Exclusive: Greens were Labour’s second choice

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

The Very Orange (and currently, it seems, Amusingly Pink) Julian H was first off the blocks this morning with That Letter from the Greens, to the which alarming turn of events – wot, a Lib Dem can’t even trust their fellow eco-weirdies not to dump on their head any more? – I can now add my own snippet.

The fact that Siân Berry is now in alliance with a Labour party that has just used green tax revenue to concrete over its deficit problems and wants the whole of the South East to be made into a sustainable network of jumbo jet runways is bad enough. In fact it makes a change because the London mayoral contest has so far proved disappointing for seekers of dramatic political narrative. Notwithstanding the bendy bus bollocks, and allowing for the vagaries of different agencies, the poll figures show a fair degree of cohesion if you overlook the initial jump in Brian Paddick’s ratings. It’s newspaper columnists’ adam’s apples (invariably) that have been bobbing up and down.

The only relief has come from Martin Kettle, who is under the weather with Batshit Crazy Talk Syndrome at the moment, as evidenced by his bizarre contention that in order to be “taken seriously” in the London mayoral race, what the Liberal Democrats really need to do is, er, replace their candidate a month before polling day. His reasoning here is that Vince Cable is an indispensible asset to the party and needs to be put into a position of prominence. What, you mean like, make him deputy leader and shadow chancellor? Hey, interesting thought, Martin! We’ll have lunch.

One trend only is discernible – over the last two polls alone, Ken’s support has dipped slightly and Boris has picked up the slack. No wonder Labour is worried. So worried that we learn from the People’s Republican Intelligence Service that they have been on the phone to the Cleggster twice in recent weeks, asking if Our Brian could possibly see his way maybe to recommending that his supporters give Ken second preference pretty please?

Now, I’ve seen it suggested in public forums that Brian Paddick has some sort of obligation to side with Ken on the grounds that we must keep Boris out at all costs, and I don’t know whether any peddlars of this horrid noisome fallacy are reading, but if you are I have implanted an intelligent virus into my blog which will strike you down with a slightly unpleasant cold. Why the hell should Brian back Ken? I mean, apart from the fact that Labour policy in London on, er, housing, crime and the environment is largely repellant to Lib Dem principles? Brian is backing Brian, for goodness’ sake.

“No,” said the Cleggster, and put the phone down. The rest is public record – Labour went for the second best option and hooked up with the pathetically eager Greens instead, for whom Labour’s dismal record on pretty much everything they hold dear was apparently just so much organic sunflower seed.

But it gets worse because Ken is having his revenge on the Lib Dems for spurning his generous offer to allow us to support his continuing bid for amphibious world domination. The Greens have suddenly unaccountably learned how to be nasty and proactive, and today are delivering their open letter to Nick Clegg suggesting that Lib Dems should be voting for Berry. You can tell they’re being nasty because their main charge appears to be that Brian Paddick, a serving police officer of thirty years’ standing, is a “celebrity candidate”, as opposed presumably to Berry who has long been slogging away in the public interest by dint of appearing on Richard & Judy.

Much of their reasoning, such as it is, is easily dealt with:

Mr Paddick has pledged to scrap the Low Emissions Zone… He would cancel the higher-rate Congestion Charge for gas-guzzling Band G vehicles

The current congestion charge policy is holding the number of cars in London steady, not decreasing it. And small wonder, because £25 is fairly traded Brazil nuts to a Chelsea Tractor driver, and some categories of vehicle currently escape the charge altogether. Why should exceptions or allowances be made for ANY kind of vehicle? Is this a Congestion Charge or not? The aim should be to get cars OUT of Central London, not give away little treats to those who drive slightly less polluting cars. And the whole place should be a Low Emissions Zone, for god’s sake! The logical thing to do if you’re serious about getting cars out of London is to replace the current staggered and time-limited system with a uniform 24/7 charge, whether you’ve got a Chelsea tractor or a biscuit tin on wheels. 

