Thursday, April 28, 2005

Election Broadcast Response

Party office has just knocked off know after fielding Party Election broadcast calls all night. We are really pleased with the telephone response and that's before we get to checking the website entries. The feedback I've had from members has been pretty encouraging and if you google "green party" + "franz ferdinand" the hit total is fantastic. We've reached the parts that other party broadcasts don't reach.

Hustings for tomorrow night have been cancelled, but there is plenty of work to do instead. Managed to get seven hours sleep last night so I'm feeling absolutely super charged today!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hectic Day

Started my (paid) work at 7am this morning and worked through until a necessary appointment at 2pm. This clashed with hustings organised by http://www.tenantspin.org/ with all other candidates able to attend. Fortunately for me, my very capable deputy, our student organiser Rob Smith, was able to stand in for me, and the recording of the debate will be available on the above link within seven days.

I met a new activist who I had spoken on the phone to previously, who has impeccable environmental and campaigning credentials. I've already discussed the possibility of her standing for us as a candidate in the next local elections.

Now ploughing through admin and emails. All on 4 hours sleep. I can't believe I do this for free sometimes, but then I look on the internet and see over 100 hits for "Franz Ferdinand" & "Green Party" and it all seems worthwhile again.

Monday, April 25, 2005

FRANZ FERDINAND!!!

Yes - I can tell everyone now, as it's out on our website and into the media. That's right, Franz Ferdinand are doing the music for our Party Election Broadcast this Thursday (28th).

Labour can pay U2 for their songs but we actually get a song donated by a band that topped the album chart this year. You have got to see this broadcast. It is groundbreaking and the advance hype is starting to build up http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,19809-1584533,00.html

Newsnight Screening

Finally made it on tonight. Nothing explicit about the Greens, only that the "big 3" all got negative ratings. Check out the article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/newsnight_election_2005/4483237.stm

One of our online surfers - yes we have dedicated people monitoring blogs and all that - has picked up a very misleading headline saying that a poll in Brighton has the Greens at 13%. What the article writer fails to point out is that this is a Brighton wide poll, and includes two other constituencies Hove and Brighton Kemptown, where we will do nothing like as well. In advance, I apologise for the number manipulation which is intended to prove a point...

Our Brighton wide vote was 5.3% last time, so it indicates we are up to 13%, Brighton wide.
This is nearly a 2.5 times increase across the city.
We know that most of that increase is going to come in Pavilion.
If the Green vote is static in Hove and Kemptown, that could mean the Green vote in Pavilion could be up at the 32% mark!
Even allowing for all of this, without the strict methodology, there is a limit to what we can draw from this poll. However it confirms my expectation that we are polling in the mid 20s in Pavilion, although you can see how people can manipulate figures to suit themselves.

Despite this kind of headline, which hopes to portray a false reality of a straight Lab/Tory fight in Pavilion, it is becoming increasingly clear that things are going well. There is a bit of a buzz about the place. The Young Greens have been down, active with the local party and getting a lot of work done. I've heard some positive feedback from the days in support, and I know that Brighton is drawing in Green canvassers from across the country.

Haven't listened to myself on Radio 5 yet, but might try and do so before I go to bed.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Canvassing and Radio 5

After having encouraged most of Liverpool's canvassers to Leeds to help out in one of our target constituencies, two of us set out to cover Kensington Fields today. In general it was quiet, with some definite votes coming to us, but with quite a lot of non voters. Without being pushy, we made it clear we would be trying to nudge Labour in the right direction with a good vote here. Even a committed Lib Dem resident was pleased to see us and thanked us for being out on the streets, as they felt people needed to see politicians in person and not just on the leaflet.

Radio 5 rang during the afternoon and I did some phone recording on our policies for tomorrow's(Monday) breakfast show. They are featuring the Riverside constituency and the Lib Dem's seeking to focus on Iraq. Having just been out canvassing, I told them that this was not coming up on the doorstep, but was for many members of campaigning groups, the biggest focus in this election. I also managed a plug for the Capital of Culture, but emphasising that culture means local businesses and local focus, not national department stores.

Some good news on national fundraising. We are approaching our target amount after an appeal to members, although we would hugely benefit from more donations coming in. Unlike the other parties we have to squeeze every last penny to maximise the impact of our campaigns. With Newsnight now scheduled to broadcast the Speed Date Voting stuff tomorrow, looks like a double media hit day.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

A Week is a Long Time in Politics

If I do this in reverse order, it will probably make more sense for blog readers.

Today, Saturday 23rd

My freepost leaflet arrived today. It means they are going out everywhere, just in time for postal votes, which is good news.

