Readers, the first by-election of this Parliament, caused by the death of left-wing Labour stalwart Michael Meacher, will occur on 3rd December 2015 (the writ has been officially moved). In that constituency, my fellow Greens stood a candidate, Simeon Hart, earlier this year, and I believe we should have a candidate in this by-election for five reasons:
1. The Green Party is now a major UK political party rather than a minor party, even if we only have one MP at present. In order for us to continue to be the green alternative, and advocate Green policies to the people, we need to stand in every Parliamentary by-election whether the seat is winnable for us or not.
2. The Labour candidate might not necessarily be on the left or even be that progressive, so our candidature will help give the voters of Oldham West & Royton a real choice whichever person Labour chooses.
3. By-elections in a constituency can usually attract media coverage for a seat that otherwise cannot attract such useful coverage (often because the constituency is a very safe seat; Oldham West & Royton does fall into this category but by-elections are less predictable) in general elections. If we do well (e.g. by saving our deposit when we did not do so last time round) this will be a positive boost for the green message in Britain.
4. Making sure voters have a Green choice generally improves turnout in elections. Some of our better performances in 2015 also coincided with substantially increased turnout in the respective constituency compared to 2010, even when the constituency was safe for a particular party (and especially when it was competitive and marginal).
5. If we stand, protest voters who dislike the Conservatives and Labour for one reason or another can avoid having to vote for UKIP in this by-election, and can instead vote for us.