THE Green Party writes to remind me that Dame Joan Bakewell may be saying now that she will vote for Frank Dobson on May 6, but she actually voted for Sian Berry – their candidate – in 2005. She admitted as much in a piece for The Guardian.
I guess the idea of flagging this forgotten fact up to me is to position the Greens as a place for disaffected Labour voters to still place their cross, showing that left wing thinkers could see Natalie Bennett as a preferable next step on from Frank. And it’s true that the Highgate ward – where three Green councillors sit on Camden Council – is now part of the redrawn Holborn and St Pancras constituency, an indicator that they could increase their share of the parliamentary vote.
But if you read Dame Joan’s piece from five years ago, she explains if it had been down to the wire in 2005 she wouldn’t be thinking about voting for anybody else but Frank:
Frank is a pugnacious politician and not one to toe the Blair line. He has a fine record of voting with the rebels on tuition fees, the Iraq war and the prevention of terrorism bill…
Dobson, I believed, would walk it. This freed me, a long-time Labour supporter, to consider other options. I was let off the hook of the gruesome role being spelled out for me by Labour’s last-minute panic. Michael Howard would not be let in my back door. Why not use my vote to register not my disagreements with Dobson, which are few, but my disagreement with the Labour party, which are few, but crucial.
The logical deduction from this and her comments last week: She thinks Frank will find the terrain tougher this time around and, as clearly a long-term admirer, she will switch her vote back to Labour, rebelling against the national threat of the Conservatives. Of course Dame Joan, like the rest of us, represents just one vote, but that kind of mindset must ultimately be a worry for the Greens: if traditional but disaffected Labour voters wobble and dash back to base to save old friends, the Greens might still be the ones to lose out in the squeeze.