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.