Thursday, June 18, 2009

Two bye-elections

There are two Parliamentary bye-elections coming up, both of which will have a national profile and both of which are extremely good terrain for the Greens.

Glasgow North East will be voting to replace speaker Martin and Norwich North will be replacing Labour's Ian Gibson. These elections will have very different dynamics but both are more than touched by the expenses scandal so expect this to be an important factor in both.

Two weeks ago the votes for the polling districts covering these areas looked like this;



Labour 30.58%
Greens 25.04%
SNP 27.75%
Conservatives 17.53%
Greens 9.94%
Labour 16.74%
Conservatives 8.49%
Lib Dems 14.98%
Lib Dems 7.08%
UKIP 12.32%
UKIP 3.79%
BNP 4.67%
BNP 3.23%
Socialist Labour 1.52%
Socialist Labour 3.06%
English Democrats 1.45%
Scottish Socialist Party 1.72%
Christians 1.31%
No2EU 1.57%
Animals count 1.02%
Christians 1.45%
Libertas 0.70%
Independent 0.49%
No2EU 0.66%
Jury Team 0.42%
Independent 0.51%

Jury Team 0.24%

Of course, I need to point out that these figures take in a wider area than the specific Parliamentary seat in question.

In Norwich in particular we are weaker in the north than the south (although this actually means our chances of winning the Norwich South seat at the General is looking very, very good). However we did just win two county council seats in the North so we can expect to get a respectable vote, although I don't think we can win either (SNP and Tory wins are my predictions).

What I do think though is that whipping the Lib Dems and Tories/Labour in both elections would look very good for us and is certainly possible many local Labour members feel the Party has treated Gibson very poorly and they will find it hard to mobilise support.

If you want to help support the Glasgow campaign (either financially or on the ground) email here. You can check out Norwich Greens here.


peter said...

Craig Murray is apparently standing in Norwich North. My guess is that an independent like him would have more chance of winning the by-election than the greens.

It would be interesting if the norwich greens were to endorse craig murray, and then use their activists to get his leaflets out (or their own leaflets endorsing him).

If he won, he could then make a big deal of how important the greens were to his victory, and they would then get kudos as the kingmakers of the election. That would assist greatly in the council and general elections next year.

If the Greens stand, they won't win - perhaps they'd come third.

"Greens were the key to victory" is a much better post-election message than "Greens lose again"

ModernityBlog said...

Wouldn't it be better if the Greens (or someone else) talked to all non-three Party potential candidates and agreed not to split the anti-Tory/anti-new Labour vote?

Less pandering to the egos of the independents and more co-ordination might help the Greens to win.

Jim Jay said...

I like Craig Murray and if the local Greens backed him I'd find that very exciting - but Craig wont win (nor will the Greens incidentally) and if they stand against each other the Greens *will* outpoll Craig so whilst I agree with part of what you're saying Peter I don't think Craig has enough oomph to actually carry the constituency.

However, I'm actually someone who likes the idea of a movement of progressive forces and I love the idea that a suitable independent could be backed by a whole range of left/progressive types including the Greens. That would be great and I'd like the Greens to be part of that.

In Glasgow I know the local party is throwing the net wide in looking for its candidate (who only needs to be a party member at the time of selection) but I don't get the sense that there is much else bubbling under in coming to a unity candidate - I hope I'm wrong and I'm sure Glasgow Greens will be open to that as long as those approaches are made quickly and have some seriousness to them.

Norwich is slightly different because we've got a good chance of coming second and have a massive activist base in the city. An independent candidate would have to be pretty substantial for it to make sense to stand down there.

Norwich North may not be the strongest part of the city but we have real social forces.

In summary: I think Greens should be very open to unity / independent candidates who are broadly on our wavelength but if that doesn't happen it wont be ego that sees us stand but rather the fact we have a political base in both cities.

Obviously it is up to the local parties in both cases, not me!

Strategist said...

Peter, I'm a big Craig Murray fan but I disagree with your idea, and have posted on his site with this point of view. I also note that Craig himself has nowhere asked the Greens or anybody else to step down. (Craig, formerly a president of the Young Liberals in the 1970s, tried to run against the Jack Straw for the LibDems, but the leadership wouldn't have it - their days of risk taking and running independent-minded and colourful candidates are long gone.)

ModernityBlog, I'm also opposed to your idea that the likes of Craig should stand down to give the Greens a free run.

