Trouble in Bradford’s Green Party paradise?

Labour’s problems with Respect in Bradford have been well documented and needless to say it’s been all hands on deck before and after Bradford West to try reconnect with our voters, ensure their concerns are being listened to and show that it’s Bradford Labour that has the right answers to move Bradford forward as a district.

Less well documented seems to have been the effect on the Green party, who have three councillors in Shipley but some wider support in the district among the more liberal, socialist crowd who became disaffected with the tough choices that being in government means Labour had to make.

Firstly the Green candidate in Bradford West, Dawud Islam switched to Respect days after the result and is now standing for them in the local elections this week. I noticed at the time when he was on the Daily Politics show hustings he quickly sided with George Galloway against our candidate so it didn’t surprise me completely when he switched sides. Nonetheless it was a blow for the Greens, as it suggests the symbolism of their standing as an alternative to the three main parties is shallow and at risk from Respect. It also suggests that some of the people they are putting into influential positions only have a shallow loyalty to the party, which is dangerous for them.

What’s more I hear that a number of socialist types involved in the Yes to AV campaign and/or the anti-cuts movement have switched allegiances to Respect in the city centre.

What really brought it home was the emergence of the Socialist Labour Party in Shipley ward, where I stood for Labour for the last two years. I recognised a few names on the nomination papers as people who formerly supported the Greens so I wondered if there was a story behind it.

Now I’ve heard that a number of green posters have been taken down from windows in Shipley and replaced with posters for the Socialist Labour Party.

I’m not sure what the basis for these defections is really, but I’d guess that the Green’s position as a repository for left-wing protest votes has left them exposed when another alternative to the three main parties (particularly in the post-2010 landscape) has come along, either in the form of Respect or the Socialist Labour Party.

What might be making it slightly worse is the clear ideological positions of these parties may be more appealing to those who consider themselves to be traditional socialists than the more fuzzy politics of the Green Party, which hardly wears it’s left-wing heart on it’s sleeve (few of their leaflets spell out the actual consequences of their policies, e.g. massive curtailment of flights and car use, big tax increases and so on).

Either way it will be interesting to see how it pans out. In normal elections the emergence of a Socialist Party would be expected to eat into Labour’s vote, but such is the make-up of the Shipley ward, it could be the case that the Green’s have more to lose than Labour, as they have already existed as a left wing protest vote against Labour for many years.

We’ve got an excellent and experienced candidate in Andy McCormick so we’ll be pushing hard to try maximise our own vote. It’s now between us and the Greens, with the Tories campaigning very little in acknowledgement of their distant third position.

Hopefully people will realise that unlike recent years when it was Labour in third position, a vote for Labour won’t let in the Tories and the many people in Shipley who vote Labour nationally and Green locally will come back to Labour as the best way to combat the brutal austerity of the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition.

However, that is up to the good people of Shipley to decide, but it should be a more interesting election for the Greens than perhaps many people first expected.

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