Thursday, March 31, 2005

So tired

Brief note just to say I'm completely shattered. Got in from work at 8pm tonight and with about 30mins worth of breaks, I've been solidly on the phone until just now.

If I had a 26hr day I'd be absolutely fine. Just going to get something to eat before getting six hours of sleep and going to work again. Don't let anyone persuade you that elections are just glamorous ego-trips. There is a hell of a lot of hard work that needs to go in every day.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Media hits

The good news is that Keith Taylor's reply to Tariq Ali went straight into the letters page in today's Guardian. I'm also expecting a letter from me in the Telegraph tomorrow that talks about "the gardening vote" which I think I've invented (in this campaign at least), but not patented.

Rainfall over the winter has been minimal. We are already looking at hosepipe bans in place by late spring and this is just a sign of things to come. Gardeners come in all political colours but if their gardens are threatened by the changes in climate now, quite a few might start considering who exactly is going to deal with the long term problem. The obvious answer is to elect a couple of Green MPs as a start. I'm not expecting everyone with a hoe to rush out and vote Green, but just a couple of thousand non-typical Green voters might be enough to swing things in Brighton.

Back to Liverpool briefly. I've found out that a local public meeting is clashing with our national campaign launch (which I can't yet reveal) so I'm trying hard to rearrange and offer early personal apologies. A lot of this electioneering is about managing time. My personal wish right now would be a 26 hour day, with an extra hour of work + an extra hour of sleep. All this after what was supposed to be a restful Bank holiday weekend.

Mini rant addition from me - Labour are still trying to sell us the concept of a Tory government. The latest poll suggests a 12 point Labour lead. I think that Labour are trying to have their cake and eat it. Although a lot of traditional Labour voters will desert them because of the Iraq war, the fact that the economy is sound and that Blair is now virtually indistiguishable from pre-Thatcher Conservatives means that Labour can expect to attract voters that might in the past have voted Tory.

Howard's negative "dog whistle" politics will encourage a lot of moderate Tories to vote Labour or to not even bother. People think of the Tories as a tribal allegiance for 35% of the population. That might have been true 15 years ago but not now, which is a simple fact of demographics. Right now, if you ask the average voter to name 3 front bench Tories other than Howard they will struggle. The Tories are not a government in waiting. The worst thing for Britain would be for us to wake up on May 6th with another 100+ Labour majority but as things stand, that looks the most likely outcome for me at this point.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Times and our PEB

The interview with the Times reporter yesterday went well. The Times is preparing an election supplement that will go out shortly after the initial announcement and the first positive is that we have been included. The second point is that they listened to the points I made, particularly on Brighton Pavilion, but also on Leeds West and Lewisham Deptford. The new information for them was on the strategic voting websites, and they were very interested to learn we were being backed by not just one, but all of them in particular locations.

The first priority today was to get a response to Tariq Ali's article in the Guardian, where he chooses to rule out voting Green at the General Election. Not only is this factually wrong if you live in Brighton, Lewisham or Leeds particularly, but I also think it is the wrong way to go about bringing change in the UK political system.

Today I've so far been rushing around to drum up volunteers for our Party Election Broadcast filming at Toxteth TV. The event went well and I'm really looking forward to seeing the final product mid-April. Our director is a famous independent film producer/director and he is doing a marvellous job. My impression is that the broadcast will be groundbreaking in its impact.

I'll get on with some more work now as it is still early in the day.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Phone conferences

I'll be honest and say that I struggle with phone conferences. They are very green and save on travel and expense, but you miss so much without the visual cues at meetings. Our Communication Committee meeting hammered out the final details for our campaign launch and a couple of the up and coming pre-election events. Can't really give anything confidential away right now, but you'll probably find we spring a couple of surprises on the other parties.

The Press Office have asked me to contact The Times who are running an election supplement apparently. They've asked for our input and an overview of the Green campaign. So I'm swotting up on some figures tonight ahead of tomorrow morning's phone call. Times readers are not perceived to be our natural supporters but there is clearly no such thing as bad election publicity.

Final point tonight. I'm going to start running a tally chart on ideas that other parties take from the Greens (for example):

2004 Green slogan at the Euros "Real Progress"
2005 Lib Dem slogan for the GE "Real Alternative"

Although we obviously we can't patent "Real..." I only hope the Lib Dems didn't pay marketing bods lots of cash to come up with it, and actually did lift it from us, otherwise they might feel as though they haven't got value for money. Imitation is of course, a sincere form of flattery.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Great day

All round it's been a really constructive 24 hours. We seemed to have hammered out the final editorial points on our General Election Manifesto and my day job has been pretty rewarding as well.

I'm currently working with a number of disadvantaged kids in Manchester, and I'd recently tried writing to some of the local football clubs, which form a big part of these kids lives. Man City, Man Utd and Oldham have all come good with 2 tickets each, 1 for the child and 1 for a carer. It has been an absolute pleasure to ring up the residential workers and let them know that their kid gets the chance to go to a match - something they might never get the chance to do otherwise.

Back to politics though... Tory posters are springing up around Liverpool. I'm still assessing the reason for this seemingly pointless use of election budget in an area where they won't win seats. If we break it down into some kind of Tory calculation, I think it goes something like:

Tory results in 2001 + Boris Johnson effect = Lost deposits

In Liverpool Walton the Tories got just 6.1% last time and Liverpool Riverside was not a lot better with a poor 8.4%

Already local Tories increasingly vote Lib Dem on a tactical basis, and will do so again this year. Without some kind of election expenditure, the Conservatives may be looking at lost deposits in places like Liverpool, Salford and Manchester. The inside information that anti-racist campaigners have about the local Bullying No-action Party is that they are actively targeting weak Tory areas in an attempt to displace them. This could also be a factor.

