Tuesday 27 February 2018

Three reasons to vote Green in the Barnet Council Elections in May

As regular readers of this blog will know, there are elections for Barnet Council on the 3rd May. Currently there are 32 Conservative Councillors, 30 Labour Councillors and one Lib Dem Councillor. The Barnet Eye has been looking at what the Green party are up to in the Borough and why you may wish to vote for them. Lets start with a round up of what the "Big" Parties are doing, so we can see why an alternative may be appealing.

The Labour Party are targetting Hale ward as they only need to win two more seats to take control of the Council. Twitter is awash with pictures of Tory and Labour teams trudging around Hale Ward. Here are a couple of my favourite tweets from these teams. Lets start with the Tories.

Now this is quite hilarious. Currently the Tories have two councillors in Hale Ward. One of them, Tom Davey works for a Tobacco company and has got a new. plumb job with his company, doing his bit for public health, so he is standing down. The other councillor is Hugh Rayner. Hugh is a nice chap, I get on well with Hugh, but he's decided that he's had enough of Hale (well it is very marginal) so he's moving to the next door ward of Edgware, where he believes he's got a nice, comfy safe seat. Sadly Hugh is nowhere to be seen canvassing in his own current ward. In fact the Tories are so desperate that they need to get MP's to drive up from Sutton to make up the numbers. I am sure that Paul Scully MP is highly interested in the affairs of Hale Ward and deeply committed to ensuring it gets it's Xmas Trees taken away promptly and its potholes mended.

As for Labour.......

I was quite amused by this. As Barnet residents well know, there are three candidates per ward. Labour currently have one councillor in Hale Ward. A gleeful Tory told me that they are referring to the current Labour councillor as "The Invisible Woman" and are drawing attention to her attendance record at Council meetings.

I have been reliably informed that the Green Party are seeing Hale as a fantastic opportunity. The voters are clearly split in their allegiances. The Greens organised a noisy stunt in Mill Hill Broadway a couple of weeks ago to bolster this campaign in Hale Ward  (Adele Ward has since informed me that the event was not set up by Barnet Greens and was a cross party event and that despite the Youtube page saying that it showed "Barnet Green Party with Spoof Boris and the Number 10 Vigil campaigners singing in the wind and rain in Mill Hill." They were not actually campaigning and that Hale is not on their list of targets - The Barnet Eye would humbly suggest that if they are posting cross party events on Youtube and Twitter, they label them as such)

I was intrigued to find out what the Barnet Green Party had to offer the voters of Hale ward. I had a look at their website, to find out their local agenda and policies. The Greens are well known for being good at picking up on local issues. To my surprise, there is no tab for policies or local issues. I thought I'd do a trawl of twitter to see what they had to say. I am pleased to report that I liked what I saw! I thought I'd share some of them. Here, in tweets, are three great reasons to vote Green in Hale ward in May.

1. The Greens like dogs. My mum always told me not to trust people who don't like dogs. Therefore the Greens must by highly trustworthy!

2. The Barnet Greens are against air pollution. So am I, so what better reason to like them

3. The Greens have come up with lots of policies that the other parties have nicked.

It is unquestionably true that the Green party are a fantastic pressure group and put policies on the table that the main parties wouldn't touch with a bargepole. As the third tweet notes, their manifesto's are regularly looted by the larger parties. Who could forget the David Camerons bizarre trip to the North Pole with a team of huskies (he clearly likes dogs, so he was deffo trustworthy) to promote his green credentials.

But having accepted that the Greens are a force for good in the world, does that mean we should consider voting for them in the Council elections in May? Well it does appear that, following on from Camerons Husky trip, the Barnet Tories would love you to vote Green. A tweet from leading Barnet Green Candidate Adele Ward yesterday revealed that the Tories have been sharing information and giving her campaigning tips in previous elections.

Why would the Barnet Tories step in to help a rival party? As Adele reveals the Tories have huge resources and a fantastic database of voters. What possible reason could there be for the Tories to want the Barnet Green party to do well?

Sadly the answer is easy to see. Have a look at the results for the last general election in Chipping Barnet

Chipping Barnet Parliamentary Constituency

Number of votes recorded
Green Party
Marisha Priyanka
Liberal Democrat
Theresa Anne
The Conservative Party Candidate
25679 (elected)
Emma Felicity Maude
Labour Party

As you can see the answers are there in black and white. The Tories had a wafer thin majority. It is highly likely that the vast majority of Green voters in Chipping Barnet would have voted for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour if the Greens had not been running. In short, the 2.5% of the vote that the Green party siphoned off from Labour was the difference between a Tory and Labour party win.

