Saturday 2 August 2008

Politics - it’s about policies not personalities!

Shan Oakes bashes fake Miliband leadership contest.

In David Miliband’s interview, Thursday, on BBC's Jeremy Vine Show, the focus was sadly on personality and not policy.

But Shan Oakes, who stood against David Davis in last month’s by-election for the Green Party, has different ideas.

“Whoever is in charge of the 'old' parties,” Ms Oakes says, “we still get the same old policies - policies supporting profit, not policies promoting the welfare of people and planet.”

“We need an ethical policy at home and an ethical policy abroad - instead we’re served up with streams of smooth-sounding soundbites.

“Miliband wriggled out of the lack of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. People want it - and the people would have said no. So, we weren’t given the chance and instead government signed it anyway.

“On the Middle East, we were told Iran is not behaving like a ‘normal country’! But David Miliband failed to remind us that there is only one nuclear armed state in the area - Israel - with an estimated 200 nuclear weapons. Iran is apparently not ‘a normal player in the international nuclear game’. Presumably Israel is - with dozens of UN resolutions against it – the state which bombed Syria in 2007 - the state which went to war on Lebanon in 2006.

“It’s heartening to hear on Iran that ‘100 per cent of our effort is focused on the diplomatic track’ - but we remember Blair wanting a “diplomatic solution” on Iraq, 5 year ago.

“Today, an ethical policy on Iraq means ending the adventure and bringing our troops home. On Iran it means rejecting the option of starting a war, as we started a war on Iraq.

“Miliband is being talked about as Brown's successor, but whether someone sounds ‘more confident’ or 'smoother' - or more like Tony Blair - does not make them any better. The policies stay the same: profit, growth and empire building!”

“It’s time for proper political debate on the fundamental issues.”


Shan Oakes,

Hull & E. Riding Green Party

Thursday 10 July 2008

They think it's all over! It is now!

Another long day. And another long night. The count went on and on but the night was interspersed with interviews. Finally, after a recount, all was declared. We came second (damn!) but scored 7.4% - a new Green Party by-election record apparently! Phew! And now we're having a well-earned rest! SO - THANK YOU EVERYONE!

Derek Wall on the megaphone for Shan Oakes

I have been campaigning right up to the last in the by-election. As Green Party Principal Speaker my job is to go and speak! So I have been up for a couple of days supporting Shan Oakes who is an excellent candidate.

Yesterday I went canvassing for a modest 8 hours, today on election day I have been right across the constituency with the megaphone. With Martin Deane, I have rolled up in little villages, proclaiming ‘This is your chance to make history and elect Britain’s first Green Party MP. Vote Shan Oakes. Vote Green Party. Vote for real civil liberties. Vote for real action on climate change. Vote for troops out of Iraq and Afganistan. Vote for action on a green post-petroleum economy. Vote for social equality’ etc, etc, etc.

Great fun to get into the town square at Howden and lambast the throng of Conservatives about Thatcher’s squandering of North Sea oil, of policies of waste and inequality.

‘Give Gordon Brown a shock, elect Shan Oakes first Green Party MP’.

It has been fun and hopefully got a bit of radical politics out to a lot of people even in the quiet corners of the East Riding.

So here is hoping the votes keep coming in and we really make a splash at the count tonight.

The last lap

I'm off around the polling stations, to encourage our supporters, and hope they find the right place for the X to be placed.

Wednesday 9 July 2008

The eve of the vote

The number of candidates today was only outweighed by the number of media!

Just watched our Newsnight coverage. I’m happy with that. On the one hand it showed the serious side of 35 years of policy development on some of the most pressing issues facing life in the 21st century, and on the other the forces of control: while supposedly debating civil liberties, they once again refused to let Green Party representatives attend!

We also featured on Look North and Radio Humberside.

So it all happens tomorrow. We know from speaking to so many people that there is a wide variety of feelings about this vote. I think I’m getting addicted to canvassing – it’s so interesting. Will we be able to stop?!

