Open Letter to a Friend

There’s a Hole in your Logic

A friend suggested on social media that the Greens and the Lib Dem “get behind” the Labour party candidate to ensure that Stewart Jackson is not elected on 8th June. Others keep asking me to “stand down” which I have pointed out once or twice is technically impossible, since the law changed.

This is a letter to her and to those making similar comments. I may as well write down my thoughts once and for all, rather than comment individually.

Dear Liza

We as Green Party members and officers can and do talk to local LAB members and supporters here in Peterborough and we can sometimes make progress on all kinds of local issues and campaigns. Reasonably constructive local communications contrast starkly with the obstinacy of the LAB party as a national entity, which simply FAILED to talk to the Green Party (nationally or locally) on what could by now have been an amazing Progressive Alliance: perfectly capable of taking the Tories down by utilising all the strengths of FPTP (i.e. only standing one PA opponent – ideally, but if push came to shove, not necessarily, selected by open primaries in each constituency).

The Greens have been laying the groundwork for such a Progressive Alliance project since we selected our current leadership team – it was Caroline’s and Jonathan’s joint ticket if you look back – and it was hoped we and other parties might be able to get this in place in time for 2020. This is all very much in the public domain and independent websites have been set up to help enable and explain the processes and help voters understand their local situation and what they can do to help develop a Progressive Alliance and to choose a PA candidate in their own area. Google produces over one million results for “Progressive Alliance UK” and there are now a number of local groups and initiatives. But none, so far, in Peterborough, where the parties we think of as being on the right (or “regressive”) apparently do talk to each other.

In order to begin negotiations, Peterborough Greens (including me) were looking for:

1) LAB step downs in two or more of: Brighton Pavilion, Isle of Wight, Bristol West, Sheffield Central …

2) actual & meaningful commitments from specific (in our case this means) the selected Peterborough candidate on genuine electoral reform, specifically PR.

On the first point The Green Party was not offered a single LAB step down: not in Peterborough and not nationally. This meant that in Peterborough we were in non starter territory, because the electoral maths in the Peterborough borough constituency would have required a joint LIBDEM and a GREEN step down: and it was clearly not worth either of us starting such negotiations if LAB were not going to play ball at all. This was especially true after the Peterborough UKIP stood down (publicly announced on 29th April).

source: BBC

Just suppose (at the risk of oversimplifying things) that the 2015 Herdman’s 7,400 UKIP voters decided this time to back Jackson. This would bring Jackson’s expected vote up to 26,169 and his majority up to 9,410. Still marginal, but a lot less so.

On the second point not only did these conversations not get started in Peterborough, but the LAB candidate selection announcement for Peterborough was made so late that it was highly unlikely that anything resembling a proper conversation could take place. (See the timeline below where you can see there are only nine days to achieve anything.) This very late decision and announcement is incomprehensible to me, given the (debatable) marginality of the seat, but it does very much suggest to me that Peterborough was not on the LAB list of winnable constituencies.

Let’s look at what Fiona Onasanya has had to say on electoral reform. A quick google search produces no comments on electoral reform (except where her name comes up alongside mine!). (Beki Sellick: very similar). As for Stewart Jackson: he has voted against electoral reform or been absent on every available occasion.

Google me and you will find 82 links just on the topic of electoral reform. Please do your own searches.

Compare your candidates on any subject online: I am confident I will come out well in any comparison. I work hard and I have a trackable record.

So it is perfectly clear that Peterborough Labour and for that matter the Peterborough LibDems are not on the same electoral reform page as the Green Party. And it is the same on a whole range of other policy issues.

Neither LAB nor LIB DEM needed to split the “progressive vote” by standing a Peterborough candidate. Either or both party could have chosen to back me.

Peterborough Greens were open to a progressive alliance. The Labour party (as opposed to a number of its members and supporters) clearly wasn’t.

If I was an activist inside the LAB party, I’d be asking my leadership to justify their approach to local members and to make sure that it has ditched it in good time for the next GE, preferably on Friday 9th June 2017. But If LAB is really never ever going to contemplate electoral reform, then frankly I’d be jumping ship.