Success for most long standing Liverpool Greens would be a 5% vote and us holding our deposit. I personally would like to be more ambitious than that. I think we can actually finish ahead of the Conservatives as long as we are visible in the local media. The Tories don't seem to have found a candidate yet, and after John Prescott's slip of the tongue today, they need to get a move on. Someone parachuted in from elsewhere will also have a negative effect on their support, as Liverpool's people tend to prefer someone who lives locally.

Finally, I've noticed that the usual online suspects that chase me around on the net are making their comments wherever possible. I'll always try and keep the debate on the issues or analysis, but the party political hacks quickly give themselves away as they just can't help personalising things when they are struggling in the debate. This tends to be worse from the Labour Party side. I reluctantly admit to having campaigned for Labour in a marginal seat in London in 1997, when the country was crying out for change. Since then I think disappointment is my overall feeling about this government, punctuated at times by real anger. The fact that I was once a Labour supporter explains the New Labour hostility.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Keith Taylor PPC Brighton Pavilion at the Peace Poster launch. Posted by Hello

Weekend campaigning

A lot of this weekend has been taken up with national campaigning. Our Peace Poster was launched on Friday and despite initial coverage from Epolitix, the Guardian and Independent failed to run this on Saturday. I'll be trying to upload the image to this blog if I can.

It is fairly tough to get coverage as a smaller party. Greens are polling about 2% nationally while the Lib Dems are polling around 20%. When you think about 1/10th of the coverage for the Lib Dems, you can see how tough it is to get national media coverage.

Saturday saw the filming of some of our Party Election Broadcast down in London with the Peace March well supported by Greens. Caroline Lucas was much in demand (as usual) but was able to do her bit as well! I was also able to combine a meeting on party finance with the 2nd half of the Wales v Ireland game.

Back in Liverpool on Sunday for an envelope stuffing day as we prepared campaign packs for local members and supporters and updated the Liverpool Green Party website. Fortunately for team building reasons, we then took a break to attend to the most important event in Liverpool's calender that weekend. Liverpool of course won, but Everton's late goal kept blue Greens interested until the end. My personal final draft leaflet has arrived as a PDF and I am happy to see it completed.

Monday was taken up fielding telephone calls, particularly on our national manifesto and manifesto launch. More details to follow, but suffice to say that we are doing something that no other party has yet thought of. I also find out that we've had a councillor defect to us from the Liberal Democrats in Suffolk. The key members of the national executive discussed a couple of strategic matters by phone conference and we distributed our election timetable to candidates.

Today's poll in the Guardian is positive. We remain on 2% nationally but the key for this election in my opinion is to re-establish us as the 4th party in Britain. Unlike certain single issue parties, we are trying to fight all elections and make real changes at a local level. Brighton Pavilion is still looking good for us and 3 of the tactical voting websites are now backing the Greens to win there. It is still an uphill struggle but it is a sign of how far we have come that we are now considered contenders for a seat at Westminster.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Campaign Meeting and Freepost

Liverpool Green Party met this Wednesday with 15+ attendees... That number is more than 1/4 of the party membership within Riverside, so the enthusiasm for the election is building.

As an underfunded party, our best resource is our members and our supporters. The campaign has formal positions, but essentially the membership is organic, and can support me by providing contact details for local groups and acting as a network campaign. It is a really positive feeling to hear some of the creative ideas coming from the meeting and includes a great deal of stuff I would never have thought of. Our collective intelligence and abilities is a lot greater than I could ever generate as an individual.

The final editing for our Freepost leaflet is now complete, and I've put my money where my mouth is by upgrading to the addressed Freepost scheme within the Green Party. Every voter on the Electoral Roll within Riverside will now receive a leaflet, which is of course going to be 100% recycled. This is one example of Green principles in action - why can't Labour or the Lib Dems use recycled paper for their leaflets?

When I asked one of my rival candidates about this at last year's local elections when they might start using recycled paper, the response was, "when it is cheaper". Short sighted. If everything in a campaign is based on how cheaply they can get things done, it makes you wonder what kind of council or government decisions get made on the same principle.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Basic campaign aims

I'm being absolutely honest when I say that we will not win Liverpool Riverside. New Labour got over 70% of the vote in 2001 and even with a substantial swing away from them, will hold this seat. Unsurprisingly faced with the same situation in 2001, voters didn't bother to go to the polls in Riverside, as they were unable to influence the result.

Our campaign in Riverside will let people know that although voting Labour (or Liberal Democrat) will have no effect on the result, a vote for the Green Party will have an impact. I'd also invite people to take the radical step of voting for a party they can believe in, rather than choosing the least worst option.

We didn't stand in 2001, but our share of the vote at the local elections for Riverside was over 10%. I'm optimistic that we can hold our deposit and my ambition is to ensure that the Tories finish a poor 4th behind us. Our constituency is symbolic for the Mersey region as it is Riverside and has a large area of land susceptible to flooding as the impact of climate change increases in the next decades. A strong vote here will resonate elsewhere on Merseyside.

A vote for the Greens is the only vote against PFI initiatives and the future privatisation of Liverpool's city centre. Labour and the Lib Dems are essentially singing from the same (neo-Conservative) songsheet.


My name is Peter Cranie and I'm going to be standing as the Green Party candidate in the Liverpool Riverside constituency. Add that to my role as the Election Co-ordinator on the Green Party Executive and working full time, I expect to be pretty busy over the next couple of months. If you are reading my blog then I'm pledging to try and keep things as up to date as possible for you.