If you look at the results of the Barnet Council elections in 2014, a pattern emerges

A simple analysis shows that despite having a tiny percentage of the vote, this had a devastating effect on the results.

In Brunswick Park ward, if James Rowe had picked up 80 of the 499 votes the Green Candidate got, then Labour would have won and the Council would have been hung
Brunswick Park (3 seats)[6]
LabourKathy Levine1,951
LabourAndreas Ioannidis1,944
ConservativeLisa Rutter1,899
ConservativeAndreas Tambourides1,876
LabourJames Rowe1,820
ConservativeAntonis Savvides1,742
GreenHoward Javes499
In Childs Hill, split between Jack Cohen of the Lib Dems and the Tories, the 501 Green votes could have delivered one more Lib Dem Councillor, which again would have resulted in a hung council

Childs Hill (3 seats)[6]
ConservativeShimon Ryde1,544
ConservativePeter Zinkin1,536
Liberal DemocratJack Cohen1,509
ConservativeRohit Grover1,500
LabourAndrew Smith1,463
LabourAde Ajakaiye1,408
LabourNila Patel1,381
Liberal DemocratCharlotte Henry1,222
Liberal DemocratJonathan Davies1,198
GreenFrancesco Marasco501
In Hale ward, the 536 Green votes would have delivered two more Labour Councillors and given Labour an outright win.

Hale (3 seats)[6]
ConservativeTom Davey2,178
ConservativeHugh Rayner2,155
LabourKitty Lyons2,019
ConservativeElliot Simberg2,010
LabourPierre Jeanmaire1,994
LabourRoger Lyons1,870
GreenNicolas Ceasar536

In High Barnet, a strong Green show denied Labour one seat, which would have resulted in a hung council
High Barnet (3 seats)[6]
ConservativeWendy Prentice2,171
ConservativeDavid Longstaff2,161
ConservativeBridget Perry2,152
LabourPhil Harding1,209
LabourMarianne Haylett1,188
LabourPaul Levine1,052
GreenPhil Fletcher973
GreenA. M. Poppy922
Liberal DemocratDuncan MacDonald859
GreenValerie Lawson828
Liberal DemocratSean Hooker705
Liberal DemocratJane Gibson631
Total votes14,851
Whatever you may think of the Green Party and their policies and I am very sympathetic to many of them, the case is unarguable. There were four wards in 2014 where the Green party votes clearly influenced the outcome in favour of the Conservatives.  Any in any one of these wards, a single opposition victory would have changed the whole nature of the last four years in Barnet politics.

It could not be clearer why the Conservatives are assisting the Green Party. The reason why the Tories are so successful at elections is because they are masters of the "divide and rule" strategy. Of course we live in a democracy and it is right and proper that the Green Party run candidates wherever they want.  If the Tories want to help them and NO LAWS OR RULES are being broken, that is really an issue for the Greens and The Conservative party.

As far as I am concerned, the issue for those of us who don't want to see a Conservative regime returned to Barnet Town Hall in May, those of us who care about Green Belt Erosion, those of us who want the Council to persue policies that reduce air pollution and those of us who want the Council to actively promote renewable and clean energy, is that a vote for the Green party is effectively a back door vote for the Conservatives. Before Adele Ward spilled the beans, I would have doubted that the Tories would have been so bare faced in their pursuit of power.

You may wonder how the Tories would have helped the Greens? Well the tweet clearly states they shared information on voters intentions. The large parties spend a lot of time canvassing voters and learning how they are likely to vote. They use this to ensure that they deliver the appropriate message on the doorstep and don't waste too much time speaking to people who will never vote for them. If a Tory canvasser knocks on the door and someone says "I'm Labour" then they would mark them as such. If someone says "I don't vote Tory" then that is slightly different. Passing that information onto the Greens means that the much smaller Green canvassing teams can work more effectively.

As to "advice on campaigning techniques", the Conservatives would doubtless be telling the Green party activists to target what they have identified as seats where a Tory opponent voter has softened.

A good example of this is High Barnet, where the Green candidates got their highest vote in Barnet in 2014. The picture was very different in 2010, so lets compare.

