8 Jun 2009

South West Euro results comments

This blog kicks off with Greens in the South West, other UK Green Euro results plus European Greens and a comment on the BNP.

Photo: Sarah's win in Stroud East - see more photos here
- and graph below of votes in Stroud District

In the European elections, the Green Party's vote increased by 44% compared with 2004 - yet the Greens still returned only 2 MEPs. But the party's results show considerable promise for the coming general election, with the Greens having defeated all comers in the parliamentary constituencies which will be contested by the party's leader and deputy leader.

In the South West region, the Green Party increased its vote for Ricky Knight by 2%, to 9%. However despite increasing the Green share of the vote and pushing Labour into fourth place we missed the chance to represent over 144,000 Green voters in the South West. Ricky led a wonderful campaign that saw him meeting voters in every part of the constituency. This would have been enough to have won a seat last time when there were 7 seats in the SW. In fact we were the only party from last time to see our vote share rise - even UKIP's share fell - and with 17 parties standing, including some that may have taken some votes directly from us, this is a more than commendable performance

Nevertheless hopes have been high for a breakthrough - so it is disappointing. Greens were 12,070 votes short of a seat. Spread across 49 parliamentary constituencies that is 247 votes short per constituency - if each constituency is about 60,000 electors, typically divided into 20 wards of about 3,000 for local elections then all we needed was the equivalent of an extra 12 votes per ward - and many hundreds in each ward didn't vote. However SW gains of seats in Devon and Sarah Lunnon in Stroud give cause for hope (see graph of vote in Stroud District where Greens got 19% in County elections across the District). Results from the six-hour count in Stroud which were interestingly lower than our scores in the County election across the District (i) and full results below for all parties in the South West (ii).

Other Green gains

Party leader Caroline Lucas was re-elected comfortably, with the South East Green Party vote up by half, from 8% to 12%, finishing ahead of Labour. Dr Lucas's bid for election to the Westminster Parliament received a huge boost from a vote of 33.7% in Brighton and Hove. The Greens came first in Brighton and Hove, almost 6,000 votes ahead of the Conservatives, and with more than double Labour's vote across three parliamentary constituencies. Caroline Lucas will be contesting the Brighton Pavilion seat in the general election.

Jean Lambert successfully defended her London seat, overtaking UKIP. In Lewisham, the Greens polled 22%, close behind Labour on 25%. This looks promising for the Lewisham Deptford target constituency in the general election, a seat to be contested by Darren Johnson AM, the current chair of the London Assembly.

Rupert Read narrowly missed election in Eastern region, where the Green vote increased from 6% in 2004 to 9%. In Norwich, the Greens came a comfortable first throughout the city, on 25% - good news ahead of the general election, when Green Party deputy leader Adrian Ramsay will contest the Norwich South target seat.

Other results

In Yorkshire and the Humber, the Green vote went up from 6% to 9% - narrowly missing out to the first BNP MEP. Ironically, the BNP's new MEP lives in Harrogate, a borough where the BNP polled only 1,887 votes compared with the Green Party's 3,845. The North West Greens very narrowly missed winning a seat where the BNP leader was elected. In fact the Greens candidate Peter Cranie was only 0.3% short of defeating the BNP leader. Highlights of the Green vote in the North West included Manchester, where the Greens finished in third place, on 13.6%, ahead of the Conservatives. Ironically, while the Green vote was up from 6% to 8%, the BNP vote actually fell numerically compared with 2004.

In the North East - the first result announced, as there are only three seats - the Greens polled 6%, 1% up on 2004, in the English region where the Green vote was always most likely to be squeezed. In East Midlands, the Green vote increased by 1% to 7% and in West Midlands up 1% to 6%. In Wales, the Green Party vote increased by a third, from 4% to 6%.

Dr Caroline Lucas MEP, Green Party leader said: "The Green Party is definitely continuing to move in the right direction. In the last decade we've won our first seats in the European Parliament and the London Assembly and we've got more councillors elected every year. This year we broke through onto four more county councils where we hadn't previously been represented. We've gone ahead of Labour in two Euro-regions and ahead of the Tories in two of England's biggest cities and ahead of everybody in Brighton and Norwich. Near-misses in the Euro-elections this year will translate into more council seats next year. And I think we have very good cause to be optimistic about a breakthrough to Westminster in the next general election."