We had hustings at the Pakistan Centre on Mulberry Road in Granby. I really enjoyed it and was pleased with the response I got. The Conservative candidate was an absolute nightmare! I'm sorry to personalise it, but she got up and read a script, talked about asylum seekers as "they" even though up to half the audience had been asylum seekers. You all know enough about Tory policy to fill in what the content was like. It was not just offensive, it was also very embarrassing.

Returned home to find a Tory leaflet (just one) posted through the letterbox. Considering their are five flats, it doesn't look like they are running even a basic campaign. Will add it to my recycling after my fellow residents have had a chance to look at it as well...

Friday 22nd

I dropped off the four different version of our Radio Election Broadcast through our party office letterbox at 5.15am before catching the first train back to Liverpool, which unfortunately was delayed. Then a full day at work while ensuring (from a distance) that all versions got delivered to the appropriate stations.

Discovered I have a real clash on the 3rd May. I'm working in court with my paid job (not something that I can rearrange) and it is also the hustings at the Guild of Students. This is going to be a difficult one to sort out, so I'm sounding out one of our Manchester candidates about standing in for me.

Thursday 21st

A lot of work from home today. A critical email from a local Lib Dem councillor arrives in my inbox, complaining about the content of my election leaflet. I must have got it right!

Then a quick trip down to London by train. I dropped off our PEB previews to an Eastern region candidate at Euston before spending most of the night and early morning finalising our radio election broadcasts. Two hours sleep - great.

Wednesday 20th

Met with our Young Greens group - up for an award as the most active political society at Liverpool University - and passed on materials for distribution. Quite a few volunteers for canvassing on Sunday, but keeping my national head on, I urged those who had booked to go and help out our target constituency in Leeds to still make the journey.

Tuesday 19th

It's all gone quiet on the constituency bulletin board on this site. The SLP and UKIP are now also standing in Liverpool Riverside and those very vocal socialists who were going to vote Labour have moved on to pastures new. Lots of new anti-Greens though, just to keep it interesting. It's not exactly a pro-Green publication, but just for those who are inquisitive about my position on UNISON, please check out http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/article.php4?article_id=3324

Monday 18th

I finished the speed date voting stunt in London at 10.15pm which is due for broadcast on Newsnight next Monday (25th). We got a very respectable +1 approval rating, only being beaten by Plaid Cymru and the SNP who got +2. All the major parties, plus the hard right ones performed badly, with negative ratings from our 14 speed dates.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Back on again

I can't believe it is ten days since my last blog entry. Things are moving at such a pace right now.

We did our bike stunt in London last Thursday which brought us some excellent national publicity and with the press treated as our launch. Fortunately our timing was perfect this week when our actual launch (including manifesto) went out on Tuesday, with no major launch clash. Again some excellent national coverage.

I spent a lot of last week discussing the final editing of the PEB with our director, Alex Cox, who has done a fantastic job with the brief we gave him. From a local perspective, we've been able to get some great coverage as all the work has been done in Liverpool, by six local businesses. This is a prime example of Greens supporting regional industry as opposed to just throwing the contract at London. The special effects are superb, the music provided by a band that is currently more popular than U2, and our candidates are not too bad either.

Our National Executive met on Saturday to discuss the campaign and plan the remaining launches and policy initiatives. Can't give too much detail here obviously...

Did a BBC3 interview on Tuesday, BBC Radio Merseyside twice on Wednesday (with coverage of our regional launch) and am catching up with my web and blogging responsibilities now.

I'd invite anyone with the time to do it to take a look at the Liverpool Riverside thread. For a safe Labour seat, the amount of personal stuff being thrown in my direction is quite surprising. First it was because I was standing and we should all vote Labour to stop the BNP, then when that went, it changed to "isn't a community activist" and the latest is to attack my paid job (because I do the politics for free!) because I work for a private company (which I partly own) that I helped set up over 10 years ago.

I can only think that local Labour is genuinely rattled for some reason. They've perhaps got the private polling responses to give them that reason. Frankly, I don't know, but I do know that it just gives me further encouragement. For the first two years of standing in local elections for the Greens I was pretty much ignored, couldn't get letters in the local press and didn't appear on the Labour radar. Things have obviously changed!

Final bit for tonight - one of the local hustings organised by health organisation has been cancelled because not a single Labour or Conservative candidate was prepared to attend. This is a pity. I hope that it is not a sign of things to come.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Party Election Broadcast

After interviews, discussion, debate and some logistical hassle, the Party Election Broadcast (PEB) is coming together nicely. We are lucky enough to have Alex Cox, the well regarded independent film director (Sid and Nancy, Revenger's Tragedy) doing our PEB and it is very, very good. I know I'm biased, but I am really looking forward to seeing the impact it has when it hits the screens. The fact that a very well known British band are willing to let us use one of their songs is also going to generate more than a bit of publicity.

