It’s ridiculous that half my fellow constituents pay £1209 more for their annual season ticket than the other half. That has to stop and Greens are leaning hard on the other parties to join us in this essential campaign.
This article is part of a series of articles that appear in our December 10 print edition under the subheading “Small parties, big ideas. We sit down with the insurgent parties trying to upset the Labour incumbent.” You can also check out our interviews with the Brexit Party, Liberal Democrat, and Socialist Equality Party candidates.
Kirsten de Keyser, Green Party candidate for Holborn and St Pancras, meets with The Beaver on a brisk afternoon in early December. She opens up about campaigning, the climate crisis, and whether or not there is such a thing as a ‘wasted vote’. De Keyser is candid in her responses – a refreshing quality for a politician. The interview flows naturally.
De Keyser is honest about her political background: “I was a bit of a political bed-hopper, you might say.” Originally a Labour member, she joined the Liberal Democrats to fight for abolishing tuition fees. “That lasted, what, five minutes?” she laughs. Eventually, she came into the Green Party by accident. “I looked at the [Green Party’s] website and thought, oh, actually this party’s come of age… I was really impressed.” That was five years ago now.
De Keyser is adamant that this is the “climate election”. “If we don’t have a climate, it doesn’t matter how good or bad Brexit is,” she says. She is weary of how Brexit has been a talking point “hammered” by Labour and the Tories, or “the Grand Old parties as I like to call them.” Despite this, she is hopeful about the climate message. “This is possibly the easiest election I’ve ever campaigned in, because the planet’s campaigning with me.” For de Keyser, the Green Party is the climate action party, “because we are one hundred percenters.” Other parties don’t go far enough because “they’re afraid of losing votes.” What’s missing from the other parties is this courage, “the guts to tell people uncomfortable truths.”
She comes across as passionate, driven, but above all else, pragmatic. “I’m no lentil-munching tree hugger,” she tells The Beaver. In the Holborn & St Pancras constituency, de Keyser recognises the significant lead that incumbent senior Labour Member Keir Starmer has. “I’m not campaigning to win the seat,” she says. “That would be like Jo Swinson standing up and saying, ‘I’m standing here as the next Prime Minister of the UK’ – no you’re not, Jo.” Instead, de Keyser wants to be “the grit in the oyster… the person that keeps the conversation alive.” In fact, there’s a beauty to this logic, in her seat at least. Starmer’s lead is such that “the Tories will never catch him… even the Lib Dems would have a hard task catching him.” This means that “it doesn’t matter, we can vote with our hearts… [we can] actually vote for what we believe in.” For de Keyser, there’s no such thing as a ‘wasted vote’. She believes in the power of making a statement through voting. In Holborn & St Pancras, a large Green vote would “be a wakeup call” to Starmer, meaning “he would have to heed that Green presence” in his position. She wants to be this “voice from the left to the left.”
De Keyser is pragmatic too on the dilemma of tactical voting. For those voting from the left, “if you’re in a very marginal constituency, then it could well be that you need to vote Labour in order to get the desired result… if it’s that or Tory, then obviously you would vote Labour.” This should be viewed on a “constituency by constituency basis,” however.
In Holborn & St Pancras, she tells The Beaver, “it really is a multicoloured constituency in both culture and political hue.” This complexity, she says, “has its own challenges for the blues and the reds”, but not for the Greens. Why? “Because everybody agrees with us!” The Green Party is targeting youth investment in the area, opening youth centres to be run in collaboration with young people. De Keyser argues that this must be a priority in politics, highlighting the rising knife crime in Camden as an example of the need for youth advocacy work. “You don’t stop that by having greater sentences or whatever, because that’s not where it starts, it starts at the grassroots level.”
Discussing recent Greens controversies, de Keyser remains candid and honest. Regarding the recent remarks made by Extinction Rebellion’s co-founder Roger Hallam, a group the Green Party have collaborated with on a number of occasions, she admits that she “hadn’t been directly involved in it.” On Extinction Rebellion more broadly, however, de Keyser admits that she “broadly agree[s] with what they do.” “Peaceful protest almost took us backwards, let alone got any results… since XR [Extinction Rebellion], and since Greta Thunberg, things have suddenly started to shift, so they are effective.” Her pragmatism reemerges in discussing the recent announcement of the pact between the Greens, Lib Dems, and Plaid Cymru, in which they agreed to stand aside in more than 60 seats to avoid splitting the vote for Remainers. “You have to collaborate with other people,” she says, “it’s like a coalition in opposition.” Acknowledging that this will deprive certain voters of the opportunity to vote for the Green Party, she finds it to be a matter of the “greater good.” “Coalitions are grown up politics,” she says.
De Keyser would love to see an LSESU Greens Party society led by the students, similar to ones at other universities. The Green Party have a number of key initiatives significant to the student vote, particularly abolishing tuition fees and lowering the voting age to 16. “As a party we are more youth-focused in the things that we do,” she shares. Compared with the Labour party who are “stuck in the 70s” in their entrenchment with trade unions, the Tories who “just want to hold on to what they’ve got”, and the Lib Dems who “seem to have their own traditional values”, the Greens aspire to represent this gap.
She fundamentally believes in the power of young people. “Sixteen-year-olds are bloody impressive,” she declares, but at the same time, “young people are so disenfranchised.” The politicians know they need to please the pensioners she argues, “because they vote.” Young people are overlooked by politicians in their decision making like this.
