‘The Blackout’ – My Poem on the BBC and the Greens

I don’t generally write poems (I prefer songs), but I was so annoyed about the BBC (and other broadcasters, for that matter) excluding the Green Party from the TV General Election debates that I felt compelled to write one. Let me know your thoughts.

 

The Blackout
——————-

This is the blackout -
when our broadcaster,
owned by us,
refuses us the chance to hear another view.

When a million Green voters are blocked of their voice
because the Beeb doesn’t have a clue
that the party system is ripping open,
breaking apart,
that politics is different now.

This is the blackout.

It’s a blackout when one rising party gets a slot,
but another doesn’t.
When four white, rich, ageing men
get yet another platform
but a left-wing woman
has to wait it out.

When we’re allowed to hear
from the up-starts if they’re pro-austerity -
radicals can forget it.
Auntie likes her comfort zones,
likes not to rock the boat too much.
She likes the establishment –
and it can be in blue, red, yellow or purple
But not Green.
No, not that.

This is the blackout

And it’s a blackout
every time our state media
ignores the return
of Occupy, ignores a million marching.

It’s a blackout when songs people
support are vetoed,
independence campaigners
are mocked and cold-shouldered,
when 50,00 sign a petition against this blackout
and are fenced off and ignored,
or 200,000 call for democratic diversity -
for a Green voice, an alternative -
and get a pro-forma response from arbitrary auntie.

This is the blackout

Believe me, Beeb.
Your license fee payers aren’t happy.
Greens are surging.
You will be left behind.
And people will remember the #BBCBlackout

#InviteTheGreens.

A new era for the Young Greens…

Well, it’s official. After what I hear was an amazing weekend in Brighton – the Young Greens‘ largest ever convention, and the first where the NEC was elected via national online ballot – I am officially no longer YG Press Officer (I decided not to restand – they didn’t kick me off!). It’s been an amazing year, I’ve learnt a lot and worked with some brilliant people, and it’s nice to hand over the reigns to the very capable hands of Georgia Elander.

I would say I’ll have a lot of time on my hands, but I’ve got my first meeting for the Editorial Board of the online publication Bright Green tonight – an interesting new chapter! No rest for the wicked. Although I will be focusing more on my journalism over the next year, I also (obviously) plan to stay active in the Young Greens.

I’m really excited for the future of the Green Party, but in particularly our youth branch. It’s dynamic, radical and engaged. I’m sure another good year lies ahead for the new committee, who I think will do a great job at maintaining the upward trajectory of Britain’s third largest party for young people. It has doubled in size in less than a year, and has more local and regional groups than ever. I’ve seen it go from strength to strength – and I think it’s going to get even better.

Thanks to the previous committee, congratulations to those elected, and commiserations to those who weren’t voted in.

Onwards and upwards – viva la revolucion!

Those elected via national ballot for the Young Greens were:

Non-Portfolio Positions: Shihab Basit, Thomas Pashby, Fiona Costello (incumbent), Sophie van der Ham (incumbent), Thom French (incumbent), and Georgia Elander

Structures and Procedures Committee: Charlene Concepcion, Matthew Clark, and Joseph Clough

Co-Chairs: Siobhan MacMahon and Clifford Fleming (both re-elected)

Treasurer: Thomas Bolitho

Young Greens call for Young Leaders Debate for General election

A great idea from the Young Greens – see below.

(Make sure you sign the #InviteTheGreens petition – over 160,000 signatures and counting. And like the Facebook page.)

Hundreds have joined the party over the past few days over the Greens’ exclusion from the TV debates. 

—-

The Young Greens, the youth branch of the Green Party, have this week launched calls for a “Young Leaders” debate to be held in the build up to the General Election in 2015.

This comes in response to widespread criticisms that the current proposals for Leaders Debates, published on Monday, have excluded parties such as the Green Party and the SNP which have substantial support.

Siobhan MacMahon, Co-Chair of the Young Greens, said:  “The obvious truth from the proposed TV debates is that broadcasters are struggling to adapt to the new political reality that we face in the UK, with five or more parties all staking legitimate claims to featuring in the debate. The Greens have been unfairly excluded from that process, despite receiving over a million votes in the European Elections and beating the Lib Dems into fourth place. Leaving out the Greens is an affront to democracy and a slap in the face to millions looking for a genuine political choice.”

The Young Greens’ proposal would feature representatives from the youth branches of each of the political parties with MPs in Westminster, and would focus predominantly on issues affecting people aged 30 and under. If TV broadcasters are reluctant to take on the idea, it is suggested that this could take place on radio or be live streamed over an internet platform such as YouTube and Google Hangouts.

Clifford Fleming, the other Co-Chair of the Young Greens, pointed to the massive engagement of young people in the Scottish Referendum as a reason for launching a Young Leaders debate.

