Saturday, December 13, 2003
Swansea's branch of the Green Party must be kicking themselves. There they were, faced with an important by-election for a City Council seat less than six months before their biggest electoral test yet, the all-out elections for Swansea Council. It seems however, that they did not have a candidate, an organisation or the resources to fight the by-election effectively and were in severe danger of being humiliated at the polls, thus undermining any credibility they might have on 10 June. A solution was at hand however. A popularist bandwagon was getting underway to try and stop the Council closing the Swansea Leisure Centre after years of scandalous neglect. The Green Party in Swansea are used to jumping on such single issue bandwagons so they quickly grabbed this opportunity with both hands. They announced that they would not be standing in the by-election but instead would be supporting the pro-Leisure Centre candidate. Shortly afterwards, the name of that candidate emerged. It is to be Gerald Murphy, a former Labour Council leader who was imprisioned for corruption in the 1970s and whose past record shows little, or no affection for the heady idealism of Green Party policies. As if to heap further humiliation onto the Green Party, the mainstream parties have announced that they will be standing in the by-election as well and that they are intent on ensuring that the whole record of Labour-run Swansea is up for scrutiny, not just the Leisure Centre. Within a few days a putative public relations coup on the part of the Green Party has turned into a rout. They have locked themselves into supporting a 74 year old former jailbird who so far shows no signs of supporting their policies or principles and whether he wins or loses, they will get no benefit from his candidature. So much for the brave new politics of the future.