IMHO, what's needed in Norwich North at this time is a big chaotic classic by-election with tons of candidates tearing round shaking the place up a bit, and stimulating a public debate.

Given the Tories have got to be favourites, I see this by-election being about persuading the Great English public to ask themselves the following question: yes we know it's high time to kick out Labour, but are we so sure that it's such a good idea to gift the government of this country to an obvious shyster like David Cameron?

So the rainbow candidates need to concentrate withering fire on the Tories, not shoot at each other. This is what will impress and attract the former Labour voters here.

The voters all understand tactical voting and are perfectly capable of seeing which of the non-Tory non-NuLabour candidates have got a decent bandwagon rolling, whether that be Craig Murray, the Greens or the dreaded FibDems with their dodgy barcharts and grim-faced local focus team.

Strategist said...

"I'm actually someone who likes the idea of a movement of progressive forces and I love the idea that a suitable independent could be backed by a whole range of left/progressive types including the Greens."

At risk of instantly contradicting my previous post, obviously part of me loves this idea too.

But who could it be? (I hope you'd draw the line at Esther Rantzen.)

(Sadly) it has to be a celeb off the telly, a figure who people feel they already know & trust.

Martin Bell (a Norfolk man I believe, as it happens) was the perfect archetype. But he's getting on a bit now.

It's very tough to think who else would be right for the job.

I get as far as Jarvis Cocker, and then give up.

Mac said...

Not wanting to split hairs, but Michael Martin's constituency is Glasgow North East, not Glasgow North

Jim Jay said...

Thanks Mac - split away - post duly corrected.

Martin Bell was a local man and when he stood in the last Euros (04) he did very well indeed for an independent - pinching some of our vote - or maybe we pinched his.

I doubt he'd stand - I'm also not sure if the white suit thing is quite the right tone for this considering the way many people see Gibson as a victim rather than personally corrupt (although I think he was bang out of order, just not in Blears league).

I doubt anything could be done for these elections - but we *do* have time for the general so if there are proper candidates to support (rather than just ego-trips) I think many greens and those on the left would be keen to support them.

Strategist said...

"if there are proper candidates to support (rather than just ego-trips)..."

Any ideas, Jim?

Too many of our public intellectuals lack the common touch and most celebs are too shrewd to get involved in the long & grubby slog of actual politics.

Jim Jay said...

For the general - here are some thoughts...

There are some people who I'd like to see get a 'clear run' who are members of parties already. Salma Yaqoob would be an example of that.

Of non-party people... I rather like the Blenau Gwent / Kiddeminster model of taking a very well rooted person from the area - so these would be harder to identify if you're not in the area, but I'd like to see more of those sorts.

As to Celebs. I think you need a serious touch which makes journalists very well suited, it's hard to find people who are coherent enough so you need to accept they might be a bit 'looser' politically.

Anna Ford would be good, she's very leftist / feminist in her politics. Newsnightman Paul Mason would be a great candidate. Monbiot of course has the required weight.

Emma Thompson would be good in London, somewhere. Joanna Lumley would have to go somewhere uber posh! Alexei Sayle would be insane but fun - Jeremy Hardy much sounder.

Bill Bailey of course is excellent - he could team up with Billy Bragg in a nearby constituency.

Talking of singers - what about Annie Lennox?

I also like the look of Ben Goldacre, Benjamin Zephaniah, Attila the stockbroekr, Bea Campbell OBE, Germaine Greer (?!?), lord there's probably loads of obvious people I can't think of!

Then there's trade unionists, and ex-Labour...

This is all fantasy of course.

ModernityBlog said...

ha ha, forget fantasy football.

Why not have fantasy political parties or election slates :)

Strategist said...

Yep, it's the perfect application of a blog forum for political dorks like me!

Thanks for your list, Jim. I totally agree about Salma, and I hope that would extend that to George Galloway as well.

I agree that TV journalists are good (the Bell model); comedy panel show regulars is also good - look where it got Boris (it was HIGNFY wot won it).

As to your celebs, Paul Mason'd be my ideal candidate (fantasy football only), Anna Ford interesting idea - and has mass recognition in a way that George Monbiot don't (who knows she was engaged for a spell to an astronaut who actually walked on the moon?)

Panel show regulars - Bill Bailey big yes, Jeremy Hardy sadly no (Radio 4 just doesn't cut it). Germaine Greer would be just brilliant.