It’s also a big help to have just one neo-liberal-market-orientated-economy-equals-growth party to fight against, rather than three. And without the ‘old’ parties rabbiting on about their latest greenwash and now civ-lib-wash that certain parties are indulging in, we’ve really got the Green message out. Rain may be another factor in tomorrow’s voting.

It’s only a pity with the limited time that we haven’t been able to reach the whole area. But if everybody that we talked to votes Green our vote will be very respectable… it’s a lottery so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Every Voter Counts

Reaching Every Voter (Clive Lord's Blog)

As a veteran of many by-election campaigns, I can say that this is among the better organized and supported. No doubt the unusual circumstances are playing a part, but at 30%, the positive response rate is higher than in any previous campaign. This probably explains why David Davis has been at pains to have as little direct contact with Shan as possible.

This strange election is riddled with unknown quantities. In the later stages media coverage has been better than in previous campaigns, and there has been reasonable local coverage.

It is difficult to assess how much difference this has made on the doorstep. Certainly many agree with my view: “Of 26 candidates, 24 have emerged specifically for the purpose of this election. One of the remaining two receives wall to wall coverage, but how much have you seen of the Green Party during its 35 years of existence?”

If we could reach every voter, we would give David Davis a shock. But my message “You have a unique opportunity to give the Green Party enough support to persuade the media that our voice should be heard at last” strikes a chord in many. Our problem is that we do need to speak to them to turn the massive latent support into votes.

Monday's Journey

Today was another whirlwind of activity: no sooner had we set up our pitch in Cottingham than we spotted BBC Look North across the road, so cameras were soon rolling, with me expounding the folly of the old parties and what the Green Party wants to do. William Hague and Liam Fox were at large around the market place: the Tories seem to think it helps to import more Tory ‘big names’ to casually stroll around the vicinity. We, on the other hand, imported the much more useful James, Mark and Dan, all aged 18 and now free of school, who had travelled for 2 hours from Harrogate by train and bus to help out with the campaign. They write:

'This by-election is in our view pivotal for the future of both the Green Party and the country, so we were eager to get involved!

‘This was our first experience of canvassing, and although it was initially daunting, we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Today we went door-to-door around Cottingham, and got a sense of anger from many over the calling of the election at public expense. In fact, the majority appeared disillusioned with the existing state of British politics.

‘It is clear that an alternative is needed. And the Green message - of power in the hands of communities - was well received by Haltemprice and Howden constituents, who have grown tired of Westminster's undemocratic grasp.'

More supporters hopped off the train at Cottingham to help with accosting the voters. Another TV interview at 1pm (More4 News) and then off to the BBC studio in Hull for a radio interview with Simon Mayo on Radio Five Live, followed by an interview with KCFM and a public meeting arranged by one of the candidates.

Our Mental Health lobbyist Colin Revel had a rather lively debate with Miss Great Britain about her health policies!

Sunday 6 July 2008

Thoughts on the campaign trail

Listening to the people of Haltemprice and Howden

Everyone has heard a lot about the various candidates in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election. You might like some feedback about how people in the area are feeling. The Green Party has been doing a lot of listening on the campaign trail. We’ve met very many people on their doorsteps, in bus shelters, in the markets, in shops, on buses and trains, in car parks, in pubs, in dramatic thunderstorms, and in blazing sun. It’s a privilege to be able to discuss the big issues with voters – so that’s one advantage of the election – and most people seem happy to take a few minutes to have their say, and listen to some Green Party views too.

But, the striking message from voters is that they are fed up - not only with this by-election (which many feel has been an unnecessary waste of public money) but also with politics and politicians in general. They say there is no difference between the old parties who do not listen to the people themselves. They express feelings of anxiety and deep disappointment about the state of Britain. Several people have spoken about wanting to move abroad just to get away from this country. There is a general feeling of real anger and despair.

