Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Euro Election Reflections

2014 Green Party Euro Candidates - Yorkshire and The Humber
It may have escaped your notice but I wasn't elected as Yorkshire and The Humber's first Green Party MEP in the recent Elections. What has been nice has been all the concern for my well being from all sorts of people. Thanks folks but I'm absolutely fine. I made it a personal rule not to start thinking beyond Polling Day and thereby raising my own expectations. Winning was clearly a possibility and a number of opinion polls gave us cause for optimism but the surge of media fuelled protest votes, for the Party which has had far too many mentions and coverage already, put paid to that.To avoid overusing the name of the Party for the purpose of this blogpost lets just call it 'Adolf'. A name I picked at random.

I enjoyed the campaign and attended lots of hustings meetings. Adolf didn't turn up to at least 6 meetings. They later claimed they hadn't been invited to these meetings which contradicted what I was told by the various organisations arranging the Hustings. The opportunity to take on 'the bad guys' in these meetings was one I got a real kick out of. My favourite moment was when one of the Tories asked what was stopping the Government passing its own policies to protect workers rights rather than being lead by the EU? All I had to say was 'because you're Tories' This got quite a few laughs but drove the point home about the value of EU rules in protecting people's employment rights,

Notre Dame College Hustings in Leeds (note Green Euro Candidate Kevin Warnes playing Dimbleby)
 Of the Candidates I met Labours Linda MacAvan and Richard Corbett were clearly committed people of calibre who were worthy winners, but the Adolf 3 are clearly going to be a complete waste of space and our money. Obviously I was pleased that the Greens beat the Lib Dems into 5th place but I actually quite liked Edward MacMillan Scott despite him starting every meeting by feeling he had to explain his defection from the Tories to the Lib Dems after the last Euros. He had a good sense of humour and he needed it having clearly backed the wrong electoral horse.

The role of the media in the Euro Campaign remains controversial. The OFCOM ruling effectively elevated Adolf to major party status and cut the Greens out of the vast majority of TV coverage and was a constant source of frustration. Clearly the result putting us ahead of the Lib Dems vindicates our claim that this was a 5 party contest not a four party one. We beat the Lib Dems and gained an MEP despite the media and I can't help wondering how different things would have been if we'd had the exposure we deserved. I believe there were very genuine attempts by the BBC regionally to give us what they regarded as fair coverage within the rules they set themselves (as guided by OFCOM) . I think we do however  have a very strong argument that those rules were flawed as they didn't actually reflect the support we were polling or indeed the end result. What I really wanted was to be included in the studio debates something Green Candidates in other regions did manage to do.

Being interviewed by Len Tingle at Stirley Farm at our launch

The real buzz  I got in the campaign was working with committed Greens from across the region working together in a common cause. I really felt we pulled together and had a pride in the message we were delivering and the principles we stood for. I focussed on drawing in resources from the EU, improving energy efficiency of buildings, addressing fuel poverty and meaningful jobs for young people in particular.The 6 Green Euro Candidates we fielded were all capable, worked well together and were a real pleasure to work with.

During the campaign we had several encouraging polls which showed us about where we needed to be to win a Euro seat in Yorkshire and The Humber. I even wandered into the count at Leeds Town Hall to be told by one of the Labour team that they thought I might get the 6th seat but unfortunately not. My main disappointment was not having the opportunity to push for an EU target to reduce fuel poverty. The great thing is that we got another Green MEP elected in the South West. Molly Scott Cato will do a great job and I'm really pleased for her and yes a bit jealous.

At Green Party Spring Conference with Lead Candidate for Eastern Region Rupert Read and Lead Candidate for the South West Molly Scott Cato MEP


  1. I just wanted to say Andy that I thought you brought a new dimension to the national team with your expertise. Rupert and I have said we won't be looking for the lead nomination in our regions next time (we've both had 2 goes at it). I've made it clear that I'd like to see someone from the next generation of the party lead the list in the North West next time, but I hope you will consider a second shot at it in Y+H in 2019.

  2. Thanks Peter. I'm not too beat up by the contest and quite enjoyed it, though trying to organise 2 target wards and run as a Lead Candidate was a bit gruelling. 5 years is a long way off and a lot can happen between now and then but thanks for the thought