The Greens naturally make no mention of the Lib Dem suggestion of a £10 charge on the whole of Greater London for people coming in from outside, which would have a fundamental effect on commuting patterns. And in response to the insinuation that Paddick is chasing Conservative votes, I can personally assure you, Greeny-Browny people, that this one ain’t playing well in the affluent Tory suburbs at all. Transport habits in London need to be changed, not validated with the odd bit of belt-tightening. Pissing about with this or that exception just isn’t getting us anywhere and that’s clear in the figures.

And he plans to privatise the Tube network to place management entirely in the hands of a single firm.

Yeah, because PPP has really worked out. Three-quarters of the Tube network is currently in administration or hadn’t you noticed? The London taxpayer is about to pick up the bill for the failings and inefficiencies of a private company – I’d say that’s pretty much a done deal on privatisation, wouldn’t you? Public-private partnership was a Labour decision made in 1999, Labour being – oh! – the party you’ve just got into bed with. The Lib Dem plan is simply to apply the same concessionary model that works much more successfully on the DLR to the tube network. Whether newspaper headline-writers like it or not, the issue is no longer private v. public, it’s shit private v. decent private. So let’s go with the model that has been proved to work, non? It’s sheer insanity to have one company managing the trains on a given line, another company doing the track maintenance, a third company staffing the stations, a fourth doing the signals and a fifth employed to generally sweep up and occasionally scrape depressed Green voters off the tracks.

So much for the arguments. It’s the soul-revolting back story I object to. Not only have the Greens sold out their principles to a pretty lowly sort of bidder, they’re now doing his “public relations” work in an attempt to split the anti-Labour vote, and target Number One is the man who refused to countenance any such deal.

I daresay if such a letter had been sent prior to the Green-Labour hook-up things would look different. They’d still have been wrong, and oddly personal in their choice of terms. But honour would have been intact. This just stinks. Going Brown really doesn’t suit you people.



  1. Slight note on privatisation:

    I wouldn’t dismiss it because of one failure of a scheme which was not privatisation but the use of a private company to run a service under a contract which appears to have put the tax payer in a position of picking up the tab in the event of failure, rather than the initial investors who would suffer in a private business.

    PPP is not privatisation. It is a bung to corporate interests at the tax payer’s expense. Privatisation would involve the tube network being wholly owned by non-state interests, be they the workers, the users or private companies.

  2. I agree on PPP, of cours, but the scary bugbear version of privatisation that Livingstone and Berry are using to frighten voters has in effect already happened. They’re presenting it as if the alternatives are private or public. That’s what gets to me.

  3. To be probably more fair than the greens deserve, they didn’t back Ken because they sold out to Labours offer. They had an all London members meeting and decided to do so.
    This is probably because the party has a very strong streak of “eco-socialists” and the really do see it as vital to stop Boris and back Ken. I am otherwise in agreement.

  4. Very difficult to say this without sounding bitchy (which I most certainly wouldn’t want to be, as a fan of both The Republic and Paul Walter’s far more prolific and informative than mine blog) but I believe my site was the first to actually print (or even link to) the letter, aside from a non-affiliated Mayoral race site which I’ve now lost the URL for. It’s possible I was just bad at searching, mind.

    Within 10 minutes there will appear on my blog a follow-up piece by the Greens on the issue.

    Of course before publishing this I’ll have to stamp my feet, bang the table, cry and shout “MWAH MWAH, MY BWLOG WOZ FIRST”.

  5. In fact, I’d like to apologise for that post, it reads as even more stupid than I felt when writing it. Sorry Paul, sorry Alix, ignore me, I’m off to lunch.

  6. Whoops, quite right. I saw Paul’s headline and assumed he’d got there first. Bah, never assume, Mortimer, never assume. Will make amending manoeuvres and watch OBN with bated breath.

  7. I’m fairly certain Martin Kettle didn’t actually mean what he said, he was just stirring.

    As someone who takes the environment far more seriously than most people, I’m dismayed at the Greens’ behaviour. I never liked the Green Party because there’s something insincere about them. If they’d arranged a deal with the Lib Dems, I might just have developed some respect for them. But their alliance with Leavingsoon shows them up.

    I hope and pray that environmentalism is not set back by the Green Party’s failings.

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