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Thank You From Your New County Councillor

It’s been a busy 11 days since the election! So busy I’ve not been able to properly thank everyone who supported and voted for me on May 6th.

As the count was delayed until the 9th May and went on until late in the evening, it wasn’t until the 10th that it began to sink in that I’d actually won, beating a long standing councillor who had become something of a fixture in the area.

It was a fantastic election for the Greens across the country with us winning nearly 100 new seats. Some of the notable highlights were :

  • Greens in first place across Bristol West and Sheffield Central constituencies
  • Gained representation on 18 councils, bringing the total tally of councils with Green representation to 141.
  • Gained 99 seats – now 445 councillors across England and Wales
  • Won 24 seats on Bristol City Council – now joint largest party with Labour.

And of course in Oxford we won many new seats with an extra seat gained on the city council and 2 new seats on the county council, myself included! After we retained our original seat on the county with Dr Pete Sudbury, that gives us 3 seats along with Robin Bennett who is also the deputy leader of South Oxfordshire District Council. I’m looking forward to working with both of them.

The out-turn of all this in Oxfordshire is that the Conservatives have been pushed into being the opposition party on the county for the first time ever! While they are currently showing as having 22 seats on the council, they actually only have 21 as an extra seat was gained due to a mistake made at the count that will be corrected in the high court in the next few weeks. There’s also some exciting news in the pipeline about what that means for the next administration of the council that I can’t reveal at the moment. But look out on Monday evening for an important announcement!

Meanwhile, the Green surge continues, and thanks to you I am part of that! So a huge thank you goes out to everyone who worked on my campaign, donated money to it and of course to the people who voted for me. I will do my best to not let you down. I will be starting work on the council in the next week or so, after all the dust has settled and I am properly plugged into the systems there. The first part of that is the council AGM which will be held on Tuesday in Banbury.

In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any issues you want me to look at. My first priority is going to be looking at what we can do about the state of the roads in this area. I’ve already been contacted by several people who have raised this with me and I know from my own experience that this is a very important local issue. I hope I can hit the ground running and make some visible progress on this soon.

It’s going to be an exciting few years with huge changes afoot in Oxfordshire and you’re all part of that, so thank you all again!

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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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Thank You From Your New Councillor

ian middleton winning picture

Well this is a post I never expected to be able to make!

As most of you will know I won the election for Kidlington East yesterday and am now a brand new district councillor, as well as a councillor on Kidlington and Yarnton Parish councils.

The district election was a close run thing, with a majority of only 73, which required a re-count to confirm (not that anyone actually asked for a re-count but that’s another story!).

I now join hundreds of new Green councillors across the country in what can only be described as a tsunami of Green votes that have given us our greatest gains in recent memory (possibly ever!).

It’s fantastic to be a part of such a historic event and I look forward to doing all those things I promised I would do during the election. Holding the council to account on local services, defending our green spaces and making sure Kidlington gets a fair hearing at council meetings.

I will also be focussing on climate change, as you’d expect from a Green councillor.

My thanks go to everyone who voted for me and believed in me, as well as my dedicated team of helpers and supporters, many of whom went the extra mile for me in the final days, working tirelessly in the run up to what was a very close election.

It’s been a very hard 10 weeks of campaigning and I’m only just coming to terms with actually winning after 7 years of being a runner-up.

Everything we did during the campaign counted towards that result. Just missing out one step or one person not being there could have cost us the win.

My thanks also go out to my partners on the Libdem side without whom none of this would have been possible. Special thanks to Neil Fawcett, Alaric Rose, Doug Williamson, Conor McKenzie, Katherine T. Tyson, and of course my superb MP Layla Moran. Congratulations also go to Conrad and Katherine who both also won their seats in Kidlington West and on Kidlington Parish Council. I’m very happy not to be the only newbie on both counts!

My congratulations also go out to all those other Oxfordshire Greens who won yesterday, especially Robert Nixon in Bicester, Cheryl Briggs in Abingdon, Robin Bennett in Berinsfield and Sue Roberts in Wallingford.

It’s all been a massive team effort and I feel very honoured to have been given so much help to get to this place. I hope I can justify your faith in me.

I’ll be sending out personal thanks to everyone in the coming days, but for now I hope you’ll enjoy basking in the glow of what has been a great few days for the Greens and will hopefully go on to be a sign of things to come!