The Labour candidate I wanted to vote for just lied straight to my face. So I'm backing his Green opponent.
Last night I attended a local hustings for the General Election.
The two candidates I was most interested to hear from were Andrew Smith (Labour) and Ann Duncan (Green). The Tory candidate pulled out due to a family emergency, and UKIP didn't bother to show up. The LibDem candidate also was a no show and instead sent a rather inarticulate student in his place.
We also were treated to candidates from both The Socialist Party of Great Britain and the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition - proving once again that the far left would rather be ideologically pure than wield any degree of power. Bloody splitters!
In the end, the only two speakers who actually offered coherent policy suggestions were the Greens and Labour. The others were extremely confused ("MAGNA CARTER!!!!!"), delusional ("Once we abolish money..."), or Liberal Democrats ("TTIP is great and will exclude the NHS.")
One of the questions posed to the candidates was around the introduction of biometric IDs in Oxford schools. This isn't an area I know much about - but the candidates were passionately against it. Andrew Smith gave a tub-thumpingly good answer on why it was a dangerous idea and how systems like this were renowned for failing safeguards and mission-creep.
This, I thought, was curious. It was Andrew Smith who tried to introduce Biometric ID cards for all British Citizens.
I asked him directly why he voted for ID cards if he thought they were such a bad idea. He replied (and I'm paraphrasing) "I am against biometric ID cards, and my voting record reflects that."
I pointed out that I was looking at his voting record on ID cards - and it clearly showed that he voted for every single measure. He said the situation was "more subtle than that" - and we moved onto the next question.
Now, I have a lot of respect for Mr Smith. He's always answered my letters, he's against Trident, and has a good voting record on most of the issues I care about. But this was a bare faced lie.
If he'd have said "I was for them, but after looking at all the evidence and listening to my constituents, I've come to the conclusion that I was wrong" - I would have happily accepted that. If he'd said he was still in favour of them in certain circumstances, I would have respected his integrity. But such a blatant rewriting of history is unacceptable.
Here he is, speaking in the House of Commons in 2003 :
At every stage, he voted for Biometric ID cards.
I went into the debates eager to hear from the Green party, but looking forward to voting in a Labour MP for the first time in my life. Instead, I was left with the impression that after 30 years of the same MP, it's time for Oxford East to choose a new representative.
It doesn't look hopeful for the Greens. But I'm not convinced that it's an impossible task. UKIP and the Tories will split the right-wing vote. The students who voted LibDem last time will (hopefully) abandon them following the tuition fee betrayal. If a substantial chunk of them go for a Green alternative rather than the Tory-lite Labour party, and the Labour vote collapses like in did in 2005, it's possible for the the Greens to win here.
Unlikely, sure. But I'd rather vote for a World Bank Economist who believes in social justice, than an MP content to throw his voting record down the memory hole.
Vote for Ann Duncan on May 7th.