An Open Response to ‘A Guy Named Guy’

The following post is the development of some of the points I raised in response to a post by an interesting left-of-centre Brighton blogger. ‘A Guy Named Guy’ , who blogs at Cut the Crap, makes an interesting case as to why he is voting for Nancy Platts in Brighton Pavilion.

Here is my post with some added bits:

“I think we have to remember, despite Nancy Platts being as decent a candidate as she is, she is deceiving voters in Brighton Pavilion.

Despite where Nancy stands on a whole range of issues (and I agree with almost all of her policy positions), she is asking voters in Brighton to return a Labour government and a Labour manifesto that will stand in stark contrast to Nancy’s own values.

The Labour manifesto will include cuts in higher education (despite Nancy standing on a picket line opposing higher education cuts), cuts in social and public services (despite Nancy sending a message of support to the Brighton anti-cuts demo), the replacement of Trident with a new nuclear system that will exacerbate tensions in the Middle East (Nancy is in favour of ditching our nuclear arsenal completely), a continuation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Nancy opposes both these wars), no repeal of anti-trade union legislation (Nancy calls herself a trade unionist) and the continuation of illiberal anti-terror legislation that will undermine civil liberties.

Labour has been given 13 years in office to push through radical and far-reaching change and they have fallen short. From reforming the House of Lords into a fully democratic chamber to introducing proportional representation (PR) for general and local elections, they have failed to make even the most moderate of changes to the political constitution, let alone advancing on a programme of addressing the deep inequality that exists in society.

I for one find it an absolute betrayal of the principle of ‘fairness’ that the wealth gap has increased under 13 years of Labour and inequality is more entrenched in society than it was before 1997.

Voters in Brighton Pavilion have a unique opportunity in helping shift the “progressive consensus” to the left with the election of a Green MP.

The Green Party is arguably a ‘radical social democratic’ party whose main focus in recent years has been on developing the value of fairness. Not just fairness in opportunity, but fairness in all that an active State does.

The Greens are the only party arguing against the consensus that savage cuts are needed, instead, we have taken a similar understanding of David Blanchflower’s analogy that recession (and the fragile recovery) is a war and (despite the Green anti-war irony here) the only way to fight a war is to throw money at it, you don’t budget or make cuts on the front line.

There is a real danger of a double-dip recession and we need strong, independent voices in Parliament asking difficult questions, lobbying for cross-party support on early day motions (EDMs) that chime with Green policy (take a look at my post on a recent example and shifting the goal posts of what is possible for the centre-left to achieve.

Climate change is a serious, pressing issue, one that has been forced on the back foot by an emboldened climate change denial cabal, nothing sends a stronger message to that cabal than the election of a Green MP.

Having a Green MP(s) will elevate the urgency for action on climate change in Parliament. It will send a powerful message to the next Government that it is an issue that must be addressed in its entirety.

If, and heavens forbid if it does happen, Nick Griffin wins in Barking; we can expect whatever Government to be more xenophobic, more hostile to immigrants and asylum seekers and more likely to pander to far-right voters. This will only create breathing room for the BNP. Already we have heard Gordon Brown talk about “Strengthen[ing] fairness in communities through controlled immigration… .”

Gordon Brown is right when he says that voters should take a second look at Labour, then a long, hard look at the Tories but, I would advise all voters to look back at Labour’s 13 years, look back on their successes and failures, but think more about what they haven’t done and what they’ve failed to achieve.

Despite Nancy’s credibility as a sound candidate, think about what she is asking voters in Brighton to do. They won’t be voting for Nancy’s policies, they’ll be voting for Gordon Brown and the whole Labour cabinet and a manifesto that will give Labour a mandate to inflict savage cuts, to continue with the “war on terror”, to develop costly and dangerous weapons of mass destruction and for a Government that will pander to the far-right and further legitimise the BNP and their vile politics.

The Labour vote in Brighton has collapsed. The 2007 local elections and the 2009 European Parliament elections proves that. The danger of voting Labour in Brighton Pavilion is the possibility of a Tory MP, but also more of the same from Gordon Brown and co.”

However, it is a pleasure to see a new blogger in Brighton and I want to wish Guy well on his blogging adventure in the run-up to the General Election.


7 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Guy said,

    Thanks for this Luke. I’ve responded on my own blog, so I’ll copy and paste my answer here too:

    Thank you both for your response. First of all, my apologies for the delayed reply – I was awaiting a comment notification that never arrived!

    I can’t really disagree with anything you say. I am still finding my way around the election landscape so all additional information is very welcome.

    I am aware that support for Labour appears to have slowly transferred to the Green Party, but when I look at the big picture I have to ask myself what I genuinely believe is the best thing for the country. As strong as my anti-Tory bias is, what is important to me is voting for something that I believe in. That’s why I said, and genuinely meant, that I WANT to vote Green. The dilemma I have is a complicated one, torn between the ideals of the Greens and the realism of Labour. Give it a couple more years and I may well be changing my mind, but at the moment I cannot say that I truly believe that the Greens can deliver.

    Of course there is the risk of my vote going to waste and allowing the Tories to gain control as a result, but this is why I chose to come public with my views, as I feel I must do more than simply vote, I must support the Labour party too. However 6,000 votes is still a big ask. My other concern is that any Labour seat lost gives the Tories the edge in the general election.