Almost everyone with whom we have spoken has agreed that our government has taken us wrongly into wars (for oil), that ‘defence’ spending is out of control, that our governments have encouraged the domination of giant corporations, and that the social and natural environment is being decimated as a result. People agree that profit is driving what goes on in Britain (and increasingly across the world) rather than values we can be proud of. Nearly everyone agrees that things will only get worse if we continue to be taken down the same path.

So is there any hope? Yes there is. Green Party policies boil down to real local democracy so that we can PLAN our way into an oil-free world by discussion at LOCAL level. When people have the chance to hear this idea, they are highly enthusiastic about it. They can see it is a real way forward – the only way forward - because nobody wants the alternative - a totalitarian state which controls us all from Westminster or elsewhere. It is possible to regain our freedom only if we stand up for freedom.

The Green Party wishes to debate these big issues. Unfortunately the old party representative in this by-election, David Davis, has so far avoided having that debate with us.

Friday 4 July 2008

National Coverage at Last for the Greens!

Thursday was another good day on the campaign trail with continuing positive responses from the people in the street. Lesley and Nick joined the campaign trail for the day and I had a long session with the Guardian over the lunchtime.

But the big feature of the day was the amount of media coverage we received.

Following on from our spot on the BBC Ten O’clock news on Weds evening we picked up national coverage in the Mail and Telegraph and a crisp piece on Radio 4‘s PM programme recorded in Cottingham pubs on Tuesday.

On the PM programme:

“We are opening up the [civil liberties] agenda because we feel that there are huge issues underlying what has been brought to light. Things like the end-of-oil, the way we are being taken over by the huge corporations, the devastation of the planet. The fact is that we have got to do something about it. We have got to change. So our message is change is necessary, the old parties have had their day and I think we are possibly going to see a much bigger green vote than some people might expect.”

And in the Daily Telegraph:

"I think 42 days is far too much. This country used to pride itself on habeas corpus. The Green Party is the party of civil liberties. ID cards and all these things are the result of the increasingly totalitarian state we are living in. People are not stupid. We have got a completely mad kind of politics. The whole world is being forced into slavery of the great corporations. Tesco's is doing a world take-over at the moment and it's not only Tescos."

When asked about whether the Greens wanted the price of petrol to stay as high as it is now and whether fuel taxes should continue to rise - this is not simply a yes-no answer; it involves a package of measures.

So a day on consolidation with no set backs. And pledges to support the campaign keep coming in. The “Paypal system” is now working well and donations continue to come in via the internet. We continue to be very moved and inspired by people’s generosity.

Thursday 3 July 2008

A Practical in Civil Liberties

Dynamic David Duo make swift getaway at South Hunsley School

After the ‘jog’ yesterday, the pace quickened up and we joined the feeding frenzy at Willerby Manor, being interviewed by a series of journos – with reports all over today’s press. the Telegraph, Mail and Hull Daily Mail all encouraged us – still silence from the others. Late last night I made notes of what followed…

Civil liberties suddenly became an immediate issue in the constituency today! We were excluded from a meeting that David Cameron and David Davis had set up with members of the East Riding of Yorkshire Youth Assembly and a number of Conservative supporters.

I had previously been emailed by the Youth Assembly organiser to ask if I would attend an Assembly meeting to discuss the issues with David Davis. I had replied saying I would be delighted. I have attended several Assembly meetings - which are usually held in Beverley where I live. I had also requested David Davis to include us in meetings to debate the issues to which he had agreed.

We turned up at the school and were kept out. First we were refused entrance to the site, then, after great debate with the Head, we were allowed into a side room with the promise that we could meet the young people after the Tory meeting. The head teacher, was very helpful, but had little control over arrangements for the 'private hire' of a room in the school premises. We were horrified at the high degree of police presence and the fact that our promised discussion with the young people had been hijacked and turned into a one party PR event for the Tories with no opportunity for legitimate debate.

I tried to tackle the Dave Duo on this when they came out of the building (a friendly journalist had lent me a mike), but they had clearly been made aware of my intention and dived into their car (whilst a policeman held me back) as if they were in some sort of danger. Obviously even they realise they have a lot to hide. So much for civil liberties!

