Sunday, 9 May 2010

Post-Election Thoughts

So, after a couple of days of blessed sleep - broken only by attending the Take Back Parliament demonstration which demanded that the Lib Dems not sell out electoral reform - I thought I would offer a few closing thoughts on this strangest of General Elections.

Clearly, I was disappointed with the Hackney North result. Both the Green Party vote share and the absolute number of votes we received went down, and we lost our deposit for the first time since 1997. In line with the honest approach I have tried to take on my prospects throughout the election, I'm not going to claim that as a triumph! However, I am also not particularly despondent. This is because the result in 2010 will have exposed two big untruths, which I hope the electorate will remember at the next General Election:

1) "The Lib Dems are poised to win Hackney North".

Oh dear. Regular readers will recall that I called several times for a bit of honesty on this from other candidates, to not much avail. Quite a few people who normally vote Green switched to the Lib Dems in this election, because they thought they were close to challenging Diane. And a few switched to Labour, for the same reason! I hope that Diane's 14,000 majority will now make them think about the argument that I was putting forward - that it is possible in Hackney North to vote for the candidate you most agree with, without having to vote tactically in any direction. If that is a Liberal Democrat, grand. But if you vote Green in every other election, there isn't any need to switch your vote in the General next time.

2) "Vote Labour or there will be a hung council/the Tories will get in".

Double oh dear. I heard both of these arguments at different times in the campaign. Labour now have 50 of 57 seats on the Council, and the Tories, as expected, came a poor third. Again. Hackney is made up of two of the safest Labour seats in the country - no one from the right of politics is going to get in. So, to repeat - you can vote for who you believe in. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Of course, the vast surge in turnout for Labour for the General Election also made the Clissold ward result rather painful reading for me. In both Clissold and Stoke Newington Central our six council candidates got more votes than any Green Party candidate ever has in Hackney. And we lost. By a lot. Frankly, there was simply nothing else we could have done. We knocked on doors every day for months, put out leaflets that spelled out our vision for the borough, ran stalls, worked with community groups - unfortunately, like almost every other Green councillor in London, the General Election and our resulting lack of media exposure did for us.

We are determined to spend the coming years continuing to organise in our community, continuing to help people with their problems, and joining with anyone else in the borough who will be working against swingeing public sector cuts. Unfortunately, they will be imposed on us by whichever of the three establishment parties gets into Government - unless we fight back, nationally, as a movement of people who refuse to allow the public sector to pay for a private financial crisis.

Thanks to all who have read and commented on this blog, and particularly to the thousands of people who cast a vote for me in the Council and General elections. If Hackney Green Party sees fit to select me again - I'll be back!


  1. The small party and independent squeeze was fairly vicious across the whole country. I noticed that in Hackney, north and south, the Green loss was an almost-exact match for the Labour gain... it seems crazy that people would really believe the Tories were close enough to be worth voting against strategically rather than honestly, but at first glance it really does look like you lost half your support to that cause. Hope it goes better for you next time.

  2. It was one of the weirdest of elections - the lib dem surge never materialised etc etc etc. but that should never be an excuse for abandoning doing what you know to be right in politics, and that's what you did Matt.

    You walked the houses, you talked to people, and you put your heart and soul into beleiving hackney could be a better place.

    There's a hope that all that strangeness will have opened a space for us to 'take back parliament', but whatever happens - the uk needs more campaigns like yours matt.

    That's the truth as i beleive it, and in that sense there was no ounze of effort wasted - not matter the dissapointing result.

  3. I agree with many of the arguments made in this post, but I thought I'd share with you the reasons why I voted Labour in Hackney North, despite being very keen for a stronger representation of the Greens in parliament. Firstly, too strong a representation of third and other parties on the left can have the perverse effect that it splits the vote and allows the Tories to get in. This happened all over the country last Thursday - a number of Tory gains were in seats where the vote had split between Lib Dems and Labour, and where other parties had made significant gains. We can all argue for hours about the flaws of the Labour party, but I hope all of us on the left can agree that Labour has done more for our country than the Tories ever have/will. Secondly, and importantly, as it was clear for a number of weeks that this election would probably result in a hung parliament, the size of the popular vote became increasingly important as an indication of legitimacy. I was therefore concerned that Labour should not come third in the popular vote, as this would effectively destroy the main party on the left for years. Lastly, I was worried that a surge in Lib Dem support against Labour would result in a Lib-Con coalition - towards polling day Clegg's language became increasingly suggestive that he had all but ruled out a deal with Labour. My suspicion has subsequently been verified.
    I know this is insanely frustrating for the Greens, but I hope it might shed some light on why so many voters turned to Labour in the end. At times of a serious right-wing challenge, it is understandable that many left-wing voters are keen to rally behind the best hope of defeating the right.
    If it's any consolation, I voted Green for the Council and Mayoral elections :)