    I really appreciate your comments and look forward to continuing the debate!

    • 2

      Luke Walter said,

      Hi Guy,

      Really good to hear from you.

      True, 6000 votes is a big ask, however, Press Association analysis of the 2007 city council elections in Brighton Pavilion put the Greens in the lead just 221 ahead of the Tories, with Labour trailing more than 1,000 votes further behind in third place. It might be fair to say that the number of Green voters in the constituency has increased beyond that number.

      I’m sure you are aware already, but in the European Elections the Greens came out on top in the whole of Brighton and Hove with more than double Labour’s share. The Goldsmid by-election (in the Hove constituency) only reinforced the Greens position as the leading left-of-centre force in the city.

      Labour’s realism is a brutal one, dictated by focus groups and the 200,000 odd swing voters that now decide general elections in marginal seats. Sometimes we have to take risks, when Labour won their first MPs it took the Liberal Party and Liberal voters taking a risk to keep out the Tories. We’re asking people to trust the Greens with their vote and all evidence suggests that they can.

      If you are voting out of belief, rather than tactically, then I commend you for it, voters should be voting for what they believe in. However, given that the electoral system deprives people of the right to vote for what they believe in, progressive voters are left to make tactical decisions on how best to keep out the Tories. In Brighton Pavilion I believe all evidence suggests that it has to be a Green vote.

      There are plenty of constituencies around the country where I would probably give my vote to a Labour candidate with similar values to Nancy Platts, however, I don’t think a Labour vote in Pavilion is the best tactical vote for floating progressives.

      We still have 5 weeks to go until polling day, we never know what may happen in that time.

  2. 3

    Guy said,

    Indeed, the tactical/belief consideration was a personal trauma for me!

  3. 4

    blanco said,

    I dont support the Greens but I find the argument that voting for them will let the Tories in, to be distasteful and downright dishonest.

    If people vote Green instead of Labour, who can Labour blame but themselves? If the Tories win, it will be because Labour didn’t convince enough people to turn out to vote for it. Remember, Labour are the incumbents.

    Having said that I don’t think even if the Greens win in BPav (their only hope at this election), that British politics will change. Maybe in 40 years time when people like Luke are a lot older and fed up, there might be a situation where they hold the balance of power. That is 40 years of slogging away. Credit to those who still believe after all that time, but I’d say there are better ways to spend your life if you are pragmatic.

    Despite the arguments against Labour, I reckon most young activists will choose to re-build Labour in opposition, and try to pull it leftwards. Many Green members are ex-Labour: if Labour return to the left, so will those people. The Greens are the ghost of progressive Labour.

    • 5

      Luke Walter said,

      I have to say, I do believe it is wishful thinking of anyone who thinks the Labour party can be “re-claimed”, the 1983 manifesto is still considered to be the “longest suicide note in history”, as said by leftist Labour MP, Gerald Kaufman.

      I see no signs that Labour is pulling to the left or that any of the younger activists have a left-wing bone running through their bodies. We don’t see the same kind of left-wing politics from Labour Students or Young Labour that was seen in the 1980s or early 1990s.

      When all the main political parties are losing members, the Green Party is growing. I believe we’ve now just gone over the 10,000 mark. A significant step forward for the party.

      I believe the Greens can be in with a chance of returning 20 MPs in 2014/15, there is no reason why this cannot be done. We have 126 councillors on 43 councils across England and Wales. Potential is rife.

      The Greens are a pragmatic party. In the 2008 London mayoral elections we advised our supporters to give their second preference to Ken Livingstone (who coincidentally is ‘backing’ Tony Juniper in Cambridge), and Ken (and Labour) asked their supporters to give the Greens their second preference. Sian Berry, the Green candidate, picked up 13.5% of the second preference votes, Ken picked up 12.34% and Boris Johnson got 10.49%.

      During Ken’s time as mayor he relied on the support of Green AMs to pass his budget along with progressive Green ammendments that have made a profound difference to Londoners.

      I suggest you take a step back from your tribalism every now and again and take a look at where Greens are, what they have achieved by working with others and judge the Greens upon the basis of their record, not your tribal instincts.

  4. 6

    blanco said,

    Also, despite the ID cards, foreign wars, detention without trial, PFI etc, Labour are STILL better than the Tories. And many on the left are still with them. Let’s face it, Labour is here to stay. And the Greens are not pragmatic enough to openly admit, like adults, that the only way they will get power in the next 100 years is through an alliance with parties of the centre left, like Labour and the Lib Dems.

  5. 7

    blanco said,

    As I said, I am not predisposed to always voting Labour – however I think one day you will also join Labour, as will most Greens, as part of a united progressive bloc. The Greens will never achieve power on their own, and apart from those few instances you’ve cited, are very hostile towards the Lib Dems and Labour, their natural political partners. I think there really only needs to be one big centre-left party in the UK, and not enough people will vote Green in the next 40 years to make a significant impact. 20 MPs would be nice but only in the rarest of circumstances would that be enough to have influence.

    If progressives in Labour (not just the far left LRC but the Compassites and Fabians) joined forces with Greens and social liberal Lib Dems, then that would be a force to be reckoned with. Throughout the twentieth century in every election the combined Labour and Liberal/Alliance/Lib Dem vote was higher than the Tories.

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