High Barnet (3 seats)[6]
ConservativeWendy Prentice3,499
ConservativeBridget Perry3,469
ConservativeDavid Longstaff3,290
Liberal DemocratDuncan MacDonald2,505
Liberal DemocratSean Hooker2,436
Liberal DemocratJonty Stern1,928
LabourSue Russell1,238
LabourPhilip Harding1,233
LabourErach Amaria1,136
GreenMaggie Curati661
GreenRichard Hewison578
GreenTim Riley421

In 2010, Duncan MacDonald and Sean Hooker of the Lib Dems secured a total that would have easily won in 2014. As the Lib Dems were badly hit by their alliance with the Tories in the Coalition between 2010 and 2015, both Labour and the Greens sought to attack the Lib Dem vote. The Greens were telling votes that the Lib Dems were finished and they were now the credible opposition. This is born out by the fact that it was one of the few seats that the Greens ran three candidates.

Sadly the great Green victory in the 2014 Battle of Barnet, simply resulted in a three way split allowing the Tories to march in. The Phyrric victory the Greens achieved was to come third and ensure that the Conservatives won.

The lesson from this is quite simple. The Tories are not supporting the Green Party in Barnet out of the goodness of their heart. They are supporting them because it is good for their own vote. The Greens are happy to be helped, not because they want too advance the progressive agenda in Barnet. They are happy to receive help because their personal vanity means they want to be able to say they've "done well". If they were serious about politics, their website would have a strong local agenda. If any Green party activist tells you they have a chance of winning any seat in Barnet, they are not telling the truth. If any Green party activist tells you they are an alternative to Labour or the Lib Dems in your local ward, they are not telling the truth, because they have no chance of winning. If you believe in the Green Party, it's fine principles and its agenda, and you dislike all of the other parties then yes you should vote for them. If you are voting Green because you think that it will help advance the Green agenda in Barnet, then think again. The Barnet Tories clearly see the Greens as a Fifth Column of "Useful Idiots" who help them win elections.

When the election results are released after the Council elections in May, I for one, hope that I don't wake up to the same result as we saw in 2014. I hope there are not four wards where the Tories hung on to power due to their friends in the Green party.

I have one final question. I believe in openness and honesty in Politics. I trust the Greens do. Adele Ward has behaved in a commendable and honest fashion in revealing that the Torys have been helping her. I think we now need a full and frank disclosure from all of the Barnet Green candidates, past and present, to reveal exactly who has been helped, how they have been helped and what the financial ramifications are of such help.  There are two serious matters to consider. There are strict limits on how much parties can spend on Election campaigns. My questions are as follows:-

1. Have the Barnet Conservatives properly declared the value of the assistance supplied to the Greens in previous elections in their financial returns.
2. Have the Barnet Green Party properly declared the value of the assistance that the Tories have supplied them in their previous election returns.

This is a serious matter and these questions need a proper answer.


Adele Ward said...

This is so silly. Local Tory candidates helped me in the first council elections when I stood in Golders Green ward as I was learning the ropes. There was no chance of any other party winning in Golders Green in 2014 so they were helping me avoid errors. My neighbour and good friend stands for Labour and also helps me. Nobody shows me private resources but it really helps to see how the main parties mobilise their vote on polling day and to hear the predictions of which parties are getting most votes and how that's worked out. You're completely wrong about Hale ward and the anti-Brexit event on Mill Hill Broadway. Adam Langleben asked for it to be there. It was organised by Number 10 Vigil, not Barnet Greens. I made sure other political parties were also invited. Hendon Times got the details of the organisers wrong. You have a great imagination!

Anonymous said...

Well argued, but complete nonsense...

You assume that all Green voters would automatically vote either Labour or LibDem if a Green candidate was not available --- all recent analysis shows that this is not the case.

Conservative voters, when unhappy with their candidate, or their main party, tend to vote Green or LibDem.

Labour voters, when unhappy with their candidate, or their main party, tend to vote Green or LibDem.

Green and LibDem voters, when unhappy with their candidate, or their main party, or when their candidate of choice is not available, tend to simply stay at home and not vote at all.

Your argument is completely bogus.

David Farbey said...

The comment from Adele Ward regarding the friendliness of some individual Tories was made in the context of a discussion of misogyny in political parties. For you to deliberately take this remark out of context and inflate it into a very serious accusation of political "collusion" is, to say the least, ridiculous.

Your description of voting outcomes is enlightening, but not for the reasons you give. It shows very clearly that our current first-past-the-post electoral system disenfranchises a large number of voters, and that a move to a fairer system based on proportional representation is long overdue.