Vote Green get Tory??

It was so unnecessary, but we may have handed the election to the Conservatives. Others will rightly point out the many positives of this result. The Party has made a good enough showing to form the basis for future progress. Caroline increased her majority and there is a healthy crop of second places. Things could have been a lot worse. And although the damage is done, it can and must be repaired well before the next election.

But look at the results in Bedford, Bury North, Croydon Central, Gower, Lewes, Morley & Outwood, Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, Telford, and Weaver Vale. In each of these nine constituencies, the Green vote was larger than the Conservative majority over Labour. Vince Cable’s loss to the Conservatives in Twickenham was also narrower than the Green vote. The Green Party has set out its stall as an anti-austerity left wing party, which will have taken votes primarily from Labour. If all ten seats had gone the other way, the Conservatives would have been eight short of an overall majority.

There are mitigating factors. Is my premiss correct? As readers of this blog will be aware, I believe it is much nearer the truth than it should be, but I shall return to this aspect in a moment when discussing what now? Some will say that Labour are no better. Not much, but the SNP and Plaid Cymru are, and they would have been players. But what about the large UKIP vote? So what ? They have made a much better fist of taking votes from both sides than the Greens, and may even have caused Conservative gains. But the UKIP vote is what it is. That does not affect the possibility that the Greens may have changed the outcome. It is probable that some of the Green votes would not have been cast at all. This was an exceptionally heavy poll. In 42 years of visiting Polling Stations, I have never before seen queues of that length at 7pm or 8.30. (I was only 10 in 1945, so I didn’t go electioneering with my Common Wealth dad). But in at least three of the 10 constituencies, the Tory majority is tiny as compared with the size of the Green vote. Perhaps we are only responsible for 6 of that overall majority of 12, so the disaster may not be our fault after all.

The low overall Green poll of 3.8% is obviously due to the huge number of constituencies where we were starting from cold. But the bench mark for me remains the 1989 European Election. That was a first full slate nationally, and to all intents and purposes it was starting from cold in most areas. The 1.15 million this time still has to be measured against the 2.3 million then, mostly in Conservative areas. In 1989, everybody thought of the Greens as a single issue – the environment. The well heeled thought saving the planet for future generations was more important than where next week’s rent and food was coming from, and nobody had told them that sustainablity was inseparable from reducing inequality – world wide as well as locally. They still have not been told that. This election could have been used for that purpose, with the Basic Income as a key element.

It would only require a success rate of 2% – 400 Conservatives switching to Green from every 20,000 to have not only reversed three of the above results, but saved  several deposits where we only missed doing so by a whisker. I have trawled through 162 seats (25%). 132 were contested by Greens, 29 deposits saved, and I have identified 16 where we would have saved the deposit if this had happened.  This is not an idea culled from thin air. Those 2.29 million 1989 Green voters took threats to the global environment seriously, but had not made the connection to fairness. Is recovering a tiny proportion so unrealistic?

I have to reiterate the three reasons I think the Basic Income is pivotal: to make a recession feasible, to ‘make work pay’ where the Universal Credit has failed, and to form the basis for a reconciliation between former enemies. What the Green Party must now do could have been done in this election campaign: to approach Conservatives more in sorrow than in anger. Without sacrificing any principles and retaining all the support we have achieved, it is possible to approach Conservatives who do have a sense of fair play, and who can see the logic of saving the planet for their grandchildren, the price being a less unequal society, in other words higher taxation from them. If insisting on less inequality makes us rabid commies, then we are rabid commies, but it could have been projected as “Please, we only want redistribution to the extent necessary to give everyone security whilst saving the environment ” rather than “We are coming to get you greedy b. . . s”, as the Daily Telegraph successfully portrayed us.

I am more sad than angry, but my Basic Income briefings were not mentioned on Green Activist, or did I miss the email? Only 69 hits on that page, where if there are 60,000 Green members there should have been at least 50,000 hits. One intriguing ray of hope is that my take on how the Basic Income is relevant to immigration (25th April 2014) has received 530 hits, with a recent surge. The absence of recent comments makes it difficult to know whether readers agree or not, but we could have made unquantifiable inroads into that UKIP tally, without sacrificing anything.

I often use Johnny Void blogs. I find them invaluable. But he supports Class War, which put up a handful of candidates which I doubt reached 1,000 votes between them. But the devastating evidence he provides should be a part of the Green Party case for the Basic Income  as ushering in a totally new approach: persuasion instead of force. There are Conservatives who would have been uneasy about food banks proliferating as a direct result of Iain Duncan Smith’s sanctions and workfare regime if the case had been put in the way I would have liked.

Never mind, there is always next time , but we must start now.

11 responses to “Vote Green get Tory??

  1. I am not sure what you are saying–that the Green Party should not have put forward candidates because those votes ensured the Tories a majority? Surely not… I cannot vote in the UK (although I am a citizen) because I do not have a permanent address there–but if I were still there, I would continue to vote Green whenever possible.

    Here, in the US, where I can also vote, being a dual national, there is no one to vote for: the minority parties are the Tea Party, the Libertarians, and other looney far right candidates who do not represent me. And, although I force my self to vote Democrat, I am under no illusion that their loyalties lie any less than the Republicans’ with corporate interests. You at least have a few candidates whose principles you believe in. There are no Green candidates anywhere on my U.S. ballot at any level. Lucky you…don’t complain.

