May 10, 2015 11 Comments
|Robert Howes||Liberal Democrat||247||5.6%|
About fifteen years ago I left the Labour Party for about a year and joined the Green Party. A year later I was back with Labour. When I tell people this I am usually asked why I left. The simple answer was that I became involved in politics to effect change. The Green Party will change nothing, whereas Labour does achieve power and therefore can change things.
I left Labour not because I wanted far-left politics – the Green Party in those days was a purely an environmental lobbying group. I left because something had made me cross with Labour. This happens from time to time; even a loyalist like myself finds themselves irritated. Labour is a broad coalition across the centre-left and compromises have to be made. It cannot please everyone all the time. But it is the best vehicle we have for social justice, equality, etc.
Of course the Green Party is entitled to stand candidates. But their supporters must understand that actions have consequences. Until we have electoral reform, something the Greens argue for (and incidentally, I am a member of the ERS – are any of the Greens in Southend?), we have a first past the post system. In Milton ward this simply means that it is either Labour or the Conservatives that can win.
Last year the Green vote in Kursaal saw a UKIP councillor elected. This year, in Milton, it was the Tories who benefited.
What triumph for environmentalism is it to see Jonathan Garston secure another four years in the council chamber? Jonathan, who wanted a coach park in Warrior Square (thankfully stopped by Labour in the Joint Administration); Jonathan, who held the Planning portfolio under the previous Conservative administration that saw overcrowding and ugly development in the town centre. What has Jonathan done for the poorest in the town, or the vulnerable? Where is his voice for equality? His is a Green triumph, yet he answers none of the questions that the Greens want answering.
I doubt that many Green activist will agree with my analysis, or particularly care. Theirs was as much an anti-Labour message as anything.
Gray was an excellent candidate who worked very hard. Unlike the Greens, who seemed content to post images of themselves in the pub on social media on polling day, Gray spent long hours on the doorstep. He got Labour’s best ever vote, and was beaten by the Tories best ever vote. Fifty-one votes separated Gray from the council chamber. Compare this 51 with the 476 achieved by the Greens.
Of course, it may be somewhat presumptuous to assume that Green supporters would normally back Labour. However, I know some of these Green voters, and I do not see any former Tories amongst them.
Vote Green get blue may be a lazy soundbite, but in Milton, in this year, at this election, it has a ring of truth.