After the 'dignitaries' had departed the Youth Assembly came to meet us. We had a great discussion about what had just happened: they could see this was unfair - 'That’s not democracy!' said one representative.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Support the campaign

You can now donate online with your debit or credit card. (To comply
with UK electoral law, we can only accept donations from individuals who are on the UK electoral register. Other donations will have to be

Blow away the cobwebs

A post from Bill - husband and agent. The Candidate has zoomed off into the constituency bedecked in rosettes - having decided that if she was off for a jog (a customary event in Beverley), it would be best where the voters can see.

I hope she is back for the interview we have with Bloomberg News later this morning!

Tuesday 1 July 2008

A PM Pub Crawl

The day has rounded off with a pleasant pub crawl in Cottingham with Ben Wright a Radio 4 journalist from the PM programme (Thursday 5-6pm). The responses were amazingly supportive from people of all ages. A young mother in the garden of the Duke of Cumberland totally agreed with the Green perspective and wished us good luck. Her partner was unwilling to speak 'on air' but told us how his work as a heating engineer has been transformed recently with the increased demand for renewable energy installations. They suggested we go on to the Tiger next, so we did, and met three men who initially said they were not intending to vote because they just didn't bother, but decided to vote for us after our chat. They agreed it would be fantastic for Haltemprice and Howden to return the first Green MP to Westminster. We then moved on to the King William where a Tory voter said that he would not be voting for David Davis because he thought calling the by-election was a waste of public money, so he would now vote Green having spoken with us, and advise his Tory colleagues to do the same.

As we waited for the train to take Ben back to Hull for the night, we heard loud clattering and were amazed to see a white horse being led up and over the railway bridge...practising for 'doing weddings'. Unfortunately the camera wasn't to hand.


DONATIONS, which are welcome, can be made out to Hull & East Riding Green Party at the address below, or using the bank details which follow:

Co-op Bank, Alfred Gelder St, Hull
sort code 089299
acc no 65169216

Please let know that you have made a donation, as it's important that we track these.

We need a Green voice in Westminster

We are pleased with the coverage in the Hull Daily Mail.

Civil liberties ARE at the heart of Green policies. But our context is so much greater than anything represented at Westminster at the moment.

We must have a Green voice there.

If our system did fairly represent people's votes we would have about 30 MPs by now, instead we are impatiently waiting for one!

(Click picture for full size version).

Sleepless in East Yorkshire

It has been just two weeks since the story broke that Davis was going to make his gesture and free up the H&H constituency for a proper representative. In those moments of wakefulness which were common, but thankfully have now diminished, I ask myself, ‘Why am I putting myself through all this?’

Well, it began at an early age... yes it did… my wonderful, kind, tennis-playing Dad, Arthur Jones, died from lung cancer when I was 5 and I haven’t forgiven whatever caused it. I have a good idea what did: he was in the army right through the war - in ordnance which means he was close to all kinds of chemicals involved in weaponry. He had also smoked a bit so I wouldn’t let my mother do it. I now know the story of tobacco. There was also the explosion at Windscale (now re-christened Sellafield) in 1957. Added to this, I understand from my mother that some of the hospital treatment Arthur had was hopeless.

From all this I think I learned to be suspicious of human activity in general. I’ve only made these connections in the last few years, and it still makes me cry when I think about it. This suggests to me that this is the deep motivation for what I do.

We moved into the wilds of the Cotswolds where my mother got a job teaching in a boarding school and I was a rather feral kid - usually to be found in the woods in a tree house with a book and the cat. This was therapeutic for me, but lonely for my mother (widowed at 29).

By the sixth form (Plymouth, 1970) I was deeply worried about pollution. My spin on the Affluent Society (a popular paperback at the time) was to use the expression ‘Effluent Society’. I became an English teacher in Hull and East Riding and I know that my preoccupation with human effects on the environment had a big influence on what went on in my classroom. Luckily, kids are interested in issues of social and environmental justice too.

