‘Chicken run, my arse’ – Labour tightens hold on Greenwich

I’ve been back home an hour and my hands are still cold after a count held in what used to be the David Beckham Academy, in a hall with no heating and plenty of artificial blasts of cool air. Brrrr.

Greenwich Labour upset the pundits and tightened its hold on the borough, knocking out two Tory councillors in Kidbrooke with Hornfair and the borough’s only two Liberal Democrat representatives in Middle Park and Sutcliffe. The general election tsunami surged through the results, nullifying Liberal Democrat challenges in Greenwich West, Tory challenges in Shooters Hill, and the Green challenge which I was a part of in Peninsula.

I personally got 1,066 votes, which I’m really touched about and can’t quite believe I got; but it wasn’t anywhere near enough as the Greens slipped to fourth. Congratulations to incumbents Mary Mills and Dick Quibell, and to newcomer Miranda Williams too. To the victors, the glory; the vanquished, bed after being up for 29 hours.

The Peninsula result was greeted with a cry from council leader Chris Roberts, who switched from marginal-looking Peninsula to safe-as-houses Glyndon last year in a move which ruffled feathers within the local Labour party last year. “Chicken run, my arse, that’s my comment for greenwich.co.uk! Chicken run, my arse!” I turned around to find he was heckling me. Classy stuff.

Actually, over the past 28 hours I’ve met and chatted and gossiped with loads of lovely people from Greenwich Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – including four hours outside a polling station cracking jokes with Tory opponent Toks Bailey which must have left Greenwich Millennium Village residents wondering what the hell was going on. I also spent some time with a man readers of the blog will know as Mr Glum – my opponent Miranda Williams’ partner. He was actually anything but glum, especially for 7am outside Rathmore Road youth club, and 4am staring at a table of ballot papers…

The Conservatives looked shell-shocked – their hotly-tipped Eltham parliamentary candidate David Gold was surprisingly beaten by Labour incumbent Clive Efford to rub in the pain of a national election night which hadn’t gone as well as they hoped it would. There’s little comfort they can draw from any aspect of this defeat, and the loss of the Liberal Democrat councillors means Greenwich is stuck with one over-mighty ruling party and a weakened opposition, which is no good for anyone. But I came out of the experience having learned a bit too, and I hope the Green campaign added something positive to the process.

In the meantime, I’m just going to have to get used to my street being covered in junk after the bin-men call each Monday, aren’t I?


  1. Well done; you polled a very respectable figure which I suspect you earned with plenty of hard work. Hope you have got some pleasant r&r organised after the political cut and thrust!

  2. Hard luck mate, I know you fought a committed campaign on issues you truly believe in. Don’t give up the fight and keep the pressure on the council. You know my views on the council leader and what you witnessed last night backs that up. The man has no class and no style.

  3. Congratulations mate you did do well and it was good to meet you.

    The issue with the council for all parties was that we didn’t know what the effect of the general election would be. Turns out in Greenwich and Woolwich it massively increased the Labour turnout in wards in which we thought we had a chance… And we lost councillors in areas we thought were relatively safe.

    The question now is what will happen about that scum bag Chris Roberts. There seems to be a large amount of dissent about having such a clown as council leader and this person was talking to me about a possible contention for the leadership.
    With their increased majority, I can’t see that happening now though…

    Labour had a campaign which in large part of the wards was a cake walk of complacency, and they got away with it.

    Well done Darryl, and my commiserations to all those Conservatives who lost their seats, and all of the Lib Dems too, it really isn’t nice to see, especailly as a lot of them were good councillors…

    Not all is bad though, I for one am sure that the next issue of Greenwich Time will be a really good one….

  4. did you get your deposit back? hope so. good news about the greens in brighton pavillion though, if a coalition is formed we could end up with a green minister for the environment!

    incidentally, david gold tried to get elected there in the last election, i wonder what he’ll do next…

  5. “Chicken run, my arse”

    So that’s where Chris Roberts was when he was missing all those council meetings: At home watching the Royle Family.

  6. Thanks, all – Greezy and Louis, I’ve snipped a couple of contentious remarks in the interests of fair play and all that. Good to meet you both, James and Louis, btw.

