Open Letter to Bournemouth Labour Party

11 March 2019

AN OPEN LETTER TO BOURNEMOUTH LABOUR PARTY FROM SOUTH EAST DORSET GREEN PARTY

Dear Bournemouth Labour,

If we’re going to stop offshore drilling in Bournemouth, end local policies of cuts and austerity, and stand up to the Conservative-dominated local council, our organisations must work together. Just like our activists do every day in organisations like Save Our Shores, Hope For Food, Dorset Devils and the Community Fridge.

Under the unfair First Past the Post voting system, the Conservatives hold 50 out of the 54 seats on Bournemouth Council. That’s 93% of the seats – on just 37% of votes cast last time. Even many Conservative supporters recognise the shortage of opposition voices and scrutiny isn’t healthy for our local democracy and services. Many Bournemouth residents keenly want progressive parties to do whatever it takes to bring some changes to our Tory ‘one-party state’.

If you add together the vote in Bournemouth last time for the Green Party (14%), the Labour Party (15%) and the Liberal Democrats (11%), progressive parties actually have more support than the Conservatives – but just one seat between us.

If we could start to ‘game’ the unfair system, the progressive vote could make real inroads into the Conservative majority. We have the opportunity to think in smart 21st Century ways about how we could achieve more by working together.

So why is Bournemouth Labour instead pouring resources into trying to unseat the only progressive party councillor in Bournemouth, the Green Party’s Simon Bull in Winton East?

Councillor Simon Bull has been a model, hard-working progressive local councillor for Bournemouth over the last four years. He has successfully fought proposed austerity cuts to vital neighbourhood facilities in Winton. He has secured new community facilities for disabled people. He has served as Leader of the Opposition on Bournemouth Council, holding the Conservative administration to account. He is regularly available to local residents and has helped numerous residents with issues including council housing and getting council help. He has provided effective political leadership against the Bournemouth Beach oil rig. He keeps residents well informed, promoting community engagement in our town.

Labour will not win a seat in Winton East, starting from third place, well behind such a popular Green councillor as well as the Conservatives. As you surely know, your attempts to split the progressive vote held by Simon Bull and the Green Party do run a real risk of enabling the Conservatives to sweep the ward. Your choice of priorities is risking the only progressive party foothold on the council in Bournemouth.

We recognise however that there are other wards in May 2nd's Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Council election where the Labour Party is best placed to take on the Conservatives to win. The Green Party would like to see hard-working, environmentally concerned community campaigners in the Labour Party win council seats in the Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole area from the Conservatives.

We would like to talk with you, as well as the Liberal Democrats and progressive independents, about the possibilities for a Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Progressive Alliance in this election. It’s known that Progressive Alliance agreements can make all the difference – they made Conservative defeats happen in up to 15 seats in the 2017 General Election. It’s time to explore what’s possible in and around Bournemouth – for the good of progressive politics in Bournemouth, and for the good of the people of Bournemouth.

We anticipate many people in and around Bournemouth will want to follow this topic. We’ll be keeping them informed about how it’s going. We look forward to hearing from you and talking with you soon.

In progressive solidarity,

Kate Bisson
Chair & Coordinator
South East Dorset Green Party

A short video of Kate's message can be viewed here.

The letter was published in a two page spread in the Bournemouth Echo on 12th March, and can be viewed here.