Friday, May 05, 2006

Long story, tall story

… Or why I decided not to vote for the Socialist Party.

You know those websites with the domain names based on common mis-spellings of popular websites? You accidentally transpose two letters and instead on getting the site you wanted, there’s some lame site covered in banner adverts trying to hard-sell you something. If you’re like me, you probably make a mental note never to buy those products. Why? For the simple reason, that no one likes being deceived, mislead and made a fool of. And that’s why I decided not to vote for the Socialist Party in my local elections.

My decision had nothing to do with their policies or record. In fact, I was seriously considering giving them my vote. For 24 hours, I’d actually decided to vote Socialist. So what happened?

Well, I had planned to vote Green as my first choice and Socialist second, but then a leaflet came through my door saying the Greens were asking their supporters to vote for the Socialist Party.

The leaflet said:

“As a green socialist, I would strongly urge potential Green Party supporters in Telegraph Hill ward to consider voting for Ian Page, Chris Flood and Jess Leech in Thursday’s council elections.

Ian and Chris have a proven track record of working with Darren Johnson on Lewisham council. Jess Leech is a committed housing campaigner who has played an important role in working with tenants to defend council housing.

For the first time in many years there is a real prospect of a number of green and socialist councillors being elected and working together to put forward radical policies to defend both the environment and working people. New Labour have abandoned both, locally and nationally.

In Telegraph Hill ward, green voters should recognise that defeating New Labour is key. And I would ask socialists in the neighbouring Brocley ward to vote Green.”

Nick Long
The Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for Lewisham West in the 2005 general election

Cool, I thought, no problem. Obviously the Greens and the Socialists had entered an election pact. Obviously, though I’d decided to vote for them, the Greens weren’t running candidates in my ward (or they’d withdrawn), and since it was okay with them, the Socialists could have my vote. Problem was, it was bollocks!

I only smelt a rat when I brought this up with my boyfriend when we were making arrangements to go and vote after work. He said “but the Greens are fielding candidates”. Really? So I checked. They were.

I smelt a rat because this was extraordinary! Why would a party put candidates forward and then instruct their supporters to vote for another party? So I phoned Darren Johnson and put the question to him. He said it was “absurd” and that the Greens certainly had not put out a call to its supporters to abandon their candidates and vote Socialist instead.

So the whole thing was a scam by the Socialist Party. My current theory is that Nick Long has left the Green Party and joined the Socialist Party, but is so dishonest that he’s willing to pass himself off as a Green.

Sure, the wording “The Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for Lewisham West in the 2005 general election” does not technically – in the strictest legal sense – mean that he is a current member of the party, but legal technicalities are not the essence of good faith. It is obvious that the average person would reasonably infer that he spoke on behalf of the party. It is also a no-brainer that this is what the Socialist Party intended the reasonable person to infer.

So they lost my vote. I don’t like being lied to, misled and deceived. If that’s what it takes to win an election, I have to doubt that that’s what it will take to stay in office. And who needs another lying, cheating and deceiving politician?

If Nick Long is still in the Green Party, then I hope he’ll be chucked out. What he did is nothing short of a betrayal of his colleagues. If I were Kathleen Easton, Dan Hudson or Nick Stone I’d be hopping mad! What is the point of securing your Party’s endorsement as candidates, putting everything into fighting an election, only to be undermined by another (supposed) colleague calling for your natural support base to vote for a rival party.

Disgraceful.

19 Comments:

At 2:28 pm, Anonymous Richard Farnos said...

Err Brett, I thought you lived in Kent?

 
At 2:30 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Nope.

 
At 2:30 pm, Blogger DADA TURNS RED said...

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At 2:36 pm, Blogger DADA TURNS RED said...

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At 2:39 pm, Blogger DADA TURNS RED said...

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At 2:59 pm, Blogger DADA TURNS RED said...

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At 3:22 pm, Blogger DADA TURNS RED said...

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At 3:24 pm, Blogger DADA TURNS RED said...

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At 4:36 pm, Anonymous Mark P said...

Brett,

Nowhere have the Socialist Party in Lewisham claimed that the Green Party were not standing candidates in the Telegraph Hill Ward. Nowhere did they claim that the Green Party had entered into an electoral pact with them. In fact it would be very unlikely that either event would occur - the Greens are notoriously unwilling to cooperate with the socialist left, seeing them as irritating minor rivals.

What the Socialist Party did say was that one of the most prominent local Green activists over recent years in that area had decided to support the Socialist Party. This is no different to the regular practice on the left of including endorsements from Labour figures (former councillors, MPs or whatever) who are supporting their campaign.

It is a good thing that someone who was the Green Party candidate for Westminster just a year ago was supporting South London's only socialist councillors in their reelection campaign. And it is certainly something that was worth publicising. The mere fact that the Greens insisted on standing against them, in circumstances where the GP could not itself win but could at most succeed in handing the ward back to Labour, is revealing however.

You will no doubt be glad to hear that the two sitting Socialist Party councillors were reelected - apparently no thanks to you as you were wasting your vote on the Greens.

