Milton

Jonathan Garston Conservative 1709 38.9%
Gray Sergeant Labour 1658 37.8%
Vida Mansfield Green 476 10.9%
Tammy Cooper Independent 295 6.7%
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.

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11 Responses to Milton

  1. Rob Brown says:

    They are also bloody useless.

  2. So do you advocate Labour standing down in Conservative-UKIP marginals, Conservative-Liberal marginals (which may reappear) or the SNP-Liberal marginal for fear that they might interfere in a private fight?

    Vote Green get blue
    Vote Red get Purple
    Vote Red get Blue

  3. Of course if Labour had not stood in all those Tory-Liberal marginals in the early twentieth century things would be so much better? But they recognised that the working class was ill served by two essentially paternalistic parties and that there was a need for a new force to renew a stale politics.

    Roll on 100 years …

    Do you blame 51 people who positively chose to vote Green, or the party that failed to inspire 51 of it supporters sufficiently to turn out?

  4. Steve Hill says:

    I’m not a member of the Green party, nor did I vote Green in the general election. However… Labour had 13 years to effect electoral reform and did nothing, this year’s Labour manifesto doesn’t mention anything about electoral reform. Its interesting to see Labour doing nothing about the First Past The Post system when it benefited them, and then complaining about it when it does not.

  5. This Labour activist is a long-standing member of the Electoral Reform Society, as well as a member of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform. Whilst you may have a point as regards to Labour as a whole, you do not when it comes to me. However, you miss the point; in a first past the post system a Green vote can mean a Tory gets elected.

  6. Whilst acknowledging the fact that you do not hide your support for electoral reform, this post is most unfortunate.

    In any FPTP election you can argue that third fourth and fifth party votes could affect the result. But you would only argue this if you are willing to promote the implication that they should not stand – because “doing so distorts the result”.

    To argue that only the two leading party’s candidates should stand (in order to prevent the sort of distortions that have got your wick) is profoundly undemocratic and typical of the elitist attitude of the two big parties that they are somehow “entitled” to represent the people (even if they have to take it turn and turn about). People vote for third, fourth and fifth parties in the full knowledge that their vote is unlikely to have an affect, but also because the two elitist parties have failed to gain their support. Blaming those voters for your defeat is unlikely to make them support you next time round.

    At the beginning of the last century it was the Tories and the old Liberal Party that had these attitudes – yet Labour dared to stand, and in due course broke through when voters realised that the two old parties had been taking them for granted (and the franchise was extended).

    FPTP means that people get elected on minority votes and that smaller minorities (representing about a third of those voting) are almost totally excluded. You cannot argue that the “solution” to this is for the excluded third to never stand candidates.

    But where an administration is elected on a minority of the vote and propose policies that opposed by the majority there should be vigorous public opposition.
    At parliamentary level
    – £12bn Welfare Cuts – NOT IN OUR NAME
    – Tax cuts for the rich – NOT IN OUR NAME
    – Bedroom Tax – NOT IN OUR NAME
    – Fracking – NOT IN OUR NAME
    – Redrawing constituency boundaries – NOT IN OUR NAME

    We should make it socially unacceptable to use a false majority (one not backed by a majority) to push through a programme that does not have majority support.

  7. Steve Hill says:

    I’m afraid I made the decision a long time ago to never participate in tactical voting – voting for a party who has bad policies in order to keep out another party that has bad policies simply guarantees that the country will be ruled by bad policies.

    I find the idea that I must vote for a right wing party (Labour) in order to keep out a more right wing party (Conservatives) to be extremely undemocratic.

  8. I am not normally described as right-wing, and neither is my fellow ward councillor. Yet the Conservative who was re-elected is right-wing. I think you have to be aware of the mechanics and circumstances of where and how you vote. Nonetheless, roll on reform!

  9. Rob Brown says:

    The story that risks being missed because I hate the Greens so much is that Gray ran a huge campaign. The swing from 2010 to 2015 had to be one of the highest in the borough this is down to the work of Julian, Cheryl, Gray and others as well as a Tory implosion in Southend.

    Whilst they won in the context of the election Garston clearly has something of a negative personal vote in Milton and the Labour team must have been taking votes from areas one wouldn’t expect.

    Julian, I make you favourite in defending your seat that I hope you will and I know you will not shirk the hard work required to do this.

    Well done Milton Labour.

  10. Pingback: The Southend Green performance | Julian's musings

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