Mike Shipley writes:
It wasn’t the result we wanted and hardly reflects the effort we put into the campaign. Campaign teams locally, across the region and nationally performed heroics, rising to some huge challenges in putting ourselves in the political firing line like never before. In the end the sheer spending power of the big parties made our task near impossible. The Tories spent over £8 million, the Greens a quarter of a million, a lot for us, but in today’s world, it is money that buys results.
By the end of the longest count I ever remember, 7pm Saturday, I, like very many political activists in the country, felt depressed and angry. This wasn’t democracy, it wasn’t justice, there wasn’t much to show for months of effort. I sat in the pub and stared into my beer, trying to forget about the whole thing.
This is just the reaction our lords and masters want. They want us to feel the weight of their presence, the totality of their control, they are taking delight in laughing in the face of our misfortune. We must not now or ever give in to despair.
On leaving the pub, I spoke to a first time voter, she was celebrating her 18th birthday and was thoroughly enjoying her night out with her parents and friends. She told me that she had indeed voted, but voted Labour, she had wanted to vote Green, but had believed the propaganda, now on seeing the result she regretted this decision and said that she would join us. This is happening across the country. Over the weekend our membership increased by over 2000. We are the only political party in England whose membership has consistently grown over the last year and it is still rising. In truth we have achieved a great deal in this campaign, and we knew all along that we were laying the foundations for 2020.
We are in a strong position with so much to work towards. We don’t have a leadership crisis, we are not fatally split on deep issues, we have not been decimated at the polls, our vote increased in line with our membership. We didn’t pick up the additional seats that we hoped, but we have laid solid foundations for the next round of elections both locally and nationally. Brighton was won with a much increased majority and the swing to Greens in Bristol was a huge 23% making it winnable in 2020. Making local gains in a general election is difficult as London Greens found in 2010. But the solid work put in, setting up ‘target to win’ campaigns in so many wards will serve us well over the next 4 years.
Labour and LibDem are in disarray, leaderless and lacking any sense of identity and the the latter any sense of purpose. LD’s bear the responsibility for a decade of divisive, destructive Tory rule, first by supporting them in coalition, then by failing to stop them snatching their seats to give the majority the Tories so desperately wanted. Greens must now carry the political opposition to Tory misrule. We have a clear manifesto, a clear purpose. We have a growing membership of people who want to see this effective opposition. We must deliver.
I was wrong to feel despair at the end of the count. The events of this campaign present us with huge opportunities. Over a million people defied the propaganda machine and the siren voices of the tactical voters and voted Green. Many more we know support our vision and policies. How often did you hear voters say…’I would support you, I agree with your policies, but….’ Those voters will now see that they were wrong to carry on supporting the the old order based on two party politics.
Times have indeed changed, there is a strong and growing mood for electoral reform that we must drive on. There is growing support for our policies. Out task over the next five years is clear. We must go out and convert that support in to votes, win seats and carry the challenge of our vision for a fair and just society into the heart of British politics.
[Mike Shipley 10th May 2015]
First published on East Midlands Green Party Blog