial purposes e.g. the Buy the Daily Sport party and the Alfred Chicken Party)

Here are some notable examples of attempts at voter confusion in elections:

Glasgow Hillhead by-election, 1982: Douglas Parkin changed his name to Roy Harold Jenkins when he heard the real Roy Jenkins (whose middle name was Harris) was standing, and used the description 'Social Democratic Party' (that of a smaller one founded by Donald Kean in 1979) on the ballot paper, an act of voter misleading so blatant that the returning officer should have disallowed the nomination straight away. He managed 282 votes; Roy Jenkins' margin of victory over Conservative Gerry Malone in this by-election was only 2,038.

Finchley, 1983 general election: A Mr Hanoman changed his name by deed poll to Margaret Thatcher; he was debarred from standing against the real Margaret Thatcher, though.

Vauxhall by-election, 1989: A Dominic Allen, sponsored by a religious cult, used the description 'the Greens' on the ballot paper, fooling 264 voters intending to vote Green into voting for him. This by election is incidentally the first time we Greens saved our deposit (we got 6.1% of the votes in that by election).

Slough, 1992 general election: In a key marginal, a Declan Halford (who used to belong to the real Labour Party) used the description 'the Labour candidate' (as opposed to 'the Labour Party candidate) on the ballot paper, polling 699 votes; the Conservative margin of victory in Slough that year was only 514 votes.

Newbury by-election, 1993, and Christchurch by-election, 1993: In anger at the above trick, another Slough Labour party member, Andrew Bannon, stood as 'the Conservative candidate' (as opposed to 'the Conservative Party candidate') in both by-elections, polling 561 votes in the former, putting him ahead of 14 of the Newbury by-election candidates, and 357 votes in the latter, placing him ahead of 8 of the Christchurch by-election candidates. He hoped by bringing attention to this issue he would persuade Parliament to prevent such situations happening in future elections or by-elections.

Devon and East Plymouth, 1994 European elections, UK: This is the most cited example of confusing party descriptions in British history. Psychologist and ex-headmaster Richard Huggett used the name 'Literal Democrat' on the ballot paper and he polled as many as 10,203 votes (4.3% of the total!); the Liberal Democrats' candidate Adrian Sanders (later MP for Torbay) finished only 700 votes behind the Conservative candidate. He lodged a petition citing that Mr. Huggett was deliberately trying to confuse voters but the High Court dismissed it.

Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election, 1995: A Peter Douglas used the description 'Conversative candidate' in the by-election, inspired by the famous example above. He polled only 193 votes however; meanwhile, the real Conservative candidate lost the seat by 6,300 votes and finished third.

Kinross and West Perthshire by-election, 1995: A Michael Halford used the description 'Scottish Conservatory and Unionist Party' (as opposed to Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party) in this by-election, but polled only 89 votes and finished second from bottom, just ahead of the hopeless Natural Law Party.

1997 general election, several constituencies: Mr. L. Foley tried to change his name to Sir Nicholas Lyell (the Attorney General at the time) in the seat of North East Bedfordshire, but the real Sir Nicholas got a court injunction to stop this. Mr. Foley polled 1,843 votes nevertheless as an Independent Conservative. Similarly, David Neal was forced to use his real name in Clwyd West instead of 'Rod Richard' (the MP for that seat was Rod Richards) but the returning officer still allowed him to use the description of 'Conservatory'. Also, several people in London used the description 'New Labour' to confuse Labour voters.

Winchester, 1997 general election and subsequent by-election of the same year: Richard Huggett once again was up to his old tricks here. He tried to run as Gerald MacClone (the sitting MP was Gerald Malone) but was barred from doing this; he used the description 'Liberal Democrat Top Choice for Parliament' and polled 640 votes. Mark Oaten's margin of victory over Mr. Malone was only 2 votes, and the number of ballot papers that were rejected for want of an official mark that could have affected the result meant the election was declared void. Mr. Huggett stood again under 'Literal Democrat Mark Here to Win' but polled just 59 votes as his cover had been blown this time. 

Finally, in 1998, Parliament put a stop to these practices of deliberate voter confusion once and for all, undoubtedly with the help of the aforementioned Messrs. Sanders and Oaten.

Political history in Britain is particularly fascinating sometimes, is it not?


Thursday, 24 April 2014

The interesting opponents we British Greens face in the European Elections 2014 race

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In case you have not already looked at any statements of persons nominated files released by regional returning officers today, here is the list of opponents we face in each region (asterisks mean either an Independent candidate or a party with only one candidate in this region):

East Midlands opponents (list leaders):
An Independence From Europe (Chris Pain)
British National Party (Catherine Duffy)
Conservative Party (Emma McClarkin)
English Democrats (Kevin Sills)
Harmony Party (Steve Ward) *
Labour Party (Glenis Willmott)
Liberal Democrats (Bill Newton Dunn)
United Kingdom Independence Party (Roger Helmer)

East of England opponents (list leaders):
 An Independence from Europe (Paul Witten)
British National Party (Richard Perry)
Christian People's Alliance (Carl Clark)
Conservative Party (Vicky Ford)
English Democrats (Robin Tillbrook)
Labour Party (Richard Howitt)
Liberal Democrats (Andrew Duff)
No2EU (Brian Denny)
United Kingdom Independence Party (Patrick O'Flynn)

