My little birds (Which, yes, is a Game of Thrones reference -Ed) are clearly gaining a measure of fame, being recently mocked by Southend’s Lib Dem activist. They do, though, give me some very interesting little tidbits from time to time.
Like the fact that the Green Party parliamentary candidates for the two Southend constituencies apparently voted to exclude their UKIP opponents from an election debate.
When Southend Against the Cuts made the decision earlier this month, I couldn’t have been much more forthright in my disagreement. I have little time for the idea of “no platform” — if you are not confident enough in the strength of your own beliefs, then you need to seriously examine them. Not to mention that the only people who this helps is UKIP — who now get to claim martyrdom — and the Tories — who no longer have to face a challenge from the right.
At the time, Simon Cross — Green Party candidate for Rochford & Southend East — tied himself in knots trying to agree with both sides.
Despite Simon Cross’ protestations, my little birds report that both he and Jon Fuller voted that UKIP candidates should not be invited to participate in the hustings. Now, I stress that I wasn’t there, but I have heard this report from more than one source — some of whom also voted to keep UKIP out.
Whether or not you believe that the UKIP candidates should be included — and I think it’s quite clear that, on a point of principle, I do — someone standing for election should have the strength of their convictions. Whatever their beliefs, if the Green candidates are going to present themselves as worthy of representing Southend in parliament, then a little backbone wouldn’t go amiss.
(And the irony, after the outpouring of wrath and fury when the Greens were excluded from the general election party leaders’ debates, has not been lost on me. Fans of intellectual consistency may remember that I also opposed their exclusion, and after yesterday’s sneak preview from Natalie Bennett, I am very much looking forward to the whole circus).
At the time I challenged Simon Cross to clearly state how he and Jon Fuller voted. Despite belligerently playing both sides in the discussion up to that point, he went mysteriously silent after my challenge.
I offer them both the chance, here and now, to declare themselves: Simon Cross and Jon Fuller, did you vote to exclude UKIP from the Southend Against the Cuts hustings or not?