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

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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.


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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