What would you do?

By insecta62 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/insecta62/506001742/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By insecta62 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/insecta62/506001742/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The result of the by-election at Rochester and Strood will influence the way that next May’s general election plays out. How much momentum will UKIP have?

The UKIP candidate, the sitting MP Mark Reckless, is unequivocably against the Lodge Hill development that will destroy a very important Nightingale population.  Here is something from Reckless’s website.

It seems that the Green Party is also against the Lodge Hill proposal.

The Conservatives are in favour of wiping out the Nightingales and Labour seems rather reticent, as far as I can see, to say anything against the proposal and voted for it on the Medway Planning Committee.

It puts voters with a strong interest in wildlife in a dilemma. Would you vote UKIP, and support a candidate who wants the UK to leave the EU and the environmental protection that has crossed the Channel from Brussels and  Strasbourg? Or would you vote Green and support a candidate who won’t be elected? Or would you vote for a party that wants to destroy an SSSI and its Nightingales, Duke of Burgundy Fritillaries etc?

Voting is a great responsibility. How would you exercise yours in this case?

It would help Labour voters considerably, for example, if there were many signs that Labour had a very strong commitment to wildlife conservation even if, perhaps, they are on the wrong side on this particular case. But, at the moment, seven months out from the next general election, there is nothing much on offer. Under these circumstances people sometimes look for protest votes.  And in close-run by-elections, protest votes can make a difference.

And what happens at Rochester and Strood will influence next year’s election campaign. The seat is 9th on Labour’s hit-list but since 2010 the emergence of UKIP has changed the electoral arithmetic.  What momentum might UKIP have after this by-election?  And will the Nightingales be singing them on?






29 Replies to “What would you do?”

  1. I was hoping you would blog about this dilemma Mark.

    If I lived there I would vote Green to send a message that Labour needs to be more environmentally responsible.

    I have noticed that Reckless voted against the Government’s Badger cull so am willing to believe he could be genuinely concerned about Nightingale habitat destruction. However, considering the bigger picture for the environment (& more!) I wouldn’t ever think of voting UKIP despite those poor nightingales.

    Could this by-election make Labour (and others) reconsider their stance on this and other environmental concerns? I can’t believe that the decision to build 5000 more houses is very popular locally. I hope Bob is out canvassing in Rochester getting more votes!

  2. Couldn’t bring myself to vote UKIP for a legion of reasons, the Condems are a complete non-starter and Labour, despite seemingly talking the talk, have so far failed to respond to me (and others) regarding their position on either grouse shooting or Lodge Hill. I can only glean from this that they haven’t formulated one. Not good enough.

    So, even though a Labour voter all my life it would be Green for me.

  3. I couldn’t possibly vote for the xenophobes and the harkers back to a golden age of the English that never existed (UKIP) nor the current shower of ” know the cost of everything and value of nothing” afraid that despite being a lifelong socialist it would have to be Green.

  4. So many people seem to judge UKIP on one policy – having looked at other policies, how could anyone actually vote for them ; beyond me.
    However you then come to this one place and of those choices it would have to be Green for me too. Here at home we have Plaid to vote for & an excellent MP, so thankfully I don’t have the dilemma so many English voters have.

  5. If I had a vote here, it would have to be for the Greens. I live in Oxford, (a safe seat because of the young transient population), and am used to my vote in general elections having little effect…

  6. I have never voted in my life. Each time I try to muster up the will to vote, I suddenly remember how many lies and false promises seem to be made by all politicians. None of them it seems have ever had any desire to help the planet and the natural world. So I have simply turned my back on it all. But, I now find myself in a position where rather than voting a party in, I desperately want to help to vote one out. One which has time and time again lied to everyone, whose soul desire is to line their own pockets whilst taking from everyone elses, and most importantly of all have totally and utterly turned their back on saving the planet and the natural world. So my dilemma is the same one as Mark has written about. Do I vote for the party who will do the most for the planet, even though they won’t win? Do I vote for the next best and hope all goes well? Or do I vote Labour and just get the Cons out for now and see what we can mend at a later date? Which ever I choose, it seems to me that the planet and the natural world loses anyway, so I may well just not bother…..again.

