Jenny Jones Green Party candidate for Mayor of London 2012
This is a wonderful month for Green politics. Results around the country have been good, and in London in the Mayoral elections we made history by coming third behind Boris and Ken, as well as in the critical list vote, and in five of the constituencies. We also retained two Assembly seats: the main aim of our campaign. We had a brilliant team, amazing materials, good policies, dedicated volunteers and very hard working local party members.
Greens have been able to dispel the myth that when times are tough, green politics are a luxury. More and more Londoners are realising that social and environmental justice are tied together inseparably, and Assembly members can help ensure that the Mayor is held to account on his promises and that City Hall can help create a city more equal, affordable, healthy, and safe for everyone. Tens of thousands of Londoners have voted Green for the first time – we must now make sure they feel it was worthwhile.
And we know that this campaign has attracted some wonderful bright, dedicated and loving young people to the party, who will pick up the torch and carry it forward in the interests of London’s future.
This quote from one of our progressive forebears, a Leveller in the 17th century, Richard Overton sums up our relentlessly positive campaign:
“And if you would bend your minds thereunto and leave yourselves open to give ear and to consider such things as would be presented unto you, a just way would be discovered for the peace and quiet of the land in general and of every well-minded person in particular."
South East report Keith Taylor
Election night 2012 in the South East region marked the culmination of many months hard work by members and supporters, with our vote holding up well despite gains for Labour. Local parties have been campaigning hard on several issues, including calling for more affordable housing and employment opportunities, and for slower cars and cleaner air.
As current votes stand, there are three new councillors elected in the region on May 3, including Cllrs Jamie Whitham (Reading) and Bryn Truscott (Redhill East), reflecting the steady Green support and hard ongoing work of members. In Oxford, where we remained at five councillors, we welcome Cllr Sam Hollick in Holywell ward.
Elections are a time of sadness too, for retiring candidates or for those who didn't succeed this time. Their efforts are essential to spreading the Green message, the greater number of candidates we can stand, the more people we give a chance of supporting the radical alternatives we offer. Thank you for all your work; please keep on trying!
As MEP for the South East I spend about 50 days a year promoting the work of Greens throughout the region, and have visited most of its towns and cities,and all the places which won new councillors this time.
I see that work as an essential to our expansion, and thank all the local parties for their splendid efforts.
Greens make it three in Reading Rob White
We started our year by selecting Jamie Whitham as our target ward candidate in July to give us plenty of time to raise his profile.
As we held the balance of power we were able to get more done both in Reading:
• a reversal of cuts to bus fare concessions for people with disabilities;
• solar panels installed and more funding for insulation;
• a council living wage policy and a limit on the pay of senior executives.
And across the ward:
• defending secondary school places;
• action on residents' parking;
• progress on 20 mph speed limits.
At election time we championed jobs and the local economy. We highlighted our record defending public services. Also, we stood up for better public transport, walking and cycling facilities.
Our main opponent was Labour. Their main line of attack was over us standing up for public services and suggesting a small council tax increase. Fortunately this attack did not gain any traction. We didn't see anything of the Lib Dems and Conservatives all year.
We ran a full election day operation and this was key to getting our voters out. In the end Jamie Whitham polled 1246 votes, beating Labour by 152. We also finished in third place across Reading.
All of our work was possible because we had built up a strong team. We have lots of people who will deliver a leaflet in their road. People to coordinate delivery. Someone to coordinate canvassing. A volunteer to coordinate election day. Without all of these people – which we have built up over the years – this success wouldn't have been possible.
Our next challenge is developing and breaking through in another ward.
Sheffield holds Eamonn Ward, Election Agent
Sheffield are celebrating Rob Murphy defending his Central ward seat with a 429 majority over Labour: our biggest ever. That’s quite a feat because Labour dominates here following the coalition agreement. In Nick Clegg’s city they have taken all their Lib Dem targets and more but we have held them off with defences in 2011 and 2012.
