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Thanks Again

So ends my third and final candidacy for the Banbury constituency.

In a way I’ve come full circle in that my result this time was almost identical to my first one in 2015.  I was only 79 votes short of that figure this time with a final result of  2607 votes, giving me 4.1% of the vote share.

In 2015, I received 4.6% with only a slightly higher number of votes, but the turnout was lower then. Sadly this left me about 500 votes short of keeping my deposit this time, which means the Green Party loses £500, but we did our best.

Screenshot_2019-12-13 Banbury (UK Parliament constituency) - Wikipedia

On a personal level I’m fairly happy with that result.  It was more than double the last time I stood and represented a 2.2% increase in my vote share.  That’s the best increase of all the Green Party candidates in Oxfordshire, so that’s nice to have.  You have to look for the positives in these things!

Unfortunately though, positives on a national level are thin on the ground.  With a massive swing to the Tories representing such a shift in our national political landscape, I’m far more concerned about that than I am about my own result.  This is something I’m still processing at the moment as I’m sure many others are.  I have to say I’ve avoided news coverage of the election today as it is just too painful!  Maybe sleep deprivation has played a big part in that as well!

Where we go from here is difficult to say.  I think it’s fairly certain that Brexit will now happen, which I think we will mostly live to regret.  The debate around the referendum has become so polarised now that I’m not sure anyone really knows how we got here.  It’s become an argument about ‘honouring’ a vote that many people no longer really know the point of.  From most of the coverage I’ve seen it’s become about who ‘won’ and who ‘lost’.  It should never have been boiled down to such a simplistic argument.  Especially as I think most of us will eventually be the losers from Brexit.

The “Get Brexit done” slogan is also an absurd reduction of the true impact of one of the most seismic shifts in our fortunes since the second world war.  I still don’t think it’s something we should be treating so lightly.  With so much new information available to us now compared to 2016, we should have had an opportunity to think again.  Just ‘getting it over with’ really isn’t a logical motivation for carrying on with something that I think will be hugely damaging to this country and our economy.  Especially as the poor and the disadvantaged will end up feeling the most pain, which makes it doubly frustrating when so many news reports seem to suggest it’s those very people who voted Tory in this election.

Those of us on the remain side obviously haven’t made a strong enough case to those who seem so eager to jump into the abyss.  Boris Johnson’s lies will, I believe, show themselves to be exactly that when we finally push the button on Brexit.  Sadly it will be too late then to say I told you so to all those who think this will be a positive move.

The climate debate was for me equally as important as Brexit and bound up in the same argument.  This also applies to the other burning issues in the UK at the moment, including the NHS and public services.  I believe we will spend the next 10 years wasting parliamentary time dealing with the intricacies of extricating ourselves from the EU and negotiating disadvantageous deals with countries like the USA, when we should be dealing with the existential threat of climate change and the collapse of our health services.

The other issue exposed by the result is the desperate need for electoral reform.  Westminster has still been carved up by the two main parties who need so few votes to get a seat in the big house.  Whereas parties like the Greens with over 800,000 votes nationally only get on MP.  That really doesn’t make sense and certainly explains why so many people think that voting is a pointless exercise.  Moreover we need to have greater co-operation between parties to achieve electoral reform.  I hope that the one positive that might come out of Labour’s terrible results might be that they will finally be open to talking to other parties about co-operating towards that end.

But I will do what I can to help deal with the worst damage that Brexit and climate change will inevitably do to our society both locally and globally, even though I fear that, with at least another 5 years of majority Conservative government ahead of us, that’s going to be a very difficult task.

It’s not one that I will shirk from though, and I will use my position as a local councillor  to bring as much influence as I can to bear on what will no doubt be many more Tory excesses and attacks on the weakest in our society.  With a Tory dominated District council in Cherwell it’s always an uphill struggle to ‘move the dial’ but that’s not a reason to give up and I won’t be doing that.

