Sunday, 10 May 2015

Election 2015 analysis: my thoughts part 2

Now for the second part of my election 2015 analysis: the fate of the minor parties.

Left Alliance (TUSC/Left Unity; some LU candidates stood as 'Left Unity-Trade Unionists and Socialists; 138 candidates):

Despite the wide spread of 'hard left' candidates, and Ed Miliband's failure to oppose austerity, this election was pretty disastrous for TUSC and Left Unity. Even though notable candidates performed better than in 2010, all 138 candidates from Left Unity and TUSC (who were effectively allies) lost their deposits. Their best results were from Dave Nellist (who polled 1769 votes in Coventry North West, very close to finishing above the Liberal Democrats and under 200 votes behind the Greens. He really should have tried to contest Coventry North East again), Jenny Sutton (who increased her vote in Tottenham from 1057 to 1324, in spite of the Green surge; the Greens finished a decent third in Tottenham this time), and from Glyn Robbins (who polled 949 votes, or 1.8%, in Bethnal Green & Bow). Many other candidates, however, polled less than 1% (e.g. Kingsley Abrams, a former Labour candidate and councillor, polled the grand sum of 142 votes in Bermondsey & Old Southwark), and several finished behind Monster Raving Loony Party candidates (e.g. in Gower and Gloucester).

Lack of media coverage is partly to blame, but also TUSC/Left Unity candidates did not actually do that much canvassing-public meetings are a good move, but more needs to be done in a serious election campaign. Also in Wales, some had to compete against Socialist Labour Party candidates who were in a much better place to win over left-wing voters.

English Democrats (32 candidates):

All English Democrats candidates performed poorly, partly due to UKIP absorbing large numbers of their voters. None came even close to retaining their deposit, TUSC candidates finished ahead of them in constituencies where both TUSC and English Democrats candidates stood (mostly), and some could not even achieve 100 votes apiece. In particular, their campaigns in Monmouth (the most English of the Welsh constituencies) and Berwick-upon-Tweed (the northernmost English constituency) were a complete waste of time and money. It is likely they will go into terminal decline in the next few years, as they have also lost all remaining council seats.

Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol (28 candidates):

Sad and unfortunate proof that single-issue campaigning generally does not work in the UK-none of their candidates got even 1% of the vote apiece, even in areas with a strong Green vote (the Green Party has rightly been vocal about the need for decriminalisation of drugs)

Regional Parties (Yorkshire First, North East Party, Northern Party, Lincolnshire Independents etc.):

The increased vote for regional parties in light of devolution being on the 2015 agenda did not live up to expectations. Yorkshire First stood 14 candidates; none came close to saving their deposit and their leader, Richard Carter, polled just 234 votes in marginal Dewsbury. The North East Party sadly did little better in Easington, Redcar, Newcastle-upon-Tyne North, or Stockton North (although they beat the Greens in Easington and almost beat the Lib Dems there). The Lincolnshire Independents sadly could not make any headway, with only Marianne Overton saving her deposit as she did in 2010 in Sleaford & North Hykeham. Mebyon Kernow failed to save any deposits either, partly because of the fact the Green Party stood candidates in all six Cornish seats in 2015, as opposed to four in 2010.

Other left-wing parties (Respect, Socialist Labour, Scottish Socialist, Communist, Workers Revolutionary Party):

George Galloway being unseated in Bradford West by a large majority was a top story in this election-and with the dirty campaigning tricks he used as well as his record over the last 3 years, it can be said he got his just deserts. The other 3 Respect Party candidates, meanwhile, got nowhere at all; this combination of factors will likely lead to the demise of Respect by the end of this next Parliament. Socialist Labour only stood candidates in Wales this time-possibly due to relatively encouraging Welsh Assembly results in 2011. None of the eight Socialist Labour candidates retained their deposit; their best performance was in Torfaen (1.8%). Not only did the Scottish Socialist Party only stand four candidates, all performed very poorly, partly due to the SNP managing to win over left-wing voters to their cause. The Communist Party, despite standing 9 candidates,  3 more than in 2010, universally polled a derisory vote (just over 100 votes apiece), and the Workers Revolutionary Party also did worse; Mike Driver in Sheffield Central polled the worst ever WRP result by polling 33 votes.

Other minor parties:

This election has effectively finished off the far-right: the BNP's few remaning candidates polled an average of 208 votes each and usually finished bottom of the poll; NF and other far-right candidates did worse still; long time activist Richard Edmonds polled as low as 49 votes in Carshalton & Wallington. The Liberal Party fell backwards, even in Liverpool West Derby, despite hoping to capitalise on the heavy fall in Lib Dem votes. Most other minor parties struggled to get a few hundred votes for each of their candidates, although the National Health Action Party at least saved two deposits out of 13 via Dr Richard Taylor, former MP for Wyre Forest, and Dr Louise Irvine in South West Surrey.

Independent candidates:

Apart from Sylvia Hermon in North Down, no independent candidates secured election-although Claire Wright did very well to poll 24% in East Devon. Mike Hill in Fylde also performed strongly with 11.9%, and both independent candidates in Richmond, Yorkshire did rather well with 6.2% and 3.4% respectively. Captain Beany also achieved his best ever result in Aberavon, polling 1137 votes and finishing ahead of the Green Party there, and Arthur Pendragon polled his best ever result with 729 votes in Salisbury. Many other independent candidates, however, were not so lucky-and in Witney, Nathan Handley received the 2015 general election wooden spoon, by polling 12 votes in Witney. Ronnie Carroll, despite the fact he died during the election campaign, nevertheless received 117 votes in Hampstead & Kilburn, only second-to-last.

Next in my election analysis-the Northern Ireland constituencies.

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