At the candidates’ and agents’ briefing for the local elections, at Southend Civic Centre the other week, the Green Party were very well represented. I’m not sure that they quite outnumbered the Conservatives, but they certainly came a close second.
They are definitely a more visible force this year than they have been previously, fielding 17 candidates next to the three they managed to muster last year. Their PPC for Rochford & Southend East (double-jobbing as their candidate for Kursaal ward) seemed a little put out when I pointed out that whilst there are 17 wards in Southend, 17 candidates does not a full slate make, when Liz Day’s resignation in West Shoebury means there are two seats up for grabs there.
What interests me, though, is less their slate of candidates than their attempts at funding the campaign.
Finding that being pious and broke doesn’t really lend itself to a serious election campaign (Policies based on fantasy economics are also, they may find, less than conducive -Ed), many local Green Parties seem to have embraced crowdfunding as a solution.
South East Essex Green Party (A geographic slice which I’m sure comes in handy when boasting about local Green surges… -Ed) joined in this particular trend, under the eye roll-inducing title “Greens are good for you“, aiming to raise £2,500 in 56 days. The 56 days have now passed, and they have not raised £2,500.
I’m not particularly knocking their achievement; they reached £905, which is an admirable sum. But under the rules of Crowdfunder, if they don’t meet the target, they don’t get a penny. So hard luck, I suppose.
It cuts to the heart of one of the biggest issues I have with the Green Party. They have carved a niche for themselves with their idealistic policies, many of which I am convinced won’t stand up to the slightest scrutiny — witness, for instance, Natalie Bennett folding under the examination of Andrew Neil or Nick Ferrari, both going easy on her, or simply take a trip down to Brighton. The trouble is that their idealism blinds them.
More than a few of the local Greens who I’ve spoken to seem genuinely convinced that they are going to see a huge breakthrough in the Southend area, with a landslide of council seats and three parliamentary seats. Presumably this would present problems of its own, with both Simon Cross and Sarah Yapp double-jobbing as MPs and local councillors. But this is from a position of not a single Green candidate placing better than fourth place last year, and Green candidates losing their deposits in two of the three constituencies in 2010. In the third, they did not stand a candidate at all.
I’ll lay this out here, plain and simple: the Greens will win nothing in Southend in 2015. By virtue of standing more candidates, they will ostensibly do better, but there will be no Green Party representatives returned on May 8th.
They may well still have an impact: the Green Party candidate in Kursaal ward last year polled 170 votes, which was nearly five times the UKIP candidate’s winning margin over Labour. I very much doubt that those Green voters would have preferred the resultant UKIP councillor to the Labour candidate.
But the point is that the Green Party in Southend don’t manage to see past their blind idealistic optimism, and that will continue to trip themselves up. If they had been more realistic in their Crowdfunder then they might have gotten the money.
But never mind, when they win seventeen council seats and three Parliamentary constituencies on May 7th, they will, as Del Boy would tell Rodney, all be millionaires next year.