    • Once again I get a demonstration that I am the world’s worst teacher. Sharon, the gist was that the Green Party has, due to its blinkered socialism, taken votes from one side only. I campaigned hard, but in areas where I knew what I draw attention to would not happen. It only applies to 10 out of 650 constituencies, though there were others where it was a risk. I am exasperated. What is the point of me explaining again that we could have taken Tory votes without any concessions, only a change of tone from anger to sorrow as we promised the rich they would pay higher taxes.

    • Bit more of a reply. What I was trying to say is that the Green Party came close to doing what Ralph Nader did do in 2000. As it happened, my assessment is we only gave the Tories 3 seats, which UKIP had given them anyway. However, the problem was exactly the same as it was with Nader – not putting up Green candidates, but abandoning the Green message for a militant left-wing one.

  2. Hello Clive,

    Agree with you about the basic income and the transformatory effect it will not only on society but as a pathf8bd8ng mechanism for cage globally.

    Too much to write here better to be able to Skype.

    Take care.

    Best wishes


    • Somebody did set me up on Skype, but I can’t remember my name, and unless it involves more than 1 to 1 – rather at the limit of my techno capabilities, I would rather settle for trying to increase my blog hits from dozens to Ks. Is ‘cage’ a typo? Change? But I get your drift. Absolutely, the BI is a part of the foundation for a totally new world view, which unites the old class warriors, the new conflict being Growthists v Greens – true Greens, not quite the same as the present Green Party, which is still fighting along the old battle lines.

  3. The Labour Party was fighting to form a government – one that incidentally would have cancelled the badger cull. |To do that they had to fight most or all constituencies. The Green Party was fighting for one, two, or three seats to give a Green voice in the House of Commons – but fought many other seats ‘for the publicity’, or maybe for the personal indulgence of individual candidates. In many cases with the clear possibility of replacing good animal and environmental Labour MPs with pro-hunting Tories.

    Was it worth running that risk just for a bit of publicity and ‘fame’? Did anyone bother to ask the badgers if it was OK to run that risk – because they are the ones who will pay the price with their lives and their screams?

    I’m likely to meet Green Party members and voters when I’m out in the fields at night trying to save the lives of just one or two of those thousands of badgers – so just in case you meet me, get your excuses prepared.

    • You appear to have missed my point, Fred, which is that the Green Party should NOT have taken votes only from Labour. The Green Party would have done better, and avoided what we both deplore if it had not forgotten its ‘Limits to Growth ‘ roots. We ARE left wing, because a sustainable economy must mean much less inequality – drastic redistribution. I have successfully persuaded voters in predominantly Tory areas to vote green on higher taxation being a bargain because they will preserve a planet fit for their grandchildren.
      The new politics should be those of us who think economic activity should be limited to the carrying capacity of the environment, and those who think technology (fracking etc.) will always find an answer, at any rate for a bit longer. That is not QUITE the same as left v right.
      But because the Green Party, or at least those in charge of this election campaign, are Old Labour refugees, they fought the election on the old battle lines, with predictable results.

  4. Hi Clive – You didn’t mention Derby North, which I lost by 41 votes. I have been campaigning on social justice and green issues since the mid 1970s. I have been a vegan since 1976 and still serve as a trustee on the national executive committee of the League Against Cruel Sports, a position I have held since 1979. I won Derby North with a majority of 613 in 2010 and had hoped the Green Party might welcome my re-election as a kindred spirit, but that proved to be a naive expectation as the Greens did field a candidate at the last minute who secured 1618 votes. Many people said they would have voted for me if the Greens weren’t standing, while others said it was “safe” to vote Green in Derby North as they said I was going to win by a “landslide”. The point of posting this in response to your blog is to make the point that progressives need to think smarter and collaborate in order to beat the forces of conservatism. If those of us who believe in a fairer and more compassionate society continue to compete against each other for votes in marginal seats it will help the Tories win again in 2020. People may not like the FPTP electoral system, but it’s the one we’re stuck with, so we need to work within it to deliver a better society. Anything else is just gesture politics that leaves the weak and vulnerable at the mercy of the most ideologically driven right-wing government in living memory.

    • My reply to Fred Wyropiquet is also appropriate to you. As I may well have missed others, it does indeed look as though the disaster was the Green Party’s fault. But although the result was predictable, we are blessed with hindsight. My own assumption would have been that you were OK, but I had already agreed with friends in Pudsey, a Con gain in 2010, that had I, a founder member of the Green Party lived there, I would have voted Labour. I personally think we all underestimated the extent to which UKIP took more Labour votes than Tory, a theory nobody seems to have explored. But I must stress, the lesson the Green Party shows no sign of learning is that although we are for less inequality, we MUST approach former enemies more in sorrow than in anger.

  5. I think a switch from Liberal Democrat to Conservative (which did happen in many constituencies), and Labour’s failure to give a remotely good alternative to the Conservatives, was a considerably greater factor in the Conservatives winning a majority. Labour won more seats from the Conservatives (10) than the Conservatives gained from Labour (8), but the splintering of the Liberal Democrat vote was much more to the Conservatives’ benefit than Labour’s in practice, especially when many of the seats the Conservatives won from the Lib Dems had often been safely Conservative for decades before their 1997 meltdown (e.g. Somerton & Frome, Twickenham, Kingston & Surbiton)

  6. interesting read & with you on reaching out to others – people do care & will make sacrifices – look at the popularity of organics, health food shops, etc in ‘better-off’ areas, neither of which I use because I can’t afford them. They’re good at recycling too! Let’s look with an open mind

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