19 August 2014

Wavertree Constituency

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been selected as the Green Party Parliamentary candidate for Wavertree and as such this blog will now be a campaign one between now and May 2015.

As we've previously made clear, Liverpool Riverside is our target constituency here in Liverpool. I stood there in 2005, Cllr Tom Crone was our candidate in 2010 and Martin Dobson is our excellent candidate there this time. We are the established second place party in the last three sets of local elections. Labour “won” Riverside by 53% to the Green 27% in this year’s local contest.

In 2010 we also stood in Liverpool Wavertree constituency (where I live) for the first time, gaining a modest 1.6% in what was then seen to be a marginal constituency between Labour and the Lib Dems. Oh how times have changed, and I bring you a comparison between the last local elections before the 2010 General and Locals (which took place on the same day) and the 2014 local results.

2008 Local Elections

Lib Dems 53.7% (all wards)
Labour 25.9% (all wards)
Tories 7% (all wards)
Greens 6.3% (all wards)
UKIP (no candidates)
Others 7.9%

2014 Local Elections

Labour 53.6% (all wards)
Lib Dems 17.2% (all wards)
UKIP 12.2% (all wards)
Greens 7.4% (5 out of 6 wards)
Tories 4.2% (all wards)
Others 5.4%

You can see why in 2010 the Liberal Democrats genuinely thought they could win Wavertree. Those local numbers in 2008 were very promising for them and they won every single ward. Fast forward to 2014 and Labour are winning every local ward in the constituency. UKIP have emerged with a decent vote after standing in every ward and benefiting from their Euro vote coverage. The Lib Dems have not collapsed completely but were vigorously defending their last few seats in the constituency this year.

So what should we expect to happen in 2015? The 2008 local election results shows that Labour will do better in General Elections than in local ones in Wavertree. I’m sure that Luciana Berger and her team will be expecting a 60%+ vote for Labour.

In 2010 the Green vote was undoubtedly squeezed in what was seen as a marginal constituency. That won’t happen in 2015 and I expect us to do improve on our 1.6% result. We can also highlight our improved showing at the local elections (although this is a lot smaller than our Riverside constituency improvement), despite only standing in 5 out of 6 wards. We had an arrangement with a local independent candidate in 2014, but even so our support is up and it is evidence we should gain more support at the General Election too. Finally, I think we will also see a benefit from our new status as the official opposition in the city.

The Lib Dems will be trying very hard to defend their remaining two wards, Church and Woolton, only one of which is in the Wavertree constituency. So I would expect some localised Lib Dem campaigning in that ward that matches the Lib Dem effort constituency wide in 2010. Overall, they will do well to finish 2nd in the constituency and holding onto Church ward in a General Election year (with the much higher turnout that benefits Labour) would be an exceptional result. My view is that they are unlikely to hold the seat whether or not Cllr Richard Kemp chooses to defend it.

UKIP will probably do much better than their 2.3% in 2015, but I would expect the Tories to fall back as a result. The remaining potential wild card in all of this was the potential candidacy of Cllr Jake Morrison, who felt bullied by Luciana Berger’s team and resigned from Labour. Recently there has been very little from him to suggest he is still going to stand, but it would be reasonable to assume that if he did, he would pick up some the residual disaffection from Labour supporters within the constituency who are still less than lukewarm about their MP. If he doesn’t, I think most of those voters will back the Greens as a more radical alternative to austerity than Labour.

Coming full circle, it is crucial to point out that our efforts, with our limited resources, have to be targeted in a General Election under our crude First Past the Post electoral system, and because of our stronger support there, financially we have to focus on the Riverside constituency. However by standing, I will give everyone in Wavertree constituency the opportunity to express their support for the more radical policies against austerity, such as a tax on wealth for the top 1%, that we Greens offer in comparison with the Labour Party. I also want to make sure that the current and likely continuing MP for Wavertree is tested at hustings and that the issues that are key for our supporters are on her agenda if she is re-elected. Most of all, I want people who have seen Caroline Lucas in action as our first MP, to vote for us everywhere in the country. Those votes are an endorsement of Green MPs in Parliament and a positive vision for our society.

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