Ah well … off to badger the burghers of Kirkella

Monday 30 June 2008

Monday's campaign trail

Willerby went well earlier today, we had a captive audience by the shopping centre. Then it was off to Skidby to do some door-knocking with the team and meet the Hull Daily Mail - part of our ongoing “give us some decent coverage because we are a serious party” campaign which we dished out to all the major media.

We had the mandatory pictures by Skidby Mill – well, the Mail did say we were into renewables – so it must be true...

We were well received around Skidby. Clive reports a very high proportion of conversations with people who are giving the Greens “very serious thought”, not having voted for them before.

I met someone I used to work with in Humberside County Council, and rested my insect bitten leg in the famous windmill whilst chatting to a very green volunteer who will pass on our leaflets. I spoke at length to a man on a roof and a man with a dog; a mother and son and cat in their farm yard who looked like a scene from a painting by Hopper; a man who said David Davis never replied to his letter about the local travellers; a woman who has decided she is too old to drive but still keeps her car in the garage under sheets and goes to sit in it sometimes. She decided to put up our poster in her window. One family almost slammed the door in my face - and then mentioned they’d already voted – for us!


Donations to the campaign fund can be made using the bank details at bottom.

Shan up at t'mill at Skidby

Sunday 29 June 2008

Getting up steam in Little Weighton

We moved on to Little Weighton Steam Fair where, amidst clouds of smoke and tunes from Mary Poppins played on a steam organ , we chatted to people drinking tea or beer. One 5 year old asked, ‘what party are you going to?’ When I explained that a ‘party’ is a group of people who have ideas about how to make things better, he wanted to know where the others were. I pointed to Clive, Martin and Bill. He then asked, ‘ so what are your ideas?’ I explained about oil running out and he suggested bikes and horses. What unerring logic kids have - particularly before they get old enough to get caught up in the mating game! My previous research with 100s of kids shows that the younger they are the greener they are.

Some people just feel fed up with politics in general and don’t want to vote at all, and who can blame them when they have been betrayed so often. When told that politicians are just in it for the money I explained that I’m definitely not. To prove it, if I am elected - about which I’m feeling more and more optimistic - I undertake to give half my salary to the Green Party. I’m in it because I can’t bear to think about what’s going to happen to people, and other species, in the future.

North Cave Car Boot? They want CHANGE!

Another fine day we’ve had! We zoomed off like the Trumpton Fire Brigade to North Cave car boot sale - where we found lots of Green-minded people. Women in particular seem to understand the dire situation the old parties have got us into and the desperate need for change. People want local decision making, they are sick of being conned by politicians who don’t practise what they preach, they know the Iraq war was about oil, they know we are all being exploited by government backing big business, and they want it to stop.

They can also see that with only one of the lame old parties standing in this election the Greens have a chance to make their ideas clear and to get plenty of votes, so lots of people said they would vote for us because THEY WANT CHANGE.

Saturday 28 June 2008

Canvassing in Cott.

The regional gang joined us locals for some serious campaigning today. People in Cottingham were very welcoming – as ever – and everyone we talked to was very interested.

It was great having Green Party perennial Clive Lord around. As a founder member, he’s done every Green by-election since the last glaciation and is staying ten days. He even brought his tent!

Leslie Rowe, fellow Euro-candidate, brought campaigners all the way from Richmond (N.Yorks) and we went door-knocking too.

Local secretary, Martin Deane, spotted David Davis (yet again, 'by coincidence' in a constituency of about 120 square miles), and tackled him on detention and his vote for war on Iraq. Davis said he was a Privy Councillor. So that’s alright then. (One million dead, 176 British troops, a country destroyed). Davis honestly held that the war was to bring liberation and democracy to Iraq. “It was about oil!” Martin came back, “It was planned. The Americans wanted Iraq from day one.”

We did agree though to debate the issues sometime, so look out for an official hustings.