Given the maths, I don’t rate Labour’s chances in Peterborough at all. I don’t think Lisa Forbes thought she stood a hope either. There is only one candidate who could have swung it, in my opinion: the one who won) in the Peterborough area in the PCC election in 2012.

Despite winning in Peterborough and Cambridge, the overall result was:

2012 Cambs PCC results (from the BBC)

Meanwhile people are voting for the Greens, because we have our very own electorate now and frankly we are better organised than some of our larger and far better financed opponents. We are increasingly effective. And we have been highly influential for quite a while.

You can Do a Lot, Elected or Not.

The work I have done this year has transformed my relationship with Green Party voters and supporters in my area. I would love every single one of all our supporters’ votes on the 8th June to be cast for me, or if they don’t live in the Peterborough constituency for one of our other excellent Green Party candidates, like Greg or Ruth or Tom. Green votes are already being cast. I don’t want to lose yours Lisa simply because I failed to share my thoughts and maybe help fix a little hole in what could be quite a big bucket.

I hope this letter helps to minimise that risk. 

Useful links:

progressivealliance.org.uk

tactical2017.com  

Timeline:

25/4/17   11:26  LAB 2015 candidate regrets she can’t stand in June 2017

“Labour councillors Ansar Ali and Ed Murphy have both said they have put their names forward to represent the party in Peterborough in June’s election, with a decision expected to be made either this week or next.”

29/4/17  12:50   UKIP announces it won’t field a candidate

2/5/17    11:54   Greens announce their Peterborough (& NWC) selection results

2/5/17     23:34   LAB reveal Fiona Onasanya is their Peterborough candidate

“The only other confirmed candidate for the constituency is Fiona Radic of the Green Party. The Liberal Democrats have made Beki Sellick its prospective candidate, but it has not yet been publicly confirmed.”

11/5/17  16:00    deadline to withdraw a validly nominated candidate

UPDATE

1 June  How they are doing it in New Zealand (though with a more sensible voting system)

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MANERP’s hustings Thursday 1st June

MANERP’s hustings Thursday 1st June

7pm

Peterborough International Christian Centre, Lincoln Rd, Peterborough PE1 2PE

Brian Gascoyne Image Credit: http://peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Our Chair for the evening will be Brian Gascoyne, who chairs Peterborough’s Holocaust Memorial Day Committee and serves on Peterborough Racial Equality Council http://www.prec.org.uk

MANERP says: “MANERP stands for the Millfield and New England Regeneration Partnership.
It is a Peterborough voluntary community association which receives no funding at all from ratepayers or taxpayers. All of its committee members and officers do not claim a single penny for the work that they do and do not claim any form of expenses either.
MANERP was formed in 2005 by residents who lived and people who worked work in the Millfield and New England in order to prevent the deterioration of the area because of the massive effect the influx of asylum seekers, refugees and EU migrants. The population had grown so quickly over a two year period that the infrastructure was failing to cope.
The Peterborough City Council agreed to recognise the group and its’ constitution was ratified and very quickly the association started to make representation to the council on several issues of concern. The main issues are:
The main issues are:

Private Rented Housing and Accommodation
Alcohol Licensing
Traffic
Environment
Health and Wellbeing
Police
Diversity and Cohesion

MANERP will continue to press for improvements to Millfield and New England as that is its’ mission. No matter what is thrown at the organisation, it will always put the peace and tranquillity of its’ residents first and foremost as its’ main priority.
If you live, work or have any connection with the MANERP area then please join us! We meet on the first Thursday of every month (except January) at the Peterborough International Christian Centre, Lincoln Road, (on the corner of York Road), Millfield, Peterborough at 7.15pm.” The Millfield and New England Regeneration Partnership (MANERP) is here:  https://manerp.org/about/

Image Credit: Google Street View

Venue:

click this link to go to google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/UfmwFRLqXWT2