England: Things are looking good here!

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The England and Wales Green Party held its 2 European Parliament seats in extremely difficult circumstances at the European Union elections on 10th June. We not only had the problem of a reduction in the number of seats but we also faced opposition from several new political directions.
The new anti-war RESPECT – The Unity Coalition was one. RESPECT stands for Respect Equality Socialism Peace Environment Community Trade Unionism. It is a very hardline revolutionary Socialist Workers Party front with a mixture of disaffected Labour Party supporters, trade unionists and Kurdish influences.

The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), now with 12 seats, all held by middle class businessmen, and which came 3rd overall presented another significant challenge. UKIP’s MEP Robert Kilroy Silk summed up their views on the EU Parliament by saying he was “not interested in making it work” and would spend as little time there as possible. “Our prime task is to get our country back from Brussels. That is why we are here. We have no other function, no other purpose. We want to govern ourselves.” The British National Party which can be described as fascists, “Membership of the British National Party is open to those of British or kindred European ethnic descent.” also received a strong vote but fortunately won nothing. Respect took enough votes from us to lose us one of our three seats on the Greater London Assembly, leaving us with 2 of the 25 seats.

We managed to hold on to both our excellent MEPs, Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas, which was quite impressive given the circumstances. Their share of the vote went up in London and the South East Region respectively. In other regions, our vote was on average down a little and we didn’t come close to another seat; though our friends in the Scottish Green Party did, and managed to beat UKIP. This shows that when Greens get elected, as in London, the South East of England and Scotland, people are impressed by the party and our vote increases.

In the local elections we gained a further 8 local councillors, so we now have 61 throughout England and Wales. In a few towns and cities we may be able to form coalitions in order to implement Green policies. Two of the 61 Councillors are Young Greens. Their results were as follows:

***NORWICH CITY COUNCIL, Nelson ward (3 seats)***
Green Party candidate 1: 1 691 votes
Green Party candidate 2: 1 624 votes
Adrian Ramsay (Young Green): 1 645 votes (Green vote share 46.17%)
Norwich City Council may now involve the Green Party in a ruling coalition.

***OXFORD CITY COUNCIL, Holywell ward (1 seat)***
Matthew Sellwood (Young Green): 443 votes

Matt represents an area made up almost entirely of students. According to the 2001 UK Census: “The average age in Holywell ward, Oxford, was 23. It had the lowest proportion of people over 60 (2.55%), the lowest proportion of children under five (0.35%), the least in work (7.35%), the least without qualifications (1.65%) and the fewest owner
occupiers (8.46%).” These statistics show us that students are certainly good pickings for the Green Party, which is obviously a good sign for the future 🙂

Oxford City Council now has 7 Green Party Councillors out of the total of 48, with many more seats that can be won by the Greens in 2 years time. The Green Party holds the balance of power on the Council but it seems that the two largest parties (Labour and Liberal Democrats), despite their hate of each other, will form a coalition together. Note that there are no Conservatives on Oxford City Council :-). The Green Party won over 20% of the vote across the whole of Oxford.

As an English Green, I can be quite pleased with the results. Keeping both MEPs was crucial and difficult to do, but was done very successfully. Those 2 seats were first won 5 years ago and kept as a result of the infrastructure built up by the MEPs. EU funding and hard work led to more media coverage, the number of Green Party members increasing two-fold in 5 years and progress all round electorally. Things are looking good here!

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