12 May 2018
While the Conservatives won 11pc of the overall vote, the Greens won 17pc and yet have no councillors because of the first-past-the-post voting system. Labour has 52 seats and the Tories have five. Meanwhile, the Lib Dems lost all three of their seats and the Greens failed to win any either.
In Dalston, the first round of counting left Alex Armitage (Green) just one vote behind Labour’s Peter Snell. But a recount saw him lose by 21 votes after all. “It wasn’t quite as close as it first appeared, so I don’t feel so bad,” he told the Gazette afterwards.
“It was galling to lose by such a narrow margin but we have to keep the faith.”
A week ago, my friend Dan Thompson and I stood as candidates for the Green Party in the local elections for Hackney Council. We had a really enjoyable and intense campaign but unfortunately didn’t quite get elected. I was desperately close on the first count, just one vote behind the Labour incumbent; after a nail-biting recount I was 21 votes behind. In the end, almost 1000 people voted green in Dalston.
Standing for election was an amazing experience; it was a privilege to share ideas and experiences with such a diverse community of people. Every day of campaigning brought new stories, new knowledge and a deeper sense of solidarity with the people.
I learned new skills too; publishing newsletters and pamphlets, painting, Lino cutting, speaking with the media, as well as losing 4kg from all the doorknocking and leafleting rounds.
Almost every one of the hundreds of people I chatted to were positive about our campaign and responded enthusiastically to our radical environmental message. In the end, we were outnumbered by our Labour opponents, who put their effective electioneering machine into action- it was just enough to hold on.
In a brutal count for Hackney Green Party, we were just under 100 votes short of winning seats in our other target ward of Hackney Downs so, despite 1 in 6 people voting for us across the borough, there will be no Green representatives in the council chamber. There will be lots of thinking and reflection in the coming weeks but I know Hackney Green Party will come back stronger after this.
A huge thank you to everyone who came out doorknocking and leafleting, to everyone who voted, to everyone who agreed and disagreed, to everyone who stuffed envelopes, folded, stamped, painted and printed, to everyone who put up a sign and to everyone who offered words of encouragement: I’m sorry we didn’t quite get there.
Having been close to joining Labour two years ago, I personally have become more and more impressed with the Greens. As a democratic and dynamic political force and with effective leadership, the Green Party has massive potential to inject some fresh thinking into our politics: not just in terms of our natural environment but our social, cultural and physical environment too. It’s clear to me that we need a radical overhaul of so many of our institutions: the NHS and railways should be public, schools should be accountable to children and their communities, social workers should be able to spend time actually supporting clients, rehabilitation and not punishment should be the focus of the criminal justice system and we need a new, evidence-based drugs policy. We need to work for peace around the world, not wait for excuses for military intervention. In short, we need to take a step back, think holistically and invest our resources on the basis of the needs of our people, our planet and our future.