I recently met up with Sam Willis from OnLondon. He wanted to know what I think of HS2. Read his full article HERE
Meanwhile, here’s a taster:
It is perhaps unsurprising that someone of De Keyser’s political background might lack trust in the good intentions of the government. But her stance also reflects her peculiar position as a Green parliamentary candidate in one of the safest Labour seats in the country. “I’m the one-person awkward squad,” she says. “Where you have these big safe seats it’s really important that you have an alternative voice, otherwise no debate is ever had.” As she sees it, in safe seats the incumbent party gets complacent: “Their own people don’t ask them the awkward questions.”
Thanks to Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg, environmental issues have been pushed to the foreground of political debate. This might help the Greens – oppositional, mistrustful of government and sceptical about development – to pick up voters and send a message to the Big Two parties. In the meantime, the battle over HS2 continues.
I am standing as the Green Party Parliamentary Candidate in Holborn & St Pancras, a rock solid Labour seat. Sir Keir Starmer (Lab) has a 30,500 majority.
Why on earth am I doing that?
Because the bigger a political majority, the more essential a strong opposition. Big majorities kill debate.
Who am I anyway?
An active Green Party member for five years, I was born in Denmark and came to live in Britain in my twenties. I have two grown up children, a background in television production and a PPE degree. I sit on the Council of the Electoral Reform Society and I represent the Kentish Town Health Centre on the NHS Camden Clinical Commissioning Group. I have an overwhelming sense of fairness and equality, and we don’t have enough of either.
I want to change that.
When will this happen?
Now. It’s time to act. Time to ramp up our climate programme, time to get the homeless off our streets and time to give our kids well funded, happy schools. All of them. Time to fix our employment laws, so we can work to live, not live to work, and time for decent retirement for our parents. Time for universal free education and time for affordable homes for all.
Why vote for me?
A vote for me means new energy, new ideas, no political baggage. Our politicians have failed and we can’t solve our problems with the same thinking that created them. We need new heads to create new solutions.
You know what to do!
In Holborn & St Pancras the Labour majority is so large that we have the luxury of being able to vote for what we believe in, without risking unintended consequences! So vote with your heart for once, and together we’ll make our world a better place. We can do this.
The Camden Green Party is 100% funded by small individual donations.
Once upon a time when rubbish was rubbish, life was simple. You bought stuff and whatever you didn’t consume in some fashion, you threw in the bin. The Council sent it to landfill or to the incinerator. There was nothing more to know.
That was then and this is now. Today, our rubbish has become a thing. A topic for conversation: “What can I recycle in which bin? I’m totally confused”. “Recycling is a load of rubbish, I bet they just chuck it all in the incinerator anyway”. “Someone told me that it still goes to landfill, so why do we bother?” Good question…
If you want the answer – and if you happen to be in London, just take a 20 minute tube ride from Tottenham Ct Rd to Bromley by Bow. You’re now in Olympic Park territory. Anish Kapoor’s bright red Orbit Helter Skelter sticks up above the trees, you pass a futuristic looking school with exciting murals emblazoned on the walls. You realise that you don’t actually know much about Bromley by Bow.
This is about as far from rubbish as you can get. Except that it isn’t. Proceed through a leafy glade and you find yourself right next to a massive gleaming light grey aircraft hangar. Except that it isn’t. This is a common-or-garden rubbish dump. Except that there are no smells? No smells at all, in fact. And no noise. Continue reading →
Tellers, say Wikipedia, help their parties identify supporters who have not yet voted, so that they can be contacted and encouraged to vote, and offered assistance—such as transport to the polling station—if necessary. In as far as this increases turn-out, it can be said to be “good” for the democratic process, since a higher voter turnout is generally considered desirable.
In my time I have sat on wobbly plastic chairs / stood in soggy puddles / leaned on rough brick walls for hours-on-end in a multitude of polling stations across the land, at a variety of elections for all manner of Councils and Governments, as a teller, collecting voter numbers on behalf of a pick-n-mix bag of political parties.
And I can now confirm that the Friday 23 May UK election for the European Parliament was nothing like any other election I have been a part of. From the outset it was clear that voters considered this to be a second Brexit vote, not the General Election for the European Parliament, which it actually was.
As I write, Extinction Rebellion are hosting their final meeting in Berkley Square, to celebrate the return of the nightingale. Down the road, parliament are still at sixes and sevens about Brexit – yes, funny old world we live in.
But together, we can do something about it. Amid the turmoil, we have a real chance to offer voters, fed up with indecision on the things that really matter, a new alternative.
Yet another US court finds the weedkiller glyphosate a ‘substantial’ cancer factor https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47633086 but Camden Council refuses to take action, ignoring my presentation of a 1000 signature petition to stop its use in the borough.
How many deaths will it take before Camden Council wakes up to the potential danger their staff and the public are exposed to?
She’s totally committed to Europe and fights hard for what she believes in.”
Magid Magid, Lord Mayor of Sheffield
Parliament has been Brexit-browbeating the people for a thousand days. And so, fed-up we got up, and marched. Bloodied, but unbowed. I kept reminding myself that I am campaigning to become an MEP candidate for London, while at the same time taking to the streets of that very city, alongside over one million other Europeans, passionately trying to rescue the UK from crashing out of the EU.
All pretty unreal, to be sure.
Frankly, I am also ashamed that it had to get to the point where we now find ourselves staring wide-eyed and ashen-faced into the abyss, before I got off my **se and threw my hat into the ring as an MEP candidate.