Steve Goddard on what Peter Tatchell’s resignation means for Oxford East

Dr Steve Goddard was the Parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Oxford East at the 2001 and 2005 general elections, slashing Labour’s majority from over 10,000 to just 963. He will be fighting the seat for a third time in 2010.

As Liberal Democrat Voice readers will be aware, Peter Tatchell, after two and a half years as Green Party candidate for Oxford East, yesterday announced his resignation due to injuries sustained during some of his campaigning activities.

Although I haven’t had the chance to get to know Peter well – I only met him twice or thrice during his time as candidate – he is someone whose energy and dedication I admire, and with whom I agree on many issues. I’d have enjoyed debating with him on issues that matter to residents in Oxford East during the General Election campaign. Even on those issues where I think Peter – and the Green Party – are wrong, I respect his integrity and commitment to human rights.

Where does this now leave us in Oxford East?

Tactically, I don’t think the situation has changed at all. The Green Party has never come close to keeping its deposit in Oxford East, and I don’t think they’d have done so with Peter Tatchell as candidate, either. The effect it has is to make even clearer the choice facing voters who care about human rights and civil liberties – areas often associated with Peter Tatchell – and who are concerned with the environment and climate change – issues on which I have a track record of campaigning as indeed does our party.

If the voters of Oxford East want change, and want to replace a Labour MP, Andrew Smith, whose slavishly loyal record to the government ties him in with an administration which has failed on precisely those issues, the Lib Dems are the only real alternative to Labour, as is made perfectly clear by the result of the last General Election.

Over the next month, with less than five months until the next election, the Green Party will lack a parliamentary candidate in this key Labour-Lib Dem marginal: we will be working our hardest to bring our positive message on these crucial issues to as many voters as possible.

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4 Comments

  • i’m sorry niklas but you’re dead wrong. he votes with the government nearly all the time. he has only rebelled three times recently because it is a marginal seat now, and all were issues that the whips had tacitly sanctioned for marginal mps to rebel. before 2005 he never rebelled. he’s a lackey, plain and simple. he also has a bad habit of saying one thing in the constituency and then doing the exact opposite in parliament – 10:10 motion he voted against despite attending a local rally lobbying on it, post offices he voted to close despite collecting petition signatures, academies he voted for every time despite posing against them now, tuition fees he said he was against them, then voted for them.

    he’s also incapable of getting anything back for oxford from the government, despite his serial loyalty. on housing the government has bowed to cpre pressure and is backing away from the urban extension so desperately needed, and on extra licensing to tackle dodgy private sector landlords which we had put forwards in our time in adminstration on the city council (the first council in the country to do so) the government has bowed to pressure from landlords and has refused to approve it thus far, after almost 2 years.

    he’s an unprincipled waste of space and the sooner oxford east is rid of this z-list mp the better.

  • Doesn’t Andrew Smith desplay that common traint of ex Labour Government ministers hypocrisy. I understand he turned up to a demonstration in Oxford in favour of the 10:10 campaign and then promtly voted against Simon Hughes 10:10 motion in Parliament. He reminds me a bit of Charles Clarke who despite his anti-Gordon rhetoric has an increadibly loyal voting reccored. Charles Clarke was happy to say he was fighting to save local post offices in Norwich but then voted in favour of the closure program in Parliament.

  • Niklas,

    I do not like making politics personal, in fact I go out of my way to avoid it, but Smith is a disgrace to Oxford, the Labour party and British politics.

    Do you remember the last presidential election where the Dems ran attack adverts pointing out that John McCain had voted with George Bush 90% of the time? Well, Andrew Smith has voted with Gordon Brown 98.4% of the time in this parliament. In previous parliaments it would have been (even) closer to 100%. He has voted for every single one of Labour’s attacks on civil liberties, every single increase in tuition fees and every time he could vote to back the Iraq war he did. By contrast his voting record on the environment is lukewarm.

    The only thing he is independent of is himself. As Patrick and Simon have already pointed out he seems to think that what he says outside parliament need not effect how he votes inside it. He has deeply illiberal instincts but doesn’t have the courage to explain that to his generally liberal electorate. For that reason he has no place in parliament.

    Mark Mills

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