Standing for Parliament

My beloved cousin Sarah (RIP) had been in the Green Party when it was still the Ecology Party, and had tried to get me to join. I was also approached by the local Ecology Party where I was living at the time (Bradford, mid-1970s) to stand for parliament for them in Shipley, where I’d been vociferously involved in a local campaign against the building of a motorway up the Aire Valley. I read the party’s policy documents. Their immigration policy seemed racist to me, and I wouldn’t join, although many of their other policies were exactly what I believed in.

More recently, their immigration policy has changed completely, to one I can wholeheartedly endorse.

In 2014 our local Green Party put a plea in the local paper for someone to stand as their parliamentary candidate. I thought, “Why not?” and contacted the local organizer. I wasn’t even a party member at the time, just a supporter; and they did have another prospective candidate*. But she was happy to stand in a different constituency (the one where she lives) instead, and the local party liked my pitch for the job, so I was selected.

We raised the money for my deposit and for an election leaflet (huge thanks to the folks who contributed). We designed the leaflet and used the national Green Party’s organization to get it printed and delivered to the Post Office for delivery to every household in South East Cambridgeshire. And I spoke at all the hustings, and we did a bit of leafletting and canvassing – sadly, we didn’t have enough boots on the ground to do very much. And just once, I was interviewed on the BBC local radio.

I got to know the other candidates – and in particular, became firm friends with my Labour opponent, Huw Jones. Like me, he is an environmentalist, a socialist, and a peace activist. Our political objectives are virtually identical. Almost our only difference is that he remained in the Labour Party trying to change it from within, whereas I left it and eventually joined the Greens.

There’s a movement within the Green Party to try to get job-sharing accepted as an option for MPs. What are the prospects of this being achieved? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t put much money on it happening anytime soon! But Huw and I joked that we should stand as job-share candidates next time – and if it were allowed (by election rules and our parties) we really would have. In the event, in 2017 our local Green Party wasn’t in a position to put up a candidate, and I felt able to publicly endorse Huw’s campaign.

In 2015, Huw came 3rd and I came 5th and last – I did get 5.1% of the vote, and thus just saved the deposit! (About four times what the Greens got in S E Cambs in 2010, but that was about the ratio nationally so I can’t claim much credit.)

In 2017, Huw came 2nd, beating the Lib Dem into 3rd place.

Sadly, South East Cambs seems to be a safe Tory seat. I wonder if we can turn that around...?

Would I make a good MP? I don’t know – but I’m damn sure I’d be better than the one we’ve got! I’m also very sure Huw would make an extremely good MP.

There are other people I really ought to mention, several of them – but I’ll limit myself to one: my fantastic agent, Elaine Ewart, without whom even had the campaign been possible, we’d almost certainly have got into an awful mess.

* Catherine Rowett, whom I subsequently met at various Green Party events and who is now a firm friend – and MEP for the East of England EU constituency (elected May 2019).