The mood is visibly changing. But some people are still put off by the ‘first past the post’ system. They are asking, is a Green vote a wasted vote ? Won’t it just be beaten by the ‘big three’ parties ? Or will voting Green take so much off Labour that the Tories will get in ?
Let’s think about that. In the last general election David Lammy had a solid majority of over 13,000 votes, with 57.9% of the total. That time the Lib Dems came second with 16.8% of the votes cast and Tories third with 13.5%. This time, the national polls as we all know are showing a big swing away from Labour to everybody else – but it would take an implausibly big swing for the Tories to win here in Tottenham . UKIP have now entered the fray here; the Tories will probably lose more votes to UKIP than any other previously-present party. Labour will lose some not only to the Greens but to the independent ex-Labour candidate, Cllr Sheikh Thompson, and to Jenny Sutton, although she will also find a lot of support amongst the people who voted Respect last time (6.4%). Neville Watson’s platform will probably appeal to some people right across the big-party spectrum, taking some votes from all three. So my guess is that there’s no danger that voting Green will let the Tories in here - David Lammy will win by the skin of his teeth, and the Tories will again come third after Lib Dem David Schmitz. Seeing his safe seat turn into a marginal will make David Lammy listen to his constituents a whole lot more than in his last term.
This time in Tottenham, we’re hoping to save our deposit and, working alongside the ‘non-party’ power base of the residents’ groups, the health service campaigns and Sustainable Haringey, make the Greens a force that seriously needs to be listened to by Tottenham’s next MP.
David Lammy seems a bit worried. He’s had a pretty bad reception at two hustings meetings I attended. At the West Indian Centre and at Tottenham Chances he faced angry shouts that the job prospects of local black youth have advanced so little since he was first elected. Today I met him in the street and he asked me, with an air of bewilderment, what are the Greens offering on the environment that Labour are not ? Well, the difference to me seems pretty obvious. If you want to move on to my personal blog, you’ll find on http://agtottenham.blogspot.com a comparison of the main points in the jobs and environment areas.
Anne Gray is the Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Tottenham