Tuesday, 19 May 2015

2015 Kirklees & Parish Elections - Thoughts

Delivering Pre Poll leaflets in Newsome in the rain (again!).
The shadow/influence of the General Election was reflected in all the results for the Local Elections in Kirklees. There were people who cast their votes having considered the relative merits of the Parties carefully for both local and General Elections. Equally there were people who vote once every five years at a General Election who found they were also inexplicably handed ballot papers asking for their local choices.  For many they simply repeated their national preference on their local ballot papers. For the Green Party in Kirklees this meant a higher than usual turnout for Labour in Newsome and a higher than normal turnout for the Conservatives in Kirkburton. In Newsome we were able to ride the Labour surge but in Kirkburton we couldn't deal with the high turnout of Tories and failed to retain Derek Hardcastle as a Kirklees Councillor. We also lost many Green Party Parish Councillors, myself included.
Derek Hardcastle (right) with Cllr Robert Barraclough

With Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner on the stomp

In Newsome, we had a strong turnout of Greens and scored 2842 votes which is the highest total number of votes we have scored since the Green Party was first elected to the Newsome Ward in 1996, when Nick Harvey scored a record 3300 votes. The Greens strong local record and the work of Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner were key factors in this sucessful vote. In other surrounding wards, with a similar demographic, Labour won hands down, even taking Almondbury off the Lib Dems. The Lib Dems and prior to them the Liberal Party had held Almondbury since the early 1980s so Cllr Judith Hughes , a refugee from Greenhead Ward in Labour's selection wars, was the surprise victor. Labour fought a reasonable campaign in Newsome and fancied their chances. There were annoying and misleading graphs on their leaflets which indicated they were on target to win the election. In reality these graphs probably encouraged Green voters to come out to defend our seat at least as much as it encouraged Labour voters to support their candidate. The Tories put out a leaflet which was just aimed at spreading lies about the Green Party and at discrediting us in the eyes of local people - (Go on sue me!). The only possible purpose was to weaken our support to help the Labour Candidate it certainly didn't build any credibility for their candidate. UKIP got one of their worst results in Kirklees in Newsome going from 3rd to 4th with their candidate Ian French having put a lot of personal effort into the campaign. It is as true for UKIP as it was for the BNP to say that where there is a strong Green Party Candidate far right parties find it much more difficult to get a foothold. Where a positive alternative to the Westminister Parties already exists it is much more problematic for them to try to get a look in. I could say a lot more but that would be giving the game away and I don't want to do that!

Kirkburton was disappointing, but we knew it was always going to be a struggle. A good effort was put in by Derek Hardcastle and his team. There was a strong 2573 Green votes which is the highest number of Green voters we have ever acheived in the ward since we started targeting Kirkburton 15 years ago. The Conservatives had little really positive in policy terms to offer locally other than their national brand. We had a strong record of substantial acheivements that we detailed in our leaflets. For the Parish Elections the Tories trawled their membership from across Huddersfield to find candidates most of whom had no connection to the Kirkburton Parish. Despite this many of them got elected on the back of the Tories General Election vote. Whether this is good for local democracy is doubtful. The Kirkburton Tories literature was as dubious as ever and we made efforts to combat that.

If local government, local issues and concerns are not to be overshadowed by the blanket media coverage of the General Election we really need to have the elections held seperately. Kirklees Greens have proposed to have Local Elections moved to a 4 yearly cycle of 'all out' elections instead of the constant warfare of having the Council re-elected by thirds 3 years out of every 4.

Another election campaign another pair of walking boots destroyed


  1. I say you survived for the next elections.
    So what we need to do is all get together and become a more bonded group.
    Do things together so we are all seen. And making sure people understand the green party.
    We are not all Wind turbine crazy activists. As a group we need to show green is good, and good is better for Kirklees and parishes. Local people doing work to sustain our areas we live in. And make sure we also involve younger groups.

  2. I didn't know I belonged to the Green Party until I did the Vote for policies website. I came out as 75% green. Then on Politics compass my dot was right on top of the green one. If I'm honest, I didn't know that the greens had policies on anything aside from the environment, so it came as a surprise to read the policies on education, immigration and defence. However, now I have read them, I feel that I can run along quite nicely with the greens (as long as they can accept that I like my hybrid 4x4 and I'm not vegan).

  3. "Equally there were people who vote once every five years at a General Election who found they were also inexplicably handed ballot papers asking for their local choices. For many they simply repeated their national preference on their local ballot papers."

    Translation: If you vote Labour or Tory you are thick!

    Wasn't the local election on the same day as the general in 2010 aswell? Hardly "inexplicable".

  4. Hello Anonymous. No need to be sensitive! Yes the same issue arose in 2010 as well. Not for a second am I saying that people are 'thick'. It is simply the case that people who are less concerned in local issues are voting in local elections. As such it is more likely that they will vote along national lines rather than be keyed into the local political scene. I wish you weren't anonymous it means I've got to guess!