GE2017 First Reactions

GE2017Ok, so my first reaction was raucous laughter but that’s not actually helpful. I was honestly expecting to wake up to a Conservative landslide so you can forgive me for indulging in a good chuckle. Here’s a quick first assessment of the things we now know about this election:

  • Theresa May called this vanity election purely for her own selfish gains and has wasted our time and money and actually destabilised this country’s position in Brexit negotiations. Her own supporters should be fuming.
  • Never take the public for granted. The 20-point lead the Conservatives enjoyed in the polls has been squandered to a lead of just 2 points since the election was called. You cannot run a campaign based entirely on unfounded smears and expect the public to back you, we’re fed up with it.
  • This election was all about May vs. Corbyn and the minority parties (Greens & UKIP) have been crushed as a result. The Greens deserved to make gains, at least in Bristol West, where they threw the kitchen sink at it. But many green-leaning people (myself included) wanted to throw their weight behind Labour to stop a Tory landslide. We’ll survive, UKIP won’t.
  • The SNP were always going to get fewer seats than last time (56/59 is unsustainable) but they took a massive unexpected blow in this election losing 21 seats. However, 35 out of 59 is still a landslide by most standards and in many of the seats snatched by the Tories the combined left-wing vote would have defeated them. The Conservatives can absolutely not take Scotland for granted.
  • The polls have been all over the place in this election, but Survation called it with three separate polls predicting a ~1 point lead in the last week. Well done you guys. If we can ever trust polls again, the pollsters are going to have to start reading the mood of the nation properly instead of lumping people into lazy, ill-defined groups.
  • Labour absolutely must back proportional representation. They got 40% of the vote, and 40% of the seats, which is quite amazing for FPTP voting. However the Conservatives, have 48% of the seats on 42% of the vote. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but the likely outcome is now a CON-DUP coalition, which would have been numerically impossible if the seats were fairly distributed.

    At the time of writing the total seats are as follows:
    CON 315, LAB 261, SNP 35, LD 12, DUP 10, SF 7, PC 4, GRN 1

    when under Party-list PR or AMS the results could be:
    CON 276 (-39), LAB 261 (-), SNP 20 (-15), LD 47 (+35), DUP 6 (-4), SF 5 (-2), PC 3 (-1), GRN 10 (+9), UKIP 12 (+12), SDLP 2 (+2), UUP 2 (+2), OTH 6 (+6).

    It doesn’t take a maths whiz to figure out that under PR we’d be seeing either a minority-right wing or minority-left wing government with confidence and supply from the Liberal Democrats.

    To anyone who hates the idea of disorder that may sound like a nightmare, but it’s better for democracy if parties have to reach a compromise to push their agenda through parliament. One of the reasons we British are so fed up with politics is that we have yo-yo governments who lurch from left to right forcing a hardened agenda on a population that doesn’t fully support it.

  • Even with a possible right-wing, hard Brexit coalition of the Conservatives and the DUP, Theresa May is now extremely unlikely to be able to force through her most unpopular and damaging policies. Unless there is an election re-run, you can hopefully kiss goodbye to a free vote on the return of fox hunting, draconian internet regulation and repeal of our fundamental human rights.
  • In Kingswood, our hard work paid off a little but not enough (I was backing Labour rather than the Greens this time around). Sadly Mhairi Threlfall couldn’t take away Chris Skidmore’s seat, but we did boost Labour’s vote share and I’d like to think we helped the Labour surge at a national level.
  • Finally, I know Labour hasn’t exactly won this election, but it feels like a victory for the left after two years of non-stop smears from the press. Some of the coverage of Labour and Jeremy Corbyn has bordered on incitement to hatred and I take great pleasure in seeing the stranglehold of the tabloids slowly weakening. Also, huge belly-laughs to all those right-wing blowhards swaggering about saying “Labour and the left are finished forever”. Mate, we’ve only just started.

Full results / election coverage on the BBC.

It’s time for change, vote for a compassionate UK

Five PartiesGoing into this snap election we have seven years of proof that Conservative Party policy has made Britain a worse place to live. We have all the facts and all the figures we need to know that spending cuts aren’t working. We need to invest in Britain.

Since 2010, homelessness is up, child poverty is up, foodbank use has gone through the roof. Disabled people, young people, poor people have all been hit hard by massive cuts to their benefits. Real-terms wages in the UK are lagging behind most other developed economies. Front-line police numbers have been cut by around 20,000 – so have armed forces personnel. The NHS is in crisis and fire departments are struggling. Libraries, youth clubs and sure start centers are having to close down because councils can’t afford to keep them open. All this and the national debt is twice as high as it was seven years ago, standing at £1.8 trillion.

By almost any standard you might choose to measure the success of a country, we are failing. Britain is a proud, tolerant and compassionate country. We help those who are down on their luck and we expect them to help us back. We’re facing a choice on June 8th between a Conservative government who have failed, on their own terms, to pay down this country’s debt without harming the British people, and a Labour party who, although they may be unpopular, are committed to delivering a fairer society for everyone.

Don’t get drawn into the politics of personality on June 8th, vote for a fair and compassionate United Kingdom. It’s time for change.

What would stop you from voting Conservative?

This post isn’t intended to be a whinge or a moan, I’m genuinely curious to get some feedback here. If you’re thinking of voting Conservative on June 8th, whether you’re a lifelong supporter or a floating voter, is there anything the opposition parties could do to change your mind?