Finally, an enormous thank you everyone who helped in my campaign and to everyone who contacted my directly, and through social media, to give me encouragement and support, and of course thank you for giving me your precious vote.  I can assure you that I value it enormously and it was not wasted.

For reasons I’ve explained in another post, no vote you believe in is ever wasted, and in terms of the Green Party it will help us carry on campaigning and, most importantly now, hold the national and local government to account on the environment and climate change.

The fight continues!

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Let’s Get Brexit Done With!

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We should have a second referendum on Brexit with a properly informed and unbiased debate on all the issues surrounding our relationship with the EU.

This has to happen immediately after the election to allow parliament to get back to dealing with the serious challenges facing this country. We don’t need to get brexit done, we need to be done with it, one way or the other, and the only way to decide that is with a vote.

The Green Party is now the ONLY party offering this option as a main policy pledge.

Labour would renegotiate a deal with Europe which we have to assume they would back in any confirmatory referendum (assuming they honour their pledge to give us one). That defines them as a leave backing party. Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that he would be neutral in that campaign shows a continuation of the lack of direction that Labour has had since this whole thing began. If they’re going to back Remain, then why negotiate another deal (assuming that’s even possible), they should be honest with the electorate and get off the fence!

The Libdems are standing on a platform of revoke without a second vote, which I regard as deeply undemocratic. We got ourselves into this position democratically, and we have to get out of it the same way. We can’t simply treat the first vote as if it didn’t happen. the claim that an electoral victory that would put them into government goes against their own argument (and the Green Party’s) that our electoral system is broken. Unless they had more than 50% of the electorate voting them into power, that would not be a mandate for a revoking Article 50. As most governments of recent years have been elected on less that 30%, they would not be able to claim they were taking the majority of the country with them.

As for the Tories, we know they would throw us off the cliff-edge with or without a deal, without a second thought, let alone a second referendum! Just so that Boris Johnson could claim that he’d “got Brexit done”. Even if that means the majority of the country that now appears to want to remain would get ‘done over’!

Democracy did not stop in 2016. We’ve seen over the past three and a half years that the easy Brexit we were told we would get after the referendum has proved anything but. Not only does this suggest that people may have changed their minds, it also means that the demographic of the country has changed and that new population, who will have to deal with the outcome of Brexit, should now get a say. Either way, we know a lot more now about the reality of Brexit than any of us did back in 2016. Surely we should all be able to re-assess our decisions based on this new information.

Most polls now say the majority would vote to remain in the EU. I don’t know if that’s true, or if that’s how a second vote would pan out. But I think we should find out.

I also think those who say the ‘will of the people’ is still to leave shouldn’t be scared to find out. If they’re right, the result of the vote will be the same. If they’re worried that it might not be, that suggests they know that the will of the people has changed, and they simply want to ignore that. That’s not democracy. That’s ignoring the will of the people!

My personal position is that a second vote should be binding (the first one wasn’t) and after that, the decision is final. If that decision is to leave, I will no longer challenge it. I would instead switch my focus to working towards mitigating the worst of the damage that I think will inevitably be done to the social and economic fabric of this country.

Leaving the EU by any means will result in at least a decade of economic hardship for everyone, with the poorest in our society suffering the most.

Parliamentary time will be used up on dealing with the fallout from the severing of our membership of the EU rather than tackling urgent business, such as crumbling public services and climate change.

Businesses will suffer and investment will fall (except in the case of US drugs companies seeking to buy our NHS!).

We must not condemn our citizens to this fate without a fully informed confirmatory vote.

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BBC Radio Oxford Banbury Election Debate

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For those who missed this on Wednesday you can now listen again to me and all the other candidates debating the issues and answering questions from listeners.

Particularly lively on the future of the Horton Hospital and the future of small businesses after Brexit and Victoria Prentis explains why she supports the overturning of the current ban on fox hunting and would like to see more hunting and shooting in the constituency.

The debate starts 2 hours into the programme linked below