Fleming said: “Politicians usually ignore the youth vote because we are less politically engaged, but the Referendum proved that young people do care about politics when they can see the big difference it will make to their futures. It’s time that we had a political debate that speaks directly to young people and reflects the issues that really matter to them.”

MacMahon added: “I really hope that representatives from the Youth branches of other Parties will work with us to make a Young Leaders debate happen. We have an opportunity to work together to really engage young people in politics, and have a real debate about the future of our country.”

The Young Greens have grown by over 100% in 2014 alone, with over 4,000 members – making the Young Greens the third largest party among young people.

For quotes, inquiries or interviews email press@youngreens.org.uk or call 07454397816.

Support radical acoustic music – crowdfund this EP

OK, I’ve got some big and exciting news: I have just started crowdfunding for my first proper, EP, Luddite Ballads – a collection of acoustic songs, some of which are political, which will be funded collectively.

I want it to be good. I want to get some acoustic, politically-aware music out there. More importantly, Rack Mount Records – the York label I’m signed to – really think it can work and are going to put everything into pushing the EP if I can raise £3000 in the next 37 days.

It’s a big ask, but I really want to do it, and get some radical folk into the public sphere. Please be a part of it!

So yeah. Please chip in a tenner or whatever you can to get a copy of Luddite Ballads, and to make sure we can get it national – on the radio, at festivals and everything in between.

Let’s do this!

All the best, and solidarity,
https://www.crowdshed.com/project/josiah-mortimer—new-ep-luddite-ballads

Josiah

(PS please share this post, repost it on your blogs and sites, share the link on social media – anything to get some socially-conscious music out there. I’ll make sure you get a thank-you, whether on the Rack Mount site, my own blog, and/or FB/Twitter. Thanks a million!)


https://soundcloud.com/josiah-mortimer
0745 439 7816
josiahmortimer@yahoo.co.uk
twitter.com/josiahmortimer

House of Commons corrects massive error about the Green Party…

I’ve just had this reply from the author of this week’s House of Commons report on party membership regarding my complaint to him and the Statistics Authority here. 

The report made a number of errors – talking about ‘the Green Party’ next to UKIP, Labour etc., without noting that they meant the Green Party of England & Wales (and thereby writing off the Scottish and NI Greens with thousands of members). It also listed ‘Green Party’ membership at 14,000, when it’s actually more than 19,000 now.

So the clarifications mark a bit of a success – turns out making a fuss works.

I’ve emailed back to ask that they:

a) Mention the Northern Irish Greens – an extra several hundred members, and again, a separate party

b) Include the latest GPEW membership statistics (though it’s good they mentioned Scottish growth figures) – over 19,000.

Here’s their response to my complaint:

Dear Mr Mortimer,

Many thanks for your email to the House of Commons Library regarding the note ‘Membership of UK Political Parties’.

As you note the Green Party (as registered with the Electoral Commission 25/02/1999) and the Scottish Green Party (registered 04/04/2001) are two separate entities, each registered independently with the Electoral Commission as parties of Great Britain. To clarify, the primary name of the Green Party (England and Wales) as registered with the Electoral Commission is the ‘Green Party’.  Our note focuses on membership of political parties as represented in the House of Commons. It therefore reports membership of the Green Party (as currently represented by Caroline Lucas MP) and not the Scottish Green Party; in its accounts published by the Electoral Commission year ending 31 December 2013 the Green Party reported a membership of approximately 14,000.

Before publishing the note we were sure to contact each party press office regarding up to date figures; on this occasion we did not receive a reply to our correspondence from the Green Party office. Membership figures included within the note are, unless otherwise stated, based upon submissions by UK political parties to the Electoral Commission. For those parties from which we received up-to-date membership statistics, or where press releases published after 31st December 2014 were found, such statistics have been quoted alongside official submissions to the Electoral Commission.

Nonetheless, we welcome your correspondence and your suggestion to make clearer the distinction between the Green Party and the Scottish Green Party within our note. For this reason we have updated our section on the Green Party to clarify this distinction and quoted up-to-date figures for membership to the Scottish Green Party.

So whereas before, the report said:

Membership of the Green Party appears, according to submissions to the Electoral Commission, to have held level at approximately 5,000 members between 1998 and 2002.

It now says:

Membership of the Green Party (England & Wales)…

That’s an important clarification.

They’ve also added a large section on Scotland that wasn’t there before – previously there was no mention of the Scottish Greens:

Membership to the Scottish Green Party stated in accounts ending 31st December 2013 was around 1,200; a party press release issued 22nd September 2014 reported membership has
‘passed the 5,000 mark’ following the Scottish Independence Referendum.9 Please note,
however, that the ‘Scottish Green Party’ is registered with the Electoral Commission as an
organisation separate from the ‘Green Party’ (England and Wales); consequently throughout
this note figures for ‘the Green Party’ refer to the Green Party of England and Wales only.

