Wednesday, August 18, 2010

They do things different in Norwich

I spent this weekend canvassing and leafleting for the Norwich Greens who are involved in a monster council by-election with every council seat up for grabs. Currently the Greens are neck and neck with Labour on nine councillors each and we *could* see history made on September the 9th if the Greens become the largest group on council.

They do things different in Norwich mind. Almost the first thing I saw after getting off the train was the DFC chicken joint. DFC? Where could chicken come from if not Kentucky? Diss I suppose. Later in the, very good, Fusion 'oriental restaurant' we got a fortune cookie at the end of the meal. I think I'd last seen one of those in the eighties.

Mind you it's also been sometime since a waitress winked at me, so I'm keen to go back.

On to the work. Sent off to canvass I began to suspect we'd covered this area more than once, not just because ours were the only window posters I saw all day but also because of things like this post box message;

Well, obviously our leaflets aren't junk mail but I think this message probably does stop the flow of our right on mailings.

I was then accosted by three drunk guys two of whom were trying to get the other one to give them a piggyback by climbing on their rather reluctant friend. They set eyes on my rosette and shouted "Greens!" which obviously filled me with joy.

I was told if I took part in a piggyback race to the pub round the corner they'd vote for us. Dear reader, not only did I win that race but by a handy twenty meter margin. All those years of treating my body as a temple has paid off. You wont get the party suits doing that sort of thing!

It was a nice area with its own mural project courtesy of the local anarchists. I think my favourite was this one, which is a real addition to the community.

When they are not advocating smiling they put the case for riots. Now, "riot to work" has yet to be adopted as Green Party policy but I think what it lacks in a nuanced understanding of today's economic situation it more than makes up for in heart.

Although the people of Norwich were a friendly bunch it is a very different place than London. For instance on the Saturday I literally only saw one black person and, I kid you not, he was being searched by the police. I don't think the Norfolk constabulary have got up to speed with our modern ways.

Possible institutional racism aside I do approve of the van we spotted for Dick Cann, the singing plasterer. While the quality of plastering is guaranteed the quality of singing is not. Brilliant! I hope he's getting lots of work, although possibly not next door to me.

I was intrigued by the opposition literature which goes out of its way to attack the Greens. This makes Norwich the envy of a great many Green groups round the country who find it bloody difficult to get themselves slated by the other parties.

However, one thing that did catch my eye is that both Lib Dems and Labour had graphs countering Green 'lies'. The irony being that both graphs are deliberately designed to deceive the public.

Labour's is hilarious. Their 'by-election special' tells us not to be 'tricked by the Green Party' in the forthcoming council vote accompanied by a graph of how many MPs there are in Parliament! What - the - Sam - Hill - are - they - smoking?

I know that now Labour have gone from both MPs in Norwich at the last election to both being Tories this time (although one's in the Lib Dems of course) so they're probably quite focused on Parliament but this doesn't actually demonstrate a good understanding of what election will be taking place in September - but maybe they do know that and are actually trying to 'trick' the electorate, no, they wouldn't do that.

The Lib Dem's one is slightly more painful in that it is based on something a bit more relevant. They make the point that we fought to win the Norwich South and in fact came fourth (a good fourth but fourth none the less). It was disappointing that we 'only' doubled our vote and while we're still in a good position for these elections it's a fair point they are trying to make, and that's inconvenient to us.

Sadly they choose to make that point in a completely dishonest way with a typical Lib Dem graph. The irony of being accused of being liars next to a graph that a) makes it appear that getting more than half the LD vote was actually less than a third of it and b) where they deliberately narrow the width of the Green's bar making the under height column appear less substantial than it actually is.

Anyone who's read How to Lie with Statistics will know that these are deliberate techniques, that cannot happen by accident, where you want to deceive the reader into thinking your statistics say something they do not.

I suppose I should be grateful that they've made their point in such a dishonest way, undermining their point. Mind you, after disappointing so many left leaning Lib Dem voters with their coalition they aren't going to be much of a problem anyway when trying to build on their pitiful four councillors on the council.

So, all in all, it was quite an exciting weekend jam packed full of urban fitness, friendly conversations on the doorstep, lovely meals and enormous bags of leafleting.

Norwich Greens have produced a great little video as part of their campaign which is worth watching and then passing on but most importantly if you're able to help out with the effort to become the first ever council with the Greens as the largest group then you should get yourself to Norwich .


weggis said...

I love that letterbox.

Anonymous said...

Norwich isn't like London - thank god, that's why I moved here!