Friday, 12 December 2014

My analysis of local by-election results from yesterday (11/12/14) and my thoughts on what could happen after May 2015

Readers, the results from local by-elections yesterday featuring Green Party candidates were as follows (in case you missed them):

Aylesbury DC, Gatehouse: Liberal Democrat 295 (35.6%, -5.9%), UKIP 267 (32.2%, +15.2%), Conservative 113 (13.6%, -9.2%), Labour 113 (13.6%,-5.0%), Green 28 (3.4%), Independent 12 (1.4%)

Aylesbury DC, Southcourt: Lib Dem 429 (42.3%, +6.3%), UKIP 266 (26.2%, +12.1%), Lab 175 (17.2%, -12.2%), Con 112 (11.0%, -9.4%), Green 33 (3.3%). Lib Dem gain from Labour.

Moray UA, Elgin City North: (1st preference votes) SNP 728 (38.0%, -5.3%), Independent 472 (24.6%), Lab 287 (15.0%, -14.9%), Con 273 (14.2%, -3.2%), UKIP 81 (4.2%), Green 77 (4.0%). SNP gain from Labour.

Sunderland MBC, Washington East: Lab 775 (38.3%, -3.0%), Con 595 (29.4%, +4.2%), UKIP 506 (25.0%, -1.1%), Green 93 (4.6%), Lib Dem 52 (2.6%). [All changes are since 2014]

Despite the fact polls show that the Green Party will win more voters from the Liberal Democrats than the other major parties, not every area with significant Liberal Democrat strength can yield fruit for the Greens-the by-elections of Aylesbury proved this point well (although they took some votes from Labour, I presume). I am sadly not surprised about UKIP finishing a good second in both Gatehouse and Southcourt, since UKIP got one of its better results in the Aylesbury constituency in 2010 (6.8%, twice its average vote share across the UK); the Conservative vote share was a greater victim as a result of UKIP's resurgence this time. However, the Greens' decision to venture further and farther across the UK will serve them well, even if initial results are not as good as I would like them to be. It was a good night for nationalists in Scotland and Wales, though-the SNP gained in both the Scottish by-elections that occurred last night (there was also one in Argyll and Bute; full results not shown as there was no Scottish Green Party candidate there), and Plaid Cymru won easily in the Trelech by-election of Carmarthenshire, possibly due to the Independent candidate's past record as a bad company director being exposed (the Independent candidate had been disqualified from being a company director for 10 years some time ago).

In other news, The Independent reported on a list of possible coalitions that could emerge from next year's general election, given that it is very unlikely now that any party will be able to form a majority in the next Parliament. One (rather unlikely) possibility The Independent noted is a traffic light coalition of Labour, Liberal Democrats, and one or more Green MPs. I strongly advise against the Green Party joining any coalition involving any of the four major UK-wide parties for four very good reasons listed below:

1. The Green Party have consistently opposed the LibLabCons and UKIP, and with good cause.
2. As it is very unlikely they will have more than 3 seats in Parliament after May 2015, the Green Party will not be able to have an effective influence on the coalition any more than the six Green Party TDs in Ireland had when they were in coalition with Fianna Fail from 2007 to 2011.
3. Almost every time Green Parties in Europe have joined coalitions with mainstream parties, they have come off much worse (e.g. in Ireland and the Czech Republic), and they can find it difficult to recover.
4. The Green Party would be betraying its principles in practice by joining any coalition involving Labour or the Liberal Democrats-neither of those two parties has shown real concern for the environment and neither of them admit that free-market capitalism is most responsible for the environmental damage the Earth has suffered.

It has also been quoted that the MPs of Northern Ireland (DUP and SDLP in practice; there is only one Alliance Party MP and the Sinn Fein MPs never occupy any Westminster seats they win) could hold the balance of power, but with only 13 Northern Irish Parliamentary constituencies taken (18 minus the 5 Sinn Fein MPs) and with neither Labour nor the Conservatives likely to win more than 300 seats apiece on current polling, there is no realistic chance of this occurring whatever the result of next year's general election.

Alan.

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