And hurrah! People were telling us that they had our leaflet already. The remainder will arrive by Monday - in time for the postal votes.

Feel like helping? Come on up!

“Oh there’s no bus from here!”

Friday 27th June, actually – just catching up! I went to Howden today. I thought I’d garner votes on the train – and found one! Once at “Howden” you arrive a mile and a half from the town at a station that has seen better days. I asked someone about a bus to town: “Oh there’s no bus from here!” So I had to plod into town! We clearly need a Green Party win to revamp public transport here!

I spoke to people around Howden marketplace and had a very enjoyable time.

We are the only other serious party contending this election and many people were interested enough to talk about their views and local life.

It struck me that if you mix red and blue and yellow – it makes brown! So, “the brown parties”, as I’ll call them, now have great difficulty making policies appeal to most people. And it’s because they are committed to a system that no longer works. If it ever did. We just cannot have endless growth. Full stop.

Saturday, we are in Cottingham market place from 11am onwards. We have lots of inspired visitors from around Yorkshire coming to help us!

Thursday 26 June 2008

Grey meets Green in by-election showdown

We had an enjoyable day in Cottingham market today. Cottingham has the distinction of being the largest village in England. Very positive responses from public in general once we had collared them.

A BBC Look North camera crew turned up and asked loads of questions. The interview went well, but of course they chose to show the one bit with a hesitation in it! They also got us talking with a group of people sitting nearby having cuppa. So, we got on the box with 2 other ‘small parties’ so that’s a plus!

We had a stall set out most of the day and gave out some mini-manifestos and all the leaflets we had and had to print up more! People talked to us very easily and the majority seemed interested in what we stood for once they got to know. David Davis appeared there too and he and I and the team had a little chat where we asked him why he’s a Tory and told him we want to open up the issues. He told us he would invite us to any events he holds and that he sees us as the only serious challenger to him. We said we certainly did intend to challenge him.

Judging by the reaction overall of the people we spoke to there was a lot of support for us just waiting to be tapped.

All papers duly in!

Wow!…fantastic support and brilliant ideas from everyone – yes its looking really exciting now our nomination papers are accepted and the freepost leaflet is printed and on its way. We will follow up on all suggestions.

We’ll be talking with BBC Look North tomorrow . The East Riding Youth Council would like us to visit with David Davis too. Need to work on a press release now….

11 candidates so far… more tomorrow - watch this space!

Very best

Shan, Bill and Martin

Donations to: "Hull and E. Riding Green Party"

Co-op Bank, Alfred Gelder St, Hull
sort code: 089299
acc no: 65169216
or to Bill Rigby, 3 Norwood, Beverley, HU17 9ET

Donating to our campaign

We've had a lot of very kind people volunteer to give donations to the campaign to show-up the Tories' real record on civil liberties.

Cheques can be made out to Hull & East Riding Green Party at the address below, or using the bank details which follow:

Co-op Bank, Alfred Gelder St, Hull
sort code 089299
acc no 65169216

Please let know that you have made a donation, as it's important that we track these.

Many thanks,

Green Party Candidate for Haltemprice and Howden
3 Norwood
East Yorkshire
HU17 9ET, UK

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Election Communication gone to print

Excitingly, our official Election Communication has gone to print today, and it will be delivered by the Royal Mail through the letterbox of every constituent before polling day!

Tuesday 24 June 2008

I've been selected as the official Green Party candidate

After a democratic debate inside the Green Party about whether we should stand in this by-election, I'm thrilled to announce that today the national party gave the go-ahead to us standing in Haltemprice and Howden, after I was selected last night by the local party to contest the seat against the Conservatives' David Davis on July 10th.
That's 16 days time!

Our constituency-wide leaflet is due to go to the printers tomorrow, and we're starting campaigning in earnest. Any offers of campaigning help can be directed to Martin Dean at sokuto12 'at'
I'm looking forward to highlighting the Tories' hypocrisy on civil liberties.