  7. This wonderful wooded area is in my neck of the woods & I will lay down in front of the bulldozers if this goes through. I’ve also been keeping an eye on what the parties have to offer with regards to wildlife & conservation & it’s not looking good. I voted green in European Election & will vote green again. So Mark Reckless if you care about our wildlife & conservation, why not skip over to the Greens. You’ve jumped ship once and as much as I applaude you for standing up and fighting for Lodge Hill & the badgers, I won’t be voting for UKIP or those blood thirsty Tories who are becoming barbarians killing badgers, grouse, pheasant for sport (yes you Boris Johnson). With all the illegal killing of our wildlife and destruction of our land, we need a strong GREEN government, Greens you need to get out and see the public, you’d be surprised at the response. Ive often thought that it’s all like a series of Game of Thrones, the wildlife criminals, shooting & the Tories are the Lanisters killing everything & we who care about what happens to this beautiful country of ours, are the mother of dragons and we have a big fight on our hands to claim our land & wildlife back to its former glory.

  8. I fear, Dr. Avery, that europe’s protection of its flora and fauna may cease to be a compelling argument to remain within the EU, whichever party holds power here. This piece by Geoffrey Lean, published in the Daily Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/11123783/Jean-Claude-Juncker-puts-birds-in-the-line-of-fire.html) suggests that the bartering away of legislation is beginning already. Whilst, in this instance, it might be to sway Mr. Cameron to support the incoming EU president in return for relaxed controls to enable development of otherwise protected sites, it suggests that Mr. Junkers doesn’t consider the environment to be of much worth, or at least soemthing he’s prepared to forego to achieve other ends. Anyway, SPA status didn’t save Dungeness from a pointless expansion of Lydd Airport!

    1. Richard – thank you for your comment. Yes, I’m afraid these are interesting times. The Directives need defending with all our might – watch this psace.

  9. This is a cracking question. The problem is if you vote UKIP the last thing Tory/Lab would think you were doing it for environmental reasons!

    IF you voted green obvs that would be the message.

    I guess if your looking short term you would vote ukip but the overall ukip environment policy is rather non-extent except to say all renewables are bad. So the long term thinker would go Green.


  10. This latest test of green credentials in which all three main parties (as usual) have failed. Perhaps the local incumbent really does have nightingales and Lodge Hill interests at heart but voting for UKIP may be more than local “watermelons” can bear. The bigger issue is why the left of centre Green Party cannot galvanise greater support nationally even though poll after poll on eviromental issues puts them streets ahead of the rest. The UKIP bandwagon may grind to a halt but what would the greens give for that level of
    national exposure right now. This is very apparent by which leaders were invited to take part in national TV debates. Obviously blaming immigrants has more appeal with the electorate than
    conservation matters

  11. It would have to be Green for me to. Just couldn’t live with myself voting for UKIP, even if they had chosen the right action on this one particular issue. Voting Green sends a good message to the complacent parties that they are failing us on environmental issues (in theory!)

    (Mark – apologies, I think my email address was incorrect last time, missed an L)

  12. The question of who will represent Rochester and Strood in Westminster is a very important one.

    The Hoo Peninsula makes up a large part of the Rochester and Strood constituency and is made up of around 95% green infrastructure rich in wildlife, heritage, landscape highest grade agricultural land, and delivering vital natural services for people and wildlife. The RSPB have many reserves here and our wildlife and habitats are protected under local, national and international law.

    23,000 of us live on the Hoo Peninsula, we have fought many battles and still face many and varied threats.

    Climate change & sea level rise.

    The loss of the EU birds and habitats directives if the UK leaves Europe. These laws protect our natural environments from short-term economic & political decisions.

    Unsustainable development.