 
At 12:37 am, Anonymous socialistsuzy said...

ditto to what mark said.
i find it disgusting that the green party would stand when their local campaigners support us and our candidates who have such a strong base in the area, which just opens to the door for labour because when you look at the vote figures for the ward it is a two horse race between us and labour.
our leaflet nor any other of our material said that the greens weren't standing.

 
At 10:00 am, Blogger Brett Lock said...

"Nowhere have the Socialist Party in Lewisham claimed that the Green Party were not standing candidates in the Telegraph Hill Ward. Nowhere did they claim that the Green Party had entered into an electoral pact with them."

I know they didn't 'say' that in a legalistic sense, but that is certainly the impression the leaftlet was intended to convey.

It Nick Long had defected, then it would have been honest to say so, rather than make it look as if he spoke as a member of the Green Party.

And I must say, I find this whole "wasting your vote" rhetoric, very undemocratic.

 
At 10:39 am, Blogger DADA TURNS RED said...

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At 10:55 am, Blogger Brett Lock said...

I did read the leaflet carefully, and I showed it to several random aquaintences and asked them what they thought the leaflet meant. They ALL gave the same answer.

Since Nick Long does not indicate he is either speaking in a personal capacity OR that he is no longer a member of the Greens, the average reasonable person inferred that this was an election pact endorsement.

The leaflet further says "Ian and Chris (SP candidates) have a proven track record of working with Darren Johnson on Lewisham council".

It is interesting that you now slag off Darren Johnson. But it is more interesting that you ran a candidate against him, while criticising his party for running a candidate against yours.

I am further surprised that the Socialist Party candidate in Brockley running against the Greens wasn't absolutely furious that his own party in a neigbouring ward put out literature asking Socialists not to vote for him. I would have been.

 
At 5:22 pm, Anonymous Mark P said...

Brett, I have little patience for your bizarre ranting here. I suspect in fact that you were always likely to support the Greens over the Socialists and have just siezed on this leaflet to justify yourself.

I will point out though that as on much else you are mistaken when you talk about the Socialist Party standing a candidate in Brockley. It did no such thing. Toby Abse (who I would have voted for were I in Brockley) is not a member of the Socialist Party. He was standing for the Alliance for Green Socialism, a leftist/environmentalist group which is strongest in Leeds but also has a branch in South London.

 
At 6:05 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Well, Marc P, now I'm even more glad I voted for someone else, because the first reaction of unprincipled scoundels is to question the motives of the critic rather than answering the criticism itself.

 
At 9:45 pm, Anonymous Brian Miller said...

i find it disgusting that the green party would stand

Yes, I mean, how dare the Greens participate in the public democratic process by running candidates?

They should subsume to the Socialists.

Who, of course, should subsume to New Labour, because all this divisiveness only ensures the Tories will win!

Gosh, political bullying is so predictable. :)

 
At 8:17 pm, Anonymous Tom said...

So if I understand it correctly from the comments on here the story goes something like this...
1)SP has 2 councilors. Seeing as they are up for reelection they try to negotiate with Greens not to stand their own candidates. The Greens do anyway.

2) A prominent local Green party member and activist disagrees with the decision by the Greens and says that he supports the SP candidates as they have the best chance of beating the Blairites.

3) The SP puts a section on its leaflets written by the local Green Party activist. (Something which most parties would do, including the Greens if a SP general election candidate made a similar comment.)

4) Brett Lock gets said leaflet, reads it and after discussion with boyfriend about the Green candidates decides to blame the SP for the fact the Greens have a disagreement in their own ranks.

5) Brett votes Green.

6) SP wins seats.

7) Brett writes blog entry about the leaflet attacking the SP for running an election campaign.

8) I write this post.

I think this is a fair look at what occured. Now the most important thing is to work together and get some progress made. Hopefully in the fututre their will be greater dialogue between the Greens and the SP and arrangements to work together to get progressives into power which local Green party activists will agree with and not speak out against.

 
At 8:41 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Well, Tom, your comrades can't seem to make up their minds whether Long is a current Green or had defected. Either way, the criticism is that he was not identified as a Green dissenter or a former member, but it was made to appear to the casual reader that there was some sort of pact and that he was speaking in some official capacity.

Whatever reasons the Socialist Party had for obscuring these details is up to them, but I feel that it is playing your voters like mugs. If the situation had been explained in an open, frank and transparent way, I'm sure the majority of reasonable people would have conceded the point. But they weren't given the opportunity because the weren't trusted to do so.

That "most parties would do it" cuts no ice with me. Your 'Point 1' was not brought to the electorate's attention, so we had no opportunity to agree or disagree with that judgement. The "most parties" comment concretises for me how easy it is to slip into 'Blairite' thinking. I'd be careful if I were you.

Explain the sitation frankly and give people the chance to do the right thing. That's how you hang onto your soul.

 
At 4:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick Long has an interesting history. He was a member of the Socialist Labour Party and fought Lewisham West for them in 1997, but then resigned. In 2001 he fought Lewisham West as "Independent Labour/ Green Socialist (Socialist Alliance)", being endorsed by the Green Socialist Network and the Left Alliance (who later merged to become the Alliance for Green Socialism). Despite his title, he was not an official Socialist Alliance candidate.

In 2005 he was indeed the Green Party candidate in Lewisham West.

- David Boothroyd

 

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