So it’s a minor campaign victory. Of course it all sounds petty, but actually this is a pretty politically significant document that is used by a large numbers of researchers, wonks, students, and political writers etc. This stuff matters.

You can read the updated report here. It’s gold dust for political geeks.

 

Green Party membership now over 19,000

25 September 2014

Membership of the Green Party of England and Wales is now over 19,000 following a massive surge over the past year.

Green Party membership has risen by over 40%, now sitting at 19,357 as of the 26th September, according to figures released by the party’s membership office.

Meanwhile membership of the Young Greens is now well over 3,000 following an increase of over 70% in the past six months alone.

The Scottish Green Party, a separate party, has seen a tripling of membership over the past week following the independence referendum in which Greens played an active role. The party now boasts nearly 6,000 recruits.

Commenting on the news, Clifford Fleming, Young Greens Co-Chair and Green Party Executive Member said: “Thousands of people are flocking to the Green Party for its vision of a more progressive Britain. Our call for a decent Living Wage, a publicly-owned railway network, workers’ rights and fighting climate change are inspiring people up and down the country.

“With over 19,000 members, the Greens are now in a fantastic position to run in next year’s election and pose a serious challenge to the mainstream neoliberal parties, with a plan for social justice and radical green action.

“The growth of the Young Greens has also been incredible this year. We now have dozens of branches across England and Wales full of active members keen to push for positive change and a world that puts people and the planet before profits. Young people are increasingly pushing for free education and not a system that places the market at the centre, and the Young Greens are fully behind them.

“It’s onwards and upwards for the true party of the left in England and Wales, and our counterparts in Scotland.”

For interviews call Josiah, YG Press Officer, on 07454397816

PR taken from here.

Why I’ve Complained to the Statistics Authority…

I’ve just written to the UK Statistics Authority over the House of Commons Library’s recent publication ‘Membership of UK politics parties‘, released on Tuesday. It’s a highly interesting document that myself and other political geeks love to read every year. But there’s a few clonkers in there.

 

1. They talk about ‘the Green Party’ as if it was a UK thing. They at no point clarify they are talking about the Greens of England and Wales. This skews the membership stats and fails to compare like with like – a massive statistical error.

 

2. They have very recent SNP membership stats (from this week!) but the latest Green Party stats are from December 2013 – despite it being widely known Green membership in E&W is now over 19,000 – see below (from the members’ site, but it’s all over social media). So they list ‘Green Party’ membership (again implying UK-wide numbers) at 14k, ignoring the recent membership surge.

 

national party

 

3. In doing all this, they completely ignore the highly successful Scottish Green Party, an entirely separate entity, and the Greens of NI (again, separate). This is unfair. The Scottish Greens’ membership has tripled over the past week to over 5,600 – 4000 new members. So UK Green membership is probably nearing 30,000 now. Yet the figures obfuscate this/leave it out entirely.

 

On another note, they’ve also missed out the Scottish Socialist Party which has also added thousands of members over the past week – something not mentioned while the SNP’s growth is. In both cases, the percentage rate of growth of the SSP and the Scottish Greens is far higher than the SNP (as impressive as it is). Anyway.

If you are annoyed by these glaring mistakes email papers@parliament.uk and authority.enquiries@statistics.gsi.gov.uk

Here’s my email below to the House of Commons Library and the UK Statistics Authority.

 

Dear Sir/Madam,
 
I am getting in touch regarding you recent publication ‘Membership of UK political parties’. In it, it states that ‘in 
December 2013 membership of the Green Party was around 14,000.’ This is misleading, as it is written alongside total UK membership of the other parties – when in fact the 14,000 figure is for the Green Party of England and Wales. The Scottish Green Party and Green Party of Northern Ireland should be listed in the statistics as separate parties. This takes the UK membership of the Greens up significantly. 
 
This is an issue of failing to compare like with like. For example, you write ‘Membership held level just below 13,000 in 2010-2012, before rising slightly to 13,800 members as of 31st December 2013.’ This is the England and Wales party, something not stated. As written below morover, more up to date member figures are available. 
The 14,000 figure is not the latest statistic, despite you showing very recent SNP member updates. GPEW now has over 19,000 members in England and Wales, and the separate Scottish Party has over the past week seen a tripling of membership to over 5,600. This is publicly available knowledge.
 
I am emailing to request that you make these important factual clarifications:
a) With regards to the completely separate nature of the different Green Parties of the UK – there should be separate sections on the Greens in Scotland, Northern Ireland and E&W, and it should be clearly stated that the stats currently used refer to England and Wales.
b) With regards to the latest membership statistics – there are now over 19,000 members of the Green Party in England and Wales. This is publicly available information (although the screenshot attached is from the members’ site). Moreover, such information is widely available regarding the Scottish Party – https://twitter.com/scotgp – but official current figures will be available by contacting the national offices. I suggest you do this.
I hope you can resolve this complaint swiftly.
Yours faithfully,
Josiah Mortimer
Young Greens National Committee