We've booked our launch date for the 13th April here in Liverpool, and I hope to be able to pre-screen the PEB along with giving the audience the opportunity to pose questions and make recommendations about the issues we should be highlighting in this campaign.

My nomination papers are due to arrive tomorrow and my agent is picking up the register. I am also desperate to get into some local campaigning. Merseyside TUC are leafleting in support of the RMT tomorrow and Saturday and I'm not going to be able to do either day due to work and PEB editing tmw and our Green Party Executive meeting on Saturday. This is the point at which being involved nationally gets frustrating, because you miss out on doing the things on the ground which are the real essence of politics.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Student votes

I'm delighted to see Liverpool Riverside named by the NUS as one of the 27 seats that could be decided by student votes. I think anything that will increase student turnout will be a positive thing for the opposition parties in Riverside, but not every student will vote and I'm sure that even if all of them did, it would not be for a single party.

Greens have actually got the most active political society in the two main Liverpool Universities, with probably more weekly stuff going on than anyone else. We've also made the student vote matter for the first time in a a Liverpool council election last year.

Over 1000 students did not get a full opportunity to vote in the Liverpool Central Ward last year. This was because halls failed to distribute their postal ballot papers as they arrived on the 26/27th May. That weekend, the majority of students left for home. The Green Party was the only one of the local parties to spot this. We contacted the electoral returning officer, and in partnership with the student hall concerned, we forwarded on every ballot paper. However with just a couple of days left before close of poll, very few were able to act on this.

Our Labour opponents widely criticised us post-election for our strategy of targeting the student vote (which is a notoriously poor turnout). However, this year has seen the newspaper of Liverpool's Guild of Students give a column to the narrowly elected local Labour councillor. I've complained about the obvious bias. So have the Liberal Democrats. Reluctantly we've been forced to conclude that this is an "editorial" policy.

The last edition had a full half page dedicated to Louise Ellman's fight against the BNP and how important it was to vote, without mentioning any other party. I'll let readers draw their own conclusions. The positive point is that we have changed the view that the student vote is irrelevant, particularly in key city centre marginals.

While I'm having a bit of whinge, probably because I'm at party office today in London, doing a day of commuting from Liverpool (I left before seven and I'll get back about midnight), I'll add in a bit of New Labour style naming and shaming. A hustings, in the heart of my constituency, has somehow failed to invite me... I've of course contacted the Duncan Society (health) and I'm awaiting their prompt response. Unfortunately this kind of thing happens not just in Liverpool but elsewhere. I have reason to be aggrieved though, as I'm pretty certain the Tories will be there, despite the fact that we outpolled them by more than 2 to 1 at the last local elections.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Pledges

I've had Louise Ellman's "Labour Rose" leaflet through today with its six New Labour pledges, all very local (and a couple that I'd enthusiastically endorse). I should take each one in turn:

1. Being approachable to all residents should not be a pledge. This is a requirement of the job. It would be like asking a teacher to pledge to go into the classroom.

2. Work with the government and local councillors... against anti-social behaviour. No one wants anti-social behaviour, but I think the emphasis should be on what to provide for kids in local communities. This should really be the point that Labour attacks the local Lib Dem council for cutting youth provision in Liverpool.

3. Increase jobs, investment and training to benefit all residents. I AGREE.

4. Expand opportunities through local Sure Start and well funded schools. I AGREE but I'd like to point out that we shouldn't be penalising local students who want to go to university by asking them to take on debts of £4000+ each year. Unfortunately Louise Ellman voted for tuition fees in the last parliament.

5. Better public transport and a cleaner, greener Liverpool. I AGREE.

6. A Capital of Culture that reaches every community. I AGREE (but this one is a bit cheesy and vague).

So having looked at the pledges, I'm going to suggest a few that I would like to suggest to Louise Ellman, and I look forward to putting these forward as my pledges in the entirely theoretical position of being an MP in May:

  1. To vote against a war with Syria or Iran.
  2. To vote to withdraw all UK troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
  3. To campaign to fund public services from taxation and end PFI initiatives.
  4. To campaign for a peak time congestion charge to reduce city centre traffic.
  5. Better public transport and a cleaner, greener Liverpool (I really mean it)
  6. Prevent the destruction of communities and local housing for short term gains.

Very glossy paper. Can't see the recycled logo anywhere yet, but I'm sure Labour really are working towards to a greener Liverpool. I think I'll finish blogging now before my cynicism moves onto the overload setting...