Fringe Box



Letter: Political Parties Need a Full Set of Policies, Not a Single-Issue

Published on: 11 May, 2021
Updated on: 11 May, 2021

From: Sam Peters

In response to: Results Underline the Need To Kick National Parties Out of Local Politics

Having spent the entire campaign attacking the Green Party after turning down offers of collaboration, GGG seems to be continuing this after the election. Let’s set the record straight again.

I was no Green Party “paper candidate”. With volunteers, I hand-delivered a leaflet to every single house in the entire division, followed up with two more, and knocked on nearly 2,000 doors in the run-up to the election.

In fact, hundreds of residents from Send to Chilworth to Shere told me I was the only person from any party who had done so, including GGG, to the extent that I frequently wondered whether I was doing GGG’s work for them, given the similarity with names and colours.

On my second visit to a house in Burntcommon, a postal voter told me that after being pleased to see a candidate in person for the first time in more than 10 years, they had voted for me as the representative of “this green belt party” the next day.

I attended every event for which I received an invitation, replied to every one of more than 150 emails, calls and letters from residents during the campaign, and helped several with issues related to disruptive road-building and development.

The idea that the Green Party cannot provide effective local councillors because the party has national representation is utter nonsense. I do not support a set of policies because I’m in the Green Party. Rather, I’m in the Green Party because of the policies I support, which applies just as much to local issues as national ones.

Our two county councillors and many local councillors across Surrey are, again, ample proof that caring about the environment, as well as cuts to public services, provision of sustainable local jobs, protecting social care and education, and so on, does not have to be something one only does at either local or national level.

Our councillors live, work and are active in their local communities as much as any other, in fact, far more than most others, and their views on national politics have absolutely no impact on that, any more than the way a GGG candidate would vote in general elections would.

Local councillors and parties need a full set of policies, rather than being a single-issue protest party. Shere division residents obviously care about the green belt, but they also care about cuts to Sure Start centres and schools, the attempts to stifle local democracy, recycling and waste, active transport, and all other areas of their daily lives on which the county council impacts.

As the candidate who actually door-knocked at this election, I heard this repeated in various forms over and over again. In the absence of this policy, and knowing the Shere GGG candidate is a former Conservative who stood for the party in the previous election, the continued conflation of GGG with the Green Party (and its broad range of progressive policies targeting genuine change at SCC) becomes even more unsuitable, again something I heard countless times on the doorsteps.

As far as I can tell, and as far as many local people told me too, GGG is far closer to the Conservatives on all issues but the green belt than it is to the Green Party, and comparing the split of the election vote seems to confirm that.

“Green-ness” for the Green Party does not apply to just one narrow range of environmental policies, and it is time this misrepresentation ended, be that deliberate or an honest mistake.

As I said before, the Green Party stands for positive campaigning, and it is extremely unfortunate that I’ve had to spend so much of this campaign defending myself here, rather than laying out the positive case to unseat the Conservative hold over Shere.

Perhaps if GGG had attacked their supposed target instead, this election would have gone differently. As it is, I wish Guida the best of luck at GBC, and hope it will be possible in future to find common ground other than the green belt with which to work with GGG on all the issues relevant to our local communities.

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Responses to Letter: Political Parties Need a Full Set of Policies, Not a Single-Issue

  1. David Roberts Reply

    May 11, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    I seem to have touched a raw nerve, judging by these twin attacks by Mr Peters and Lib Dem Cllr Potter, who may be mistaking me for a politician like themselves.

    Yes, I support GGG as a private individual and, yes, as a former professional political analyst, I am of the view that there was confusion in voters’ minds between GGG and the Greens in Shere Division. In my opinion, the poor judgement of the Greens and Lib Dems sadly allowed an exceptionally unsuitable Tory candidate to win this seat by a tiny margin, while much more decent ones (such as Julie Iles here in The Horsleys) lost theirs.

    Mr Peters complains that GGG’s candidate in Shere Division was an former Tory. Should I also complain that Diana Jones, the Greens’ sole councillor in Guildford, is the wealthy chairman of Maybrook Ltd, a London-based property development company? What do these biographical details prove?

    I’m happy to believe that Green councillors do good work in many places but would be hard pressed to say what Cllr Jones has done for the environment in Guildford. By contrast, GGG has today got the government’s top statistical authority to admit in The Times that the local population projections in the Guildford Local Plan are too high. This means that the R4GV/Lib Dem coalition now has no option but to take steps to reduce the housing targets in the Local Plan.

    Instead of dwelling on the elections, Cllr Potter may want to try reading GGG ex-councillor David Reeve’s compelling paper on the subject, the result of years of serious personal engagement and hard work that seem alien to our flimsy local Greens and Lib Dems.

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