This week the scale of (alleged) Conservative electoral fraud became more apparent, some of Theresa May’s top staffers quit, and she launched her election campaign in a series of Tory-safe locations while refusing to talk to journalists. Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour have been getting out on doorsteps announcing bold new policies like a £10 minimum wage and four new “patriotic” bank holidays.

The result is that the Conservatives have now extended their lead in the polls and a whopping 50% of people are planning to vote for them on June 8th according to ComRes. A couple of polls even suggested that they could win a chunk of seats from the SNP in the liberal-left safe haven of Scotland.

I know my brand of politics isn’t popular in the UK at the moment, I’m under no illusion that people agree with me a great deal, but I do have a fairly good understanding of the Conservatives’ record over the last seven years and the kind of issues people tell me they care about locally (libraries, hospitals, their childrens’ education etc).

This is a genuine question to people who are considering voting Conservative: Are there any policies the opposition parties could offer, or anything the Conservatives could do badly, that would change your vote? Please Tweet me your answers @GreenDanJ or send them to me on my Facebook page. I won’t argue or debate, I’m here to listen and learn.

See also: The effects of Conservative policy from 2010-2017

A report from #Greens2017

Introduction

Global Greens Congress was without doubt one of the best weekends of my life. A coming together of compassionate, hard-working greens from across the globe with a shared passion for green politics. Hearing some of the struggles faced by our friends in other countries, in some cases putting themselves in mortal danger to promote the green cause, really gives our campaigning in England & Wales a new perspective.

Meeting so many people from across the planet with shared goals really brought home the feeling that we have far more in common than that which divides us.

Green Party of England and Wales conference ran efficiently alongside the Global Greens Congress and we managed to pass some really important changes to our policies and organisational structure.

National Policy Changes

All five of the accredited C motions brought to conference were passed by the attendees, as were many of the non-accredited E motions. This means there are a lot of policy changes to take note of so be sure to brush up on PSS!

The headline changes are as follows:

  • The Green Party is now calling for an animal abusers register similar to the ViSOR register to protect animals from abusive owners. We will also seek to redefine “pest control” and protect vertebrates from unnecessary suffering.
  • It is now officially Green Party policy to defend the EU’s single market, encouraging green-minded reform of the trade area. We are also calling on the government to protect EU environmental regulations, the right to free movement and migrants’ rights as we leave the EU. Finally on this point, we are calling for a ratification referendum at the end of the negotiation process to ensure that this is still what the public wants.
  • Our intersex rights policy has finally been updated to give intersex people the support they need from the Green Party. This comes after the issue has failed to be heard at the last few conferences and is a welcome update to PSS.

Organisational Changes

Conference D motions allow for changes to internal party organisation. Without a doubt the biggest and most controversial discussion in this respect has been the idea of progressive alliances. Conference passed a motion over the weekend to officially support the idea of progressive alliances and lay out a kind of framework to help local parties (and the media) understand what is meant by “progressive alliance”. From the point of view of a local party, not much has actually changed. Local members will still decide whether or not to stand a candidate in a given seat.

Motions were also passed to update our subscription rates and capitations, to facilitate the selection of a more diverse range of candidates, and to allow the party to become a limited liability entity.

What does this all mean for South Glos?

When campaigning locally in South Gloucestershire we should now be aware of the party’s official position on the EU, which may be a huge talking point on the doorstep. We also now have a clearer idea of the scope of “progressive alliances” and how we can pursue them in consultation with the national party. Not much else changes for us locally, so we can concentrate on getting on with our dedicated activism and turning South Glos Green!

What does this mean for South West Young Greens?

We should be aware that the SWYG committee may now be a point of access for Young Greens wishing to pursue the idea of progressive alliances and liaise with us on that. SWYGs can also be confident that pro-European activism is now in keeping with party policy and use that fact to better develop our campaigns.

Summary

GPEW conference was pretty straightforward. Almost every motion that was heard passed without controversy, but there were a few moments of drama as passions ran high. But for me the weekend will always be about the Global Greens Congress. The ties we share with our green friends all over the world are unbreakable. We are strong, we are compassionate and we are willing to do what is right for people and planet. GGC has given me a weekend I’ll never forget and I’d like to thank all the wonderful people I met in Liverpool for making this such an exciting and uplifting event.

Time to flood the Conservatives with NHS pleas

The NHS has hit crisis point. It’s no longer enough to stand idly by while the Conservatives deliberately run down our most precious institution, praying that it survives until someone else gets into power. People forget how powerful writing can be and it’s time to utilise it now. Use WriteToThem to write to your local Conservative MP, MEPs and Councillors about the NHS crisis.

If you have a Conservative MP, it is likely that they are fully aware of the situation in the NHS and have actively contributed in government to the deliberate underfunding, understaffing and ultimate privatisation of the service. However, the Conservative majority in the house of commons is vulnerable, and there are some decent and compassionate Conservatives in there who would enjoy an excuse to rebel against Theresa May’s whip. Be firm but polite and try to use some personal instance of NHS issues in your local constituency to tug on their heart strings.

MEPs and Councillors are less heavily whipped into line by their party than their Westminster counterparts. There are many long-serving Conservative councillors who genuinely want to do the best for their communities and aren’t driven by blind faith in the free market. These people have more power than they realise, and you should write to them encouraging them to stand down their party colors and sit as an independent to send a message to the Conservatives in central government.

2017 is a year that we can no longer wait for the opposition to take a stand. It’s a year that we have to organise as ordinary, decent people to protect our vital public services. And you can start by telling your representatives exactly how you feel. I’m off to do it right now.