Friday, 21 May 2010

Thank you

"Don't forget, Katie made history and left a signature on the Council. So nothing went to waste!" (Highbury resident)
It's taken me a while to write this post, but I just wanted to thank all the voters in Highbury West who backed Katie Dawson on May 6th - over two thousand of you, double the number who voted for Katie last time. As you'll all know by now, sadly that wasn't enough to get Katie re-elected, but we do want you all to know how much we value your support. We also want you to know that we in Islington Green Party will continue to fight for what we believe in - albeit, for the time being, as members of the community rather than with our own distinctive voice on the Council.

I'd also like to thank the many Highbury residents who have got in touch by phone, text, and e-mail with very kind messages of support and thanks for Katie's hard work over the last four years. Those messages mean a huge amount to us.

The political picture in Islington has changed a lot: not only are Labour, rather than the Lib Dems, in control of the council - but unlike in the past four years, there is no close balance between the parties. The overwhelming dominance of one party makes it more important than ever for those of us on the outside to hold the administration to account. We will aim to shine a light on unfairness, injustice, and environmentally damaging behaviour by those charged with running our Borough wherever it occurs.

That work of holding the Council to account started a bit sooner than expected this week when the new Labour administration took the decision, without any consultation or prior announcement, to abolish local planning committees and centralise all planning decisions. This undemocratic move means our local green spaces, including those at the Secret Garden and the Sobell Centre, are at risk of inappropriate development as never before. The fight goes on!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Our first Green MP!

The last few days have been an extraordinary emotional roller-coaster. We've lost a councillor and gained an MP (in Brighton!) And we still don't know who will be forming the next Government or what role the Green Party will play.

In Islington North we obtained the fifth highest Green general election result in London; thank you very, very much to all of you who supported me.

As a first-time Parliamentary candidate, I've had a lot to learn - and loads more that I still don't know. But I've loved every minute of it, and I'm eager to do more.

A few people have suggested it's time for a rest - but first I need to honour a few promises I made in the course of the campaign. One thing I promised was to continue with the community campaign to save the Whittington, holding to account whoever forms the next Government (and the one after that!) So I was there at the DWHC meeting last night brainstorming ideas about how to do just that.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Vote for Policies!

Thank you to all of you who have been following our campaign over the last couple of months. It's been really, really exciting and rewarding - and for me as Parliamentary Candidate a huge privilege to be able to represent the Green Party, and its radical policies, in Islington North.

As Greens we often find that we start the electoral race with one hand tied behind our backs for two reasons: first, because people feel that a vote for us won't really count and secondly, because people aren't too sure whether we have good policies outside the environmental field.

But in this exciting general election campaign, we have been able to address both those concerns head-on.

Every Green vote really will count this time, because for the first time in living memory people are getting serious about the need for electoral reform. When it comes to putting pressure on whoever forms the next Government to introduce truly proportional representation, the Green Party will need to argue that its total number of votes nationally means that it should no longer be shut out by the voting system. The strength of that argument depends crucially on the total number of votes cast for the Green Party across all the constituencies where it has candidates. If we can't make that argument, there's a real danger that this once-in-a-generation opportunity will either be missed altogether (under the Tories or a Tory/Lib Dem pact) or will simply be used to create an exclusive 3-party system to replace the existing exclusive 2-party system (by the introduction of the Alternative Vote system under Labour or a Lab/Lib Dem pact).

So, this is one general election where you can vote for what you believe in and be a catalyst for real change.

As for our policies, don't take my word for it - go and have a look at the truly fantastic Votes for Policies website. Over 260,000 people have now completed their survey, which lets you pick the best policies without knowing which party they come from. Last time I looked, the Green Party was the clear winner nationally - and even here in the traditional Labour heartland of Islington North, it was neck-and-neck between me and Jeremy Corbyn based on a sample of over 600 people.

So tomorrow, please do vote for what you believe in. In 2010 more than ever before, every single Green vote counts.

PS And as we've often said before, however you decide to vote in the General Election, please vote Green in the Council elections to help Katie Dawson keep her seat on Islington Council - and hopefully to elect some more Green councillors so we can achieve even more.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Highbury East hustings

My last hustings of the campaign, last night (Bank Holiday Monday), was at Highbury Roundhouse. The Roundhouse, on Ronalds Road, is a great community facility which I and my three kids have used a lot over the years, and which provides excellent services for older people too.

The hustings was all about Highbury issues - and three out of the four parties* managed to field Highbury candidates to answer them!

We faced a range of challenging questions on issues from the Council's tree policy to the rumoured threat to the Highbury Barn Tavern (the word on the street is that there are plans to turn it into a Sainsbury's local); and from rat-running down Fieldway Crescent to the possible reintroduction of a Citizens' Advice Bureau in Islington and the future of the excellent Islington Law Centre. We were also quizzed on broader policy issues such as improving secondary schools; the need for investment in social housing; and the erosion of local democracy.

Thank you very much to William Ellington (Chair of the Roundhouse), Victoria Ellington (Management Committee) and Andrew Berthier (Director) for inviting me; to Nicky Anderson (Pensioners' Worker) for providing the refreshments; and to Martin Jones (Highbury Fields Association) for chairing the hustings and giving us all a chance to have our say!

*The speakers were as follows: Conservative - Neil Lindsay (Highbury East); Lib Dem - Terry Stacey (Highbury East); Green Party - Emma Dixon (Highbury East); Labour - Catherine West (Tollington).