Saturday, 11 April 2015

My thoughts about the 2015 general election: The Good, The Bad, and The Rather Interesting

Readers, with most councils having published their statement of persons nominated (a few have not for some reason even though they should have by now as per the Representation of the People Act 1983), here is my rundown of the good, bad, and interesting facts about the 2015 UK general election and the corresponding local elections:

The Good:

1. More than nine-tenths of all constituencies in England and Wales will be able to vote Green this year (537 out of 573), including those living in Buckingham, where Speaker John Bercow is seeking re-election. In addition, there are 31 Scottish Green Party candidates and 5 Northern Irish Green Party candidates-the highest ever.

2. The BNP has virtually disappeared-it is only standing 8 candidates this time compared to the 338 it fielded in 2010. There are also few other far-right candidates either-only five NF candidates and the English Democrats are contesting less than half the seats they contested in 2010. In fact, there are only a few more English Democrats parliamentary candidates than there are Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol parliamentary candidates-possibly an indication of the way the wind may blow in May 2015.

3. Locally, there are more Green Party candidates than ever before-and more full slates. In a considerable number of wards in rural areas we are the only candidates opposing the Conservatives (also true in two wards of East Herts, where I live)

4. Voter turnout is likely to increase given the wider choice of candidates locally and nationally, and the unpredictability of this election.

5. We are holding up well in terms of poll ratings, and should be able to save more deposits than the Liberal Democrats in my opinion.

The Bad:

1. Some seats will not have the chance to vote Green, particularly in Northern Ireland and Scotland. A significant minority of seats will only be able to choose between the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, or UKIP (e.g. Hertsmere, Basildon & Billericay).

2. Applications for job-sharing MPs were rejected in Weston-Super-Mare and Basingstoke by Returning Officers.

3. There are fewer candidates overall than in 2010.

4. Some councils still have at least a few uncontested seats-a key example is Eden Council (the most sparsely populated council area in the whole of Britain), where more council seats are going uncontested than in 2011!

5. In some seats we are facing a slightly split vote from the Animal Welfare Party, and the fact that the Socialists (Left Unity and TUSC) are not allying with us could hinder our progress in some inner-city seats.

The Rather Interesting:

1. The seat with the highest number of candidates this time is Uxbridge & South Ruislip, where Boris Johnson is standing. 13 candidates have been nominated here, and for the first time in years, the 'loony vote' is being split as Howling Laud Hope, OMRLP leader and ex-OMRLP candidate, Lord Toby Jug, are both contesting this seat. Ten other constituencies (Witney, Bethnal Green & Bow, Camberwell & Peckham, Hackney South & Shoreditch, South Thanet, Bridgend, North Down, Sheffield Central, Lewisham Deptford & Vauxhall) also have at least 10 candidates.

2. The Speaker's seat of Buckingham has only three nominated candidates (UKIP, the Greens, and the Speaker himself)-the lowest in a seat represented by the Speaker since 1997, and it also represents the largest drop in candidate numbers for an individual constituency (there were 11 candidates in Buckingham in 2010) ever recorded.

3. Many candidates who have not stood in an election in many years (e.g. Kailash Trivedi, David Wedgwood) have put themselves forward.

4. There are some very interesting descriptions on ballot papers, such as World Peace Through Song, Children of the Atom, and Give Me Back Elmo, which I found rather amusing ;)

5. New parties for this election (which are not one-person bands) include the National Health Action Party, Cannabis is Safer Than Alcohol (the largest of these new parties), All People's Party, Northern Party, North East Party, Yorkshire First, Vapers in Power, Ubuntu Party, Class War, Independence From Europe, The Above and Beyond Party, The Whig Party, Liberty GB, Patria, the Patriotic Socialist Party, The Reality Party, Justice for Men and Boys, Lewisham People Before Profit, Party for a United Thanet, Something New, Red Flag Anti-Corruption, and the Young People's Party. In addition, the Roman Party Ave, having only stood in European elections and local elections before, is fielding Phillip West in Reading West (not Jean-Louis Pascal for some reason). Left Unity, meanwhile, is allying with TUSC, meaning that there are 138 'left alliance' parliamentary candidates this year.

6. 172 independent candidates in total will be standing this year across parliamentary constituencies.

Regards, Alan.

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