Sunday, 2 May 2010

Green Lanes is getting ‘Greener’

Last Saturday, April 24, the Green Party set up its stall outside Harringay Green Lanes station and found a fairly welcoming and curious public, but only a handful who actually said they would vote for us. Today, May 1, three of us gave out leaflets to maybe 250 people and I counted at least 22 who spontaneously said they are going to vote Green. Not to mention one shopkeeper who rushed out of his premises this morning to congratulate me on the Green contribution to a hustings for Portuguese and Spanish speakers on Thursday evening. Or the waiters in a café where a Green badge got us free lollipops.

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 a comparison of the main points in the jobs and environment areas.

Anne Gray is the Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Tottenham

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