Monday, December 21, 2009

London Greens advise against contesting Barking

Just got back from the London Federation of Green Parties meeting where we voted to advise Barking and Dagenham Greens not to stand a candidate at the coming General Election and focus their efforts on their local election candidates.

The background to this is that Barking is the only constituency in the country where the British National Party are strong enough to have a fighting chance of winning a seat (although it is certainly not the most likely outcome) and that we have to assess the effects that standing a paper candidate would have on the result.

I'm certainly not of the view that the sky would fall in if Griffin were elected but I am glad that the London Green Party is taking the prospect seriously and has given the matter some serious thought and discussion.

I'm extremely pleased that we voted against a narrow party interest in favour of a more nuanced approach that takes into account the fact that our party in the area is, well, a little on the weak side.

A paper candidate here would be little more than a vanity candidacy and the fact is that we can have our cake and eat it. We can help mobilise voters and give them Greens to vote for in the local elections whilst not risking the outside chance that we could be blamed for 'letting Griffin in'.

Of course, it is still the local party's decision but now London Fed's position is clear it is difficult to see how a very small local party is going to spontaneously find money, candidates and run a democratic selection procedure that would be necessary to stand.

I certainly would not like to see the position where Griffin were elected (which would be bad enough) but for him to win by a margin of 1% where we'd collected 2%. Whether or not we would have been 'responsible' for his victory we would be blamed for it and the damage to our reputation nationally would far outweigh the minuscule gains we might make by standing a paper candidate.

My position might have been different had we a strong party on the ground that could fight its corner and had proven electoral support, but sadly that is not the case here. I think we win the battle of ideas by fighting elections, not just standing in them. A weak and inexperienced party could find itself seriously out of its depth in this constituency and I would not want to see them get hurt.

Pouring resources into a campaign that would make little to no impact makes no sense when those resources could go to the three areas where we may win a seat in Lewisham, Norwich and Brighton.

We can make a genuine contribution to stopping Nasty Nick by standing in the locals, giving people a positive vision and turning out the anti-fascist vote for the parties who have a stronger Parliamentary presence in the constituency. Whatever we do in Barking it will be sideshow compared to the choice most people will be making between the war criminal and the fascist.

11 comments:

Jo Anglezarke said...
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Peter Cranie said...

This is the right decision and I hope local Barking members are not put under pressure to reverse it (they of course have the final say).

We know in the NW the consequences of seeing the far right elected.

Two points. The money that would have been used to fund a deposit / candidacy should still go into supporting the local election campaigning in Barking. It is crucial that at a council level there is an alternative to BNP v Labour.

Secondly, Labour should be on notice that this will be only the time we will do this. We are likely to win MP(s) at the next General Election, so in the one afterwards we would be aiming to contest every seat (we contest every Euro region as we already have Euro MPs). Getting a better candidate than Margaret Hodge for the election after next should be a priority for them.

Jo Anglezarke said...
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Jim Jepps said...

I was just about to reply to Jo and her posts have vanished... odd

Jo Anglezarke said...

It's not odd at all Jim - I changed my mind and wanted to delete them - now I can't restore them or delete my name off completely...very sorry :(

Adrian Windisch said...

I respect the decision, but it does leave Greens who hate Labour in a pickle.

Jim Jepps said...

Well I hope we'll stand local election candidates (at least one per ward), not least to help turn people out - but certainly I would not relish voting for Hodge - or living in Barking come to that!

ModernityBlog said...

Good decision.

Mature.

Given the stakes a worthwhile approach.

But I do echo Jim's sentiment, Margaret Hodge is a terrible, terrible candidate.

You might remind Greens that the consequences of Griffin getting in is a climate change denier in the spot light, and more and more neo-fascist filth on the TV, as programme makers fall over themselves to invite the BNP to "contribute" in a sick spectacle for ratings, and pandering to neo-fascism.

Adrian Windisch said...

So who would you vote for if you lived in Barking? http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/seat-profiles/barking doesnt have a LD and UKIP are worse than Labour. But Hodge? Read this.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1816771.ece

Modernity, there are climate deniers in the LD, Lab and Tories. http://greenreading.blogspot.com/2009/12/politicians-surveyed-on-climate-change.html

ModernityBlog said...

Yeah Adrian, you have, but imagine if Griffin was elected he would have a VERY visable platform to articulate his views, as a leader, as a new MP, etc

And that can't be a good idea, can it?

Red Green Nick said...

Really tough call, Hodge is one of the worst of the New Labour lot, a lot of her statements pander to the racism of Griffin etc..
If there was a substantial, active Green party in the area then perhaps it would be different. In France people had to hold their noses and vote for Chirac, rather than Le Pen a few years ago, this is perhaps a similar situation.
I'd really like to see a decent progressive local stand (Billy Bragg?)but its highly unlikely.
Very depressing choice for the people of Barking.
I think the Green Party makes too much of a fetish about standing full slates, we should judge each case on its merits.