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Thanks Once Again

I didn’t think I’d be here writing a second thank you post so soon after the last one. In fact I didn’t really expect to be doing this all again. For someone who isn’t a natural politician, I thought in 2015 that once in a lifetime was enough.

But we did it all again and I have to say I enjoyed most of it as much as I did last time.

I will admit though that the come-down from this campaign has been much harder given that I failed to build on the vote achieved last time. In fact it was reduced, mainly by virtue of people believing they were voting for Jeremy Corbyn.

I do have to say, as I said numerous times during the campaign, Labour had no hopes of winning in this constituency. The Labour candidate is also no supporter of Corbyn. In fact I support him more than he does!

So those previously loyal Green voters who switched this time to Labour really did nothing to help towards a Labour victory in Westminster and have arguably done some damage to the Greens.

The number of votes cast in a general election does count for each party. Not just in electoral terms but also in terms of how much government money is given to that party to continue to be part of the democratic process, something known as ‘short money’. We also have the deposits in each constituency, which at £500 a time is money that a party like the Greens, who don’t have large corporate backers, can ill afford to lose.

Over the whole country the Green vote fell by roughly 50% and that was certainly the case in Banbury. As a result there may well be a lot less chances to vote Green next time we have an election, especially if that’s any time soon. Much of the funds generated in this election will go towards leaflets, deposits and other expenses. The reduction in ‘short money’ will be something of a blow too.

So your vote and your support for the Greens really matters, whether we win or not. Labour won’t face the loss of their deposits and, with hundreds of MP in Parliament and now hundreds of thousands of members, they won’t be short of funds either.

Please remember that next time you think about abandoning the party you say you otherwise support. We’re only here because of that support, and when it’s removed we quickly lose the ability to give you the choice to vote Green in the future.

Every one of those 1250 people who took the trouble to support a party they truly believe in and give me their precious vote yesterday has my personal thanks.

I am of course disappointed that there weren’t more, especially as there were over twice that number just two years ago when our policies were just are relevant as they are now.

The dash to Labour was perhaps understandable in the context of Jeremy Corbyn’s popular appeal, but in a constituency like Banbury and vote for any of the progressive parties would have sent a message of hope and defiance just as effectively as one for Labour.

Sadly, in solidly safe seats like Banbury it’s very unlikely that one party will ever loosen the stranglehold being applied by The Conservatives, so we have to work together as the Greens have done in other constituencies.

Whilst I congratulate Sean for achieving an impressive increase on his vote share, he was still some 12000 votes away from a win. All the time Labour and the Conservatives continue to reject the electoral reform proposed by Greens and the Libdems we’re very unlikely to see individual votes changing the outcome of elections like these.

I’m very pleased on a national level to see The Conservatives on ever more shaky ground and I hope all the other opposition parties in Westminster will work together to thwart what will probably be a severe and extreme right coalition between the Tories and the DUP. I think we see now that this election was less about the good of the country and more about Theresa May clinging on to power at any cost.

As always, it was truly depressing to see the Conservative vote increase in number in a constituency that should be acutely aware of the damage they are likely to wreak on public services, the NHS and in particular the Horton Hospital which is now very likely to be completely downgraded or closed if the Conservatives maintain power.

Thanks to everyone who worked on my campaign and to the other candidates for a clean and well fought fight. I hope going forward, progressive parties in Banbury may work more closely together to achieve real social change and electoral reform, that way we can ensure every voice and every vote counts in the future.

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If You’re A Green Vote Green! There Is No Tactical Vote In Banbury

 

Just a reminder to everyone to get out and vote today. even if you don’t agree with any of the parties, go to the polling station and spoil your ballot paper. Send a message. Or make a protest vote for another party.

And remember there’s a difference between a tactical vote and a protest vote. A tactical vote is where you vote for a party you may not agree entirely with, because they have a chance of beating the party you totally disagree with.

Sadly in Banbury there is no tactical vote, It’s very unlikely that the 100 year long Conservative majority can be overturned by any of the opposition parties.

So vote for what you believe in and for the party that has always represented your views. If you’re a Labour supporter, vote Labour. A Green, vote Green. Libdem, vote Libdem. UKIP (are their really any left) vote UKIP.

I hope that if you’ve been a Green supporter in the past you’ll vote for me and help send the Green message to Parliament.  Switching to Labour might seem like a good idea this time, after all the Labour manifesto is full of Green policies from our 2015 manifesto (much to the delight of the Green Party), but abandoning your true allegiance now won’t make any difference to Labour’s chances of winning, but will reduce the Green Party’s standing in future elections.

Unless you’re a Tory, switching parties now isn’t going to make a difference to the final result. But any non-Tory vote will at least reduce that majority and send a message to The Conservatives that they can’t take this constituency for granted.

