The Greens Need to Move Up Several Gears

I have been accused of being anti-Green in recent posts. Far from it.  The Greens, who are sensitive lot, should view me as a critical friend. The Greens have aspirations for national office through Caroline Lucas as the first ever Green MP. I have previously advocated a Green vote for Alex Phillips in the Goldsmid by-election. I came close to advocating a Green vote for Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion but have held back because of what I see to be the poor campaigning qualities of Green councillors locally.

By contrast, I see an energetic and high profile, principled campaign by Nancy Platts for Labour.  I remain torn although Nancy has definitely strengthened her standing over the last 2 months (although I think she is failing to use the Argus effectively).

Scott Redding takes me to task from time to time. It has been suggested that he is a press officer for the Green Party. I don’t know if this is correct but if it is I worry more about the Greens. He posted a comment listing four, yes a whole four, news stories in the Argus in the last three weeks.

I was involved in a campaign in the 1980’s when a Labour candidate set a target of 100 stories in the Argus in 100 days. He failed when he only got 96 within the set time! And he was a candidate for Council, not Parliament.

The Greens damn themselves with their own self-justification. They need to be swamping the local paper, have mass door-knocking events in Brighton Pavilion, at least once each month in each Ward, but fortnightly if they are really serious about winning.  The Greens must (pardon the un-Green expression) move up several gears if they are to lead this race.

The Greens have three significant advantages over Nancy Platts: They are not Labour; they are seen as a fresh alternative; and they have enthusiastic supporters with an eye on the prize. Their three disadvantage are: they have few members who understand campaigning; their narrow City-centre base; and an absentee candidate..

Nancy Platts has one advantage over the Greens – Nancy Platts the Candidate.

Finally, having advocating a Green vote for Alex Phillips in Goldsmid, and now being critical of her invisibility, I do encourage you all to support her in her fundraising efforts for Rise, formerly the Women’s Refuge Project.  Alex is fundraising for Rise  through  Just Giving – http://shar.es/1qlZB

Nominate your community campaigner

I recently blogged about the lack of any meaningful campaign against the closure of post offices. From the responses received, comments made to me, and my own observations, we seem to have a generation of politicians who lack an understanding of what campaigning is.

Dan Wilson, in support of Nancy Platts, said: “There has been activity in Brighton: Nancy Platts has been supporting the CWU campaign against Royal Mail privatisation and post office closures” and provides a link to Nancy’s website

Nancy is quoted on her website as saying, “Recently, I was pleased to join colleagues from the CWU and support their campaign against the privatisation of Royal Mail. Unfortunatly, as you can see, the elements were against us. It’s such an important issue that we braved the rain nonetheless.  Post Offices and the Royal Mail are at the core of our communities and I oppose anything that weakens their important social role”.

The picture she has posted underlines the point I am making – a trade union banner on the seafront (in appalling weather). Being photographed on the seafront is not campaigning. It is a photo opportunity.  A campaign would have been gathering signatures outside a threatened post office for days, even weeks, galvanising local people (not party activists) to form a campaign group, and then allowing them to lead it, true community empowerment. Nothing short of this is tokenism.

Scott Redding talks up the Greens record on post office closure, that “not just in Brighton, but around the country, Greens have campaigned against post office closures. The first two pages of hits describe Green campaigns in Gloucestershire, Kent, Lancaster, Leamington, Leicester, London, St Ives, Stroud and Sutton”. Impressive, Scott, but not in Brighton. We have had so many post offices closed and the Greens have been conspicuous by their absence in any campaign to save any single one of them. I don’t expect Caroline Lucas to take the lead (I am often told by Green friends that she is fully occupied in Brussels and as Party Leader), but where have the local Green councillors been? Bill Randall understands activism, but do many of the other Greens?

I go to community meetings where both Green and Labour councillors display a stunning lack of awareness that scoring party political points off each other is one of the great killers of enthusiasm for the party political process.

What we need are exmples of true community activists who can pull together a good community campaign. Would anyone like to nominate a good example?