    I think we’re seeing with results across the rest of London the real effects of the general election – enthusiasm for the national poll/ fear of a Tory victory racheted up the Labour vote massively. It looks like a lot of London Labour parties have enjoyed windfalls off the back of the election – particularly Haringey, a byword for bad management. At the time of writing, it was looking strong for them in Southwark and Lambeth, and I’ve heard it’s a good night for them in Lewisham too.

    There’s all kinds of factors in play – but one thing that struck me was that Tory, Lib Dem and Green campaigns in Greenwich all seemed to follow similar complaints about unaccountability and arrogance. I hope the victors take some of this on board over the next four years.

    Hilly – there’s no deposits in council elections; all you need is 10 signatures from people in the ward and you’re done.

  7. You’d have been a great Councillor, which you may still be another time.
    Take it as a blessing in disguise, you still belong to yourself and not the public.
    Here in Lewisham we may well be going back to the one party state as well, will discover tonight.

  8. “but one thing that struck me was that Tory, Lib Dem and Green campaigns in Greenwich all seemed to follow similar complaints about unaccountability and arrogance.”
    That’s what I don’t understand you hear it a lot but left alone in the voting booth people seem to panic and revert to trad voting patterns. Fear of the unknown I guess

  9. I think the problem is people don’t often see that there really is a difference between council and National politics.

    If everyone knew I think there would be a lot of people who would vote Labour nationally and then for someone else at a council election.

    Seeing as most of London is Labour, it was definitely a good time to call the general election!

  10. Well done for standing, Darryl, you have my wholehearted admiration. I hope that you’re proud that you played your part for democracy and I wish things had gone differently for you.

    I must admit – sorry Louis! – that for the council I voted for 2 Labour candidates and 1 Lib Dem because the very fact that the Tories were the only people who’d put a leaflet through my door worried me that they might do well in Charlton. I can see that this is political engagement done backwards, and I do wish we hadn’t ended up with a fully Labour council. I do feel a bit disenfranchised living in this constituency under current voting arrangements.

  11. Well done, and hard luck. I couldn’t vote for you because I live in the wrong ward, but I did vote Green. Not that it did much good locally, although Brighton Pavilion parliamentary seat going Green is encouraging.

  12. Sorry, I see that Greenwich council is in fact now a large Labour majority with a small Tory opposition – must have misread it. Oops.

  13. Well done and bad luck. I am a Labour supporter though I would have welcomed some variety on the Council of the progressive type. Fear of the Tories was definitely a factor, I’d say, national mapping into local as you say. I was relieved about Clive Efford’s victory in Eltham.

    Hilly, I wonder too where they’ll put the Tory David Gold now – it was a close run for him.

  14. “the very fact that the Tories were the only people who’d put a leaflet through my door worried me that they might do well in Charlton”.

    Nikki, this was because we *were* the only active opposition to Labour in Charlton.

    A point I tried making on my campaign was this: At council level, we just need councillors who will do a good job for residents and be accountable to them – irrespective of political stripe.

    I’d say that the political ideology local councillors can impose is negligible.

    I’d be content to have any local councillor (except those belonging to a fascist party) who worked hard for the community because we all pretty much want the same thing at local level: clean streets, less anti-social behaviour, good libraries &c.

    (We had no plans to turn Charlton Church Lane into a grouse moor and go shooting game, for instance)

    We would have done a good job because we were active and cared about the community we live in.

    In the end, because the local election was on the same day as the general election, fear of the “Tory” brand didn’t make any difference to outcome of the locals.

    However, I’d encourage that if you have an active, industrious alternative to Labour in four years time give them a go no matter who they are (though with the same exception in mentioned above).

    Unless a die-hard Labourite, we don’t really want a continuation of this 40 year one-party state (both in Charlton and Greenwich as a whole) because it is bad for democracy and we get complacent, lazy councillors.

  15. 44 years at the end of this.

    I do understand that some people do have a fear of the Tories being in power, I just wish that people were more able to see that it isn’t party political at council level.

    Darryl for example would make a good councillor, as he is active locally and cares about the issues, we had plenty of candidates like that across Greenwich, as did every party, something from which knocking on a lot of doors, Labour candidates lacked…

    I suppose the problem is there isn’t enough interest in local politics for people to want to research all these changes.

    It’s refreshing to know that the fact that we were the most active party lost us votes though Nikki! Haha.

