Trench ward by-election

5 December 2016

Trench Ward by-election – Why are the Greens supporting Fred Long, the Labour candidate?

In one sense, this is extremely easy question to answer: Fred is a great candidate irrespective of party. He is a well know and much loved local campaigner who works closely with the Greens, Lib Dems, Labour and, yes, even the Tories to make a positive difference in our community.
Whether it is raising money for charities, helping to organise community gardens or supporting refugees, Fred is, quite simply, an excellent candidate deserving of support whatever your party political persuasions. If elected, he will make a refreshing voice in the council.

But, there is more to it than this. Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council is dominated by the Conservatives which we think is bad for democracy. We appreciate that this reflects the numbers voting for them but, as we do not have a voting system based on proportional representation, the current system exaggerates their dominance. Under a fair voting system, around 40% of council seats would be held by non-Tories which would allow for a greater diversity of representation and, we believe, more accountable and responsive local government. As it stands, just 11% of seats are held by non-Tories and this disenfranchises and under represents the views of a significant proportion of the population of the borough, not least in Trench Ward.

We also want to see more voices in the council who are prepared to put the case for progressive policies. This means building affordable homes, better and cheaper public transport, more help for people facing difficulties due to no fault of their own and protecting the environment upon which we all depend. These are all policies which contrast to the usual Tory approach of punishing the less well off and rewarding those who already have the most. We want to see policies that work for people and protect the natural world, not ones that simply use us and it for personal gain.

Of course, we would like to see Green candidates winning everywhere but the reality is, in Trench ward, the numbers simply don’t add up. This ward used to be held by Labour and they came second in the last borough elections so we feel that Labour has the best chance of winning this ward. Although there are many issues upon which we disagree, we have far more in common than divides us and this is especially the case locally with a candidate like Fred.

So, in this election, we are asking our supporters and others to vote for the Labour candidate not because we agree with everything they stand for but because, given the absence of proportionality, this is the fairest way to potentially broaden the range of representation on the council. Our country as a whole suffers from a democratic deficit and it is incumbent on all of us who believe in pluralistic democratic government to work towards remedying this. Our decision is a small step towards building this and will also give the people of Trench ward an opportunity to elect someone who isn’t simply another Tory shoe-in but is an experienced campaigner who will serve them as an excellent representative. With the Tory party sliding increasingly to the right, they will need someone like that so we are please to as add our support.