    Aviation expansion & new runways; we still live with the constant threat of a Thames estuary airport from Boris Johnson (he has included this dastardly idea in his new Draft London Infrastructure Plan – the consultation finishes at the end of this month) and others which would annihilate our globally important wildlife sites and our ancient rural communities even though the UK airports commission has now ruled it out.

    The threat of destruction of our SSSI at Lodge Hill for housing, the only SSSI notified for its nightingales. It is also notified for its ancient woodlands, grasslands and many other wildlife species.

    The threat of a new Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend that will have a damaging and detrimental effect on our Special Protection Area for birds and other wildlife

    I want to see the protection of our cultural heritage, of Dickens landscapes, our wealth of medieval churches and fine buildings & our military heritage.

    Rochester and Strood needs a strong politician who will stand up in Westminster for our globally important wildlife and our communities as we face these huge threats and therein lies the quandary… who to choose…
    who to entrust the safety of our globally important wildlife to…

    As I listen to the political rhetoric I have a Vote for Bob poster in my window and it will stay there until after the General Election in May to let all callers know where I stand and to question all politicians on their views regarding our wildlife when they knock on my door – I hope others will do the same.

    One thing is for sure, no matter who is elected here I will do my utmost to ensure that our natural world is placed high on the political agenda and that the EU birds and habitats directives remain strong.

  13. No dilemma for me, I would vote Green. I would not vote for a climate-change denying, pro-fracking party quite apart from all it’s other horrible aspects.

  14. “Or would you vote Green and support a candidate who won’t be elected?”

    And there lies the problem – its this attitude. I came across this blogpost because Natilie Bennett shared it on Facebook. If everyone who wanted to vote Green but didn’t “because he won’t get elected” actually did vote Green he may well get elected!!

  15. Darren C. is quite right. Sadly people don’t seem to use their vote to express their views [mostly because there is no one size fits all]. But, whether Green, UKIP or Labour, whoever gets elected in this by-election will be a lone voice and even if they belonged to the parties of Government they have zero chance of influencing decision making in their constituency because there is only one policy with this current Government, and that is economic growth. Anything that stands in the way is bulldozed. I don’t think UKIP are pro Nightingales – they are anti housing development because they are anti immigration. In this case that might add up to the same thing but ….

  16. As the beast of Bolsover (Dennis Skinner) said recently;

    “There are millions of voters who NEVER see their candidate win, but they still vote.

    You’re voting for a set of values, not an individual”

    Trying to be clever and vote tactically means we never get a fair representation of public opinion, vote from the heart not from the head.

  17. It is well known that Mark Reckless only changed his mind on Lodge Hill recently; in 2013 he was in favour of it.
    How odd that he triggered the by-election shortly after the planning committee meeting where the Tories and Labour both approved it. Now he’s hoping to count on the votes of the Hoo peninsula.
    I live in Rochester and no way will I be voting for Reckless as he is thoroughly unprincipled and self-serving (not to mention his dodgy policies!)
    I will vote Labour (despite this issue) or possibly Green.

  18. Voting Green is a step forward.

    A vote for the other parties is a total waste of time, and people really need to wake up to that – especially if they call themselves conservationists.

    Better still though, would be to organise locally and attempt to stop the process – either legally or eventually physically. Make it as difficult as possible to go ahead. In other words, actually DO something about it. You might not win, but this is how things actually change.

  19. The problem with the Greens is that many of their other policies are very far to the fringes and alienate people like me who, for example, support our nuclear deterrence and nuclear power.

    I could not vote Labour though because they are firmly pro shooting, as seen by the support shadow ministers give to BASC each year at the LP conference. I live in a marginal Lib Dem seat where the challenger is a Tory. The Lib Dem MP here is anti hunting with dogs and against the badger cull, so I will continue to vote for him in order to try and secure support in those areas.

    UKIP have close links to the bloodsports brigade and would rip up any remaining protection for wildlife and the environment. It scares me that so many people are voting for them and considering doing so in 2015.

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