[Reproduced from 2009]
I'm quite frankly appalled by the leaflet Labour are distributing in South Liverpool. I'll give you the quote, then my views. It is a full colour glossy (so probably part of a much larger print run).
"...only Labour can beat the BNP here. A vote for another party is wasted vote and could let the BNP in."
What is disgraceful is the "only Labour can beat the BNP" claim that is being made. This is wrong for so many reasons, but let's just raise three:
- No individual party can beat the BNP because it is a list system
- Even if Labour hold their third seat, if the Greens don't beat the BNP or the Lib Dems don't get double the BNP vote, then the BNP still win a seat
- Labour will of course "beat" the BNP because they will gain more votes than the BNP, as will the Tories, Lib Dems and (I predict) the Greens
You've seen the Green approach to this issue. We've issued reasoned arguments, built an anti-racist coalition of support and made it absolutely clear that we intend to keep Nick Griffin out by beating them to the all important 4th place. We've been reasonable, making clear that we believe we are the best anti-racist vote, but we've acknowledged that other votes do count as anti-racist ones.
So why are Labour stooping to such depths? Frankly, the government is on its knees, and despite the fact that Labour were badly damaged by the Iraq war effect in the 2004 Euros, their polling is so awful now that they look set to do worse. So the Labour leadership are in fact using the BNP threat to get activists out again. Unfortunately it seems that Labour are lying to their own people, and are prepared to lie in their literature to secure party political advantage ahead of a genuine and honest approach to maximising the anti-racist vote.
What I find shameful (and I speak as someone who campaigned for Labour in 1997) is that every principal has now been discarded. Just look at the second part of the quote:
"A vote for another party is wasted vote and could let the BNP in."
Let's break this down again:
- If turnout doubles, and all of the extra turnout in the region is anti racist, the BNP lose
- Even if Labour falls short of winning a third seat, then the Greens can beat the BNP to stop them winning a seat, or the Lib Dems could possibly get double the BNP vote, so clearly wrong again
- The share of the Tory vote is another crucial factor in determining what will be needed by each of the parties to gain the final seat
So demonstrably false. Is there anyone from the Labour party willing to defend these claims? That is the shameful thing. These claims are indefensible. They are arrogant, deceitful, disgraceful and shameful.
In the first draft of this post, I wanted to launch into an Al Franken tirade, but I haven't done so. Labour activists and representatives by and large, are good people, who probably came into politics to do good. The D'Hondt system is poorly understood, and actually, if you tell an activist - "only we can beat the BNP" - they are inclined to believe what they are told by people they trust.
I know of at least two Labour councillors who will be voting for us on June 4th, who can't say it in public, but are realistic in seeing the Greens as the best anti-racist option in this region. They are also realistic in realising that for many voters, asking them to once again vote Labour, despite everything that has happened in the past two years of the Brown administration, simply isn't realistic. They recognise that the Greens are far more likely to motivate those people out to the polls.
I'm willing to acknowledge that the Labour Party needs to try and avoid a collapse in their support, as part of the broader campaign against the BNP. But this adoption of "scorched earth" politics, to try and frighten reluctant Labour voters to back them one last time, with no acknowledgment that D'Hondt and the PR system means voters can back other parties to stop the BNP, is for me the domestic low point of Labour's years in power.
The Greens have many principled ex-Labour members in our ranks. Here in the North West, Geoff Smith, my campaign manager and fellow Euro candidate in Allerdale. John Reardon, previously a Labour PPC and councillor. Nigel Rolland, a former Labour councillor from Tameside. These are just a few names.
Maybe this low point will be a signal for many more former Labour people to join the Greens in the North West. We certainly need principled activists to be in our party, particularly now.