Electoral system

Overall turnout is under 35% - so around 4% less than last time. No electoral reformer would wish to see the closed list system in place for electing MPs (see more here). Nevertheless 3 out of every 4 votes counted and elected an MEP. So while it is not the best system of proportional system it at least means that a large majority of voters will be represented by an MEP whom they voted for. However as the Make Your Votes Count campaign note "there were some losers; in particular Green voters missed out narrowly in several regions from electing a Green MEP."
European Greens

The European Green Party has had an excellent result in the election to the European Parliament. A total of 46 Green MEPs have been elected, up from 35. The Greens/EFA Group is now likely to have 53 MEPS (46 Greens and 7 EFA MEPs), up from 43, although the exact formation of the Group is still to be confirmed

EGP Co-Spokesperson Philippe Lamberts, who has been elected a MEP for the Belgian French-speaking Green Party Ecolo, said: “To have increased the number of Green MEPs from 35 to 46 is a great success. Our showing is even more remarkable when you consider that we have 11 more seats than before in a parliament with 49 fewer MEPS and that all other groups have shrunk. Countries which deserve a special mention from our point of view include France where Europe-Ecologie obtained an amazing 16% of the national vote and so will have 14 MEPs and Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Finland which will all have more Green MEPs than last time round and Greece which now has its very first Green MEP. What our 31% increase in seats proves beyond any shadow of a doubt is that the Greens are a major political force to be reckoned with and that we are gaining the trust of more and more voters, not only in our traditional areas like the environment and climate policy and human rights, but also economics and social policy."

This Guardian piece re Greens here - it gives a helpful European perspective.

Comment on the BNP win

The BNP gaining two MEPs is being viewed as the ultimate protest vote against the 3 main parties. The simple fact is that this Labour government has done more to create inequality, entrench poverty, and not provide poor communities with a positive vision for the future. That has been a major contributory factor in the increase of the BNP vote.

Indeed this is sadly the biggest step forward for the far right in British history. The BNP achieved what Oswald Mosley's fascists failed to achieve in the 1930s - success in national elections. Media coverage during the campaign has pointed to BNP members' links with neo-Nazi parties in other European countries, holocaust denial, criminal convictions and so on, but there has been little scrutiny of their most outrageous policies - that includes for example its flagship policies of 'voluntary repatriation' and the dismantling of racial discrimination laws. These BNP wins signal the even more urgent need for a complete reform of British democracy in ways that will involve and engage people far more, and make sure parliament really reflects the views of society as a whole, not just those of the biggest two parties.

There is already a petition in response to the BNP gaining the seats:

Locally in Stroud District the BNP hardly rate a mention - it was good to see cross-party civic leaders (including Greens John Marjoram and Sarah Lunnon) making a public stand to support the recent statement of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Here was their statement: "We're proud that our many ethnic and national communities live in harmony together. We treasure this and are glad of the contribution they make to the life of our towns. We're aware of the BNP's ultimate aim to 'repatriate' black and Asian British people and how this can foster divisions between our local people simply because of their differing faiths or racial roots. We urge electors to avoid supporting any candidates who would foster prejudice and hate."

Now more than ever we need a Green New Deal to tackle the recession and lay the basis for an economic system that's fairer as well as sustainable for future generations.

(i) Results from the six-hour count in Stroud:
Conservatives - 11,864
UKIP - 6,516
Greens - 5,995 (16.8%)
LDs - 4,845
Labour - 4,499
BNP - 1,186
Plus 11 others.

(ii) MEP Seats in South west:
SEATS: 6 TURNOUT: 1,549,708 ELECTORATE: 3,998,479
Votes MEPs
Party Total % Total +/-
Conservative 468,742 30.2
(-1.3) 3 +1
UK Independence Party 341,845 22.1
(-0.5) 2 0
Liberal Democrats 266,253 17.2
(-1.2) 1 0
Green Party 144,179 9.3
(+2.1) 0 0
Labour 118,716 7.7
(-6.8) 0 -1
British National Party 60,889 3.9
(+0.9) 0 0
Pensioners Party 37,785 2.4
(+2.4) 0 0
English Democrat 25,313 1.6
(+1.6) 0 0
Christian Party-Christian Peoples Alliance 21,329 1.4
(+1.4) 0 0
Mebyon Kernow 14,922 1.0
(+1.0) 0 0
Socialist Labour Party 10,033 0.6
(+0.6) 0 0
No2EU 9,741 0.6
(+0.6) 0 0
Independent - Katie Hopkins 8,971 0.6
(+0.6) 0 0
Libertas 7,292 0.5
(+0.5) 0 0
Fair Play Fair Trade Party 7,151 0.5
(+0.5) 0 0
Jury Team 5,758 0.4
(+0.4) 0 0
Wai D 789 0.1
(+0.1) 0 0
Conservative - 3 SEATS (CHANGE: +1)
* Giles Chichester
* Julie Girling
* Ashley Fox
UK Independence Party - 2 SEATS (CHANGE: 0)
* Trevor Colman
* William, Earl of Dartmouth
Liberal Democrats - 1 SEATS (CHANGE: 0)
* Graham Watson

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Greens make giant leap in France