I grew up as a teenager in Saltdean. I’ve always considered Brighton “home”.
Professionally, I worked at a senior level for the Audit Commission and in local government. Now, I help local people get more involved in decisions about their communities. I also teach yoga part-time.
We all know what you get from the main political parties. I’m different. People don’t trust the main parties after their lies on Iraq (Labour), the NHS (Tories) and tuition fees (Lib Dems). I’m a fresh and serious alternative with a real chance of winning.
Brighton is unique – it is progressive and fun. It deserves to be represented in Parliament by someone like that. Caroline Lucas was the first Green MP for neighbouring Brighton Pavilion. What a breath of fresh air she has proved to be in parliament ! With your help, I could be another effective campaigner on the issues that concern people in Brighton – and the second Green MP in England!
I hope to meet as many of you as possible between now and the next General Election, to listen to your hopes and concerns.
This is a blog I wrote shortly after I was selected to stand for parliament.
I have been selected by the Green Party to be its parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown at the May 2015 general election. I’m thrilled by it, and a bit stunned. But at a time when, according to Ipsos MORI, trust in politicians is lower (at 18 per cent) than trust in journalists, estate agents or even bankers, why on earth would a radical like me want to stand for parliament?
One thing is very clear: the mainstream political parties are seriously discredited here and abroad. More and more people feel thoroughly dissatisfied with the political system.
In the last few years, there have been unexpected successes for non-establishment candidates here and abroad:
* The rise of UKIP in the last local elections;
* George Galloway’s victory in the Bradford West by-election;
* In Greece, the radical left wing Syriza polled over 27 per cent of the vote at the last elections;
* And at the last Italian elections, a ‘stuff the establishment’ comic picked up nearly a quarter of the vote.
There is a real opportunity for parties who stand for something completely different – and I think especially for those who understand that the environmental crisis, the austerity programmes and the attacks on social justice are all interlinked.
My political background
I’ve been politically involved since my university days, many decades ago. First, I was in left wing groups, then the Labour Party left and the Socialist Movement, then a founder of Socialist newspaper and its successor Red Pepper magazine.
And for the last four years, I have been in the Green Party down in Brighton – my home city, where I grew up as a teenager. I joined because I felt the Green Party just might be able to provide a real radical political alternative to the dreary mainstream. Since then, Caroline Lucas has been elected as the UK’s first Green MP here in Brighton, and the Green Party won the most votes and took minority control of Brighton & Hove Council nearly three years ago.
Brighton & Hove
There are three parliamentary constituencies in Brighton & Hove. Pavilion is the radical hub of Brighton, including the universities and the alternative areas like the Laines, and Caroline Lucas, the first Green MP in the country, is standing again here in 2015.
Kemptown, where I am standing, is a more mixed area. Traditionally it has swung with the national election victors and currently has a Tory MP – Simon Kirby. My colleague Christopher Hawtree is standing in the Hove constituency.
All three constituencies are in Labour’s top priority 30 seats – though it seems a terrible indictment of Labour that it should make toppling the sole Green MP in the country its 19th top priority seat. Electing Caroline Lucas in 2010 was a herculean effort by the whole Green Party – the first Green MP in the world elected under a pure ‘first past the post’ system. And what a breath of fresh air she has provided in parliament and round the country ever since.
Some will argue that Greens and Labour may split the left vote and let the Tories back in locally. But Labour argued that when Caroline stood in Pavilion in 2010 – and she won. They argued the same at the council elections the following year – and the Greens came out with the biggest vote and the most councillors. With that track record of success, I hope Labour say it again about Kemptown! Labour have made clear they are not interested in any sort of anti-Tory electoral pact in Brighton & Hove.
The journey begins
I was proposed a year ago to stand as prospective parliamentary candidate and adopted almost unanimously. I never expected that.
The general election will almost certainly be in May 2015 – just over one year away. In that time I hope to immerse myself in the communities of the Kemptown constituency, to talk to people and hear their views and concerns, to find out what’s going on and to confront the ‘myths’ and fears that people have. I want to be different to the mainstream candidates: I want to give expression to people’s political dissatisfaction and to give them hope and confidence in a real political alternative.
At each step on my journey I intend to report back on the insights I have gained and the campaigning I have done.
A slightly different version of this blog first appeared in Red Pepper magazine at the end of March 2013.