20 April 2016

Who is the best candidate to beat Joe Anderson? #LiverpoolMayor #tommartincrone

I’m (a little reluctantly) reviving my blog. As you’ll see from my last post, I won’t be doing predictions for leadership contests in other parties again (although I’m not the only one to have been surprised when Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Labour leader). Over a week ago I read a post from Richard Kemp on his blog. Usually his stuff is worth a read, but I took issue with the content about the Greens. I therefore spent some time (about half an hour of a lunch break) to do a response. It doesn’t seem to have made it to publication. Given that Richard has unfortunately not published my comment, I'll reprint my response here:

“While you usually write accurately Richard, I have to pick you up on a number of points about the Greens that are simply not correct and your assertion that there are "really" only 2 candidates in the election. We get on well personally, so I hope you take this in comradely spirit, and you feel able to post my comment and if you feel appropriate, respond to the points I've made and the questions I'm posing.

1. "It is possible that they will have a candidate in every ward..." - my recollection is that the Green Party has stood full slates in every election since 2006 in Liverpool. In both 2014 and 2015, the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool failed to contest seats. Last year that was 6 wards without a Liberal Democrat on the ballot paper.

2. "...they will only be really fighting in 3 of them" - this isn't accurate, but even if we were to win these three, that would put us on 6 councillors. You and Erica are currently the only Lib Dems across the city. Are you able to win in three wards this time to bring your total to 4?

3. Polling. In the run up to the General Election, the Greens were polling 3 to 7%. Since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, we've been polling 3 to 6%. In comparison, the Liberal Democrats were polling 6 to 11% in the run up to the General Election, and since Corbyn became leader have been polling 5 to 10% [Source http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/voting-intention-2]. In Liverpool (and after all, this is about Liverpool) in 2014 our vote share was 10.7% versus your 9.4% and even in a General Election year, we gained 9.7% to the Liberal Democrat 8.1% in 2015.

4. We have "tanked" in by-elections by winning in Shropshire for the first time. Where a winnable seat has come up, we've won it. We'll contest most seats to give voters that choice. Is there a source to back up the tanking claim? We haven't had any Liverpool byelections in the last year.

5. The Corbyn effect - I'm sure there have been some Green members who have left to join Labour. There is regularly churn between party activists. National party membership figures are reported by the Daily Politics Show here (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34571666) and the Greens in the UK have more members than the Liberal Democrats.

It would be good if the opposition parties were to take a constructive approach and avoid "talking down" one another. I personally feel that Tom Crone is better placed to attract disaffected, non-Joe supporting but typically Labour voting first preferences from the 57% who backed Joe Anderson and Labour in 2012. I feel that will be harder for you, as less than a year has passed since the coalition came to an end, but I think the way to do that is with positive messages to make clear there is an alternative to Mayor Anderson.

I think campaigning in Liverpool has become difficult for the Liberal Democrats. There are some good people who reluctantly endured 5 years of coalition with (misplaced) loyalty. However, their electoral playbook here has always been based on being the only alternative to Labour, because the Conservatives are unelectable here under First Past the Post. However, this Mayoral contest is difficult for them.

Usually you would expect barcharts to appear showing that it Labour v Lib Dem and no other result is possible. The problem is that Labour have 81 councillors and Richard + Erica Kemp are the only Lib Dems left standing. We are the official opposition with 4 councillors, so no barchart opportunity there. On vote share in the city, the last two local elections have seen the Greens finish 2nd to Labour, albeit at some distance. So again, no barchart there. The best they can do is go back to 2012, point out that Richard was 3rd and that all those people voting for Liam Fogerty are going to return to the Lib Dems now they are no longer in coalition.

Richard does have a profile from many years in local government. Keyboard warriors were quick to work on the recent Echo mayoral “voodoo” poll, but if you are going to make your case, you need to be able to back it up. Tom Crone is producing a positive Green vision for Liverpool and that has to be the politics of the future and is the alternative that the city is crying out for.

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