Southport – Making the Wright choice in the General Election

I was at John Wright’s adoption meeting in Southport last night where the Lib Dem flag was being flown high by around 200 people attending the event.

John Wright – Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Southport

Of course Southport is one of the 60 constituencies across England and Wales where PC, the Greens and Lib Dems have stood down for each other so there is only one Remain candidate on the December 12th ballot paper. In Southport the Greens have stood down and it was really great that Laurence Rankin, who would have been their candidate, both attended and spoke to the meeting. Indeed, he made an excellent contribution which showed me how close many Green and Lib Dem policies really are. Here is Laurence speaking:-

Laurence Rankin the Green Party candidate standing down in Southport speaking at John Wright’s adoption meeting.

John Wright has impressed me from the first time I met him as he seems to have the ability to get along with people and understand differing perspectives. He is clearly both delighted and humbled to have the Green candidate standing down for him so he can have a clear Remain Alliance shot at the presently Tory held Southport seat.

As you might expect we heard a great speech from John. But he was also able to introduce a well known local Labour campaigner to the meeting as someone now backing him and he told the meeting that former Labour MP for Crosby Claire Curtis-Thomas had been in touch to offer her support.

Environmental candidates firmly rejected in Sefton

The really sad part about the local election results declared in Sefton Borough yesterday was the very firm rejection of candidates standing on environmental agendas.

In my own case during my 35 years as a local political activist (30 of those as a local councillor) I have become more and more concerned about our local environment, global warming, protecting high grade agricultural land from development etc. etc. Sadly, it seems that those who vote have moved towards being less concerned about such matters.

In 1998, as the Lib Dem Leader of Maghull Town Council, I led the successful campaign to stop Sefton Council from allowing a massive slice of land to the east of Maghull from being developed. The people of Maghull (of all political colours) were fully behind that campaign and it was a celebration of both environmentalism and community action. In 2014/15, fighting the same battle once again, I felt like I was pushing a huge bolder up a hill with only a significant minority of the local population joining in. The battle was unsurprisingly lost as the majority of local borough councillors (now Labour) were battling against me and the environmental cause by voting to develop that very same piece of land.

In the elections of last Thursday Bruce Hubbard and I as Lib Dem candidates, standing on a very firm environmental ticket, were massively rejected as were the independent candidates in our wards (Park & Sudell) who were standing on a very similar ticket. Indeed, if you add together the votes of the Lib Dem and Independent candidates standing against development of high grade agricultural land in these two wards it still does not equate to enough votes to beat the Labour candidates from a Party that is openly voting for the development of this land.

Over in Formby where Sefton’s new environmental movement was reborn in the past few of years the Independent FRAGOFF group were unable to repeat their electoral success of the last round of elections as again they were beaten, if only narrowly, by Labour candidates.

So why were those who went to vote this May seeming less interested in environmental matters and in saving high grade agricultural land from development than they were last year or indeed back in 1998? Has the ‘green’ cause taken a big step backwards because the eye of the electorate is on other matters – the economy, austerity, immigration etc? Are we awaiting an environmental disaster, which affects the Borough of Sefton, before we remember how important the environment that supports us really is?

The other interesting thing is the poor performance of the Green Party in Sefton. They have hardly been the leading the charge over the kind of environmental issues I am raising in this posting and the votes they gained across the Borough reflect that. I could not be a Green Party member because their socialist instincts are illiberal to me but it does puzzle me why their voice on issues such as building on high grade agricultural land is not heard.

Only 2% of the land in England is of the same high quality as that to the east of Maghull which Labour-run Sefton Council wants to have built on. It is the land that grows the food we eat! To my mind Sefton Council needed to be fought all the way yet the majority of those who went out to vote last Thursday clearly did not agree.

For whatever reasons the cause of environmentalism has sadly taken a back seat in the electorate’s mind.

Proposed TV debates – Including UKIP but not the Greens!

As we draw nearer to the May 2015 General Election we are told that the TV companies have ‘decided’ which political parties will be allowed to take part in the live debates.

Can’t say I am a fan of these staged events but what on earth is going on when UKIP are offered a shot at it but the Greens are not! That’s simply not fair and reasonable in my view.

No, I would not consider voting for the Green Party because their narrow interpretation of environmental issues makes them little more than a single issue Party, like UKIP with its Europe obsession. However, if you going to allow a one single issue Party a spot why not the other?