London opponents (list leaders):
4 Freedoms Party (Dirk Hazell)
An Independence From Europe (Paul Burns)
Animal Welfare Party (Vanessa Hudson)
British National Party (Stephen Squire)
Christian People's Alliance (Sidney Cordle)
Communities United Party (Kamran Malik)
Conservative Party (Syed Kamall)
English Democrats (Jenny Knight)
Europeans United Party (Thomas Tomescu)
Harmony Party (David Vincent) *
Labour Party (Claude Moraes)
Liberal Democrats (Sara Ludford aka Baroness Ludford)
National Health Action (Dr. Louise Irvine)
National Liberal Party (Graham Williamson)
No2EU (Edward Dempsey)
United Kingdom Independence Party (Gerard Batten)

North East England (list leaders):
An Independence From Europe (Sherri Forbes)
British National Party (Martin Vaughan) 
Conservative Party (Martin Callanan)
English Democrats (Kevin Riddiough)
Labour Party (Jude Kirton-Darling)
Liberal Democrats (Angelika Schneider)
United Kingdom Independence Party (Jonathan Arnott)

North West England (list leaders):
An Independence From Europe (Helen Bashford)
British National Party (Nick Griffin)
Conservative Party (Jacqueline Foster)
English Democrats (Stephen Morris)
Labour Party (Theresa Griffin)
Liberal Democrats (Chris Davies)
No2EU (Roger Bannister)
Pirate Party (Maria Artelouaki)
Socialist Equality Party (Chris Marsden)
United Kingdom Independence Party (Paul Nuttall)

South East England (list leaders):
An Independence From Europe (Laurence Stassen)
British National Party (John Robinson)
Christian People's Alliance (Norman Burnett)
English Democrats (Steven Uncles)
Harmony Party (Terry Leach)
Labour Party (Annelise Dodds)
Liberal Democrats (Catherine Bearder)
Liberty GB (Paul Weston)
Peace Party (John Morris)
The Roman Party, Ave! (Jean-Louis Pascal) *
Socialist Party GB (Dave Chesham)
United Kingdom Independence Party (Nigel Farage)
YOURvoice (Julian James)

South West England (list leaders):
 An Independence From Europe (David Smith)
British National Party (Adrian Rommilly)
Conservative Party (Andrew Fox)
English Democrats (Alan England)
Labour Party (Claire Moody)
Liberal Democrats (Graham Watson)
United Kingdom independence Party (William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth)

West Midlands (list leaders):
An Independence From Europe (Mark Nattrass)
British NationalParty (Michael Coleman)
Conservative Party (Phillip Bradbourn)
English Democrats (Derek Hilling)
Harmony Party (Reg Marina) *
Labour Party (Neena Giff)
Liberal Democrats (Phil Bennion)
No2EU (Dave Nellist)
United Kingdom Independence Party (Jill Seymour)
We Demand a Referendum Now (Nikki Sinclare)

Yorkshire and the Humber (list leaders):
 An Independence From Europe (Christopher Booth)
British National Party (Marlene Guest)
Conservative Party (Timothy Kirkhope)
English Democrats (Chris Beverley)
Labour Party (Linda McIvan)
Liberal Democrats (Edward MacMillan-Scott)
No2EU (Trevor Howard)
United Kingdom Independence Party (Jane Collins)
Yorkshire First (Stewart Arnold)

Scotland (list leaders):
Britain First (James Doveson)
British National Party (Kenneth McDonald)
Conservative Party (Ian Duncan)
Labour Party (David Martin)
Liberal Democrats (George Lyon)  
No2EU (John Foster)
Scottish National Party (Iain Hudghton)
United Kingdom Independence Party (David Coburn)   
 Wales (list leaders):
Britain First (Paul Golding)
British National Party (Mike Whitby)
Conservative Party (Kay Swinbourne)
Labour Party (Derek Vaughan)
Liberal Democrats (Alec Dauncey)
No2EU (Robert Griffiths)
Plaid Cymru (Jill Evans)
Socialist Labour Party (Andrew Jordan)
Socialist Party GB (Brian Johnson)
United Kingdom Independence Party (Nathan Gill)    

Northern Ireland (each party, including ours, has only submitted one candidate apiece for the 3 STV seats in that EP constituency):
Jim Allister (Traditional Unionist Voice)     
Martina Anderson (Sinn Fein)
Alex Attwood (Social Democratic and Labour Party)
Mark Brotherston (Conservative Party of Northern Ireland)
Diane Dodds (Democratic Unionist Party)
Anna Lo (Alliance Party)
Tina McKenzie (NI21/Aspire to Better)
Jim Nicholson (Ulster Unionist Party)
Henry Reilly (United Kingdom Independence Party)

I wish the best of luck to Kat Boettge, Rupert Read, Jean Lambert, Shirley Ford, Peter Cranie, Keith Taylor, Molly Scott-Cato, Will Duckworth, Andy Cooper, Maggie Chapman (Scottish Greens), Pippa Bartolotti (Welsh Greens), and Ross Brown (Northern Irish Greens) who will be doing their best to help us get more representation in the European Parliament and give Britain a greener voice in Europe :)

Kind regards, Alan.