But whatever you do don’t ignore this vote. It’s probably the most important one you’ll ever cast.

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If You Want The Tories Out, Voting Labour Is Not Always Your Best Alternative

I love a bit of comedy as much as the next person, but I do sometimes wish comedians would stay out of politics.

In 2015 Russell Brand advised young people not to vote as part of his personal philosophy of half-baked revolution. As a result he bears some of the blame for a Conservative majority borne on the backs of the large number of older voters who didn’t see the 2 minutes it took to mark an X on a ballot sheet as so desperately uncool.

This time we have Ricky Gervais leaping into the fray with this tweet :

“OK. I’m not telling you how to vote, but this is a fact. The only vote that will keep Theresa May out is a vote for @jeremycorbyn. Cheers”

Whilst not quite so devoid of acumen as Brand’s ill-conceived advice, Ricky’s more well meaning call to action could be equally as dangerous.

Essentially he IS telling his fans how to vote, and his less politically astute followers may not realise the pitfalls of such a binary choice.

The reality is that in many constituencies a vote for Corybn will not keep Theresa May out. The real fact is that it may do the exact opposite.

Sadly, even after repeated calls from other parties to enter into an ad-hoc alliance, Labour has resolutely refused to stand aside in any constituency. Whereas, for example, The Green Party has done so now in well over 30 seats.

In many of those seats the Libdems have a much better chance of winning than Labour. In some others the Greens or the SNP could have it in the bag. Voting Labour could then very well help the Tories by splitting the opposition.

By selling the idea that a vote for Labour is a vote against the Tories, no matter where you are, The Labour party and many of its supporters could be handing another victory to the Conservatives.

I’m not usually an advocate of tactical voting, but needs must when the devil drives, and I see the devil behind the eyes of the Conservatives. But tactical voting has to be just that. It doesn’t simply mean voting Labour as the only alternative.

Under our broken electoral system the only place votes really count are in marginal constituencies. Until we get electoral reform and a system of proportional representation, that won’t change. And let’s not forget that Labour supports our first past the post system just as much as the Tories do.

But even in a safe seat your vote can make a real difference. In 2015 UKIP gave the Conservatives a real run for their money. Even though they only won one seat in Parliament they put the Tories on notice that they were there, close behind, snapping at their heels.

The result was the delivery of a referendum on EU membership and the subsequent lurch to the right that followed in the footsteps of Theresa May. The Conservative manifesto, such as it is, represents one of the most extreme right outlooks for the UK for many generations. It makes Margaret Thatcher’s vision look like a tie-dyed, rose tinted call to action for the love generation. It has even been compared to the BNP’s warped ideological ramblings from the 1980s, and not without cause.

This can be directly traced to UKIP’s influence and its validation of ideals that make a hard line, right wing agenda more palatable to people who wouldn’t dream of dancing to the tune of more overtly hard right parties.

Likewise the nomination and election of Jeremy Corbyn can, to a large extent, be laid at the feet of the Green Party. There can’t be many Greens who haven’t noticed just how many of our clothes have recently been stolen by Corbyn’s party. And many of us are happy to be standing here in our underwear, glad that so many of our policies have been subsumed into the Labour manifesto. The sincerest form of flattery and all that.

But it has to be remembered that the rise of Green membership and our increasing success in both national and local elections is arguably a major driving force behind Labour’s newly rediscovered left wing credentials and a strong Green vote will help them keep that focus.

Voting for parties that may not be mainstream, and may not have a chance of winning is not a wasted vote. Even less so in constituencies where the seat is safer than a Roy Chubby Brown joke at a UKIP convention. A vote for the party that more closely reflects your views has a demonstrable impact on those do so to a lesser extent.

In the case of Labour, voting for them in constituencies they can’t win may not just prevent other parties from doing so, it also reinforces the status quo of a de facto two party state and removes Labour’s incentive to join an alliance or support electoral reform if, as is still being predicted, they don’t have a majority on June 9th.

Even if Labour were to win, there’s a very good chance that Corbyn could be unseated early on in his reign, by a parliamentary party who still don’t wholeheartedly support him. Without the threat of other left wing alternatives looking over their shoulders, it’s entirely possible that Labour will drift back to the same Tory-lite, neoliberalism that they were so conformable with last time.

So unless you have a realistic opportunity of a tactical vote in your constituency, just voting for the ‘other guy’ (or gal) won’t send any sort of message other than a validation of entrenched positions.

If you’re not going to see real change this time around. If your vote is only going to be lost in a sea of others who voted forlornly for the a close second, or the next best thing, use it to support those who will affect real change in the longer term by holding toes to the fire in the meantime.