If Joanna Lumley would stand as a Green candidate that would be just fantastic. I disagree that it has to be somewhere posh (everybody likes a bit of uber-posh, she'd probably walk it even in Salford) but, having said that, Hampstead & Kilburn would be absolutely ideal for her, or Emma Thompson.

Summing up, it's the slightly older ladies that seem to best combine appeal & likelihood of being interested. Which is an interesting idea in itself, the macho jerkoffs of the City & Westminster have fucked it up, give the women a go. In fact, I think they made a TV drama about that very idea.

Strategist said...

I would like to add the two Marks (Steel & Thomas) to the all-female list of progressive unity candidates.

As honorary females, or after the op if necessary.

It's about time those guys had a try out as candidates. A by-election like Norwich North would be perfect.

Jim Jay said...

This is the way to go!

Mr Steel had a go before in Croyden for the London Assembly - not sure what % he got but I think it was alright. He's better known now and might benefit from being an 'independent'.

You're probably right about the Lumley / posh nexus...

I'm going to see your Thomas / Steel and raise you Oliver James (clinical psychologist and fantastic ranter). I want to add in Thierry Henry (for Parliament not pitch) but not sure if he'd be allowed to stand.

ModernityBlog said...

I can't really understand the continued fawning admiration that Galloway evokes.

I would have thought that after his vain self-promotion on Big Bro 3 years back, that most should have seen thru him then

Still, later on with the Respect split, more became apparent.

Even more recently making rather dodgy comments about Gays executed in Iran, at that point the penny should have dropped for most half way sensible people

Finally, with his bizarre support for the status quo in Iran in the last week. All of that should really revealed Galloway's priorities.

Douglas Coker said...

Hhhmm! Bit wary of all this support for independents. With the very odd exception the voter does not really know what they are going to get.

Of course some interesting names mentioned but should not the GP be asking the most progressive and green to join the GP?

And I couldn't help noticing Ian Jack, in his Gdn column on Saturday, saying he votes Green. Recruit him?


Strategist said...

Jim, I'll see your Oliver James and raise you a Professor Simon Baron Cohen.

Jim Jay said...

Douglas: I think I'm easy about whether people are in the Greens or not - as long as the relationship is clear (we're responsible for people who are, and we aren;t tfor those who aren't)

Not sure I know who Ian Jack is, although obviously, anyone who wants to join the Greens is welcome - but what about those who are good people who for one reason or another don't want a Green Party card?

I think we need to be at least a little flexible.

Strategist: If we're going for academics I shall summon up... Dr Pamela Stevenson!

Strategist said...

Like it Jim, get her on the list.

But not Griff Rhys-Jones, I don't like him.

Now, getting back to panel show regulars, which is the key source in this game, how about - I know you're already a fan - David Mitchell?

Jim Jay said...

I think it's reasonable to say that I regard Mitchell as a living god and would move to any area he choose to stand in in order to help with his campaign and possibly win the change to touch the hem of his garment.

What about Steve Bell? He could do all the posters so you'd get two for the price of one.

Strategist said...

Here's the campaign video for the Jarvis Cocker candidacy:

(Apologies if it was actually on this blog where I first saw this, and you have posted it before)

PS At risk of inflaming the usual debate about use of the "c" word being a hate crime against women... it occurs to me that if the plan for an all-female celeb electoral slate were to be a success, there would still remain the risk that this song's thesis would hold true...

Jim Jay said...

Bye-election number three?

Jim Devine (oh the headline possibilities!) is the MP for Livingstone and is threatening to 'do a Gibson' after he's been ousted by Labour for claiming for thousands of pounds of work done by a company that does not exist.

This is Robin Cook's old seat.

Read his voting record if you dare

You can read the last bye-election results here,_2005

Strategist said...

This is an interesting one.

Ian Gibson's case was that he was being "hung out to dry" because whatever expenses peccadillo they nailed him on was an excuse to get rid of a member of the awkward squad.

Jim Devine appears to be classic loyal Scots lobby fodder, seeing his job as backing Brown on student fees, privatisations in England etc, as long as they keep sending the money up to Scotland. And, if he can put a few bob the way of his hard-pressed local pub landlord while he's at it, where's the crime in that?

I have no doubt that the Labour hierarchy has an ulterior motive, possibly no more than revenge for him not being the candidate they wanted for the 2005 by-election.

So all credit to him for not going quietly. Because what would be a safe seat at the General Election is probably under severe threat from the SNP at a by-election, possibly to the extent of Labour having to defraud the vote to survive, as they are widely considered to have done at Glenrothes.

So all credit