The result reflects 10 years of relentless work. The ward has 21,000 electors including Asian and Somali communities and council estates. Plus the city centre with planning, licensing, noise and anti-social behaviour, homelessness and alcoholism. And about 7,000 students. Greens have not ducked the workload and long-term residents know that. But the city centre has a transitory population and many don’t know they have Green councillors. We have to reach them during the election; mainly
via apartment block intercoms.
We also got a strong second in Broomhill ward after tripling the work we did in 2011. We ran a positive campaign on ward issues with epic canvassing sessions by candidate Bernard Little. That got us to within 201 votes of Labour and a potential winning position in 2014.
Sheffield election campaigns offer positive messages and build and expand on what has worked in previous years. Labour tried to wipe us out in the last two elections. But 10 years of Target-to-Win ward work leaves the Greens as one of only 3 parties with councillors: no Tories here. The Lib Dem collapse offers the opportunity to break out of Central ward across the city from 2014 onwards. It’s an open door we can walk through.
Other areas in Yorkshire also held firm. In Kirklees, as well as Cllr Andrew Cooper holding his Newsome seat, Robert Barraclough took Kirkburton from the Conservatives: the culmination of years of targeted work. In the Shipley ward of Bradford council Cllr Martin Love (see Page 11) recorded the biggest majority ever by a Green councillor: a winning margin of 1,461 votes.
Hold in St Albans
Simon Grover, elected in May 2011 as the first Green on St Albans District Council, is in the unusual position of holding the balance of power with a Conservative administration that is one seat short of a majority. "The administration's been very keen to work with me," says Simon "and I've tried to make the most of my situation." Simon's highlight has been having his nine-point amendment attached to the Conservatives' budget in February. As a result the Council is now committed to renewable energy, expanding the farmers market and exploring a local food programme, amongst other things.
St Albans Greens followed a strict Target-To-Win strategy, with newsletters, petitions and surveys to keep year-round interaction with residents. As the win in 2011 was actually a co-incident by-election, Simon had to defend the seat again in 2012. All three of the major parties campaigned in the seat, though Simon was the only candidate able to campaign on his record. He also had the crucial advantage of having shown that Greens can be elected: this time it was a call to re-elect.
Simon believes the key to getting people to vote for you is talking to them face to face, and this usually means knocking on their door. "It's amazing how rarely you end up talking about policy or your own ideas: it's a listening process. Then you take up casework if you can. That's what impresses people and gets them talking about you to their neighbours."
William Duckworth gains in Dudley
The West Midlands region managed a net gain of 4, with all three of the new Councils the Party is represented on this year being in the region.
After two-and-a-half years of work Will is now the first Green Party councillor in Dudley.
"I live in the working class area of Netherton, Woodside & St Andrews and in 2008 I went to my polling station wanting to vote for the Green Party but unable to do so. I then e-mailed the Green Party to find out why. By the next year I was a member, attended conference in Blackpool, was helping to start up Dudley Green Party and was campaigning in the European elections." Said Will.
The newly formed Dudley Green Party decided to target Will's ward and asked him to represent them in the Council elections in 2010 where they did the '60-second survey' and a leaflet telling people what they stood for and how to contact him. He got 168 votes that year and came last with another Labour victory. By election time in 2011 the local party had sent out 8 general leaflets and a few 'street letters' as well as canvassing nearly all of the voters three times and dealing with hundreds of issues raised with Will by local residents. This resulted in a massive increase in his vote to 1,068 and a disappointing second place to Labour by nearly 500.
"Instead of being downhearted we utilised the fantastic support from the West Midlands with funding and following their very thorough Target-To-Win strategy. The team put in a total of about one hundred hours each week: writing and delivering another 6 'Green Views', an A3 election address, an eve of poll leaflet in the last two days, a great election video and bringing the casework total to nearly a thousand." They had a huge effort on a very wet polling day with a dozen people and achieved a significantly increased turnout and 1,525 votes winning by more than 250.
"I still can't believe that the returning officer called me onto the stage and announced that William John Duckworth is the newly elected councillor."