notes from JK

Reflections on the Green win in Goldsmid

Going down with swine flu in the final few days of the Goldsmid campaign was pretty galling. I missed those golden last days of campaigning and of course the count…

When party chair Simon Williams rang me with the result I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, the result was beyond my expectations. I had been quietly hoping for a narrow victory over the Tories, but a 350 vote margin – wow! Amy summed it up best with “Goldsmid: Epic Green Win”

Turnout was 9 points above the Regency by-election, I think a sign of the greater interest in the Goldsmid result and warmer weather (the Regency by-election was on a cold 13th December).

There has been some debate in the blogosphere over why people voted Green. Labour activist Dan Wilson argues Greens aren’t passionate about the city, that we’re using it as a vehicle for Westminster success. Nevertheless Wilson also claims Greens don’t have any achievements from 13 years on the council.

All I can say to Dan is, if we didn’t care about this city there’s no way we’d still be working our socks off 13 years later! Many changes were Green initiated from council webcasts to refusing directly elected mayors, much more in our archives.

I think Brighton Politics blogger is right to surmise that Labour’s collapse in support in Goldsmid had many good national and local reasons and that the city’s political landscape has changed. (Former?) Labour activist Neil Harding also agreed with this analysis. Of course fellow Green Cllr Ben Duncan also was keen to celebrate our success.

Mary Mears and others were quick to criticise our policies or claim our leaflets had been misleading. They somehow arrogantly prefer to assume that voters are stupid than actually believe voters may have preferred the policies and approach used by the Green Party! Perhaps easier for our opponents to swallow when facing our second straight by-election win, first seat won off a Tory and first seat in Hove.

Having lead the design and writing of all of our leaflets in Goldsmid I’m very confident in stating they were truthful and straightforward. We discussed our policies on:

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Energy efficiency
  • Housing
  • Honesty & Integrity in public life
  • Older people
  • Transport
  • Waste & Recycling

We also touched on our opposition to privatisation, ID cards, nuclear power & weapons, wars and council tax.

We additionally exposed some of the cosy votes Tories and Labour have taken together, giving each other additional allowances as well as forcing in the new council constitution a year early. Our leaflets had to rebut some of the false allegations from others and explain to voters that Alex was blocked by the Tory mayor from speaking on residents’ behalf.

I’m very happy with how the leaflets were received. Based on what I’ve seen from the opposition we not only covered far more policy than all the others combined, we were more positive and avoided personal attacks.

The other parties were all misleading about us at some point or another but Labour, as usual, excelled in false allegations. They claimed that Alex hadn’t attended local meetings when she had (in fact despite Labour Cllr Melanie Davies trying to block her), claimed Alex was a student when she isn’t and claimed she works for Caroline Lucas MEP when she doesn’t.

So, unless there’s truly a skeleton in the closet to be exposed, I think once again we see negative campaigning doesn’t work.

The Green success story continues, we’re set for more hard work in winning votes for the General Election. And the Green group of councillors know we need to work harder than ever to make this council work for the city and keep people’s faith in us. With power so finely balanced lots of negotiation and detailed proposals will be required but we might, just might, be able to get more Green policies in place if councillors in all parties can stay open minded and resist petty back-biting. We shall see…