    And as for the “chicken run my arse” comment.
    If you take a look at that…
    Roberts was scared to stand in peninsula, so ran, like a chicken, to a ward which he knew he would win… So a chicken run, yes, regardless of the fact that he would have won!!!!

    The fact that he was heckling you is more proof of his character than yours I suppose.

  16. I do take your points, and I’m sure you are committed to the area and would have worked your hardest for the ward, Louis and James. I’m not entirely convinced that council politics is as free of party political considerations as all that – and I will admit that reading this the day before I voted put the fear of God into me. I see that there is a rebuttal of sorts on ConservativeHome.

    Look me in the eye and tell me that you have no plans to introduce pheasant and snipe to Maryon Wilson Park, James 🙂

  17. I cast my vote for you…very disappointed you didn’t get elected. Hope you’ve managed to warm up and get some sleep….

  18. Luckily Louis & I didn’t lose by one vote otherwise it would be the Indy’s fault.

    Of course you’re right, council politics doesn’t exist in a vacuum and isn’t free of party political considerations but The Indy’s report is scaremongering-by-numbers.

    And I do maintain that councils aren’t a ferment of ideology and that the councillor exists to represent residents first and foremost.

    I’ll tell you what I would like for Maryon Wilson Park, Nikki – A (nice-looking) wall or fence around its perimeter and gates that are closed at dusk just like Greenwich.

  19. That’s the way it is I spose!!

    On the bright side I reret nothing about taking part and campaigning, I made two great friends in James and Richard, and anyone who saw us in Charlton or on our prolonged visits to the British Oak would never have seen us without smiles or laughter at each others constant joking.

    Meeting residents was also great fun, just listening to what people had to say, I’m 19 and I have to say that it has helped shape my opinions of what needs to happen. I would like to thank all those who took the time to let us know thier opinions whether they voted for us or not (but a slightly bigger thank you to those that did!).

    I’d live to do it all again one day!

  20. I’m sorry you lost Darryl. It’s awful that Chris Roberts is in…the man is wretched. But in Plumstead, the only canvassers I saw where Labour ones. We didn’t get any visits and very little real information from any other party.
    As for the council elections, I just chose all councillors that lived in Plumstead in the hope that our little part of the world would get some needed attention. We are the poor sister to Greenwich and Eltham.

  21. Thanks, all.

    Plummy – you had more canvassers than Charlton did, that’s for sure. A lot of Peninsula people said the Greens were the only party to canvass them.

    A fence around Maryon Wilson Park? Are you sure, James?

  22. Have to say I’m pretty glad about the lack of canvassers as the thought of strangers coming to my front door uninvited is a bit annoying (we’ve only just managed to shirk the Jehovah’s Witnesses visits each sunday morning).

  23. Yes, I’m sure. There’s a fence on the south side of the park. If the north side had a boundary and (both sides had) gates which closed at dusk then there’d be fewer problems.

  24. First – Darryl, write that book, well done for your campaign and sorry you didn’t get closer.

    I was surprised that Labour romped home in Greenwich to the extent it did. I would have thought that stuff like the Olympics and Greenwich Time might have altered some things.

    I’m also interested in the idea that council work is largely non-party political. If that’s true (and I’ll confess I’m unconvinced), why don’t more people stand as Independents once they have a reputation?

    Is it down to campaign funds? On which topic, is it me, or did Greenwich Tories’ election leaflets printed on expensive looking glossy paper send absolutely the wrong message?

  25. Darryl

    Good on you for standing and for your commitment to making Greenwich a better place.

    Bad luck for David Gold in Eltham, the two people he beat in the Tory selection were elected elsewhere – Eric Ollerenshaw in Lancaster and Jackie Doyle-Price in Thurrock

  26. Thanks for your kind thoughts, Paul – and best of luck for the future.

    Will – I think the work of councils and councillors is not very well understood. It’s relatively easy to stand if you’re known in the area. In some areas, residents’ associations stand for councils – Epsom & Ewell has been run by one for years. But it’s expensive to challenge parties who can bus in support if needed, since you need to counter them with publicity and that costs money. I’d recommend anyone who’s angry about issues which affect them to stand, though. Councils certainly notice when you challenge them at the ballot box.

  27. […] treats the people it claims to serve, and the sense of entitlement which permeates the party. Being jeered by the council leader on Friday morning wasn’t exactly proof of a Labour group which is comfortable with the idea of being […]

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